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

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Knowing Trinitarian Love in Christ: the Hardest, Surest Thing (Family Worship lesson in Ephesians 3:14–19)

For what does the apostle pray for such almighty working? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Ephesians 3:14–19 prepares us for the opening portion of the morning public worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these six verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God's eternal purpose to bring us into His own Triune fellowship is accomplished by almighty, Triune collaboration to make us know the love of Christ.
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2021.08.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 3:14–19

Read Ephesians 3:14–19

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sample prayer: Father, according to the riches of Your glory, grant unto us by Your almighty Spirit to know the love of Christ. We have no fullness of our own, so fill us with all of Your own fullness in Christ, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH491 “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee”


Monday, August 30, 2021

How Seriously God Takes the Honoring of Parents (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 30:17)

Pastor leads his family in a verse from "the Proverb of the day." In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that failure to honor parents from the heart deserves an accursed death.
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2021.08.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 22:35-53

Read Luke 22:35-53

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus ask the disciples in Luke 22:35? How do they answer? What does He tell them to take now (Luke 22:36)? And to buy? What reason does He give in Luke 22:37? What do they produce in Luke 22:38? How does He answer? Where does He go in Luke 22:39? How does Luke tell us that this was predictable? Where do they arrive in Luke 22:40? What does He say to them? Where does He go (Luke 22:41)? What does He do? What does He say in this prayer (Luke 22:42)? What response does He receive in Luke 22:43? For what does He use this heaven-sent strength (Luke 22:44)? What does He do in Luke 22:45? What does He find? What does He ask them (Luke 22:46)? What does He tell them to do instead? But what appears and when (Luke 22:47)? Who went before them? What did he do? What does Jesus ask him (Luke 22:48)? About what do His disciples now ask (Luke 22:49, cf. Luke 22:38)? But what does one of them do (Luke 22:50)? What does Jesus say in Luke 22:51? What does He do? Now to what four groups does He speak in Luke 22:52? What does He ask them? What does He point out in Luke 22:53? What does He call that moment?

That which must be fulfilled. The evangelist shows us the connections between Luke 22:35-38 and Luke 22:47-53. The reason for the speech in Luke 22:35-36 is so that it might be fulfilled that He is numbered with the transgressors (Luke 22:37). Then the Lord Jesus points out in Luke 22:52 that they have “come out, as against a robber.” 

This also solves the curious question of what the two swords of Luke 22:38 are enough for. He teaches us to make good use of God’s means: moneybags, knapsacks, etc (Luke 22:36a). And the idea of a sword for every man implies that the equipment to defend oneself or participate in just war are part of the means that God provides, and which we ought to make use of (verse 36b). But for what are two swords enough?

We only have to wait eleven verses to find out. We know from the other gospels that there are three apostles with Him by Luke 22:49. James and John apparently have one sword, and they ask Jesus if this is the time to use it. Peter isn’t named in Luke 22:50, but again from the other gospels we know that it’s he who doesn’t bother asking. But while there is an appropriate time for using the sword, Jesus quickly corrects its use in this case, in Luke 22:51. After all, this is exactly what He had said (Luke 22:37) must be accomplished: their “hour and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53).

The strength in which it was fulfilled. The Holy Spirit has Luke place the account of our Lord’s prayer between the two sections referenced above. Luke 22:39-45 are sandwiched between Luke 22:35-38 and Luke 22:47-53. This section itself is bookended by Jesus’s two admonitions to the disciples to pray, lest they enter temptation (Luke 22:39-40 and Luke 22:45-46). This places Luke 22:41-44 at the heart of the section as a whole.

Jesus doesn’t just tell the disciples that they need to be praying; He knows this fact from His own experience. Even as He knows what must be accomplished (Luke 22:37) and what hour this is (Luke 22:53), He Himself needs prayer to be strengthened unto submission. He Himself prays in Luke 22:41, and when the response is for an angel to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43), He uses the strength to pray even more earnestly (Luke 22:44).

What is He praying? That if it is God’s will/possible (Luke 22:42a, cf. Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36), the cup of the cross would be taken from Him. But He knows that it is not actually possible. Still, expressing His horror and agony at the prospect in prayer is a means by which He submits Himself to His Father’s will. And this submission is the strength in which He now greets Judas, corrects Peter, and heals Malchus. 

What a marvelous thing is the temptation-thwarting, submission-enabling power of prayer! And if our Lord Himself needed it, how much more do we! But if we believe in Him, not only is His submission counted for us, but it is also what we are being conformed to. Dear Christian, watch and pray so that you would not enter into temptation. And as you do so, rejoice that even in your watching and praying you are being conformed to Christ!

What times do you have set apart each day and week for watching and praying against temptation? Where in your life have you found it to be a battle to submit to the Lord’s providence and commands?

Sample prayer:  Our merciful God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—You have alll power and goodness in Yourself. But we are weak and sinful in ourselves. We thank You that You have made Your righteousness ours in Jesus Christ. We marvel at Your love Lord Jesus, that You humbled Yourself to become a Man so fully that even Your dependence is a model for our own dependence. Grant unto us the ministry of Your Spirit, by Whom we would be watchful and prayerful as a right use of the greatest means that You have given us: Yourself. Which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Greetings in Christ and from Christ (2021.08.29 Evening Sermon in Philippians 4:21–23)

Greetings for all. Greetings for saints in Christ. Greetings from brethren in the ministry. Greetings from all saints. Greetings from kindred. Greetings from Christ.
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Prayer Necessary because God's Plan Is Fulfilled in God's Strength (2021.08.29 Morning Sermon in Luke 22:35–53)


With a Redeemer Who prays for us, and Who instructs us to pray for ourselves, and Who even had to pray for Himself, it is plain how urgently we must be in prayer like His, and how grateful we ought to be for His own praying.


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"Of Repentance unto Life" part 12, WCF 15.6.2, Certainty of Mercy for the Repentant

Those who repent can be as sure of mercy as they are of the very character of God!
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Saturday, August 28, 2021

2021.08.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 22:35–53

Read Luke 22:35–53

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus ask the disciples in Luke 22:35? How do they answer? What does He tell them to take now (Luke 22:36)? And to buy? What reason does He give in Luke 22:37? What do they produce in Luke 22:38? How does He answer? Where does He go in Luke 22:39? How does Luke tell us that this was predictable? Where do they arrive in Luke 22:40? What does He say to them? Where does He go (Luke 22:41)? What does He do? What does He say in this prayer (Luke 22:42)? What response does He receive in Luke 22:43? For what does He use this heaven-sent strength (Luke 22:44)? What does He do in Luke 22:45? What does He find? What does He ask them (Luke 22:46)? What does He tell them to do instead? But what appears and when (Luke 22:47)? Who went before them? What did he do? What does Jesus ask him (Luke 22:48)? About what do His disciples now ask (Luke 22:49, cf. Luke 22:38)? But what does one of them do (Luke 22:50)? What does Jesus say in Luke 22:51? What does He do? Now to what four groups does He speak in Luke 22:52? What does He ask them? What does He point out in Luke 22:53? What does He call that moment?

That which must be fulfilled. The evangelist shows us the connections between Luke 22:35-38 and Luke 22:47-53. The reason for the speech in Luke 22:35-36 is so that it might be fulfilled that He is numbered with the transgressors (Luke 22:37). Then the Lord Jesus points out in Luke 22:52 that they have “come out, as against a robber.” 

This also solves the curious question of what the two swords of Luke 22:38 are enough for. He teaches us to make good use of God’s means: moneybags, knapsacks, etc. (Luke 22:36a). And the idea of a sword for every man implies that the equipment to defend oneself or participate in just war are part of the means that God provides, and which we ought to make use of (verse 36b). But for what are two swords enough?

We only have to wait eleven verses to find out. We know from the other gospels that there are three apostles with Him by Luke 22:49. James and John apparently have one sword, and they ask Jesus if this is the time to use it. Peter isn’t named in Luke 22:50, but again from the other gospels we know that it’s he who doesn’t bother asking. But while there is an appropriate time for using the sword, Jesus quickly corrects its use in this case, in Luke 22:51. After all, this is exactly what He had said (Luke 22:37) must be accomplished: their “hour and the power of darkness” (Luke 22:53).

The strength in which it was fulfilled. The Holy Spirit has Luke place the account of our Lord’s prayer between the two sections referenced above. Luke 22:39-45 are sandwiched between Luke 22:35-38 and Luke 22:47-53. This section itself is bookended by Jesus’s two admonitions to the disciples to pray, lest they enter temptation (Luke 22:39-40 and Luke 22:45-46). This places Luke 22:41-44 at the heart of the section as a whole.

Jesus doesn’t just tell the disciples that they need to be praying; He knows this fact from His own experience. Even as He knows what must be accomplished (Luke 22:37) and what hour this is (Luke 22:53), He Himself needs prayer to be strengthened unto submission. He Himself prays in Luke 22:41, and when the response is for an angel to strengthen Him (Luke 22:43), He uses the strength to pray even more earnestly (Luke 22:44).

What is He praying? That if it is God’s will/possible (Luke 22:42a, cf. Matthew 26:39, Mark 14:36), the cup of the cross would be taken from Him. But He knows that it is not actually possible. Still, expressing His horror and agony at the prospect in prayer is a means by which He submits Himself to His Father’s will. And this submission is the strength in which He now greets Judas, corrects Peter, and heals Malchus. 

What a marvelous thing is the temptation-thwarting, submission-enabling power of prayer! And if our Lord Himself needed it, how much more do we! But if we believe in Him, not only is His submission counted for us, but it is also what we are being conformed to. Dear Christian, watch and pray so that you would not enter into temptation. And as you do so, rejoice that even in your watching and praying you are being conformed to Christ!

What times do you have set apart each day and week for watching and praying against temptation? Where in your life have you found it to be a battle to submit to the Lord’s providence and commands?

Sample prayer:  Our merciful God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—You have alll power and goodness in Yourself. But we are weak and sinful in ourselves. We thank You that You have made Your righteousness ours in Jesus Christ. We marvel at Your love Lord Jesus, that You humbled Yourself to become a Man so fully that even Your dependence is a model for our own dependence. Grant unto us the ministry of Your Spirit, by Whom we would be watchful and prayerful as a right use of the greatest means that You have given us: Yourself. Which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

 

Friday, August 27, 2021

Wrath-Deserving Sinners Treasured Instead for Christ's Sake (2021.08.25 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 28)

What believers most cry out for is that they may be treated not as they deserve but rather as God’s treasure, for the sake of God’s anointed. Thus, trusting in Him is expressed as prayer, which results in help and rejoicing.
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2021.08.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:21–23

Read Philippians 4:21–23

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Paul say to do with the believers (Philippians 4:21)? How many of them? What does he call them? In Whom? What does he call his coworkers? What do they do? Who else greets them from Rome (Philippians 4:22)? How many of them? Especially whom? What blessing does he give them in Philippians 4:23? Whose grace (cf. Philippians 1:2)? With how many of them? How does he conclude the letter? 

Greetings for all. The letter had been sent “to all the saints” but particularly “with the bishops and deacons” (cf. Philippians 1:1). Probably, it had been delivered to the officers, but the apostle there and now here wants to make sure that the letter is not just received to the church generally but that each one receives the letter personally. 

Each of us would do well to receive Scripture this way. It is breathed out by God—like having a living, breathing conversation with Him. And it is useful to prepare the man (singular!) of God for every good work. 

Greetings for saints. The man who has written how obsessed he is with Christ reminds them that they are set apart as holy precisely by their being joined to the One with Whom the apostle is obsessed. They are “every saint in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:21). How treasured they must know themselves to be, when his love for them is identified with his love for Christ!

Greetings from brethren. The brethren who have been with Paul in Rome have heard his prayers for the Philippians, and his dictation of the letter to them. They share his treasuring of Christ. They have been learning from the letter as it was written, and from the ministry of the man who wrote it. So of course, they too love the Philippians in Christ, and greet them.

Greetings especially from among Caesar’s household. These particular greetings would give the Philippians great joy. Not only has the gospel penetrated Caesar’s household so that there are brother-saints among them now, but these perhaps would know some of the retired centurions among the Philippian church. 

Greetings and Grace from Christ Himself. Ultimately, Paul’s love for them and the brethren’s love for them come from the Lord Jesus Christ. But Paul isn’t writing as his own man. He’s writing as a slave of Christ (Philippians 1:1), an apostle of the Lord Himself. And the Lord Jesus Christ gives more than just greetings; He gives all that He is for all that we need. Blessing for those who deserve only curse. Power for those who have only weakness. Goodness for those who have only wickedness. 

Sometimes, the grace is said to come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. This is itself proof enough of Christ’s divinity: grace originates in Him as much as in the Father. But here it is Christ alone Who gives all the grace they need. He is the God of grace!

What believers do you know, treasure, and greet? How does it appear in your heart and behavior that you do so with the affection that you have for Christ? Who greets and treasures you with this affection? With what does Christ greet you, if you are His by faith?

Sample prayer:  Lord Jesus, our God, we praise You for Your mercy, joining Yourself to us and setting us apart as holy in Yourself. Forgive us for when we have not loved those who are Yours with the love that we have for You. By Your grace, make us to love them with Your love. For in You is everything that we need, and we look to You for this grace in Your Name, AMEN!

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


Thursday, August 26, 2021

2021.08.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 21:1–14

Read 2 Samuel 21:1–14

Questions from the Scripture text: What had happened, in what days, and for how long (2 Samuel 21:1)? What did David do about this? What did Yahweh answer? What does He call Saul’s household? Whom does the king call in 2 Samuel 21:2? Who were the Gibeonites? What had Israel sworn (cf. Joshua 9:3–27)? But what had Saul done? Why? What does David ask the Gibeonites in 2 Samuel 21:3? What does this imply they had been doing, and to which God had been listening? What kinds of things do the Gibeonites emphasize that they don’t want (2 Samuel 21:4)? What does David reply? About whom do they speak in 2 Samuel 21:5? What accusation do they make? For what do they ask in 2 Samuel 21:6? Before Whom would the Gibeonites hang them? What do they highlight about Gibeah of Saul? What does the king promise? Whom does the king spare (2 Samuel 21:7)? Because of what kind of oath? Whom does he take instead (2 Samuel 21:8)? To whom does he deliver them (2 Samuel 21:9)? What do they do with them? What time of year does this occur? Who does what in 2 Samuel 21:10? For how long? What doesn’t she permit? Who is told in 2 Samuel 21:11? What does David gather from whom in 2 Samuel 21:12? And what does he gather additionally in 2 Samuel 21:13? What does he do with all these bones in 2 Samuel 21:14? What does God finally do?

An offended God. The honor of God’s Name is the backdrop for much of this passage. In Joshua 9:18–19, the oath made in Yahweh’s Name was upheld even though it had been made to deceptive Canaanites. 

Man-centered as we are, we lack appreciation for how seriously God takes the honor of His Name. But Israel’s sworn oath is mentioned in 2 Samuel 21:2. And the hanging is before Yahweh in 2 Samuel 21:6. This is mentioned again in 2 Samuel 21:9. And the offensiveness of Saul’s action seems to be that it is against having been chosen by Yahweh (end of 2 Samuel 21:6). Even Mephibosheth’s safety in 2 Samuel 21:7 is for the sake of God’s Name, “because of Yahweh’s oath that was between them” (verse 7). And the entire episode is ultimately about atoning for offense so that prayer will once again be heard (2 Samuel 21:14).

To be sure, we easily deceive ourselves about how offensive to God our actions are. There are many who profess the Name of Christ, and unflinchingly worship in ways that the Lord has not commanded—which God Himself refers to as hating Him in the second commandment. Saul, similarly, had once let God-condemned animals live in an act of claimed devotion to make sacrifices (cf. 1 Samuel 15:15). Now 2 Samuel 21:2 of our passage tells us that Saul had convinced himself that he was being zealous for God’s people when he broke the oath in God’s Name—perhaps even feeling like he was making up for sparing Agag in 1 Samuel 15. But our God rejects worship that comes in disobedience (cf. 1 Samuel 15:22–23). Good intentions don’t make up for disobedience.

A merciful God. The greatness of the offense against God makes His mercy in the passage even more remarkable. The first mercy is the mercy of revelation. We remember that when Saul was rejected as king, part of the judgment included losing access to the Word of God. But when David inquires now, Yahweh answers (2 Samuel 21:1). This by itself is a great mercy.

Also, Yahweh accepts the death of a substitute. Some find it controversial that the seven descendants are punished for Saul’s sin. But God’s prohibition in Deuteronomy 24:16 had to do with the execution of criminal justice by the state. Indeed, all of humanity is condemned for the sin of our first father. And Christ is condemned for the sin of all who are His. 

It is a great mercy that the Lord accepts a substitutionary atonement here. Saul is already dead and cannot be executed for the sin. But he sinned not merely as a private person but as a king, and therefore as a nation. So what is required is not so much avenging judgment as curse-removing atonement. Not only is hanging indicative of a curse (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23), but this hanging is “before Yahweh” (2 Samuel 21:62 Samuel 21:9), and the bodies are left exposed, which was ordinarily forbidden precisely because it indicates accursedness before God (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23 again). So, God is mercifully accepting cursing upon a few in behalf of a nation.

Surprises of mercy among God’s people. The main character of the passage (as always) is the Lord Himself. But, sprinkled through it are surprises of mercy that are easy to miss. The first actually comes from the Gibeonites. God has been offended for the oath of Yahweh that has been broken, but David wants to know what will enable the Gibeonites to bless Israel (the inheritance of Yahweh) instead (2 Samuel 21:3). The Gibeonites aren’t interested in money (2 Samuel 21:4a) or even blood (verse 4b). David is stumped (verse 4c), but the Gibeonites’ focus is on what to do before the face of Yahweh (2 Samuel 21:6). The sense of the text actually seems to be that the Gibeonites’ request comes from a desire to see Israel restored to a place of blessing!

Secondly, there’s the actions of Rizpah. Two of the deceased are her sons, but she sets up sackcloth camp and fends of predators from all seven (2 Samuel 21:10). This is remarkable, since five of them were sons of Merab (the first daughter of Saul to be treacherously given to another instead of David) that had been brought up in the house of Michal (the second daughter of Saul, who had been treacherously given to another, but later became a haughty queen who had a falling out with David). The task is a horrible one—due to the curse, she may not retrieve the bodies, so she lives on a rock, in a tent made of sackcloth, getting no rest day or night, attending to decomposing bodies, including those of her own two sons. This is a (unimaginably grievous and horrific) labor of love.

Finally, there’s the actions of David himself. The temptation might be to distance himself from the house of Saul, or even to pile on in this season of judgment. But he understands how atonement and forgiveness bring reconciliation—probably in no small part from the Lord’s own dealings with David. With the rains falling again (2 Samuel 21:10), he’s willing not only to take care of the bodies of the seven, but to recognize that they have borne that which was necessary for the restoration of their house. So, he collects the bodies of Saul and Jonathan to be buried with them in the tomb of Kish, Saul’s father. It’s even implied that this last act of David’s own mercy is part of what God is responding to when He begins again to listen to prayer for the land (end of 2 Samuel 21:14). 

Ultimately, this is also the mercy of God. He speaks to His people. He accepts substitutionary atonement for them. And in His mercy, He even makes His people merciful.

How do your priorities and habits reflect God’s priority upon the honor of His Name? In your life, how have you seen the mercies of His Word, His atonement, and His sanctifying grace?

Sample prayer: Our glorious God, all things exist for the honor of Your Name. Yet, when we had sinned against You in our first father Adam, You showed Yourself to be our gracious God by giving Your Son to be an atonement for us. Even so, how often we fail to prioritize Your glory or recognize Your grace! Forgive us and by Your Spirit cleanse us, we pray, for the sake of Your love and the Son Whom You gave in that love. Make us those who love Your glory and grace, AMEN! 

Suggested Songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH431 “And Can it Be That I Should Gain”


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Sustaining Grace Strips Excuses, Exposes Rebellion, and Sweetens Service (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 4:10–17)

Why do Moses’s responses kindle Yahweh’s wrath against him? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Exodus 4:10–17 prepares us for the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eight verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the fact that we are weaklings who must be sustained by sovereign grace strips away our excuses against serving God, exposes our rebellion against serving God, and sweetens our service to God by dependence upon Him and fellowship with Him.
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2021.08.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 4:10–17

Read Exodus 4:10–17

Questions from the Scripture text: What new objection does Moses raise in Exodus 4:10? What does he say hasn’t made a difference(!)? With what question does Yahweh challenge him in response (Exodus 4:11)? What does He say will make the difference (Exodus 4:12)? Instead of raising objections, what tactic does Moses try in Exodus 4:13? Now what is Yahweh’s disposition toward him (Exodus 4:14a)? Whom does Yahweh say is already on the way to help (verse 14b)? What difference will there be between Moses’s current attitude and Aaron’s? How will each relate to the other in the speaking process (Exodus 4:15-16)? What does Yahweh command him to take (Exodus 4:17)? 

Accusing God. I hope that when you and I have complained about our circumstances or abilities, we have not realized that we were accusing God. Frighteningly, Moses cannot make that claim. In Exodus 4:10, he says “neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant.” His point is jarring: Your Word hasn’t done anything to improve the situation.

Yahweh’s answer is that He Himself is the solution. Moses’s inabilities are in the Lord’s intentional providence (Exodus 4:11) so that the Lord Himself will be Moses’s ability (Exodus 4:12). This is a principle that holds for each of us: His grace is made perfect in weakness (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9), so that we will boast in Him alone (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26–31). 

Refusing God. With his claim to having “an ability problem” shot down, Moses now exposes a much more sinister one in Exodus 4:13: a willingness problem. He now pleads that the Lord send literally anyone else. It turns out that he has not been unable so much as he has been unwilling.

Angering God. One of God’s perfections is that, for the sake of the elect Whom He is saving, He is slow to anger; but, His wrath is a perfection, and He wills to display it (cf. Romans 9:22–24). While God’s patience with Moses throughout this passage is very encouraging to those who turn to Him in repentance and faith, His anger in Exodus 4:14 is a warning to Moses, Egypt, Israel, even all of us.

This is the end of the conversation. The Lord tells Moses how it’s going to go, even revealing that Aaron is already on his way out to meet him (Exodus 4:14). Not only Moses’s weakness (which God would overcome) comes in the providence of God, but even Moses’s wickedness (which God would overlook and atone for, cf. Romans 3:25–26) is accounted for in the marvelous providence of God. 

God isn’t asking Moses to be anything more than a mouth (just as Aaron is going to be his mouth, Exodus 4:15-16) and a stick (like the one in Moses’s own hand, Exodus 4:17). The words are not from the mouth but from the person. The power for the signs is not in the stick. Just so, God Himself is all of the wisdom and the power, and Moses is none of it. 

In the end, the fact that this isn’t really a negotiation is marvelous grace, isn’t it? It seems that if it were up to Moses, he would not be saved at all, not be used at all. But it’s not up to him. Comparatively, in the Exodus, Moses is a mouth and a stick. God alone is the Savior.

How have you been accusing God in your situations? How have you been refusing God in not carrying out your calling? How has God been marvelously gracious in saving you, or in using you, despite your unwillingness?

Sample prayer:  Lord, Yours is all of the glory. Yours is all of the wisdom and the power. To us belongs shame and confusion of face, for we use our weakness as an excuse rather than an opportunity to boast that You are strong. And we groan against what You have called us to do. But to You belongs marvelous grace. Save us by Your grace through the atoning blood of Christ. Sanctify us by Your grace in cleansing us from it. And use us by Your grace for Your merciful, wise, and powerful work in this world, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”


Tuesday, August 24, 2021

2021.08.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Peter 1:3–9

Read 1 Peter 1:3–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the apostle doing unto God in 1 Peter 1:3? What does he call God? What has God done to us? According to what characteristic of His? Through what action of Christ’s? Unto what kind of inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)? What will not happen to it? Where is it reserved? And what keeps believers who are on earth (1 Peter 1:5)? Through what? For what? When will this salvation be revealed? But what can believers already do about it (1 Peter 1:6)? Even though what else may be happening now? What do such events “test by fire” (1 Peter 1:7)? How precious is it? What three things does this genuine faith bring? When? What haven’t we done with Christ (1 Peter 1:8)? Yet, what have we still done with Him? What do we not do with Him now? What are we doing instead? And what does this believing cause us to do—with what kind of joy? What, then, are we already in the process of receiving (1 Peter 1:9)? What is the end of our faith?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration all come from 1 Peter 1:3–9, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Rejoice, Believer, in the Lord

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ… who has begotten us.” God is worthy of praise for all of His perfections and for all of His works, but for the believer, our greatest cause for praise goes to who God is in Himself, because He Who has eternal fellowship within Himself has brought us into that fellowship. 

Before God saved us unto an adoption in which we have Him as Father, He has from all eternity, in Himself, that from which all true fatherhood and sonship springs. The highest reason for the Christian to “greatly rejoice” that we are already receiving salvation is that it is this rejoicing which makes us to praise God. 

“to a living hope.” Jesus’s resurrection means that our hope is alive. His ascension into heaven, where He sits on the throne, means several other things about this hope. It is incorruptible; just as God is the incorruptible God because He is perfect and cannot change at all, let alone become less good, the incorruptibility of our hope means that it can never become less good. 

Our hope is undefiled; just as our High Priest is holy, harmless, and undefiled, so our hope is perfectly pure and holy. It is not a hope for satisfying the fleshly lusts, but for satisfying the holy desires of that new nature that we have by the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. Every pure and right desire of this nature will be abundantly and eternally satisfied.

Our hope is unfading. It is not like the borrowed glory on Moses’s veiled face, which was fading away. It is a participation in the glory of Christ Himself; its intensity and brilliance can never wane or fade. We cannot see it now with eyes of flesh, so we must look upon it through the lens of passages like this, with eyes of faith. Behold your unfading hope!

“who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation.” By the end of 1 Peter 1:9, we find that believers are already receiving the end (goal) of our faith: the salvation of souls. It is this salvation which 1 Peter 1:5 tells us will also be revealed in the last time. We already have it, and we know wonderful things (1 Peter 1:4) about it, but we don’t see it yet. 

Well, there is actually something that helps us to see it more: “various trials.” They grieve us “now for a little while,” but they are also proving the genuineness of our faith. Because our hope is bound up in a resurrected, reigning Christ, the trials can’t destroy our faith but rather prove its imperishable nature. 

Suddenly, we see that for believers, trials are a mechanism by which God shows the true quality of our faith: much more precious than gold. Gold? Even fire does not destroy it but only purifies it, but in the end gold perishes. Faith in Jesus Christ? That’s forever. And when He appears, this will be found to His praise, honor, and glory.

“joy inexpressible and full of glory.” One of the marvelous things about the salvation to come is that faith already enjoys the great part of it: “Jesus Christ, Whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice.” 

Loving Christ and rejoicing over Christ are the essence of faith. Loving Christ and rejoicing over Christ are the great part of our inheritance and our salvation. When trials come, they show us that they cannot separate us from Him Whom we most love, and over Whom we rejoice. If we are already rejoicing with joy inexpressible, what will it be like when we see Him Whom we love and over Whom we rejoice? The thought should ravish the already-inexpressible-rejoicing heart.

Blessed be God indeed!

Through what trials are you going? What are they showing about the quality of your faith?

Sample prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, how glorious You are from all eternity! And yet You have given the Son for us, so that by Your Spirit, we might also know You as our Father in Christ. Forgive us for how often, in our trials, we focus on the trials themselves rather than what they are showing us about Yourself, our inheritance, and the faith that You have given us. Grant that we would so love Jesus, and so rejoice over Him, that even grievous trials would make Him and our faith more precious to us, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP4 “Answer When I Call” or TPH486 “Rejoice, Believer, in the Lord”


Monday, August 23, 2021

Don't Speak in the Hearing of a Fool (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 23:9)

Pastor leads his family in a verse from “the Proverb of the day.” In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that how our words are likely to be received is a factor in considering whether to speak them—particularly that if we are with or near a fool, it is better to keep our mouth shut.
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2021.08.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 22:21–34

Read Luke 22:21–34

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose hand does Christ mention in Luke 22:21? With Whom is it?  Where is it? What does Jesus call Himself in Luke 22:22a? What determines how/where He goes? But what/whom does this predetermination not absolve (verse 22b)? What do they begin to question (Luke 22:23)? Among whom? What else are they doing among themselves (Luke 22:24)? About what? Who knows about these things (Luke 22:25)? About whom does He first speak to them? What do these kings do? With what do they credit their authorities? How should this relate to the dynamic among Christ’s disciples (Luke 22:26)? What must the greatest do? What must someone who governs do? Who is supposed to be greater (Luke 22:27)? But how was Christ, the Greatest, among them? What does Christ now call them (Luke 22:28)? How does He respond to their being brought low with Him—what does He bestow upon them (Luke 22:29)? What was the pattern for this? In what action(s) is their receiving of the kingdom displayed and enjoyed (Luke 22:30)? Whom does the Lord now address in Luke 22:31? Who has asked for him? To do what? But what has countered this (Luke 22:32)? What has Jesus prayed for him? What will he do? What does Peter need to do at that point? What does he now say to the Lord (Luke 22:33)? How does Jesus answer him—what will Peter do before when (Luke 22:34)?

Immediately upon the Lord Jesus presenting Himself as believers’ ultimate provision (Luke 22:19-20), we get a rapid-fire series of examples of how badly we need that provision. 

Betrayal, Luke 22:21-23. Jesus ties the news of the betrayer to the Supper itself with the conjunction “but” (more literally “nevertheless”) at the beginning of Luke 22:21 and by highlighting the betrayer’s hand being on the table. Our potential for such wickedness in the face of such goodness is a very big deal. Even the fact that it comes under the reality of God’s sovereign providence (Luke 22:22a) does not remove the horrific guiltiness that the betrayer bears (verse 22b). And apart from Jesus’s grace, every one of His followers is a potential betrayer (Luke 22:23).

Rivalry, Luke 22:24-30. The Spirit takes us from one dispute in Luke 22:23 to a rather disturbing one in Luke 22:24. The potential Christ-betrayers are arguing about which of them is the greatest. They are acting exactly like the wicked world (Luke 22:25). Each wishes to get to the top, even if it comes at the cost of the others. Christ’s kingdom (Luke 22:16) and kingship (Luke 22:27) are exactly opposite. Again, He draws attention to the table and their need for Him. Their privilege is not in high status but in suffering (Luke 22:28). The way up is the way down, both for Christ (Luke 22:29) and for them (Luke 22:30). And again, the Lord Jesus draws attention to the table.

Arrogance, Luke 22:31-34. The Lord calls him Simon in Luke 22:31, not the strong name, “Rock.” The Lord tells him that Satan himself has asked for him. The Lord tells him that He has prayed for him. Even with that prayer, and what Peter is up against, Jesus tells him that he will stumble and return in Luke 22:32. Peter’s disagreement with Jesus in Luke 22:33 implies greater confidence in himself even than in Jesus’s own prayers. The horrible arrogance! And Jesus basically tells him so (Luke 22:34). Still, just as it’s Jesus Who provides at His own table, so also it is Jesus Who provides for Peter through His prayers (Luke 22:32a) and even provides Peter himself for the strengthening of his brethren (verse 32b). 

Betrayal, rivalry, and arrogance are just three examples of why we desperately need Christ as our sacrifice, Christ as our life and goodness, Christ as our help and Mediator. 

How have you seen your own neediness of Christ? For these needs, how is Christ abundantly sufficient for that need? How has He assured you that He has given Himself to be your sufficiency?

Sample prayer: Lord Jesus, our God and Savior, we praise You for Your perfect covenantal faithfulness, when we are prone to betrayal. We praise You for Your humbly giving Yourself up for us, when we so easily indulge a spirit of rivalry. We praise You for the perfection of Your strength, when we who are weak have only illusions of our own strength. And we praise You most of all that You have made Yourself ours. As You display and do at Your table, give Yourself to us we pray, in Your own Name, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

 

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Glorious, Gracious Fruit of Christian Generosity (2021.08.22 Evening Sermon in Philippians 4:18–20)

True Christian generosity bears the fruit of plenty for God's saints, praise unto God, pleasing God, provision from God for the giver, and parental and perpetual glory unto God.
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The Kind of Person Jesus Saves: Sinners! (2021.08.22 Morning Sermon in Luke 22:21–34)


As soon as Jesus has just instituted the Lord's Supper for giving Himself to us and assuring us of the covenant that He secures by His blood, the Spirit shows us how greatly we need Him and His blood.


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WCF 15.6.1, The Nature and Duty of Private Confession (2021.08.22 Sabbath School in Psalm 32, 51)

Every man is bound to make private confession of his sins to God, praying for the pardon thereof
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Saturday, August 21, 2021

2021.08.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 22:21–34

Read Luke 22:21–34

Questions from the Scripture text: Whose hand does Christ mention in Luke 22:21? With Whom is it?  Where is it? What does Jesus call Himself in Luke 22:22a? What determines how/where He goes? But what/whom does this predetermination not absolve (verse 22b)? What do they begin to question (Luke 22:23)? Among whom? What else are they doing among themselves (Luke 22:24)? About what? Who knows about these things (Luke 22:25)? About whom does He first speak to them? What do these kings do? With what do they credit their authorities? How should this relate to the dynamic among Christ’s disciples (Luke 22:26)? What must the greatest do? What must someone who governs do? Who is supposed to be greater (Luke 22:27)? But how was Christ, the Greatest, among them? What does Christ now call them (Luke 22:28)? How does He respond to their being brought low with Him—what does He bestow upon them (Luke 22:29)? What was the pattern for this? In what action(s) is their receiving of the kingdom displayed and enjoyed (Luke 22:30a, verse 30b)? Whom does the Lord now address in Luke 22:31? Who has asked for him? To do what? But what has countered this (Luke 22:32)? What has Jesus prayed for him? What will he do? What does Peter need to do at that point? What does he now say to the Lord (Luke 22:33)? How does Jesus answer him—what will Peter do before when (Luke 22:34)?

Immediately upon the Lord Jesus presenting Himself as believers’ ultimate provision (Luke 22:19–20), we get a rapid-fire series of examples of how badly we need that provision. 

Betrayal, Luke 22:21-23. Jesus ties the news of the betrayer to the Supper itself with the conjunction “but” (more literally “nevertheless”) at the beginning of Luke 22:21 and by highlighting the betrayer’s hand being on the table. Our potential for such wickedness in the face of such goodness is a very big deal. Even the fact that it comes under the reality of God’s sovereign providence (Luke 22:22a) does not remove the horrific guiltiness that the betrayer bears (verse 22b). And apart from Jesus’s grace, every one of His followers is a potential betrayer (Luke 22:23).

Rivalry, Luke 22:24-30. The Spirit takes us from one dispute in Luke 22:23 to a rather disturbing one in Luke 22:24. The potential Christ-betrayers are arguing about which of them is the greatest. They are acting exactly like the wicked world (Luke 22:25). Each wishes to get to the top, even if it comes at the cost of the others. Christ’s kingdom (Luke 22:16) and kingship (Luke 22:27) are exactly opposite. Again, He draws attention to the table and their need for Him. Their privilege is not in high status but in suffering (Luke 22:28). The way up is the way down, both for Christ (Luke 22:29) and for them (Luke 22:30). And again, the Lord Jesus draws attention to the table.

Arrogance, Luke 22:31-34. The Lord calls him Simon in Luke 22:31, not the strong name, “Rock.” The Lord tells him that Satan himself has asked for him. The Lord tells him that He has prayed for him. Even with that prayer, and what Peter is up against, Jesus tells him that he will stumble and return in Luke 22:32. Peter’s disagreement with Jesus in Luke 22:33 implies greater confidence in himself even than in Jesus’s own prayers. The horrible arrogance! And Jesus basically tells him so (Luke 22:34). Still, just as it’s Jesus Who provides at His own table, so also it is Jesus Who provides for Peter through His prayers (Luke 22:32a) and even provides Peter himself for the strengthening of his brethren (verse 32b). 

Betrayal, rivalry, and arrogance are just three examples of why we desperately need Christ as our sacrifice, Christ as our life and goodness, Christ as our help and Mediator. 

How have you seen your own neediness of Christ? For these needs, how is Christ abundantly sufficient for that need? How has He assured you that He has given Himself to be your sufficiency?

Sample prayer:  Lord Jesus, our God and Savior, we praise You for Your perfect covenantal faithfulness, when we are prone to betrayal. We praise You for Your humbly giving Yourself up for us, when we so easily indulge a spirit of rivalry. We praise You for the perfection of Your strength, when we who are weak have only illusions of our own strength. And we praise You most of all that You have made Yourself ours. As You display and do at Your table, give Yourself to us we pray, in Your own Name, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”


Friday, August 20, 2021

When Wine Wrecks Wisdom (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 20:1)

Pastor leads his family in a verse from “the Proverb of the day.” In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that whether it’s by wine removing our inhibitions so that we become a mockery, or strong drink removing our senses so that it’s like we’ve been knocked out, alcohol can become a means by which we cease to operate in the fear of the Lord, and lose all true wisdom.
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Fruit That Abounds to the Account of Generous Saints (Family Worship lesson in Philippians 4:18–20)

What was that fruit that the apostle was so happy to know that it abounded to the “account” of the Philippians? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Philippians 4:18–20 prepares us for the evening exhortation on the coming Lord’s Day. In these three verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that true Christian generosity bears the fruit of plenty for God’s saints, praise unto God, pleasing God, provision from God for the giver, and parental and perpetual glory unto God.
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2021.08.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:18–20

Read Philippians 4:18–20

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle have (Philippians 4:18)? What is his condition? What has he received from whom? What does he call those things? About Whom does the apostle speak in Philippians 4:19? What will He do? According to what? In what? By Whom? What does the apostle call God in Philippians 4:20? What doxology does he pronounce? For how long? With what affirmation?

The apostle has just stated that his desire is for fruit to abound to the Philippians’ account. What does that fruit look like?

First, it is the praising of God, Philippians 4:18. For Paul, the Philippians' gift was some provision that could be carried in the hand of Epaphroditus. But the language he uses reminds us of other sacrifices, like that of Noah in Genesis 8:21. In both cases, the one who has already received God’s salvation offers up a sweet-smelling sacrifice. But ultimately, all sacrificial giving looks toward and comes from Christ’s own giving “Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma” (Ephesians 5:2). 

It is therefore, secondly, the pleasing of God, Philippians 4:18. We needn’t wonder why God is so pleased, if in our sacrificial giving He sees His beloved Son, with Whom He is everlastingly and infinitely well-pleased (cf. Ephesians 5:2). The Philippians have been imitators of God as dear adopted children (cf. Ephesians 5:1) in whom He sees the character of His only-begotten Son.

This is exactly why, thirdly, it is the provision of God, Philippians 4:19. God has given them sacrificial hearts “according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” He Who provides spiritually will provide materially as well. They may be entering into some distress of their own in Paul’s behalf (Philippians 4:14b), but they have not ultimately put themselves at risk. They are displaying God’s rich provision in both things spiritual and things material.

Finally, it is the parental and perpetual glory of God, Philippians 4:20. To God belongs the glory forever and ever. And one of the ways that He is magnifying that glory is by making believers like the Philippians to reflect that glory. So the apostle adds “and Father” in verse 20 to this statement of His perpetual glory. Like a good son—indeed like the original and eternal Good Son—it is a greater delight to them that their Father be glorified in and by whatever they receive from Him.

When we see what the apostle sees in the Philippians’ gift to him, we’re not at all surprised that he treasures these things far above whatever material gain he got from their giving to him.

Through whose kindness do you have opportunity to praise God’s grace and glory in them? Through what opportunities for generosity might you have the honor of bringing praise to God’s grace and glory?

Sample prayer:  Father, we praise You for the indescribable gift of Your Son, and for His own giving Himself as an offering and sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Forgive us for when we have been so focused on material things that we haven’t seen the spiritual glories of others’ Christian generosity or displayed them in our own generosity. Glorify Christ in us by providing us all that we need according to Your riches in glory by Christ Jesus, so that in His glory You also will be glorified, our God and Father, forever and ever, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23 “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH538 “Take My Life and Let it Be”


Thursday, August 19, 2021

God's Kingdom Established by His Graciousness, Not Our "Greatness" (Family Worship lesson in 2Samuel 20)

When 2Samuel 20 ends like 2Samuel 8, what point is the Spirit making? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 20 prepares us for the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-six verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God’s kingdom is established not by our greatness, but by His gracious overruling our foolishness and sin—and that the King Whom we must ultimately have in family, church, and nation is none other than King Jesus.
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2021.08.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 20

Read 2 Samuel 20

Questions from the Scripture text: What kind of man does 2 Samuel 20:1 introduce? What is his name and tribe? What does he do? What does he say? What effect does this have upon whom (2 Samuel 20:2a)? What do the men of Judah do (verse 2b)? To where does David finally return in 2 Samuel 20:3? Who is still there? What does he do for them, but how do they end up? What does the king ask of whom in 2 Samuel 20:4? How does Amasa do (2 Samuel 20:5)? Whom does David have to ask instead (2 Samuel 20:6)? But who’s really running the operation (2 Samuel 20:7)? Whom does he take to do what? Whom do they meet where in 2 Samuel 20:8? What does Joab conveniently (and clandestinely) have on him? How does he speak to Amasa, and what does he do (2 Samuel 20:9)? What does Amasa miss (2 Samuel 20:10)? But what doesn’t it miss? What do Joab and Abishai go to do? Who else does what in 2 Samuel 20:11? Why doesn’t anyone go with them (2 Samuel 20:12)? What does Joab’s man do? With what result (2 Samuel 20:13)? Where does Joab gather men (2 Samuel 20:14)? Where do they trap Sheba (2 Samuel 20:15)? What are they about to do to the city? But who cries out (2 Samuel 20:16)? What does she want (2 Samuel 20:17)? What does she claim about the city (2 Samuel 20:18)? What does she accuse Joab of being about to do (2 Samuel 20:19)? What effect does this have upon Joab (2 Samuel 20:20)? What does he explain, and for what does he ask (2 Samuel 20:21)? What does the woman promise? Whom does the woman convince in 2 Samuel 20:22? With what results? Where/to whom does Joab return? What is finally reestablished (2 Samuel 20:23-25; cf. 2 Samuel 8:15–18)?

Things are “back to normal” in Israel—which means that before David even gets home (2 Samuel 20:3a), a Benjamite rebel has already turned the other tribes back against him (2 Samuel 20:1-2). So much for what David had done with Shimei and Ziba to retain the Israelites. And the concubines’ lives have been destroyed (2 Samuel 20:3b). So much for leaving them behind to keep the house. And Amasa, whom he retained to pacify Judah, turns out to be a horrible general (2 Samuel 20:4-5) and easy prey for Joab (2 Samuel 20:8-10). So much for David’s attempt to retain Amasa as general, or even just Abishai (2 Samuel 20:6)—apparently, he’d have preferred anyone to Joab. So much for that.

When Joab has finished reclaiming his position (2 Samuel 20:11-13), he corners Sheba in a city (2 Samuel 20:14-15) where a crafty woman negotiates his head as the price for the city’s sparing (2 Samuel 20:16-21) and convinces the people to pay up (2 Samuel 20:22). 

Yet, the summary in 2 Samuel 20:23-25 is very “normal” (cf. 2 Samuel 8:16–18). David is firmly reestablished. But we can see by how we got here that it is God alone to whom that establishing ultimately belongs. This is not at all a demonstration that David is great, but rather entirely a demonstration that God is gracious. We know that David is the king that God has given, but we also see rather clearly that we need God to give an infinitely better king than this one. Israel needs (and we need) King Jesus!

Whom does your nation need as King? Whom does your church need? Whom does your household need? In each of these spheres, how do we honor Him already as King? When will that kingship be ultimately fulfilled? What will that be like? Who is in control until then?

Sample prayer: Our Lord, we praise You for Your power and wisdom and goodness! You rule and overrule all things for Your glory and our good. But so many authorities are weak and wicked. Forgive us when we are those authorities, and forgive us for when we despair over others who are like that. Grant unto us to be courageous and wise and good with whatever authority You give us. Make us submissive to You in obedience to Your Word. And as we look forward to Your blessed and everlasting reign in the new heavens and earth, grant unto us to bear up cheerfully under whatever You bring us through to get us there. For we ask it in the Name of King Jesus, AMEN!

Suggested Songs: ARP72A “God Give Your Judgments to the King” or TPH72A “O God, Your Judgments Give the King”


Wednesday, August 18, 2021

In Corporate Worship, We Have Our One Defense and Desire (2021.08.18 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 27)

When the Lord is our singular defense and desire, we ought to be more content to be “alone” in the battles of our lives than in the worship of God. His Word teaches a preference of public worship over private both for delighting in Him and for being directed by Him.
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God's Gracious Reminders to a Doubting Saint (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 4:1–9)

How did God respond when Moses doubted His Word? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Exodus 4:1–9 prepares us for the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these nine verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God is patient and gracious, and when we doubt Him we need to be reminded that we deserve Hell, that the most dangerous thing is to disobey Him, that true safety comes not from any place or circumstance but from the Lord Himself, and that He is the Giver of all life and goodness.
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2021.08.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 4:1–9

Read Exodus 4:1–9

Questions from the Scripture text: After Yahweh told him that the people would heed his voice (cf. Exodus 3:18), what objection does Moses raise anyway (Exodus 4:1)? With what question does Yahweh respond (Exodus 4:2)? What does Moses answer? What does Yahweh tell him to do with it (Exodus 4:3)? What happens to it? What then does Moses do? Then what does Yahweh tell Moses to do (Exodus 4:4)? By what end? Why would this ordinarily be a bad idea? But what happens to it? How does Exodus 4:5 complete the statement about the rod? Now what does Yahweh say to do in Exodus 4:6? What happens to Moses’s hand? And what does He say to do in Exodus 4:7? Now what happens to it? What does Yahweh give as the reason for two signs (Exodus 4:8)? But what must he do if they still don’t believe (Exodus 4:9)? 

God’s interaction with Moses continues to display Him as marvelously gracious. Certainly, He does not tolerate sin; in fact, He’s about to judge Egypt and Canaan for it. But, at the beginnings of His dealings with Moses, He is emphasizing His grace to His chosen prophet.

A glimpse of what we deserveExodus 4:3. Horribly, Moses suggests that God may be mistaken; Exodus 4:1 directly contradicts Exodus 3:18a. So, when the holy God before Whom Moses stands barefoot creates a supernatural serpent, we understand why Moses would be terrified. Of course, if the serpent is judgment from God, fleeing in that terror doesn’t make much sense. How can you escape God’s punishment?

The unsafety of disobedienceExodus 4:4. You don’t have to be a herpetologist to know that the tail is the worst place to grab a venomous snake. But at this point, there is something even more dangerous than grabbing a supernatural, venomous snake by the tail—disobeying Yahweh is far more dangerous! And the Lord affirms this by turning the snake back into a rod as soon as Moses obeys. Like grabbing the snake by the tail, there are many commandments of God that feel counterintuitive to our flesh, but they are the path of safety and blessedness: Sabbath-keeping, generosity, love for enemies, submission to imperfect authorities, preaching the truth about guilt and Hell, etc. But whatever God commands is whatever is wisest and safest, simply because He commands it! He is indeed our merciful, covenant God (Exodus 4:5).

The unsafety of ourselvesExodus 4:6. Just as there’s ordinarily no more dangerous place to put your hand than the tail of a venomous serpent, there’s ordinarily no safer place to put your hand than in your bosom. But now Yahweh shows him that we ourselves are not even safe to ourselves. Moses’s hand becomes leprous in his bosom (verse 6). But again, God Himself is what makes even this safe—not only safe but even restorative, as the same action heals his hand when God commands it in Exodus 4:7

The ultimate power of GodExodus 4:8-9. Yahweh now gives Moses a sign that he doesn’t get to “test drive” like the others. This may be in part because it is very specific to the river of Egypt, the Nile. For good reason, Egyptians (and others) considered that their own lives were given to them by the Nile, but the third sign takes what they thought was the god of their lives and turns it into the blood of death. 

How have you doubted the Lord’s promises or resisted His commands? How do the reminders in this passage help you?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are the all-glorious God from Whom we receive all our life. In Your Son, our Lord Jesus, all Your promises are “yes” and “amen.” Forgive us for when we have balked at obedience because we did not trust you for the outcome. But You, O God, have not spared Your own Son, but given Him up for us; and, together with Him, You are freely giving us all things! Keep us from trusting in ourselves, or in Your good gifts, instead of in You and Your goodness. Shower that goodness upon us, we pray, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH483 “Loved with Everlasting Love”


Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Authority and Economics When All Is Christ's (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 16:10–15)

Pastor leads his family in six verses from “the Proverb of the day.” In this Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that because all authority is Christ’s, those who have it must rule in submission to Him, and those who are under it must be ruled in submission to Christ; and, because all property is God’s, and the means of gaining it appointed by Him, we must honor Him with all our property and economic dealings.
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Dealing Well with Distress by Meditating upon Predestination (Family Worship lesson in Psalm 4:3–8)

What are the dangers when we are distressed, and how should we deal with them? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Psalm 4:3–8 prepares us for the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when we are in distress, we are in danger of fuming anger, unbelieving scheming, and ungrateful despair; but the Lord has granted unto us to deal with these by meditating upon the sweet doctrine of predestination.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.08.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 4:3–8

Read Psalm 4:3–8

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom has the Lord set apart (Psalm 4:3a)? For Whom? Who hears when David calls to Him (verse 3b)? What does this enable David to do without sinning (Psalm 4:4a)? Where/how does he practice this calling upon the Lord (verse 4b)? With what effect? What does he offer to the Lord (Psalm 4:5a)? What is one way that he “offers the sacrifices of righteousness” (verse 5b)? What do many say (Psalm 4:6a–b)? To Whom does David look for good (verse 6c)? How does he ask Him for that good? What has the Lord done to make David glad (Psalm 4:7a)? Whose gladness couldn’t compare to this, and even under what circumstances (verse 7b)? As David completes this meditation (cf. Psalm 4:4b), what is he able to do (Psalm 4:8a)? Why; what has he concluded (verse 8b)?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Psalm 4:3–8, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with On the Good and Faithful

The psalmist (David) is in distress (Psalm 4:1), and under the attack of others. In Psalm 4:3, he establishes a foundation against three types of wrong response to our distresses: fuming (Psalm 4:4), unbelief (Psalm 4:5), and despair (Psalm 4:6). 

How firm a foundation! Psalm 4:3Psalm 4:8. If the godly got that way because Yahweh chose them for Himself (Psalm 4:3a), then their safety (Psalm 4:8b) and happiness are unstoppably secure. Something that began in the Creator cannot be undone by anything in the creation. This is peace in which you can sleep easy (verse 8a). So, when this is your foundation, instead of responding in the ways that Psalm 4:4-6 warn against, you can just call upon Yahweh (Psalm 4:3b) and tap into great, circumstance-independent joy (Psalm 4:6-7).

Watch out for fumingPsalm 4:4. Sometimes in our distress, we can get consumed with fuming. You’ll know it’s happening when you’ve lain down to sleep, but your mind is just full of all the stuff you’re upset about, or would like to say to the people involved, or even do to the people involved. But when you’re on your bed is the perfect time to call upon Yahweh (Psalm 4:3b); you can just speak to Him in your heart and then be quiet (Psalm 4:4b). Knowing His nearness helps put the “not sinning” into our being angry (verse 4a).

Watch out for unbeliefPsalm 4:5. When we’re in distress, there’s the temptation to obsessively plan our path out. There’s nothing wrong with careful consideration of what is best, but trusting Yahweh (verse 5b) gives us the aim of such consideration: whatever is righteous. If we realize that our behavior is really a form of life-as-worship unto Him, because He is the One in Whose perfectly reliable hands we rest anyway, then that changes the goal. No longer are we frantically trying to make the situation resolve. Instead, we are offering righteousness to Him Whom we know will perfectly resolve it.

Watch out for despairPsalm 4:6. Distressing situations in life can be very intense, and even long and drawn out. In such a situation we can be tempted to ask, “Who will show us any good?” We can even begin to have a negative attitude about anything good that Providence brings into the situation. But if the Lord is our sure hope, then we have reason for gladness: the light of His face (verse 6c) puts gladness into our hearts (Psalm 4:7a). The wicked’s very best circumstances actually have less cause for joy in them than the godly’s very worst circumstances (verse 7b)!

So in our distress, let us cry out to the God of our righteousness and have peace and joy, rather than fuming, unbelief, or despair.

What distress have you been in? How does following this Psalm change your approach to it?

Sample prayer: O God of our righteousness, You alone make us to dwell in safety. And we know that You will, because You have saved us for Yourself. Forgive us for when we have been unmindful of You as we obsessed about circumstances. Grant that our hearts would always be lifted up to You, and that they would be full of gladness from the light of Your face, which we ask through Jesus, in Whom You have everlastingly smiled upon us, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP4 “Answer When I Call” or TPH484 “On the Good and Faithful”


Monday, August 16, 2021

How Treasuring Christ Increases Thankfulness for and to One Another (2021.08.15 Evening Sermon in Philippians 4:14–17)

The fact that the apostle would have been content without the Philppians’ gift didn’t make him less thankful for the gift or for them, but on the contrary much more thankful! This is because his contentment comes from treasuring Christ above all, and the gift was evidence of the work of Christ in them, a reminder of the fellowship in Christ that they shared, and a means by which the gospel of Christ would advance and the glory of Christ in them would be displayed.
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Why Our Lord Fervently Desired the Last Passover, the First Lord's Supper (2021.08.15 Morning Sermon in Luke 22:8–20)


The Lord Jesus fervently desired this meal because He was eager for fellowship with us, eager to give Himself to us, eager to secure for us (and assure us of) all of the blessings of the new covenant, and eager to establish for His church the weekly meal of the Lord's Supper in which they might enjoy this fellowship, provision, and security from Him.

(click audio title within player for a page where you can download video/mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

WCF 15.3.5, Specific Repentance from Specific Sin (2021.08.15 Sabbath School in Psalm 19, Luke 19:1–10, and 1Timothy 1:12–17)

Scripture shows us that dealing with the Lord personally and genuinely means that we must repent specifically of specific sins.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.08.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 22:8–20

Read Luke 22:8–20

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does the Lord Jesus send to do what in Luke 22:8? What do they ask (Luke 22:9)? How does Jesus identify the house in Luke 22:10? What are they to say, to whom, there (Luke 22:11)? What will the man do (Luke 22:12)? How do things turn out (Luke 22:13)? What do Peter and John do? What has come in Luke 22:14? Who do what? What does Jesus say He has desired to do (Luke 22:15)? Before what? What does the word “this” indicate? What will He no longer do (Luke 22:16)? Until what? What does He take in Luke 22:17? Then what does He do? And, then, what does He tell them to do? Why (Luke 22:18)? What won’t He do until when? What does He take in Luke 22:19? Then what does He do? And, then, what does He do to it? To whom does He give it? What does He say to them? When does Luke 22:20 take place? What does He take? What does it have in it at this point (cf. Luke 22:17)? What does He call the cup?

How much our Lord wishes to have fellowship with us, to provide for us, and to secure us! This is the emphasis in Luke’s account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Of all of the evangelists, Luke is the one whom the Holy Spirit carries along to tell us that “He said to them, with fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). 

The fervent desire of Christ conditions how we read the Lukan account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. This also helps us understand the reasoning for the mysterious directions in Luke 22:10-12. Yes, the Spirit could have mediated unto Christ divine knowledge, but in the context, it is clear that Judas is already looking for a private moment in which to betray Christ (cf. Luke 21:38, Luke 22:2, Luke 22:6). If Judas knew beforehand where this would be, the arrest might interrupt the meal. But Jesus is eager to enjoy the meal for the following reasons…

Our Lord fervently desired this final fellowship with His disciples. John will tell us that “having loved His own, He loved them to the end” (cf. John 13:1), but of the others, only Luke records Jesus saying “that we” may eat (Luke 22:8). This highlights to us the “with you” in Luke 22:15. He then explains that He will no longer eat of it until its fulfillment. The administration of Moses is coming to an end; His death (“suffer” in verse 15) will bring in “the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16Luke 22:18). 

Jesus is a true Man, assigned by providence to a specific group of friends who have become His family. In a couple hours’ time His agonized praying in the garden will display some of the strongest emotions that we see in Him in the gospels. And we see Him here desiring to love His own, and even to draw that right and natural strength that God gives us by fellowship with others. His suffering is before Him, and He wishes to go to it with freshly renewed love for those for whom He is dying. We will hear in His prayer later on, that this includes all true believers from all subsequent ages (cf. John 17:20). 

Our Lord also fervently desired to make provision for us. By this time, the Jews had added many traditions to the Scriptural meal to make what is known as the seder. But what they had done without divine warrant, the Lord Jesus had liberty and authority to do. One of the things that had been added was that, at every part of the meal, the head of the household would describe the significance of what was about to be taken. So, it is not surprising that Jesus gives a meaning to the two parts of the meal that we have in our passage.

When instead of saying “this is the unleavened bread that was eaten on the night of the Passover,” He says “this is My body which is given for you,” the disciples understand what He is saying and doing. They do not perhaps yet understand what is coming before they have another supper, but they no more think that the bread has been changed to Jesus’s flesh than they would otherwise have thought that somehow the bread from the night of the Exodus had been transported through time. 

The Lord Jesus twice denies Himself to give. Ordinarily in the seder, each would have their own cup, and at four different times during the meal, the head of the table would direct them to drink. But even after expressing His fervent desire for the meal, He denies Himself the contents of His cup in order that the disciples can have it instead (Luke 22:17). In Luke 22:19, He denies Himself the benefits of His own body so that His disciples instead could have that benefit (verse 19). And in Luke 22:20, though the covenant is in His blood, the blessings that His blood secures are for them. Our Lord gives all that He is for all that His disciples need.

Indeed, even though in Him we have all, we are often forgetful of Him and of the fact that He is our all. So the command to come to the table is itself part of His provision. “Do this in remembrance of Me.” There are many things that the Scripture teaches that must be proclaimed in preaching, and in the midst of them, we may become forgetful that Christ Himself is the provision for all that need. But He accommodates our weakness in the supper as He distributes Himself to our faith and commands us that the distribution of the bread would be in remembrance that He gives Himself both for us and to us.

Finally, our Lord fervently desired to secure all the covenant blessings for us. Matthew and Mark refer to the cup as Jesus’s blood of the new covenant, but Luke here refers to the covenant as “the new covenant in My blood.” 

That is to say that all of the blessings of Jeremiah 31 are being secured by this blood: its unbreakable character (cf. Jeremiah 31:32, Jeremiah 31:35–37), the new nature given to their minds and hearts (cf. Jeremiah 31:33), the personal knowledge that each will have of Yahweh Himself (cf. Jeremiah 31:34a), and especially the removal of the iniquity and sin that would otherwise make such relational knowledge impossible (cf. verse 34b).

Now in Luke 22:20 of our passage, Luke tells us that all of these blessings of the new covenant are blessings that belong to a covenant that is in Jesus’s blood. He personally gives up His own life, and suffers the wrath of God due to our sin, so that we may enjoy all of these other blessings!

Why did the Lord so fervently desire to eat this meal that He resorted to subterfuge in how it was set up? Because He was eager for fellowship with us, eager to give Himself to us, and eager to secure for us (and assure us of) all of the blessings of the new covenant. AND, as we now know, especially to establish this meal for all of those reasons for us who partake together Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day, some two thousand years later. 

What does the Lord Jesus fervently desire for you, week by week, if you are a believer? If you are not, what ought you expect for yourself instead? How should your desires at His table match His? What sort of preparation, partaking, and reflection would such desire produce? 

Sample prayer: Our Lord Jesus, we praise You Who are very God of very God, for You have redeemed us by Your blood and gained every blessing of the New Covenant for us. Forgive us for how cold-heartedly we have come to Your table, when You have so warm-heartedly urged us unto it. And, grant that our experience of You at Your table would be according to all of Your holy and merciful desires, which we ask by the merits of Your own shed blood, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH196 “At the Lamb’s High Feast”


Saturday, August 14, 2021

2021.08.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 22:8–20

Read Luke 22:8–20

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does the Lord Jesus send to do what in Luke 22:8? What do they ask (Luke 22:9)? How does Jesus identify the house in Luke 22:10? What are they to say, to whom, there (Luke 22:11)? What will the man do (Luke 22:12)? How do things turn out (Luke 22:13)? What do Peter and John do? What has come in Luke 22:14? Who do what? What does Jesus say He has desired to do (Luke 22:15)? Before what? What does the word “this” indicate? What will He no longer do (Luke 22:16)? Until what? What does He take in Luke 22:17? Then what does He do? And, then, what does He tell them to do? Why (Luke 22:18)? What won’t He do until when? What does He take in Luke 22:19? Then what does He do? And, then, what does He do to it? To whom does He give it? What does He say to them? When does Luke 22:20 take place? What does He take? What does it have in it at this point (cf. Luke 22:17)? What does He call the cup?

How much our Lord wishes to have fellowship with us, to provide for us, and to secure us! This is the emphasis in Luke’s account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Of all of the evangelists, Luke is the one whom the Holy Spirit carries along to tell us that “He said to them, with fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer” (Luke 22:15). 

The fervent desire of Christ conditions how we read the Lukan account of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. This also helps us understand the reasoning for the mysterious directions in Luke 22:10-12. Yes, the Spirit could have mediated unto Christ divine knowledge, but in the context, it is clear that Judas is already looking for a private moment in which to betray Christ (cf. Luke 21:38Luke 22:2Luke 22:6). If Judas knew beforehand where this would be, the arrest might interrupt the meal. But Jesus is eager to enjoy the meal for the following reasons…

Our Lord fervently desired this final fellowship with His disciples. John will tell us that “having loved His own, He loved them to the end” (cf. John 13:1), but of the others, only Luke records Jesus saying “that we” may eat (Luke 22:8). This highlights to us the “with you” in Luke 22:15. He then explains that He will no longer eat of it until its fulfillment. The administration of Moses is coming to an end; His death (“suffer” in verse 15) will bring in “the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16Luke 22:18). 

Jesus is a true Man, assigned by providence to a specific group of friends who have become His family. In a couple hours’ time His agonized praying in the garden will display some of the strongest emotions that we see in Him in the gospels. And we see Him here desiring to love His own, and even to draw that right and natural strength that God gives us by fellowship with others. His suffering is before Him, and He wishes to go to it with freshly renewed love for those for whom He is dying. We will hear in His prayer later on, that this includes all true believers from all subsequent ages (cf. John 17:20). 

Our Lord also fervently desired to make provision for us. By this time, the Jews had added many traditions to the Scriptural meal to make what is known as the seder. But what they had done without divine warrant, the Lord Jesus had liberty and authority to do. One of the things that had been added was that, at every part of the meal, the head of the household would describe the significance of what was about to be taken. So, it is not surprising that Jesus gives a meaning to the two parts of the meal that we have in our passage.

When instead of saying “this is the unleavened bread that was eaten on the night of the Passover,” He says “this is My body which is given for you,” the disciples understand what He is saying and doing. They do not perhaps yet understand what is coming before they have another supper, but they no more think that the bread has been changed to Jesus’s flesh than they would otherwise have thought that somehow the bread from the night of the Exodus had been transported through time. 

The Lord Jesus twice denies Himself to give. Ordinarily in the seder, each would have their own cup, and at four different times during the meal, the head of the table would direct them to drink. But even after expressing His fervent desire for the meal, He denies Himself the contents of His cup in order that the disciples can have it instead (Luke 22:17). In Luke 22:19, He denies Himself the benefits of His own body so that His disciples instead could have that benefit (verse 19). And in Luke 22:20, though the covenant is in His blood, the blessings that His blood secures are for them. Our Lord gives all that He is for all that His disciples need.

Indeed, even though in Him we have all, we are often forgetful of Him and of the fact that He is our all. So the command to come to the table is itself part of His provision. “Do this in remembrance of Me.” There are many things that the Scripture teaches that must be proclaimed in preaching, and in the midst of them, we may become forgetful that Christ Himself is the provision for all that need. But He accommodates our weakness in the supper as He distributes Himself to our faith and commands us that the distribution of the bread would be in remembrance that He gives Himself both for us and to us.

Finally, our Lord fervently desired to secure all the covenant blessings for us. Matthew and Mark refer to the cup as Jesus’s blood of the new covenant, but Luke here refers to the covenant as “the new covenant in My blood.” 

That is to say that all of the blessings of Jeremiah 31 are being secured by this blood: its unbreakable character (cf. Jeremiah 31:32Jeremiah 31:35-37), the new nature given to their minds and hearts (cf. Jeremiah 31:33), the personal knowledge that each will have of Yahweh Himself (cf. Jeremiah 31:34a), and especially the removal of the iniquity and sin that would otherwise make such relational knowledge impossible (cf. verse 34b).

Now in Luke 22:20 of our passage, Luke tells us that all of these blessings of the new covenant are blessings that belong to a covenant that is in Jesus’s blood. He personally gives up His own life, and suffers the wrath of God due to our sin, so that we may enjoy all of these other blessings!

Why did the Lord so fervently desire to eat this meal that He resorted to subterfuge in how it was set up? Because He was eager for fellowship with us, eager to give Himself to us, and eager to secure for us (and assure us of) all of the blessings of the new covenant. AND, as we now know, especially to establish this meal for all of those reasons for us who partake together Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day, some two thousand years later.

What does the Lord Jesus fervently desire for you, week by week, if you are a believer? If you are not, what ought you expect for yourself instead? How should your desires at His table match His? What sort of preparation, partaking, and reflection would such desire produce?

Sample prayer:  Our Lord Jesus, we praise You Who are very God of very God, for You have redeemed us by Your blood and gained every blessing of the New Covenant for us. Forgive us for how cold-heartedly we have come to Your table, when You have so warm-heartedly urged us unto it. And, grant that our experience of You at Your table would be according to all of Your holy and merciful desires, which we ask by the merits of Your own shed blood, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH196 “At the Lamb’s High Feast”