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, May 01, 2021

2021.05.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 1:8–14

Read Exodus 1:8–14

Questions from the Scripture text: Who arose over what in Exodus 1:8? Whom did he not know? To whom did he speak in Exodus 1:9? What did he say about the children of Israel? What did he say they needed to do, in order to stop what (Exodus 1:10)? What did he say would happen if they multiplied? What did the Egyptians do to stop the Israelites from multiplying (Exodus 1:11)? What did the Israelites build for whom? What was the result of Egypt afflicting them (Exodus 1:12)? How did the Egyptians feel about the children of Israel now? Now what did the Egyptians do (Exodus 1:13)? What did this make the Israelites’ lives like (Exodus 1:14)?

The wicked live for their own glory. Why is it any surprise that they do things like collaborate to build towers or cities to their own praise? Why is it any surprise that they seek to oppose Christ’s church and make her life bitter?

There are echoes of Babel here. “Come, let us…” they had said in Genesis 11:3, putting themselves in the place of God Himself from Genesis 1:26. The mortar and brick of Exodus 1:14 are the same words as used in Genesis 11:3. And, the building project here is in order to “make a name” for the Pharaoh, who actually names one of the supply cities after himself (“Raamses,” Exodus 1:11). 

This king refused to acknowledge Joseph (Exodus 1:8), just as the later Pharaoh would refuse to acknowledge Yahweh (cf. Genesis 5:2). His opposition to God and His glory put him at direct odds with God’s people and God’s anointed. This is the way that it always is (cf. Psalm 2; John 15:18–25; 1 Peter 4:12–16; 1 John 3:13). 

So, let us not be surprised. And let us also not despair. Yahweh frustrated the work at Babel. And here in our passage, the more the Lord’s people are afflicted, the more they multiply and grow. When they gathered against Christ, they could only accomplish what God had planned (cf. Acts 2:23, Acts 4:23–31; Psalm 2). And though the rage of the serpent is great in his frustration at Christ’s exaltation and his own being cast down (cf. Revelation 12), God’s providence continually neutralizes the effect of his attacks (cf. Revelation 12:13–17). 

Whether in our text, at Babel, at the cross, or throughout church history, the devil and men who are like him have always acted the same, so let us not be surprised. And the Lord has always turned it all for their humiliation and the church’s good, so let us not despair (Exodus 1:12). Christianity has always spread most when it was persecuted. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

For Whose name are you living? What are you willing to endure for that Name? For whose name do worldlings live? What are they willing to do to you for that name?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH2B “Why Do Heathen Nations Rage?”

Friday, April 30, 2021

Sanctification Worth Great Effort and Great Rejoicing (Family Worship Lesson in Philippians 2:16–18)

For what has the apostle put forth such strenuous effort? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Philippians 2:16–18 prepares us for the first of the two serial readings in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses of Sacred Scripture, we hear that the apostle has considered their sanctification worth his strenuous effort, because its outcome will be worth his and their great rejoicing.

2021.04.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:16–18

Read Philippians 2:16–18

Questions from the Scripture text: To what does the apostle hope they will hold fast (Philippians 2:16)? What will he do if they do? When? Why? As what does the apostle think he might be being poured out (Philippians 2:17)? Upon what sacrifice or worship/ service? How would he respond to be pouring out this way? What does he want them to do (Philippians 2:18)? With whom?

The apostle has just said that Christians should stand out: blameless in the midst of perversity (Philippians 2:15a) and lights in a dark world (Philippians 2:15b). It is quite possible that in Philippians 2:16a, the apostle has in mind Peter’s words John 6:68–69. In a world where many are denying Christ’s divine kingship and often abandon Him, the apostle hopes that the Philippian believers will never do so—that they would say, “where would we go?” and instead hold fast to Him Who has the words of eternal life.

This is worth running for and rejoicing over.

Currently, the apostle is putting forth strenuous effort. He has called them to strenuous effort (work out your own salvation with fear and trembling), and both terms that he is using of his own part in Philippians 2:16 indicate significant exertion: run and labor.

Why is it worth putting such effort into it on his part? Because in the day of Christ, the things that were worth rejoicing over at the last will be those that have ongoing significance in that day. A sacrifice unto God’s glory is not something lost, but something gained. 

This is what he calls the Philippians’ service of faith unto the Lord and holding fast the words of eternal life. He gives their effort the main billing. But he doesn’t want his efforts to be for nothing (“vain”). He is happy participating in the offering, even if it is just the “drink offering” portion that is poured out upon the main sacrifice.

Christ gets all the glory. It will be the day of Christ. It will have been the work of Christ (God, Who died for us on the cross, and Who worked in us both to will and to work). The work will have been done by the Word of Christ, the word of life.

But there is a sharing of glory and joy, and believers are looking forward both to Christ being exalted in each of our lives, and to rejoicing over the part that each of us had. Not only does the apostle say that he hopes to rejoice over them (Philippians 2:16), but also when his own portion has contributed, he wants them on that day to be glad and rejoice in his behalf (Philippians 2:18). So in God, and in Christ, and in each of us in one another’s lives, that day will be one of mutually reinforcing, reciprocating, compounding joy.

Surely, something that will be worth such rejoicing then is worth strenuous effort in running and laboring now!

How are you putting effort into your own sanctification? How are you putting effort into others’?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH469 “Who Are These, Like Stars Appearing”

Thursday, April 29, 2021

How, in Jesus, the Lord Is Our Provision, Goodness, Guard, and Pleasure (Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 16)

We can have no other goodness and no other guard. Therefore, though refusing idolatry can come at great cost, yet we will stick to the LORD alone as our portion, our guard, our goodness, and our pleasure.

Faith on Earth Prays Relentlessly for Justice in the Midst of Trouble (Family Worship Lesson in Luke 18:1–8)

What does Jesus mean when He asks if He will find faith on the earth when He comes? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Luke 18:1–8 prepares us for the second of the two serial readings in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eight verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that the faith that Jesus is looking for is a faith that is confident that the God Who has elected us for Himself, bears long with us in our afflictions, and desires us to pray for that avenging, which He will bring speedily.

2021.04.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 18:1–8

Read Luke 18:1–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus begin speaking to them in Luke 18:1? What is the point of this parable? What is the judge like in Luke 18:2? Who else is in the city? For what does she ask from the judge (Luke 18:3)? How does the judge respond for a while (Luke 18:4)? What does he know himself to still not do? So, why does he decide to get her justice (Luke 18:5)? To whom does the Lord tell them to listen in Luke 18:6? Whom does He say God will more surely listen to (Luke 18:7)? What should they be doing day and night? How long will it take for Him to give them justice (Luke 18:8)? With what question does Jesus conclude this lesson about not losing heart in prayer? 

The Holy Spirit tells us the point of the parable: to teach us “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Jesus has a specific subject of prayer in mind: that God would avenge us, i.e. give us justice or vindicate us (cf. Luke 18:7-8). Though the lesson and the principle apply to all proper prayer, it is especially focused upon this one. Things are not yet as they ought to be, especially in the mistreating and misjudging of believers. 

The Lord tells us here that we should be praying for ourselves and other believers to be delivered from those who act and speak against them—indeed from those whose manner is the fruit of the devil, that great murderer and accuser.

Jesus also has a specific manner of prayer in mind: intense (“crying out”), frequent/consistent (“day and night”), and persistent (“though He bears long with them”), Luke 18:7. By these, He shows us what he means by “always ought to pray and not lose heart.” How very far have many of us to come—prayerless people in a prayerless age.

There is precious little addressing God, let alone crying out to Him. Hardly an individual or household can be found who have set times of prayer both morning and evening, and few are the churches whose public worship feature any crying out whatsoever, or have even one additional set time of prayer in each week. We are fools if we believe that what happens in few set times somehow intensely happens in the between-times; and, we cannot honestly begin to talk about being either frequent or persistent in that which we hardly ever even begin to do. 

God have mercy upon us! To many who claim to be Christians, the God Who has elected us, hears us, and responds to us is nearly as theoretical as the unjust judge from our Lord’s parable. Yet, this is exactly what Jesus is asking about and looking for in Luke 18:8b. He’s defining “finding faith” here as finding elect people who pray like this. If Jesus were to come to your bedroom, to your household, to your church, would He find what He’s looking for?

Finally, Jesus gives us a specific ground upon which to hope that we are heard. God has elected us (Luke 18:7). He Who has been determined to do us good from outside of time will answer our prayers in as little of that time as will possibly honor Him and benefit us. He has chosen you. He will hear you. He will avenge you. And speedily, at that.

If “the Son of Man” came to you/your family/your church, would He find prayer and not losing heart?

Suggested Songs: ARP55C “But As for Me, I’ll Call on God” or TPH522 “Behold the Throne of Grace!”

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

You Are the Man, Hearer!: the Aggravated Heinousness of Christians' Sins (Family Worship Lesson in 2Samuel 12:1–14)

What if the Scripture is using with us the tactic that Nathan is using with David? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 12:1–14 prepares us for the first of the two serial readings in the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Sacred Scripture, we find that like David, we are quicker to condemn than to confess. And we find that the reasoning by which Yahweh declares the heinousness of David's sins would be valid reasoning for the aggravated/heightened heinousness of our sins as Christian believers.

2021.04.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 12:1–15a

Read 2 Samuel 12:1–15a

Questions from the Scripture text: Who sent whom to whom (2 Samuel 12:1)? What did Nathan start telling David about? What did the rich man have (2 Samuel 12:2)? What did the poor man have (2 Samuel 12:3)? How does Nathan describe the specialness of the little ewe lamb? Who came to the rich man (2 Samuel 12:4)? How did David feel toward the rich man (2 Samuel 12:5)? What did he say should be done? How did he say it? What else did he say should happen (2 Samuel 12:6)? What does Nathan answer to this (2 Samuel 12:7)? With what does the word from Yahweh begin? What does Yahweh recount in 2 Samuel 12:7-8? What question follows in 2 Samuel 12:9 (cf. Psalm 51:4)? What is the penalty for what (2 Samuel 12:10)? What will Yahweh do to David (2 Samuel 12:11)? Who will see this (2 Samuel 12:12)? What does David say (2 Samuel 12:13)? How does Nathan answer him? Who will not die? Who will die (2 Samuel 12:14)? What does Nathan do in 2 Samuel 12:15?

Nathan’s approach works, because we are much readier to condemn sin in others than we are in ourselves. Bearing that in mind, we ought to prepare our hearts to find that the rest of the passage really does condemn us much more than we might at first think.

The logic of the Lord’s accusation against David is that He has done so much for David (2 Samuel 12:7-8) that it makes it all the worse for David to have despised the commandment of the Lord (2 Samuel 12:9), and that committing such sin has “given great occasion to the enemies of Yahweh to blaspheme” (2 Samuel 12:14).

So, there is a sense in which the condemnation declared here is one that is only and especially for believers and their sins. We tend to be scandalized by how flashy the sin is. Murder! Adultery! And certainly there is a great heinousness in those particular actions. 

But let us not miss that “despising the commandments of the One who has done so much for us” and “giving occasion for the blaspheming of Him Who has identified Himself with us” are two complicating/aggravating factors that apply to every sin of a Christian believer. It is as if the Scripture comes to us in this passage, as we are ready to condemn David, and points the finger out at the Christian reader, saying “You are the man!”

Indeed, even we who are forgiven ought to fear greatly to sin. Although it is a great mercy and relief for us to hear in Christ’s cross, “Yahweh has put away your sin; you shall not die,” we must face the sobering reality that there are very real and very intense consequences even for forgiven sin.

In this case, the entire nation would suffer as adversity arose against the house of the king from within it (2 Samuel 12:11a). And the wives/concubines would suffer dreadfully in the fulfillment of 2 Samuel 12:11b–2 Samuel 12:12 (cf. 2 Samuel 16:21-22). And the unborn child himself would die (2 Samuel 12:14), missing the opportunity to serve the Lord in this world/life. 

So, both out of love for the Lord and for those who may be harmed by the consequences, even we who are forgiven—and especially we who are forgiven—ought greatly to fear and to hate sinning!

What makes your sins to be like David’s sins? What has the Lord done for you? What can happen if you sin?

Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH180 “Kind and Merciful God, We Have Sinned”

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

2021.04.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:7–11

Read Philippians 3:7–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the apostle counted as loss (Philippians 3:7)? For Whom? What else does He count as loss (Philippians 3:8)? For what? Who is Christ Jesus to Him? What has the apostle suffered for his Lord? As what does he count them? In order to gain what (Whom)? What else does the apostle want to do with Christ (Philippians 3:9a)? Of what does the apostle have none of his own? What is the only righteousness that he can have? From Whom is this righteousness? By what is this righteousness? What three things does the apostle come to know/have through the knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:10)? Of what is the knowledge of Christ the only means to the attaining (Philippians 3:11)? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Philippians 3:7–11, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Thy Works, Not Mine, O Christ

Christ is the prince of glory! We sinners have nothing of our own that is worthy or praiseworthy, and now God has given Himself to us in His Son of infinite worthiness and praiseworthiness. 

Christ is all of our righteousness. By what other righteousness could we be right with God? “And count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” Christ is all of the righteousness that we have before God!

Christ is all of our treasure. What other treasure could we desire? “I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Christ is all of our treasure!

Christ is all of our power. By what other power could we defeat death? How I should be willing to suffer, if it is part of having fellowship with Him in His sufferings! How I should be willing to die, if it is part of being conformed to His death! To know Him is also to know the power of His resurrection—Christ’s resurrection is the only means by which any of us may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Christ is all of our power!

O, may God grant to us to renounce our own righteousness, to renounce any treasure apart from Christ, and to renounce all other power. Christ is all our righteousness; Christ is all our treasure; Christ is all our power! 

What are we tempted to have make us feel more right with God? What are we tempted to treasure for its own sake? What are we tempted to think will make us strong Christians? 

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Monday, April 26, 2021

2021.04.26 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?

Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth. This was the original command given to the one creature made in God’s image (cf. Genesis 1:28). 

But Adam sinned and died, and so did all mankind in him. Ever since then, man has been dying.

But God, Who had declared that there would be a seed of the woman who would crush the serpent’s head, later chose Abraham that in him and his seed, all the families of the earth would be blessed. God renewed this promise with Abraham’s son Isaac, and with his son Jacob. 

Jacob became an especial picture to us of God’s salvation. Literally, from the womb, he was a heel-grabber, a swindler who lived by his wits. But God put him repeatedly into distress that brought him to an end of himself, forcing Jacob to wrestle with the God Who would wrestle on Jacob’s—now Israel’s—behalf. 

Finally, the family through whom God is determined to bring the Redeemer comes to be called “the children of Israel,” as they make their move to Egypt. But this family has the same problem as those whom God will save through them: sin and death. Will sin and death stop His plan of salvation? No. “The children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.”

Sometimes, it is not merely the reality of death that discourages us; the loss of those whom the Lord has greatly used can be especially discouraging. Exodus 1:6 places Exodus 1:7 in the context of having lost a great generation. After the last 70 years in Egypt, the last 53 of them without Jacob, the loss of Joseph would be keenly felt. And it’s not just Joseph. “All his brothers.” “All that generation.”

So much has been lost. Now what will come of the children of Israel, and of the promise of a Redeemer through them? Answer: “But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.” 

God created image-bearers to be fruitful and fill His creation. God is redeeming image-bearers to be fruitful and fill His creation—and His coming redeemed creation. 

That which would become a problem for the subsequent Pharaoh is for us a reminder that God’s plan is still in full effect. Sin and death could not stop it. The loss of Joseph and the patriarchs could not stop it. We too need this lesson in our own lives, our own families, our own church(es), our own nation.

We mustn’t depend upon our ability to resist death or sin. Yes, we ought to be good stewards, and to reflect Christ’s redemptive glory as much as we may in this life. But we will struggle against sin all this life, and eventually we will die. Our hope is in God, and our Redeemer, the God-Man Who has defeated sin and death.

We mustn’t depend upon those great men that God has used in His church and in our lives. Yes, we ought to recognize and honor them, both in our interactions and also before God in gratitude to Him. Seeing how God has been pleased to use such individuals, it is even good for us to seek to be much used of Him, and to seek from Him that our children would be much used of Him. 

But, let our dependence be upon Him Himself, so that when a much-used man is taken from us, or when there does not appear to be one of such quality among us, we will yet have our great and gracious God, and our hope will rest securely upon Him!

What setbacks discourage you lately? Whose loss have you felt keenly? In Whom do you Hope?

Suggested songs: ARP146 “Praise the LORD” or TPH146 “Praise the LORD! My Soul, O Praise Him!”

Sunday, April 25, 2021

Mirrors and Motives for Being God's Contented Children (2021.04.25 Evening Sermon in Philippians 2:14–25)

Grumbling and complaining is crooked and perverse. Children of God will be conforming to the image of their contented Redeemer, bringing them into direct contrast with the world.

The God Whose Grace Overcomes Sin and Death (2021.04.25 Morning Sermon in Exodus 1:1–7)

We will die, and those whom the Lord has much used in our lives will die. But the Lord and His plan for salvation will continue and succeed.

WCF 14.2.9a Faith Accepts, Receives, and Rests upon Christ (2021.04.25 Sabbath School Lesson)

But the principal acts of saving faith are accepting, receiving, and resting upon Christ alone for justification, sanctification, and eternal life, by virtue of the covenant of grace.