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, April 24, 2021

2021.04.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 1:1–7

Read Exodus 1:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose names are listed in the following verses (Exodus 1:1)? With whom did they come? What eleven sons are named in Exodus 1:2-4? Of whom were they descendants (Exodus 1:5)? How many of them were there? Who was where already? Who died in Exodus 1:6? Who else? But what four things does Exodus 1:7 say that the children of Israel did? What happened to the land? 

Genesis had begun in Eden and ended in Egypt. Now Exodus is beginning in Egypt and ending at the tabernacle, God's designed place for making His presence to dwell among His people. As Moses will say in his Psalm, “Yahweh, You have been our dwelling place, in all our generations” (cf.  Psalm 90:1). 

Right now, though, they are in Egypt. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have passed away. And now the generation of Jacob’s children have died as well (Exodus 1:6). It had been a pretty remarkable advance, from the single thread by which the promise hung from one generation to the next, now to these twelve households (Exodus 1:1)—seventy persons plus the household of Joseph (Exodus 1:2-5). 

But now they are in Egypt, and what will happen there? Abram had been told that his seed would be afflicted foreigners for four hundred years (cf. Genesis 15:13), but the Lord has been showing throughout His dealings with man to this point that He delights to bless over-against man’s expectations and possibilities. It is His promise and His pleasure that decides what will happen, not our expectations and abilities.

And so the book of Exodus begins with a perfect example of this. Abraham, gone. Isaac, gone. Jacob, gone. The patriarchs of the twelve tribes, gone. The children of Israel, in Egypt. Now what?

“The children of Israel were fruitful.”

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased.”

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly.”

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied.”

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew mighty.

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty.

“The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.”

The language is so piled up on top of itself that without slowing down in some way to dwell upon it,  we might miss the impact that it is designed to have upon us. 

Generations come and go, but our God is forever, His promises are sure, and His power does not depend upon any man. Never fret nor fear, dear Christian. Your almighty God is keeping His promises.

What circumstances in your heart, your household, your nation, or the church discourage you? To what encouragement can you look regardless of those circumstances? How will you keep yourself looking there?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”

Friday, April 23, 2021

2021.04.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:14–15

Read Philippians 2:14–15

Questions from the Scripture text: How many things are we to do (Philippians 2:14)? Without what two things? What two things will we be, if we do everything this way (Philippians 2:15)? Who will we be? Without what? In the midst of what kind of generation? What will we do amongst them?

When God has begun a good work in you (Philippians 1:6) and is still doing a good work in you (Philippians 2:13), there’s no room for complaining against God and questioning what He’s doing (Philippians 2:14). You may have read Exodus through Deuteronomy and thought, “how can they possibly grumble against God? Look at what He did for them and is doing for them!” 

And now the apostle comes along, holds up the mirror and shows us how great a work the Lord has done for us and is doing in us—something that far outpaces the Exodus. And yet how much we complain and murmur against God! Let us exterminate grumbling from our vocabulary and expunge murmuring from our hearts.

This is necessary both because of to Whom we belong and among whom we live. Will you be a child of God or of your generation? We have to choose. We cannot have one foot in each camp. Our Father is a Father of light in Whom there is no darkness at all. Our generation is a world of darkness, from which there is no light at all. 

A Christian can’t aim to be a slightly better worldling, as if our character can be a slightly less concentrated shade of darkness. Rather, the Christian must aim at being what God has already declared him to be: a god-ling, a child of God. He aims at blamelessness, innocence, faultlessness. If the standard you’re aiming at is possible, then it’s the wrong standard altogether. Since God is the One doing the aiming and the working (Philippians 2:13), He establishes the standard (Philippians 2:15). God is doing the work! Therefore, He defines what that work is. And it should stand apart from the world like literal day and night.

When are you most tempted to grumble or complain? What are some ways that you stick out from the world?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Symptoms of a Heart that the LORD Is Preparing for His Holy Hill (2021.04.21 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 15)

The most important question facing each one of us is whether we will end up in Hell or the Hill of Yahweh's holiness. In those whom the Lord is bringing to the latter, He Who is their righteousness is doing a renovation work in their hearts. This Psalm gives eight symptoms by which we may recognize that work of heart-renovation.

2021.04.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 17:20–37

Read Luke 17:20–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Who asked Jesus what in Luke 17:20? What does Jesus say, instead of answering the “when” question? What won’t they say (Luke 17:21)? Why—what is the answer to the where question? To whom does He speak in Luke 17:22? What did He say they would desire to see? What would people say to them then (Luke 17:23)? What does Jesus say to do when they say this? What will the Son of Man be like in His day (Luke 17:24)? What must He do first (Luke 17:25)? By whom must He be rejected? Whose days will it be like in the day of the Son of Man (Luke 17:26)? What were they doing in both days (Luke 17:27)? Until what happened? Who else’s days were like that (Luke 17:28)? What suddenly happened to them (Luke 17:29)? What did these two events have in common? What is Jesus saying to those who are preoccupied with the “when” question about His return? What day does He say will be like these two days (Luke 17:30)? What kinds of things won’t be important in that day (Luke 17:31)? Whom should we remember (Luke 17:32)? Who will lose his life (Luke 17:33a)? Who will preserve his life (verse 33b)? What can’t we tell from where two people are, and what they are doing (Luke 17:34-36)? What do the disciples want to know about His return in Luke 17:37? How does Jesus explain that the location will be obvious when it actually happens?

The Pharisees ask when the kingdom of God would come (Luke 17:20). But they don’t have a clue what they’re asking. Jesus’s answer isn’t just that they wouldn’t know the kingdom of God if it hit them, but that it already has hit them, and they don’t know it: “the kingdom of God [i.e., the King Himself] is in the midst of them” (Luke 17:21). The kingdom was there, but the Pharisees couldn’t see it, because they weren’t prepared for it.

Then, there’ll be a day when the kingdom won’t be there. His disciples will wish that He was around (Luke 17:22), so much so that they might be easily suckered by people who use His return to manipulate them (Luke 17:23). But, they shouldn’t let themselves be taken in, because hiding His return will be like trying to hide lightning (Luke 17:24). So, know that just as Christ Himself had to suffer (Luke 17:25), His servants also must be willing to do so in the meantime (Luke 17:22). So, the disciples should be prepared for the days when they are all the kingdom that there is on earth.

As for the days when He does actually return, those are going to sneak up on those who live for this life. All but eight were destroyed in the days of Noah (Luke 17:26-27). All but four were destroyed in the days of Lot (Luke 17:28-30). And a quarter of them were destroyed even though among the “church” (Luke 17:32). So, don’t live for this life, because that’s how to be destroyed (Luke 17:33Luke 17:31). So, all succeeding generations should live like life in this world is ending momentarily.

After all, you might be in the same family (Luke 17:32) or even doing the same activities (Luke 17:34-36) and one will escape but the other be dead meat (Luke 17:37). 

What’s the theme that holds these sections of teaching together: it is far more important to be prepared by knowing Christ, belonging to Christ, and living for Christ than it is to know when the last day will be. The great day will only be “great” for you if you are Christ’s.

The main question must be not, “when is Christ returning?” but rather “is Christ everything to me?”

What are some ways that you can tell that Christ is everything to someone? How do these appear in your life?

Suggested Songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH72A “O God, Your Judgments Give the King”

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

2021.04.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 11

Read 2 Samuel 11

Questions from the Scripture text: What time of the year was it (2 Samuel 11:1)? What were kings supposed to do? What did David do? Whom did he send instead? Where did David remain? From what did David arise at what time in 2 Samuel 11:2? What did he see? What did he do about this (2 Samuel 11:3)? What relevant data did he discover? How did he respond to this data (2 Samuel 11:4)? What did he do with her? What was the result of this sin (2 Samuel 11:5)? Whom did she tell? To whom does David respond, and how (2 Samuel 11:6)? Who arrives in 2 Samuel 11:7? What does David ask him about? What does David tell Uriah to do in 2 Samuel 11:8 (cf. 2 Samuel 11:2, same verb as bathing)? What follows Uriah when he goes? But when it comes time to sleep, where does Uriah go (2 Samuel 11:9)? What does David ask in 2 Samuel 11:10? What is the first thing Uriah mentions in 2 Samuel 11:11? What does he point out about whom? So what three things does Uriah refuse to do? What kind of statement does he make at the end of verse 11? What does David want Uriah to do in 2 Samuel 11:12? What does David do to Uriah in 2 Samuel 11:13? But what doesn’t Uriah do? What does David send by whose hand in 2 Samuel 11:14? What did the letter say to do (2 Samuel 11:15)? What does Joab do, in response to the letter (2 Samuel 11:16)? What else had to happen to whom else for this to be done (2 Samuel 11:17)? What does Joab do when it is completed (2 Samuel 11:18)? What does he expect David to think of the strategy (2 Samuel 11:19-21)? How does Joab counsel to respond if David is angry (verse 21)? When does the messenger decide to include this vital information (2 Samuel 11:22-24)? How does David respond to the message that is delivered this way (2 Samuel 11:25)? How does Bathsheba respond to this news (2 Samuel 11:26)? What does this verse call her (cf. Matthew 1:6)? What does David do when she is done mourning (2 Samuel 11:27)? Who is finally mentioned at the end of this verse? What does the verse say about Him?

In the last three chapters, we have seen David as a prototype of Christ, but alas how greatly God’s people need the real deal!

It was the time that kings go out to battle, and Israel’s king was at home (2 Samuel 11:1). Getting out of bed in the late afternoon in fact (2 Samuel 11:2). But he’d be back in bed a few verses and a minute later with another man’s wife (2 Samuel 11:4), having let eyes and mind wander (2 Samuel 11:2-3). 

This is the man after God’s heart? We’ll get to the difference that grace makes in chapter 12, but for now we see how it’s not good enough to have David as your king. He can’t even be his own righteousness. He (and we) must have Christ’s blood atone for our so-called “righteousness.” And he and we must have Christ as our forever-king.

The adultery is what tends to stand out to us, but it’s over very abruptly. The bulk of the chapter is spent on David trying to use Uriah to wipe out the evidence of his sin (2 Samuel 11:6-13) and then using Uriah to wipe out Uriah (2 Samuel 11:14-15). 

Oh what great (and even greatly wicked) effort we may put into trying to appear righteous!

But it doesn’t work and can’t work. The chapter doesn’t mention Yahweh until the very last word (in the Hebrew, as well as our English translation), which subtly drives home the point. David (and we) may do our level best to hide Him out of our sight when we are sinning, but we can never succeed in hiding our sin from His holy sight.

Even the best of us believers (and the Scripture has worked hard to highlight David as among the best of believers) can fall into the worst of sin. And our slouch into it can begin even by something as seemingly innocuous as skipping work and taking lazy naps. So, let us rejoice that Christ Himself alone is our righteousness. And, let us keep clinging to Him as those who know that we could fall at any moment. And, let us put confidence in no prince but in Christ our King.

By what activities has Christ granted to you to keep clinging to Him? In what leaders do you need to guard against placing your trust?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH429 “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Christ Himself the Only Foundation of Peace with God and Growth in Grace (2021.04.20 Family Worship in Ephesians 2:13–22)

What great error lay behind the ethnic tension in the Ephesian church? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Ephesians 2:13–22 prepares us for the call to worship, prayer of adoration, and first song in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these ten verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that our peace and unity with one another is a necessary result of having Christ Himself as the only ground of peace with God and Christ Himself as the only foundation of the growth of any Christian and of the church as a nation/family/building/body.

2021.04.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 2:13–22

Read Ephesians 2:13–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What are they now in Ephesians 2:13 (as opposed to when they were in the flesh in Ephesians 2:11)? What has happened to them, in contrast to their being far off? By what had they been brought near? What is the peace between the Jews and Gentiles (Ephesians 2:14)? What has Jesus done to them? What has He broken down? What did He do to the enmity (Ephesians 2:15)? How? What had sealed this enmity? What has Christ done to it? What has He created in Himself? To Whom has He reconciled them (Ephesians 2:16)? How? What did this put to death? What did He come and preach (Ephesians 2:17)? To whom? What do we both have (Ephesians 2:18)? Through Whom? By Whom? To Whom? What are they no longer (Ephesians 2:19)? What are they now with the saints? Of what are they now members? Upon what were they built (Ephesians 2:20)? Who is the chief cornerstone? What role does He have in the building (Ephesians 2:21)? Into what does the building grow, in Him? Who else is being built together in this building (Ephesians 2:22)? For what? For Whom? In Whom?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Ephesians 2:13–22, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

We have been brought near to God by the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:13)! His blood has atoned for us so that we can come near. His righteousness has merited the blessedness in which we do come near. So our peace is more than just a position or status, but a Person (Ephesians 2:14) in Whom we have it. 

Many of the ordinances of the Mosaic law (Ephesians 2:15) existed to show the separation between Israel and the nations, which was necessary because God was near Israel in a way that He was not to other nations (cf. Deuteronomy 4:7, etc.). But it turned out that what the tabernacle, temple, and sacrifices couldn’t do, Jesus Himself has done in His flesh (Ephesians 2:15-16), which He makes a reality in our lives by His Spirit (Ephesians 2:18). 

What could man ever add, whether by his efforts or his feelings, to the reality that we have in Jesus Christ Himself? The Father has brought us to Himself in the Son by the powerful working of His Spirit. To what the Triune God plans, accomplishes, and applies, man the creature can never add.

Christ is the Solid Rock, the sure foundation, the Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Any other ground—whether for any of us personally, or for the church corporately (Ephesians 2:21)—is sinking sand. When other things threaten to stir up discord in the church, we must have recourse back to Christ Himself, Who has killed that enmity (Ephesians 2:16). When circumstances seem to say that God has turned against us, we must have recourse back to Christ Himself, Who has killed that enmity (verse 16). How marvelous to know one another as fellow members of God’s family, and to know ourselves as God’s children (Ephesians 2:19)—which we can know only in Christ Himself!

How do people think and act, when Christ is the foundation of their getting along? Where should our minds and hearts go, when we are afraid that things have gone wrong between us and the Lord?

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Thy Face” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Monday, April 19, 2021

Pursuing Holiness out of Love for Christ's Glory (2021.04.18 Evening Sermon in Philippians 2:12–13)

Love for Christ's glory compels us to pursue holiness from the fear of God (the right fear) with great awe expressed in trembling (great fear) because this pursuit is done in conjunction with and dependence upon God Himself (giving us great confidence).

Death-Defying Hope in Our Relentlessly Faithful God (2021.04.18 Morning Sermon in Genesis 50:22–26)

Those who are dying in the hope of God and His promises desire others to live by the hope of God and His promises.

Saving Faith Doesn't Just Agree with but Embraces the Word of God (2021.04.18 Sabbath School Lesson)

Saving faith embraces the promises of God for this life, and that which is to come.

2021.04.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 50:22–26

Read Genesis 50:22–26

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Joseph dwell (Genesis 50:22)? With whom? To what age did he live? Whom did he see (Genesis 50:23)? To how many generations? Who were brought up on Joseph’s knees? To whom does Joseph speak in Genesis 50:24? What does he say is happening to him? Whom does he say will visit them? Out of where will God bring them? Into what land will He bring them? What does Joseph “take” from them in Genesis 50:25? What are they called in this verse? What does He say will surely happen? What does Joseph put them under oath to do? What does Joseph do in Genesis 50:26? At what age? What do they do to him? Into what do they put him? Where?

Joseph’s story isn’t over. His life ended well. It seems to have been a blessed final 53 years or so of his life (Genesis 50:23). But that’s not why we are saying that his life ended well. Actually, Joseph’s story hasn’t ended. “I am dying,” he says (Genesis 50:24), but that isn’t the end. He wants his bones carried back to the promised land. Or, to use the language of the text, the “sworn” land. He intends to resume use of them at some point, and would like to do so from there. If your life is going to be lived well, it must be lived by faith in Him who is destroying sin and death. If your life is going to be lived well, it must be lived with a confident hope in the coming resurrection.

Israel’s story wasn’t over. It can feel like the story is over after a long, “golden” age. Or when a great figure dies. Moments like the death of Joseph, the death of Moses, or the death of Uzziah can feel like the foundations are coming out from under God’s people. So when Moses dies, there is a great emphasis on the Lord still being with Joshua and Israel. And when Uzziah dies, the Lord gives Isaiah a vision of Himself still seated upon the throne. 

And here when Joseph is dying, he emphasizes that God will visit them, repeating it in back to back verses. In both cases, the verb is emphasized by its doubling as well: “visiting, God will visit you.” Joseph wants them to do something with his bones; he’s going to put them under oath to do it. But the bones are not the emphasis of his dying speech. Joseph is not done with his bones, but his emphasis is upon the God Who is not done with His people.

Death’s story will soon be over. Sarcophaguses (Egyptian coffins) weren’t part of the original design. When God said “very good” there was no sin or death. But sin entered through Adam and death through sin. So the book started in paradise in Eden, and it ends “in a coffin in Egypt.” But sin’s days are numbered. God had said, “dying you shall die.” That has certainly proven true. But it is not just God’s threats that are true. All of His words are perfectly reliable. So yes, He will bring them out of the land. And yes, they will be afflicted until then (cf. Genesis 15:13). 

But these words will also be true: “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3) and “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel” (Genesis 3:15). The last enemy to be destroyed will be death (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:26). Genesis ends “in a coffin in Egypt,” but Genesis is not the end. It is just the beginning.

So, as Joseph dies, he dies clinging relentlessly to the God Who relentlessly keeps His promises. And, his last act of loving care for his family is to set that God before them, so that they may live the way Joseph is dying: clinging relentlessly to the God Who relentlessly keeps His promises.

What promises has God made for this life, that you should be living by? What promises has He made for eternity?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH243 “How Firm a Foundation”