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

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Loving and Delighting in the Glorified Christ and His Glorified People (Family Worship lesson in 1Thessalonians 2:17–3:2)

Why was the apostle so urgent to send Timothy back to Thessalonica? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 1Thessalonians 2:17–3:2 prepares us for the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that as believers increase in love for Christ and one another, the prospect of seeing one another glorified in Him at His return stirs us up to fervent affection and diligent action.
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2022.03.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:2

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:17–3:2

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Paul call the Thessalonians  in 1 Thessalonians 2:17? What has happened to apostolic ministry team? In what way had they not been taken away? What did this absence make them endeavor to do? How much? With what desire? What did they want to do (1 Thessalonians 2:18)? Who especially? But who hindered them? What three things does he call the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 2:19? In Whose presence, especially, are they these things? At what time? What two things does he say they are now (1 Thessalonians 2:20)? What couldn’t they do (1 Thessalonians 3:1)? Who stayed where? Who was the third that they sent (1 Thessalonians 3:2)? What three things do they call him? What two things did they send Timothy to do? In what, specifically, was he to encourage them?

Proper Christian ministers have a strong, emotional attachment to those whom they serve. The apostolic team were as nursing mothers (1 Thessalonians 2:7) and devoted fathers (1 Thessalonians 2:10-11) to the Thessalonians. But they were providentially restrained from ministering to them for a time (1 Thessalonians 2:17). 

The apostle has no problem personally identifying Satan as hindering them from coming back to Thessalonica. Still, the Lord sovereignly overrules—even over Satan. 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 cuts two ways: explanation for why Satan would hinder, but also explanation for why the apostolic team would persist to overcome this hindrance. Satan was against their ministry because it was so good. And it was worth overcoming him to persist in the ministry, because it was so good.

Christian action and ministry is much strengthened by seeing and seizing the glory and joy of the last day. The apostle sees in his mind’s eye the Lord Jesus Christ returned, and the Thessalonians perfected and glorified. He tastes the anticipation of seeing both and knowing that he was blessed and honored to have a part in that blessed reunion (1 Thessalonians 2:19b). This is his “hope, joy, and crown of rejoicing” (verse 19a).

Whatever the hindrance had been, it could stop three from coming, but not just one. And they gladly sent Timothy. He served God (1 Thessalonians 3:2). He labored in the gospel. It wasn’t the same as the three of them being there, but the main thing was God’s work, God’s gospel. And whatever part they could have in it, they would take or facilitate.

From all of this, let us learn to rejoice over the prospect of the last day. And let us learn to rejoice especially over what opportunity we have to participate in the sanctification of others and the glory that Christ will have in them. We are finite and cannot participate in all ministry. But, we much increase our privilege by fostering others’ ministry as well.

To whom do you minister? To whom else would you like to? Whom else can you support in ministry?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we bless You for Your work in applying Christ’s salvation to those whom You are redeeming, and we thank You for involving us in parts of it. Forgive us for giving in easily to Satan’s opposition of that work. And grant unto us zeal and diligence that takes whatever opportunity you afford to see others grown in faith, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP78B “O Come, My People” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Glorious Groom Who Brings Glory and Honor to His Bride and His Offspring (2022.03.30 Prayer Meeting Sermon in Psalm 45)

Jesus is a King so great that His bride and offspring owe Him all allegiance and love, and receive unfathomable honor and glory in their bond to Him.
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Happy in Our Wise, Wealthy King (Family Worship lesson in 1Kings 10)

What takes the Queen of Sheba’s breath away? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 1Kings 10 prepares us for the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God’s love for His people gives them a wise, wealthy, and righteous king. In these, Solomon far exceeded the other kings of the earth, but was infinitely exceeded by King Jesus. How infinitely happy are the subjects of King Jesus!
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2022.03.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 10

Read 1 Kings 10

Questions from the Scripture text: Who had heard of what (1 Kings 10:1)? What did she come to do? Where (1 Kings 10:2)? With whom? And what three things? To whom did she come? About what did she speak? What did Solomon do (1 Kings 10:3)? What didn’t happen? What eight things did she see (1 Kings 10:4-5)? With what effect upon her? What did she say she had heard about, where (1 Kings 10:6)? What had she thought (1 Kings 10:7) until when? What does she now think of it/him? What does she think about whom in 1 Kings 10:8? What does she think of Whom in 1 Kings 10:9? What had He done? Why? For what purpose was Solomon king? How much gold did she give the king (1 Kings 10:10)? And what other things? Of what quantity? What ships does 1 Kings 10:11 mention? What else did they bring? What did the king make for what two houses (1 Kings 10:12)? And what else did he make from the wood? How unique was the wood? What did Solomon give the queen of Sheba (1 Kings 10:13)? In addition to what? Where did she go with whom? How much of what came to Solomon each year (1 Kings 10:14)? And what else came (1 Kings 10:15)? What did he make out of the gold in 1 Kings 10:16-17, and where did he put them? What did he make out of what in 1 Kings 10:18? And overlay it with what? How many steps did it have (1 Kings 10:19)? What were some features of the seat? What were next to the arm rests? How many more of them were where (1 Kings 10:20)? How unique was this? What else were gold (1 Kings 10:21)? How many were silver? Why? How often did the merchant ships return (1 Kings 10:22)? What did they bring? In what ways did Solomon surpass whom (1 Kings 10:23)? Who sought Solomon (1 Kings 10:24)? To do what? Who put the wisdom in his heart? What did each bring (1 Kings 10:25)? What did Solomon gather (1 Kings 10:26)? How many of each? Where did he put them? What did he do to silver (1 Kings 10:27)? To cedar? What else did he bring from where (1 Kings 10:28)? How much did they cost (1 Kings 10:29)? To whom did he sell them at profit?

Before things take a devastating turn (cf. 1 Kings 11:1–8), the Spirit gives us one last glimpse of Solomon as an imperfect preview of the perfect Son of David and Davidic kingdom that would come in Jesus Christ.

In this chapter, the wealth and wealth-producing wisdom of Solomon are on full display. Sheba puts Tyre to shame. Her parting gift in 1 Kings 10:10a includes as much gold as Tyre was able to contribute to the entire temple/kingdom building project (cf. 1 Kings 9:14), but the spices were even more impressive than the gold (v10b)! Even such a queen as this has her breath taken away (end of 1 Kings 10:5) by Solomon’s royal setup. And that takes a back seat to his words (1 Kings 10:5). Solomon’s wealth includes not only Sheba’s spices and 50,000 lbs of gold per year (1 Kings 10:14), but almug wood from Ophir that wasn’t just once-in-a-lifetime but once-in-forever (1 Kings 10:12). 

The gold and the wood and the ivory begged to be used—hence shields, steps, armrests, lions, and drinking vessels (1 Kings 10:16-21). Add ivory, apes, and peacocks (1 Kings 10:22), and Solomon’s wealth approaches theoretical maximum (1 Kings 10:23). The wealth was second to the wisdom (1 Kings 10:24), and the wisdom brought in more wealth (1 Kings 10:25). 

This is just Solomon, the anticipatory sketch. How great are the infinitely superior wealth and wisdom of Jesus! Others thought silver was valuable, but Solomon’s wealth made it as nothing (1 Kings 10:211 Kings 10:27). So also Jesus’s wisdom and wealth makes Solomon’s as nothing. 

1 Kings 10:28-29 point to something more than just a heavy Hittite markup for turning profit on Egyptian horses and chariots. They are a reminder that Solomon has already run afoul of Deuteronomy 17:16. He’s not the Son of David that we’re looking for. But, the point of the chapter is clear: behold the greatness of Solomon’s wealth and wisdom… and behold the greater-ness of Christ’s! How glorious is the King, and how blessed are His servants (cf. 1 Kings 10:8)!

How are you responding to the greatness of King Jesus? How does that greatness relate to your safety & joy? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for choosing us in Jesus, loving us in Him, saving us in Him, and adopting us in Him! Forgive us for sometimes being less impressed with Him than many were with Solomon. Grant us life and light from Your Spirit that we might behold His glory and rejoice forever over belonging to Him, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

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


Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Praying As Sons of Heaven (Family Worship lesson in Matthew 6:5–15)

How does Jesus teach His disciples to pray? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Matthew 6:5–15 prepares us for the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eleven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Christ’s followers pray not for man’s eyes and ears but God’s—as children of heaven rather than sons of Hell. Trusting Him, we pray for His priorities, His provision, and His protection, unto His praise.
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2022.03.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 6:5–15

Read Matthew 6:5–15

Questions from the Scripture text: About what part of Christian life is Jesus instructing them (Matthew 6:5)? Whom shall they not be like? Where do hypocrites love to pray? Why? What do they have? Where should they pray (Matthew 6:6) When they have done what, should they pray to Whom, Who is where? Where does He see? Where/how will He reward? What shouldn’t they use in prayer (Matthew 6:7)? For what do they think they’ll be heard? Why shouldn’t they be like them—Who knows what (Matthew 6:8)? How should they pray (Matthew 6:9)? Whom should they address? What are they to pray would happen to what? What are they to pray would come (Matthew 6:10)? What to be done? Where, and in what manner? For what do they ask in Matthew 6:11? And what in Matthew 6:12? And in what manner? What are they to ask God not to do (Matthew 6:13)? But what are they to ask for? Why are they to ask God for all these things? Why is the prayer to forgive as important as prayer to be forgiven (Matthew 6:14-15)?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and first song all come from Matthew 6:5–15 so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with The Lord’s Prayer

Matthew’s recording of the Lord’s Prayer is bookended by warnings of Hell. Matthew 6:5 warns against forfeiting any reward in eternity, and Matthew 6:15 warns against not being forgiven our trespasses. In the former case, if our religion is for man’s eyes, we will not be rewarded (Matthew 6:5); and, if our religion is for man’s ears, we will not be heard (Matthew 6:7). In the latter case, non-forgiving people, who indulge their offendedness, show that they are not forgiven (Matthew 6:15).

But when God saves someone, He makes them the kind of person who prays for Father’s eyes (Matthew 6:6), the kind of person who forgives (Matthew 6:14). He makes them those whose eyes and words and heart belong to a Father, Who is in heaven (Matthew 6:8).

“Our Father” (Matthew 6:9) makes it plain that we are to pray with others and for others. So, the instruction about praying in secret (Matthew 6:6) isn’t instruction about location so much as praying for God’s eyes and ears. That’s what’s so thrilling about Matthew 6:9-13. It’s not just instruction for how to pray effectively or how to pray faithfully. It’s instruction for how to pray to a hallowed (Matthew 6:9), kingly and glorious (Matthew 6:13), Father. 

How should we pray to such a Father? Seeking His purposes (Matthew 6:10), His provision (Matthew 6:11), His pardon (Matthew 6:12) and protection (Matthew 6:13). Glorifying His combined Godhead and Fatherhood as redeemed creatures and adopted children!

How do you interact with God in your prayers? How are you avoiding doing your religion for others or self?

Sample prayer:  Father in Heaven, thank You for adopting us, for pardoning us, for providing for us. Forgive us for having so small a glimpse of You that we would aim at pleasing others or indulging ourselves. Purify our hearts toward You in Jesus Christ, we pray, AMEN! 

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH559 “The Lord’s Prayer”


Monday, March 28, 2022

The Lord Who Strikes Himself to Save Us (2022.03.27 Evening Sermon in Exodus 17:1–7)

We deserve wrath, but God who sought us out to save us struck Himself with the rod of His wrath, in order justly to give us life in the place of death.
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The Power of the Holy Spirit in the Apostolic Church—and Every True Church Today (2022.03.27 Morning Sermon in Acts 4:32–35, 5:12–16)


The Holy Spirit, God Himself, is at work in His church.

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How Should the Sovereignty of God Strengthen Me, pt 2 (2022.03.27 Sabbath School)

"How Should the Sovereignty of God Strengthen Me" in the RHB series, "Cultivating Biblical Godliness."—2 of 2
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2022.03.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 4:32–5:16

Read Acts 4:32–5:16

Questions from the Scripture text: How many had believed (Acts 4:32)? In what were they united? What did no one say? With what did the apostles witness (Acts 4:33)? To what? What was upon them all? What did none of them do (Acts 4:34)? Who did what? What did they do with the proceeds? Where did they lay them (Acts 4:35)? What did the apostles do with it? According to what? Whom does Acts 4:36 mention? What was his new name? From whom? What does it mean? Of what tribe was he? From what country? What had he had (Acts 4:37)? What did he do with it? And what did he do with the money? Whom does Acts 5:1 introduce? What did they do? What did he keep back (Acts 5:2)? Who was aware of it? What did he do with the rest? Who speaks to him (Acts 5:3)? Whom does he say has filled Ananias’s heart? To Whom does he say Ananias has lied? Who had a right to the possession (Acts 5:4)? Who had a right to control the proceeds? But what had he done? Who heard what (Acts 5:5)? Then what did he do? What came upon whom? Who arose in Acts 5:6? What three things did they do with Ananias? How much time passes before Acts 5:7? Who came in? What didn’t she know? Who says/asks what in Acts 5:8? How does she answer? What does Peter ask her (Acts 5:9)? What does he say are where? What will those who buried her husband do? What does she do (Acts 5:10)? Where? Who come in? What do they find? What do they do with her? Where? What comes upon which two groups (Acts 5:11)? Through whose hands were what done (Acts 5:12)? Where were they? Who didn’t join them there (Acts 5:13)? But what did the people think of them? Who were added to the church (Acts 5:14)? How, exactly, does verse 14 put this? How many were added? Of whom? What were people doing where in Acts 5:15? What were they hoping would happen? What gathered in Acts 5:16? From where? Bringing what two types? What happened to them?

Boldness for the Name of Jesus (Acts 4:31) goes hand-in-hand with unity and generosity in the body of Jesus (Acts 4:32), and witness to the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 4:33, Acts 5:12–16). These things come not from man’s goodness or power but God’s: “great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33). This all comes by the promise of Jesus (Acts 4:34): “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:30).

Persecutions, they certainly had. And even those who did not lose lands by persecution were voluntarily “losing” them for Jesus’s sake and the gospel’s sake (Acts 4:35–36). But there are some who wish to be admired for preferring Christ over all who are not actually preferring Him. That’s the problem in Acts 5:1–11. Ananias heard about Joses’s new nickname: Barnabas, “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36)! Perhaps he wondered to himself what wonderful new nickname he or Sapphira might receive from the apostles.

Reading through self-approving eyes, we may think ourselves very different from Ananias and Sapphira. But are they really so different from the family that indulge in entertainment late into Saturday night, wake up grumpy and unspiritual of soul on the Lord’s Day, are at each other’s throats all the way to church, and then try to put on a good face as a “good Christian family”? In many such situations might we rightly hear from this passage “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3) and “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4) and “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (Acts 5:9). 

They wanted “spiritual” credit before the eyes of men. “He kept back of the proceeds, his wife also being aware, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 5:2). That laying at the apostles’ feet was so ceremonious, and so holy-looking. Just like they wanted!

How desperately we need to learn that there is no “spiritual credit” for what is before the eyes of men. There is spiritual fruit like what God produced in the boldness and in the unity and in the generosity and witness to the resurrection. And that spiritual fruit must redound to the Spirit Who gave it.

For us to embrace persecutions in this life and eternal life in the next, we must have eyes to see that the spiritual and eternal are real. Ananias and Sapphira didn’t, and their divine executions are a wakeup call to us. God is holy and just and insists upon our taking Him and spiritual things seriously. So, we mustn’t rejoice in the praise of men but in the genuine presence and praise of God. May He deliver us from craving the approval of men!

When are you most tempted to seek the approval of men? How can you foster honesty before God and seeking His favor in order to combat the temptation to man-pleasing?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how we thank You that in You we have a hundredfold in this life: houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands. Forgive us for when we seek instead the esteem of men and commit the deadly sin of lying to God. Grant instead that we would rejoice even in persecutions and enjoy the favor that Christ has earned for us and the fruit that the Spirit works in us —which we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent Who Will Abide” or TPH164 “God Himself Is with Us”


Saturday, March 26, 2022

2022.03.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 4:32–5:11

Read Acts 4:32–5:11

Questions from the Scripture text: How many had believed (Acts 4:32)? In what were they united? What did no one say? With what did the apostles witness (Acts 4:33)? To what? What was upon them all? What did none of them do (Acts 4:34)? Who did what? What did they do with the proceeds? Where did they lay them (Acts 4:35)? What did the apostles do with it? According to what? Whom does Acts 4:36 mention? What was his new name? From whom? What does it mean? Of what tribe was he? From what country? What had he had (Acts 4:37)? What did he do with it? And what did he do with the money? Whom does Acts 5:1 introduce? What did they do? What did he keep back (Acts 5:2)? Who was aware of it? What did he do with the rest? Who speaks to him (Acts 5:3)? Whom does he say has filled Ananias’s heart? To Whom does he say Ananias has lied? Who had a right to the possession (Acts 5:4)? Who had a right to control the proceeds? But what had he done? Who heard what (Acts 5:5)? Then what did he do? What came upon whom? Who arose in Acts 5:6? What three things did they do with Ananias? How much time passes before Acts 5:7? Who came in? What didn’t she know? Who says/asks what in Acts 5:8? How does she answer? What does Peter ask her (Acts 5:9)? What does he say are where? What will those who buried her husband do? What does she do (Acts 5:10)? Where? Who come in? What do they find? What do they do with her? Where? What comes upon which two groups (Acts 5:11)?

Boldness for the Name of Jesus (Acts 4:31) goes hand-in-hand with unity and generosity in the body of Jesus (Acts 4:32), and witness to the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 4:33). These things come not from man’s goodness or power but God’s: “great grace was upon them all” (verse 33). This all comes by the promise of Jesus (Acts 4:34): “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:30).

Persecutions, they certainly had. And even those who did not lose lands by persecution were voluntarily “losing” them for Jesus’s sake and the gospel’s sake (Acts 4:35–36). But there are some who wish to be admired for preferring Christ over all who are not actually preferring Him. That’s the problem in Acts 5:1–11. Ananias heard about Joses’s new nickname: Barnabas, “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36)! Perhaps he wondered to himself what wonderful new nickname he or Sapphira might receive from the apostles.

Reading through self-approving eyes, we may think ourselves very different from Ananias and Sapphira. But are they really so different from the family that indulge in entertainment late into Saturday night, wake up grumpy and unspiritual of soul on the Lord’s Day, are at each other’s throats all the way to church, and then try to put on a good face as a “good Christian family”? In many such situations might we rightly hear from this passage “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit” (Acts 5:3) and “You have not lied to men but to God” (Acts 5:4) and “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord?” (Acts 5:9). 

They wanted “spiritual” credit before the eyes of men. “He kept back of the proceeds, his wife also being aware, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 5:2). That laying at the apostles’ feet was so ceremonious, and so holy-looking. Just like they wanted!

How desperately we need to learn that there is no “spiritual credit” for what is before the eyes of men. There is spiritual fruit like what God produced in the boldness and in the unity and in the generosity and witness to the resurrection. And that spiritual fruit must redound to the Spirit Who gave it.

For us to embrace persecutions in this life and eternal life in the next, we must have eyes to see that the spiritual and eternal are real. Ananias and Sapphira didn’t, and their divine executions are a wakeup call to us. God is holy and just and insists upon our taking Him and spiritual things seriously. So, we mustn’t rejoice in the praise of men but in the genuine presence and praise of God. May He deliver us from craving the approval of men!

When are you most tempted to seek the approval of men? How can you foster honesty before God and seeking His favor in order to combat the temptation to man-pleasing?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how we thank You that in You we have a hundredfold in this life: hoses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands. Forgive us for when we seek instead the esteem of men and commit the deadly sin of lying to God. Grant instead that we would rejoice even in persecutions and enjoy the favor that Christ has earned for us and the fruit that the Spirit works in us —which we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent Who Will Abide” or TPH164 “God Himself Is with Us”


Friday, March 25, 2022

God's Power Our Help, and God's Praise Our Hope, Even in Inexplicable Disasters (2022.03.23 Prayer Meeting sermon in Psalm 44)

God's power has always been His people's help and God's praise has always been His people's hope, and this holds true even in the most painful and inexplicable events of providence.
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2022.03.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 17:1–7

Read Exodus 17:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: Who set out in Exodus 17:1? From where? According to what? Where did they camp? What did they lack? With whom did the people contend (Exodus 17:2)? What did they say? What does Moses first ask? Then what? What do the people do there (Exodus 17:3a)? Against whom do they complain (verse 3b)? What do they accuse him of doing (verse 3c)? to whom? What does Moses do in Exodus 17:4? What does he say? Who speaks to whom in Exodus 17:5? Where does He say to go? Whom does He say to take? What does He say to take in his hand? What would Yahweh do where (Exodus 17:6)? What shall Moses do to that rock? What will come out of it? For the people to do what? What specific part of the plan is repeated at the end of v6? What two things does Moses call the place (Exodus 17:7)? Because of what Meribah/contention? And what Massah/testing?

God had turned Nile-fed Egypt into a place of death for the Egyptians. Now, He uses the same servant and the same rod to exert the same power in turning the dry wilderness into a place of life for Israel.

The first four verses are not particularly promising. The children of Israel are camped at Rephidim, and they have a very serious problem for a group of millions: there’s no water (Exodus 17:1). And Israel responds in a familiar way. They grumble. For the fourth time (cf. Exodus 14:11–12; Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2), they grumble. In fact, the word “contended” in Exodus 17:2 is quite strong; they quarreled with Moses. In fact, the end of Exodus 17:4 literally translated, reads “a little more, and they will stone me!” God’s servant is crying out to Him, not quarreling as Israel were, but rather a plea for help in the midst of great danger.

So, it doesn’t seem like a promising start, but such a start is a perfect occasion for a display of the grace of God. And we have a marvelous display of it here! Israel deserves the same fate as Egypt. The “Is Yahweh among us” of Exodus 17:7 sounds all too similar to Pharaoh’s “I do not know Yahweh nor will I let Israel go” (cf. Exodus 5:2). And the rod and the striking of the Nile (Exodus 17:5) remind us exactly what that deserves (cf. Exodus 7:17, Exodus 7:20).

The Lord builds the suspense by the command in Exodus 17:5, “Go on before the people, and take with you some of the elders of Israel. Also take in your hand your rod with which you struck the river, and go.” What will happen to this wicked, quarreling people? There’s no river here to strike? What will God command to be struck with the rod in response to the people’s sin?

Himself. God commands to strike Himself. “Behold, I will stand before you there upon the rock at Horeb. And you will strike on the rock.” Horeb was where Moses had first met Yahweh (cf. Exodus 3:1ff), and this is now the second mention of it in Exodus 17:6. It will be called Sinai in upcoming chapters, but here, the point is clear: the “I Am that I Am” of chapter 3 will be struck with His own rod in order to give life to His people instead of death!

If that sounds to you very much like what happened on the cross, you’re onto what the Spirit Himself says in 1 Corinthians 10:4, “and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ.” 

God commands that He Himself be struck by the rod that had turned Egypt’s river of life into a fountain of death in order to turn Israel’s wilderness of death into a place of life. The name of the place reminds them of the greatness of their sin (Exodus 17:7), but the event that took place proclaims the greater-ness of God’s grace. 

What does your sin deserve? What are the two options for who will receive that? Whose idea was it to give you the option of having life instead? What has He done in order to make that happen?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You have been perfectly merciful and faithful to us. Forgive us for our grumbling and even acting as if You were not with us. Grant that we would rejoice over Your taking upon Yourself that wrath that our sin deserved, and make us to trust that You are always taking care of us, we ask through Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51A “God Be Merciful to Me” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”


Thursday, March 24, 2022

2022.03.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13–16

Questions from the Scripture text: For what does 1 Thessalonians 2:13 add another reason (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:2)? How often do they thank God? What had the Thessalonians received? By what mechanism? From whom had they heard it? What didn’t they welcome it as? What did they welcome it as? What does this Word do? In what manner? In whom? What did they become (1 Thessalonians 2:14)? Imitators of whom? From whom had the Thessalonians suffered? From whom had the Judean churches suffered the same things? What had the Jews done to Whom (1 Thessalonians 2:15)? And whom else? And what had they done to the apostles? What do they not do? To whom are they contrary? What had the Jews forbidden them to do (1 Thessalonians 2:16)? What were the Jews thus doing to their own sins? What has come upon them? To what extent?

The apostle now turns from the evidence of the Spirit’s work in his and his companions’ ministry back to the Spirit’s work in the Thessalonians. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 resumes the thanksgiving that had begun in 1 Thessalonians 2:2. Now, having assured them that the ministry they received was genuine (1 Thessalonians 2:1) and pleased God (1 Thessalonians 2:4), he tackles head-on the opposition that the Thessalonians had endured.

Does opposition to the gospel ever threaten your confidence and hope? Don’t let it! The Holy Spirit makes believers receive it as the Word of God, because that’s exactly what it is: the Word of God! And it’s not just the Word of God, but also the appointed agent of the work of God. We never have to worry about being opposed if it is God Himself Who is working in believers by His Word. The apostle’s implication to the Thessalonians is just as timely today where we live as it was then: there’s no reason to be embarrassed of God’s Word, or intimidated by opposition, since it is God Who is working by that Word!

In fact, facing stiff opposition is so far from being a discouragement that it puts us in good company. The best company possible. Not only was the first apostolic church painfully persecuted (1 Thessalonians 2:14), but Jesus Himself (1 Thessalonians 2:15a) and many of their prophets (verse 15b) were killed as a result of preaching this faithful Word. So they most certainly did not “please God” (verse 15c) like the apostolic team had (1 Thessalonians 2:4). In fact, these persecutors were “contrary to all men”—opposing the saving Word of God and saving work of God to and among the nations (1 Thessalonians 2:16).

It's a perpetual temptation in the church to want to impress the culture. But this is not how to serve them. We serve them by pleasing God and speaking His saving Word, through which He does His saving work. 

On the contrary, the culture’s wrath is not what we should be fearing. They may be very hostile, and perhaps even kill us, but we are to love not our life even unto death but rather overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of His testimony (cf. Revelation 12:11). As the Lord Jesus said, “do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (Matthew 10:28). 

It is this dreadful judgment that 1 Thessalonians 2:16 reminds the Thessalonians has come upon the Jews and upon all those who reject and oppose the gospel. All of their other sins aren’t “full” (verse 16) until this last and great one. Opposition to the gospel becomes the mechanism by which “wrath has come upon them to the uttermost.” 

As the Thessalonians are conforming to the Word of God, the frightful wrath is not what has come upon them from their fellow man, but what will come upon the persecutors if they never respond to the gospel. Thus, fear of the persecutor may be displaced by compassion for his eternal soul.

How are you responding to the fact that the Bible (and the Bible preached) is God’s Word? To the fact that it is by this Word that He effectively works? From where do you anticipate persecution? How does this passage help you think about our response to it? And about your persecutors?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we bless Your Name for Your great mercy to us wrath-deserving sinners. How marvelous is the Word of the gospel that tells us of Your salvation in Jesus Christ, and the work of Your Spirit, Who uses that Word to work effectively in us! Forgive us for when we are discouraged or intimidated by the opposition of the world, and use Your Word to stir back up our faith, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress”


Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The King's Throne Established in Political Power, Religious Purity, and Economic Prosperity (Family Worship lesson in 1Kings 9:10–28)

How does God keep His promise to establish Solomon's throne? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. 1Kings 9:10–28 prepares us for the second serial reading in public worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these nineteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God's establishing of Solomon's throne meant granting Israel political power, religious purity (or at least outward orthodoxy), and economic prosperity.
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2022.03.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 9:10–28

Read 1 Kings 9:10–28

Questions from the Scripture text: In what year of Solomon’s reign does this happen (1 Kings 9:10; cf. 1 Kings 6:1, 1 Kings 7:1)? What had Solomon built? Who had supplied whom (1 Kings 9:11)? With what? How much? Now what did Solomon give Hiram? What does Hiram do in 1 Kings 9:12? With what result? How does he communicate this to Solomon (1 Kings 9:13)? What does he call the cities? But what had Hiram sent Solomon (1 Kings 9:14)? How had Solomon built the two houses and Israel’s defenses (1 Kings 9:15)? What two defense structures? What three defense cities? Who had taken these border towns from whom and given them to whom (1 Kings 9:16)? What other types of cities did Solomon build (1 Kings 9:17-19)? What else did he build (end of 1 Kings 9:19)? From which peoples did Solomon raise forced laborers (1 Kings 9:20-21)? From whom did he raise no forced labor (1 Kings 9:22)? How did they serve instead (1 Kings 9:22-23)? Who came up from where to what in 1 Kings 9:24? What else did Solomon do (1 Kings 9:25, cf. Exodus 23:14–17)? What did this orthodox procedure “finish”? What else did Solomon build where (1 Kings 9:26)? Who provided maritime expertise (1 Kings 9:27)? In what did their trade expeditions result (1 Kings 9:28)? 

Yahweh had listened to Solomon’s request not only about the temple (1 Kings 9:3) but also in an ongoing way about his throne (1 Kings 9:4-5). That answered prayer came with a warning (1 Kings 9:6-9) that will start coming into play already in 1 Kings 11:1–8, but in the passage before us (and in chapter 10), we see the Lord faithfully keeping His promise (even though Solomon’s imperfections show through in a couple spots). 

The Lord has given Solomon an upper hand with respect to Tyre, with respect to the Philistines, with respect to Egypt, and certainly with respect to the remnant of the Canaanites. Furthermore, the Lord established orthodox religious practice (outwardly at least) under Solomon, as well as lucrative trade. In short, Yahweh had established Solomon’s throne, just as promised.

The Lord gave Solomon an upper hand with respect to Tyre. The 120 talents (9,000 lbs) of gold that Solomon had received (1 Kings 9:14, probably not sequential as NKJV’s interpolated “then” suggests) was more than the crop exchange in 1 Kings 5:9–11 could pay for, so Solomon paid it off with twenty border towns (1 Kings 9:11). They weren’t particularly good towns (1 Kings 9:12), but the comparative strength of Solomon can be seen in Hiram’s inability to respond with anything more forceful than a complaint (1 Kings 9:13) in which he calls Solomon “brother.” Our passage mentions Solomon’s defense installations (1 Kings 9:15-19), and that together with the joint trade operations for which Hiram needed Solomon (1 Kings 9:26-28) put Tyre at Jerusalem’s mercy.

The Lord gave Solomon an upper hand with respect to Pharaoh. Lest we think that Solomon was the junior partner in his political marriage, Pharaoh pays a huge dowry (1 Kings 9:16) to get Solomon to take her as wife. True, Solomon is well-pleased with her and lavishly generous with her (1 Kings 9:24, cf. 1 Kings 3:1, 1 Kings 11:1). But for our purposes in this passage, the point is that even Pharaoh was deferential toward the Son of David.

The Lord gave Solomon an upper hand with respect to the Philistines. 1 Kings 9:15-19 describes not only military installations like the wall of Jerusalem and the defensive berm called the Millo, but also fortified outpost cities like Hazor, Megiddo, Gezer, Lower Beth Horon, Baalath, and Tadmor. His chariots and cavalry were so huge (by God’s mercy to him, despite his unlawfulness of stockpiling them, Deuteronomy 17:16) that they needed multiple cities of their own (1 Kings 9:19). 

And a significant contingent of the Israelite population were needed as officers to staff them (1 Kings 9:22). With such defenses and standing army, the Philistines who had been a constant pain throughout the period of the judges, Saul, and David have now become a military afterthought.

The Lord gave Solomon an upper hand with respect to the remnant of the Canaanites. (1 Kings 9:20). These were left over as a failure from the conquest of the land (1 Kings 9:21a), but under Solomon they were brought into a permanent servitude (verse 21b). Israel were now firmly established as the ruling class (1 Kings 9:22-23). 

In addition to military prosperity, the Lord established Solomon by establishing orthodox religious practice under him (1 Kings 9:25). There were three feasts a year that all were required to attend (cf. Exodus 23:14–17, Exodus 34:18–24; Leviticus 23; Deuteronomy 16:16–17. From the rest of the Old Testament, it appears that this almost never occurred. Solomon’s heart will depart from the Lord, and the people’s hearts are just as fickle, but in God’s mercy, the nation enjoys a brief season of observing these ordinances of the Lord.

Finally, the Lord established Solomon economically. With Tyre underneath him as the experts of the sea, Solomon establishes Israel as the great naval power (1 Kings 9:26-27) to go with their already-prime location at the crossroads of all land trade. The result is a joint trade operation that yields 31,500 pounds of gold (or maybe even 63,000 if the 420 talents is Hiram’s “half,” or even more if what Hiram takes home is a “junior” share!). Whatever the exact figures were, the point is pretty clear: the Lord had marvelously established Solomon economically, just as much as He had established him politically, militarily, organizationally, and religiously.

The Lord keeps His promises. The passage seems at first like a loosely assembled encyclopedia entry about various aspects of the reign of an ancient near-eastern king. But upon closer examination, it is testimony that just as the Lord had promised in 1 Kings 9:4-5, He surely and abundantly fulfills. The story of the passage is not just of one ancient near-eastern king, but of the story of the King of kings’s sure and abundant faithfulness to all His promises!

To what promises of the Lord do you especially cling? What in His character makes you sure of them? What in His past work makes you sure of them? How fully/richly will He keep them?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are not only perfectly wise and loving and powerful, but also perfectly faithful. We praise You that Your promises are all “yes” and “amen” because of the perfection of Your faithfulness. We praise You that You have secured all of Your good promises to us sinners by Your righteous Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. But we are all the more ashamed of our worry and unbelief, because we see now that they are sins against Your character, Your Word, and even Your Son Who has secured the promises for us. So, even according to Your promise, forgive our sins and by Your Spirit grow our faith—for we ask it in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP89A “The Lovingkindness of the LORD” or TPH245 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

2022.03.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Daniel 9:4–9

Read Daniel 9:4–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What is Daniel doing unto Whom (Daniel 9:4)? What does he “make”? What does he call Yahweh in the prayer? What does he acknowledge that the Lord has done? With whom has He kept this covenant and mercy? But what four things does Daniel immediately confess (Daniel 9:5)? By departing from what two things? And failing to heed whom (Daniel 9:6)? What had the prophets done in what Name? To which four groups in particular? What belongs to the Lord in Daniel 9:7? But what belonged to those four groups? At what time? Divided into what three groups during Daniel’s day? In what places are they? How did they get there? Why did He drive them there? Against Whom was their unfaithfulness committed? What does he now acknowledge belongs to his people (Daniel 9:8)? And especially to whom? But to Whom belongs what in Daniel 9:9? Even despite what?

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and first song all come from Daniel 9:4–9 so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Great King of Nations, Hear Our Prayer

These six verses are part of a longer passage in which Daniel realizes that God is about to end the desolations of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:2), prepares himself to pray intensely (Daniel 9:3), and then prays (Daniel 9:4-19). The passage as a whole is a marvelous example of believing God’s Word and laying hold of God’s character.

That’s the nature of prayer—laying hold of God as we know Him to be for things for which He has taught us to ask. Those who cling to false religions treat faith as looking into themselves for how intensely they can hope for what they want. Sadly, many who call themselves Christians also think of prayer in this way.

But true Christian prayer first of all lays hold of God’s character. God is indeed “great and awesome” and “keeps covenant and covenant-love” (Daniel 9:4). But He is also just and holy, which means that He does this “with those who love Him and with those who keep His commandments.” 

Marvelously, Daniel is able to note that at the end of verse 4, immediately before saying, “we have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled” (Daniel 9:5). Daniel knows that God’s righteousness is not just a righteousness from which He punishes the wicked, but also a righteousness in which God makes the wicked righteous (“O Lord, according to all Your righteousness, I pray, let Your anger and Your fury be turned away,” Daniel 9:16). This is that righteousness of God which is from faith to faith in Romans 1:17.

With God’s own righteousness accounted for us in Christ, we can draw joy and confidence from every aspect of His character—even despite our sin!

And it is necessary that we own this sin. For, not only is our sin against God’s character, which we must lay hold of; but, our sin is also against God’s Word, which guides us in what to pray. And Daniel makes this point when he says that they have sinned by “departing from Your precepts and Your judgments. Neither have we heeded Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your Name” (Daniel 9:5-6).

Therefore, since prayer must lay hold of Who God is and ask for what God has promised, confession of sin must be a significant part of all true praying. When we come before Him and His Word, we must admit that to us belongs “shame of face” (Daniel 9:7Daniel 9:8) “because we have sinned against You” (verse 8). Thankfully, one thoroughly biblical way of identifying God is as the One to Whom belongs “mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him” (Daniel 9:9). 

Whether Daniel or you, whether Jerusalem or Nineveh or Nashville, praying brings us face to face with the One Who forgives sin in Jesus Christ. And so our praying must do those two things: come through Christ alone and ask for forgiveness of sin. And it is then that we may freely and joyously lay hold of all that He is and all that He says.

What part do the attributes of God have in your own praying? What might you have to learn in order to improve this? How might you pray more according to God’s words as they shape right desires?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are the great and awesome and loving and righteous and forgiving God. Forgive us our sins, and make us always to acknowledge them before You. Shape our thoughts and desires by Your Word, and give us good recall of Your Word, so that our praying may be by faith in what You say, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH557 “Great King of Nations, Hear Our Prayer”


Monday, March 21, 2022

Remembering God's Saving, Personal Grace (2022.03.20 Evening Sermon in Exodus 16:31–36)

We must live in remembrance and response to God's salvation, and we must rest in and rejoice over how He personally portions out to each of us what we need for each day.
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How God's Prophecy, Purpose, and Power Give His Servants Holy Boldness (2022.03.20 Morning Sermon in Acts 4:23–31)


The Lord emboldens His servants to speak in Jesus's Name by God's prophecies and promises, God's purpose and plan, and God's powerful providence.

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How Should The Sovereignty of God Strengthen Me Pt. 1 (2022.03.20 Sabbath School)

"How Should the Sovereignty of God Strengthen Me" in the RHB series, "Cultivating Biblical Godliness."—1 of 2
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2022.03.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 4:23–31

Read Acts 4:23–31

Questions from the Scripture text: What happened to Peter and John at the beginning of Acts 4:23? To whom do they go? What do they report? To Whom does the church respond (Acts 4:24)? What do they call God? What do they say He has done? Whom do they quote in Acts 4:25? By whose mouth did He say it? What had the nations done? And what had the people done? What did the kings of the earth and the rulers do (Acts 4:26)? Against Whom? Whom do they identify as the Christ in Acts 4:27? And what kings? And what peoples? What does Acts 4:28 say that these all did? In what two ways does verse 28 describe God’s purposing it? What do they call Him in Acts 4:29? What do they ask Him to see? What do they ask Him to give them? In order to do what? By what did they hope to get this boldness and the neutralization of the threats (Acts 4:30)? What did God immediately do (Acts 4:31)? With what (Whom!) were they filled? And what immediate answer to prayer did they receive?

God much encourages His people by displaying the genuineness and reliability of His Word.

So, when the rulers of the Israelites continued doing (Acts 4:23) exactly as Psalm 2:1–2 had prophesied (Acts 4:25-26), they praised God for what He had done. Yes, the rulers of the two kingdoms (Herod and Pilate, Acts 4:27b) and the peoples of the two kingdoms (the Gentiles and the people of Israel, verse 27c) had conspired to murder the Christ, the anointed (verse 27a). But the fact that God had so plainly prophesied (promised, even!) this in Psalm 2 encouraged them to know that this was “whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28). 

God’s hand had predetermined to do it. It would be accomplished by His power. He would rule and overrule to do good by what the wicked would wickedly do.

God’s purpose had predetermined to do it. It would be accomplished by His plan. He would wisely work for good even through what they wickedly intended for evil. 

Now came the question: whose will would prevail. The rulers had made threats (Acts 4:29a)—promises of a sort, an evil sort. But the Lord had given them the task of speaking His Word, and His purposes in their task must be accomplished.

For that, they needed boldness (Acts 4:29b)—more of what the Lord had already given them (cf. Acts 4:13). He had already encouraged them by displaying the genuineness of His Word through the fulfillment of prophecy. They ask Him to do the same by giving the signs of a true apostolic testimony (Acts 4:30, cf. Acts 2:43, Acts 5:12; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4). 

The Lord still gives both sorts of encouragement. Everything with Christ occurred exactly according to God’s Word. What He tells us about ourselves is true. What He tells us to expect about Christian experience of grace is true. What He tells us about the world’s response to us is true. 

And He keeps producing in His people fruit that could only come not from our flesh but from a genuine work of His Spirit (cf. Galatians 5, 1 Thessalonians 1)—Christians themselves, the only current parts of the New Creation, are the ongoing and great sign (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:2–3)… not just signs like those that Jesus did in His earthly ministry, but greater signs now in His heavenly ministry! 

For boldness, what they needed most of all, however, was not the external signs of fulfilled prophecy or miracles and wonders. For boldness, they needed the blessing of the Spirit upon the means of grace. Yes, the place was shaken. But even more than that, “when they had prayed… they were all filled with the holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness”! (Acts 4:31).

With whom do you need more boldness with the Word? What are some ways that God encourages your boldness? How will you look to Him for boldness, and how will you make use of the means by which He gives that boldness?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for doing all things exactly according to what Your hand and Your purpose have predetermined. Forgive us for the weakness of our courage, and fill us with Your Spirit, so that we may be bold with Your Word, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”


Saturday, March 19, 2022

How God Gives His Servants Holy Boldness (Family Worship lesson in Acts 4:23–31)

How does God answer the apostolic church’s request for boldness? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Acts 4:23–31 prepares us for the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that some of what God uses to embolden His people to speak in Jesus’s Name are: God’s prophecies and promises, God’s purpose and plan, God’s providential power, and God’s hearing and answering prayer.
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2022.03.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 4:23–31

Read Acts 4:23–31

Questions from the Scripture text: What happened to Peter and John at the beginning of Acts 4:23? To whom do they go? What do they report? To Whom does the church respond (Acts 4:24)? What do they call God? What do they say He has done? Whom do they quote in Acts 4:25? By whose mouth did He say it? What had the nations done? And what had the people done? What did the kings of the earth and the rulers do (Acts 4:26)? Against Whom? Whom do they identify as the Christ in Acts 4:27? And what kings? And what peoples? What does Acts 4:28 say that these all did? In what two ways does verse 28 describe God’s purposing it? What do they call Him in Acts 4:29? What do they ask Him to see? What do they ask Him to give them? In order to do what? By what did they hope to get this boldness and the neutralization of the threats (Acts 4:30)? What did God immediately do (Acts 4:31)? With what (Whom!) were they filled? And what immediate answer to prayer did they receive?

God much encourages His people by displaying the genuineness and reliability of His Word.

So, when the rulers of the Israelites continued doing (Acts 4:23) exactly as Psalm 2:1–2 had prophesied (Acts 4:25-26), they praised God for what He had done. Yes, the rulers of the two kingdoms (Herod and Pilate, Acts 4:27b) and the peoples of the two kingdoms (the Gentiles and the people of Israel, verse 27c) had conspired to murder the Christ, the anointed (verse 27a). But the fact that God had so plainly prophesied (promised, even!) this in Psalm 2 encouraged them to know that this was “whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done” (Acts 4:28). 

God’s hand had predetermined to do it. It would be accomplished by His power. He would rule and overrule to do good by what the wicked would wickedly do.

God’s purpose had predetermined to do it. It would be accomplished by His plan. He would wisely work for good even through what they wickedly intended for evil. 

Now came the question: whose will would prevail. The rulers had made threats (Acts 4:29a)—promises of a sort, an evil sort. But the Lord had given them the task of speaking His Word, and His purposes in their task must be accomplished.

For that, they needed boldness (Acts 4:29b)—more of what the Lord had already given them (cf. Acts 4:13). He had already encouraged them by displaying the genuineness of His Word through the fulfillment of prophecy. They ask Him to do the same by giving the signs of a true apostolic testimony (Acts 4:30, cf. Acts 2:43, Acts 5:12; 2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4). 

The Lord still gives both sorts of encouragement. Everything with Christ occurred exactly according to God’s Word. What He tells us about ourselves is true. What He tells us to expect about Christian experience of grace is true. What He tells us about the world’s response to us is true. 

And He keeps producing in His people fruit that could only come not from our flesh but from a genuine work of His Spirit (cf. Galatians 5, 1 Thessalonians 1)—Christians themselves, the only current parts of the New Creation, are the ongoing and great sign (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:2–3)… not just signs like those that Jesus did in His earthly ministry, but greater signs now in His heavenly ministry! 

For boldness, what they needed most of all, however, was not the external signs of fulfilled prophecy or miracles and wonders. For boldness, they needed the blessing of the Spirit upon the means of grace. Yes, the place was shaken. But even more than that, “when they had prayed… they were all filled with the holy Spirit, and they spoke the Word of God with boldness”! (Acts 4:31).

With whom do you need more boldness with the Word? What are some ways that God encourages your boldness? How will you look to Him for boldness, and how will you make use of the means by which He gives that boldness?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for doing all things exactly according to what Your hand and Your purpose have predetermined. Forgive us for the weakness of our courage, and fill us with Your Spirit, so that we may be bold with Your Word, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”


Friday, March 18, 2022

Living in Remembrance of God's Saving, Personal Grace (Family Worship lesson in Exodus16:31–36)

What does the vocabulary of the passage about the jar of manna teach us? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. Exodus 16:31–36 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these six verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us to live in remembrance and response to God’s salvation, and especially to rest in and rejoice over how He personally portions out to each of us what we need for each day.
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2022.03.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 16:31–36

Read Exodus 16:31–36

Questions from the Scripture text: Who came up with the name in Exodus 16:31? What did they call the bread? What did it look like? What did it taste like? Who speaks in Exodus 16:32? Who gave the command? What were they to do with some of the Manna? How long would they keep it? To do what with it? To whom does Moses speak in Exodus 16:33? What does he tell him to do with a pot? And where to put it? Did they obey the command (Exodus 16:34)? Where did they put it, in order to “lay it up before Yahweh”? What would the people actually see, when they “saw” it? Who ate the manna for how long (Exodus 16:35)? Until what event? Where did this happen? How much was in the pot (Exodus 16:36)?

In the language of the passage, the word (phrase in English) “to be kept” and the word “omer” serve as the core and refrain. 

“to be kept” is at the heart of each verse in the middle section: Exodus 16:32Exodus 16:33Exodus 16:34. Yahweh wanted a display of His generosity and grace to be quite literally at the heart of His presence among them (Exodus 16:33-34). 

He didn’t want them to forget, but rather to keep in memory, what kind of forgiving, gracious, loving, generous God He had made Himself unto and among His people. Even the description of the name and appearance and taste in Exodus 16:31 “keep alive” the sound and sight and flavor of that generosity, even after the Manna would cease (Exodus 16:35).  

The other word that shapes this passage is, perhaps surprisingly, “omer.” This word features prominently in Exodus 16:32Exodus 16:33, and Exodus 16:36. In fact, the Hebrew of the command in Exodus 16:32 literally begins with the noun phrase, “the fullness of an omer” rather than the verb “fill.” 

But that “fullness of an omer” hearkens back to the “eating to the full” (different word, same idea) that they claimed to have had in Egypt in Exodus 16:3 but that the Lord had actually promised them in Exodus 16:8, and then proceeded to give them every single day throughout the wilderness years (Exodus 16:35)—including double on “Sabbath eve” since Sabbath was a better gift even than food from heaven. 

So there is generosity here, but there is also individual/personal mercy here. The amount that God chose to have kept was the personal, individual allotment for an Israelite per day. They would have been more familiar with the ephah (4.84 gallons), but Yahweh directs them to keep the amount that reminds them that He was individually merciful and generous to every single one of them, every single day.

He wants us to do the same. He teaches us to pray, “give us this day our daily bread,” reminding us that He measures out to us daily, generously exactly what we need—just like He had done for Israel in the wilderness. And when He brings us to that apostolic breaking of the bread at the Lord’s table, He emphasizes to us our individual portions… commanding us to wait for one another to eat together the portions that were broken out for us, and to drink together the portions that were poured out for us. 

Bless God that His individually generous mercy extends to giving us Christ as the true bread from heaven Whose body is true food and Whose blood is true drink!

What sorts of individual mercy has the Lord shown you? When/how do you remember that (in addition to and including what’s mentioned above)?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You, Who have given us exactly what we needed, every single day of our lives. And most of all we praise You for giving us what we needed the most—Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Forgive us for moments and seasons of ingratitude against this great generosity of Yours, and keep giving us of Jesus by Your Spirit until You have formed in us perfectly grateful hearts, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The LORD’s My Shepherd” or TPH551 “We Plow the Fields”

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Knowing Our God in Times of Trouble (2022.03.16 Prayer Meeting sermon in Psalm 43)

Because of all the blessed ways in which our God relates to us, we are able to come to Him in the midst of great trouble and grief and find safety and joy that shall last forever.
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What Faithful Ministers and Elders Do (Family Worship lesson in 1Thessalonians 2:8–12)

What actions showed the Thessalonians that Paul, Silas, and Timothy’s ministry was authentic? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 1Thessalonians 2:8–12 prepares us for the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that biblical ministers and elders love deeply, are never “off the clock,” think about the good of the church in everything they do, and minister in every helpful way to each member personally in addition their public ministries.
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2022.03.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Thessalonians 2:8–12

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:8–12

Questions from the Scripture text: How does the apostolic group feel for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:8)? What two things were they pleased to impart to them? Why? What two things do they remember (1 Thessalonians 2:9)? What did they do at what times? Why? What did they preach? What were the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:10)? What three attributes characterized the apostolic group’s behavior? What three things did they do (1 Thessalonians 2:11)? To how many of them? In what manner? How did they want them to walk (1 Thessalonians 2:12)? What was God doing to them? 

Chapter one had focused largely upon the effect that the Spirit had produced in the Thessalonians, to display to Paul, Silas, and Timothy that He had done a genuine and powerful work. Now, in chapter two, that apostle and elders are reminding the Thessalonians that the Spirit had also displayed evidences of His work in them to the Thessalonians. In 1 Thessalonians 2:1-7, they had reminded the Thessalonians of their character and motivations toward them. Now, in 1 Thessalonians 2:8-12, the apostle and elders remind the Thessalonians of three aspects of their conduct among them: affection, effort, and fatherly counsel.

Affection, 1 Thessalonians 2:8
The word translated “affectionately longing” describes their strong emotional attraction and expression toward the Thessalonians. Yes, they had come to bring God’s gospel, God’s treasure to the Thessalonians (not to get the Thessalonians’ treasures for themselves, cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:21 Thessalonians 2:4). But it wasn’t just God Who was loving them with deep affection. 

The word for “lives” in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 is actually “souls”—the image is of a mother nursing her baby and cherishing and nourishing them with such affection that it’s not just milk that she gives but with great emotional/affectionate love feels herself to be giving her whole self to the child. Such was the affection of that apostle and elders as they preached, and the Thessalonians could feel their dearness to them (cf. “you yourselves know” in 1 Thessalonians 2:1).

Effort, 1 Thessalonians 2:9
Just as the Thessalonians’ effort had shown their love (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3), so first the apostle’s and elders’ efforts had shown theirs. There are three, intense “effort” words in 1 Thessalonians 2:9, describing the service that someone might get from his most diligent slave. Indeed, the phrase “night and day” implies that sort of effort. It is rare from slaves, and sadly in the culture in which I write, it is rare even from parents. 

But in whatever culture and from whatever relation, it is the kind of sweat and strength and endurance that is put out by devoted love. Anything that they could do to make it easier on the Thessalonians, they eagerly did. They wanted the Thessalonians to have every advantage for receiving the ministry well and for responding well to the ministry, so they added to the preaching at the end of 1 Thessalonians 2:9 the night-and-day pastoral laboring of the beginning of verse 9. There’s probably an implication here of their willingness to labor for their financial needs as well, though Paul, Silas, and Timothy had only been there for three weeks (cf. Acts 17:1–10). It’s the night-and-day pastoral laboring that is more in view here (cf. Acts 20:20).

Fatherly counsel, 1 Thessalonians 2:10-12
Not only did the apostle and elders have a preaching ministry among them (1 Thessalonians 2:8), and a pastoral ministry among them (1 Thessalonians 2:9), but they also had a very personal ministry among them (1 Thessalonians 2:10-12).  It was marked by devotion (“devoutly”), uprightness (“justly”), and blamelessness. 

There was one particular part of the ministry where these all shone: personal counsel (1 Thessalonians 2:11). There were three kinds of fatherly speech that they had for “every one of you.” Every Thessalonian believer had received from them words of exhortation (instruction), comfort (consolation/cheering), and charge (imploring/pleading/urging). A father who ignores one of his children while attending to the rest is a monster. A father who leaves out one of these kinds of speech is a failure. This apostle and elder conducted themselves like good fathers—having personal words of every needful kind for every one of their “children” in the congregation.

Why? Because these were the children of God. They had been called to His own kingdom. They had been called to His own glory. And they needed the “parenting” of 1 Thessalonians 2:11 to produce the appropriate “walking” of the children of God in this world (cf. Matthew 5:45, Matthew 5:48; Philippians 2:15). He who is entrusted with the spiritual parenting of the children of God must see to it that he doesn’t leave out words of exhortation, consolation, or urging from any one of those children.

When we pray for our elders to be full of the Holy Spirit, we are praying that they will shepherd with this sort of affection, effort, and fatherliness. And, when we seek from God to give us elders who are full of the Spirit, we are seeking that He would provide men of such affection, effort, and fatherliness. And when men seek to become elders (a good thing to do, 1 Timothy 3:1), or men who are elders seek to be ones in whom the reality of the Spirit is displayed, we are seeking to have lives that exhibit such affection, effort, and fatherliness. 

When do you pray for your elders to be full of the Spirit? What are you praying to see when you do so? When a congregation displays evidence of true spiritual life and when elders display evidence of true spiritual ministry, whom should we glorify? How do we do that?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for the evidences of Your Spirit’s work in our congregation and in the undershepherds that You have given her. When we read about these displays of Your work in the Thessalonian church, we realize how much we still fall short. Forgive us, we pray! And do that work that You alone can do in us, so that You will get all the glory in it, we ask in Christ’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH546 “God of the Prophets!”


Wednesday, March 16, 2022

God's Grace to a Sinful King (and All Sinners) in the Perfect King (Family Worship lesson in 1Kings 9:1–9)

What does Yahweh’s second appearance to Solomon have in common with the first? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. 1Kings 9:1–9 prepares us for the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the timing of God’s appearances to Solomon show forth His grace to sinners, and that the justness and holiness of God require us to hope not in a king like Solomon but in the only perfect King, Jesus.
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2022.03.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 9:1–9

Read 1 Kings 9:1–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What things had Solomon finished (1 Kings 9:1)? What did the LORD do to Solomon (1 Kings 9:2)? What did the LORD say He had done (1 Kings 9:3)? What had the LORD done to the house? What would be there for how long? What must Solomon do (1 Kings 9:4)? Like whom? According to what? Keeping what? What would the LORD do with Solomon’s throne (1 Kings 9:5)? According to what promise? But what might Solomon or his sons turn from (1 Kings 9:6)? Why might they not keep? Whom might they serve instead? And what would the LORD do in that situation (1 Kings 9:7)? What would He do to the temple? And what would Israel become? What would those who pass by the temple do and ask (1 Kings 9:8)? What would the answer be (1 Kings 9:9)—Whom would they have forsaken, and whom would they have embraced? With what results?

Yahweh was still with Solomon. He appeared to him again (1 Kings 9:2). 

Affirmation
“I have heard your prayer and your supplication” (1 Kings 9:3). Solomon had prayed that marvelous prayer (cf. 1 Kings 8:22–53), and then they had had that marvelous feast (cf. 1 Kings 8:54–66). But those things don’t mean anything unless the Lord actually answers the prayer, receives the sacrifice (on the basis of the coming sacrifice of Christ)  and promises His Name, His eyes, His heart. The Lord promises Himself to them.

Requirement
We know that integrity of heart, uprightness, and obedience (1 Kings 9:4) only come in dependence upon God’s grace. But they are required. The problem is that no one can live them out in such a way as to secure 1 Kings 9:5. No one except Jesus. Solomon is the first son of David to sit on the throne, but the next four hundred years of sons of David are going to be a long, painful lesson in the fact that only the Son of David (capital S) could satisfy the requirement and sit on the throne forever. He has (cf. Romans 1:3–4). And He will!

Warning
Israel were the people of God and were supposed to be a light to the nations, but they would end up being a lesson to the nations (1 Kings 9:9). Solomon and his descendants were to be faithful kings through whom God blessed His people, but they ended up being faithless kings (1 Kings 9:6), on account of whom God invoked the covenant curses upon His people. They would lose the land promised to Abraham (1 Kings 9:7a) and the blessings just now invoked upon the temple (1 Kings 9:7-8).

The real problem with Israel and the kings of Israel is the guilt of Adam and the nature of Adam—which is to say that we have the same problem that they did. They are a lesson for us in the absolute necessity of Christ for us. His atonement to remove our guilt. His obedience and righteousness to be counted for us. His kingship to secure the blessedness of His people. Blessed be the Name of God—He Himself became a man to be our Temple, our Sacrifice, our King, our Righteousness, our Blessedness.

What does God require of you? What would He give if you could do it? Why can’t you? How can you avoid the curse that you deserve? What blessing will you receive?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how greatly You have blessed us in every way—and especially with Your presence to us and Your hearing us when we call upon Your Name. Your commandments and statutes and judgments are good, and in keeping them there is life. But still, our original nature from Adam is such that we continually do that which justly would bring Your curse upon us. Forgive us our sin, and consider us in Christ—for He has atoned for all of our sin, and in Him You give us to be Your own perfect righteousness. So, it is in His Name that we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Christ's Glorious Harvest (Family Worship lesson in John 4:34–42)

What gets the Lord Jesus talking about sending the disciples to harvest? Pastor leads his family in today’s “Hopewell @Home” passage. John 4:34–42 prepares us for the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that for the sake of the Father Who sent Him and of those whom He came to save, the Lord Jesus was eager to gather in a harvest of redeemed sinners. And we should reflect that eagerness both for our part in it and His.
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2022.03.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 4:34–42

Read John 4:34–42 

Questions from the Scripture text: Who is speaking in John 4:34? What two things are His “food”? What does he tell them not to say (John 4:35)? What does he tell them to do instead? What are they to notice about the fields? What does the reaper receive (John 4:36)? What kind of fruit does he gather? What do the sower and reaper do together? What saying comes true in this harvest (John 4:37)? What did Jesus send them to do (John 4:38)? For what kind of harvest? What have others done? What have the apostles done? Who believed in Him (John 4:39)? Why? What did she say? Who came to Him in John 4:40? What did they urge? What did Jesus do? What did many more do (John 4:41)? To whom do they speak in John 4:42? What do they do now? What isn’t the reason they do? What have they themselves done? What do they know about Jesus? 

Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and first song all come from John 4:34–42 so that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

It’s a humbling thing to be a farmer. You do what you know to do, but so much depends upon pure Providence. Jesus was content to receive His food in due season. We see that in the first temptation, in which after going hungry for forty days, He was content with the words that proceed out of the mouth of God.

Here, His food was whatever His Father gave Him to do. He takes to it with relish, like sitting down to a good meal, because it is the goodness of His Father. 

Marvelously, Jesus invites His disciples to reap the harvest with Him. This teaches us that it is God that gives salvation. The Father, Son, and Spirit do their great saving work, their labors. And, when the Lord gives us to participate in others coming to Him, He brings us into His own labors and gives us to gather fruit for eternal life!

Food harvest time was a time of great thanksgiving and rejoicing over God’s goodness. How much more is the joy of participating in His bringing others to Himself! And the joy of Christ’s soon return, having gathered to Himself all Who are His!

But this participation is a joy even more because of fellowship with Jesus and dependence upon Jesus than any pleasure we might get from our own part in it. This woman who had so quickly learned to love the Christ would not have been disappointed by the results of John 4:40–42

Yes, she had the privilege of pointing them to the Lord and being used to lead them to the Lord. But as our brothers and sisters come to know Him for Himself and from Himself, we rejoice all the more as we grow in our appreciation for the fact that it was He Who was using us all along. 

We rejoice to hear them say “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.” Those whom He is redeeming are His harvest, and whatever part we can have is a joy in the fact that we get to do that part in fellowship with Him, and that even our part depends entirely upon Him.

What is Christ’s harvest? How are you part of it? How are you part of the harvesting?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us life and breath and every good thing in this life. And thank You all the more for purchasing us by Your blood, retrieving us from our sin, and growing us in grace. Forgive us for when we fail to be grateful even for earthly blessings, let alone for eternal blessings. And make us to be glad servants as we do whatever part You have blessed us to have in Your own work, which we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP145C “The Eyes of All Are Turned to You” or TPH552 “Come, Ye Thankful People, Come”


Monday, March 14, 2022

Miraculous, Filling, Perplexing, Reliable, Delightful Grace (2022.03.13 Evening Sermon in Exodus 16:8–30)

We must remember God's miraculous and infinitely generous response to our sin in Jesus Christ. Daily grace demands our daily trust in Him, and the weekly grace of the Sabbath compels our delight in Him.
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The Almighty Power of Jesus (2022.03.13 Morning Sermon in Acts 4:1–22)


Jesus's power conquers all, so let us have it as the power that gives and grows our spiritual life!

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How Can I Do All Things to God's Glory?, pt 2 (2022.03.13 Sabbath School)

How Can I Do All Things to God's Glory? in the RHB series, "Cultivating Biblical Godliness."—2 of 2
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2022.03.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 4:1–22

Read Acts 4:1–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What were Peter and John doing (Acts 4:1)? What three groups come upon them? By what two things are they disturbed (Acts 4:2)? What two things did they do to them (Acts 4:3)? Why not have a trial now? But what had been the result of the day (Acts 4:4)? On what day does v5 take place? What seven parties/people gather (Acts 4:5-6)? Where? Where do they put Peter and John (Acts 4:7)? What do they ask? What happens to Peter in Acts 4:8? Whom does he address? What does he point out about the deed (Acts 4:9)? By what Name does he say it was done (Acts 4:10)? What had they done to Jesus? What had God done to Him? What has Jesus now done to this man? As what does Peter identify Jesus in Acts 4:11? As what does he identify the rulers? What exclusivity does Acts 4:12 ascribe to Jesus? What did the council see in Acts 4:13? What did they perceive? How did they respond to these facts? What did they realize? What did they see in Acts 4:14? What couldn’t they do? What did they do command and do in Acts 4:15? What did they ask (Acts 4:16)? What did they see as making a problem for them? What did they want to stop (Acts 4:17)? How did they think they could do this (verse 17)? What did they command in Acts 4:18? What two things did Peter and John weigh against each other in Acts 4:19? What did they feel compelled to do (Acts 4:20)? How does the council respond to this (Acts 4:21)? What couldn’t they actually do? How had God accomplished this? Why were the multitudes so impressed (Acts 4:22)?

This passage relates the losing battle of the rulers of Israel to stop the preaching of Jesus and His resurrection.

They jail the apostles in Acts 4:3, but the number of men has now come to five thousand. This doesn’t include women and children, which means that the church has at least tripled since the day of Pentecost. Even their zeal for wickedness is outdone by the church’s zeal for good. The Jews didn’t have time for a trial, but the church had time for a new bevy of baptisms!

The trial itself is a great big softball (Acts 4:7). It seems like they think there must be some “other” answer to the question than the one that they inevitably get. The result is that Peter (for some reason, the Spirit chooses Peter to be the one who answers, Acts 4:8) puts them on notice that the harder they try, the worse they lose. In fact, when they crucified Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God raise Him from the dead (Acts 4:10).

Then, they come up with the only thing they think they can do to stem the tide of this preaching in Jesus’s Name: threatening (Acts 4:17-18). This is met not with less boldness but more (Acts 4:13Acts 4:19-20). So what do they do? Attempt more of the very threatening that has just now failed (Acts 4:21a). In fact, the great theme of the event seems to be how powerless against the gospel are the powerful people in Israel (Acts 4:14-16Acts 4:21-22).

The Scriptures had prophesied it. Jesus had promised it. The gospel would go unstoppably to the ends of the earth. Jesus’s power cannot be defeated.  If you fight Jesus, You will lose your fight with Him. Many have resisted believing in Christ. Lose that battle now, and believe, and live! Supposing you resist believing in Christ for the rest of this life. You will still lose. But lose the battle later, and you will suffer His wrath forever.

The apostles see this competition clearly. They feel themselves under obligation to tell the good things that they have seen and heard from the Lord (Acts 4:20). And, what is right in the sight of God is to listen to God over-against any and every man (Acts 4:19). We too must confess Him, whatever the cost to us, being eager to tell all the good that we have seen and heard the Lord do—particularly in His Word.

Whom do you know who is/are resisting the Lord Jesus and His gospel? In what ways? What are ways that this can end?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for overcoming our own unbelief, and for the almighty progress of Your gospel across the world and through the ages. Forgive us for when we have been afraid of other creatures’ power, or have even tried to resist You ourselves. Grant unto us to do always what is right in Your eyes, and not to fear man at all. For, we ask it through Your own Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH98A “O Sing a New Song to the Lord”


Saturday, March 12, 2022

2022.03.12 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 4:1–22

Read Acts 4:1–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What were Peter and John doing (Acts 4:1)? What three groups come upon them? By what two things are they disturbed (Acts 4:2)? What two things did they do to them (Acts 4:3)? Why not have a trial now? But what had been the result of the day (Acts 4:4)? On what day does v5 take place? What seven parties/people gather (Acts 4:5-6)? Where? Where do they put Peter and John (Acts 4:7)? What do they ask? What happens to Peter in Acts 4:8? Whom does he address? What does he point out about the deed (Acts 4:9)? By what Name does he say it was done (Acts 4:10)? What had they done to Jesus? What had God done to Him? What has Jesus now done to this man? As what does Peter identify Jesus in Acts 4:11? As what does he identify the rulers? What exclusivity does Acts 4:12 ascribe to Jesus? What did the council see in Acts 4:13? What did they perceive? How did they respond to these facts? What did they realize? What did they see in Acts 4:14? What couldn’t they do? What did they do command and do in Acts 4:15? What did they ask (Acts 4:16)? What did they see as making a problem for them? What did they want to stop (Acts 4:17)? How did they think they could do this (verse 17)? What did they command in Acts 4:18? What two things did Peter and John weigh against each other in Acts 4:19? What did they feel compelled to do (Acts 4:20)? How does the council respond to this (Acts 4:21)? What couldn’t they actually do? How had God accomplished this? Why were the multitudes so impressed (Acts 4:22)? 

This passage relates the losing battle of the rulers of Israel to stop the preaching of Jesus and His resurrection.

They jail the apostles in Acts 4:3, but the number of men has now come to five thousand. This doesn’t include women and children, which means that the church has at least tripled since the day of Pentecost. Even their zeal for wickedness is outdone by the church’s zeal for good. The Jews didn’t have time for a trial, but the church had time for a new bevy of baptisms!

The trial itself is a great big softball (Acts 4:7). It seems like they think there must be some “other” answer to the question than the one that they inevitably get. The result is that Peter (for some reason, the Spirit chooses Peter to be the one who answers, Acts 4:8) puts them on notice that the harder they try, the worse they lose. In fact, when they crucified Jesus Christ of Nazareth, God raise Him from the dead (Acts 4:10).

Then, they come up with the only thing they think they can do to stem the tide of this preaching in Jesus’s Name: threatening (Acts 4:17-18). This is met not with less boldness but more (Acts 4:13Acts 4:19-20). So what do they do? Attempt more of the very threatening that has just now failed (Acts 4:21a). In fact, the great theme of the event seems to be how powerless against the gospel are the powerful people in Israel (Acts 4:14-16Acts 4:21-22).

The Scriptures had prophesied it. Jesus had promised it. The gospel would go unstoppably to the ends of the earth. Jesus’s power cannot be defeated.  If you fight Jesus, You will lose your fight with Him. Many have resisted believing in Christ. Lose that battle now, and believe, and live! Supposing you resist believing in Christ for the rest of this life. You will still lose. But lose the battle later, and you will suffer His wrath forever.

The apostles see this competition clearly. They feel themselves under obligation to tell the good things that they have seen and heard from the Lord (Acts 4:20). And, what is right in the sight of God is to listen to God over-against any and every man (Acts 4:19). We too must confess Him, whatever the cost to us, being eager to tell all the good that we have seen and heard the Lord do—particularly in His Word.

Whom do you know who is/are resisting the Lord Jesus and His gospel? In what ways? What are ways that this can end? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for overcoming our own unbelief, and for the almighty progress of Your gospel across the world and through the ages. Forgive us for when we have been afraid of other creatures’ power, or have even tried to resist You ourselves. Grant unto us to do always what is right in Your eyes, and not to fear man at all. For, we ask it through Your own Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the LORD” or TPH397 “O Sing a New Song to the LORD”