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 08, 2021

2021.05.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 1:15–21

Read Exodus 1:15–21

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to whom in Exodus 1:15? What are the names of the midwives? What is the name of the Pharaoh? What does he tell them to do to whom (Exodus 1:16)? Whom did the midwives fear more than Pharaoh (Exodus 1:17)? What did they do to the male children? Who calls for them in Exodus 1:18? What does he ask them? What do they say about the Hebrew women (Exodus 1:19)? Whom do they say are not vigorous like this? What were the midwives waiting for to happen before they would arrive at a Hebrew home? With whom did God deal well in Exodus 1:20? What desire/effort of theirs did He bless? What else did He do for them (Exodus 1:21)?

The Serpent hates the child who is in the image of God and has been attacking the woman who would bear him (cf. Genesis 3:1), ever since the garden. When God’s curse upon the serpent included that the woman would bear not only an image-bearing child, but a serpent-crushing child (cf. Genesis 3:15), how great was the dragon’s vigilance to try to destroy Him (cf. Revelation 12:4–5).

This is what we saw in the Fall, and Satan continues to rage against all humanity, and especially male children, who are designed and called by God to be heads of their families, providers, protectors, and heirs. He attacks the man to destroy him, and he seeks to do so by employing the woman. It was this way in the fall. It is that way in this text. It was that way with the foreign wives of Israel and their kings. It is that way with the loose woman in Proverbs. It is that way today with abortive, murdering, mothers and their enablers.

There is a desperate need in the church for teaching and emphasizing the vital roles to which men are called. If we blur, or even demean, the differences, then we play directly into the devil’s hand. If he cannot destroy the males themselves, he still succeeds if he destroys their maleness. And there is a desperate need for females to rejoice in their design and calling to be helpers, not harmers. And to be those who conceive and bear and nourish and nurture both the next generation of sons, and also the daughters who will one day follow their mothers in this high calling.

But what if you are a woman who cannot bear? In ancient Israel, you might become a midwife. Certainly that was the case for Shiphrah and Puah. But the Lord used them mightily for the sparing of far more sons than they could have borne themselves. And many women of varying ages who are not bearing or bringing up children can yet see God’s design, embrace it, and identify ways to participate in it.

The first blessing that the midwives received was what came to the people of God: “the people multiplied and grew very mighty” (Exodus 1:20). Only secondarily did God add to them the blessing of bearing children themselves (Exodus 1:21).

And indeed, how greatly blessed you and I are, today, through Shiphrah and Puah. For, from this people whose sons they saved came our Lord, according to His flesh. Who knows what powerful preacher, faithful elder, godly father, praying mother, or powerfully used midwife might come from among our children? Let us train boys to be boys, girls to be girls, and all to rejoice in the image of God, trusting in Jesus by Whose death and resurrection that image is marvelously and eternally restored!

In what ways is human life under attack? How are you participating in valuing it? In preserving it? In what ways are male and female roles under attack? How are you participating in valuing them? In preserving them? What are you doing for the children in your home and church to participate in God’s making them the next generation of leaders in the battle to image God?

Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear the LORD” or TPH128B “Blest the Man Who Fears Jehovah”

Friday, May 07, 2021

Seeking the Things of Christ (Family Worship lesson in Philippians 2:19–24)

What does it mean to seek the things of Christ? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Philippians 2:19–24 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that since the goal of Christ’s sacrifice and ongoing work is the gathering in, building, and perfecting of His church, those who are becoming like Christ will devote themselves to the same.

2021.05.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:19–24

Read Philippians 2:19–24

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the apostle describe his hope to act (Philippians 2:19)? What does he hope to do? When? To gain what benefit? How? What doesn’t he have, apart from Timothy (Philippians 2:20)? In what aspect? What do all do instead (Philippians 2:21)? Rather than what? But what do the Philippians know about Timothy’s character (Philippians 2:22)? In what manner had he served, with whom, in what, to prove his character? When does Paul hope to send him (Philippians 2:23)? As soon as what? How, again, does he express his hope/plan in Philippians 2:24 (cf. Philippians 2:19)? What is he hoping/planning this time?

Often, we borrow our way of talking about our hoped-for plans from James 4:15, “Lord-willing” (or deo volente/d.v.). The apostle here gives us a beautiful alternative for the same doctrine, but with emphasis on the hope that we have in Him. Both about his plan to send Timothy to them, and about his hope to come to them himself, he says, “I trust in the Lord Jesus to/that…” 

But it must not just be a manner of speaking. How many good, biblical ways of speech are neutralized in their effect for us by unthinkingness in our repetition of them! We see that this trusting in the Lord Jesus for Timothy meant that instead of seeking his own, he would seek the things which are of Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:21). 

It will do no good to trust the Lord Jesus for the accomplishing of our own will. If it is He Whom we are trusting, it must be for what He wills that we do this trusting. And what is it that Jesus cares about? Timothy’s sincerely caring for their state in Philippians 2:20 is set in direct parallel to his seeking the things which are of Christ Jesus in Philippians 2:21

Christ’s thoughts are ever and always bent upon the good of His church, so the thoughts of those who trust in Him and who are being made like Him will be ever and always bent upon the good of His church. We may not think of ourselves as selfish, but this is the judgment that this Scripture makes of us, when we do not sincerely care for the state (especially spiritual) of believers: “all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.”

So, Timothy sincerely cares for their state. And he learned this like a son apprenticing under his daddy, which the Philippians themselves had observed (Philippians 2:22). And the fatherly apostle himself hopes to make the same journey out of the same care.

I wonder what those who have seen our interaction with the church would say we have proven about our character. Our attendance. Our giving. Our effort. Our seriousness. Our sacrifice. Our praying. Our tears. Our joys. Do they clearly testify, “Sincere care for the state of the church”? For here, the Holy Spirit says that this is what it looks like to “trust in the Lord Jesus” and to “seek not our own but the things which are of Christ Jesus.”

What are some examples of how trusting in the Lord Jesus is reflected by prioritizing the same things as Jesus in your life? What does your “proven character” say about whether your agenda is set by self or by Christ?

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH405 “I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord” 

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Pleading with God as a Christ-Clinging Christian (2021.05.05 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 17)

The form of the believer’s plea, v1–2
The foundation of the believer’s plea: God’s justice, v3–5
The force of the believer’s plea: God’s love, v6–9
The faith of the wicked: self, v10–12
The portion of the wicked: earthly and fleshly, v13–14
The portion of the believer: God Himself, v15

2021.05.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 18:9–14

Read Luke 18:9–14

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Jesus target with this parable (Luke 18:9)? In it, who go where to do what (Luke 18:10)? How does Jesus describe the two men? Whom does the Pharisee thank (Luke 18:11)? For what things that are not true? And for what things that are true (Luke 18:12)? Where does the tax collector stand (Luke 18:13)? What wouldn’t he do? but what did he do? And say? In what condition does Jesus say the second man returns to his house (Luke 18:14)? Who is not justified? What happens to each one who exalts himself? What happens to one who humbles himself?

There is never room for pride, which brings one into direct opposition with God; “God opposes the proud” (cf. Proverbs 3:34; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:6). But what an awful (in the true sense of the word) thing it is to be proud at public worship!

Even (especially?) the Reformed are susceptible to this deadly danger. For, this Pharisee was a man who knew that any mortification of sin (Luke 18:11) or service unto God or man (Luke 18:12) comes by grace. “God, I thank You…” he says in verse 11. Functional employment of the doctrines of grace is no antidote for spiritual pride! After all, the Holy Spirit tells us that Jesus specifically “spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9).

The setting (Luke 18:10) in the parable is important: the temple is no place for spiritual pride. When you go to worship, you are coming through sacrifice. Before Christ, this was a continually repeated sacrifice, regardless of what progress you had made in grace. In the New Testament worship assembly, we come always through the flesh of Christ and sprinkled by His blood (cf. Hebrews 10:19–25), and the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ is repeatedly shown forth to us (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:23–26; Hebrews 12:18–24, Hebrews 13:20–21

The public worship of God is a place where the atonement of God screams out to us our justification in Christ alone. We all come together through the same blood, through the same mercy. It is no place for differentiating ourselves from other church members by almost-certainly-deluded impressions of our own superior progress in grace (cf. end of Luke 18:11).

In fact, thinking well of ourselves in the public worship, or looking down upon other church members in that public worship, may be an indication that we are not saved at all. We need to take Jesus’s statement with full seriousness. He says that the Pharisee who came to worship with such things in his heart showed that he was not justified (Luke 18:14). The humbling and exalting at the end of that verse are not merely waxing and waning of our elevation before men; they are eternal and therefore infinite in their quantity and quality.

So, it is immensely (immeasurably) important that we exhibit the same consciousness when we gather for public worship that this justified man did: a consciousness that we are great sinners but that God is a God of even greater mercy to such great sinners as we are. How can we not draw this conclusion about our sin, when considering that it was Christ Who had to be sacrificed for us? And how can we not draw this conclusion about God’s mercy, considering that He did in fact give Christ to be sacrificed for us?

O dear reader, are the reality of our sin’s greatness and the reality of God’s mercy’s greater-ness impressed upon our minds and hearts whenever we are gathered for the public worship? Or are we possibly those who attend worship with Reformed doctrine in our minds and on our lips, but still return home unjustified before God?

What can you do to prepare your heart to come to worship impressed by such realities? Where do we see and hear these realities in the public worship? How can we order our thoughts and actions in worship in such a way as to embrace them? Why is it important that we be embracing both realities and not just one or the other?

Suggested Songs: ARP130 “LORD, from the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH340 “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood”


Wednesday, May 05, 2021

2021.05.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 12:15–25

Read 2 Samuel 12:15–25

Questions from the Scripture text: To where did Nathan go (2 Samuel 12:15)? Who struck whom? What is the child called? What is the effect of this smiting? So what does David do with Whom (2 Samuel 12:16)? What form does this pleading take? For how long? Where? Who tried to get him to stop (2 Samuel 12:17)? For how many days did he do this (2 Samuel 12:18)? What happened on that day? What were the servants afraid to do? What was their reasoning—what hadn’t David done before, and what did they think he might do now? What does David see in 2 Samuel 12:19? What did he perceive by this? What does he ask? What do they answer? What four things does he immediately do (2 Samuel 12:20)? Then into where does he go? To do what? Then where? What does he finally ask for and do now? What befuddled question does this prompt from the servants (2 Samuel 12:21)? What had David done while the child was alive (2 Samuel 12:22)? Why? But what can’t be done now (2 Samuel 12:23)? Where will David go? Whom does David comfort in 2 Samuel 12:24? With what outcome? What is the Lord’s disposition toward the baby? What word does He send by whom (2 Samuel 12:25)?

Being in covenant with God can bring us great pain. His threatenings are as real as His promises. Just ask the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2–3. But being in covenant with God also gives us ground for a wrestling hope, a worshiping hope, a grieving hope, and a family hope that strangers to the gospel cannot understand.

A wrestling hope. The passage interestingly goes from “Uriah’s wife” in 2 Samuel 12:15 to David comforting “his wife” in 2 Samuel 12:24. The God of the covenant is fierce. Christ’s threatenings referenced above remind us of covenant-curse warnings like the Lord gave His people (interspersed with promises of blessing for faithfulness) in Deuteronomy 27–29. The Lord still actively interacts with His people in similar, covenantal fashion as He has done throughout the administrations of the covenant of grace.

But He is a marvelously merciful covenant Lord—so much so, that even when His condemnation of our conduct has put us in full expectation of His chastening (2 Samuel 12:14-15), His mercy has surprised us so often that we may be emboldened to wrestle in prayer for it (v22). The guilt of our sins is forgiven by the blood of the covenant (2 Samuel 12:13), and even the fatherly chastening that we often need and receive for them is often restrained or removed in surprising mercy!

The Lord’s anointed is a great example for us here of what wrestling prayer looks like. “Pleading with God” (2 Samuel 12:16) is a summary statement for humbling himself and denying himself. He literally lowered himself to the ground in humiliation. And he refused to eat. Those who wish to know what fasting is, let them join it with this pleading, this humbling oneself before God, this relentless anticipation of surprising mercy. When you’re in covenant with a God Who is so prone to mercy, you always have a wrestling hope.

A worshiping hope. While the child was alive, David’s conduct demonstrated that the Lord is all his purpose and pleasure. When the child dies, the man who has lain on the ground for a full week without eating immediately rises, washes, spruces up, and changes clothes… to go to worship (2 Samuel 12:20). 

What our Lord does for us is always best—even when He denies our most earnest and pleading requests. He has bound Himself to us by His oath and blood. Those times when His perfect will crosses ours are perhaps the ones at which we need most of all to worship. To bow the heart and bless His Name for His goodness and glory.

A grieving hope. Or, we might better say, a sure hope in grief. The servants are stunned. They thought that the Lord’s action might result in a second funeral (2 Samuel 12:18), rather than a worship service (2 Samuel 12:20). Not knowing what to make of it, they ask the oddly behaving king (2 Samuel 12:21). “I shall go to him,” David says (2 Samuel 12:23). 

That which brought the death of the child—the fact that by covenant the Lord’s name was upon David and his child, giving Yahweh’s enemies great occasion to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:14)—now brings David comfort in the child’s death. 

When the Lord takes a covenant child in the flower of youth, He has told us about that child, “I am God to you and to your children.” He was the One Who chose to give that specific child to this specific believing parent. He has thus declared that child holy (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:14). He has put the mark of His covenant upon the child. 

It is His covenant promises that drive our zeal as we apply His means in parenting, with full expectation that He will make it effectual by His almighty power. So even when it was David’s spectacular sin that brought his child’s death as a covenantal chastening, David is confident that in his own forgiven condition (2 Samuel 12:13) he will be going to where his deceased child has now gone. How much more, when the Lord providentially takes a child, when He has not declared it to be an instance of chastening!

When we have a covenant God Who has made such declarations about our children, we can do much better than throw up our hands in uncertainty. We can say with freshly worship-bolstered faith, “I shall go to him” (2 Samuel 12:23).

A family hope. Despite the sin that was involved in the process, Bathsheba is now David’s wife (2 Samuel 12:24). While he was laying on the ground, fasting in desperate prayer, she was almost certainly desperately nursing her dying son for seven days. Now, he comes to his wife with that sturdy hope exhibited in the preceding verses of worship and explanation, and comforts her (verse 24). 

They have a son, and now the prophet again is sent to David, this time with glad tidings. The Lord has given special affirmation of the status of their child, giving him the covenant name “Jedidiah,” “Beloved of Yahweh.” Covenant families are those in which husbands have sturdy comfort to give our wives, and where the Lord tells us about each of our children that they are “beloved of Yahweh.”

In what circumstance do you especially need to be laying hold of God’s promises in prayer? How have you been responding to His answers in worship? What covenant/gospel comfort are you giving and receiving?

Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH190 “Thus Saith the Mercy of the Lord”

 

Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Born Again to New Confidence, Nature, Status, Troubles, Hope, and Duty (Family Worship in 1John 2:28–3:3)

What is new in the new birth? Pastor leads his family in tomorrow’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 1John 2:28–3:3 prepares us for the opening portion of the public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that we are born again to a new confidence that Jesus is ours, a new nature that is righteous like His, a new status of children adopted in love, new troubles of being rejected by those who reject the Lord, the new hope of Christ's appearing and being like Him at it, and the new duty of purifying ourselves as He is pure.

2021.05.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 John 2:28–3:3

Read 1 John 2:28–3:3

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them (1 John 2:28)? Where does he tell them to dwell/abide/rest? What is Jesus going to do? What does the apostle want them to be able to do at Jesus’s coming? What do they know about Jesus (1 John 2:29)? What then must they know about whomever has his birth from Him? What does he now command them to see (1 John 3:1)? Who has bestowed this love? In what particular gift—what are we and the apostle called? Who does not know us to be this? Why—Whom else does the world not know to be as He is? Now what does the apostle call his readers (1 John 3:2)? What does he reaffirm about them and himself? What has not yet been revealed? Who will be revealed? What will we be like in that day? Why must this be so? In Whom do believers have this hope (1 John 3:3)? What do such believers do? Unto what end/standard?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from 1 John 2:28–3:3, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Blessed Are the Sons of God

New nature from a new birth. Jesus loved little children, and this apostle especially likes to use that term of endearment for the church as a whole (1 John 2:28). In John’s mind, every baptism is a paedobaptism! 

This is because when baptism is made effectual by saving faith, it testifies to a pouring out of the Spirit by which we get a new birth. And we can tell who has had this birth, because they are the only ones who from the heart love and seek to practice righteousness (1 John 2:29). Let this put an end to the nonsense that we are naturally good. Practicing righteousness can only come from being born of Him!

New status from our new birth. This new nature comes with a new status: adopted child of God. Here is the greatest love-gift of any father that there has ever been. God has called us His children! The apostle commands us to behold this love (1 John 3:1a). Not just know it. Consider it, marvel at it.

New difficulties from our new birth. So completely has God identified us with Himself, and begun a work in us of making us like Christ, that this makes “problems” for the Christian. We live in a world that refuses to acknowledge Him. So, we mustn’t expect that they will be glad to see His likeness in us or hear His name upon us (verse 1b).

New hope from our new birth. Just as the Spirit says through Paul (cf. Philippians 1:6), so He says here through John: He who has begun the work will bring it to completion (1 John 3:2). When Jesus is revealed, we will be like Him, and the final version of ourselves will then be revealed. This is a certainty. 

New duty from our new birth. So, for the Christian, loving and obeying God’s law is more than just the obligation of the creature to the Creator, or of subjects to a King. For us, “purifying [my]self” (1 John 3:3a) is learning to ply the family business and grow in the family resemblance. This is what Father and Son are working at by their Spirit, and it shall be done. And if we are in the family, then we will be doing it to—and that to the family standard: “just as He is pure” (verse 3b).

Our baptisms tell us to look to Father, Son, and Spirit for all of these—and that it is a sham to profess faith in Christ if we are not exhibiting a new nature of practicing righteousness, beholding love expressed in a new status of adoption, experiencing new difficulties from a world that denies our Father, enjoying the new hope of what we shall be at Christ’s return, and engaging in the new duty of purifying ourselves as He is pure.

What evidence of the new birth do you see in your life? How are you seeking them?

Suggested songs: ARP87 “The LORD’s Foundation” or TPH461 “Blessed Are the Sons of God”


Monday, May 03, 2021

Holding Fast the Word Is Worth Strenuous Effort and Great Rejoicing (2021.05.02 Evening Sermon in Philippians 2:16–18)

Sanctification comes by holding fast the word of life—something that is worth strenuous effort and great rejoicing.

Babel 2.0 (2021.05.02 Morning Sermon in Exodus 1:8–14)


God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, that no flesh should glory in His presence


WCF 14.2.9b Faith Rests upon Christ ALONE for ALL of Salvation (2021.05.02 Sabbath School Lesson)

Saving faith is in Christ ALONE for EVERY part of the salvation of the elect.

2021.05.03 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. Exodus 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?”