Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, March 13, 2021

When Do You Begin Preparing for the Lord's Day? (2021.03.13 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – March 13, 2021

Dear Congregation,

An ARP pastor friend wrote to his congregation yesterday morning encouraging them to be forward-thinking about preparing for the Lord’s Day—not only by logistical things like setting out clothes Saturday night, but also by a mental and spiritual preparation throughout the weekend (he was writing on Friday morning).

This combined well for me with recent reading through Leviticus and into Numbers about all that Israelites had to pay attention to in order to be ready for worship. Thankfully, Christ is our worthiness and cleanliness. But that doesn’t mean that we have no preparing to do!

Indeed, as Jeremiah Burroughs discusses several times in his wonderfully helpful Gospel Worship, the keeping of the heart is something constant: we should continuously be thinking and feeling and living in such a way that takes into account that on the coming Lord’s Day we must come again into the public assembly and even to the Lord’s table.

This is some of the logic the Spirit employs in Deuteronomy 6 and Ephesians 5–6. Why should we have the Word of God on our hearts and on our lips? Why should we be discussing it with our children going out and coming in, and rising up and laying down? Why be continually bathing our wives with the Word? Why bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord? Why daily family worship? In part, because we are a people set apart to God for worship in that holy assembly in which we are filled with the Spirit and address one another with the Word in song.

For some years now, it has been my privilege to serve you in preparing household/individual devotional helps that have exactly this in mind as we worship God throughout the week. This used to be entirely following up upon previous texts (as we move sequentially in each part of the service) until one father’s suggestion that moving from review to preview would emphasize this preparation even more.

So, on the Monday, we redigest the passage from the Lord’s Day morning sermon. On the Tuesday, we prepare in the passage for the first portion from the coming Lord’s Day service. On the Wednesday, we prepare in the passage from the first serial reading. On the Thursday, we prepare in the passage from the second serial reading. On the Friday, we prepare in the passage for Lord’s Day afternoon. And on the Saturday, we prepare in the passage for the next day’s Lord’s Day morning sermon.

Those who have used these devotionals have found that reviewing/preparing throughout the week has been a great help to participating well in the public worship and profiting much from the means of grace in it. Then also, the connection between the two has increased the various families’ participation in and profit from their own family worship.

Whether or not you make use of what is furnished to help you, the responsibility remains: both in how you live throughout the week, and how you worship throughout the week, remember that come the next Lord’s Day, you will be a participant in the Lord’s holy assembly on the Lord’s holy day.

When He says “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy,” He emphasizes the holiness of that day. But the holiness of that day is observed not only in the glorious privileges of the day itself, but in carefully living out the rest of the week in a way that enriches the holiness of the holy day.

Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work. And six days shalt thou have individual worship and family worship in a way that anticipates and flows from public worship. Looking forward to that public worship with you,

Pastor

2021.03.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 47:28–31

Read Genesis 47:28–31

Questions from the Scripture text: How long did Jacob live where (Genesis 47:28)? How long was his life? What time drew near (Genesis 47:29)? Whom did Jacob call? What did he tell Joseph to do? What did he want Joseph to promise? What does he call his prospectively dead body in Genesis 47:30? With whom does he wish to lie? What does he want Joseph to do with him? Where does he want Joseph to bury him? What does Joseph promise? But what does Jacob ask him to do in Genesis 47:31? And what does Joseph do? How does Israel conclude the conversation? 

Compared to that to which Jacob was looking forward, even 147 years were few. Even those 17 years dwelling comfortably (Genesis 47:27) in proximity to those precious hands that would close his eyes (cf. Genesis 46:4, Genesis 46:30) was far less pleasant. They were, after all, the days of the years of a pilgrimage (Genesis 47:9)—a passing-through, not his permanent home.

Think from an eternal, resurrection perspective led Jacob to care very much what happened with his body at death. It’s an important thing for all believers to think about, as we wish for Christ to be magnified in our bodies both in our lives and in our deaths (cf. Philippians 1:20). 

So when Jacob can tell that the time is actually drawing near (Genesis 47:29a), he summons Joseph. He asks him to deal with him kindly and truly (verse 29b, literally according to ḳessed and emmet—that steadfast love and faithfulness that are the favorite-ly displayed attributes of his covenant God). A promise (end of Genesis 47:30) isn’t good enough; he demands a swearing (Genesis 47:31a) and concludes the whole with solemn worship (verse 31b).

What is Jacob so serious about? His body. God had kept His promise to go down with Jacob to Egypt (Genesis 46:4a), and God would keep His promise to surely bring him up again (verse 46:4b). God had promised that Joseph would be there at his death (verse 46:4c), which meant both that Joseph’s presence had freed Jacob to go (cf. Genesis 46:30) and that when the time came, it was Joseph whom he personally called apart from the rest of his sons to make this promise (Genesis 47:29), even though he would later charge them all about his burial (cf. Genesis 49:29–33).

Notice that Jacob prospectively refers to his corpse as “me” in Genesis 47:29 (“do not bury me” in Egypt) and Genesis 47:30a (“let me lie with my fathers) and verse 30b (“carry me out of Egypt”) and verse 30c (“bury me in their burial place”). It was Jacob who would be buried. It was Jacob who would lie down (and it was his fathers with whom he would lie!). It was Jacob who would be carried out of Egypt.

Jesus also makes much of this point when rebuking the Sadducees for their failure to believe in the resurrection (cf. Mark 12:26–27). At the bush with Moses, God would identify Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and, He is not God of the dead but of the living. God was still their God, body and soul, and that meant that those bodies lying in that cave of Machpelah were not done yet: they would rise again and were to be treated as still especially set apart to God.

Jacob knew this about his body, which was soon to be dead. And would one day be resurrected. And it mattered to him not only that it would be treated rightly (buried), but that in the intervening time until the resurrection that he would lie with his fathers. And on the day of resurrection, he will come up with Abraham and Isaac, in a glorious body that has been conformed unto Christ’s (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:35–58).

Dear believer, what would Jesus say your thoughts about your forthcoming corpse reveal about your priorities for it?

To whom is your body currently set apart? To whom will it be set apart when you die? What would you like done with it? Where would you like that done? With whom would you like to lie down until the resurrection?

Suggested songs: ARP116AB “How Fervently I Love the LORD” or TPH116A “I Love the LORD, for He Has Heard My Voice”


Friday, March 12, 2021

A Prayer of Praise that Comforts and Convicts Us (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 10)

In all of this praise, we enjoy the wisdom of His patience and timing toward the wicked. And in all of this praise, we are reminded of the truths about Him that would restrain our sin if we weren't so forgetful about them in our remaining fleshliness. What a blessing to us it is to pray praise unto our God!

2021.03.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 1:22–26

Read Philippians 1:22–26

Questions from the Scripture text: In what might the apostle live on (Philippians 1:22)? What would it mean if he did? Which would he choose? What are his options doing to him (Philippians 1:23)? What does he desire? Why? What is the other option (Philippians 1:24)? For whom is it more needful? Therefore, what does he know that he will do (Philippians 1:25)? For what? What will be more abundant (Philippians 1:26)? By what? 

If you’re a believer, then why are you still alive? 

It’s an important question for those for whom to live is Christ. If you depart, you will “be with Christ” (Philippians 1:23b) in a way that you are not with Him now. And that is “far better” (verse 23b). If you depart, you will finally love Christ perfectly. If you depart, you will lay aside your current corruptible flesh (Philippians 1:22a)—which must be done so that you can put on an incorruptible and immortal flesh later (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:35–58).

It’s no wonder that the apostle “could not tell what to choose” (end of Philippians 1:22) and found that his options pressed him hard (Philippians 1:23a)! If we run on to the reasons for remaining alive too quickly, without considering just how much gain there is for us in departing, we will not be able to feel the difficulty of the options. What a marvelous Lord we have, Who redeems us into such blessedness that there are ways in which it is actually preferable not yet to enter glory.

In a world where the selfishness of self-murder has become so common, it is important that we note that Philippians 1:22 isn’t saying that the apostle had an actual choice. He knows why he’s still alive: his work isn’t yet done. We don’t know how much work the Lord has called us to do in this world and this life, but we do know one thing: as long as we are living, we have work to do. 

That’s why he says “if I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor.” As long as the fruitful labor that we have been assigned is complete, we have fruitful labor to do. As soon as it is complete, we will depart this mortal body.

Already, the apostle has answered believers who feel that they are useless. Since it is not up to you, and since you are still here, Christ Himself considers your ongoing life to be useful. But for what uses? The apostle gives us several, and though his list is not exhaustive, it’s worth noting that these are the specific things that “outweighed” for a time his departing and being with Christ.

His labor was fruitful because it was needful for the Philippian church (Philippians 1:24). The gathering and perfecting of the church is, after all, the great project of the remainder of human history (cf. Matthew 28:18–20, Ephesians 1:20–23, Revelation 6:10–11, etc.). There is no believer, in whatever condition, that is exempt from this purpose for their ongoing life. Paul in Rome was laboring with needful labor for the church, as was the most enfeebled saint in Philippi whose prayers were as necessary to this work as the ongoing supply of the Spirit (cf. Philippians 1:19!). 

If you can attend corporate worship, you must attend corporate worship (cf. Hebrews 10:24–25). You must be careful to attend upon and heed the doctrine-stabilizing ministry of your pastor teachers (Ephesians 4:11–14) so that you will be a strong joint for the body’s health and a productive part of the body’s growth (Ephesians 4:15–16). If you can sing, you must sing (Ephesians 5:29–21, Colossians 3:16). Not only must you pray for the rest of the body, but you must sincerely agree in your heart as you are led in corporate prayer, so that you can give the hearty ‘Amen’ at its conclusion (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:16). Add to all of these, all of the private duties of faithful Christians and all the “one-another” commands that go beyond the corporate worship (cf. WCF 26.1–2 and the passages of the proof texts). 

His labor was fruitful for increasing believers’ joy in Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:26). The apostle’s remaining was not only for their progress of faith but for their joy of faith (end of Philippians 1:25). He anticipated that when he next made it back to Philippi, they would rejoice in Christ Jesus all the more on his account. 

This should be a motivator for us in whatever our daily tasks are. Whether diapers or school or manual labor or administration or preparing sermons or simply suffering well on a sick-bed while lifting our hearts in prayer… we can relish the idea, “wait until other believers find out how faithful their Jesus Christ has been to me as my Jesus Christ! Their rejoicing in Him will become even more abundant!”

So, why are you still alive? Because your assignment from Jesus isn’t yet completed. And a great part of that assignment is participating in the progress of the church in faith and promoting the increase of the church’s joy in Jesus! 

Why are you still alive? What are your daily duties, and how does this affect how you do them? What are the parts of corporate worship? For each one, how does your Christ-assigned purpose inform and shape how you do it?

Suggested songs: ARP87 “The Lord’s Foundation” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord”


Thursday, March 11, 2021

Worship Booklet Link Updated for March 14

The green WORSHIP BOOKLET link in the upper left of this page has been updated for March 14. The Lord bless your preparation for His holy assembly on His holy day!

2021.03.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 14:25–35

Read Luke 14:25–35

Questions from the Scripture text: Who went with Jesus (Luke 14:25)? To whom did He speak? What seven people does He say you have to hate (Luke 14:26)? In order for what? What must a disciple bear (Luke 14:27)? Whose? What kind of project does He use as an illustration (Luke 14:28)? What must a builder do first? Or else what will result (Luke 14:29-30)? What other situation does He use as an illustration (Luke 14:31)? What would the weaker king do (Luke 14:32)? What does planning ahead look like if you’re going to follow Christ—what must you do (Luke 14:33)? Otherwise, what will you be like (Luke 14:34)? What use will such a disciple be (Luke 14:35)?

Jesus is worth everything. That’s the claim that He’s making in Luke 14:25-26. There are great multitudes, but He’s not interested in throngs of groupies. He’s going to gather to Himself a multitude that no one can number, who know Who He is. And that’s the point of Luke 14:26—quite stunning, really, to religious-minded Jews who know Deuteronomy 6. Jesus claims to be the proper object of our keeping the first great commandment.

To paraphrase both that text and what Jesus is saying here: “I, Yahweh your God, I am one. You shall love Me with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” 

This means that even those who have the greatest claims of love and law upon us may be those whom we must diametrically oppose in this life and those for whose torment and condemnation we will praise the justice and holiness of Christ in the next. 

It won’t do for us to dilute the intensity of His challenge by appealing to all the ways that we are to love enemy, neighbor, and family in this life. Those things hold true, but they are second-great-commandment loves. And you’re only obeying the second if you’re doing so in obedience to the first. 

Alas, that is quite shocking to our remaining fleshliness just to think about, and utterly intolerable to the unbeliever who has nothing but his fleshliness. Now, imagine that you’re an unbeliever who has a form of religion that vehemently holds onto your intellectually-acknowledged deity’s absolute uniqueness (think, for example, of the way fundamentalist Muslims purport to think and act). 

How stunning to those multitudes of Jews this claim must have sounded, coming from the Son of Man at the front of the crowd. And if it’s not stunning to us, then either we’re completely missing Who Jesus is claiming to be, or we’re not meditating enough upon it.

And Jesus may cost you everything. Speaking of “hating your own life” (Luke 14:26), Jesus’s infinite worth is the only way that the cost-benefit calculation that he urges in the rest of the passage can work. 

Crucifixion (Luke 14:27) was so barbaric that it was illegal to do it to a Roman citizen. The degree of torture and shame involved would send shivers down the spines of Jews who had seen someone carrying his cross, as they contemplated it being themselves in that place. 

So, stick that on one side of the equation, and suddenly it becomes mathematically necessarily to value the Lord Jesus as being of infinite worth to you. Otherwise, you won’t be willing to suffer humiliation on the order of an architect whose greatest project became a monument to his humiliation (Luke 14:28-30) and to suffer slaughter on the order of someone who marched double-time to face off against a force that outnumbered him two to one (Luke 14:31-33).

Saltiness (Luke 14:34-35) in the Christian life, then, has at its heart to believe that Jesus is Yahweh, and to think about Him and feel toward Him and submit to Him as worth so much that you would be willing, for His sake, to suffer the greatest humiliation or pain imaginable. 

Without this at its heart, your Christianity isn’t even good enough for the compost pile (Luke 14:35). And those who think they are Christians, but have not this view of Christ’s worth willfully put themselves in the deadliest of spiritual conditions (Luke 14:34). Better not to think that you’re “salt” at all than to have the name but not the flavor!

Are we ready for Jesus to cost us everything? He might! So let us assess that readiness by considering how much we consider Him to be worth now, ahead of time, before any such day of reckoning comes.

How does Christ’s worth to you show in your life right now? How do you feel when thinking about suffering humiliation or torture for His sake?

Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH187 “I Belong to Jesus”


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Humble Actions and Attitudes before the King of Kings (Family Worship in 2Samuel 6)

What was God so upset about at the beginning of the chapter and Michal so upset about at the end? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 6 prepares us for the first of the two serial readings in public worship on the coming Lord’s Day morning. In these twenty-three verses, we learn that while at the beginning of the chapter God’s wrath came against David’s failure to humble himself before the King, by the end of the chapter Michal “daughter of Saul” is wroth with David precisely for humbling himself before the King! Humility before God in worship shows up in actions (doing only that by which He has given us to come near through Christ) and in attitudes (zeal unto Him, lowliness before Him, esteeming others as ourselves, and even being humble in our own eyes).

2021.03.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 6

Read 2 Samuel 6

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did David gather (2 Samuel 6:1)? How many? What were they going to do (2 Samuel 6:2)? What is the full name given to the ark here? Upon what did they set it (2 Samuel 6:3)? Who drove it? Where was the house (2 Samuel 6:4)? Who went in front? Who did what in 2 Samuel 6:5? Where are they in 2 Samuel 6:6? What does Uzzah do? Why? But what did Yahweh do (2 Samuel 6:7)? Why? With what result? How did David respond in 2 Samuel 6:8? What did he call the place? How else did David feel (2 Samuel 6:9)? What did he ask? Where wouldn’t David take the ark (2 Samuel 6:10)? But where did he? How long was it there (2 Samuel 6:11)? What did Yahweh do? What was told David (2 Samuel 6:12)? So what did he do? With what feeling? How was it being transported now (2 Samuel 6:13)? And what did David do every six paces? What else did he do (2 Samuel 6:14)? Wearing what? Who brought the ark up (2 Samuel 6:15)? How does verse 15 summarize their conduct? Where was the ark arriving in 2 Samuel 6:16? Who saw what? Before Whom was David doing it? What did she do to David? To where did they bring the ark (2 Samuel 6:17)? Then what did David do to Yahweh? And to the people (2 Samuel 6:18-19)? Where else did he go to bless (2 Samuel 6:20)? But who meets him? With what “not-blessing”? What is the main point of David’s response (2 Samuel 6:21)? In whose sight did David say he would be humbled (2 Samuel 6:22)? And by whom honored? What was the result of this conversation (2 Samuel 6:23)? 

As we move through the section of 2 Samuel in which Yahweh is establishing David in his kingdom, we come now to the climax. The climax is not the defeat of the Philistines, though that was promised and important. The climax is not the taking of what would become Jerusalem, the hill of Zion, though that will be increasingly important until the true King comes to establish His own Zion. 

The climax of establishing David is the restoration/inauguration of the fully-expressed presence of Yahweh with David via the ark of the covenant. David himself grows, in several ways, in his understanding of Yahweh here. And the chapter invites us to grow along with him.

God is much more dangerous than our enemies. It’s unclear whether the thirty thousand men in 2 Samuel 6:1 is simply the pomp of military procession or (as “choice men” implies) a security force designed to protect the ark from Philistine attack (maybe the result of their experience in 1 Samuel 4?). There was some priestly procedure (2 Samuel 6:5), but there was also some inventiveness (new cart, 2 Samuel 6:3), which is always a terrible idea in connection to that worship in which the Lord displays His utter holiness (cf. second commandment, especially in light of Deuteronomy 4). 

Uzzah miscalculated dirtiness. A sinner is much more filthy than the dirt into which he tried to stop the ark from falling (2 Samuel 6:6-7). David, however, had miscalculated dangerousness. At first he’s angry at what happened (2 Samuel 6:8). We all probably understand that. When you put a lot of effort into something, and Providence overrules your desired outcome in spectacular fashion, the consternation can be great. 

But the anger in verse 8 turns into fear in 2 Samuel 6:9—as David realizes just how dangerous Yahweh is, the man who has a sparkling success rate against human enemies decides that the ark just isn’t safe to have around. Note that this was not a transportation issue, because they still have to move it to put it in the house of Obed-Edom (2 Samuel 6:10).

God’s gracious presence brings great blessing. Obed-Edom hadn’t volunteered to keep the ark. We don’t read of them doing anything special with it. Yahweh is just pleased to bless him and all his household (2 Samuel 6:11). In the flow of the text, it seems that the Lord intended the connection between the ark and the blessing to be obvious (2 Samuel 6:12). 

God’s power cuts both ways. He has provided atonement. He has given detailed directions about the right way of approaching Him, in order that we may have confidence that we are coming not on our own terms but through His atoning terms. And so the anger (2 Samuel 6:8) that had become fear (2 Samuel 6:9) turns to gladness at the end of 2 Samuel 6:12. Now there is not the new cart of 2 Samuel 6:3, but “those bearing the ark” and blood-sacrifices in 2 Samuel 6:13.

We too may respond at first with offense at God’s just condemnation of our sin, then terror at the justness and power of that condemnation, before we at last see the provision of His atonement in Christ and rejoice that He has made a way for us to come near Him in confidence of blessing. This biblical sort of faith in Christ expresses itself, when it comes to our worship, by setting aside seemingly well-intentioned innovation and coming instead by the actions and attitudes commanded by God.

God is worthy of our humbling ourselves before Him. It’s probable that David was making the sacrifices in 2 Samuel 6:13 by means of the priests whose duty it was to actually physically conduct the sacrifice. If this was a king-oversteps-in-pride situation (e.g., Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26:16–23), it wouldn’t gel very well with the strong emphasis in the second half of our chapter on David’s humbling himself.

David’s attire (the ephod in 2 Samuel 6:14) and actions seem intended to communicate that he identifies more with the priests who are transporting the ark than with the King who sits enthroned upon it (cf. 2 Samuel 6:2): praise in 2 Samuel 6:15, humiliating/groveling movement in 2 Samuel 6:16, sacrifices again in 2 Samuel 6:17, and pronouncing not his own blessings but those of Yahweh of hosts/armies in 2 Samuel 6:18.

David recognizes that, ultimately, there is one great King in Israel, and it is not he. Rather than participate in this procession in a way that brings him praise, he instead seeks to be a means of blessing unto the rest of Yahweh’s people (2 Samuel 6:19). What a joy when the Lord gives His people humble leadership, insistent upon the peoples’ blessing. And how perfectly He has done so in great David’s greater Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Philippians 2:5–11)! 

It must have been shocking to David when he came home to be a blessing there too (2 Samuel 6:20a), but discovered that the perception from the royal window (cf. 2 Samuel 6:16) was rather different from what we see in the rest of the chapter. Of course, Michal grew up as royalty (2 Samuel 6:21), and it offends her princessly/queenly sensibilities to dress and act like servants (2 Samuel 6:20). David’s response in 2 Samuel 6:21-22 is not a justification of nakedness but a justification of humbleness, and David’s point is that when the human king takes part in the royal procession of the Heavenly King, it’s better to join in the joy of lowliness before Him than to strut one’s royal stuff. 

How much we need to hear this word, as our hearts often slip into hoping others think well of us, even when we come together to the throne of grace! Surely, there is something to be said here of wearing simple clothing, participating with zeal that is not inhibited by self-consciousness, and desire to be part of Yahweh’s blessing the others of His people with whom He has surrounded us. 

How have you dealt with the reality of God’s dangerousness? What hope do you have of blessing from Him? With what actions and attitudes do you come to worship God? How do they demonstrate humility?

Suggested songs: ARP123A “I Lift My Eyes to You” or TPH533 “Have Thine Own Way, Lord!”


Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Praising and Praying for Every and Eternal Deliverance (Family Worship in Psalm 18:1–6)

What can give us great confidence and joy in the midst of every trial? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Psalm 18:1–6 prepares us for the opening portion of the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day morning. In these six verses, we learn that for believers, every trouble is something from which Jesus (Yahweh, our Savior!) saves us in the same love and power by which He saves us from sin and death and Hell.

2021.03.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 18:1–6

Read Psalm 18:1–6

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom was this Psalm delivered (superscript)? By whom was it written? What is David called here? To Whom did he speak this Psalm? In what day? What will David to Yahweh (Psalm 18:1)? What eight things does he call Him in Psalm 18:1-2? What will David do to Yahweh in Psalm 18:3? Why? With what result? What had surrounded David (Psalm 18:4a)? What had the floods of Belial done to him (verse 4b)? What else surrounded him (Psalm 18:5a)? What confronted him (verse 5b)? What did David do (Psalm 18:6a)? How else does he describe this (verseb6b)? What kind of pronoun does he use there (and, really, throughout this passage)? What did Yahweh do (verse 6c)? From where? How else does he describe this (verse 6d)?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Psalm 18:1–6, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Jesus, Lover of My Soul

This Psalm covers pretty broad territory: “the day that Yahweh delivered David from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul.” David had many enemies! And the significance of the Psalm is underscored by its nearly full repetition at the conclusion of the David narrative in 2 Samuel 22. 

So, we can probably conclude that this Psalm gives us a general response to any and all of God’s deliverances of us—most supremely so as a response to that greatest of all deliverances, God’s delivering us from sin and death and hell in His Anointed, the Lord Jesus Christ! There are several striking things about how the Spirit carries David to lead off the Psalm in the explosion of praise that we have before us. 

One striking feature is the use of the first-person, singular, possessive pronouns. My strength. My rock. My fortress. My deliverer. My God. My strength. My shield. The horn of my salvation. My stronghold (all from Psalm 18:1-2!). My God (Psalm 18:6)! This is the nature of saving faith. It is not only sure that God is a certain way; it is sure that He is that way toward me. This God, Who is like this, is mine!

A second striking feature of these opening verses of Psalm 18 is what they reveal about God’s purposes in our distress. “In my distress I called upon Yahweh” (verse 6a). The attributes of God’s power and wisdom and mercy and faithfulness are all especially displayed when we are in distress, and we find Him to be all those marvelous things unto us that Psalm 18:2 lists.

Another striking feature is the nearness to us of our transcendent God. He is “in His temple” (verse 6c), yet this same verse illustrates His nearness to us, even from there, in three ways. He hears my voice. I make noises on earth, and He listens to those noises from heaven. My cry comes before Him. Long after the compression wave dissipates, the cry is still before the throne of heaven. 

“even to His ears”—Who, of course, has no ears. And yet He uses that language to teach us that our having ears is designed to communicate to us something about how God Himself pays attention to us, and how near unto Him our cries come: as if they are entering His very being in a way analogous to how sound waves “shake us by the tympanic membrane.”

Finally, we see that crying out to God and praising God are ordained by Him as instruments unto our deliverance (Psalm 18:3). He chooses to work in response to our praying and our praising. Truly, our God is worthy to be praised for many reasons, and these are some of those reasons that He highlights in the opening verses of this Psalm.

What distress do you find yourself in? What attributes of God are displayed in His nearness to you and His hearing you? How are you called to bring glory to Him in these attributes?

Suggested songs: ARP18A “I Love You Lord” or TPH450 “Jesus, Lover of My Soul”

 

Monday, March 08, 2021

Assured Deliverance: Infinite Gain for Those Whose Goal Is Magnifying Christ (2021.03.07 Evening Sermon in Philippians 1:19–21)

If your goal in life is to magnify Christ, then you are guaranteed to be delivered in every situation—either by life, which is Christ for you, or by death, which will be infinitely more so.

The Great Reversal of Riches (2021.03.07 Morning Sermon in Genesis 47:13–27)


However much the Lord provides or takes away in earthly treasure, these great reversals anticipate that great reversal when we shall all see that earthly treasure is inherently worthless and heavenly treasure has infinite, inherent worth. There is a great reversal coming, and it will reveal the answer to the question: is money the chief end of your God, or is God the chief end of your money? One way to describe a believer is: someone who has discovered that he has nothing, but that Christ is everything, and who discovers that Christ has taken him to be His own… so that now he has everything!


"Of Saving Faith" part 1, WCF 14.1.1–2 — Faith the Alone Means of Salvation, and the Spirit the Giver of Faith (2021.03.07 Sabbath School Lesson)

I. The grace of faith, whereby the elect are enabled to believe to the saving of their souls,(a) is the work of the Spirit of Christ in their hearts;(b)
(a) Heb. 10:39.
(b) II Cor. 4:13; Eph. 1:17, 18, 19; Eph. 2:8.

2021.03.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 47:13–27

Read Genesis 47:13–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What wasn’t there, and where (Genesis 47:13)? Why? With what result? What did Joseph gather up (Genesis 47:14)? For what? Where did he bring it? What happened where (Genesis 47:15)? Who asked for what? What did Joseph ask in return (Genesis 47:16)? With what result (Genesis 47:17)? At the end of that year, what did they say was the only thing left (Genesis 47:18)? What did they propose (Genesis 47:19)? For what two purposes? What did Joseph buy (Genesis 47:20)? What happened to the land? Where did he move the people (Genesis 47:21)? Whose land did he not buy (Genesis 47:22)? Why didn’t they sell? What did Joseph give the people (Genesis 47:23)? To do what with it? How much did they have to give Pharaoh (Genesis 47:24)? How did the people describe this arrangement (Genesis 47:25)? What did they ask to be? What became a permanent law (Genesis 47:26)? Who was doing what, and where, all this time (Genesis 47:27)?

Earthly riches sprout wings and fly away (cf. Proverbs 23:5). Certainly, that was the experience of all the land of Egypt and Canaan (Genesis 47:15a) in our passage. Twice in that verse, we read that the money “failed” (literally “was consumed/finished”; it ran out). Money will fail you.

Sometimes, the Lord blesses your labor and gives you an abundance, but then famine comes along (Genesis 47:13). 

Sometimes, your assets have appreciated for you to use as wealth, but then all the assets are sold (Genesis 47:16-17).

Sometimes, you have an inheritance (perhaps of land) from your fathers that though dearer than any other asset, you must part with in extreme circumstances (Genesis 47:18-20).

Sometimes, you have a providentially-protected position like the priests (Genesis 47:22), but you don’t know when that providence will quickly change. With the plagues of Exodus 7–12 as a judgment upon their gods, even Pharaoh who was so enriched (Genesis 47:21-22) would ultimately be ruined (cf. Exodus 10:7).

And sometimes the Lord gives His people a surprising season of government support like in the days of Mordecai or Daniel, or even government sponsorship like with Cyrus or Artaxerxes or Darius in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah.

But, however the Lord might provide earthly means for us, what a danger there is in relying upon those means! In our passage, Joseph’s position and Pharaoh’s favor lead to the enriching of Israel (Genesis 47:27) during the impoverishing of nearly all Egyptians and Canaanites (Genesis 47:13-26). And what an impoverishing it is, when you praise the state that enslaves you as your savior (Genesis 47:25)!

But we will always be impoverished of what earthly things we accumulate. We brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it (cf. 1 Timothy 6:7). How much we need to be content with God’s provision for our basic needs (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6–8) lest desire for earthly wealth either sink us lower than the grave (cf. 1 Timothy 6:9) or otherwise fill believers’ earthly lives with sorrows (cf. 1 Timothy 6:10).

O how important for us to read passages like this one and see what our God can do, and see that He is sometimes pleased to do it—so that when He takes it away, we know that we still have Him Himself “who gives us richly all things to enjoy” (1 Timothy 6:17) and who had enabled us to “be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for ourselves a good foundation for the time to come, that we may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:18–19).

Indeed, let us be wise with our wealth, and appreciate it, and even enjoy it. But let us always do so as those who expect the great reversal that is coming: the wealth of this world will vanish, and our invisible wealth toward God will be revealed (cf. Luke 12:13–34).

There are many who treat God as if God’s chief end is to facilitate their glorifying themselves and their wealth and their enjoying themselves and their wealth forever. O, let us make use of whatever He gives us with the conviction that the chief end of wealth is to facilitate our glorifying God by it and even enjoying God with it. The great reversal is coming; blessed are those who view themselves and their wealth and their lives with a view toward that great day!

What earthly things has God given you? How are you using it to glorify Him? How are you using it to enjoy Him? What eternal benefit will appear from your earthly wealth, once that earthly wealth has vanished?

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH564 “The Beatitudes”