Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Monday, May 31, 2021

Christianity Is Incompatible with Confidence in the Flesh (2021.05.30 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:4–7)

The Lord intentionally chose as an apostle a man who had more ground for confidence in the flesh than any of us could have—to be the one who warned us that there is no ground (negative ground! loss!) at all for confidence in the flesh.

"Of Saving Faith" part 13, WCF 14.3.3, Growing up into a Full Assurance (2021.05.30 Sabbath School lesson)

Multiple apostles, in multiple places, identify those whom they are addressing as believers out of a desire that the faith these believers currently have would grow up into a full assurance.

2021.05.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:8–20

Read Joel 1:8–20

Questions from the Scripture text: What does He command them to do in Joel 1:8? Like whom? What has been cut off (Joel 1:9)? From where? Who mourns in verse 9? Who serve Whom? What five things combined to produce this complete judgment (Joel 1:10)? Whom does Joel 1:11 tell to be ashamed? Whom to wail? For what two things that have perished (verse 11c–d)? What has dried up (Joel 1:12)? What has withered (verse 12b)? What other kinds of trees? What has this resulted in withering away from whom? Who are commanded to do what two things in Joel 1:13a? What does verse 13b call them? And command them to do? What does verse 13c command, for how long, in what attire; and what does verse 13d now call them? What other service isn’t currently an option, and why (verse 13e–f)? What are they commanded to do in Joel 1:14a? And to call what in verse 14b? Whom are they to gather in verse 14c? And whom else in verse 14d? And whom else does this imply (Joel 1:2-3)? Where are they to go (Joel 1:14e), and what are they to do there (verse 14f)? Where can we find the content of what they are to cry out (Joel 1:15-18)? Over what, first (Joel 1:15a–b)? Why, what about this day (verse 15c)? What shows that this is a day of judgment (Joel 1:16a)? And why is this cutting off of food significant (verse 16b)? What happens when they plant (Joel 1:17a)? What are falling apart from being empty (verse 17b)? And what are breaking down from being empty (verse 17c)? Why are they empty (verse 17d)? Who else is mourning (Joel 1:18a)? Who else is troubled (verse 18b), and why (verse 18c)? Who else is suffering (verse 18d)? Who is the first to heed the prophet’s message (Joel 1:19a)? What has he seen that confirms the commanded cryings out (verse 19b–c, cf. Joel 1:17; and, Joel 1:20, cf. Joel 1:18)?

We don’t know how to mourn the loss of public worship, because we don’t know how to rejoice over worship like a bride on her wedding day (Joel 1:8). Our flesh is too dull toward the Lord Himself. But the Lord gave His people help.

By making Israel’s worship liturgy dependent upon the most basic food staples, He gave them an early warning system. The farmers would be the first to know when God was withholding covenant blessing (Joel 1:11). And He made Israel to feel how essential worship was by calling a large number of them to lead that worship as their vocation (Joel 1:9)—using the first-fruits of the farmers’ produce (Joel 1:10).

Eventually, everyone would be made to feel the loss of the worship. It wouldn’t just be the new wine and fresh oil that withered under the locusts that the Lord sent, but even all of the trees, from which the sons of Adam derived their fleshly joy (Joel 1:12). 

How could it get so far? The priests were neglecting their duty to be leaders of the people. They had to be commanded to affect themselves with the affliction of the lost worship (Joel 1:13). This is a desperate need for pastors and elders in the church, and for fathers/husbands in the home: that they be deeply affected with the things of God, and especially about the worship of God. How are they to lead those whom God has entrusted to them, if they themselves are not engaged with God? So, before calling the rest of the people together in Joel 1:14, God commands them in Joel 1:13 to lament, wail, and prostrate themselves all night. In Joel 1:19-20, Joel himself takes this responsibility personally, apparently even before completing authorship and delivery of this prophetic book.

The people perhaps found themselves “off the hook” for worship, and were comfortable with not gathering. How easily those who at first let attendance slide a little can find themselves content not to gather at all! So, they need to be gathered—and if the gathering for the rejoicing is not possible, then they need to be gathered for crying out, Joel 1:14.

How necessary this is! Because there is a day coming when all will be gathered before the Lord. And if in that day, He Himself is not your joy, you mustn’t imagine that you will have some other joy. No. For those who have not had God Himself as their joy, the Lord Jesus Himself as their joy, the day of the Lord is not a day of joy and gladness but a day of destruction from the Almighty (Joel 1:15).

What will that final day be like for you? If missing Him in His worship doesn’t cause you to grieve now, how greatly you will weep and wail then!

How do you feel about coming to public worship? How do you feel about missing it? What does this tell you about what the day of the Lord will be like for you?

Suggested songs: ARP130 “LORD, from the Depths” or TPH130A “LORD, from the Depths”

 

Sunday, May 30, 2021

Mourning Worship Leaders (2021.05.30 Morning Sermon in Joel 1:8–20)


Because we do not know how to mourn the loss of public worship, God gives us such helps as dependence, calamity, and leadership


Saturday, May 29, 2021

2021.05.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:13–20

Read Joel 1:13–20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who are commanded to do what two things in Joel 1:13a? What does verse 13b call them? And command them to do? What does verse 13c command, for how long, in what attire; and what does verse 13d now call them? What other service isn’t currently an option, and why (verse 13e–f)? What are they commanded to do in Joel 1:14a? And to call what in verse 14b? Whom are they to gather in verse 14c? And whom else in verse 14d? And whom else does this imply (Joel 1:2-3)? Where are they to go (Joel 1:14e), and what are they to do there (verse 14f)? Where can we find the content of what they are to cry out (Joel 1:15-18)? Over what, first (verse 15a–b)? Why, what about this day (verse 15c)? What shows that this is a day of judgment (Joel 1:16a)? And why is this cutting off of food significant (verse 16b)? What happens when they plant (Joel 1:17a)? What are falling apart from being empty (verse 17b)? And what are breaking down from being empty (verse 17c)? Why are they empty (verse 17d)? Who else is mourning (Joel 1:18a)? Who else is troubled (verse 18b), and why (verse 18c)? Who else is suffering (verse 18d)? Who is the first to heed the prophet’s message (Joel 1:19a)? What has he seen that confirms the commanded cryings out (verse 19b–c, cf. Joel 1:17; and, Joel 1:20, cf. Joel 1:18)? 

How were they to worship, when the material means of that worship had been cut off (Joel 1:13f)? Maybe the priests would just get some time off? Or come up with creative substitutes? Absolutely not!

Rather than rejoicing before God, they were to lead in a worship of lamentation (Joel 1:13a), wailing (verse 13b), prostration in mourning clothes (verse 13c), and crying out. (Joel 1:14f). The whole nation was to participate in this unusual service at the temple (verse 14, cf. Joel 1:2-3).

The plant life (Joel 1:17) and animal life (Joel 1:18) had been brought to a state of humiliation. Now the people were to take the hint (Joel 1:16a) and be humiliated before God as well (verse 16b). 

Yahweh is for His own holiness. Yahweh is for His own worship. And therefore judgment must begin at the household of God (cf. 1 Peter 4:17–18). 

The prophet sets us an example. He might have let himself off the hook, since he is the appointed messenger for others. We are tempted to let ourselves off the hook, thinking about others instead whom we think really need to hear the message that we see in Scripture reading or hear in Scripture preaching. 

But Joel takes it to heart for himself, and switches to the first person singular in Joel 1:19-20, crying out in the manner that has been commanded. He notes the devastation of the plant life (verse 19b–c) and animal life (Joel 1:20), and adds to them his own voice, as he cries out to Yahweh, using the covenant name (Joel 1:19a). 

We should know ourselves as the chief of sinners; so that in repentance we will be the chief of mourners; and however God has commanded it to be done, be the chief of worshipers. Let each of us see to it that we individually and personally take God’s Word to heart.

In what ways have you been trifling with God? What sin have you tolerated? What obedience neglected or offered half-heartedly? What will come of you, if judgment begins with you?

Suggested songs: ARP130 “LORD, from the Depths” or TPH130A “LORD, from the Depths”


Friday, May 28, 2021

2021.05.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:4–7

Read Philippians 3:4–7

Questions from the Scripture text: What might the apostle have if someone else did (Philippians 3:4)? How would the apostle’s compare? What five possible sources of confidence does he mention in Philippians 3:5? And what two in Philippians 3:6? How much zeal had he had? What quality of the righteousness did he have according to what they thought they could get from the law? What had he thought he was getting from all these things (Philippians 3:7)? But what did he come to count them as? In order that their apparent gain might be replaced by Whom?

No one can have confidence in the flesh. We already saw that in Philippians 3:1-3: confidence in the flesh is the recipe for turning your being set apart into being a dog (Philippians 3:2a), turning your obedience into evildoing (verse 2b), and turning your covenant sign into something superficial and grotesque (verse 2c). 

But if someone could have had confidence in the flesh, it would have been the apostle: an eight-dayer, native Israelite, descendant from a patriarch, given a Hebrew-culture upbringing, of the most devout religious group, zealous enough for action when the most zealous were merely outraged, and with scrupulous keeping of the regulations of the law.

It’s an exhausting list to think about, and even more difficult to do. There really had been no one like he. And what net gain had the apostle gotten out of it? A compoundedly negative balance of demerit that he could never have undone!

The way he came to find that living was Christ (cf. Philippians 1:21) was by this discovery that anything else in life was loss without Christ (Philippians 3:7). It’s a sobering reminder that we really haven’t discovered the value of Who Christ is until we have learned the worthlessness of everything that we are apart from Him.

Have you discovered that, dear reader? Are you willing to renounce all your spiritual and moral achievements as worthless in order to embrace Christ Himself as your only worthlessness? Or perhaps you are a believer who has forgotten this, and it’s time to tally your losses back up (or down, as it were).

What status or work of yours are you tempted to feel makes you worthy before God or men?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Jesus, the Name by Which the Only Saving God Has Made Himself Known (2021.05.26 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 18:31–50)

There is only one God Who can strengthen, because only one God exists. And we are strengthened by Him not by development of our own strength but by dependence upon His—a strength and salvation that can only be had in the Lord Jesus Christ.

2021.05.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 18:35–43

Read Luke 18:35–43

Questions from the Scripture text: Near to where was Jesus coming (Luke 18:35)? Who was doing what there? What did this man hear and inquire about (Luke 18:36)? What did they tell him (Luke 18:37)? So what did the man do (Luke 18:38)? But what did he call Jesus? And for what did he ask? Who told him to do what in Luke 18:39? But how did the man respond? And what does he call Jesus now? How, now, does Jesus Himself respond (Luke 18:40)? What does He command? What does He ask (Luke 18:41)? What does the man answer? Now what does Jesus command (Luke 18:42)? Why? What happens, and when (Luke 18:43)? Where does the man go? What does the man do? Who see it? And what do they do?

Here at last is a man who knows that He is utterly needy. 

He’s not a Pharisee who is impressed with how much better grace has made him than everyone else (cf. Luke 18:9-14). He’s not an important disciple who thinks he obviously has more right to Jesus than infants (cf. Luke 18:15-17). He’s not a ruler who is pretty sure that his earthly riches just mirror his moral riches (cf. Luke 18:18-27). He’s not even Peter, who is impressed that the disciples have done what the rich young ruler couldn’t (cf. Luke 18:28-30).

He’s a blind man (Luke 18:35). He’s a beggar (verse 35). And he desperately needs not just desserts but undeserved mercy (Luke 18:38Luke 18:39). He is “the sinner” (cf. Luke 18:13), who knows that if he’s going to come to Jesus or enter the kingdom, it’ll have to be by the effort of Another (cf. Luke 18:15a, Luke 18:17). 

This blind man can see rightly not only himself but also Jesus. He has more confidence than the crowd does that Jesus is the sort Who will care to hear and heed him (Luke 18:39a). And this is in part because he already sees Jesus as that Son of David (Luke 18:38Luke 18:39b) Who would make the blind to see (cf. Luke 7:22, Isaiah 35:5–6). If you’re a believing blind man, this is probably a favorite Messianic passage. And he pleads to be exhibit A of Jesus’s Messianic qualifications. 

Jesus, therefore, doesn’t just heal him. He literally commands him to receive his sight (Luke 18:42a), on the basis of the fact that his faith has already saved him (verse 42b, lit.). Now, we won’t always have our most pressing earthly trouble removed upon being saved. Indeed, the believer will always continue in many ways to be needy, and ought always to go by the blind beggar’s creed, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

At bottom, a believer is someone who sees both himself and Jesus with the clarity of this blind man.

When do you usually see your neediness? When/how could you be seeing it more? When do you usually see Christ’s abundance for that need? When/how could you be seeing it more?

Suggested Songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

2021.05.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 13:23–39

Read 2 Samuel 13:23–39

Questions from the Scripture text: How much time passes between 2 Samuel 13:22 and 2 Samuel 13:23? What celebratory event is Absalom enjoying? Where? Whom does he invite? With whom, specifically, does this inviting begin (2 Samuel 13:24)? What does David reply, and how does that interaction proceed/conclude (2 Samuel 13:25)? For whom does Absalom specifically ask (2 Samuel 13:26)? What does David wonder? But what does Absalom do (2 Samuel 13:27)? And how does David respond? Whom did Abasalom command to watch whom for what (2 Samuel 13:28)? Then what were they to do? How does he reinforce this? What do the servants do (2 Samuel 13:29)? How do the rest of the king’s sons respond? What news arrives ahead of them (2 Samuel 13:30)? About how many of his sons? How was the completeness emphasized to him? What does the king do (2 Samuel 13:31)? Who else does this? Who speaks up in 2 Samuel 13:32? Whom had he previously advised (cf. 2 Samuel 13:3-5)? Whom else has he apparently been advising (verse 32b)? How does he reconcile David to the extent of his loss (2 Samuel 13:32-33)? How does he reconcile the king to the appropriateness of his loss? What has Absalom done by now (2 Samuel 13:34)? Which young man in verse 34 sees what? Now whom is Jonadab advising (2 Samuel 13:332 Samuel 13:35)? Who arrive in 2 Samuel 13:36? And who, all, do what in verse 36? But where has Absalom gone (2 Samuel 13:37, cf. 2 Samuel 3:3)? What is David’s response, how often? For how long was Absalom there (2 Samuel 13:38)? And what continued this whole time (2 Samuel 13:39, cf. 2 Samuel 13:37)? About whom did David have comfort?

The Lord’s Word is true. David’s punishment has risen from his own house (cf. 2 Samuel 12:10–11), and it has corresponded to his own sin. In the first half of this chapter, lustful sin from one of his sons mirrored his lustful sin with Bathsheba. 

Now, in the passage currently before us, Absalom’s coldly calculated elimination of Amnon mirrors David’s coldly calculated elimination of Uriah. We can even hear the echoes of the 2 Samuel 12:25 encouragement to Joab in Absalom’s own encouragements to his servants in 2 Samuel 13:28. One coldly calculated murder by another’s hand has been punished with another.

We can see a couple other features of God’s judgment against David here. The Lord is permitting the clever scoundrel Jonadab to wreak havoc. He had helped Amnon get what his lustful flesh wanted (2 Samuel 13:5), and now he has helped Absalom get what his murderous flesh wanted (which is how he has the inside info in 2 Samuel 13:32), and even helps David indulge his own lazy and self-pitying flesh (2 Samuel 13:332 Samuel 13:352 Samuel 13:39).

This last might need a little more explaining. David’s inordinate longing for Absalom, every day, for three years, is an indicator that he didn’t want to punish Absalom now any more than he wanted to punish Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:21. He may be upset at what Absalom has done, but he’d really like to find some way to just get his son back to normal; Amnon, after all, can’t be brought back (2 Samuel 13:39). 

An obviously clever fellow like Jonadab almost certainly perceived David’s heart about these things and positioned himself perfectly to be the only one not joining the mourning party in 2 Samuel 13:31-32. There are conspiracies of clever men; that’s a reality. But we should remember that the Lord can easily confound them. When he gives us over to them, that’s a providence that’s consistent with being under His chastening hand.

Finally, it’s another feature of God’s judgment against David that he is still being irresponsible as king. Absalom has run home to his maternal grandpa (2 Samuel 13:37-38, cf. 2 Samuel 3:3), but David longs to go to him (2 Samuel 13:39). Just as with Amnon, there doesn’t seem to be any thought of meting out justice, which is a king’s responsibility to do. This too is grimly appropriate. For, it had been the king’s responsibility to go to battle in the spring of the year (cf. 2 Samuel 11:1), and slacking in his duty was a big part of how David ended up under judgment in the first place (cf. 2 Samuel 11:2).

There’s often an appropriate symmetry in the providence of God. Let us look to Him to strengthen us by His Spirit for the killing of unchecked lust, or coldly calculated murderousness, or unprincipled cleverness, or self-indulgent irresponsibility. 

When have you suffered a consequence that was appropriate to your sin? How can you use this as a reminder to help against future sin?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH464 “The Beatitudes”


Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Rejoicing in Christ Is the Beginning, Middle, and End of Anything Genuinely Christian (2021.05.23 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:1–3)

Though there are also good examples, we may be endangered by bad examples of so-called Christianity. And the best way to identify them is their rejoicing in themselves instead of in Christ.

Awakened to Mourn the Loss of Public Worship (2021.05.23 Morning Sermon in Joel 1:4–8)


The Lord here awakens His people to mourning, because they have been happy enough without Him in His worship, but ought to have been mourning like a bereaved bride.


WCF 14.3.2b The Guaranteed Victory of Saving Faith (2021.05.23 Sabbath School in 1John 5:1–5)

Saving faith may be often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory

2021.05.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 3:17–4:7

Read 2 Corinthians 3:17–4:7

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom do we turn, when we turn to Lord (2 Corinthians 3:17)? And what does the Lord, the Spirit, give us? And what do we see, when our blindness is removed (2 Corinthians 3:18)? And what effect does this have upon us? What have Paul and his companions received for their ministry (2 Corinthians 4:1)? What do they not lose? What does he call the things that they have renounced in 2 Corinthians 4:2? In what do they refuse to walk? How do they refuse to handle the word of God? Instead, what do they do with the truth? To what aspect, then, of every man, do they commend themselves? In whose sight? What may happen to their gospel (2 Corinthians 4:3a)? But to whom would it be veiled (verse 3b)? What does 2 Corinthians 4:4 call the devil? What has he done to those who are perishing? What do they not do? What does this veil keep them from seeing? Who is Christ, according to 2 Corinthians 4:4? What, then, do Paul and his companions not preach (2 Corinthians 4:5)? What do they preach? How do they consider themselves? Who does the work (2 Corinthians 4:6)? What else has He done about 4000 years prior? In whom else has He already done this spiritual counterpart to that work? Where does He shine? What light does He give? In whose face is the knowledge of this glory received? By what kind of vessel is this treasure conveyed (2 Corinthians 4:7)? What does this show?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from 2 Corinthians 3:17–4:7, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Here, the apostle explains why his ministry is not generally impressive to all. One might have (wrongly) expected that the ministry of an apostle would be impressive to anyone.

Paul’s ultimate response is that God alone is the impressiveness of the work, and those who are not impressed with Him are not going to find anything else to be impressed with in his ministry (2 Corinthians 4:7). This doesn’t bother him, because his ministry is not his idea or his pride. It as an assignment of God by the mercy of God. It may seem to be going poorly, but if it is of God, then there is no reason to lose heart!

Ironically, the apostle refers to superficially impressive ministry as “the hidden things of shame.” There is a way of handling the Word of God that looks impressive on the outside, but what you cannot see is that it is man-derived and man-dependent. But the apostles are not concerned with commending themselves to men’s admiration. They are concerned with commending themselves to men’s consciences. O that we would learn to see our life as an assignment from God and deal earnestly with others as those who will have to stand before Him!! How this might help us to stop living for their applause!

Will such a ministry have a hundred percent conversion rate? No and yes. In one sense, no. There are those who are perishing. And if the Lord has not atoned for them, and is not going to regenerate them, then what exactly are we supposed to be able to do about that? It is not just that they are unable to see God’s glory. It is also that they are not permitted. 2 Corinthians 4:4 says that God has set things up this way because He refuses to shine the light of the gospel upon them. 

But in another sense, yes. Such a ministry will have a hundred percent conversion rate. For, the Lord is all powerful. He spoke light itself into existence. And He can speak spiritual light into existence in the hearts. And He does, because in the case of His elect, He is determined to give them the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ! It is the Lord, the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:17a) who frees sinners from their blindness (verse 3:17b) so that they may not only see the glory of the Lord in the first place (2 Corinthians 3:18a), but also grow in our sanctification until He has at last conformed us to His own glorious image (verse 3:18b)!

What kind of ministry should we look for in the church? Whom should we be looking to make it effective? With whom should we aim at being impressed? What aims and approaches are incompatible with this?

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH465 “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling”


Monday, May 24, 2021

2021.05.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:4–12

Read Joel 1:4–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What four types of locust are mentioned in Joel 1:4? What are they doing?  Whom does He command to awake in Joel 1:5? To do what? Whom does He command to wail? Why? What has happened? How does He refer to the locusts in Joel 1:6? What does He say about their quality and quantity in verse 6b? To what does He compare them in verse 6b–c? What is the point about the threat being posed? What has the enemy done in Joel 1:7? Whose vine? Whose fig tree? How is the destruction to the fig tree described? What does He command them to do in Joel 1:8? Like whom? What has been cut off (Joel 1:9)? From where? Who mourns in verse 9? Who serve Whom? What five things combined to produce this complete judgment (Joel 1:10)? Whom does Joel 1:11 tell to be ashamed? Whom to wail? For what two things that have perished (verse 11c–d)? What has dried up (Joel 1:12)? What has withered (verse 12b)? What other kinds of trees? What has this resulted in withering away from whom? 

The disaster being declared here is one that the Lord has brought upon His own people, His own possession, His own worship. 

It’s as if the historians took their cues from the Israelites, who have to be commanded to awake (Joel 1:5a), commanded to wail (verse 5b), commanded to lament (Joel 1:8a), and commanded to be ashamed (Joel 1:11a). We have great difficulty placing the book historically, because as far as we know there is no historical record of this locust plague outside the book of Joel.

Often, we are dull to what is happening and need to be commanded to take it more seriously, to lament. And nothing is more lamentable than the cutting off of the worship of God. “Grain offering and drink offering” cut off from the house of Yahweh is a huge deal (Joel 1:9a–b), but apparently the only ones with the spiritual sensitivity to care were the priests who served actively in the offerings (verse 9c). 

It is Yahweh’s house and Yahweh’s worship. He emphasizes this by pointing out that the land is not Israel’s land so much as Yahweh’s land (Joel 1:6a). It’s not just that Israel has lost vines, but Israel itself is Yahweh’s vine (Joel 1:7a, cf. Isaiah 5). It’s not just that Israel has lost fig trees, but Israel itself is Yahweh’s fig tree (verse 7b, cf. Hosea 9:10).

But we are so dull of heart toward God that damage to the things of God does not properly affect us. So, the Lord is “bringing home the hurt” to all the people. By using locusts to eliminate the drink offerings, it wipes out the pleasure of the drunks and the self-indulgent (Joel 1:5), as well as the livelihood of the vinedressers (Joel 1:11b). By using locusts to eliminate the grain offerings, He wipes out the livelihood of the farmers (verse 11), including not only this basic sustenance for man and beast, but also all cash/trade crops (Joel 1:12), so that God Himself has robbed them of all earthly joy. The Lord is making them to feel that they have not had the spiritual joy needed to care when it is lost.

Do we lament for lost worship like a young bride, whose betrothed is snatched from her just before the wedding (Joel 1:8)? If not, may God the Spirit bless to us this passage so that His heart-sensitizing purposes toward the first recipients in their locust plague would come home to our own hearts as well.

When have you missed worship, and especially public worship? How deeply does it affect you to do so?

Suggested songs: ARP42A “As Pants the Deer” or TPH42C “As Thirsts the Hart”


Saturday, May 22, 2021

When the Gospel Is Bad News; Session Meeting Digest, Lord's Day Prep, etc. (2021.05.21 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell 'Harbingerald')

Hopewell “Harbingerald” – May 21, 2021

It was an unusually busy week, in many ways, for me. Thank you for understanding. Some items that are usually included in the early week “Harbinger” appear here for the first time this week. I’m sorry that your use of them for Lord’s Day preparation is a few days shorter this time around. Note also the attachment of the Session Meeting Digest from Monday night’s meeting.

This week, I also received a pdf of our packet for the General Synod meeting June 8–10. There are a number of important items, especially a memorial from 1st Presbytery to bring ARP diaconates back toward their original biblical parameters, and the ongoing work of the Restructuring Committee to decentralize and decommercialize ministry from being a function of Synod and agencies to being a function of Presbyteries/Sessions, centered upon the ministry of Word, Sacrament, and Prayer.

Please continue in prayer for our Session, Presbytery, and Synod!

——

Dear Congregation,

In Luke 2:34–35 this week, I noticed two important things.

34 Then Simeon blessed them, and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against 35 (yes, a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”

The first is that the gospel is good news that isn’t good for everyone. There are many for whom the redemption and kingship of Christ is very bad news. “This Child is destined for the fall of many.” Many do not bow the knee, kiss the Son, and trust in Him. So, they will indeed perish when His wrath is kindled but a little (cf. Psalm 2:11–12).

The second thing is that those who love Jesus the most are hurt the deepest, when He is rejected by the many. In addition to atoning for believers’ sins, the cross was the great instance in which our Lord was “a sign which was spoken against.” In addition to atoning for believers’ sins, the cross was a great instance of “the thoughts of many hearts revealed.”

Yet, it was not only at the cross that our Lord Jesus is God’s great sign which reveals the thoughts of the hearts of those who speak against Him. This happens whenever Christ is preached, and to a large extent in churches and cultures that resist His kingship. What does our level of grief and indignation at this tell us about the level of our love for Jesus?

Surely, we do not love Him as we ought. But He has loved us perfectly! And He is perfecting believers’ love. This He does most of all in the public administration of the ordinary means of grace, of which He has composed His worship. He sets Himself before us as the especial display of the glory of God, even as He uses the means by which He does so to conform our own love to His perfect love.

Looking forward to beholding His glory and having our love increased by His grace together,

Pastor 

2021.05.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:4–12

Read Joel 1:4–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What four types of locust are mentioned in Joel 1:4? What are they doing?  Whom does He command to awake in Joel 1:5? To do what? Whom does He command to wail? Why? What has happened? How does He refer to the locusts in Joel 1:6? What does He say about their quality and quantity in verse 6b? To what does He compare them in verse 6b–c? What is the point about the threat being posed? What has the enemy done in Joel 1:7? Whose vine? Whose fig tree? How is the destruction to the fig tree described? What does He command them to do in Joel 1:8? Like whom? What has been cut off (Joel 1:9)? From where? Who mourns in verse 9? Who serve Whom? What five things combined to produce this complete judgment (Joel 1:10)? Whom does Joel 1:11 tell to be ashamed? Whom to wail? For what two things that have perished (verse 11c–d)? What has dried up (Joel 1:12)? What has withered (verse 12b)? What other kinds of trees? What has this resulted in withering away from whom?

The disaster being declared here is one that the Lord has brought upon His own people, His own possession, His own worship. 

It’s as if the historians took their cues from the Israelites, who have to be commanded to awake (Joel 1:5a), commanded to wail (verse 5b), commanded to lament (Joel 1:8a), and commanded to be ashamed (Joel 1:11a). We have great difficulty placing the book historically, because as far as we know there is no historical record of this locust plague outside the book of Joel.

Often, we are dull to what is happening and need to be commanded to take it more seriously, to lament. And nothing is more lamentable than the cutting off of the worship of God. “Grain offering and drink offering” cut off from the house of Yahweh is a huge deal (Joel 1:9a–b), but apparently the only ones with the spiritual sensitivity to care were the priests who served actively in the offerings (verse 9c). 

It is Yahweh’s house and Yahweh’s worship. He emphasizes this by pointing out that the land is not Israel’s land so much as Yahweh’s land (Joel 1:6a). It’s not just that Israel has lost vines, but Israel itself is Yahweh’s vine (Joel 1:7a, cf. Isaiah 5). It’s not just that Israel has lost fig trees, but Israel itself is Yahweh’s fig tree (verse 7b, cf. Hosea 9:10).

But we are so dull of heart toward God that damage to the things of God does not properly affect us. So, the Lord is “bringing home the hurt” to all the people. By using locusts to eliminate the drink offerings, it wipes out the pleasure of the drunks and the self-indulgent (Joel 1:5), as well as the livelihood of the vinedressers (Joel 1:11b). By using locusts to eliminate the grain offerings, He wipes out the livelihood of the farmers (verse 11), including not only this basic sustenance for man and beast, but also all cash/trade crops (Joel 1:12), so that God Himself has robbed them of all earthly joy. The Lord is making them to feel that they have not had the spiritual joy needed to care when it is lost.

Do we lament for lost worship like a young bride, whose betrothed is snatched from her just before the wedding (Joel 1:8)? If not, may God the Spirit bless to us this passage so that His heart-sensitizing purposes toward the first recipients in their locust plague would come home to our own hearts as well.

When have you missed worship, and especially public worship? How deeply does it affect you to do so?

Suggested songs: ARP42A “As Pants the Deer” or TPH42C “As Thirsts the Hart for Water Brooks”


Friday, May 21, 2021

2021.05.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:1–3

Read Philippians 3:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the apostle introduce Philippians 3:1? What does he call them? What does he command them? What things is he writing? How doesn’t he feel about this repetition? What advantage does this have for them? Of what three things does he command them to beware (Philippians 3:2)? What does he say that he and the Philippian believers are in Philippians 3:3? What three things make them “the circumcision”? Whom do they worship in Whom? What do they do in Christ Jesus? In what don’t they have confidence?

Many of us who grew up singing Philippians 4:4 “as a round” probably did not understand the context well enough to reach back into the first three verses of the previous chapter, which we have before us now. Rejoicing in the Lord is set over against rejoicing in status, rejoicing in self, and rejoicing in signs.

One good way of summing up the gospel is, “In yourself, you have only guilt and misery and weakness; but, in Christ there is perfect righteousness, blessedness, and strength!” So, one might succinctly make the gospel offer, the gospel call, in these terms: “rejoice in the Lord!”

But the Christian life isn’t something that begins with rejoicing in the Lord and moves on to rejoicing in our covenant status, or our self-righteousness, or our access to the signs. As we’ve been hearing throughout the book, Christ is all of our Christian life, and in each of these (status, works, signs) our rejoicing ought to be in Him. 

So the apostle says he’s energized, rather than weighed down, to tell the same thing that he has always said: “rejoice in the Lord!” And it is well that he enjoys telling them to do so, because there are dangerous people out there trying to get them to have confidence in the flesh (end of Philippians 3:4). So, the apostle here is acting as Christ-sent safety officer saying, “rejoice in the Lord”!

As he warns them against those who might lure them into self-confidence instead of Christ-confidence, he goes on the offensive with the three names he uses for them in Philippians 3:2. Each of these identify an area of the Christian life in which we are in danger of rejoicing in something that Christ gives us instead of in Christ Himself.

Beware of dogs: covenant status. It is a marvelous thing to be set apart to the Lord as His saints, to have membership in the holy assembly that is His church. For centuries, Jews had been exulting in this status, apart from vital faith in the promised Christ. And such habits of heart are hard to break. They viewed Gentiles as “dogs,” which came to mean those outside the covenant. Ironically, someone who is proud of His status instead of rejoicing in the Christ Who gave him that status, shows that he is not genuinely holy. 

The vital, spiritual status of the man’s soul is opposite the status of his earthly church membership. He is a dog. “Watch out!” says the apostle. “There are people in the church who think about membership in Christ’s church in a way that shows that they lack the far more important membership: membership through faith in Christ Himself. Don’t follow them; rather, rejoice in the Lord!”

Beware of evil workers: good works. Good works are good. They come from faith in Christ, and are the fruit of His life as the vine flowing through you as a branch. But works that you trust in, or works for which you feel like getting praise instead of giving it, are not works that proceed from faith. These are dead works, from which we must repent. They have at their heart a violation of the first commandment and the first great commandment. Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.

So, when there were those who were tempting Philippian believers to do works for the purpose of showing off themselves instead of showing off the gospel (cf. Philippians 1:27), the apostle chose a name for them that shows how opposite this kind of thinking really is. “Beware of evil workers.” The way they work is evil, so regardless of any outward conformity to Scripture, their works are evil.

Beware of the mutilation: covenant signs. Circumcision wasn’t even a sign of the covenant anymore. To a church that is largely gentile, the apostle says, “we are the circumcision” in Philippians 3:3. The sign of admission into the covenant is no longer the cutting away of flesh, but the pouring out of the Spirit (which we see signified in the pouring out of the water of baptism). So he says, “we are the circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God.”

Even God’s former sign was meant to show something that God would do to their hearts (cf. Deuteronomy 30:6). Without this hope in the spiritual work of God, and without God actually doing that spiritual work, the cutting away of flesh was never ultimately a blessing to begin with. So the apostle refers to flesh circumcision without heart circumcision in shocking words that expose this truth. “Beware of the mutilation!”

We too are in danger of rejoicing in the mercies that accessorize belonging to Christ, rather than rejoicing in Christ Himself in His mercies. Ironically, someone who recognizes this danger can rejoice in watching out. So, to all of us, the apostle announces again that first gospel call, which is still the continual call of the Christian life: “rejoice in the Lord!”

How are you developing the heart-habit of rejoicing in the Lord? How are you reminding yourself to do so especially when we think about your membership? How especially when thinking about doing good works? How especially when thinking about baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord Is King”


Thursday, May 20, 2021

Unassailable Confidence from the Justness of the God Who Justifies Us in Christ (2021.05.19 Prayer Meeting Lesson from Psalm 18:20–30)

God assures us of our justness in Christ by setting before us in v20–24 how He can pray—and therefore how we, in Him, can pray. And the justness of God in vv25–30 strengthens us with great confidence that He Who is perfectly just will reward with perfect blessing the perfect righteousness that He has given us in Christ.

2021.05.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 18:18–34

Read Luke 18:18–34

Questions from the Scripture text: Who speaks to Jesus in Luke 18:18? What does he call Him? What does he ask Him? What does Jesus ask him in response (Luke 18:19)? What does Jesus say about this? What does He say the man knows (Luke 18:20)? What commandments does Jesus specifically mention? What does the man say about these commandments (Luke 18:21)? How much does Jesus say this man lacks (Luke 18:22)? What does Jesus tell him to do? Where does Jesus say he will have what? What is the ultimate command in verse 22? How does the man respond in Luke 18:23? Why? What did Jesus see in Luke 18:24? What does He say? What two things does Jesus compare in Luke 18:25? Which does He say is easier? What do those who hear ask (Luke 18:26)? What does Jesus say about possibilities in Luke 18:27? Who speaks in Luke 18:28? With what command does he begin? What is it that he wants Jesus to see? What does Jesus acknowledge people might leave—for the sake of what (Luke 18:29)? What will such a person receive (Luke 18:30)? When? And what else, when else? Whom does Jesus now take aside in Luke 18:31? Where does He tell them that they are going? What will be accomplished there? What six things will happen to Him (Luke 18:32-33)? Then what will He do (verse 33)? How much of this do they understand (Luke 18:34)? How many ways does verse 34 tell us about this?

Whether it was his net worth, or his net-worthiness, the ruler in this passage was sure that he could bankroll whatever it took to obtain eternal life. He was calling Jesus “Good” (Luke 18:18-19) not because he thought Jesus to be perfectly morally righteous, but because he thought Jesus to be a whole lot like himself. 

The ruler’s problem isn’t that he didn’t know the words of the standard (Luke 18:20); it’s that he thought he was doing a good job of keeping it (Luke 18:21). But the one thing he lacked (Luke 18:22a) was actually everything: Christ Himself (end of verse 22). 

What do you get for the man who has everything? The eye-opening reality that without Jesus, that man has nothing. Thinking that we have moral riches is even harder to overcome than having hearts that cling to earthly riches (Luke 18:23-25).

And this way of thinking even infects disciples. Peter has understood that Jesus is what you need (Luke 18:28). But by Christ’s response in Luke 18:29-30, we see that Peter thinks that they are being rewarded for coming out on the losing end. But, giving up a giant pile of worthlessness in order to have Christ instead doesn’t just get you treasure in heaven (Luke 18:22) in the age to come, but treasure in heaven and earth, both now and forever (Luke 18:30).

It’s just hard for our sin-clouded hearts to appreciate what Scripture says must be done to save us, and how we’re totally unable to accomplish the slightest particle of it. So, when Jesus tells them what He has to do in the clearest possible words (Luke 18:31-33), they still can’t understand what He is talking about (Luke 18:34). Even disciples like Peter can have fits of the same self-righteous thinking as the unconverted young ruler—the kind of thinking that makes us unable to comprehend what true riches are in this life and the next. True wealthiness is to count everything else loss for the gain of having Christ! And then realizing that since we have Christ, literally everything is ours in that it is being employed by God for us, who are joint-heirs-with-Christ of all things.

In what situations do you tend to feel like God should really pay you back for how well you’ve done? In what situations have you felt that you’ve lost something valuable in order to belong to Christ or follow Him? In that situation, how have you really lost nothing and gained everything?

Suggested Songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH508 “Jesus, Priceless Treasure”


Wednesday, May 19, 2021

2021.05.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 13:1–22

Read 2 Samuel 13:1–22

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does 2 Samuel 13:1 first mention? Whose son is he? What does he have? What was her name? Who was Amnon? How did he feel toward her? How did he respond to this purported “love” (2 Samuel 13:2)? To what extent? What was improper? What else did Amnon have (2 Samuel 13:3)? What was his name? What was his relation? What was Jonadab like? What does he ask Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:4? How does Amnon answer? What does Jonadab tell him to fake (2 Samuel 13:5)? Whom does he tell Amnon to ask for what? How carefully does Amnon follow this advice (2 Samuel 13:6)? What does David tell whom to do in 2 Samuel 13:7? What does Tamar do, where, in 2 Samuel 13:8? What is Amnon doing? What suspicious command does Amnon give in 2 Samuel 13:9? Then what does he command in 2 Samuel 13:10? But what does he do when she comes near in 2 Samuel 13:11? How does she answer in 2 Samuel 13:12? What does she ask about herself in 2 Samuel 13:13? What does she point out would happen to him? What counsel does she give instead? What does Amnon do with her counsel (2 Samuel 13:14)? What “advantage” does he have? What does he do to her? What does he now feel toward her in 2 Samuel 13:15? How does this compare to his prior feeling? What does he command? What does she call this command in 2 Samuel 13:16? What does she say about the greatness of this evil? What won’t he do to her in verse 2 Samuel 13:16? Whom does he call in 2 Samuel 13:17? What does he command? What does he do? What was she wearing (2 Samuel 13:18)? What was done to her? What does she put on her head (2 Samuel 13:19)? What does she do to her princess robe? What posture does she take? What does she do? Who speaks to her in 2 Samuel 13:20? What does he apparently know to ask directly? What does he tell her to do? What does he call Amnon? Where does she stay? In what condition? Who hears of it in 2 Samuel 13:21? How does he feel? What does he do? What does Absalom say about it to Amnon (2 Samuel 13:22)? How did he feel toward Amnon? Why? 

It is a judgment from God, when He gives fleshly men over to what they deludedly think is love. The Lord had declared to David that the sword would never depart from his house (cf. 2 Samuel 12:10) and that He would raise up adversity against David from his own house (cf. 2 Samuel 12:11), and now we see the chastening coming to pass. When we consider that this wickedness comes as a judgment from God, and when we see the evil that comes from it, we ought to be very careful with the self-delusion and self-satisfying desire that so many of us tell ourselves is “love.” There were many clues to know that this was not love as he thought (end of 2 Samuel 13:4). There were many clues or indications that could have helped him recognize that it wasn’t love:

  • The distress was in large part because he knew it was wrong to act upon,  2 Samuel 13:2. Lust is actually strengthened, rather than weakened, by its wrongness.
  • He was unwilling to listen to her ( 2 Samuel 13:14, end of  2 Samuel 13:16), though he was willing to listen to Jonadab about how to get her ( 2 Samuel 13:5, ff.). Lust lacks any compassion or sympathy and doesn’t care about the ideas or interests of its object.
  • It depended upon pretense ( 2 Samuel 13:6). Lust parades as something else, both in our hearts and in our presentation of it to others.
  • It hid behind secrecy ( 2 Samuel 13:9). Lust embraces its own shamefulness, getting rid of the people who might see, rather than getting rid of the shameful action that they would have seen.
  • It didn’t care what happened to God’s people ( 2 Samuel 13:12). Lust doesn’t care about God’s glory and its display in God’s people.
  • It didn’t care what happened to her ( 2 Samuel 13:13). Lust doesn’t care about the wellbeing of its object.
  • It took what it wanted by death-deserving force ( 2 Samuel 13:14). Lust enthrones its own gratification instead of the Lord.
  • It easily turned to a hatred that was even more intense ( 2 Samuel 13:15). Let us learn that self-focused emotions may very easily be completely reversed.

It is a judgment from God, when He gives leadership over to cowardice or laziness in punishing wrong. “But when King David heard of all these things, he was very angry” ( 2 Samuel 13:21). Was he, now? Was not God infinitely angrier than David?! And was David not only head of this clan but king over the nation?! How could a father not seek proper avenging for the forcing of his daughter?! How could a king permit such wickedness in the highest levels of the kingdom?!

The punishing of evil had been assigned to him by God (cf. Romans 13:1–4; 1 Peter 2:14). Yet, here he is doing the same thing as Amnon: caring only about what he thinks he feels, but not taking the action that God requires. His merely human anger was nothing without righteous indignation that leads to righteous action in fulfillment of the role that God has assigned to him.

It is a judgment from God, when we seethe and nurse bitterness, rather than taking it both to the Lord and to the proper authority ( 2 Samuel 13:22). Amnon’s and David’s sins in this passage are extremely wicked. But it is ultimately Absalom’s sin that will be the primary fulfillment of God’s pronounced curse from 2 Samuel 12:10–12. And here we see the beginning of it. He doesn’t confront Amnon. He doesn’t confront or appeal to the king. Instead, he nurses the hatred of bitterness and bides his time until he can act against both Amnon, and later the king himself.

O, dear believer, what a dreadful curse sin is! There is no worse chastening than to be given over to sin. Whether lust, or laziness, or bitter hatred, let us seek that the Lord by His grace would keep us from these. And deliver us from others who are being given over to it.

In which of these directions do your thoughts most often run?: intense longing desire for another who is not your spouse, avoidance of duties that belong to your station in life, or seething bitterness and enmity? How can you employ the means of grace as you depend upon the Lord to deliver you from these evils?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH540 “Soldiers of Christ, Arise”


Tuesday, May 18, 2021

The Christian Life Involves Hard Work, Intense Feeling, and Willing Sacrifice (2021.05.16 Evening Sermon in Philippians 2:25–30)

After telling them to have the mind of Christ in them, the apostle has commanded them to work out their own salvation, and then held out both himself and Timothy as examples. Now in the final example, Epaphroditus, he holds out to them a Christian life that is hard work in the face of both obstacles and opposition; intense emotion toward the Lord and His people; and, self-sacrifice that is more willing that self would suffer than that the name of Christ or the good of His church would suffer.

The Lord Demands Your Attention to His Word, Working, and Worship (2021.05.16 Morning Sermon in Joel 1:1–3)


There is a great day coming in which we will all be judged by Christ Jesus. That you might be prepared for that day, the Lord demands your attention to His Word, His working, and His worship. Give it to Him!


WCF 14.3.2 How Satan Attacks Faith, and How We Stand (2021.05.16 Sabbath School class)

Saving faith may be often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory

2021.05.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 5:1–12

Read Matthew 5:1–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jesus see (Matthew 5:1)? Where did He go? What did He do there? Who came to Him? What did He open (Matthew 5:2)? To speak what kind of speech? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:3? In what are they poor? What is theirs? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:4? What will be done to them? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:5? How? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:6? For what do they hunger? What else do they do for righteousness? What will be done for them? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:7? What will be done for them? Who will be blessed in Matthew 5:8? Why—what (Whom!) will they see? Who are blessed in Matthew 5:9? What will they be called, of Whom? What is happening to the ones in Matthew 5:10? For what are they being persecuted? Why are they blessed—what do they have? Who are blessed—pay attention to the pronouns—in Matthew 5:11? What three things will be done to them? What has to be true about the veracity of the denouncing, for this blessing to apply? For Whose sake must this be done to them? With what two commands does Matthew 5:12 begin? What do they have, in what measure, and where? Who else has received both this hardship and this blessing?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Matthew 5:1–12, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with The Beatitudes

It’s important to note that Jesus is moving away from the multitudes and isolating Himself with His disciples (Matthew 5:1). Multitudes generally prefer wealth, levity, pride, feasting, self-seeking, licentiousness, resentment, and ease (basically the opposite of each of Matthew 5:3a, Matthew 5:4a, Matthew 5:5a, Matthew 5:6a, Matthew 5:7a, Matthew 5:8a, Matthew 5:9a, Matthew 5:10a, Matthew 5:11). But believers have something better: Christ Himself and all that comes in Him. So Jesus pulls His disciples aside from the multitudes. He sets before them their blessedness in direct opposition to that of the world.

But notice how all of these are things that are ours in Christ. Every believer is someone who has realized that, without Christ, we have nothing but poverty (Matthew 5:3a). But with Christ, we have the entire kingdom in Him (verse 3b). 

If we mourn over our sin and misery and all ongoing effects of the fall, as those who hate everything that is against Christ (Matthew 5:4a), then we must surely be comforted in the completion of the working out of the effects of His victory (verse 4b).

If we do not advance our own reputation or our own interests but meekly know our place as unprofitable servants at best (Matthew 5:5a), we find that resting in Christ elevates us to the status of joint-heirs with Him (verse 5b)—even if, for a time, we suffer as we wait for the inheritance (cf. Romans 8:17).

If our hunger and thirst is for righteousness, we will be constantly hungry and thirsty (Matthew 5:6a)! Christ Himself will be satisfying, and we can praise God that He is completely satisfied with us in Him. But, He is not satisfied to leave us as we are, and we are not satisfied to remain as we are. Trying to live that way is a common mistake of our antinomian age.

However, here is a marvelous guarantee: we in whom the Spirit has created this hunger shall ultimately be filled. The work that He has begun in us WILL be completed (cf. Philippians 1:6). We WILL be conformed to Christ’s image (cf. Romans 8:29–30). And even as we purify ourselves as He is pure, we are doing this precisely because we have that assured hope that we will be like Him (cf. 1 John 3:2–3). 

There is a marvelous freedom that comes from being resting upon Christ. We are free to show mercy (Matthew 5:7a), to have a single-minded pursuit of God (Matthew 5:8a), and to release bitterness by forgiving (Matthew 5:9a). In particular, the singlemindedness toward God called “purity of heart” in Matthew 5:8 will find its mark. “Seeing God” is that ultimate glory, that beatific vision, that we will enjoy in the day that our hunger and thirst for righteousness are satisfied (cf. 1 John 3:2–3 again). We will be shown mercy (Matthew 5:8b), even the mercy of being adopted as children (Matthew 5:10b), but the greatest part of our blessing as children will be to see our Father (Matthew 5:9b).

So, Jesus has set before us the world-dwarfing blessedness that belongs to those who have Him. And now, we are brought back to “the world” who are the “they” in Matthew 5:11. The disciples can see over their shoulders the multitude down the mountain. This is no small group that is reviling and persecuting and falsely speaking all kinds of evil. 

But, if this is coming to them for the sake of Jesus, these attacks have the exact opposite of the world’s intent. For the attack themselves are reminders and verifications that they have Christ! So, the Lord commands us not only to be comforted, but a double and intensified command of celebration. Rejoice! Be glad! Indeed, be exceedingly glad! The prophets before them suffered much for the hope of Christ; now the disciples (and we!) have a clear view of Christ Himself. So, let them (and we!) rejoice exceedingly over Him!

What are some specific situations in which you are treasuring Christ instead of things or circumstances that an unbeliever would treasure? Who is attacking you for His sake, and verifying to you your identification with Him? How are you doing with the command to rejoice over this?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH464 “The Beatitudes”


Monday, May 17, 2021

2021.05.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:1–3

Read Joel 1:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose Word is this (Joel 1:1)? To whom did it come? How is he identified? What is the primary command in Joel 1:2a? To whom is it first addressed? How is the command restated in verse 2b? To whom is it now addressed? What question does he now ask? What is the implied answer? What is the primary command of Joel 1:3a? To whom at first? And then to whom does verse 3b apply the command? And then whom in verse 3c? 

Hear! Listening, listen! That’s the command of Joel 1:2. The prophet wastes little time on himself. He’s the son of Pethuel, but we can’t nail down either one’s identity any nearer than a space of about 600 (!) years. We’re too prone to pay attention to other things as it is. It’s not Joel who is demanding our attention, but the Living God!

The Lord wants our attention to His Word, Joel 1:1. It’s the Word of Yahweh. Even if He hadn’t sent a locust plague, it would demand our submissive hearing. It would demand that we believe what it teaches. It would demand that we obey what it commands. 

Our thoughts are so full of other things as we go about our lives. But the Lord Himself has spoken! Ought our thoughts not be full of His words? We think relentlessly about what we desire. But the Lord Himself has spoken!  Ought we not relentlessly pursue what He desires? We are often consumed with many worries or anxieties. But the Lord Himself has spoken! Ought not failure to heed Him be the thing we most diligently avoid?

The Lord wants our attention to His work, Joel 1:2. In the context of Joel, the Lord has brought a locust plague on a scale that they had never seen before. But He is constantly working all things according to the counsel of His will (cf. Ephesians 1:11). And we know that He is working all things together for our good (cf. Romans 8:28) and giving us all things (cf. Romans 8:32), even as He does whatever is necessary for producing in us the requisite holiness for eternal happiness (cf. Hebrews 12:1–17).

Pay attention! Providence is personal. Calling us to thanksgiving (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:18). Calling us to repentance (cf. Luke 13:1–9). Calling us to serve (cf. Romans 12:1). Calling us to worship (cf. Psalm 104). Calling us to obey (cf. Psalm 119:96; 2 John, verse 6). Calling us to dependence (cf. John 15:5). Calling us to groaning (cf. Romans 8:22–26). And we could go on, but everything through which His providence brings us has an appropriate response to it in His Word.

The problem is that we are quite unresponsive! And so the Lord often does things in a more spectacular fashion to demand our attention. And, how grievous it is then, if we still don’t pay attention.

The Lord wants our attention to His worship, Joel 1:3. One of the reasons that the Lord is bringing the entire nation to its knees in mourning is that they have not properly lamented over the public worship of God (Joel 1:13). And He is going to call these same “elders and all inhabitants” (Joel 1:2) to “a holy assembly in the house of Yahweh” (Joel 1:14). 

It is in such an assembly that everyone, from the eldest down to the nursing babies, is called to gather (cf. Joel 2:16). While this four-generation repetition of God’s Word and God’s works from Joel 1:3 surely takes place in family conversation and family worship, the holy assembly is the preeminent place where it happens. Neglect of the public worship, or an approach to public worship that neglects this multi-generational dynamic, is to be grossly negligent with the care of God’s holy seed (cf. Malachi 2:15)—a negligence that the coming great and dreadful day of the Lord was to remedy (cf. Malachi 4:5–6).

The Lord has spoken—and has climactically spoken in Christ. The Lord is continually acting—and has climactically acted, in Christ. The Lord has created and redeemed us for worship—a creation in Christ, and a redemption in Christ, unto a sacred assembly led by Christ!

How are you paying attention to God’s Word? How are you developing the habit of continually responding to Providence as the Lord’s personal work? How are you prioritizing the Lord’s holy assembly, and especially the multi-generational instruction and reminding in that assembly?

Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH550 “Let Children Hear the Mighty Deeds”


Saturday, May 15, 2021

2021.05.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 1:1–3

Read Joel 1:1–3

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose Word is this (Joel 1:1)? To whom did it come? How is he identified? What is the primary command in Joel 1:2a? To whom is it first addressed? How is the command restated in verse 2b? To whom is it now addressed? What question does he now ask? What is the implied answer? What is the primary command of Joel 1:3a? To whom at first? And then to whom does verse 3b apply the command? And then whom in verse 3c?

The Lord wants your attention. Joel is one of the prophets about whom we know the least. All Joel 1:1 tells us is his name and his father’s name. The rest of the Bible tells us nothing about him. Commentators spill a fair amount of ink trying to tell us the possible significance of our not knowing anything about him. But the point seems to be to divert our attention away from Joel and to Yahweh Himself. 

To His Word. Although Joel was the one to whom the word came, Yahweh is the One from Whom the word came, and with Whom we are to deal with in it. It is the Word of Yahweh. This is like the Thessalonians who “heard” a word from the apostle, but rightly recognized it as not the word of the apostle, but as it truly is the Word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

God brings His Word through men. This gives opportunity for the wicked unbelief of many scholars to shine through as a warning to believers. If they use human instrumentality to cast doubt upon the divine nature of the Word, especially of its perfect truthfulness, then they do not have Jesus’s doctrine of Scripture, and we can easily avoid them as wolves rather than undershepherds.

It also warns us against interacting too much with the man in the pulpit and too little with the God-Man Who speaks from heaven (cf. Hebrews 12:25). One reason for esteeming those who speak the Word to us (cf. Hebrews 13:7, Hebrews 13:17) is so that the weakness of the instrument and the wickedness of our feelings toward him won’t get in the way of our submission to what he preaches. If the text is faithfully presented, it is Christ Himself Who addresses us, and we can tell much about whether we submit to Him and worship Him by how we interact with His Word that has come to and through His appointed servants.

To His works. Has anything like this happened? The rhetorical question demands the answer, “NO!” The reason that it is asked is because we are so dull that we easily miss the significance of what God does in His providence. 

Not every hard providence is a direct judgment for a direct sin, as the book of Job makes quite clear. However, in Luke 13:1–9, Jesus taught that every startlingly unusual death is a reminder that death comes to all of us, and that apart from repentance unto life and saving faith, the first death of the grave will be a moment of horrific transition to the second death of Hell.

Older people are susceptible to an acquired insensitivity to the Lord, like a spiritual callous that makes it difficult to prick the conscience. Children are susceptible to make a big deal out of everything and deal emotionally with all but seriously with none. Both groups are addressed specifically in Joel 1:2-3, but no one is left out of the group, “all you inhabitants of the land”!

When God does something unusual, He wants us to notice it and turn our hearts to Him. Every one of us. Whatever our obstacles are to taking His interaction with us seriously, He commands us to overcome them. And to help one another overcome them. Tell your children. Let them tell theirs. And them another generation. 

The bigger the event, the bigger the reminder of the one event that will dwarf all others: the Day of the Lord. Don’t miss opportunities in your life to have your attention drawn to that great day. And when you speak of a once-a-century event, or hear of a once-a-century event, make sure to look past that little bit of history to the end of all history.

To His worship. We’ll get there again in Joel 2:15–17, but there’s one obvious place where this multi-generational hearing and telling of Joel 1:2-3 occurs: the Lord’s holy assembly. When we gather for that worship, we are especially to listen for the Lord. It is there that His Word comes not just to one, but to all of us, whether through just the one as in the preaching and the praying, or through everyone as in the singing and the supping. So, when we are at worship, He demands our attention. And, in His general demand of our attention, there is especially a demand that we worship.

And that means all of us. It is more difficult for the elderly to get around, but the seasoned believer will make more effort to get to the worship assembly than to anywhere else. It is more difficult for a child to participate in a way that helps others, but the Lord calls them to do so, and both they should put forth the effort to worship well, and others should put forth the effort to accommodate their learning. Not only are many generations worshiping at once, but this is the means by which today’s child generation becomes tomorrow’s adult generation that is telling a new generation of children and so forth.

The Lord demands our attention. There is a great day coming in which we will all be judged by Christ Jesus—not only in the sense that He Himself will do the judging, but also very much in the sense that the great question of the day will be: “What have you done with Christ?” Have you recognized Him as your Creator, to Whom you have owed everything; your King, Whose wrath and vengeance you deserve, but Whose provision and mercy you have continually received; and, your Redeemer, Who has borne the penalty of Your treason so that you might be a co-heir of the kingdom with Him? In His Word, in His works, and in His worship, the Lord demands your attention!

When you are reading or hearing the Bible, what difference does it make to you that it is a personal word from God? What recent events of your life have called for your attention? How do you prepare for public worship? What are you currently working on, when it comes to your participation in public worship?

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


Friday, May 14, 2021

The Great Effort, Intense Emotion, and Willing Sacrifice of True Christian Life and Ministry (Family Worship Lesson in Philippians 2:25–30)

What does it look like to follow Jesus as a living sacrifice? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Philippians 2:25–30 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that Epaphroditus was an example of following the apostle’s instruction to imitate Christ from the first part of the chapter in his great effort, intense emotion, and willing sacrifice.

2021.05.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 2:25–30

Read Philippians 2:25–30

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the apostle consider “necessary” (Philippians 2:25)? What five things does he call him? For what had Epaphroditus been longing (Philippians 2:26)? Why was he distressed? How sick had he been (Philippians 2:27)? Upon whom does the apostle say God had mercy? Otherwise, what would the apostle have had? In what manner did the apostle send the recovered minister (Philippians 2:28)? What effect did he hope this would have upon the Philippians? And what effect would the success of this hope have upon the apostle? “In Whom” does Paul say to receive him (Philippians 2:29)? With how much gladness? Doing what to Epaphroditus and others like him? For what purpose had Epaphroditus come close to what outcome (Philippians 2:30)? What did he not regard as being that important? In order to do what specific ministry/service?

Christian life and ministry is hard work that comes from intense feeling at significant risk.

Christian life and ministry is hard work. We’ve already seen that we are called to work out salvation because of God works in us (cf. Philippians 2:12–13), and that Paul uses significant “effort” words like “running” and “laboring” to describe his own ministry (cf. Philippians 2:16). Now he describes Epaphroditus as a “fellow worker” and a “fellow soldier.” The worker puts forth effort to accomplish something despite obstacles and difficulty. The soldier puts forth effort to accomplish something despite opposition and danger. 

Christian life and ministry depends upon grace to be sure (Philippians 2:13), but it is a life of putting forth effort in the face of obstacles, difficulty, opposition, and danger. The Bible knows nothing of an effortless Christianity or painless Christianity, though we see on every side today false teaching that advances such counterfeits. Victory without a cross is the lie that the devil offered Christ in the temptation; and he has an army of preachers through whom he continues to offer it to Christians.

Christian life and ministry involves intense feeling. New life in Christ, by His Spirit, involves the whole man. Because we tend to compartmentalize things, and because we live in under-working and over-emotional days, we can often make the opposite error and neglect or be suspicious of Christian emotion.

But truly Christian emotion is all over this passage. We see Epaphroditus’s longing for the Philippians (Philippians 2:26), his home church who had sent him in their place to minister to Paul (Philippians 2:25Philippians 2:30). We see the implied concern of the members back home at the report of Epaphroditus’s illness. We see Epaphroditus’s reciprocal distress over their distress. We see the apostle anticipating how great his sorrow would have been if the Lord had taken the dear brother (Philippians 2:27). We see the eagerness of the apostle to relieve both Epaphroditus and the dear ones back in Philippi (Philippians 2:28). We see the anticipated rejoicing at the surprise reunion, when Epaphroditus arrived with the letter. We see the comfort that this anticipation brought the apostle. We even see a command unto gladness in Philippians 2:29!

That’s a great deal of relational emotion in one little paragraph of Scripture. Believers are not to be unfeeling. The comfort and steadiness that we have in Christ enables us to refuse wrong feelings and to embrace intensely proper feelings. There is not only significant effort in a true Christian life, but also significant emotion.

Christian life and ministry comes at significant risk. The apostle tells them that Epaphroditus almost died in Philippians 2:27. But in Philippians 2:30, he adds the info that he willingly came close to death in order to do the work of Christ at the risk of his life. Of course, we cannot keep our lives, and as soon as our usefulness is up, we shall leave this world. This attitude of Epaphroditus is essentially the same as that of Timothy in Philippians 2:20-21, and it should be ours as well.  

The apostle even implies that this is what the Philippians would have (ought to have?) done, if they could, when he says, “to supply what was lacking in your service” (Philippians 2:30). Christ has done everything for us, and we cannot lose what He has worked for. So, we should be willing to “lose” anything else, in order to work for Him. Offer your bodies as living sacrifices!

What effort are you putting into your walk with Christ? Into serving others in your congregation of Christ’s church? What circumstances in your church have been the occasion of biblically Christian emotions for you? What expense or risk have you put forth to serve Christ in His church?

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


Thursday, May 13, 2021

Personal Prayer and Its Infinitely Powerful God (2021.05.12 Prayer Meeting Lesson in Psalm 18:1–19)

In our working straight through the Psalms at the prayer meetings, the Lord gave us a passage that dovetailed marvelously with Lord's Day morning's sermon. The God of creation, the God who destroyed Sodom, the God who parted the sea, the God who shook and burned Sinai—this God moves, with all that He is, in response to the smallest cry of the one who is His in Christ in Whom He delights!

2021.05.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 18:15–17

Read Luke 18:15–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did they bring to Jesus (Luke 18:15)? To do what to them? Who saw it? What did they do to the parents? Who called to them (Luke 18:16)? What does He command to be done to the children? What does He command not to be done to the parents? Why—of whom is the kingdom at least partly composed? Who else must conform to the children in what way (Luke 18:17)? How did the infants “come” to Jesus? So, how must each of us enter it? How else may we enter?

We see something here of the character of Jesus toward infants. Parents seemed to have good hope that their infants were welcome with Him (Luke 18:15). These parents knew what Jesus would do (in part) with their children: touch them. He would communicate Himself and His power and His blessing to them as implied and perceived by touching—which is a communication uniquely suited to the children’s own perception, not just the parents’.

They turned out to be correct (Luke 18:16). This is a great encouragement to parents today whose children are too young to come without help or even to help themselves come. Jesus is happy to receive those who are so unable as yet that they must be carried. He isn’t any more impressed with Pharisees (preceding passage) or young rulers (following passage) than He is with infants. 

We also see something here of the policy of Jesus, concerning infants. It’s easy to miss what Jesus says about infants in Luke 18:16 because of what He says about the rest of His people in Luke 18:17. But He does say both things, and we must receive both things. In Luke 18:16, He gives the command both in the positive (“Permit them”) and in the negative (“Forbid them not”) on the basis of their status (“Of such is the kingdom”). This “of such” is a statement of citizenship status; or, if we are using our common lingo, “membership” status. Jesus flatly says that they have a right to the King because they have a citizenship in the kingdom that is on equal footing with anybody else’s. 

Finally we see something of the policy of Jesus, concerning everyone. We’ve been done a disservice by the romanticized view that we have of children: implicit trust, playfulness, apparent innocence. But none of these were the way by which these infants (Luke 18:15) had “come” (Luke 18:16) to Jesus or received their citizenship status. 

In fact, many commentators point out that in neither the Greco-Roman nor Hebraic worldview were children associated with those things. Rather, they were considered little fools that needed a lot of training and a lot of providential preservation if they were going to survive their childhood long enough to come into an age of usefulness.

That further highlights Jesus’s obvious (even without this cultural knowledge) point: in order to come to Jesus, these infants had to be carried. It was not as if they had such small ability that they needed a large amount of assistance. Rather, the reality was that they had no ability at all, and for them to “come” to Jesus, the totality of that ability needed to be supplied by another.

In effect, Jesus is saying that unless the Holy Spirit carries us to Him spiritually in the way that these parents had carried their infants (Luke 18:15) and little ones (Luke 18:17) to Him physically, we’ll never come to Him at all. It’s another variation on the same theme as John 6:44 or Ephesians 2:1, Ephesians 2:5

Some point (correctly) to Luke 18:16 as validating putting the kingdom sign of the King’s authority upon kingdom citizens/subjects (cf. Matthew 28:18–20). This is what is sometimes called “infant baptism,” when we might more helpfully call it “kingdom baptism” or “covenant baptism.” 

But what Jesus is saying in Luke 18:17 is that, to understand the sign and thing signified correctly, we ought to understand every Christian baptism as an “infant” baptism. Professing or not, it was God the Holy Spirit who carried them into the visible kingdom of the earthly church. And if they are coming into the invisible and everlasting kingdom, then it will only be because God the Holy Spirit carried them there as well.

How does your interaction with infants mirror that of your Lord’s? What are you doing to help them come to Jesus in the means that He has appointed, since they cannot help themselves? How does His official statement about their kingdom status factor into how you view them? How has your coming to Him mirrored that of a helpless infant?

Suggested Songs: ARP87 “The LORD’S Foundation” or TPH195 “Shine Thou upon Us, Lord”


Wednesday, May 12, 2021

2021.05.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 12:26–31

Read 2 Samuel 12:26–31

Questions from the Scripture text: To what history do we now return (2 Samuel 12:26, cf. 2 Samuel 11:1)? What does Joab do? To whom does he send in 2 Samuel 12:27? What does he tell him? What does Joab ask David to do (2 Samuel 12:28a)? to prevent what from happening (verse 28b)? So, what does David do in 2 Samuel 12:29? What does he take in 2 Samuel 12:30? What does the Scripture note about it? What else does he bring out? Whom does he bring out in 2 Samuel 12:31? What does he do to them? To whom else does he do this? Then what does he finally do (end of verse 31, cf. 2 Samuel 11:1)?

Wars and sieges and subjugation of enemies (cf. 2 Samuel 12:31)… that’s the stuff that tends to get all the press. You can even see it highlighted here in Joab’s message that David should probably want his name on this (2 Samuel 12:28), and in the puff-piece in the Jerusalem Times about the weight and design of the recently acquired Ammonite crown (2 Samuel 12:30). 

But that seems to be sort of the Spirit’s point to us here. David “returned to Jerusalem” (v31), where he had made the unusual decision to remain in 2 Samuel 11:1. The stuff that man seems to focus so much upon is almost a throwaway introduction (verse 11:1) and conclusion (2 Samuel 12:26-31) to the main narrative (2 Samuel 11:2–12:25). God emphasizes much more to us the conduct and sanctification of His people, the spiritual condition of His church and its leadership, than He does the rising and falling of kingdoms.

The fact that the Lord was in the midst of giving David yet another victory, and putting yet another extravagant crown on his head, and subjugating yet another nation into service to him all ends up reinforcing the point that He had made in 2 Samuel 12:7–8

We have a God and King and Redeemer Who has front-loaded our lives with tremendous blessing and guaranteed that limitless blessing is our ultimate outcome. Even the fact that Joab is still more devoted to David’s name than his own (end of 2 Samuel 12:28) is evidence of what God has done for David and is doing for David. 

And we have continual evidence set before us as well—daily bread, the ability to forgive, the knowledge of God as both Father and yet also holy. Weekly, we even gather into glory, through the shed blood of Christ, hear Him speak to us from heaven, have His death shown forth at the table, and eat and drink the feast of the everlasting covenant.

It is easy for us to focus upon “what’s going on in the world”—to give more weight to wars and rumors of wars. But this passage pushes us to give more weight to showing up to work on time and consistently, guarding where we let our eyes linger, listening to wise counsel, resisting the urge to cover sin up or throw others under the bus (or Ammonite archers) when it suits how we want others to think of ourselves.

And this passage most of all wants us to give weight to how merciful it is when God sends His Word to convict us. And grants us a repentance that neither makes excuses nor downplays the severity of our sin. And convinces us that His covenant is still in place because it is His, and that our children are His beloved because they are His. And, most of all, this passage wants us to remember that the only King that will ultimately do for us is Jesus.

Australia and China may be getting ready to go to a war that will suck in the entire world. The new Tech Oligarchs may be subjugating the world. The old-money nobility may be employing the woke-mob to suppress any threat they perceive to their power. But the Lord wants us keenly interested in everyday living as the proper response to His everlasting mercy in Christ. Therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your reasonable response of worship.

What things that seem like a big deal politically and militarily threaten to occupy more of your attention than what God wants from you on an hourly and daily basis? What is it that God wants from you on an hourly and daily basis? What has He done for you and promised you, that you can keep in mind so that you focus primarily upon loving Him back with obedience and service? What can you be sure that He is doing in all of those political and military things that are happening?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH515 “More Than Conquerors”


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

2021.05.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 3:14–19

Read Ephesians 3:14–19

Questions from the Scripture text: What (Ephesians 3:14, cf. Ephesians 2:14–22) does the apostle now pick up from Ephesians 3:1 as the reason for this prayer? What posture does he take for this prayer? What does He call God, Whom he addresses (Ephesians 3:14-15)? According to what does he pray that this request will be granted (Ephesians 3:16)? With what does he pray that they will be strengthened? Through Whom does he pray that they will be strengthened? In what does he pray that they will be strengthened? What does he pray that the Spirit will do in their inner man (Ephesians 3:17a)? In what will this root them and ground them (verse 17b)? What would this enable them to do, with whom (Ephesians 3:18)? What is the thing that he prays that they will begin to know the measure (or, rather, immeasurability!) of (Ephesians 3:19)? With what will such knowledge fill them?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Ephesians 3:14–19, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus

Heaven has been reconciled to earth, with God making redeemed sinners the trophy in which He displays His grace even in glory to the angels (Ephesians 2:6–7; Ephesians 3:10–11). Paul began to say “for this reason” in Ephesians 3:1, and now he picks the train of thought back up in Ephesians 3:14, having uncovered and displayed several more facets of this glorious, multicolored diamond of the wisdom and the grace of God. 

It is the glory of this mystery that we can call God Father—not only are all of the ethnicities of believers being brought together into one family on earth, but in heaven they actually appear in glory, the same glory that was being accomplished even through Paul’s imprisonment (end of Ephesians 3:13). 

Of course, a part of the blessedness of our glorious adoption is access to the family estate, the riches of God’s glory. And it is in realizing that God is building this family that the apostle now bows his knees and requests access to the family treasure. The fatherhood of the Father. The strengthening of the Spirit. The indwelling of the Son.

It must be a great request indeed! And what is all of this being requested to do? To enable the Ephesians to comprehend (to take hold of) by experiential knowledge something that our brains can’t wrap around.

He has been reflecting upon the fact that the love of Christ goes widely through all the earth to all of its families, that the length of the love of Christ began before all things hidden in God Himself and continues for all eternity, that the love of Christ reaches down all the way to those who are dead in trespasses and sins, and that the love of Christ takes us up onto even the highest throne of the highest heaven.

How could we come to take hold of such a thing? How could we come to take hold of something that will fill us, continually, abundantly, forever? Filled with all the fullness of God! It would be blasphemy if the Holy Spirit had not been the One to say it. What a glorious way to say continual, abundant, and forever fullness. It is not the fullness of that which is finite but the fullness of God.

No wonder, then, that the apostle makes this great Trinitarian prayer when coming with such a request. And, how much we need to consider the great necessity and glory of the church that such knowledge must come together “with all the saints.” Shall we not bow our own knees for this?

How do we grow in the love of Christ? Who must make those activities effective? Ask Him!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH463 “O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus”