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, July 03, 2021

2021.07.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Joel 3:1–8

Read Joel 3:1–8

Questions from the Scripture text: What days and time is Joel 3:1 talking about? Whom else will the Lord also gather(Joel 3:2)? Where will He bring them? For what will He judge them? What will all nations have done (Joel 3:2-3)? Whom does He address in Joel 3:4? Whom did they think they were repaying? But what were they doing instead? Upon whose head will their intentions fall? From Whom? How fast? Whom have they ultimately attacked (Joel 3:5)? What else have they done to whom (Joel 3:6)? What will Yahweh do for the people of Judah and Jerusalem (Joel 3:7a–b)? But what will He do to those who sold them (Joel 3:7c –Joel 3:8)? What makes this sure and final (verse 8e)?

We’ve seen several layers to the day of the Lord in Joel. The locusts were a day of the Lord for judgment. The repentance and restoration were a day of the Lord. The cross was a great day of the Lord with signs in heaven and earth. Pentecost initiated a great day of the Lord: the age of the Spirit, the Bible, the gospel, and the church.

But there is one that is yet to come, even for us. The great day of judgment, with all the nations gathered up. What will that judgment be like?

It will be a confrontation with the Lord Himself. On that day, all will be judged for what they have done with the Lord—and, by extension, with His people. When He says “I will enter into judgment with them,” He is not only taking the position of the judge but also of the accusing prosecutor and the aggrieved plaintiff. 

This is the great wickedness of sin, that it is against God. “My” people. “My” heritage. “My” land. “My” people. What have you to do with “Me”? Will you repay “Me”? But if you repay “Me.” “My” silver. “My” gold. “My” prized possessions. Sin is all about what we have done to God. This is what Paul discovered in his conversion, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me.” This is why he knew himself to be the chief of sinners.

The day of judgment is a day in which every person from every nation discovers himself to be the chief of sinners, for all of his sin is personally against the glorious, holy Yahweh. On that day, when the man stands before Jesus, he will realize that all of his sin has been against this glorious God-Man.

It will be a confrontation with irremediable guilt. The word translated ‘retaliate’ in Joel 3:4-5 has a basic meaning of “repay.” The problem that is being exposed is that these nations actually think there might be some way they could pay back Yahweh. They have zero appreciation of the greatness of their guilt. They have zero appreciation of the impossibility of them doing anything good. Whatever they do will just incur more guilt; “swiftly and speedily I will return your repayment upon your own head.”

It will be confrontation with exactly appropriate punishment. In this particular case, for these particular sins of selling His people (Joel 3:2-3Joel 3:6-7), the punishment will be exactly corresponding (Joel 3:8). But this is not the only sin. And it is not the greatest part of their sin. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They have pushed down upon the knowledge of His glory, refusing to worship Him or give thanks. And their punishment will be equal to the glory of that God Whom they have despised. In fact, the fiery and everlasting destruction will come upon them from that glory itself (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:5–10).

What will that day be like for you? We are now in that day of Yahweh in which “everyone who calls upon the name of Yahweh will be saved.” Have you given up the idea of atoning for your own sin? Have you recognized that Jesus is Yahweh? Have you called upon that God before Whom you will stand to be Your Savior? The One Who has offered an atonement as great as the glory of God!

What will come of you in the last great day of Yahweh, if you do not receive the gift of repentance now? How have you sought it from Him?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH389 “Great God What Do I See and Hear”

Friday, July 02, 2021

A Citizenship, Savior, Hope, and Joy to Live By (Family Worship lesson in Philippians 3:20–4:1)

How ought a Christian walk that he may not end in destruction? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Philippians 3:20–4:1 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord's Day. In these three verses of holy Scripture, we learn that the Lord has given us a heavenly citizenship, a returning savior, a resurrection hope, and a familial joy by which to walk in this life.

2021.07.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:20–4:1

Read Philippians 3:20–4:1

Questions from the Scripture text: Where is our citizenship (Philippians 3:20)? What else is in heaven? For what are we eagerly waiting? Who is that Savior? What will He do to what (Philippians 3:21)? What will He make our body like? What is He using the same power to do? How many things is He subduing to Himself? What four things does the apostle call them in Philippians 4:1? What does he command them to do?

Life must be lived as an ally of the cross (cf. Philippians 3:18), which means not living for what our earthly flesh desires (Philippians 3:19), but rather for that for which our heavenly Redeemer has died.

It is this last bit upon which these three verses focus. Our heavenly Redeemer died so that we might live on earth in alliance with heaven. For, He has not remained dead. He has risen again, and He has ascended into heaven, and He will return again.

Jesus’s death has aimed at our resurrection: glorified bodies which perfectly holy souls employ as His subjects. And that is what our life must aim at in this world.

We are subjects. Citizenship has privileges—glorious privileges! That everlasting blessedness for which Christ has laid hold of us (cf. Philippians 3:12). But part of the delight of being His is the delight that He is the King of heaven, and that as citizens of heaven, we are therefore His subjects. A great part of the pleasure of a Christian in this life is to live as wholehearted, loyal, obedient, faithful subjects of King Jesus of heaven.

We have a Savior. He has not only saved us from the guilt of our sin, but He will ultimately save us from every remaining particle of its power and presence. Why isn’t our end destruction (cf. Philippians 3:19)? Because the One Who comes at last to destroy the wicked is presently destroying our wickedness. 

He has been our Savior at the cross. He is currently saving us in our sanctification (cf. Philippians 2:12–13). And we eagerly wait for Him to appear as the Savior who has come to complete our salvation by resurrection (Philippians 3:21). He is already working by resurrection power to subdue all believers to Himself (verse 21b).

The apostle again sets himself as an example. If we eagerly await the Lord Jesus as Savior, then we should love and long for those whom He is saving (Philippians 4:1a). They are our fellow citizen-subjects, but also our brethren in Christ. 

They ought to be a great joy to us, for they are not earthly but heavenly; the more that heavenly joys are our great joys, the more joy we will have in heaven’s citizens. 

And, to the extent that we can stir up one another to love and good works, our brethren in the Lord will be a crown for us. The most golden of earthly crowns has no more ultimate staying power than the quickly-withering laurel wreath that the Romans used to remind themselves how quickly it would vanish. But, when your crown is the work the Lord has done in your fellow believers, it will last forever.

This, then, is the key to standing fast. Stand fast in the Lord. Of Whom we are subjects. Who is our Savior. Past, present, and future.

How do you stay mindful that you are a subject of King Jesus? What are some choices that you have been making that might be improved by aiming at what Jesus is aiming at in your life? In whose spiritual growth are you participating, which will be for you a lasting crown?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song” or TPH384 “Lo What a Glorious Sight Appeared” 

Thursday, July 01, 2021

2021.07.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 20:9–19

Read Luke 20:9–19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus begin to tell in Luke 20:9? What is the parable about? What did the man do with his vineyard? Where was he going? What did he send at what time for what reason (Luke 20:10)? What did the vinedressers do to the servant? Then what did the owner do (Luke 20:11)? And what three things did they do to him? What did the owner do in Luke 20:12? What two things did they do to the third? Whom did the owner then send (Luke 20:13)? What is his reasoning? What do the vinedressers plan to do and why (Luke 20:14)? What do they do to the son (Luke 20:15)? What does Jesus ask? How does Jesus answer (Luke 20:16)? How do “they” respond? What does Jesus do in Luke 20:17? What does He ask them about? What does He say about the stone from that text (Luke 20:18)? Who sought to do what, when (Luke 20:19)? Why? What stopped them?

Jesus has evaded the most recent attempt to bring Him in on charges of unauthorized (horrible to the Romans) desecration of the temple (horrible to the Jews), a plan the Jewish leaders must have thought cleverly calculated to kill Him (Luke 19:47–20:8). 

He could have just let them continue with their plan (they would anyway) so that He could die as He came to do (He did anyway). So, why does He tell this parable?

Because He’s merciful. He tells them plainly (so plainly that they know exactly what it means, Luke 20:19) the danger into which they are placing themselves. How did it go for all those other generations who rejected and abused prophets from God (Luke 20:10-12)? If that is so, then they are in great danger, for Jesus’s parable says that this generation is about to do far worse (Luke 20:13-15) and will suffer the devastating consequences (Luke 20:16).

They are sure that such could not possibly happen to them (end of Luke 20:16), but Jesus assures them that the Scripture has prophesied it (Luke 20:17), and that when He becomes the chief cornerstone, it will be with devastating and destructive consequences for all who are at odds with Him (Luke 20:18).

This is a mercy, like the accusations in Acts 2:36 and Acts 7:51–53 are a mercy. Only in the one were the people cut to the heart for repentance. But in every instance, it was a mercy to be confronted. Jesus didn’t have to show His enemies this mercy, but He is marvelously merciful, so He did so. 

And Jesus didn’t have to show you the mercy of confronting you with the fact that He is God in the flesh, Who died for sinners. Jesus didn’t have to show you the mercy of telling you plainly that all illusions of other power will evaporate, and He will have all power forever and ever. Jesus didn’t have to show you the mercy of warning you that if you add to all your other sins, the greatest possible sin—the rejection of Christ as Savior and King—you will suffer horrible destruction forever.

Jesus didn’t have to show you this mercy. But He is marvelously merciful, so He has done so. Therefore, accept His identity, accept His authority; yield to Him! Kiss the Son before His wrath is quickly kindled (cf. Psalm 2).

How have you responded to Christ’s merciful warning about trying to rule your own life for your own pleasure?

Suggested Songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH118B “The Glorious Gates of Righteousness”

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!”