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

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Forgiving God's Gracious Providence in Believers' Pain (2021.06.30 Family Worship in 2Samuel 16:1–14)

How was David able to respond so patiently and humbly to Shimei’s attacks? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 16:1–14 prepares us for the first serial reading of morning worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of holy Scripture, we learn that David’s hope in Yahweh’s forgiveness directed him to deal first and foremost with the Lord of astounding and surprising mercy.

2021.06.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 16:1–14

Read 2 Samuel 16:1–14

Questions from the Scripture text: Where has David reached in 2 Samuel 16:1? Whom does he see now? What does he have? What does the king ask him (2 Samuel 16:2)? How does Ziba answer? What does the king ask him now (2 Samuel 16:3)? How does Ziba answer that? What does the king do in 2 Samuel 16:4? How does Ziba respond? To where does David come in 2 Samuel 16:5? Who is there? From what household? What was he doing as he came? What did he do now (2 Samuel 16:6)? To whom? What, specifically, was Shimei calling the king (2 Samuel 16:7)? What did he say is the reason for what is happening (2 Samuel 16:8)? Who else speaks up (2 Samuel 16:9)? What does he call Shimei? What does Abishai suggest as a solution to the Shimei cursing problem? How does David respond (2 Samuel 16:10)? What does he say is the reason Shimei is cursing? How does David summarize his current circumstances (2 Samuel 16:11)? Why are things this way (cf. 2 Samuel 12:10–12)? What hope does David still have (2 Samuel 16:12a)? And what may happen then (verse 12b)? How did things proceed (2 Samuel 16:13)? What eventually happens in 2 Samuel 16:14? What do they do about it?

We’re still following David in these fourteen verses. In 2 Samuel 16:1, we arrive a little past the tope of the mountain. In 2 Samuel 16:5, we arrive at Bahurim, and even though Shimei of the house of Saul thinks that’s a good place to play dodge-stone (2 Samuel 16:6), David and his men don’t get a whole lot further before they take a break because they’re just too tired (2 Samuel 16:13-14).

In this final leg of the David clip, before the focus returns to Absalom in 2 Samuel 16:15, the Spirit shows us a few more parts of David’s pain. 

Showing Mephibosheth covenant love had been David’s great desire (cf. chapter 9), but Ziba shows up with saddled donkeys and salt for David’s wounds. It’s obviously a lie; no one in their right mind thinks Absalom wants anyone to be king but Absalom (2 Samuel 16:3), and Ziba himself doesn’t go along with David but stays back with this wicked Shimei (cf. 2 Samuel 19:17). It’s actually Ziba who hedges his bets: a few raisins for the one side, a show of support for the other, and he figures to be well-positioned regardless of which administration comes out on top. Some snakes seem to be able to enjoy their status regardless of who’s on the throne.

David shows himself gullible in v4. Easily moved by a bribe of sorts. Rushing to conclusions without hearing the other side (cf. 2 Samuel 19:24–30). This too is judgment.

Shimei comes along, throwing curses (2 Samuel 16:5) and stones (2 Samuel 16:6) at David and the mighty men. That’s pretty deluded, to attack the group that has wiped out many a fearsome giant or horde of Philistines. Like many self-assured attackers of the Lord’s servants in His church throughout the centuries, he’s very confident about his wholly inaccurate theory of what’s going on spiritually (2 Samuel 16:8). 

But David recognizes a hint of truth (2 Samuel 16:7) and receives from the Lord as much as is true from Shimei’s words (2 Samuel 16:10-11). Clearly, Shimei is pain. But he is providential pain. How well the Lord’s servants would do, if they could receive every attack in the providence of God; and, if there’s any truth at all in any criticism, they would capitalize upon it by learning and growing as much as they can from it. How it frustrates the devil, when he seeks to attack, and ends up being used to sanctify (cf. Job)!

Abishai is also a pain to David here. Zeruiah (cf. 2 Samuel 16:10) is David’s sister, and the same fleshliness that he sees in her boys was at the root of his own disregard for Uriah’s life. So while Abishai’s plan is technically sound (2 Samuel 16:9; bodiless heads tend not to hurl curses, and headless bodies tend not to hurl stones), it is morally corrupt (2 Samuel 16:10a) and spiritually ignorant (verse 10b).

All this pain, however, is to a purpose. The text history of 2 Samuel 16:12 is confused because the theology is difficult. As written, it says, “Maybe Yahweh will look on my iniquity, and Yahweh will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” At some point the Jews began reading “tears” instead of “iniquity,” and a number of translators have followed them.

But here is the marvelous truth: Yahweh is the kind of forgiving God, Who provides such atonement, that His grace is free to do good to sinful men! David’s hope isn’t that Yahweh will pretend the sin doesn’t exist. David’s hope is that Yahweh Who has forgiven his sin will also complete the chastening work of this trial, and restore His chastened servant. Believers’ lives include pain of many kinds, but since they have been forgiven in Christ, they too know this God Who uses every pain to do them good!

With whom have you been a schemer? To what schemers have you been gullible? About whom have you rushed to a wrong judgment? Who has criticized you recently? What hint of truth, if any, was there in it, from which you could benefit? What hope do you have in light of your sin? What is God doing to you?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”


Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The Path to Destruction: Delight in, Dependence upon, or Devotion to Self Instead of Christ (2021.06.27 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:18–19)

Many—MANY—walk unto destruction as enemies of Christ: delighting in self instead of Christ (their God is their belly); depending upon self instead of Christ (they glory in their shame); and devoted to self instead of Christ (they set their mind on earthly things). Don't follow them!

The Day of the Spirit (2021.06.27 Morning Sermon in Joel 2:28–29)


The day of the locusts, the day of repentance, and the day of restoration all looked forward to the coming day of the Spirit—when there would be an outpouring of gospel grace, and God's people of all sorts from all nations would have His Word and both understand and use it to announce salvation in Christ. How have you availed yourself of the day of the Spirit?

WCF 15.2.1, pt 2, Seeing Sin's Filthiness & Hatefulness against God's Holiness & Love (2021.06.27 Sabbath School)

▫The ongoing usefulness of affliction. ▫The ongoing needfulness of repentance ▫The despising and abominating of former/current sins ▫The apprehension of the mercy of God ▫The corresponding rejection of sin because it is against him

2021.06.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Isaiah 33:15–22

Read Isaiah 33:15–22

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the person in Isaiah 33:15 walk? How does he speak? What does he despise? What does he refuse? What does he stop his ears from hearing? What does he shut his eyes from seeing? Where will he dwell (Isaiah 33:16)? What place of defense will he have? What two things will he always be sure to have? Whom will his eyes see (Isaiah 33:17)? In what condition? What else will his eyes see? What will have happened to all terror and reports of terror (Isaiah 33:18-19)? What will he look upon instead (Isaiah 33:20)? How is the city of Zion described here? How is Jerusalem described here? What will not be taken down? How does verse 20 emphasize this? What will the main feature of this tabernacle be (Isaiah 33:21a)? What poetic imagery does verse 21 use to describe the blessedness of having the majestic Yahweh for us? What three positions will Yahweh have in this kingdom of glory (Isaiah 33:22)? What will He do?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Isaiah 33:15–22, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with The Sands of Time Are Sinking

When God forgives us in Christ, it is because He intends to bring us into everlasting and perfect blessedness. So, for all who are believers, working out our own salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) means God working in us (Philippians 2:13) to develop our appetites for the beauty and glory of King Jesus (Philippians 2:9–11). 

As they grow in grace, the righteous will utterly refuse to participate in wickedness, even rejecting observation of it: extortion, bribery, violence, all wickedness (Isaiah 33:15). They are righteous by forgiveness (end of Isaiah 33:24), but this righteous standing produces righteous character in keeping with their end. 

So a large part of sanctification is shutting our eyes to wickedness (Isaiah 33:15) and turning our eyes unto the King in His beauty (Isaiah 33:17), Whom we will see when we come into final and full safety and provision (Isaiah 33:16). Jesus is the heavenliness of heaven, but we already begin to have Him now!

Suddenly, Sennacherib and his delegation (Isaiah 33:18) are small potatoes. In Isaiah 36:18–20, Sennacherib’s delegation would mock the idea that Yahweh can save saying, “has any of the gods of the nations delivered them? Where are their gods?” But our passage reminds us that when we are beholding Christ in all His beauty and glory, we will be able to mock that delegation with similar words (Isaiah 33:18); Assyrians won’t be able to invade heavenly Zion or Jerusalem (Isaiah 33:18-19)!

The feasts looked forward to Christ (Isaiah 33:20a), and the tabernacle looked forward to His dwelling with us (verse 20c), and Zion/Jerusalem as a location looked forward to that perfect and glorious presence of Him with us in glory (verse 20). There is no enemy with ships that can invade there (Isaiah 33:21)!

What awaits believers is to look upon the beauty and glory of Yahweh, our Judge (Isaiah 33:22a); Yahweh, our Lawgiver (verse 22b); Yahweh, our King (verse 22c). For Yahweh Himself, Jesus, has not only given Himself for us once for all, but He has given Himself to us, to be ours forever and ever! He will save us (verse 22d) indeed.

How are you enjoying already the heavenliness of heaven. When do you do this enjoying? What are you refusing to enjoy in order to enjoy Him? How does enjoying Him more help you do this refusing?

Suggested songs: ARP27B “I Ask the LORD and Seek” or TPH470 “When This Passing World Is Done” 


Monday, June 28, 2021

2021.06.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:28–32

Read Joel 2:28–32

Questions from the Scripture text: When will this happen (Joel 2:28a)? What will God do (verse 28b)? Onto whom? Who will prophesy (verse 28c)? Who will dream dreams (verse 28d)? Who will see visions (verse 28e)? Upon whom else will Yahweh pour out His Spirit (Joel 2:29)? Then, what will Yahweh show, where? (Joel 2:30a)? What three things on earth (verse 30b)? What two things in the heavens (Joel 2:31a–b, cf. Revelation 6:12)? Before what (verse 31c, cf. Revelation 6:17)? Who will be saved (Joel 2:32a–b)? What will be where (verse 32c)? What establishes/guarantees this salvation (verse 32d)? Who are the ones who end up calling on the name of Yahweh (verse 32e–f, cf. verse 32b)?

Earlier in the chapter, Joel 2:1-11 asked the question, “For the day of Yahweh is great and very terrible; who can endure it?” By the time we finish the chapter, we get the answer, “whoever calls on the name of Yahweh.” 

Joel 2:28 begins, “and it shall come to pass afterward.” The locust plague was a foretaste of judgment to come. And the repentance that He has commanded Israel in the face of the locust plague, and to which He has responded with marvelous grace, is a foretaste of repentance to come. What are some of the features of that repentance?

That repentance comes by the pouring out of His Spirit, verse 28b. The repentance of the heart (Joel 2:12), that responds to Yahweh’s grace (Joel 2:13), by calling upon Yahweh’s Name (Joel 2:32), is a work of the Holy Spirit.

That repentance comes  not in a trickle but a pouring out on all flesh (Joel 2:28b), not to a narrow cross-section of Adam’s children but to all flesh. Jew and Greek, young and old, male and female, slave and free.

That repentance comes by the Word and the understanding of the Word, verse 28c–e. Note the words ‘prophesy’, ‘dreams’, and ‘visions’. The Lord spoke to the fathers at many times in many ways (cf. Hebrews 1:1). But in the last days, He has spoken to their children by His Son (Hebrews 1:2). 

The coming of Christ and completion of the Scriptures puts a slave-girl’s covenant child, with an open Bible, in a better position than the prophets of old. When the apostle explains the phenomenon of tongues at Pentecost, he announces the gift of repentance and the Spirit that is for believers and their children. Not all were called to be apostles then, just as not all are called to be pastor-teachers then or now. 

But the work of the Spirit is for all. Giving us the Word. Giving us light to respond to it. Employing us in one another’s salvation. Filling us and making His Word to dwell in us richly, etc. But especially in granting unto us repentance and making us to call upon the name of Yahweh.

That repentance comes by Christ as the presence and power of Yahweh with men, Joel 2:30-31. His name is Immanuel, “God with us.” And in the presence of the coming of His day, the Lord indeed showed wonders in the heavens and the earth. Darkness covered the land at high noon. The earth shook, and the tombs were opened. All of the various physical manifestations of God’s great visitations were eclipsed at the cross. Christ’s cross opened wide the age of the Spirit, the age of the church, the age of repentance, the age of calling upon the name of Yahweh, the age of salvation.

That repentance comes by calling upon the name of the Lord. The basic confession of Christianity is that this Yahweh of Joel 2:32 is Jesus of Romans 10:9–14. Salvation by Him is what He has sent preachers to announce.

That repentance comes in the context of the church, Joel 2:32d. Outside of Mount Zion and Jerusalem, outside of Christ’s church, there is no ordinary hope of salvation. The gathered congregation, especially, is the place of the Spirit’s signs, and more importantly, the Spirit’s great work. The gathered congregation, especially, is the place of the preaching of the words of eternal life. The gathered congregation, especially, is the place of the people saved by that Word, and prepared by that Word to build one another up. The gathered congregation, especially, is the worship in which they all admonish one another and proclaim the Lord’s death. 

That repentance comes as prophesied by Yahweh, Joel 2:32e.

That repentance comes to those whom Yahweh selects and calls, verse 32f. It is to a remnant, leftovers selected after cutting. How can we know that remnant, and how will that remnant be brought to call upon the name of Yahweh? By the effectual call of the Lord, bringing them to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Have you been brought to this repentance? Have you called upon the name of the Lord Jesus? How are you participating in others doing so? Why should you urge to come to church those whom you wish to see saved?

Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH546 “God of the Prophets!”


Saturday, June 26, 2021

2021.06.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:28–32

Read Joel 2:28–32

Questions from the Scripture text: When will this happen (Joel 2:28a)? What will God do (verse 28b)? Onto whom? Who will prophesy (verse 28c)? Who will dream dreams (verse 28d)? Who will see visions (verse 28e)? Upon whom else will Yahweh pour out His Spirit (Joel 2:29)? Then, what will Yahweh show, where? (Joel 2:30a)? What three things on earth (verse 30b)? What two things in the heavens (Joel 2:31a–b, cf. Revelation 6:12)? Before what (verse 31c, cf. Revelation 6:17)? Who will be saved (Joel 2:32a–b)? What will be where (verse 32c)? What establishes/guarantees this salvation (verse 32d)? Who are the ones who end up calling on the name of Yahweh (verse 32e–f, cf. verse 32b)?

There is another Day of Yahweh (Joel 2:31c) coming. This one is coming with the day of the wrath of the Lamb (Revelation 6:16–17). That is the day on which the sun turns to darkness (verse 31a, cf. Revelation 6:12) and the moon to blood (verse 31b, cf. Revelation 6:12). 

But something marvelous becomes apparent, when we compare these two scriptures. The sixth seal in Revelation concludes with, “for the day of His wrath has come, and who is able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17). But the passage in Joel ends with “whoever calls on the name of Yahweh shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance” (Joel 2:32).

Who can endure the final day of the Lord? The one whom the Lord spares by the means described in Joel 2:28-29. Something marvelous is initiated on the day of Pentecost. The Lord is now to pour out His Spirit not only upon Israel (Joel 2:27) but upon all flesh (Joel 2:28). 

In Numbers 11:29, Moses had prayed, “Oh, that all the LORD’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” At Pentecost, that prayer is answered in the apostles’ preaching in all sorts of languages that they had never studied (cf. Acts 2:5–21). Here is conclusive definition of the gift of tongues: it is a form of prophecy, for the apostle identifies the tongues of Pentecost with the prophesying of Joel 2:28–29

Here also is a glorious characteristic of worship in the New Testament age. Though ruling and teaching in the church is reserved for those men whom the Lord gifts and calls for that office, the pouring out of the Spirit shows that Christ has taken His seat as the ultimate Prophet, the ultimate Priest, and the ultimate King. 

And Christ expresses this through those who dwell on the earth in union with Him. All believers have prophetic and kingly functions in the state, as well as prophetic and priestly functions in the church. All believers give an answer for their hope; all believers are royalty on the earth. In taking the supper together, each one who eats the bread or drinks the cup shows forth the Lord’s death. In congregational song in the New Testament, we are filled with the Spirit, and the Word of Christ dwells in us richly, and we admonish one another with Scripture. 

All believers come all the way through the curtain into the Holy of Holies. All believers are members of the priestly choir. All believers eat from the table that has been provided through the sacrifice of Christ. All believers carry on a ministry of intercessory prayer.

So, there is a remnant whom Yahweh calls to Himself (Joel 2:32f) and for Himself by the pouring out of His Spirit (Joel 2:28-29), resulting in their calling upon His Name (verse 32b). And the day of Pentecost heralds the beginning of the age of great ingathering of this remnant from all nations (“all flesh,” Joel 2:28). A day when God extends to all nations that repentance to which He calls them in Joel 2:12-17 and His response which He promises in Joel 2:18-27.

How have you exhibited that calling upon the name of the Lord that comes from the Spirit’s being poured out upon you? How have you fulfilled prophetic, priestly, and kingly functions?

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH546 “God of the Prophets!”


Friday, June 25, 2021

2021.06.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:18–19

Read Philippians 3:18–19

Questions from the Scripture text: Who walk (Philippians 3:18)? When has the apostle told them? What is he doing as he writes this now? As what do they walk? What is their end (Philippians 3:19)? What is their god? What is the true nature of that in which they glory? Upon what do they set their mind? 

The apostle has just set before them the example of Christian maturity: continually straining forward and upward to lay hold of that for which Christ has laid hold of them. We must keep running after that holiness without which we will not see the Lord (cf. Hebrews 12:1–17). We have been saved to see Him and be like Him, and we press on toward a purity that has Him Himself as its standard (cf. 1 John 3:2–3).

But not everyone who claims the name of Christ perseveres in the pursuit of Him. So we have to be careful whose walk we follow (Philippians 3:17, cf. Hebrews 13:7). For many walk not after that for which Christ has laid hold of them (cf. Philippians 3:12) but at exact cross-purposes, as “the enemies of the cross of Christ.” That path doesn’t lead to glory; its “end is destruction.”

So, this passage gives us three indicators that one’s walk is not on the path to glory. When you see one of these in someone, don’t follow them!

Their god is their belly. That is to say that they go after self-pleasing and self-satisfaction. There are many who present Christ in this fashion: that He will grant them the sort of life that they enjoy. This is the opposite of recognizing that our enjoyments are corrupted and that part of sanctification is learning to find Christ Himself most enjoyable. Others view forgiveness as a “live for yourself free” card. Whatever the case, the apostle warns us elsewhere that if we sow to the flesh, we will reap destruction; the flesh has an agenda, and it is opposite the Spirit’s agenda (cf. Galatians 6:7–9).

Glorying in shame is the second indicator of a walk on the path of destruction. There are two ways that we can do this. One of them is more obvious, having to do with that which is outwardly sinful. There is great liberty in knowing that Christ is all our standing before God. But it is liberty from guilt, not liberty to sin. Yet, there are many in the churches who twist the gospel to glory in being able to sin with (as they suppose) with impunity. 

But a more sneaky way we glory in shame is by glorying in our effort. The apostle spent most of this chapter setting glorying in ourselves over-against glorying in Christ. Even that which in itself would have been good, if we glory in ourselves as having done it, becomes a shame to us. Watch out for those who glory in what they have attained, and do not imitate their walk.

Setting the mind on earthly things is the third and final symptom of destruction-ended walking in Philippians 3:19. To understand what the apostle means by setting the mind upon earthly things, it helps to look at another place where he uses almost the same language. In Colossians 3:1–6, he says to set our minds on things above, not things of earth, by putting to death fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness. 

The question for us is: where is my life? Is it hidden with Christ in God, so that who Christ is and what Christ wants determines how I will live on the earth? Or is my life bound up in enjoying myself in this world, so that Christ’s cross becomes a mental excuse for sin? It’s no wonder, then, that the apostle says that living this way makes someone an enemy of the cross of Christ. But when fleshly men encounter the gospel, they use phrases like “liberty of conscience” to mean not “do whatever Christ wants as I understand it from Scripture” but rather “do whatever I want, and expect that Christ will be understanding.” Watch out for those who are always agitating about their “freedom” to do as they please. Don’t emulate such “Christians.”

Who are some Bible teachers or ‘Christian’ personalities who discourage zeal for holiness? How are you avoiding following them? Who are some whose obsession with Christ Himself leads them to zeal for holiness? How are you considering and imitating them?

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


Thursday, June 24, 2021

Christ's Mind in the Agony of the Cross (2021.06.23 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 22:1–21)

The mind of Christ on the cross is a most precious study, which we have primarily from this Psalm. Here is both the righteousness which stands for us in His greatest act of righteousness, as well as the example that He has set for us in entrusting Himself to Him Who judges justly (cf. 1Pet 2:18–25). In Psalm 22:1–21 we see... The greatest anguish, v1–2. The greatest support, v3–5. The despisings of men, v6–8. The delightings of God, v9–11. The crucial moment, v12–18. The great deliverance: righteousness and resurrection, v19–21.

2021.06.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 19:41–20:8

Read Luke 19:41–20:8

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Jesus go (Luke 19:41)? What did He see? What did He do over it? What did He call the time of His arrival (Luke 19:42)? What didn’t the city know? Why not? What would happen to the city as a result (Luke 19:43)? And what to whom else (Luke 19:44)? For what sin? Into where did He then go (Luke 19:45)? What did He do? What was He saying (Luke 19:46, cf. Isaiah 56:7, Jeremiah 7:11)? What was He doing daily (Luke 19:47)? But what three groups were trying to do what? Why weren’t they able to (Luke 19:48)? What was He preaching, when He was teaching in the temple (Luke 20:1)? What did the three groups do on one of those days? What do they ask in this confrontation (Luke 20:2)? With what kind of sentence does He answer (Luke 20:3)? What question does He ask (Luke 20:4)? Why don’t they want to say it was from heaven (Luke 20:5)? What are they afraid of, if they say it was from men (Luke 20:6)? On the basis of just these two considerations, how do they answer (Luke 20:7)? How, then, does Jesus answer their original question (Luke 20:8)?

Taken as a whole, this passage reminds us that popular spiritual movements may be quite impressive on the surface, but comparatively empty and ineffective in their substance. The chief priests, scribes, and elders are prevented from destroying Jesus by His popularity (Luke 11:47–48), and paralyzed by the popular opinion that the baptizer was a prophet (Luke 20:6). 

But Jesus knows better. By the end of the week, the crowds will be shouting “crucify Him!” They may have much enjoyed His preaching (Luke 11:48), but Jesus knows that Jerusalem “did not know the time of your visitation (Luke 11:44). 

This is a sobering word for us. We may enthusiastically join in religiously zealous praise of Jesus (Luke 11:38). We may attend eagerly upon the preaching of Jesus (Luke 11:48). We may approve of preachers that He sends us to call us to repentance and announce to us that Jesus is the Lamb of God Who takes away our sin, and even that He is the Holy One whose sandal straps we are unworthy to untie (Luke 12:6). Yet, for all of this, we may still be failing to know the time of our visitation.

We might be elated about our perceived spiritual condition in the same moment that Jesus is weeping over that exact spiritual condition (Luke 11:41). Jerusalem would be leveled—not as other cities in world history have been leveled, but as the city which murdered the Christ (Luke 11:43-44, cf. Psalm 2, Acts 4:24–28). And while crowds of thousands rejoice over Him, He weeps over what is going to come upon them as a consequence of their actual spiritual condition, which they cannot even see.

We should tremble with dread at how easily enthusiasm about Jesus can lead to rejection of Jesus. Even today, many of the so-called “worship musicians” have rejected the faith altogether and come out in support of wickedness that Christ abominates. And will we blindly follow spiritual-feeling experiences of enthusiasm, when they can lead to such acts and such consequences?

So, let us not put much stock in how we feel about our responses to Jesus, but rather rest entirely upon Jesus Himself. Then, we will not be led into doing things because we feel worshipful in them, but rather doing those things which Jesus Himself in His Word calls worship, or obedience, or service. His house must be a house of prayer, because that is what “is written” (Luke 11:46). So let us cling to His Word, because that is how we truly cling to Him. 

To Him Who weeps over His people’s low spiritual condition. To Him Who perfectly adheres to the Word. To Him Whose wisdom confounds His enemies. To Him Who was doing all of this in order that He might die and rise again for all who cling to Him.

How do you evaluate your worship? Your service? Your obedience? How would Jesus evaluate it?

Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

God's Mercy to/through His Anointed in Providence, Presence, and Prayer (Family Worship lesson in 2Sam 15:13–37)

Of what mercies can believers be sure, even in the midst of the hardest circumstances? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 15:13–37 prepares us for the first serial reading of morning worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-five verses of holy Scripture, we learn that even while He was disciplining David, Yahweh was merciful to him through His surprising providence, favorable presence, and hearing of prayer—all which blessings unfailingly belong to believers in Christ.

2021.06.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 15:13–37

Read 2 Samuel 15:13–37

Questions from the Scripture text: Who comes to David in 2 Samuel 15:13? What does he tell him? To whom does David speak in 2 Samuel 15:14? What does he tell them to do? What does he need to do with them? Or else what will happen? What would Absalom do to the city? Who speak to whom in 2 Samuel 15:15? What are they ready to do? Where does the king go (2 Samuel 15:16)? With whom? Without whom? Where does he stop in 2 Samuel 15:17? What do they do there (2 Samuel 15:18)? Which ethnicities are specifically mentioned? And especially how many from where? Whom does the king specifically mention in 2 Samuel 15:19? What does he tell him to do? Why? What doesn’t the king want Ittai to have to do (2 Samuel 15:20)? What blessing does the king pronounce upon him? By whose lives does Ittai vow in 2 Samuel 15:21? What does he vow? Who are involved in this vow (2 Samuel 15:22)? What is the procession like, when they begin moving again (2 Samuel 15:23)? Over what do they cross? Toward what? Who else came (2 Samuel 15:24)? What did they have? What did the king tell him to do with it (2 Samuel 15:25)? What did he hope to find instead? How would he know if he found favor? But what might the opposite outcome be (2 Samuel 15:26)? And to what would the king submit in that case? What two offices does David recognize in Zadok (2 Samuel 15:27)? Where does he tell him to fulfill those offices? With whom attending him? What would David do (2 Samuel 15:28)? For whose Word, especially, would David be waiting? What do Zadok and Abiathar do (2 Samuel 15:29)? Now where does David go (2 Samuel 15:30)? Doing what? How else is his mourning expressed? Who joins him in it? What does someone say now in 2 Samuel 15:31? To Whom does David respond? For what does he ask? What does David do, when he gets to the top of Olivette (2 Samuel 15:32)? And who overtakes him there? Doing what? What does David say Hushai would be, if he went along (2 Samuel 15:33)? What does David suggest for him to say (2 Samuel 15:34, but cp. what he actually says in 2 Samuel 16:162 Samuel 16:18-19)? What effect does David hope Hushai can have? What communication chain does he set up for the spy network (2 Samuel 15:35-36)? What does 2 Samuel 15:37 call Hushai? Right before whom does he arrive?

The scene in the narrative now shifts from Absalom’s contingent to David’s contingent. The first verse gives us the transition—a messenger comes from one to the other saying, “the hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.” And yet, there are many indicators in the rest of the passage (and in following passages) that the heart of Yahweh is with David. We see the Lord’s mercy to David in several little vignettes.

First, there’s the loyalty of his servants—and especially of Ittai—in 2 Samuel 16:15-22. The Holy Spirit drops into 2 Samuel 16:18 that the six hundred Gittites “had followed him from Gath.” We’re reminded of the seed promise, going back to Genesis 3:15, and reinforced through Noah and Abraham. 

There is One coming in Whom all the earth would be blessed. We’re reminded of that little clause in Exodus 12:38, “A mixed multitude went up with them also.” Now here are six hundred Philistines with God’s anointed. He has chosen to bring the Christ through David, and this is just a foretaste of the gathering in of the nations. David tries to send them home, but Ittai the former-Philistine is all-in on Yahweh and His anointed (2 Samuel 16:22). 

This Ruth-Naomi moment between David and Ittai also reminds us that David has been on the run before. Yet, the Lord was with him then (giving him these six hundred faithful Gittites), and the Lord is mercifully with him now (strengthening him through their continued allegiance). When we find ourselves in moments of difficulty—even as consequences of our sin—we are attended by our God, Who for thousands of years has specialized in doing His people good through such moments.

The second vignette comes when David crosses over the Kidron (2 Samuel 16:23), and the Levites arrive. All the Levites. And the ark. What does it matter if all the nation is against you (2 Samuel 16:13), if God’s presence (here expressed in His priesthood and the mercy seat) is for you (2 Samuel 16:24, ff; cf. Romans 8:31)? 

David remembers that it is not Yahweh’s furniture that he needs so much as Yahweh’s favor (2 Samuel 16:25, cf. 1 Samuel 4), and actually sends the priests and the ark back into Jerusalem. This way, not only will the gospel ministry of the priests continue by way of the sacrifices of the tabernacle service, but Zadok the preacher will also be there to minister the Word (2 Samuel 16:27). And, if Word comes from God, Zadok can send it by way of his sons (2 Samuel 16:28).

The third vignette comes just a little ways farther, on the way up the Mount of Olives. Only at this point does David learn of the treachery of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:31), which compels a desperate cry of prayer that is already being answered. David crests the hill and pauses for worship (2 Samuel 16:32a), which is itself an indicator of grace. How many would pause for the worship of God in the midst of a hurried retreat/escape?

But he’s still in the middle of it, almost certainly repeating the prayer of 2 Samuel 16:31, when the prayer is answered. One look at his torn robe and dusty head (2 Samuel 16:32b) puts to rest any worries about whether Hushai has also betrayed him. David suggests that Hushai offer his services to Absalom  as a way of defeating the counsel of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 16:34, but we’ll see how Hushai sticks to the truth in 2 Samuel 16:16–19). David quickly organizes the spy network in 2 Samuel 16:35-36, and the narrative concludes with the “camera” following Hushai back down Olivette, back over the Kidron, and into Jerusalem, where Absalom shortly arrives (2 Samuel 16:37). The final note about Hushai, “the friend of David,” reminds us that God is often doing us good through people whom we can’t have with us or can’t see doing their good to us.

All of this is a great encouragement: it matters not how skilled and powerful are those who are against you, if you have the Lord with you. And it is especially an encouragement, because it is a display of great grace. Remember from chapter 12 that this is all occurring as a disciplinary action from the Lord for the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah. What a blessed glimpse of the ways of our God, Who rules and overrules all things for our good—even in the midst of disciplining us for sin.

In what situations have powerful, influential, and/or skilled enemies organized themselves against you? For what might the Lord be disciplining you? Even if that’s the case, what hope do you have in the midst of it?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”


Tuesday, June 22, 2021

2021.06.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 6:9–17

Read Revelation 6:9–17

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the Lamb open in Revelation 6:9? What did John see? Where? What had been done to them? For what two things? What were they doing (Revelation 6:10)? With what kind of voice? What were they asking? What did they call the Lord? What did they want Him to do? What was given to each of them (Revelation 6:11)? What was said to them? Until what were they to rest? What two numbers are mentioned? What does the Lamb open in Revelation 6:12? What happens on earth? What happens to the sun? What happens to the moon? What happens to the stars (Revelation 6:13)? In what manner? What happens to the sky (Revelation 6:14)? What happens to every mountain? What happens to every island? What seven types of men does Revelation 6:15 mention? What do they do? What do they say to what in Revelation 6:16? From Whom are they desperate to be hidden? What day has come (Revelation 6:17)? What is the presumed answer to the question in verse 17b?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Revelation 6:9–17, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with When This Passing World Is Done

We live in an age of longing. On earth, the creation groans (cf. Romans 8:22), and those who have the firstfruits of the Spirit groan (cf. Romans 8:23), and the Spirit Himself groans (cf. Romans 8:26). In heaven, glorified souls cry out how long (Revelation 6:10). They have white robes already, but the answer to the “how long” question is that there are two numbers that must be completed.

The first number is the number of their fellow-servants. Here is the doctrine of election unto salvation. God has an exact number whom He is saving, and the end of this age is waiting for its completion. 

The second number is the number of their brethren who would be killed as they were. Here is the doctrine of divine providence. The Lord has assigned to each of us a cross. Those for whom that cross is to be murdered for the faith are a number that has been established by God. How much each of us may be helped in taking up our own cross by the knowledge that our Redeemer has specifically selected it for us!

But this is the age of faith. And it will be followed by the age of sight. We will see the horror that awaits every last one who is not among those servants and brethren mentioned in Revelation 6:11. The earth that seemed so reliable to them will become a great, quavering instability. The heavens to which they looked will host darkness and death (Revelation 6:12) and fall to pieces (Revelation 6:13). They who lived as if God and the Lamb did not exist, did not see, did not judge… they will cry out for shelter that they will never obtain (Revelation 6:16). None will be spared, from the highest of kings to the lowest of slaves (Revelation 6:15).

When believers see what comes upon all the rest of humanity, how greatly will they marvel at what the Lamb has done for them! But when they see Him Who sits on the throne and the Lamb, how greatly will they marvel at what the Lamb has won for them!

It is the age of faith—substance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen. And already those who believe marvel at what God has done for them. But when faith becomes sight, we will know it much better still.

How much do you long for the day of Christ’s wrath? What will you learn then about yourself?

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH470 “When This Passing World Is Done”


Monday, June 21, 2021

2021.06.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:18–27

Read Joel 2:18–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What two things will Yahweh do (Joel 2:18), when His people have repented as instructed in Joel 2:12-17? What will He say (Joel 2:19)? What will He do? What will He stop doing? What will He do to the invader (Joel 2:20)? With what effect? Why—what effect has the invader had? What should the land stop doing (Joel 2:21)? What should the land start doing? Why—Who else has had the same effect in verse 21 as the invader has in Joel 2:20? Who else is not to fear (Joel 2:22)? Why? Who are to do what in Joel 2:23a? In what (Whom!), especially, are they to rejoice (verse 23b)? How will the drought conclude (verse 23c–d)? With what results (Joel 2:23-24)? How will the restoration occur (Joel 2:25a)? With what effects (Joel 2:25b–Joel 2:26a)? How will the people then respond (verse 26b)? Why (verse 26c)? With what effects (verse 26d)? What will they then know about God’s active presence (Joel 2:27a)? And about His relationship with them (verse 27b)? And about Him (verse 27c)? With what (again) effect (verse 27d)?

In these ten verses, we have the response of the Lord to the repentance that He has commanded, and that they have evidently followed: reaction (Joel 2:18), refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c), restoration (Joel 2:19d–Joel 2:20), rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23b), redemption (Joel 2:23 c-Joel 2:25), reverence (Joel 2:26), and reconciliation (Joel 2:27).

Reaction (Joel 2:18). The Lord has commanded His people to repent with their hearts, and He responds to our repentance with zeal and pity. There is in God that perfect disposition toward His repenting people of which the most intense human zeal and the warmest human compassion are just a copy. What a marvelous “reaction” from our God!

Refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c). Whereas the Lord had used His creation to make His people feel their neediness of Him, He now uses it to make them feel His abundance for that need. The covenant relationship is restored, the covenant blessings begin to flow again, and not just in the renewed supply (verse 19b) but in a renewed satisfaction (verse 19c). Of course, the first provision isn’t actually grain and new wine and oil, but the Word (verse 19a, “Yahweh will answer and say to His people). Now the resurrected Redeemer refreshes His people in Word and sacrament, giving them not merely sounds in their ears and snacks in their mouths, but giving Himself to their souls.

Restoration (Joel 2:19d-Joel 2:20). With the covenant relation restored, the Lord takes away their shame (verse 19d, cf. Joel 2:26d, Joel 2:27d); they no longer appear as a people under judgment. Instead, those by whose mandibles He had judged them now themselves come under judgment. There will always be vindication and vengeance for you, dear believer, even if you deserved and needed what the enemy has done to you. 

Rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23 b). We had seen in chapter 1 that the land mourned (Joel 1:10), and the beasts groaned (Joel 1:18), in order to help the farmers, the priests, and indeed all of the people to mourn for the lack of their joy in the Lord. In a real sense, the earth and its creatures had been cursed for their sake. And now that it’s time for the people to rejoice, He once again uses the land and its creatures to lead the way. The greatness of the restoration (Joel 2:21c) has exceeded the greatness of the chastening (Joel 2:20g). The time for fear has passed, the time for gladness and rejoicing has come! 

Redemption (Joel 2:23c–Joel 2:25). The children of Zion are brought to rejoice in Yahweh their God not only by circumstances, but again by words, and indeed by a great Preacher. There’s a play on words in verse 23c that is obscured by our version. It uses a homonym so that the same form for “former rain” in verse 23e should probably be “teacher” in verse 23c, and that line should read “For He has given you the Righteous Teacher.” 

The Lord uses His Word to bring His people back and to announce to them their blessedness. Though this surely included Joel himself, and those priests who fulfilled his prophecy’s call upon them, it is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our great Prophet and Righteous Teacher.

Not only does God’s Righteous Teacher bring us back, but the years that we spent in error or under discipline are not ultimately lost. As the blessing of God starts to pour back down (Joel 2:23d–e), there is enough both for the moment and for filling/overflowing the storage (Joel 2:24), until the effects of the locust army are entirely reversed (Joel 2:25). 

It is the opposite of Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interprets in Genesis 41; this is fullness so great that it wipes out the effects of the famine. This is God’s way with His repenting people; He takes away their grief by bringing them to a better place than they would have been in if they had been steady from the start.

Reverence (Joel 2:26). The ultimate blessing, however, is satisfaction with God and adoring of God. It’s one thing to eat plenty, but many people do so without contentment; it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied (verse 26a). And it is one thing to be satisfied with God’s gifts, but it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied with the God of the gifts Himself (verse 26b). Being restored to a God-delighted worshiper is the greatest blessing of all. God brings us into the true riches when He brings us into reverence! This is God’s great work on earth (verse 26c), and those who are made worshipers in this way will find their joy to be full and forever (verse 26d, cf. Romans 10:11). 

Reconciliation (Joel 2:27). Indeed, for the one who has been brought to treasure God above all else, there is one blessing higher than the privilege of adoring God; and, that is the communicated presence of the God he adores. Yahweh Himself in their midst (verse 27a), Yahweh Himself as their own (verse 27b–c)—that is the ultimate, full-and-forever blessedness of the people of God (verse 27d). 

Of what do you need to repent? How does desire for these blessings encourage this repentance? 

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord with Thee”

 

Sunday, June 20, 2021

Maturity Presses On (2021.06.20 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:!5–17)

Christian maturity is not the state of having attained, but of recognizing that you haven't and pressing onward and upward unto the perfection of Christ Jesus, by the grace of Christ Jesus.

God's Response to Repentance (2021.06.20 Morning Sermon in Joel 2:18–27)


The Lord responds to our repentance with the greatest possible blessings in this life and the life to come


WCF 15.2.1, pt 1, What True Repentance Sees and Senses (2021.06.20 Sabbath School)

By repentance unto life, a sinner, out of the sight and sense not only of the danger, but also of the filthiness and odiousness of his sins, as contrary to the holy nature and righteous law of God; and upon the apprehension of his mercy in Christ to such as are penitent, so grieves for, and hates his sins, as to turn from them all unto God

Saturday, June 19, 2021

2021.06.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:18–27

Read Joel 2:18–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What two things will Yahweh do (Joel 2:18), when His people have repented as instructed in Joel 2:12-17? What will He say (Joel 2:19)? What will He do? What will He stop doing? What will He do to the invader (Joel 2:20)? With what effect? Why—what effect has the invader had? What should the land stop doing (Joel 2:21? What should the land start doing? Why—Who else has had the same effect in verse 21 as the invader has in Joel 2:20? Who else is not to fear (Joel 2:22)? Why? Who are to do what in Joel 2:23a? In what (Whom!), especially, are they to rejoice (verse 23b)? How will the drought conclude (verse 23c–d)? With what results (Joel 2:23-24)? How will the restoration occur (Joel 2:25a)? With what effects (Joel 2:25b–Joel 2:26a)? How will the people then respond (verse 26b)? Why (verse 26c)? With what effects (verse 26d)? What will they then know about God’s active presence (Joel 2:27a)? And about His relationship with them (verse 27b)? And about Him (verse 27c)? With what (again) effect (verse 27d)? 

In these ten verses, we have the response of the Lord to the repentance that He has commanded, and that they have evidently followed: reaction (Joel 2:18), refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c), restoration (Joel 2:19d–Joel 2:20), rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23b), redemption (Joel 2:23c–Joel 2:25), reverence (Joel 2:26), and reconciliation (Joel 2:27).

Reaction (Joel 2:18). The Lord has commanded His people to repent with their hearts, and He responds to our repentance with zeal and pity. There is in God that perfect disposition toward His repenting people of which the most intense human zeal and the warmest human compassion are just a copy. What a marvelous “reaction” from our God!

Refreshment (Joel 2:19a–c). Whereas the Lord had used His creation to make His people feel their neediness of Him, He now uses it to make them feel His abundance for that need. The covenant relationship is restored, the covenant blessings begin to flow again, and not just in the renewed supply (verse 19b) but in a renewed satisfaction (verse 19c). Of course, the first provision isn’t actually grain and new wine and oil, but the Word (verse 19a, “Yahweh will answer and say to His people). Now the resurrected Redeemer refreshes His people in Word and sacrament, giving them not merely sounds in their ears and snacks in their mouths, but giving Himself to their souls.

Restoration (Joel 2:19d–Joel 2:20). With the covenant relation restored, the Lord takes away their shame (Joel 2:19d, cf. Joel 2:26d, Joel 2:27d); they no longer appear as a people under judgment. Instead, those by whose mandibles He had judged them now themselves come under judgment. There will always be vindication and vengeance for you, dear believer, even if you deserved and needed what the enemy has done to you. 

Rejoicing (Joel 2:21-23b). We had seen in chapter 1 that the land mourned (Joel 1:10), and the beasts groaned (Joel 1:18), in order to help the farmers, the priests, and indeed all of the people to mourn for the lack of their joy in the Lord. In a real sense, the earth and its creatures had been cursed for their sake. And now that it’s time for the people to rejoice, He once again uses the land and its creatures to lead the way. The greatness of the restoration (Joel 2:21c) has exceeded the greatness of the chastening (Joel 2:20g). The time for fear has passed, the time for gladness and rejoicing has come! 

Redemption (Joel 2:23c–Joel 2:25). The children of Zion are brought to rejoice in Yahweh their God not only by circumstances, but again by words, and indeed by a great Preacher. There’s a play on words in Joel 2:23c that is obscured by our version. It uses a homonym so that the same form for “former rain” in verse 23e should probably be “teacher” in verse 23c, and that line should read “For He has given you the Righteous Teacher.” 

The Lord uses His Word to bring His people back and to announce to them their blessedness. Though this surely included Joel himself, and those priests who fulfilled his prophecy’s call upon them, it is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ, our great Prophet and Righteous Teacher.

Not only does God’s Righteous Teacher bring us back, but the years that we spent in error or under discipline are not ultimately lost. As the blessing of God starts to pour back down (Joel 2:23d–e), there is enough both for the moment and for filling/overflowing the storage (Joel 2:24), until the effects of the locust army are entirely reversed (Joel 2:25). 

It is the opposite of Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph interprets in Genesis 41; this is fullness so great that it wipes out the effects of the famine. This is God’s way with His repenting people; He takes away their grief by bringing them to a better place than they would have been in if they had been steady from the start.

Reverence (Joel 2:26). The ultimate blessing, however, is satisfaction with God and adoring of God. It’s one thing to eat plenty, but many people do so without contentment; it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied (verse 26a). And it is one thing to be satisfied with God’s gifts, but it is a separate and greater gift to be satisfied with the God of the gifts Himself (verse 26b). Being restored to a God-delighted worshiper is the greatest blessing of all. God brings us into the true riches when He brings us into reverence! This is God’s great work on earth (verse 26c), and those who are made worshipers in this way will find their joy to be full and forever (verse 26d, cf. Romans 10:11). 

Reconciliation (Joel 2:27). Indeed, for the one who has been brought to treasure God above all else, there is one blessing higher than the privilege of adoring God; and, that is the communicated presence of the God he adores. Yahweh Himself in their midst (verse 27a), Yahweh Himself as their own (verse 27b–c)—that is the ultimate, full-and-forever blessedness of the people of God (verse 27d).

Of what do you need to repent? How does desire for these blessings encourage and begin this repentance?

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH73C “In Sweet Communion, Lord with Thee”

 

Friday, June 18, 2021

Our King's Joy (2021.06.16 Prayer Meeting Lesson)

God's blessing in Christ: more than we can ask or think, bound up in Christ's glory and gladness, and demanding of frightful curse upon all who remain His enemies. The strength of the Lord is our joy, and the joy of the Lord is our strength!

2021.06.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:15–17

Read Philippians 3:15–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does the apostle now address (Philippians 3:15)? Whom does he include in this group? What are they to have? Who will do what if they think otherwise? What are they to do with whatever they have already attained (Philippians 3:16)? By what should they walk? What should they be? Now whom does the apostle address in Philippians 3:17? What does he tell them to do? And at whom else to look? For what purpose has God given the apostle and such other men?

The apostle has just described himself as not satisfied with himself but rather straining forward and eager to have more and more satisfaction in the infinitely satisfying God in Christ Jesus. 

How every mature believer thinks, Philippians 3:15a.

Now in v15, the apostle defines mature believers as those who have that mindset and urges every last one of them to maintain that mindset. That is to say that they continually pursue Christ Himself for His mindset to be in them (cf. Philippians 2:1–11).

So that it can be verified that they are mature, Philippians 3:15b.

How deep are the effects upon our minds and hearts of remaining sin! The apostle says in verse 15b that it’s possible to think that you are satisfied with Christ rather than self, and to think that you are straining forward eagerly for more of Him, and to be wrong! Our hearts are deceitful above all things. But God is all-wise to know them. And He is gracious. There is a marvelous promise here. We can look to God to help us see where we are self-deceived. Let us always be seeking for the Lord to reveal to us if we are actually self-satisfied rather than Christ-satisfied.

So that we can live it out, Philippians 3:16.

Whatever point we are at in our maturity, and whatever level of self-awareness God has given us, it must not remain only a way of thinking. It must be a way of walking, a way of living. Don’t just think that you depend entirely upon Christ and need more of Christ. Live dependently and desperately for Christ! Live in the way the apostle has described himself in Philippians 3:12-14.

So that other believers have as many good examples as possible to follow, Philippians 3:17.

In Philippians 3:15, the apostle had addressed “as many as are mature.” Now, he broadens that target-audience with the word “brethren.” 

All believers (Philippians 3:17) are to join the mature believers (Philippians 3:15) in following the apostle’s example of running hard after Christ (Philippians 3:12-14). And now that the apostle has given the instruction in Philippians 3:15-16, he can include a multitude of other examples for the brethren: “Note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.”

If you are mature, you are not mature for yourself. You are mature for Christ. You are mature for the church’s sake. “You have us for a pattern,” the apostle says. Maturity in Christ is maturity that comes from Christ for the purposes of Christ. And a big part of that purpose is to give the rest of His flock a pattern.

How are you walking in dependence upon, satisfaction with, and devotion to Christ? What examples do you have in your household, or in your congregation, of others who are doing so already?

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


Thursday, June 17, 2021

2021.06.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 19:28–40

Read Luke 19:28–40

Questions from the Scripture text: Where was Jesus going (Luke 19:28)? To where did He draw near (Luke 19:29)? Where was he? Whom did He send? Where did He send them (Luke 19:30)? What would they find? What does He command them to do? What might someone ask (Luke 19:31)? What should they answer? Who went (Luke 19:32)? What did they find? What happened (Luke 19:33)? How did they respond (Luke 19:34)? Where did they bring the colt (Luke 19:35)? What did they do to it? What did they do to Jesus? What did others do (Luke 19:36)? To where was He nearing in Luke 19:37? Who began to do what? Why? What did they call Jesus (Luke 19:38)? What did they pronounce upon Him? What did they say He was doing? What other blessings did they pronounce where? Who else spoke in Luke 19:39? To Whom? What did they tell Him to do? What did Jesus do (Luke 19:40)? What did He say would happen on what condition? 

Many of us probably have the same impression: that the triumphal entry crowd spontaneously burst into praise. As the Holy Spirit carries Luke along, however, He is making the exact opposite point: this is a setup. 

Jesus has had His face set to Jerusalem for ten chapters (Luke 19:28, cf. Luke 9:51). Now, Jesus brings the protracted journey to a halt two miles out in Luke 19:29, so that he can set up the entry. He Who is like us in every way, except without sin, in dependence upon the Spirit Whom He has in full measure, knows what is going to happen. 

Jesus has set up the colt (Luke 19:30). Jesus has set up its never having been sat upon. Jesus has set up its submissiveness to its Creator when sat upon. Jesus has set up its being tied. Jesus has set up its watchers’ response when it starts to be untied (Luke 19:31). Jesus has set up their recognition of His lordship. Jesus has set up their accommodation of His transportation needs. 

Luke summarizes this, “[they] found it just as He had said to them” (Luke 19:32). Then he goes on to give us two more verses of things continuing just as we have just read that Jesus said.

So, it’s a setup. Yes, it’s marvelous that the “whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice” (Luke 19:37). But, it’s not spontaneous. Jesus intentionally provokes this outburst of praise. Jesus has come to Jerusalem to be the stone that the builders rejected, and He’s going to use His praise prophesied in Psalm 118:38) to provoke the rejection prophesied in Psalm 118:22

This is why He’s come to Jerusalem. In fact, this is why He’s come to earth at all, as Luke 19:38 quotes from Luke 2:14. In fact, Jesus provokes the crowd to praise in Luke 19:29-38 in part because it is so necessary that this be what the “builders” (Pharisees, Luke 19:39) reject that the stones themselves would cry out (Luke 19:40).

Living stones or mineralized stones, one way or another, there will be crying out! And indeed, when the Jews join the nations, they will silence Him (cf. Psalm 118:10–11; Psalm 2:1–2; Acts 4:25–28), but He will be declared the Son of God with power, when He comes out of the grave, and the stone rolls away (cf. Psalm 2:7, Romans 1:4, Acts 2:22–32). The stones cried out on the resurrection day. But now we are living stones, who keep crying out, and can never be silenced! (cf. 1 Peter 2:4–7, Psalm 118:22–24).

So, when you think of this passage, think of how your Redeemer King was provoking necessary praise in order to provoke His atoning death, so that we might increasingly echo that praise of a resurrected Redeemer today, for the rest of our lives, and through all eternity!

What/Who is in control? What has He done? Where is He now? How are you responding to Him?

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


Wednesday, June 16, 2021

2021.06.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 15:1–12

Read 2 Samuel 15:1–12

Questions from the Scripture text: With what does Absalom provide himself in 2 Samuel 15:1? Like what status of person is he acting? What would he do (2 Samuel 15:2)? Where would he go? Whom would he intercept? What were they looking for? What would he ask them? What would he tell them, regardless of the merits of the case (2 Samuel 15:3)? What would he tell them they could not do/have on that day? Then whom would he moan would be a better judge/king (2 Samuel 15:4)? What would some people come near to do (2 Samuel 15:5)? What would Absalom do instead? To how many did Absalom act this way (2 Samuel 15:6)? How vigorous and vocal would such people likely be? What was Absalom doing by all this? To what age (if the number is 40; or, for how long, if the number is 4) did Absalom do this (2 Samuel 15:7)? What does he now ask the king? How does he ask it (2 Samuel 15:7-8)? Whom is he implicitly complimenting for a good decision? What is he implying about his spiritual life? Whom is he suggesting is in favor of all this? How does the king respond in 2 Samuel 15:9? Where does Absalom go? From there, whom does he send where (2 Samuel 15:10)? What signal had they chosen? What were they to do when they heard it? From where did Absalom invite men in 2 Samuel 15:11? How many? What does this verse make sure to say about them? For whom especially did Absalom send (2 Samuel 15:12)? What job had he held? Where was David? How does verse 12 summarize this entire event?

God’s promised judgment against David, in 2 Samuel 12:10–12, keeps building toward its climax… not with spear and sword but with smile and sneer.

Absalom has added throwing kingly parades (2 Samuel 15:1) to the machinery increasing his celebrity stock (cf. 2 Samuel 14:25–27). 

Next, he stands outside the gate, which functions as the courthouse, and intercepts anyone on their way in to let them know that they have a new friend (2 Samuel 15:2). He adds that their case is of course right (2 Samuel 15:3a, apparently, Absalom never heard a weak case; he’s in favor of all of them!), but as a strange occurrence of providence there’s no one in today who would listen to them (verse 3b, with Absalom apparently turning every case away, there must have been some pretty frustrated people, and some pretty underworked judges).

There’s an easy solution ready-to-hand, however, and (surprise, surprise) that solution is Absalom (2 Samuel 15:4)! After all, he’s not so high on himself to accept groveling (2 Samuel 15:5a), but rather a real man of the people (verse 5b). It’s a pretty cheesy snow job, but turns out highly effective (2 Samuel 15:6).

There’s a manuscript issue, but even if it’s just four years (as likely) in 2 Samuel 15:7, that’s still a pretty patient long-game for Absalom to play. He may be wicked as the devil, but no one can accuse him of being lazy! 

Or stupid. He dresses the whole thing up in integrity (vow keeping) and piety… this was a vow to Yahweh (2 Samuel 15:7), gives credit to Yahweh for His good providence (2 Samuel 15:8a), and promises devotion to Yahweh as a response (verse 8b). Here’s a wicked man, about to do something for which he will pay with his life and soul, but he can talk all godly-and-reformed with the best of them. Sometimes a politician’s biblical-sounding speech isn’t blessing but great judgment. And let us not presume our own biblical-sounding speech is spotless either.

By the time we get to 2 Samuel 15:10-12, the long, slow buildup has now accelerated to imminent impact. Trumpets are ready (2 Samuel 15:10a). Coup supporters have been planted and spread throughout the kingdom (verse 10b), key supporters of the crown have been taken out of the picture (2 Samuel 15:11), and David’s top man is now Absalom’s top man (2 Samuel 15:12).

It’s all about to fall. What will happen? We find ourselves in such days from time to time. As touches his nation and many of the churches in it, the author of this devotional finds himself in such days at the time of writing. 

What will happen? Exactly what our good and merciful God has determined to happen. The shadow of 2 Samuel 12:10–12 over this passage reminds us that it comes from Him. But this is always true! And His purposes in it are always for the building of His church unto His great glory in Christ! Christ is the King that never needs punished, and can never be dethroned!

What slick religious words have you heard or used to mask other intentions? When smooth operators have been wreaking havoc in home, church, or state, Who has been superintending all of it? Who is your King, and how does that stabilize you in tumultuous times?

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


Tuesday, June 15, 2021

2021.06.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 7:9–17

Read Revelation 7:9–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did the apostle see in Revelation 7:9? In what were they clothed? What were they crying out in Revelation 7:10? With what kind of voice? Who respond to this in Revelation 7:11? What do they do? What do they say in Revelation 7:12? Who asks John a question in Revelation 7:13? How does John answer in Revelation 7:14? Whom does the elder say they are? In what have they washed their robes? Where are they (Revelation 7:15)? What do they do? When? What does “He who sits on the throne” do? What two things won’t they do anymore (Revelation 7:16)? What two things won’t strike them? Who is in the midst of the throne (Revelation 7:17)? What will He do to them? Where will He lead them? What will God do to them?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Revelation 7:9–17, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Who Are These Like Stars Appearing

The great multitude of v9 is that great cloud of witnesses of Hebrews 12:1, who have obtained a good witness (Hebrews 11:39), and received their white robes (Revelation 7:9Revelation 7:13) back in Revelation 6:11 as those holding that good testimony of Revelation 6:9.

What an encouragement this multitude would be to us if we could see them! Well, we can both see them, and especially hear them, in this passage by faith! By the Spirit’s convincing you of the reality of Revelation 7:10-12, He sets before you again that marvelous encouragement of Hebrews 11:39–12:2 and Hebrews 12:22–24 but this time with perhaps even more dazzling, heavenly spectacle.

How great the multitude (Revelation 7:9a)! How diverse (verse 9b)! How marvelously attired (verse 9c)! How loud their crying out! How victorious their praise (Revelation 7:10)! How humbled before God (Revelation 7:11)! How lavish in adoring Him (Revelation 7:12)! How relieved from their trial (Revelation 7:14)! How continual in their service to Him and content in their fellowship with Him (Revelation 7:15)! How impervious to and protected from any danger (Revelation 7:16)! How personally attended to, lavished upon, and comforted by the Lamb and God (Revelation 7:17)!

What an encouragement to our persevering—especially since He Who sits upon the throne is the Perfecter of this faith that He has authored in us! Cling to Him! Already, He is sustaining you, and stirring your heart to worship; He will preserve you, and He is worthy of all your devotion in worship and life. And behold how He will perfect you. Cling to Him!

In what circumstance do you need encouragement to endure? What parts of the blessedness in this passage are most encouraging to you? What parts of it do you already enjoy? How often do you think about glory?

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH469 “Who Are These Like Stars Appearing?”


Monday, June 14, 2021

Straining Forward and Upward for Christ's Perfection (2021.06.13 Evening Sermon in Philippians 3:12–17)

Self-satisfaction is the opposite of Christianity, because Christ has laid hold of believers so that they would ultimately lay hold of perfection in Him. Mature believers will be straining forward and upward to Him.

Allured to True Repentance by God's Gracious Character (2021.06.13 Morning Sermon in Joel 2:12–17)


The Lord makes us grieve our having turned from Him, so that seeing His gracious character we will turn to Him in the way that He says to do so. O turn to the Lord, entirely and sincerely, for His great graciousness is glorified by receiving You and blessing You, together with all that holy assembly, whom He has set apart for His own glory!


WCF 15.1, Repentance unto Life Is a Gospel Gift that Must Be Preached (2021.06.13 Sabbath School lesson)

Mourning over sin is a gift of gospel grace that comes in/with/from Christ and His redemption. The way repentance unto life comes is by the Spirit, using words. And this is for the nations, not just for Israel. The entire Bible teaches repentance unto life, which all preachers must preach, and which the promised Spirit attends with almighty power. Repentance and remission (forgiveness) is the message of their mission. Jesus's preaching of the gospel of the kingdom is summarized, "repent, and believe." Preachers who do not preach repentance are holding back God's saving Word and guilty of the blood of their hearers.

2021.06.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:12–17

Read Joel 2:12–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is speaking in Joel 2:12? What does He say to do? With how much of what? And with what three activities? What does He tell them to tear/rend (Joel 2:13)? And to what to return? For what four characteristics of the Lord, and what one action? What is still a possibility (Joel 2:14)? What form would such a blessing take? What does He tell them to blow (Joel 2:15)? Where? What to consecrate? What to call? Whom to gather (Joel 2:16)? Whom to sanctify? Whom to assemble? Whom else to gather? And which two specific people from which locations? Whom does Joel 2:17 address? What are they to do where? Who gives them what to pray? Whom are they to pray that they would be spared? Whom not to be given to reproach? What would this reproach look like? And then what would be said among whom?

To what to repent, Joel 2:12a–b, Joel 2:13b. Often, we focus upon from what we are to repent. But the focus here is almost entirely upon to Whom we are to repent. The main thing, after all, isn’t leaving the sin—though that is absolutely necessary. The main thing is coming to the Lord!

In what manner to repent, Joel 2:12b–Joel 2:13a. With all your heart. With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rending your heart and not your garments. There are half-hearted things that look like repentance but aren’t. There’s repentance that has the appearance of intensity and the indicated actions, but isn’t genuine. But the Lord commands repentance that is intense complete (Joel 2:12b), intense (verse 12c), and genuinely from the soul.

Why to repent, Joel 2:13c–e. Because of how wonderful this God is to Whom we are turning! Look at His graciousness! Look at how merciful/compassionate He is! Look at how patient and slow to anger! Look at His exceeding covenant love! Look at His forgiveness! Truly, this is a God worth turning to, and He is worthy of the glory that we will magnify by turning to Him. 

On what basis to repent (Joel 2:14). We repent on the basis of God’s freedom to bless (Joel 2:14a–b). Repentance does not manipulate Him or force His hand (indeed, He is the One Who gives it, cf. Acts 11:18). Rather, it lays hold of His freedom in which He delights to display the character described in Joel 2:13 (cf. Romans 9:23–24). We know that He loves to forgive, so we play into His free pleasure when we come to Him in repentance.

With whom to repent, Joel 2:15-16. The entire holy assembly. The people. The congregation. The elders. The children. The nursing babes (there’s no one to young/unable). The bridegroom and bride (there’s no one too busy or with a higher-priority activity). Though each must repent from the core of who he is, with all that he is, if you haven’t become part of His holy assembly you have not biblically repented. The truly repentant are not just those who have turned from sin, but especially those who have been gathered unto the Lord with His people.

Through whom to repent, Joel 2:17. Repentance is led by priests, mediators who go between (verse 17a–b). God has given them the office, and God has given them the words. 

Ultimately, God has given us Jesus as our Priest through Whom we come to Him. And He has given us an entire Bible of Jesus’s words with which to do so (cf. 1 Peter 1:11). Repentance is through God Himself and for God Himself. For His people. For His heritage. For His honor among the nations and the peoples.

O dear reader, turn to the Lord, entirely and sincerely, for His great graciousness is glorified by receiving You and blessing You, together with all that holy assembly, whom He has set apart for His own glory! 

Which aspect of biblical repenting in this passage offers you the most room for growth? How will you work on it?

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


Saturday, June 12, 2021

God's Gracious Warnings (2021.06.12 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – June 12, 2021

Dear Congregation,

Thank you for your prayers for elder Rentschler and me while we were at General Synod this week. I trust in the Lord to give you an informal report at open mic time tomorrow afternoon and to write up something a little more thorough by next week’s Herald.

Last week, in Joel 2:1–11, we were quite sternly and frighteningly warned against assuming that the Day of the Lord is going to be a good day for us just because we’re part of His church or know some good doctrine.

Such warnings are sometimes unpopular in preaching, and sometimes I even hear people say that that’s “Old Testament preaching” as if the New Testament is different or that strong warnings are somehow incompatible with the gospel.

But complaints like these commit serious errors in themselves. For, the Old Testament and New Testament are from the same God, by the same Spirit, and rich with the same gospel of the Son. If you miss the gospel in the Old Testament, or the warnings in the New, then you’re not reading either one with good understanding.

In tomorrow’s Luke reading, Jesus tells a parable in which the Master wants his servants to be about His business (19:13). He then characterizes as those who hate (!) Him, anyone who does not want to be ruled by Him (v14). Then at the end of the passages, He calls such people “those enemies of mine” and commands for them to be slaughtered (!) in front of Him (v27).

It just will not do to pretend that Jesus is some undemanding, tame teddy-bear of a God-Man.

Luke, Joel, and the entire Bible are clear: if your life isn’t being ruled by Christ, if you are not living in order to be about His business, then Jesus is your enemy, and the Day of the Lord is a day of terror for you. All of the churchianity and grace-speak in the world will do you no good.

But He is a marvelous Redeemer, who has come to seek and to save the lost (cf. Luke 19:10)—which is exactly what He is doing when He alarms you at your sin and guilt, so that His Spirit may also allure you by Him and His grace.

This alluring is what we are looking forward to in Joel 2:12–17 tomorrow!

Looking forward to sitting with you under such a gracious word as we worship our gracious and glorious God,

Pastor

2021.06.05 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 2:12–17

Read Joel 2:12–17

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is speaking in Joel 2:12? What does He say to do? With how much of what? And with what three activities? What does He tell them to tear/rend (Joel 2:13)? And to what to return? For what four characteristics of the Lord, and what one action? What is still a possibility (Joel 2:14)? What form would such a blessing take? What does He tell them to blow (Joel 2:15)? Where? What to consecrate? What to call? Whom to gather (Joel 2:16)? Whom to sanctify? Whom to assemble? Whom else to gather? And which two specific people from which locations? Whom does Joel 2:17 address? What are they to do where? Who gives them what to pray? Whom are they to pray that they would be spared? Whom not to be given to reproach? What would this reproach look like? And then what would be said among whom? 

To what to repent, Joel 2:12a–b, Joel 2:13b. Often, we focus upon from what we are to repent. But the focus here is almost entirely upon to Whom we are to repent. The main thing, after all, isn’t leaving the sin—though that is absolutely necessary. The main thing is coming to the Lord!

In what manner to repent, Joel 2:12b–Joel 2:13a. With all your heart. With fasting, with weeping, and with mourning. Rending your heart and not your garments. There are half-hearted things that look like repentance but aren’t. There’s repentance that has the appearance of intensity and the indicated actions, but isn’t genuine. But the Lord commands repentance that is intense complete (Joel 2:12b), intense (verse 12c), and genuinely from the soul.

Why to repent, Joel 2:13c–e. Because of how wonderful this God is to Whom we are turning! Look at His graciousness! Look at how merciful/compassionate He is! Look at how patient and slow to anger! Look at His exceeding covenant love! Look at His forgiveness! Truly, this is a God worth turning to, and He is worthy of the glory that we will magnify by turning to Him. 

On what basis to repent, Joel 2:14. We repent on the basis of God’s freedom to bless (verse 14a–b). Repentance does not manipulate Him or force His hand (indeed, He is the One Who gives it, cf. Acts 11:18). Rather, it lays hold of His freedom in which He delights to display the character described in Joel 2:13 (cf. Romans 9:23–24). We know that He loves to forgive, so we play into His free pleasure when we come to Him in repentance.

With whom to repent, Joel 2:15-16. The entire holy assembly. The people. The congregation. The elders. The children. The nursing babes (there’s no one to young/unable). The bridegroom and bride (there’s no one too busy or with a higher-priority activity). Though each must repent from the core of who he is, with all that he is, if you haven’t become part of His holy assembly you have not biblically repented. The truly repentant are not just those who have turned from sin, but especially those who have been gathered unto the Lord with His people.

Through whom to repent, Joel 2:17. Repentance is led by priests, mediators who go between (verse 17a–b). God has given them the office, and God has given them the words. 

Ultimately, God has given us Jesus as our Priest through Whom we come to Him. And He has given us an entire Bible of Jesus’s words with which to do so (cf. 1 Peter 1:11). Repentance is through God Himself and for God Himself. For His people. For His heritage. For His honor among the nations and the peoples.

O dear reader, turn to the Lord, entirely and sincerely, for His great graciousness is glorified by receiving You and blessing You, together with all that holy assembly, whom He has set apart for His own glory!

Which aspect of biblical repenting in this passage offers you the most room for growth?

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


Friday, June 11, 2021

2021.06.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:12–14

Read Philippians 3:12–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What hasn’t the apostle already done (Philippians 3:12)? What hasn’t already been done to him? So what does he do? In order to lay hold of what? What doesn’t he count himself to have done (Philippians 3:13)? Upon how many things does he focus? What does he forget? In order to reach for what? Toward what does he press (Philippians 3:14)? What is the prize? 

What do we do if only Christ will satisfy us? We keep running until we have completed making Him our own. And we are encouraged to do so, because He has completed making us His own. He completed purchasing us by His blood on the cross, and the moment He unites us to Himself by bringing us to faith, we are as justified as we will ever be (end of Philippians 3:12).

This is the great difference between a believer and a legalist. Those against whom Paul had warned them in Philippians 3:2 were satisfied with themselves. But the apostle is not satisfied with Himself (Philippians 3:12a, Philippians 3:13a), and in verse 13 he adds the word “brethren” to this statement. Here is no self-satisfied legalist telling others how they can be as satisfying as he is. 

No, for the believer, the best is out in front of us. The past was God’s good means of getting us where we are, but neither the past nor the present are to be compared to where we shall be. What would we think of a man who ran a really good half race, and then stopped to admire how well he had done? No, his goal is at the end of the race, and until he gets there that’s where his eyes, his thoughts, his efforts are focused.

Already, he has found Christ satisfying, and so long as he can be more satisfied with Christ, he will press forward to that. So, he urges his beloved brethren to come along with him, to be satisfied not with him nor with themselves, but only with Christ!

Whom do you know that finds Christ satisfying and wants to find Him more satisfying? Whom do you know that is pretty satisfied with himself and thinks everyone else should be like him? Into which one of these categories do you think those who know you would place you?

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

Thursday, June 10, 2021

2021.06.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 19:11–27

Read Luke 19:11–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus speak (Luke 19:11)? For what two reasons? Who is the parable about (Luke 19:12)? Where is going to go to do what? Whom does he call (Luke 19:13)? What does he give to them? What does he command them to do with it? How did they respond and why (Luke 19:14)? What did he do when he returned (Luke 19:15)? How did the first servant respond (Luke 19:16)? What did the master entrust to him in response (Luke 19:17)? How did the second respond (Luke 19:18)? What did the master entrust to him (Luke 19:19)? What did another say he had done (Luke 19:20)? Why (Luke 19:21)? About which part of this answer does the master confront him in Luke 19:22? If his accusations were true, what should he have done (Luke 19:23)? What does the master say to do (Luke 19:24)? How do the bystanders respond (Luke 19:25)? What explanation does the master give in Luke 19:26? What does he say to do to the ones who had given the answer in Luke 19:14?  

Disciples in Luke 19:11 (and today) want the kingdom to hurry up right away, but Jesus corrects this.

The Master is going to be gone for a significant time. But He is not idle; He is obtaining a kingdom (Luke 19:12). And He commands us to be busy too (Luke 19:13). In this literary description, Jesus styles those who are not diligent in His business as those who “hate” him and say “we will not have this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14).

So a big part of this text is correcting the desire to have the kingdom right away, or to wait for it while being about your own pleasure.

Speaking of pleasure, Jesus is not at all that severe Master that the wicked servant imagines in Luke 19:20. He is pleased with His servant in Luke 19:17. We all know that the servant has only done what was required (cf. Luke 17:10), but this just makes the graciousness and goodness and generosity of our Lord shine in His, “Well done” (cf. Matthew 25:21). In fact, it is even more abrupt in the original than in the English. 

Yet, Christ’s pleasure isn’t His only stunning response in the parable-picture that He draws here. Not only does the lazy servant have his stewardship taken away (Luke 19:25-26), but all who are not about the Lord’s business will be slaughtered before Him (Luke 19:27).

The kingdom will not appear immediately, but we are to be busy serving the King until it does. Those Who do so because they are His will be amazed at the pleasure of His response. Those Who don’t serve Him will be amazed at the intensity of His wrath. Let us be busy for Him, and let us be amazed at Him.

How are you busy serving the Lord? What response does His pleasure in service draw out of you? What response does His fury at laziness/rebellion draw out of you?

Suggested Songs: ARP95B “Today, If You Will Hear His Voice” or TPH389 “Great God, What Do I See and Hear”