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, September 04, 2021

2021.09.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 22:54–65

Read Luke 22:54–65

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did they bring Jesus in Luke 22:54? Who followed at a distance? What had the mob done in Luke 22:55? Who sat down among them? Who saw him (Luke 22:56)? What did she do and say? What did Peter do and say in Luke 22:57? Who does what when in Luke 22:58a? What does Peter say (verse 58b)? About how long passes in Luke 22:59? Who does what with what words? What does Peter say in Luke 22:60? Then, what happens when? Who does what in Luke 22:61a? What does Peter remember (verse 61b)? What does Peter do in Luke 22:62? What four things do  the men do to Jesus in Luke 22:63-64? What do they say to Him to do? What does Luke 22:65 add?

The Lord Jesus is our perfect Prophet. In Luke 22:34, He had told Peter that this would happen, and it was exactly as He had said. The wicked guards cry “Prophesy!” in Luke 22:64, but the irony is that it comes in the context of one of His very specific prophecies coming exactly true. 

His Word is perfectly reliable! Never is this more important than in telling us about His own identity as the God-Man, His work in giving His life for us, and the certainty of the completion of our salvation in Him. Every proof of the reliability of His Word should stir up our confidence in these things.

The Lord Jesus is our perfect Intercessor. When the Lord looked at Peter (Luke 22:61a), you would think that look of love would send him running in, retracting his denials, eager to die with Christ. But, it was not time yet for Peter to be restored, and he instead goes outside and cries (Luke 22:62). Still, we know that this isn’t the end of Peter’s story, and that he will both return and then strengthen his brethren. How do we know? Christ has prayed for him (cf. Luke 22:32). Indeed, we can almost be certain that He is praying for him even with that look. We can even be certain, when we are failing Him, that He is at that moment praying for us (cf. Hebrews 7:25). 

The Lord Jesus is our perfect Substitute. It seems unfair that Peter isn’t the one in there getting mocked and beaten in Luke 22:63-65. He deserves all that and worse! But isn’t that just the point? Jesus, the One Who is remaining faithful (cf. 1 Timothy 6:13, 1 Peter 2:22–24), is the One receiving the just desserts of wickedness. He saves a sinful people first and foremost by receiving what they deserve as their Substitute. The next day, being our Substitute will require that He endure the assault of God Himself. Amazing love, amazing grace, amazing salvation!

In what situation do you most need to remember a particular promise of Christ? What promise of His is most relevant to it? How does the timing of a rooster’s crow help you here? When you are in the midst of failing Jesus, what is He doing for you? What do you deserve? Who has received it? What won’t you receive if you are His? What will you receive instead?

Sample prayer:  Our perfect Lord and Savior, You are worthy of all glory and honor and praise! Indeed, You deserve all blessing and blessedness. We deserve only wrath, and have often failed You and even mistreated You. But You have taken upon Yourself the wrath that we deserve, and You are praying for us on the basis of Your own worthiness for us. So, grant unto us to rest in You and rejoice over You, and finish that work of making us like Yourself so that we will then perfectly glorify You and fully enjoy You forever, which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP22A “My God, My God” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

Friday, September 03, 2021

2021.09.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 21:15–22

Read 2 Samuel 21:15–22

Questions from the Scripture text: Who were at war with Israel (2 Samuel 21:15)? Who went and fought against them? What happened to David at this point? Who thought he could do what (2 Samuel 21:16)? What details does this verse emphasize about him? Who comes to David’s aid (2 Samuel 21:17)? What do David’s men say now? Why? What had happened again in 2 Samuel 21:18? Who killed whom? And what had happened in 2 Samuel 21:19? And who killed whom then? What do they note about him? And what had happened in 2 Samuel 21:20? What description is given of the man in this verse? What happens to him in 2 Samuel 21:21? How does 2 Samuel 21:22 summarize all of this?

The Lord had promised to save His people from the Philistines by the hand of David (cf. 2 Samuel 3:18), and the summary of this passage in 2 Samuel 21:22 tells us that’s exactly what He did. The Lord is faithful to His promises!

The Lord is faithful to His promises even when His servants aren’t up to it. 2 Samuel 21:15 tells us that David was out of gas, and 2 Samuel 21:16 tells us that the best-equipped Philistine giant noticed and was about to take advantage. Even David wasn’t up to it. You aren’t either. But the Lord is still faithful. A big part of that is those other servants of His, with whom He has surrounded you: Abishai in this case, but the others as summarized at the end of 2 Samuel 21:22, and of course whomever He has placed you among (cf. Ephesians 4:11–16; 1 Corinthians 12:15–21).

The Lord is faithful to His promises through His chosen one. In the second half of 2 Samuel 21:17, David’s men saw how vital (relatively speaking) God had made him to His work in Israel. Now, this is true sometimes of those whom God uses in a very unique way in various seasons of His church’s life. But, it is true in an ultimate sense of Christ. Ultimately, all hangs upon Him alone. Unlike David, He has no need of us at all. Rather, in union with Him, we receive all of the privileges of His unique righteousness, victory, life, inheritance, etc.

The Lord is faithful to His promises, but also recognizes His servants. It’s ultimately the Lord Who is faithful, and to Whom all glory belongs. But He names Abishai, Sibbechai, Elhanan, and Jonathan in this passage. Sure, you may think that this is only for giant-killers. But the Lord also names Zeruiah, Hushath, Jaare-Oregim, and Shimea. In our God’s estimation, fathering or bearing children and bringing them up is also worthy of recognition. Again, it’s His faithful work by His grace, but He models for us that it’s entirely appropriate to recognize the servants whom He uses. We have all benefited from many of them, and it’s biblical to acknowledge it about them and to them.

The Lord is faithful to vindicate His people. The nameless 24-digit giant in 2 Samuel 21:20 made the mistake of defying Israel in 2 Samuel 21:21. Our Lord will not allow attacks upon His people to go unanswered. In fact, whatever retribution there is in this life, there will be eternal vengeance in the next (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:6–10). 

Was this the end of the giants? God had promised to displace the Rephaiim (cf. Genesis 15:20), and these are the children of Rapha (2 Samuel 21:22a). This is the last we hear of them, but whether or not this was their actual end, we can clearly see one of the purposes they served: to show us and remind us that our Lord is faithful.

What role has the Lord currently given you in your home and in His church? How is it dependent upon Christ? How does it serve Him? Whom else has He used for your good? How have you recognized this before God or before men? What currently dangerous or impossible situation is an opportunity for your Lord’s displaying Himself faithful?

Sample prayer:  Lord, indeed You are perfectly faithful. All hinged upon Your Son, and He became a man to be our own perfect faithfulness in our behalf. Forgive us for when we doubt You, or exalt ourselves, or don’t recognize Your servants. Truly, our sin is a greater enemy than anything or anyone we face. But You are faithful! And we commit ourselves to Your perfect care in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH245 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

Thursday, September 02, 2021

2021.09.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Colossians 1:1–2

Read Colossians 1:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: Who wrote this book (Colossians 1:1)? What is his title/office? How did he become this? Who is with him? Whose brother is he? To whom is this book addressed—what two things does he call them (Colossians 1:2, cf. Colossians 3:20)? Where are they? What two things does he pronounce upon them in blessing? From Whom?

The opening, like the rest of the letter, is saturated with Christ. Paul identifies himself with reference to Christ, identifies his readers with reference to Christ, and even gives a greeting that is a blessing from Christ. 

First, Paul identifies himself with reference to Christ. He is not writing in his own behalf. He is writing as an apostle. An apostle is more than a representative. When he writes as an apostle, every word is as completely from Christ’s personal authority and relationship to them as if He Himself held the pen. And Paul reminds them that this apostleship was God’s idea and God’s action.

Even when Paul refers to Timothy, there is a reference to Christ. Timothy may be his brother in the ministry, but how is he the Colossian Christians’ brother? By their being in the same family of the same God by union with the only-begotten Son. 

Second, Paul identifies his readers with reference to Christ. They are saints, holy ones. In Christ, they are set-apart and precious to Paul for his Lord’s sake. And they are faithful brethren. In Christ, they are family, and Christ has made them faithful. This letter is of vital importance not only because it is from Christ, but because it is for those precious ones who are Christ’s.

Finally, Paul gives a greeting that is a blessing from Christ. We have no righteousness or strength of our own, so there is nothing we need more than grace. And we are wholly deserving for God to be our enemy, so there is nothing we need more than peace. But this letter’s opening greeting is to pronounce both of these from God. He is not only almighty and therefore able to give grace and peace, but also our Father and eagerly willing to give grace and peace. 

Marvelously, even with grace and peace from God our Father, these are also pronounced from our Lord Jesus Christ. He is not only the One Who became man to save us, but the One Who is very God of very God, so that grace and peace come from Him every bit as much as from the Father.

Are you Christ’s? Then this letter is from your Lord, for you because you are your Lord’s, by the grace of your Lord!

What is your most fundamental identity? What is the ultimate guide for embracing and enjoying it? What is your greatest need for enjoying and fulfilling your identity?

Sample prayer: Our Triune God, we bless Your Name, for You alone are worthy of all worship. How marvelous is Your grace that You have not only created us in Your image but also redeemed us into Your family. Grant that Your Spirit would make us to know You as Father, even as we are conformed to the Son. Forgive us for how easily we become thoughtless of Christ, and write upon our hearts this portion of Your Word, so that we may be ever-mindful of Him, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH374 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

God's Glorious Strength and Holiness for His Holy People (2021.09.01 Prayer Meeting lesson in Psalm 29)

When believers praise their glorious God, they praise Him and the power of His Word, by which they themselves also are strengthened and blessed!
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God's Deadly Seriousness about Our Giving His Sign and His Means to His Covenant Children (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 4:18–26)

Why is God about to kill Moses (or Gershom)? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Exodus 4:18–26 prepares us for the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God is deadly earnest that those upon whom He has laid a special, covenantal claim must receive His mark and the means of His grace. Christians must have their children baptized, hoping in God for the realities which that baptism displays, and employing the means (including baptism!) by which He produces that reality.
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2021.09.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 4:18–26

Read Exodus 4:18–26

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom did Moses go in Exodus 4:18? What did he ask to do? What does Jethro say? What does Yahweh say to Moses in Exodus 4:19 (cf. Matthew 2:20)? Whom does Moses take, how (Exodus 4:20)? Where do they go? What does Moses take in his hand? What does Yahweh remind him to do in Exodus 4:21? What does He remind Moses that Pharaoh will do? What is Moses to say then (Exodus 4:22)? What does He claim about Israel? What does He threaten against Pharaoh if he withholds the Yahweh’s son (Exodus 4:23)? But what does Yahweh do in Exodus 4:24? Who saves the day in Exodus 4:25? How? What does she now call Moses (Exodus 4:25-26)?

Moses takes his leave from his father-in-law and takes his wife and his sons with him. The Spirit reminds us at the end of Exodus 4:20 not only of God’s power, but of what occurred with the rod earlier in the chapter.

It’s not until now that the Lord adds the message of Exodus 4:22-23 to His earlier instructions, summarized in Exodus 4:21. It seems that the Lord waits until now to call Israel, “My son, My firstborn” to highlight how serious of an offense it was for Moses to “withhold” his own son from the Lord by failing to put the covenant sign upon him. The penalty for Pharaoh doing this with respect to Israel is the death of his firstborn son (end of Exodus 4:23), and it may well be that the same is imminent for Moses in Exodus 4:24.

There is some uncertainty in the text about who the “him” is that Yahweh sought to kill. Despite some translations’ insertions, Moses’s name does not actually appear in our passage after Exodus 4:21, and the word translated “husband” in Exodus 4:25-26 refers to any covenant relation. After the threat against Pharaoh’s firstborn son, it may well be that it is Gershom, Moses’s firstborn, who is nearly executed at this point, who is circumcised, and who has the bloody foreskin touched to his feet.

If it is Moses who nearly dies, this would heighten the seriousness of the action taken, since the Lord has made such an emphatic point of specifically requiring Moses to be the one who confronts Pharaoh.

What is very clear is that the Lord takes the sign of circumcision very seriously. He was about to publicly own every member of Israel as “His firstborn son.” And He was about to demand that Pharaoh recognize this fact. But Moses and Zipporah had not properly recognized this fact about their own child. And God is deadly serious about His requirement that His sign be put upon the children of His people (cf. also Genesis 17:14). 

Now, this has an obvious application for those who recognize that baptism is a covenant sign—with water now, not blood, since the blood of Christ has been shed once for all. The Lord takes His signs seriously not only because they are indicators that point to Christ and His now-finished work, but also because they are seals by which His covenantal ownership of us is acknowledged. Our children are not merely biological relations or legal relations to us. They are covenantal relations to us.

When Zipporah yields to the Lord’s mechanism for acknowledging this—that the blood of the covenant is a stronger bond even than her own blood—the Lord lets him go. Gershom is not thus eternally saved; he still must come to faith in the promised Savior. But, his circumcision is a necessary means by which God’s special propriety in him is acknowledged and responded to.

Now, if we understand that the same is required of us with God, that we receive His sign upon ourselves and upon our children, it must not stop with the sign. For, those who are His owe Him worship, obedience, and service. And we must submit to His means and His ways for all of these, and for the spiritual life and holiness required to walk with Him in it. Our own baptism, or our child’s baptism, is not the end of our covenant responsibility but its beginning. And we look to Him to make all of it effectual by His grace from start to finish.

How does the covenant ownership of God shown in your baptism also show up in your daily and weekly activities? How can it comfort you, when you’re about to face the opposition of the world?

Sample prayer:  Lord, for whatever You send us to do, You Yourself are our only hope. You are all our strength, and Your covenant faithfulness is perfect. Thank You for setting us apart to Yourself in Christ and for giving us a sign and seal of that in baptism. By the grace that You have promised, give us the love and obedience and service that we owe to You, which we ask through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP50A “God, Most Supreme in Might” or TPH190 “Thus Saith the Mercy of the Lord”


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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