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, June 05, 2021

2021.06.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:1–11

Read Joel 2:1–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Joel 2:1 tell them to blow and sound, where? Who else should do what? Why? What five characteristics describe this day (Joel 2:2)? What kind of people come on this day? What goes before them (Joel 2:3)? What change does it make as they go? What escapes? What do they look like (Joel 2:4a, Joel 2:5d)? How fast are they (verse 4b)? What do they sound like (verse 5a, c)? How high do they jump (verse 5b)? What is happening to the people in front of them (Joel 2:6)? What is the movement of this army like (Joel 2:7-9)? With what effect on creation (Joel 2:10)? Whose army is it (Joel 2:11)? What is He doing in front of them? What is strength doing? What does verse 11d call the day? And what question does verse 11e ask? With what expected response?

The Lord sounds the alarm (Joel 2:1), but it turns out that the invading army is led by the Lord Himself (Joel 2:11). This is surprising, but it is intended to prevent a worse surprise: those who are expecting the day of Yahweh to be a day of joy, but are headed for it as a day of devastation.

Elsewhere in the prophets, there are preachers who say “peace, peace” where there is no peace (cf. Jeremiah 6:14, Jeremiah 8:11; Ezekiel 13:10). And there are those who assume that they may continue tolerating all sorts of sin or false worship, because after all they live in Jerusalem and attend worship at the temple (cf. Jeremiah 7:8; Micah 3:11). 

When we are church members who feel little of God’s holiness or our sin’s wickedness, we are in a similar danger, and there are plenty of preachers who will gladly keep us comfortable. Not so our Lord. He gives His people a little foretaste of His day in this locust plague.

Look at how these little insects and their day are described! The sights (darkness, gloominess, clouds, thick darkness; from Eden-like to scorched earth; fearless invaders and petrified victims)! The sounds (noise like chariots, noise like raging fire)! The sensation (earthquakes and heaven-quakes)! And the insects themselves are presented as a most strong, speedy, skilled, disciplined, selfless, organized, persistent army.

Why would the Lord invade His own city with such an army in history? Because He is coming with a frightfully more fearsome army at the end of history. Each of these locusts in the ten thousands of ten thousands will be replaced by a mighty angel. If Joel 2 is what it is like when the army is hundreds of millions of locusts, what will it be like, when the army is hundreds of millions of mighty angels?! And yet, there is One at the head of that army (cf. Revelation 19:19) Who is by Himself more mighty and more deadly than all of the rest of the army together (cf. Revelation 19:11–14Revelation 19:21).

So in Joel, and for us as we read and hear it by the Spirit’s help, the Lord raises the alarm ahead of time, calling us to repentance. He disabuses us of any false sense of security in our church membership or in anything else, and sends us flying to Christ alone. In chapter 1, He wakes us up; and here, in chapter 2, He shakes us up.

Who can endure the great and very terrible day of Yahweh? No one. And so when He comes, you had better be part of the armies of heaven and led by the One on the white horse; for, you cannot endure being His enemy.

When do you tend to lose the sense of your neediness of Christ and desperation for Him? How can you make good use of passages like this one, and what they talk about, to stir it back up?

Suggested songs: ARP99A “Let the Nations Tremble” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear!”

Friday, June 04, 2021

Christ Infinitely Valuable (and All Else as Dung) for Justification, Sanctification, and Glorification (2021.06.04 Family Worship Lesson in Philippians 3:8–11)

In what way is everything other than Christ dung? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Philippians 3:8–11 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord's Day. In these four verses of holy Scripture, we learn that neither the accomplishments of the flesh, nor anything else, is worth any more than dung for justification, sanctification or glorification. The knowledge of Christ, however, is most excellent for every part of our salvation!

2021.06.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:8–11

Read Philippians 3:8–11

Questions from the Scripture text: As what does the apostle count all things (Philippians 3:8)? In exchange for what more excellent thing? What has he actually done for Jesus? And how does he count those things he lost? In order to gain what? In what is he found, when he gains Christ (Philippians 3:9)? What does he not have of his own? From what couldn’t he get it? Through what could he get righteousness? From Whom is this righteousness? By what? What three things does he know, having gained Christ (Philippians 3:10)? To what is the apostle conformed by the fellowship that he has in Christ’s sufferings? What is this the means of attaining (Philippians 3:11)?

The apostle has counted as dung all that he previously thought was to his credit (Philippians 3:8). And he’s right. They are as valuable as dung for obtaining the wonderful things in Philippians 3:9-11. Justification (Philippians 3:9), sanctification (Philippians 3:10), and glorification (Philippians 3:11) can only come one way: the excellent knowledge of Christ Jesus—gaining Christ.

Justification, Philippians 3:9. If you have gained Christ, you are found to be righteous in Him (verse 9). The law can’t give you righteousness, because you don’t have any righteousness from yourself for it to bring out. We can only have righteousness that is from God, by faith. And Jesus Himself is that righteousness from God. We must be found in Him.

Sanctification, Philippians 3:10. Being found in Jesus begins a life-long journey of discovery as we know Him, more and more. Believers begin with knowing the power of His resurrection, in that He has made them new. And the more they grow, the more their sufferings take on a marvelous, new aspect: fellowship with Jesus’s sufferings and being pressed into the shape of His death. 

The apostle already preached this mindset in the first half of chapter two. In obedience to the Father and out of love for the church, Jesus was willing to be lowly and to suffer. And the more we grow in knowing Him, the more willing we are to be lowly and to suffer for the glory of God and the good of His people. Our suffering does not atone, but in it we have this likeness to Jesus and His mindset.

Glorification, Philippians 3:11. This knowledge of Jesus that led to our being right with God, and this knowledge of Christ that increases our like-mindedness to Himself, is the same knowledge of Jesus that is the only way of our coming into our own resurrection. On that day, our bodies will be like Jesus’s, just as our mindset will have become like Jesus’s.

Now, what could Paul’s previous spiritual “attainments” have done to produce any of that for him? Indeed, they were useful as dung for justification, sanctification, or glorification. So also is any imagined spiritual strength or goodness from yourself, dear believer. The only thing that can avail for these is the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus your Lord.

When do you feel most spiritually needy? Who can meet that need? When do you feel least spiritually needy? How will you go about reminding yourself that that’s when you’re neediest? 

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

Thursday, June 03, 2021

What Happens When Jesus Brings Salvation to a House (Family Worship lesson in Luke 19:1–10)

What happens when Jesus seeks and saves the lost? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Luke 19:1–10 prepares us for the first second reading in the morning worship service on the coming Lord's Day. In these ten verses of holy Scripture, we learn that Jesus does the impossible (saving a rich man) by giving him curiosity, knowing him, seeking him out, making him to receive Jesus gladly, giving him willingness to give anything up for Jesus, making him wish to reflect well upon his new Master, and promising to do the same in and for the rest of his household.

2021.06.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 19:1–10

Read Luke 19:1–10

Questions from the Scripture text: Through where was Jesus passing (Luke 19:1)? Who was there (Luke 19:2)? What five things do we learn about him in Luke 19:2-3? What does he do in Luke 19:4? What does Jesus do and say in Luke 19:5? How does Zacchaeus respond in Luke 19:6? How did the crowd respond, and why (Luke 19:7)? But to whom does Zacchaeus address himself in Luke 19:8? What does he pledge? What does Jesus say has come in Luke 19:9? To whom? Why? What has the Son of man done (Luke 19:10)? To do what?

“The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). That’s Jesus’s summary of how this all happened. 

Perhaps Zacchaeus thought he was the seeker. He certainly went through some effort to overcome his height disadvantage. But Jesus gives us a clue in Luke 19:9 about where good works like those in Luke 19:8 (or effort like that in Luke 19:3-4) come from: Jesus Himself. 

“Today salvation has come to this house” in Luke 19:9 reprises Luke 19:6’s “today I must stay at your house.” Jesus Himself is salvation, and He Who came to the house produced these good things in the master of the house. It was Jesus Who stopped in Luke 19:15, Who called Zacchaeus by name, Who insisted on coming to his house.

How necessary this was! For, Luke 19:2 had delivered the terrible news, “and he was rich.” Coming on the heels of Luke 18:24–26, that’s a heavy blow. But the crowd’s complaint in Luke 19:7 actually identifies why Zacchaeus was joyful (Luke 19:6) as opposed to the sorrowful rich man from chapter 18. He needed Jesus. He was a sinner. What use were all the earthly goods in the world to someone who knew that Jesus Himself was the “one thing he lacked”?

The proverbial Pharisee of Luke 18:11 comes back to mind on the lips of an entire crowd in Luke 19:7, who could easily have thanked God that they weren’t like that sinner come down from the tree. But it’s for sinners that Jesus came. “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

How are you the kind of person that Jesus came to seek and save? How has He sought you? How have you received Him? What have you gladly given up for Him?

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

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Looking to God to Work Gloriously in Us by His Word (2021.06.02 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 19)

The heavens declare God’s glory, v1–6. The Scriptures declare and accomplish God’s will, v7–11. The believer depends upon the glorious God for the doing of His will, v12–14.

God's Judgment through Wicked Conspirators and Weak Magistrates (Family Worship lesson in 2Samuel 14:1–22)

What are we to make of Joab and the cunning actress from Tekoa? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 14:1–22 prepares us for the first serial reading in the morning worship service on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-two verses of sacred Scripture, we learn that it was a grievous judgment on David to be surrounded by manipulators and to be given over to his own weakness to be manipulated by them. May the Lord spare us from the chastening of being under such authorities and especially of being such authorities ourselves!

2021.06.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 14:1–22

Read 2 Samuel 14:1–22

Questions from the Scripture text: Who perceived what in 2 Samuel 14:1? For whom does he send (2 Samuel 14:2)? How does he tell her to act? What does he want her to do while acting like that (2 Samuel 14:3)? To whom does she speak in 2 Samuel 14:4? For what does she ask? What does the king ask (2 Samuel 14:5)? How does she introduce herself? What does she say happened (2 Samuel 14:6)? And what does she say the whole family wants done about it (2 Samuel 14:7)? Why would this be a problem? What does the king say in 2 Samuel 14:8? How does she word a refusal of help in 2 Samuel 14:9? What does the king restate in 2 Samuel 14:10? What detailed request does she now make in 2 Samuel 14:11? And how does the king respond? Now what does she ask in 2 Samuel 14:12? Of what does she accuse the king now in 2 Samuel 14:13? Whom does she claim, in 2 Samuel 14:14, would let Absalom off easier? What does she claim in 2 Samuel 14:15-16 as the reason for trying to entrap him in an apparent inconsistency? What flattery does she offer if he will heed her (2 Samuel 14:17)? How can we tell that the king is suspicious in 2 Samuel 14:18? Of what (2 Samuel 14:19)? What was Joab trying to accomplish (2 Samuel 14:20)? How does the king respond to this (2 Samuel 14:21)? And how does Joab respond to that (2 Samuel 14:22)?

Joab gets some inside intel in 2 Samuel 14:1. It’s difficult to see in our English version because of the word ‘concerned’, but the preposition usually means “upon” and can even mean “against.” Joab’s actions imply either that he is trying to give David cover for doing what he thinks David really wants to do, or that he’s trying to get around the shift he’s seen in David’s attitude (not unlike the reversal of Amnon in 2 Samuel 13:15).

The second possibility fits well the words that Joab puts into the cunning actress’s mouth. It may well be that he has observed David’s heart turning against Absalom (cf. 2 Samuel 14:242 Samuel 14:282 Samuel 14:32), and that he thinks this is a terrible waste of good political talent that harms the people of God (cf. 2 Samuel 14:13). Joab “son of Zeruiah” (2 Samuel 14:1) turns out to be a match for his cousin Jonadab “son of Shimeah” (cf. 2 Samuel 13:32 Samuel 13:32). 

Cunning politicians is certainly a form of judgment. So are gullible heads of state. Joab’s staged situation of the woman’s manslaughtering son of 2 Samuel 14:6 isn’t nearly like that of murdering Absalom. Besides that significant difference, there’s the obvious fact that her son is the only one left (end of 2 Samuel 14:7), but David indeed has plenty of possible heirs (as Absalom’s impending death will prove anyway). 

Like Isaac wondering why Esau has Jacob’s voice (Genesis 27:22), David even sniffs through the flattery (2 Samuel 14:172 Samuel 14:19b) to detect the stink of Joab (2 Samuel 14:18-19a). But, even with his eyes wide open, David currently has the spine of a dead fish, and just lets Joab have what he wants (2 Samuel 14:21). Joab lays it on pretty thick in 2 Samuel 14:22, but even as the saccharine syrup of his flattery echoes the cunning woman that he was running earlier, he seems to be saying, “great job being in charge, your highness.”

It is a great sin to use authority to manipulate for wickedness as David had done in chapter 11, and it is a great judgment (and sin) to allow your authority to be manipulated, rather than exercising it firmly and courageously for righteousness. How many families, churches, and nations have suffered under one or the other of these! 

Praise be to God that His Son, our great King, is neither conniving nor cowardly!

To which error do you tend: conniving or cowardice? How are you (and/or others) suffering for it?

Suggested songs: ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH281 “Rejoice, the Lord is King”

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Afflictions and Weakness that Glorify Jesus's Work and Keep Us Looking to Him in Faith (Family Worship Lesson in 2Corinthians 4:8–18)

Why is the Christian life so hard? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. 2Corinthians 4:8–18 prepares us for the first part of the morning worship service on the coming Lord's Day. In these eleven verses of Sacred Scripture, we learn that our troubles and ongoing weakness make it plain that all of the good that comes out from us in the midst of it is only from Jesus. By using this means to fit us for eternally weighty glory, and bring us into eternally weighty glory, Jesus is much glorified in our lives. How blessed, then, is the usefulness of our many troubles and increasing neediness!

2021.06.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 4:8–18

Read 2 Corinthians 4:8–18

Questions from the Scripture text: What four things have happened to the apostle and his companions in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9? What four accompanying results have not ended up happening? What are they carrying about (2 Corinthians 4:10)? How often? For what reason—what does this display in them? What are they currently doing (2 Corinthians 4:11a)? But what is always happening to them? What does this display in their mortal flesh (verse 11b, cf. 2 Corinthians 1:8-10)? In whom else, then, does the life of Jesus operate (2 Corinthians 4:12)? What do those who believe do (2 Corinthians 4:13)? What will He who raised up the Lord Jesus also do (2 Corinthians 4:14)? Why does God save so many by grace (2 Corinthians 4:15)? What do we not lose (2 Corinthians 4:16)? What is perishing? What is being renewed day by day? What kind of affliction do we have (2 Corinthians 4:17)? For how long? What is it working for us? How much and for how long? What do we look at (2 Corinthians 4:18)? What is the difference in how long the seen lasts vs. how long the unseen lasts?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from 2 Corinthians 4:8–18, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with My Faith Looks up to Thee

In the first part of this chapter, the apostle defends a plain, biblical ministry by the fact that this is the kind of ministry through which the Lord reveals His glory to and in the hearts of believers. And he concludes in 2 Corinthians 4:7 that our being earthen vessels ensures that the power of the glory will obviously belong only and all to God.

Well, that’s something that continues for the rest of the Christian life: many, various troubles and trials, so that as the Lord sustains us through them all, it will be plain that whatever is happening in our lives is His glorious work (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). 

We have a Savior Who suffered and died, and we too suffer as we proceed toward our death in this life (2 Corinthians 4:10a, 2 Corinthians 4:11a). But, just as He has risen from the dead, it is His resurrection and not our impending death that drives how we go through our troubles (2 Corinthians 4:10b, 2 Corinthians 4:11b). 

And now he brings this reasoning back to his ministry: he doesn’t try to appear as anything more than a mortal man (2 Corinthians 4:12a), because God Himself will employs such a ministry to produce resurrection life in the Corinthians themselves (verse 12b). So we live as those who depend upon Him to save us by faith (2 Corinthians 4:13a), and we speak as those who depend upon Him to use it by faith (verse 13b). We expect God to get all the glory, as He presents us all rejoicing and giving thanks (2 Corinthians 4:14-15).

As in ministry, so also in death. We are afflicted for a while now, and we will die. But how eternal and how weighty is the glory that this affliction and death brings us to (2 Corinthians 4:17)! So, we are encouraged and invigorated by being pushed into increasing dependence upon Him (2 Corinthians 4:16), looking forward to a glory that can only be “seen” by faith (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Whether in conversion, throughout life, in the ministry, or facing death, this is our creed: my faith looks up to Thee, Thou Lamb of Calvary!

In what ways are you feeling your weakness and mortality? How does this glorify God?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH466 “My Faith Looks up to Thee”

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