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, 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”

Friday, August 13, 2021

How to Multiply Your Thankfulness by Infinity (Family Worship lesson in Philippians 4:14–17)

Is a thank-you still a thank-you if you were content without the gift? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Philippians 4:14–17 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord's Day. In these four verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us how the contentment that comes from treasuring Christ above all makes our thankfulness for Christians' generosity not less but infinitely greater.
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2021.08.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:14–17

Read Philippians 4:14–17

Questions from the Scripture text: How have the Philippians done (Philippians 4:14)? By doing what? To what time does the apostle refer in Philippians 4:15? What had he done then? What were the Philippians the only ones to do at that time? To where else had they done this (Philippians 4:16)? How often? What doesn’t the apostle seek (Philippians 4:17)? What does the apostle seek?

When Christ means more and more to us, and material things mean less and less to us, we might unintentionally communicate that we are not so grateful for those material things that we do receive from others. The apostle seems aware of this, when he begins Philippians 4:14, “Nevertheless.” 

But if material things are less valuable, then Christian generosity is not less but rather all the more valuable; for, Christian generosity is a spiritual thing! “You have done good,” the apostle tells the Philippians (verse 14a). “You had fellowship together” now with my distress (verse 14b) just as you had done in the giving and receiving in my evangelistic mission (Philippians 4:15). And in between that “beginning of the gospel” way back when, and the recent distress, have been other times when they seized the opportunity (Philippians 4:16, cf. Philippians 4:10) to give.

So, they have done well to have fellowship. The apostle doesn’t say anything about what the gift was, or how much, or what it was used for. He stresses their doing good. He stresses their fellowship with him. The importance of the material gift (Philippians 4:17a) pales in comparison to the importance of the spiritual fruit that comes from it, and with which they will be credited (verse 17b).

So the Philippians’ gifts were not made smaller to Paul by his contentment in Christ, but rather greater. Their gifts were gifts from the Christ with Whom he was content. They themselves were gifts from the Christ with Whom he was content. The generosity that they displayed was a work within them of the Christ with Whom he was content. And the measure of these things would increase, as that Christ did more work through them, as a result of the work that He has done in them.

So, let us never allow increasing contentment apart from material things to twist itself into ingratitude for the generosity either of our Lord or of other believers. For, the more that Christ means to us, the more that the generosity itself ought to impress us, regardless of its content or quantity. And that is cause for gratitude to Him, to them, and to Him in their behalf.

How have others been generous with you? How have you had opportunity to be generous to others? How can you foster appreciation for the spiritual nature of that generosity? How can you communicate that appreciation in a way that focuses upon its spiritual character?

Sample prayer:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, You are a God Who are sufficient and abundant in Yourself. You are the Giver of all good gifts, and Your creatures are all receivers. Forgive us for whenever we are discontented, or when we overlook the displays of Your goodness and grace in others or to ourselves. Thank You for what we have seen of others’ generosity, as You reproduce Your own likeness in them. Increase our own generosity, and our own gratitude, we ask through Him Who is Your greatest gift—Yourself in the Person of our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32B “Instruction, I Will Give to You” or TPH173 “Almighty God, Your Word”


Thursday, August 12, 2021

God’s World and Our Work (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 12:10–11)

Pastor leads his family in two verses from “the Proverb of the day.” When we love God with all our heart, His Word shapes how we treat everyone in His world as in His image and everything in His world as His creatures. But those who love not God, even if they seem to love, it has cruelty underneath which can easily spill over onto the surface. Because a life lived in empty things exposes an empty heart, it is merciful of God to give His dear ones incentive to work not only in the increased food that is gained but in the increased enjoyment of what is gained.
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The Spirit's Prescription for When You're Falsely Accused (2021.08.11 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 26)

When we are falsely accused, let us set before ourselves the LORD as all our confidence and all our desire, so that we will walk with integrity from the assemblies of the godly in this life to that great assembly of the godly in that to come.
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When "Back to Normal" Shows How Badly We Need Christ as King (Family Worship lesson in 2Samuel 19:9–43)

What does it look like when the Absalom threat is eliminated and Israel gets “back to normal”? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 2Samuel 19:9–43 prepares us for the second serial reading in the morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty-five verses, the Holy Spirit shows us how much sin corrupts us and our relationships, so that much contrition and humility and wisdom and contentment are needed, but what is needed most of all is the full and final reign of King Jesus.
(click audio title within player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.08.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 19:9–43

Read 2 Samuel 19:9–43

Questions from the Scripture text: Who were in a dispute over what (2 Samuel 19:9)? Why didn’t they think that David was still king? Who had anointed whom instead (2 Samuel 19:10)? But what had happened to him? Whom did they think should do what? Whom does David send to whom in 2 Samuel 19:11? What does he challenge them about? What does he call them, to reinforce this challenge, in 2 Samuel 19:12? Whom does he specifically address in 2 Samuel 19:13 (cf. 2 Samuel 17:25)? What possible objection from Amasa does David attempt to remove here? What effect do David’s words have upon the men of Judah (2 Samuel 19:14)? What word do they send back? How far has the king come in 2 Samuel 19:15? Who meet him there to do what? Who else meets him there (2 Samuel 19:16, cf. 2 Samuel 16:5–13)? Whom did he bring with him (2 Samuel 19:17, cf. 2 Samuel 9:10, 2 Samuel 16:1–4)? How does Shimei now act (2 Samuel 19:18)? How does he speak about his former actions (2 Samuel 19:19-20)? Who picks up his previous line of reasoning in 2 Samuel 19:21 (cf. 2 Samuel 16:9)? How does David answer (2 Samuel 19:22, cf. 2 Samuel 16:10)? What is David’s response in 2 Samuel 19:23? Who arrives in 2 Samuel 19:24? What does he look like at this point? What does David ask in 2 Samuel 19:25? What had Ziba said to him (2 Samuel 19:26)? But what had Ziba done instead (2 Samuel 19:27, cf. 2 Samuel 16:1–4)? What does Mephibosheth propose? Why (2 Samuel 19:28)? What does David decide (2 Samuel 19:29)? What does Mephibosheth counter-propose (2 Samuel 19:30)? Who appears in 2 Samuel 19:31 (cf. 2 Samuel 17:27–29)? What more do we learn about him in 2 Samuel 19:32? What does David invite him to do (2 Samuel 19:33)? Why does Barzillai object (2 Samuel 19:34-36)? What does he ask for instead (2 Samuel 19:37)? How does David respond (2 Samuel 19:38)? What does he do to Barzillai after they cross (2 Samuel 19:39)? Who are with the king now (2 Samuel 19:40)? Who else come, and what to they do, in 2 Samuel 19:41? How do the men of Judah answer (2 Samuel 19:42)? Then how do the men of Israel answer (2 Samuel 19:43)? What claims do they make? What ends up outweighing these claims?

Now that the Absalom threat has been eliminated, what is the restored kingdom like? In a word, it’s messy. The passage begins with uncertainty about acknowledging David as king (2 Samuel 19:9-10) and ends with a near-war over who acknowledges him first or most (2 Samuel 19:43). And this is the “stable” version of the kingdom at this point!

The unrest on the macro scale is reflected in multiple situations and details on the micro scale. The encounters with Shimei, Mephibosheth, and Barzillai demonstrate that “back to normal” for David and the kingdom does not mean “back to simple” for David and the kingdom. Whether with the church in general, in a believer’s life specifically, it seems that Providence is continually underlining our need of depending upon grace.

First, on the macro scale, David knows that he must get Judah back, but a bunch of Judah has been led by Amasa under Abasalom. So, David sways their hearts by pointing out that they’re in danger missing their chance to take the lead here, too, under the same chain of command (2 Samuel 19:11-14).

Once the royal procession is in place, Shimei (2 Samuel 19:16) shows up, of stone-and-curse-hurling fame (cf. 2 Samuel 16:5–13). So much for Ziba’s professed loyalty (cf. 2 Samuel 16:1–4). When Shimei rounds up a thousand formerly Absalom-supporting Benjamites as a peace offering, 3.6% of them are Ziba and his household (2 Samuel 19:17). Abishai continues to fiercely support the king (2 Samuel 19:21, cf. 2 Samuel 16:9), which continues to be a thorn in David’s side (2 Samuel 19:22, cf. 2 Samuel 16:10). Confession is made (2 Samuel 19:19-20), conflict is averted (2 Samuel 19:23), and a thousand Benjamites are added to the fold.

Mephibosheth is able to get there this time, with the kind of grooming faux-pas that can’t be reproduced in a hurry (2 Samuel 19:24), exposing David’s previously hasty judgment in giving treacherous Ziba his possessions. Unjust redistribution of wealth is a governmental hallmark among fallible men! It continues to be so for David, who only gives Mephibosheth back half in 2 Samuel 19:29.

But it is exactly against the backdrop of all the mess that the grace of God in His people shines most brightly. Mephibosheth gives his half back (2 Samuel 19:30). His needs are taken care of at David’s table (cf. 2 Samuel 9:13), and his desire and delight are fulfilled in David’s restoration (2 Samuel 19:30). And while others are jostling for a piece of the restored king (2 Samuel 19:43a), Barzillai is content to see the king restored (2 Samuel 19:31) and go home in peace (2 Samuel 19:372 Samuel 19:39). When God raises for us reminders of what we would be like apart from grace, every little bit of commitment to Him and contentment in Him becomes a reminder of His amazing grace to us and in us.

And that’s the real story on the macro level as well. Absalom has been put down, but the kingdom can’t operate on auto-pilot. It needs constant protection and preservation by the grace of God. One day, the forever-King will return, and the last vestiges of even His people’s internal sinfulness will have been eliminated. But until then, we must continually look to Him for grace, depend upon Him for grace, and praise Him for that grace (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:8–10).

In what ways has your own life, or the life of the church, recently demonstrated the need for protecting and preserving grace? In what ways have commitment or contentment shown through to demonstrate that God is continually giving that grace? How have you thanked Him for it?

Sample prayer: Our gracious God and heavenly Father, although You have already defeated the devil, his opposition remains strong in the world, and even in many ways from within the church and from the remaining sinfulness in our own hearts. But Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory! Thy kingdom come in our hearts and lives. Thy kingdom come in Your church. Thy kindgom come in the entire world! Give us grace to be so content with You that You by Yourself are enough for our peace and joy. And, wherever we see such contentment in ourselves and others, make us to praise Your grace for it, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

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

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

The Insecurity of Being Someone Else's Security (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 11:15)

Pastor leads his family in a verse from “the Proverb of the day.” Main idea: Being security to back up someone else’s promises, and especially someone that we don’t even know, puts us in a place that we don’t belong, promising to do something that we do not have a proper, reasonable expectation of being able to fulfill.
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Characteristics of the Church that the Lord Establishes (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 3:10–22)

What features mark the church that the Lord is commissioning Moses to retrieve and establish? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Exodus 3:10–22 prepares us for the first serial reading in the morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit shows us that the church is marked by: the priority of the worship of the Lord, the centrality of being in covenant with the Lord, the reality of being opposed by the enemies of the Lord, and the certainty of victory in the Lord.
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2021.08.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 3:10–22

Read Exodus 3:10–22

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does God propose to send Moses (Exodus 3:10)? To do what? What question does Moses ask about this plan (Exodus 3:11)? What is God’s answer to that question (Exodus 3:12a)? What does God offer as a sign (verse 12b)? What does Moses anticipate being asked (Exodus 3:13)? What answer does God give to Moses, and what answer is Moses to give to the Israelites (Exodus 3:14)? How does God, in Exodus 3:15, improve upon Moses’s originally planned introduction from Exodus 3:13? What does God say is the Name by which He is to be remembered? To whom, specifically, is Moses to make this new introduction (Exodus 3:16)? What is he to say that God has already done? And what is he to say that God has now promised to do (Exodus 3:17)? How will the elders respond (Exodus 3:18a)? Then who will go to the king of Egypt (verse 18b)? What will they say to him (verse 18c)? How does God say that Pharaoh will then respond (Exodus 3:19)? What then will God to Egypt (Exodus 3:20a)? With what ultimate result (verse 20b)? And what additional result will this process produce (Exodus 3:21)? What are the people to do, when they are finally leaving (Exodus 3:22)? With what result?

Worship. Covenant. Opposition. Victory. Several themes about the church that will run through the rest of Scripture and the rest of history appear here, as the Lord begins to charge Moses with the church’s formal establishment.

Worship, Exodus 3:10-12. Once we get to Moses’s active resistance of his calling, God will give Moses other signs to perform, so we might forget that there is one sign that precedes and supersedes them all: worship. The church is actually on the right track when it asks, “Who am I?” (Exodus 3:11), as Moses does with his own calling (Exodus 3:10). For, God specifically calls those who are unimpressive to highlight that all the glory is His own (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26–31). God responds to Moses’s question about Moses with an answer about the Lord: “I will certainly be with you” (Exodus 3:12a).

This is why the sign that God offers for the authenticity of Moses’s call is one that will strike us odd if we are not focused upon Him and His glory: “this shall be a sign … you shall worship God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12b). Part of the sign is that Moses will succeed. This is true of all prophets. Anything less than a 100% fulfillment rate invalidates all of their prophecy (cf. Deuteronomy 18:20–22; a standard that would mercifully end many purportedly prophetic ministries today). 

But the bigger part of the sign is the purpose of all of this: the worship of God. It is not only Moses’s calling that is all about God, but the church’s own calling is all about God. This she will find out, when she arrives at the mountain, and it burns in darkness and storm and frightful trumpet and voice of words and threat of death (cf. Hebrews 12:18–20). When Israel stands before all of this, this will be the greatest sign that it really is God Himself Who has called them to be a church. The awesome presence of God Himself will dwarf every plague of Egypt and every deliverance of the wilderness.

Your calling too, dear believer, and the calling of the entire church as a whole, is all about the glory of God and the glory of His worship. God displays this to you in the public worship week by week, but it will be ultimately and climactically apparent when you, too, stand before Him!

Covenant, Exodus 3:13-17. Moses seems to accept his calling at first, but then there’s the question of whether the children of Israel will accept it (Exodus 3:13). Pharaoh was the purported embodiment of Ra, and the crowded pantheon of Egypt had its priests and prophets. If he shows up claiming to be a prophet, they will require i.d., “Indeed… they will say to me” (verse 13). It will not suffice just to say “prophet of God.” They will demand to know which one.

Part of God’s answer is that He is the only one, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:14a). He is self-existent, independent of anyone or anything else. He does not draw characteristics from other things; everything else depends entirely upon Him. He is holy, completely other, the absolutely only true God. It’s a way of saying that the implied question (“which God”) is the most mistaken and wicked question imaginable.

But another part of God’s answer is His voluntarily entering into a relationship in which He binds Himself to this people forever and ever. “I AM has sent me to you” (verse 14b) is a formal introduction and establishment of this relationship. He expands this introduction in Exodus 3:15, giving “Yahweh” (“LORD”) as His memorial name, the name by which they are to address Him in this formal covenant relationship. Indeed, He gives as His full title, “Yahweh God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” This is the God Who has seen that the time is right to gather them to Himself (Exodus 3:16-17). By saying that He has now sent Moses to them, He is also implying “the God of you”(!).

And the God of you, if you are a Christian. It is a marvel of grace that the God Who describes Himself to us by the completeness and uniqueness of His self-existence would so join Himself to us in covenant as to take a title in which He identifies Himself with us entirely and eternally. He is ours, and we are His. Entirely. Eternally. That’s covenant.

OppositionExodus 3:18-19. Yahweh being the only true God does not mean that His people will be unopposed. In fact, it means entirely the opposite. Though the elders will initially accept Moses and his God (Exodus 3:18, a fact that seems to get lost in how repeatedly they subsequently rebel), the king of Egypt will not (Exodus 3:19). 

Christians today seem to think that an indicator of belonging to God, or walking with God, will be how much the world sees this and accepts them. But from the beginning of the church, throughout the rest of Scripture, and throughout history, the fact that believers belong to God has been a cause of their being rejected by the world, not accepted. We should expect to be opposed, even to be slaughtered all day long (cf. John 15:18–25; Romans 8:35–36; 2 Timothy 3:12). 

Victory, Exodus 3:20-22. Ultimately, God raises up opposition to His church that He might give them inexplicable victory that must be explained only by His redemption. In this case, He will “strike Egypt with all My wonders which I will do in its midst” (Exodus 3:20). And this victory will be seen in the favor of neighbors (Exodus 3:21) and in the bridal shower in which they are given both luxuries and necessities as they are sent away to covenant with Yahweh (Exodus 3:22). Though believers love not their lives even unto death, they are already super-conquerors (cf. Romans 8:37–39) who ultimately overcome by the blood of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 12:10–11). 

How does the priority of worship show up in your life? In your church’s life? In what circumstances do you need to operate more as someone who is in covenant with God? How are you experiencing opposition for belong to the Lord Jesus? How are you keeping mindful of His ultimate victory?

Sample prayer:  O Yahweh, You alone are true God! Forgive us for when we make our salvation about what we want or how we feel, rather than wanting You and Your glory, and enjoying You and Your glory. Thank You for reminding us of how this world will oppose You and us, so that we would cling to Your love in Jesus, and Your blood shed for us in Jesus, and Your sure victory in Jesus. Grant that we would do so, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

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

Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Some Biblical Guidance for Avoiding Foolish Communication (Family Worship lesson in Proverbs 10:10)

Pastor leads his family in a verse from "the Proverb of the day." Main idea: It is foolish to use subtlety of communication as a weapon of social exclusion or to cover up sin, as well as to have no control over what is coming out of our mouth and how much. This last, the Lord is merciful to help us avoid by warning us that if we keep it up, He will knock us down.
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Why We're So, So, So, So, So, So, Sure of God's Everlasting Love (Family Worship lesson in Romans 8:28–39)

Why can believers be sure of God’s love? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Romans 8:28–39 prepares us for the opening portion of the morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twelve verses of holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that our certainty of God's love for us comes from: its being determined in eternity so that it cannot be undone in time; its being determined in the Creator so that it cannot be undone in the creation; its being inextricable from the glory of the Son that God is committed to it with equal commitment; God having already given what is infinitely more valuable than everything else put together; His law now demanding what His love has eternally desired; and, the presently victorious reality of our union with Christ. HOW SURE the believer may be that he is loved with everlasting love!
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2021.08.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 8:28–39

Read Romans 8:28–39

Questions from the Scripture text: Which things do we know work together for good (Romans 8:28)? To whom do they work together for good? What did God also do to those whom He foreknew (Romans 8:29a)? To what did He predestine them (verse 29b)? For what reason (verse 29c)? What did He do for those whom He predestined (Romans 8:30a)? What did He do for those whom He called (verse 30b)? What did he do for those whom He justified (verse 30c)? Who is for us (Romans 8:31)? Who can (successfully) be against us? What (Whom!) did God not spare (Romans 8:32a)? What did God do with His Son for us (verse 32b)? What will God give to us together with Him (verse 32c)? What does God do instead of bringing a charge against His elect (Romans 8:33)? What does Jesus do, instead of condemning us (Romans 8:34)? What are some of the things that are not able to separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:35Romans 8:38-39)? What is one of the reasons that such things happen (Romans 8:36)? So, what is going on in the midst of these things (Romans 8:37)?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Prayer of Confession all come from Romans 8:28–39, so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Loved with Everlasting Love

All things must work together for our good. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. These are truths that make hearts swell up with joy and praise.

And we see here what marvelously sure truths they are.

God’s love is sure, because it goes back before time. God “foreknowing” His elect is not some form of divine cheating by sneaking a peek at the end. It’s talking about knowing in terms of a relationship: He loved us before the world began (cf. Ephesians 1:3-6). It was this love, that He simply decided to set upon us, that led to our being predestined. A love that is from eternity cannot be undone by anything that occurs in time.

God’s love is sure, because it is in Christ and for His sake. God loves the glory of His Son, and He has determined that for the Son’s great glory, He would be displayed as the firstborn of many brothers and sisters who have been shaped to look like Him. We’re predestined to bring Christ glory!

God’s love is sure, because His law now demands that it continue. We have been justified with Christ’s righteousness. The One who makes the charges at the judgment is the One who has justified us (Romans 8:33). The One who condemns at the judgment is the One who has taken our condemnation and is continually pleading our case (Romans 8:34).

God’s love is sure, because its most infinite gift has already been given, and it is irrational to think that anything else could possibly be held back (Romans 8:32).

There are many things that come into our lives that threaten to shake our joy in God’s love. But, when we consider them in the light of the teaching in these verses, that threat quickly dissolves.

We realize, instead, that even if we are like sheep being slaughtered, it is for His sake. It is because we are joined to Him in that love from which we can never be separated. It is most certain that this love will prevail with us, and that we will prevail in the trial. Even before the trial ends, we can know already that we are more than conquerors!

Election and predestination are not dry, dusty doctrines for theological fuddy-duddies. They are the foundation of sure, victorious love!

In what current circumstance do you most need to cling to the cross and electing love?

Sample prayer: Our electing, glorious, righteous, and generous God, we praise You for investing the glory of Your Name, and the glory of Your Son, in our salvation. Forgive us for undercutting our own assurance by making our salvation about ourselves. Thank You for so identifying us with Yourself that we may know that even if we are slaughtered, it is for your sake. And grant unto us to see always that inseperable love with which You have loved us in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths to You I Cried” or TPH483 “Loved with Everlasting Love”

Monday, August 09, 2021

Recognizing, Avoiding, & Not-Being the Foolish Woman of Death (Family Worship in Proverbs 9:13–18)

Lady Folly is dangerous! Step through her door, and plummet to Hell! So it is important to note her features and avoid her (or avoid being her): noisy/showy, always out and about instead of at home, rebelliously implying that rules are there to keep you from enjoyment, offering the feeling of being special without the corresponding commitment.
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Joy in Christ Powers Contentment and Generosity (2021.08.08 Evening Sermon in Philippians 4:10–13)

As the apostle sets an example for them of having our thought-life shaped by the virtue and praise-worthiness of the Word of God, he moves on to compliment their generosity regardless of his own contentment. Why? Because both come by the same strength from the same Christ in whom both Paul and the Philippians rejoice.
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The World, the Flesh, the Devil, and the Lamb of God (2021.08.08 Morning Sermon in Luke 21:37–22:7)

The greatest good that God has ever intended was accomplished by the greatest evil that had ever been intended.

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WCF 15.3.4, Motivation for Repentance: Greatness of Every Sin and Greaterness of Abundant Grace (2021.08.08 Sabbath School lesson in Rom 5, 6, 8; Matt 12; Isa 1, 55)

The greatness of the guilt of the smallest sin is one motivation to repentance, but the greaterness of grace for the pardon of the greatest sin (and of all your sins taken together) is a much greater motivation to repentance.
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2021.08.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 21:37–22:7

Read Luke 21:37–22:7

Questions from the Scripture text: What was Jesus doing during the daytimes (Luke 21:37a)? What did he do at night (verse 37b)? What would happen early again in the morning (Luke 21:38)? What drew near in Luke 22:1? Who sought how to do what (Luke 22:2)? Why did they have to figure out a way to do this? What development does Luke 22:3 bring? Among whom had Judas been numbered? Where does Judas go in Luke 22:4, and what does he do? How do the chief priests and officials feel about this (Luke 22:5)? What do they agree to do? What does Judas do in Luke 22:6? What does he now seek? What day arrived in Luke 22:7? What must happen on that day?

The Lord is in control to bring about His salvation: “the Passover must be killed” (Luke 22:7). In the passage, we see the world, the devil, and the flesh rage. But all are being employed by God to bring His salvation. Jesus isn’t staying within their reach (Luke 21:37). Providence has arranged for a great obstacle to hinder the plot of the liberals (chief priests) and conservatives (scribes) of the current religious establishment (Luke 21:38Luke 22:2Luke 22:6). For all their raging, the world and its leaders can do nothing against the predetermined plans of Yahweh and His Christ (cf. Psalm 2).

The world rages, here represented in the chief priests and scribes, who are eager to destroy Jesus (cf. Luke 20:19). The dynamic in Luke 21:37-38 sets up the difficulty for them. Jesus is spending His evenings at Bethany, at the top of the Mount of Olives, about two miles northwest of the temple. But during the day, He was teaching in the temple to large crowds. The influence and power of the religious leaders is an illusion. “They feared the people” (Luke 22:2). When the world rages, let us remember that it has always done so against Christ, and that He employed its raging even to bring about our salvation.

The devil rages. Satan entered Judas in Luke 22:3. It’s a bold move for him to target one of the twelve. But as the book of Job makes clear, the devil is only able to do as much as the Lord has foreordained for His own good purposes.  The effect on Judas is dreadful; suddenly he is actively opposing Christ, even entering into the counsels of His enemies as they collaborate upon the betrayal. A bold and seemingly effective move. The devil continues to rage today. He is bold to attack via those who seem to be something in the church. He is permitted to affect them dreadfully. But let us remember that this is not new. The Lord brought even the salvation of all the elect through the raging of the devil.

The flesh rages. There is the murderousness of the fleshly natures of Jesus’s enemies in Luke 22:2, which has the disgusting effect of making them glad in Luke 22:5. Indeed, so wicked is the flesh that we can see how easily they may have congratulated themselves that Providence had sent them a solution to their impossible problem. How great is the wickedness of that flesh that can rejoice over the enticements of the devil as if they were blessings from God.

And the flesh also rages in the covetousness of Judas’s fleshly nature in Luke 22:5, for which covetousness he is willing to take the blood money. When we find hostility or greed in our own hearts, let us identify them as enemies of the Lord and of our souls, and set ourselves to battle against them. But let us not think that even our own sin—or that of any of our enemies—can undo the good and saving purposes of Christ. Clinging to Him, we engage with confident joy in our battle against the flesh. 

The Passover must be killed. God has determined to save His people from the death that they deserve by covering them with atoning blood. Jesus has come as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Along the way, there is the horrible raging of the world, the devil, and the flesh. But these are under the control of the God Who is using them to bring about the application of that redemption which Christ has accomplished. 

Are you covered by the blood of the Lamb? What enemies rage against His applying to you the benefits of that redeeming blood? How does this passage help remind you that God uses those enemies for your good? 

Sample prayer: O Lord, truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, Whom You anointed, Your enemies gathered to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Forgive us for our anxiety and discouragement at the raging of Your enemies. Grant unto us the blessedness of submitting to Your Son and boldness with which to serve in His ranks. Make us always to see that You are accomplishing the redemption that You have purposed in Him, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage” or TPH196 “At the Lamb’s High Feast”