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, June 30, 2022

A Prototypical Apostolic Way of Praying for Persecuted/Suffering Believers (Family Worship lesson in 2Thessalonians 1:11–12)

What is an apostolic way of praying for believers who are enduring persecution? 2Thessalonians 1:11–12 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when believers are suffering persecution, one of the main things to pray for them is for their holiness.
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2022.06.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:11–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostolic team do (2 Thessalonians 1:11)? How often? That God would count the Thessalonians as what? And that God would fulfill what? With what sort of works from them? For what Name (2 Thessalonians 1:12)? That what might happen to that Name? in whom? And who else would be glorified in Whom? According to what?

What is an apostolic way of praying for believers who are enduring persecution?  2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when believers are suffering persecution, one of the main things to pray for them is for their holiness. 

The previous six verses had described God’s goodness to count the Thessalonians worthy of the kingdom for which they suffered (2 Thessalonians 1:5). Now, the apostle prays for them to receive that very thing. The “His” in 2 Thessalonians 1:11 is supplied by our translators, but it is not in the original. The apostle might be praying that God would fulfill all the goodness that pleases Him. But, it reads more naturally that by His power, He would fulfill every one of their good pleasures that comes from their faith. 

That is to say that even as it is God Who has given them faith, and it is God Who has given them whatever good desires they have, so also it must be God Who supplies the power by which they can act from this faith and good desire. If we want others to do good works, then it is well to tell them what good works are and to urge them to do them. But it is even more vital to pray for them, for it is God who “fulfills” it all by His power.

If our ultimate goal is “that the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified,” then this is how we will pray for believers under pressure. That this opportunity to see Christ’s glory shine in their actions would be fulfilled. Indeed, it is an extraordinary grace of God that His chosen way of being glorified in believers is that believers would be glorified in Him. In Jesus, the Thessalonian believers would be empowered to believe and to do that which is good. This is glorious! And by doing so in them, Jesus would show Himself glorious.

There is no room here for questioning God’s providence in persecution. The apostle, and those who follow him by the same Spirit, will be too busy marveling at “the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” and praying that that He would be glorified for it.

What difficult situation are you in? For what desire for good or work of faith does this situation present an opportunity? How would Jesus be glorified in you through this? How would you be glorified in Him? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, when we are suffering we often forget that we are being counted worthy to suffer for the kingdom and to live for Your kingdom. Forgive us for missing opportunities to show Your glory in our good purposes and works of faith. Turn our hearts toward glorifying You, and fulfill those good desires, we ask, through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

The LORD Displays His Power and Patience unto Our Repentance (Family Worship lesson in 1Kings 18:19–39)

How might God show mercy to a people who have fallen for appearances of worldly power? 1Kings 18:19–39 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-one verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord reigns supreme, despite any appearances to the contrary, and He is profoundly patient to keep reminding His people to turn their hearts back to Him.
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2022.06.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 18:19–39

Read 1 Kings 18:19–39

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Eljiah command Ahab to gather in 1 Kings 18:19? And which 450 and 400 more specifically? How does Ahab respond (1 Kings 18:20)? With what question does Elijah begin to address them (1 Kings 18:21)? What does he demand they do? What does Elijah think about himself (1 Kings 18:22)? How many are the prophets of Baal? Whom does he suggest will choose which bull to take (1 Kings 18:23)? What would they do with it? What will they not put under it? What will Elijah do with the other bull? Then how would the challenge proceed (1 Kings 18:24)? How do the people respond to this plan? Who goes first (1 Kings 18:25)? And how long do they call our what (1 Kings 18:26)? What do they begin doing at noon? But what does Elijah begin doing at noon (1 Kings 18:27)? What four suggestions does he make? Now what do the prophets of Baal do (1 Kings 18:28)? And then what (1 Kings 18:29) until when? What does Elijah invite the people to do in 1 Kings 18:30? What do they observe, thus up close? What does he now take up (1 Kings 18:31)? According to what number? In what Name does Elijah build the altar (1 Kings 18:32)? What does he make around it? Once he makes his own preparations in 1 Kings 18:33, what does he tell them to do? How many times (1 Kings 18:34)? With what results (1 Kings 18:35)? What does Elijah do at what time in 1 Kings 18:36? What three things, specifically, does Elijah ask God to show in verse 36? What does he add at the end of 1 Kings 18:37? What falls in 1 Kings 18:38? What five things does the fire do? How do the people respond in 1 Kings 18:39? 

How might God show mercy to a people who have fallen for appearances of worldly power?  1 Kings 18:19–39 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-one verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord reigns supreme, despite any appearances to the contrary, and He is profoundly patient to keep reminding His people to turn their hearts back to Him.

“Odds” are not as they appear. Now, biblical believers will object to the word “odds,” and well they should. Because it doesn’t matter if on one side there is the power and wealth of the throne together with 850 government-subsidized prophets (1 Kings 18:19), and on the other side there is just the one prophet. Later, the prophet will emphasize this point by having them triple-stack the “odds” against him. If God is almighty, then He is sovereign. 

In fact, earthly power and influence are mockable. This passage contains one of the most sarcastic, humorous portions of all Scripture. The word translated “busy” in 1 Kings 18:27 means to go aside in order to relive oneself. Of course, Baal is even more mockable, because he doesn’t exist. He’s not actually able to be preoccupied or journeying or napping. But the kings of the world and “prophets” of the world are subject to all those things. It is utter folly for the wicked to trust in them, and it would be utter fully for the godly to fear them. And as the frenzy and self-mutilation ensue, the self-mocking of the idolaters’ actions is even more scathing than Elijah’s words had been.

A lowly one, with God, is always in the majority. This was a big part of what the Lord was showing, as heard in Elijah’s prayer in 1 Kings 18:36. Elijah wasn’t trying to be known as greater than the prophets of Baal or Asherah. He was trying to be known as a servant. Yahweh alone is God, and one lowly one with Him is more powerful than all other creatures taken together. 

God is profoundly patient to keep reminding His people to turn their hearts back to Him. Elijah has reminded them about God, and about himself as God’s servant, but he also reminds them about themselves in the building of the altar in 1 Kings 18:31. The twelve stones hearken back to before the divided kingdom, to their origins as a people whom God had taken for Himself. Their hearts have been turned away from Him Who chose them, but Elijah prays that Yahweh’s display of Himself would be the trigger for turning their hearts back to Him again (1 Kings 18:37). 

The fire falls—something that happened at Sinai, upon the consecration of the tabernacle, and the consecration of the temple. It is as if the Lord is giving them an opportunity to start over with Him. And, for the moment, it appears as if they have done so. Yahweh, He is God! Yahweh, He is God! Every time we hear the gospel preached, every time the Lord’s death is shown forth at the table, God reminds us of the fire that consumed the sacrifice at the cross. Let us respond in the same way: the Lord, He is God!

What situations seem hopeless for God’s people? Who in the world are fools to think that they have the upper hand? Whom have you been tempted to the folly of fearing? Where, especially, does the Lord remind you that He is God?

Sample prayer:  Lord, how often it seems like the powers and authorities of the world have all combined against You and Your people! The wicked are laughably foolish to think they have the upper hand. Forgive us for when we enter into the same folly by fearing them. Bring our hearts and minds back to when You took us for Yourself, and renew our commitment to You. For we ask it through Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH434 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone”

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

How Pain Provokes Prayer that Provokes Praise (Family Worship lesson in Psalm 57)

For what are enemy attacks an opportunity? Psalm 57 looks forward to 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 when believers’ enemies think they are taking opportunity to attack, what they are really doing is giving the believer the opportunity to see and praise God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.
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2022.06.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 57

Read Psalm 57

Questions from the Scripture text: Into whose hands was this Psalm put (superscript)? Who wrote it? When? What does Psalm 57:1a ask for twice? What is David’s soul doing (verse 1b)? Where will he take refuge (verse 1c)? Until when (verse 1d)? What will he do to God (Psalm 57:2a)? For whom does God perform (fulfill/avenge, verse 2b)? What will God do for David (Psalm 57:3a)? What will He do to whom else (verse 3b)? In what two great attributes of His will God send forth (act out, verse 3c)? Where is David’s soul (Psalm 57:4a)? What lions (verse 4b)? What are these men like (verse 4c–e)? What is David asking God to do to Himself (Psalm 57:5a)? And to His glory (verse 5b)? What have David’s enemies done (Psalm 57:6a, c)? And what effect has that had upon him (verse 6b)? But what effect does it ultimately have upon them (verse 6d)? What is the condition of David’s heart now (Psalm 57:7a)? And how will he respond (verse 7b)? How does Psalm 57:8a describe his stirring himself up to praise? How does verse 8b describe his stirring up of others to praise? How does verse 8c describe his eagerness for the new day of praise? Among whom, even, will he give this praise (Psalm 57:9a–b)? Which two attributes, especially, will he praise (Psalm 57:10)? How great are they? Again, what is David asking God to do to Himself (Psalm 57:11a)? And to His glory (verse 11b)?

For what are enemy attacks an opportunity? Psalm 57 looks forward to 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 when believers’ enemies think they are taking opportunity to attack, what they are really doing is giving the believer the opportunity to see and praise God’s steadfast love and faithfulness.

Evil men plan evil things (Psalm 57:1d, Psalm 57:4Psalm 57:6a–c). The superscript is Scripture, so we must not forget the situation that was the context for this Psalm (cf. 1 Samuel 22). Believers suffer “calamities” in this life (Psalm 57:1d). Those who promise otherwise offer a different gospel that belongs to Hell, not heaven. And one of those calamities is especially the violence and scheming of others. 

Clustered around the first statement of the Psalm’s theme in Psalm 57:5 is the violence of David’s enemies (Psalm 57:4) and the scheming of David’s enemies (Psalm 57:6a, c). They are violent: like lions (Psalm 57:4a), who burn with their hatred (Psalm 57:4c), whose teeth are spears and arrows (weapons that are more aggressive and strike from long distance, verse 4d), and whose tongue is a sharp sword (a close-quarter and more lethal weapon, verse 4e). And they scheme. The preparation of the net (Psalm 57:6a) is meticulous, and the digging of the pit (verse 6c) requires both persistent effort to get it dug and crafty guile to hide it. The situation has applied so much pressure that it feels to David as if his very soul is bent over with the burden (verse 6b). 

But God will never stop being God (Psalm 57:3c, Psalm 57:10) either to believers (Psalm 57:2-3a) or to the enemies (verse 3b, Psalm 57:6d). Do you know Who can never be bent down? God! His mercy (steadfast/covenant love) and truth (faithfulness) are perfectly constant. So, He will “send them forth” (Psalm 57:3c). This means that He will take action in a way that is consistent with His character and His commitments. 

His steadfast love reaches to the heavens, and His faithfulness to the clouds (Psalm 57:10). This is one of His repeated (cf. Psalm 36:5) descriptions of Himself. When the difficult time comes, we mustn’t allow the unbelief of our remaining sin to suggest that there has been some hiccup in the character of God; rather, we must conclude that He has brought us into an opportunity in which we will see that character wondrously displayed!

The consistency of God’s character is wonderful news for believers. It means that everything that He performs is in our behalf (Psalm 57:2b) and that one of the purposes in every believer’s trouble is that He would ultimately save us out of it (Psalm 57:3a). But that steadiness and reliability of the character of God has the opposite effect for the wicked. It means that the one who hounds the righteous will discover that it is the God of Heaven Who responds in the believer’s behalf (verse 3b). 

And when we remember that this is because David is a picture of Christ here, we realize that it is God’s love for His Son and God’s commitment to His Son that He is acting upon in our lives—even and especially in our troubles!

Therefore, attacks of the wicked are an opportunity to trust in God (Psalm 57:1a–c, Psalm 57:2a). So, what should we do when we are in trouble? Trust in God with our very soul (Psalm 57:1b), with the whole of our being. This isn’t just pretending away the pain or theologically scolding ourselves for feeling bent down. It is a particular action. Trusting God sounds like something: crying out. When he says that he will cry out to God Most High in Psalm 57:2a, that is after beginning his prayer-song with an example of that crying out: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!” 

This is one reason why “quiet time” may not be a helpful name for private worship. A well-tried believer will know this to be “noisy time”! And he who has given loud cries of the mouth unto God in such times will be well-exercised in vigorous liftings up of the heart to God in other times when noisiness just isn’t an option (like when you’re hiding in a cave, and the enemy comes in!). To do so is not just to express oneself into the air, but to take actual refuge in God Himself personally, as if He had physical wings under which you could physically hide (Psalm 57:1c).

And ultimately, attacks of the wicked are an opportunity to “awaken” praise of God (Psalm 57:7-9). It is the very instability of his circumstances that drives the believer to focus not on the circumstances but his steady God. And as we shift our focus onto Him Himself, we find that our heart is steadied (Psalm 57:7a). This realization, that God steadies our hearts, prompts us to praise (verse 7b). One of the things that trouble those who have known God’s goodness and salvation is how, in this life, the heart and voice of praise can seem to go dormant. What a blessed thing, then, is the affliction that wakes up our praising (Psalm 57:8)!

When we are restored to praising God, we begin again to taste the ultimate end for which we were made and redeemed: that with an innumerable, redeemed multitude from all the nations, we would praise the Lord forever and ever (Psalm 57:9). 

So, the point of our suffering, just as of all things, is the glory of God (Psalm 57:5Psalm 57:11). By putting the same words in the middle of the Psalm in Psalm 57:5 and at the end of the Psalm in Psalm 57:11, the Spirit helps us see the main point of the Psalm: that God would be exalted above the heavens, and that His glory would be exalted above all the earth. When beholding His glory is our greatest delight, the display of that glory is our greatest blessing!

What circumstances have had you bent down? How must you expect it to end? What does your trusting in God “sound” like? How have (or should?!) recent troubles awakened your praise of God?

Sample prayer:  Our merciful God, Who perform all things for our good, we cry out to You. In our greatest troubles, just as at all times, You will send forth Your mercy and Your truth, Your steadfast love and Your covenant faithfulness. So, keep our hearts steadfast upon You, and awaken us to praise You. Glorify Yourself now in this congregation’s worship, as You will among redeemed from all nations, forever and ever. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let Your glory be above all the earth, in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP108A “God, My Heart Is Steadfast” or TPH108 “My Heart Is Steadfast, God!”

Monday, June 27, 2022

Thou Shalt Not Steal: Learning from God to Obtain and Use Good Things in a Good Way (2022.06.26 Evening Sermon in Exodus 20:15)

The God Who put His image in us has appointed to us our possessions and the right means of acquiring them.
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Paul's Calling and Ordination, part 2: Brought Under Christ's Plan and Grace (2022.06.26 Morning Sermon in Acts 9:6–19)


The Lord shapes His ordained servants by subjecting them to His plan and subjecting them to dependence upon His grace for their part in it.

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218th ARP General Synod Summary for Hopewell ARP, part 2 (2022.06.26 Sabbath School)

The second part of a report on the 218th ARP General Synod for the Hopewell ARP congregation in Culleoka, TN. A very encouraging General Synod meeting!
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Theology Simply Explained — WSC41 The Sum of the Moral Law

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 41: Where is the moral law summarily comprehended? The moral law is summarily comprehended in the ten commandments.
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Seeing God's Patience with Us and Responding to it with Repentance (Family Worship lesson in Romans 2:1–5)

What does a judgmental attitude toward others reveal about us? Romans 2:1–5 looks forward to the this week’s midweek sermon. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that though all men deserve God’s righteous judgment, He is showing us mercy not that we might think ourselves better than others, but that we would turn to Him in repentance.
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2022.06.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 2:1–5

Read Romans 2:1–5

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Romans 2:1 call the man it addresses? What has this man done to another? But what, then, has he done to himself? Why? Whose judgement is against all (Romans 2:2)? With what does this judgement accord? What question does Romans 2:3 ask? What point does the question restate about the man whom it is asking? What is the expected answer to the question? What does Romans 2:4 ask him if he is despising? How much goodness? What two other things? What should the goodness of God bring a sinner to? In accordance with what two things are the self-excusers acting (Romans 2:5)? What are their actions treasuring/storing up? Against the day of what two things?

What does a judgmental attitude toward others reveal about us?  Romans 2:1–5 looks forward to the this week’s midweek sermon. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that though all men deserve God’s righteous judgment, He is showing us mercy not that we might think ourselves better than others, but that we would turn to Him in repentance. 

What judging others shows about ourselves: God’s judgment against our own sin (not just theirs) is righteous (Romans 2:1)! If I see someone whose behavior appears more blameworthy than mine, it is tempting to think that seeing this makes me safer from God’s judgment than they are. 

But there are at least two problems with this thinking. The first problem is that I can’t see all of my own sin, or all of their sin. So the verse warns us “you who judge practice the same things.” As Jesus taught in His discussions of the moral law (e.g., Matthew 5:17–48), we are all guilty of transgressing all of God’s law in our hearts. 

The second problem is that our idea that someone else is guilty just reminds us that guilt is a reality. “In whatever you judge another you condemn yourself.” This should not lead us to feel safer in ourselves; it should confirm for us that we are guilty before God!

God’s judgment is faithful—and therefore frightful and sure (Romans 2:2-3). God’s judgment is “according to truth.” He does not judge on a curve, as if appearing better than someone else makes us safe. All of our sins have been against His glory. How frightful, then, is the punishment that these sins deserve! It will be no comfort to someone that his suffering is a “smaller” infinity than his neighbor’s. And can God deny His own glory? Of course not. Which is the same answer for the question, “Do you think that you will escape the judgment of God?” When we judge, it reminds us that God truly—fully and surely, frightfully and surely. When we see another’s guilt, it should warn us about how great and sure is the judgment that we need to escape.

We ought to respond to God’s patience by repentance, not arrogance toward others or false security about ourselves (Romans 2:4). So, if God has not punished us yet, it is not because we are not very guilty or because His wrath is not very great. If God has not punished us yet, it is because He is showing “the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering.” He continues to give us the opportunity to turn from our sin in repentance and trust in Jesus Christ in faith. So, how are we responding to such rich goodness? Do we count such a God all the more worthy of our worship, of our repentance, and of our faith? Or are we deceived into thinking that He is somehow as tolerant of our sin as we are?

An unrepentant man stores up wrath against himself (Romans 2:5). The “day of wrath” is set. On it, “the righteous judgment of God” will be revealed. It is no less frightful or less certain just for our not yet seeing it. So, either we are turning to Him in faith, or we are increasing the amount of wrath that will fall upon us when the day comes. 

An “impenitent heart” has at least two problems. One is that it is “treasuring up” wrath. It is increasing what it will suffer. The other problem is that the unrepenting heart does this “in accordance with your hardness.” That is to say: it is getting worse. You must not think that you will be able to take advantage of your chance to sin for a while, and then later you will repent. Can you hear how hard and stubborn this reasoning already is? Do you think that after continuing to think this way, you will be able to repent later? No. You must not think this way. God’s Word forbids it.

Whom are you tempted to judge? What should this remind you of about yourself? How have you been responding to God’s patiently not yet casting you into Hell? What are you storing up for yourself for the last day? What are you currently doing to your heart by the way that you think/live?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are righteous when You speak against us and blameless when You judge us. We praise You for the riches of Your goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering. Stir up our hearts to respond to Your goodness with repentance and faith. Forgive us our sins, and make us holy, in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP51A “God, Be Merciful to Me” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Properly Responding to God’s Blessing in Material Possessions (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 20:15)

What is the proper relationship of God's provisions to the obtaining of those provisions? Exodus 20:15 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord's Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the God Who put His image in us has appointed to us our possessions and the right means of acquiring them.
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23 Ways Being Under Wrath Is Evidenced by Debased Minds and Unfitting Behaviors (2022.06.22 Midweek Sermon in Romans 1:28–32)


Lest we be self-deceived about having been given up to sin, the Spirit lists for us 23 sins to which unbelievers are given up and against which believers are in battle.

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2022.06.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 9:20–30

Read Acts 9:20–30

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Saul do, where, proclaiming what (Acts 9:20)? When? How did the hearers respond (Acts 9:21)? What did they ask? But what happened as Saul was challenged (Acts 9:22)? What did he do to the Jews? By what? How long did this go on (Acts 9:23)? To what strategy did the Jews switch? Who found out about it (Acts 9:24)? What were the Jews doing? What did the disciples do with Saul’s knowledge (Acts 9:25)? Where did Saul go in Acts 9:26? What did he try to do there? But how did the disciples respond? But who took him (Acts 9:27)? To whom? What does he declare to the apostles that the Lord had done? That he himself had done? What were his status and habits now (Acts 9:28)? How did he speak (Acts 9:29)? In what name? Disputing against whom? How did they respond? Who found out in Acts 9:30? Where did they bring him and send him?

What did Saul’s Christ-ordained ministry look like?  Acts 9:20-30 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eleven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that Saul’s Christ-ordained ministry included a devotion to proclaiming the truth about Christ, and being willing to risk his life for Him, but taking wise precautions as providence permitted. 

Saul was devoted to proclaiming the truth about Christ. In Acts 9:20, Saul finally makes it into the synagogues, but it’s not to drag off followers of Christ. Rather, it’s to make new disciples by proclaiming Him. He proclaims Him as Son of God (verse 20b). He confounds the Jews by proving that this is the Christ (Acts 9:22b). He does this preaching boldly (Acts 9:27Acts 9:29). He does this preaching in the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 9:27Acts 9:29).

Saul was willing to risk his life for this preaching. He knew better than anyone how murderous the opposition to Jesus could be. Even after he began proclaiming Christ, he was suspected first in Damascus (Acts 9:21) and then in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26). But suspicion from those he had once targeted was rather minor by comparison to hostility from those whom he had previously joined in targeting them.  

The Jews in Damascus plot to kill him (Acts 9:23), using the gates of the city as a bottleneck point in which to identify him coming or going (Acts 9:24). He returns to his home synagogue in Jerusalem, the synagogue of the freedmen where the Hellenists worshiped. Surely, he remembered Stephen’s fate for the same sort of ministry. And the Hellenists attempt to do the same with Him (Acts 9:29). 

Christ had told him (a) that Saul would bear His Name (Acts 9:15), and (b) that he would suffer many things for His Name (Acts 9:16). Saul was willing for both parts of his ministry.

Saul was willing to take wise precautions as providence permitted. When “their plot became known to Saul” in Acts 9:24, it was a preview of Acts 23:16ff. The Christ Whom he preaches, the Christ Whose Name he bears, the Christ Whom he serves, the Christ for Whom he is willing to risk his life is the Lord of heaven. So for Saul, providence is personal. 

When he finds out a plot, He receives that news as the provision of His Lord. He knows they’re watching the gate (Acts 9:24), so the disciples let him down through wall (Acts 9:25). When the disciples are afraid of him (Acts 9:26), but Barnabas vouches for him (Acts 9:27), he takes that opportunity to preach at his and Barnabas’s home church (Acts 9:29). When there’s a new attack on his life (verse 29), the brethren send him to his original home (Acts 9:30). The fearlessness and wise use of means come from the same place: Christ is in control.

Saul’s ministry is Christ’s. Saul’s life and safety are Christ’s. The whole world, and every event in it, is Christ’s.

In what roles do you bear the Name of Christ? What are you willing to put at risk to serve Him boldly in those areas? What are some examples of you taking providence personally?

Sample prayer:  Lord, even though we are not apostles, You have redeemed us and invested Your glorious Name in our lives. All of our callings are for the glory of Your Name. Make us to treasure that and to live boldly to bring You honor in all the roles that You give us. Thank You for ruling and overruling our lives for our good and Your glory. Sustain us to live for that glory, we ask in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP67 “O God, Give Us Your Blessing” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

Friday, June 24, 2022

2022.06.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:15

Read Exodus 20:15

Question from the Scripture text: What does this verse prohibit?

What is the proper relationship of God’s provisions to the obtaining of those provisions?  Exodus 20:15 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the God Who put His image in us has appointed to us our possessions and the right means of acquiring them. 

Possessions are a good thing. As creation and creation mandates have been behind the first seven commandments, we would do well to see that connection in the eighth. God created everything else before He created man—an entire world to be possessed and enjoyed. And He created man needy of food and gave man duty of taking subduing the earth. Benefitting from what God created to benefit us, enjoying what God created to be enjoyed, and managing what God commands us to manage… this is good.

But there are right and wrong ways of possessing. We tend to think of work as the primary way of possessing. And Scripture does address giving good labor and paying a fair wage. And Scripture teaches us that one of the ways that God provides for us is good stewardship: not just hoarding what God gives us, but putting what He gives us to work in ways that make it even more productive.

And Scripture actually spends quite a few words on inheritance and trade. Two significant ways of stealing included moving boundary markers to take from someone’s inheritance and using unequal weights and measures to take more than was actually agreed upon in trade.

Other righteous ways of obtaining include spoils from just war, God giving His people favor in the eyes of kings and others in high position, and especially generosity of others. This generosity includes both allowing the needy to gather leftovers, as in the gleaning laws, and direct contributions (whether through the church via Levites and later deacons, or immediately to the recipient).

To possess in the wrong way is to deny God as Provider. It’s most important in spiritual things to remember that although God provides all, He does through so appointed means. Trying to be counted righteous or grow in righteousness in a way other than He has appointed is to deny Him as Savior. The eighth commandment gives us an analogy in the area of material provision. He is our Provider. We pray to Him for our daily bread. He feeds the birds and clothes the flowers. He knows what we need before we ask, and tells us that we are of much more value than birds or flowers.

So if we steal, we do something even worse than infringing upon what God gave others. Stealing says that we don’t trust God to give us what we need in His ways. It says that we must be our own provider because He is unable or unwilling or both. The dishonesty offends against God’s truth and justice. The distrust offends against God’s goodness and power.

On the other hand, when the thief no longer steals, his goal is not only to provide for himself, but to have enough to become a means of God’s generosity to others (cf. Ephesians 4:28). Our goal in all material dealings—whether giving or receiving—is to glorify God as the provider of all good gifts.

What means do you have? How are you stewarding them? How are you enjoying and using them? How are you blessing others with them? What more means could you have? What is your goal in all of this?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for loving us and providing for us. Thank you for employing us and enabling us to do good to others. Forgive us for all of our doubtings of your provision and attempts to get things by wrong means. Forgive us our lack of generosity toward others. And make us both more grateful to you and more generous with others we ask, in Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent, Who Will Abide” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Thursday, June 23, 2022

God's Righteousness in Believers' Troubles (Family Worship lesson in 2Thessalonians 1:5–10)

How can believers’ afflictions be reconciled with the righteousness of God? 2Thessalonians 1:5–10 looks forward to the second 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 God displays His righteousness both in the glorious fury that the wicked get from Him and in the glorious delight that His saints get from Him.
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2022.06.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Thessalonians 1:5–10

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:5–10

Questions from the Scripture text: Of what is their endurance of tribulation “manifest evidence” (2 Thessalonians 1:5)? For what is God fitting them? How are they learning to treasure it? What else is a righteous thing of God in 2 Thessalonians 1:6? And to give what to whom in 2 Thessalonians 1:7? When? What will Jesus’s return be like (2 Thessalonians 1:8)? On whom will He take vengeance? What does “not knowing God” look like? What shall they receive (2 Thessalonians 1:9)? From Whose presence? From what glory? How else will He be glorified (2 Thessalonians 1:10)? How did they get to be in the company of admirers? 

How can believers’ afflictions be reconciled with the righteousness of God?  2 Thessalonians 1:5–10 looks forward to the second 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 God displays His righteousness both in the glorious fury that the wicked get from Him and in the glorious delight that His saints get from Him. 

God is righteous to fit the justified for glory (2 Thessalonians 1:5). What are the Thessalonians’ patience and faith (2 Thessalonians 1:4) proof of? 2 Thessalonians 1:5 says that they are proof of God’s righteous judgment in counting believers worthy of the kingdom. The patiently believing saints have been justified in Christ; Christ has earned the kingdom for them. And they are being conformed into the image of that same Christ, as God suits them for the kingdom to which they are coming and for which they are suffering. Believers must not underestimate the usefulness of trials in fitting us for glory (cf. Romans 5:3–5, James 1:2–4) and making us value glory as worth suffering for (cf. Romans 8:17–18, 2 Corinthians 4:17). Troubles may tempt us to question the justice of God, but the reality is that troubles are a mechanism by which God justly prepares the justified for the glory that Christ has earned for us.

God is righteous to trouble troublers (2 Thessalonians 1:6). Even in our English translation, we can see the symmetry of God’s judgment. This is why verse 6 says that it is righteous of God to afflict the afflicters of His people. The extent of that affliction, we will see in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9. Here, the point is that God isn’t being righteous only with His people as they are prepared for glory by affliction, but also with the wicked—none of whose actions will fail to be addressed.

God is righteous to end saints’ troubles and give them rest (2 Thessalonians 1:7). On the bright(er) side, even these necessary afflictions come to their end. That’s the “momentary” part of “light and momentary” in and 2 Corinthians 4:17. “When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels,” the time for His people’s suffering has come to a permanent end. The language of being “revealed” is a reminder that He is always there, always enthroned, always attended by those mighty angels. What should believers fear from men (cf. Psalm 56)? Rest is coming. Perfect, permanent relief from all our troubles. 

God is righteous to God-sized vengeance on God-sized sin (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Once the Lord Jesus has been revealed (2 Thessalonians 1:7), and this revelation is in “flaming fire” (2 Thessalonians 1:8), there is no ignoring Him ever again. Indeed, all who have not known Him as God will be punished by Him as God for having failed to “obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 8). When God reveals Himself as Jesus, the Savior of Sinners, it demands a response of trusting in Him and worshiping Him. There are some who have not known Him. There are others who hear of Him but don’t believe. The latter, of course are more culpable. Once He is revealed, they will be in His presence and glory forever, and they will be acutely aware of how completely they deserve the destruction that comes from His presence and from the glory of His power.

God is righteous to give God-sized blessing to God-justified saints (2 Thessalonians 1:10). Finally, that which makes hell unendurable for the unbeliever in 2 Thessalonians 1:9 is what makes heaven heavenly for the believer in 2 Thessalonians 1:10. Not only will the Lord be glorified in His saints, but He will give us the capacity to admire Him, and He will satisfy that desire. Those who have “believed the testimony” are those who have “obeyed the gospel,” and the Lord Jesus will be their delight for unending ages.

What troubles are you having right now? What are they accomplishing for you? How long will they last? What will you receive at their end? What will they receive who have afflicted you?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we bless You for revealing Yourself in the gospel. Forgive us for when we harbor doubts of your fairness in our afflictions. Forgive us our impatience and discouragement. Grant us eyes to see Jesus by faith, and to wait until faith becomes sight. Forgive us for not admiring Him enough now, and sanctify us until the day that we will get to perfectly admire Him forever, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

True Power, True Trouble, and True Escape from It (Family Worship lesson in 1Kings 18:1–18)

Where does man’s troubles come from? 1Kings 18:1–18 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eighteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that wickedness is the troubler of man, because a holy and just God is sinful man’s greatest trouble.
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2022.06.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 18:1–18

Read 1 Kings 18:1–18

Questions from the Scripture text: What came to whom when (1 Kings 18:1)? What the LORD tell Elijah to do? What did the LORD say that He would do? What is the condition of Ahab’s capital city (1 Kings 18:2)? Whom had Obadiah called to do what (1 Kings 18:3)? Whom did Obadiah fear? How much? Who had done what in 1 Kings 18:4? But what had Obadiah done? What project was Obadiah in the middle of in 1 Kings 18:5-6? What was Ahab’s plan? Whom does Elijah meet in 1 Kings 18:7? How does Obadiah react? What does Elijah tell him to do in 1 Kings 18:8? What does Obadiah think will be the certain outcome (1 Kings 18:9)? What actions and behavior of Ahab bring Obadiah to this conclusion (1 Kings 18:10)? What does Obadiah fear will happen now (1 Kings 18:12)? For what does Obadiah consider this to be a poor repayment (1 Kings 18:12-13)? How does Elijah reassure him in 1 Kings 18:15? What does Ahab say to Elijah in 1 Kings 18:17? How does Elijah answer (1 Kings 18:18)? Who has troubled Israel? 

Where do man’s troubles come from?  1 Kings 18:1–18 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eighteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that wickedness is the troubler of man, because a holy and just God is sinful man’s greatest trouble.

Ahab and Israel are in great trouble of famine. Elijah is being hunted by the Ahab (1 Kings 18:10). Obadiah is afraid of being killed by Ahab. How can these troubles be resolved?

The Word of the LORD is in control. Ahab seems to think that Elijah is in control (1 Kings 18:17), but Elijah is under the direction and control of the Word (1 Kings 18:1a). It is this Word that has withheld rain for three years, causing a famine (1 Kings 18:2). It is this Word, which will restore rain again (1 Kings 18:1b). By comparison, Ahab is helpless to track down the prophet (1 Kings 18:10), and has to mount a nationwide campaign just to track down grass (1 Kings 18:5-6).

It is the LORD Who must be feared. Obadiah feared Ahab’s sword (1 Kings 18:91 Kings 18:12b). But he feared the LORD more (1 Kings 18:31 Kings 18:12c), which is why he saved the lives of a hundred true prophets (1 Kings 18:41 Kings 18:13). His fear of the LORD was not that slavish fear that shrinks from punishment, but a fear that believes that God is, and that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him (cf. Hebrews 11:6). So Obadiah pleads this reward, when he says, “was it not reported to my lord what I did?” in 1 Kings 18:13

Therefore the commandment of the LORD must be obeyed. Ahab had not feared the LORD, and Ahab had not obeyed the LORD. Therefore, Ahab had only Himself to thank for his and Israel’s troubles. He wanted to call Elijah the troubler of Israel (1 Kings 18:17), but that trouble didn’t start in the mouth of the prophet but in the disobedience of things. “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the LORD and have followed the Baals” (1 Kings 18:18). Our sin, and its consequences, is our great trouble. So, we are our own greatest troublers. 

Sin and its guilt are our great trouble. Ahab thinks the famine was severe trouble (1 Kings 18:2), but the fate of the prophets of Baal in the next episode should have disabused him of that mistaken thinking. Whatever our troubles are in this world of misery, they are a reminder that our sin is the great troubler, and our guilt is our greatest trouble. If like Ahab we fail to take the hint, then we will fail to see and receive the wonderful grace of God. For that is the story here. The Word is being preserved. The LORD still maintains to Israel His primary prophet Elijah. And He even maintained, through Obadiah, a hundred other prophets. His Word persisted, even with such a stubbornly wicked people. May His patience lead us to repentance! God forbid that we would be stubborn against His mercifully extending unto us His Word.

What situation feels out of your control? What “powerful” people are really out of control? What troubles do you have? What do they remind you are your real trouble? What is your hope in it? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise and thank You for maintaining Your Word to us. We are tempted to consider those who rebuke and correct us as our troublers. But truly, as with Ahab, we are our own troublers. Forgive us our sins, and forgive us our dullness to Your Word and resistance to Your Word. Grant that we would fear You greatly and look to You for our safety and blessing, which we ask in Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH434 “A Debtor to Mercy Alone” 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Theology Simply Explained — WSC40 Our Duty to the Moral Law

Q. 40. What did God at first reveal to man for the rule of his obedience? A. The rule which God at first revealed to man for his obedience was the moral law.
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Courage by Praising the Word of Our Merciful, Powerful God (Family Worship lesson in Psalm 56)

When men oppose us with their evil thoughts, words, and deeds, believers trust and praise an incomparable God Whose thoughts, words, and deeds are for us and for our deliverance.
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2022.06.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 56

Read Psalm 56

Questions from the Scripture text: When did David write this Psalm (superscript)? To Whom does he look for mercy (Psalm 56:1)? Why not to man? What do his enemies do (Psalm 56:2a)? How few are they (verse 2b)? What does David sometimes feel (Psalm 56:3a)? What will he do then (verse 3b)? What does David praise (Psalm 56:4a)? What does David do to Him (verse 4b)? What will he not do (verse 4c)? What is the expected answer to the question in verse 4d? What do the enemies do (Psalm 56:5a)? Why (verse 5b)? What do they do (Psalm 56:6)? What is the expected answer to Psalm 56:7a? What will God do, and does David pray, in verse 7b? How does Psalm 56:8 describe the Lord’s personal care (cf. Psalm 56:6b)? When will God turn back the enemies (Psalm 56:9a–b)? Why will God listen? In What gets repeated three more times in Psalm 56:10a, verse 10b, Psalm 56:11a (cf. Psalm 56:3b, Psalm 56:4a, verse 4b)? What is repeated in Psalm 56:11 as a whole (cf. Psalm 56:4)? What does he remember about making vows in Psalm 56:12a? What vow does he now make in verse 12b? What two things do Psalm 56:13a–b say God has done for David? Unto what end (verse 13c–d)?

How does one survive when his enemies seem powerful, relentless, and coordinated? Psalm 56 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when men oppose us with their evil thoughts, words, and deeds, believers trust and praise an incomparable God Whose thoughts, words, and deeds are for us and for our deliverance.

Understanding that there are other ways to organize our thoughts in this Psalm according to the Hebrew poetry, we notice that there is this thematic doubling that builds David’s hope in God then concludes in his praising the God of His hope.

Only in God is there mercy (Psalm 56:1–2Psalm 56:5-6). “Be merciful to me, O God, for man would swallow me up” (Psalm 56:1a).As David echoes in 2 Samuel 24:14, the LORD’s mercies are great, but there is no true mercy with man. His understanding of his enemies’ sinfulness in Psalm 56:5b echoes Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 8:21. It is only in God, to Whom righteously belongs wrath, that we can have true hope for mercy. How great and generous, then, is this mercy that He shows such sinners as we are! 

Only in God is there power (Psalm 56:3-4). It is not only God’s merciful disposition toward us, but also His almighty power over all things, that fortifies our hope in Him. Whenever I am afraid, I can trust in God. Why? Because He is almighty. Whatever the terror, He is stronger. He created all things by His Word and upholds all things by the Word of His power. Those who know this, and praise His Word (v4a) rightly ask that question, “What can flesh do to me?” and rightly answer, “Nothing!” 

Always, in God, there is justice (Psalm 56:7). Verse 7 asks another question whose obvious answer is negative. “Shall they escape by iniquity?” No. God is angry every day (cf. Psalm 7:11), even if His wisdom patiently endures the wicked for a time, for a good reason (cf. Romans 2:4, Romans 3:25, Romans 9:22–23). What David knew about his attackers, you can always know about those harming you: God will cast them down (Psalm 56:7b)!

Always, in God, there is mercy (Psalm 56:8-9). David knew God’s constant, righteous disposition toward his enemies. But David also knew God’s constant, merciful disposition toward him. “You number my wanderings” (Psalm 56:8a). Every pain, every misery, of David’s life might have been invisible to others, but not to God. They might have been insignificant to others, but not to God. God’s care for David’s sorrow was such that he pictures God bottling his tears (verse 8b), not allowing a single tear to escape his notice or go uncared for. Verse 8c intensifies this point by picturing God as keeping an inventory/record book of all that His servant has gone through. How intimately, constantly, exhaustively our compassionate God cares for every trouble and every sorrow of His people!

Why is David sure that his cry is heard (Psalm 56:9a)? Why is he sure that the answer will be fulfilled (verse 9b)? Because God is for him (verse 9c). We know that all things work together for our good (cf. Romans 8:28), because God is for us; so no one and nothing can prevail against us (cf. Romans 8:31)!

Always, in God, there is power (Psalm 56:10-11). In Psalm 56:3-4, we saw that mere flesh cannot frighten us if almighty God is our trust. Psalm 56:11 concludes the same thing, but there is a doubling of the foundation in Psalm 56:10. The more David praises, the more he realizes that he has been created (verse 10a) and redeemed (verse 10b, note the covenant Name) to praise! And if he has been created and redeemed to praise, then sure the LORD is always exercising His power in David’s best interests.

Always, unto God, let there be the lip (Psalm 56:12) and the life (Psalm 56:13) of praise. David responds by affirming that vows are worship (Psalm 56:12a) and then making a vow to worship (verse 12b). To the lip of praise in verse 12b, he adds the life of praise—walking before God in the light of the living (Psalm 56:3c–d, cf. Romans 12:1). The realization that we were created and redeemed for God’s praise should do more than neutralize our fear. It should provoke us unto actual praising. 

What threats are you tempted to fear? What sorrows are you tempted to be overwhelmed by? How does praising God help you in such situations? When/how can you apply this remedy?

Sample prayer:  Our merciful, powerful God, thank You for creating us by Your Word and upholding all things by Your Word. We praise Your Word! By the praise of Your Word, You remind us that while man is merciless, You are full of mercy. While man is powerless, You are full of power. Surely, You have created us and redeemed us for Your praise. Grant that we would vow to praise You and keep our vows by praising You. Grant that we would walk before You in the light of the living, which we ask through Him who is our light and life, even Jesus Christ, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP55A “Give Ear” or TPH55 “O Hear My Cry for Mercy”


Monday, June 20, 2022

218th ARP General Synod Summary for Hopewell ARP, part 1 (2022.06.19 Sabbath School)

The first part of a report on the 218th ARP General Synod for the Hopewell ARP congregation in Culleoka, TN. A very encouraging General Synod meeting!
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Honoring God's Creation, Honoring, and Blessing of Marriage (2022.06.19 Evening Sermon in Exodus 20:14)

The God Who created marriage has honored and blessed it, and so must we.
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Paul's Calling and Ordination, pt1: Brought Under Christ's Word and Authority (2022.09.19 Morning Sermon in Acts 9:6–19)


The Lord shapes His ordained servants by subjecting them to dependence upon His Word, subjecting them to the authority of His other servants, subjecting them to His plan, and subjecting them to dependence upon His grace for their part in it.

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2022.06.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 9:6–19

Read Acts 9:6-19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus tell Saul to do (Acts 9:6)? Where does He tell Saul to go? What does He say will happen to him? Who else was there (Acts 9:7)? What did they do? What did they hear? What did they see? What does Saul do in Acts 9:8? What does he see? How does he get to Damascus? What was his condition/conduct for how long (Acts 9:9)? Who was where in Acts 9:10? Who addresses him? How does Ananias answer? To what street does He tell him to go (Acts 9:11)? To whose house? To ask for whom? What will that person be doing? What had Saul “seen” (Acts 9:12)? How? What is Ananias’s concern in Acts 9:13 about Saul’s past? What is his concern about Saul’s present (Acts 9:14)? How does the Lord answer about Saul’s future (Acts 9:15)—what does the Lord call Saul? What will Saul bear? Before what three groups? What will the Lord show him (Acts 9:16)? Where does Ananias go in Acts 9:17? What does he do to Saul? What does he call him? Whom does he credit for his action? What two things will the Lord do? What happens, when, in Acts 9:18? What does Saul do? What else is done to him? What does he receive in Acts 9:19? With what effect? 

How does a sinner become an ordained servant of the gospel?  Acts 9:6-19 looks back to the morning sermon on yesterday's Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord makes His ordained servants by subjecting them to dependence upon His Word, subjecting them to the authority of His other servants, subjecting them to His plan, and subjecting them to dependence upon His grace for their part in it. 

The Lord had convinced Saul about Himself and brought him to saving faith. Now, the Lord designates and prepares Saul as an ordained minister of the gospel—indeed, that great class of gospel minister that is limited to twelve: the apostles. How does the Lord do this?

The Lord subjected Saul to dependence upon His Word. The person that Saul had been is undone by his encounter with the Lord Jesus. Far more arresting than the blindness (Acts 9:7-8) was the new sight: Jesus is the LORD God. Now what will Saul do? The answer is pretty clear: whatever Jesus says. And the first thing that Jesus says is to go somewhere to receive the next thing that Jesus says. “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). 

Jesus could have given him complete instruction then and there. But, it is the Lord’s way to make us dependent upon His Word in a continual way, and to make us dependent upon His own way of giving us that Word. Since the new apostle would himself be one of the main ways that Jesus spoke to others, it was important for him to be brought into subjection to the Word Himself. The fasting in Acts 9:9 (combined with the praying mentioned in Acts 9:11) seems to be an acknowledgement of the fact, and embracing of the fact, that he needed to wait upon the Word of the Lord—upon which he was now more dependent than food and drink.

The Lord subjected Saul to the ministry of His other servant, Ananias. We don’t know what Ananias’s office was in the church at Damascus. Acts 9:10 simply calls him “a disciple.” But Ananias is the one that Jesus has chosen to lay hands on Saul. This isn’t up to Saul, and it isn’t even really up to Ananias; his objection in Acts 9:13-14 is not sustained. 

The same is true for each of us. Everyone in the church has those whom Christ has assigned to be over them. And those who have authority receive it as an assignment from Christ (cf. Acts 20:28Hebrews 13:17). One of the first things that happens to a man when he is being called into office in the church is that the Lord provides recognition by others for the man’s calling.

The Lord subjected Saul to His plan. It’s the Lord who chooses the vessel (Acts 9:15). He chose Saul. The minister of the Word is a vessel, a container. The main thing is not the container but the contents: the Name of Jesus. Who He is and what He has done. 

It’s the Lord who chooses before whom this vessel will bear the Lord’s Name (verse 15)—Saul was to preach before Gentiles, kings, and sons of Israel. For every believer, and especially for the minister of the gospel, the Lord Jesus has already decided what our opportunities and audiences will be for telling about Jesus. There is great comfort and power in this. We need not fear the hearer, when it is the Lord Himself Who has decided who will hear us and when. And there is great privilege in this: every opportunity to tell about Jesus is a specially designated assignment from Him.

The Lord subjected Saul to dependence upon grace. The apostle’s role and privilege would take the form of suffering (Acts 9:16), and much of it. “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.” In order to go and preach and suffer, there is much that he would need. Eyesight would be a plus! So Ananias lays hands upon Saul to show that what is being given is being given from Christ, and he says that it was the Lord who sent him that Saul might receive his sight (Acts 9:17). To that, Ananias adds that it was the Lord who sent him that Saul would be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Immediately, there is a physical sign (the falling of the scale-like things) of Jesus’s mercy to restore Saul’s vision, and a spiritual sign (baptism) of Jesus’s mercy to save and sanctify Saul by the Spirit. His fasting and prayer have been answered by the Lord’s own testimony of His saving and sustaining grace, so now the new apostle is free to eat (Acts 9:19).

All ministers (and all Christians) are entirely dependent upon grace. They must be strengthened by Christ, for they will suffer much. They must be nourished by Christ, for they have much work to do. They must be forgiven and cleansed by Christ, for they are sinful. And they must be empowered by the Spirit of Christ, for their ministry seeks that which only divine power can accomplish. The ministry is not a place for super-men. It is a place for super-dependent men, who have an almighty Savior and Lord.

How does your routine/habits show dependence upon the Lord’s Word? What difference does it make for your responsibilities that they have been appointed by the Lord? What difference does it make for your troubles? Where do you get endurance and strength for the Christian life?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for saving us for Yourself and for calling us into Your service. Grant unto us to be instructed and directed by Scripture, and to receive the reading and preaching of Your Word as Your personal address to us. Give us endurance and strength for all that You have called us to do, and make us to see the roles and events of our lives as assignments from You. Wash us by Your blood and feed us by Your body, for we ask it in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23A “The LORD’s My Shepherd” or TPH429 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”

Saturday, June 18, 2022

2022.06.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 9:6–19

Read Acts 9:6–19

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus tell Saul to do (Acts 9:6)? Where does He tell Saul to go? What does He say will happen to him? Who else was there (Acts 9:7)? What did they do? What did they hear? What did they see? What does Saul do in Acts 9:8? What does he see? How does he get to Damascus? What was his condition/conduct for how long (Acts 9:9)? Who was where in Acts 9:10? Who addresses him? How does Ananias answer? To what street does He tell him to go (Acts 9:11)? To whose house? To ask for whom? What will that person be doing? What had Saul “seen” (Acts 9:12)? How? What is Ananias’s concern in Acts 9:13 about Saul’s past? What is his concern about Saul’s present (Acts 9:14)? How does the Lord answer about Saul’s future (Acts 9:15)—what does the Lord call Saul? What will Saul bear? Before what three groups? What will the Lord show him (Acts 9:16)? Where does Ananias go in Acts 9:17? What does he do to Saul? What does he call him? Whom does he credit for his action? What two things will the Lord do? What happens, when, in Acts 9:18? What does Saul do? What else is done to him? What does he receive in Acts 9:19? With what effect? 

How does a sinner become an ordained servant of the gospel?  Acts 9:6-19 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the Lord brings makes His ordained servants by subjecting them to dependence upon His Word, subjecting them to the authority of His other servants, subjecting them to His plan, and subjecting them to dependence upon His grace for their part in it. 

The Lord had convinced Saul about Himself and brought him to saving faith. Now, the Lord designates and prepares Saul as an ordained minister of the gospel—indeed, that great class of gospel minister that is limited to twelve: the apostles. How does the Lord do this?

The Lord subjected Saul to dependence upon His Word. The person that Saul had been is undone by his encounter with the Lord Jesus. Far more arresting than the blindness (Acts 9:7-8) was the new sight: Jesus is the LORD God. Now what will Saul do? The answer is pretty clear: whatever Jesus says. And the first thing that Jesus says is to go somewhere to receive the next thing that Jesus says. “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do” (Acts 9:6). 

Jesus could have given him complete instruction then and there. But, it is the Lord’s way to make us dependent upon His Word in a continual way, and to make us dependent upon His own way of giving us that Word. Since the new apostle would himself be one of the main ways that Jesus spoke to others, it was important for him to be brought into subjection to the Word Himself. The fasting in Acts 9:9 (combined with the praying mentioned in Acts 9:11) seems to be an acknowledgement of the fact, and embracing of the fact, that he needed to wait upon the Word of the Lord—upon which he was now more dependent than food and drink.

The Lord subjected Saul to the ministry of His other servant, Ananias. We don’t know what Ananias’s office was in the church at Damascus. Acts 9:10 simply calls him “a disciple.” But Ananias is the one that Jesus has chosen to lay hands on Saul. This isn’t up to Saul, and it isn’t even really up to Ananias; his objection in Acts 9:13-14 is not sustained. 

The same is true for each of us. Everyone in the church has those whom Christ has assigned to be over them. And those who have authority receive it as an assignment from Christ (cf. Acts 20:28; Hebrews 13:17). One of the first things that happens to a man when he is being called into office in the church is that the Lord provides recognition by others for the man’s calling.

The Lord subjected Saul to His plan. It’s the Lord who chooses the vessel (Acts 9:15). He chose Saul. The minister of the Word is a vessel, a container. The main thing is not the container but the contents: the Name of Jesus. Who He is and what He has done. 

It’s the Lord who chooses before whom this vessel will bear the Lord’s Name (verse 15)—Saul was to preach before Gentiles, kings, and sons of Israel. For every believer, and especially for the minister of the gospel, the Lord Jesus has already decided what our opportunities and audiences will be for telling about Jesus. There is great comfort and power in this. We need not fear the hearer, when it is the Lord Himself Who has decided who will hear us and when. And there is great privilege in this: every opportunity to tell about Jesus is a specially designated assignment from Him.

The Lord subjected Saul to dependence upon grace. The apostle’s role and privilege would take the form of suffering (Acts 9:16), and much of it. “I will show him how many things he must suffer for My Name’s sake.” In order to go and preach and suffer, there is much that he would need. Eyesight would be a plus! So Ananias lays hands upon Saul to show that what is being given is being given from Christ, and he says that it was the Lord who sent him that Saul might receive his sight (Acts 9:17). To that, Ananias adds that it was the Lord who sent him that Saul would be filled with the Holy Spirit.

Immediately, there is a physical sign (the falling of the scale-like things) of Jesus’s mercy to restore Saul’s vision, and a spiritual sign (baptism) of Jesus’s mercy to save and sanctify Saul by the Spirit. His fasting and prayer have been answered by the Lord’s own testimony of His saving and sustaining grace, so now the new apostle is free to eat (Acts 9:19).

All ministers (and all Christians) are entirely dependent upon grace. They must be strengthened by Christ, for they will suffer much. They must be nourished by Christ, for they have much work to do. They must be forgiven and cleansed by Christ, for they are sinful. And they must be empowered by the Spirit of Christ, for their ministry seeks that which only divine power can accomplish. The ministry is not a place for super-men. It is a place for super-dependent men, who have an almighty Savior and Lord.

How does your routine/habits show dependence upon the Lord’s Word? What difference does it make for your responsibilities that they have been appointed by the Lord? What difference does it make for your troubles? Where do you get endurance and strength for the Christian life?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we thank You for saving us for Yourself and for calling us into Your service. Grant unto us to be instructed and directed by Scripture, and to receive the reading and preaching of Your Word as Your personal address to us. Give us endurance and strength for all that You have called us to do, and make us to see the roles and events of our lives as assignments from You. Wash us by Your blood and feed us by Your body, for we ask it in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23A “The LORD’s My Shepherd” or TPH429 “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing”


Friday, June 17, 2022

Honoring God's Creation, Honoring, and Blessing of Marriage (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 20:14)

What is the proper relationship of God’s provisions to the pleasures of those provisions? Exodus 20:14 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God has made marriage, and other things, pleasurable in order that we might enjoy His goodness in what He has designed, and therefore forbids seeking the pleasure apart from or in contradiction to God’s design.
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2022.06.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:14

Read Exodus 20:14

Question from the Scripture text: What does this verse prohibit?

What is the proper relationship of God’s provisions to the pleasures of those provisions?  Exodus 20:14 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God has made marriage, and other things, pleasurable in order that we might enjoy His goodness in what He has designed, and therefore forbids seeking the pleasure apart from or in contradiction to God’s design. 

The sixth commandment, prohibiting murder, rested upon the fact that man is created in the image of God. The seventh commandment, prohibiting adultery, also takes us back to the creation. For, God made them from the beginning “male and female” so that the two could become one flesh in the God-joined covenant of marriage (cf. Matthew 19:4–6, Proverbs 2:16–17). 

Marriage is a glorious arrangement that not only supplied the man and the woman with an honorable and blessed estate (cf. Hebrews 13:4) but was the means by which they would be fruitful and multiply. So greatly is it to be honored that the connection with father and mother which is so strongly upheld by the fifth commandment must become a lower class connection by comparison to marriage (cf. Genesis 2:24a), so that spouse always takes precedent over parent (cf. Psalm 45:10c). Furthermore, marriage itself serves as a picture of Christ and His church, and marriage done well communicates many good things by analogy to the Lord Jesus and His Bride (cf. Ephesians 5:22–33).

What a glorious thing is marriage! Therefore, we praise the wisdom of God that has so blessed that special marital knowing of a man and his wife: the mutual and exclusive commitment, the treasuring of one not just like oneself but as being one with one’s own self, the intertwining of heart and life, and even the privilege and pleasure of the marriage bed.

But just as murder disregards God in man, so also adultery disregards God in marriage. In fact, it seeks to have the pleasures of marriage apart from marriage itself: feastings of the eyes or attractings of others’ eyes, intertwining of the heart, the special knowing of another and various pleasures that come with it. Whether it’s immodest dress, the wandering eye, indulging thoughts of romance or lust, or even worse the involving of others in actions that stir up these sins of the heart—all of them seek pleasures that belong to marriage without the marriage to which they belong. 

When we go after these with our heart, we show that we do not care for God’s institution, for God’s covenant, for the multiplication of God’s image through it, or the display of God’s redemption in it. It is bad enough that adultery, fornication, pornography, etc. communicate that we do not need our spouse to have the pleasures that belong properly to marriage. Even worse, it communicates that our pleasure is chief and that other things are a means to the end of our pleasure, putting ourselves and our pleasure in the place that rightfully belongs to God. 

Chastity is much more than refraining from sexual sin. It is a commitment to enjoying only those pleasures which come in the way that God has designed and commanded them, because He Himself is our chief joy. Indeed, once a man and woman are married, chastity actually demands their romantic enjoyment of one another, of their conjoined life, of the marriage bed (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:3–5). For it is the Lord Who has given these as part of the goodness of marriage, which He has designed for so many good purposes.

Why is marriage good? What purposes does it have? Whose marriages’ health ought you to be guarding and promoting? How do you do that for yourself? How do you do that for others? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, we bless Your Name for the good gift of marriage. Preserve each of us for our spouse alone, and give us pleasure in the exclusive fellowship and fecund fruitfulness of marriage. Make us to be zealous for faithfulness in others’ marriages as well. Give us modesty of dress and behavior and a chastity that delights in You and Your good design. Forgive us and help us by the life and power of Christ, in Whose Name we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Righteously Given Up to Godless Feelings, Choices, and Thoughts (2022.06.15 Midweek Sermon in Romans 1:24–32)


All sin is “unfitting” (v28), so when man refuses to glorify God or give thanks, God gives them up to what is least fitting as a witness that all sin is that way at its core.

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Factoring God into Our View of Believers' Preciousness, Power, and Praiseworthiness (Family Worship lesson in 2Thessalonians 1:1–4)

How are we to think and feel about true congregations of Christ’s church? 2Thessalonians 1:1–4 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we are to think of churches as being united to God through Christ, dependent upon God in Christ, unto the praise of God in Christ, by showing the power and goodness of God in Christ.
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2022.06.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Thessalonians 1:1–4

Read 2 Thessalonians 1:1–4

Questions from the Scripture text: Who were the apostolic team from whom this letter came (2 Thessalonians 1:1)? To whom was it addressed? In whom was it written (and in whom was it to be received)? What two benefits/blessings does 2 Thessalonians 1:2 pronounce upon them? From Whom do these two things come? In what condition does the apostolic team find themselves at the beginning of 2 Thessalonians 1:3? To do what (are they bound)? When? What do they call the Thessalonians? How do they commend this thanksgiving? What about the Thessalonians' faith makes this thanksgiving fitting? What about the Thessalonians' love makes this thanksgiving fitting? How pervasive among them is this sort of love? What else does the apostolic team do (2 Thessalonians 1:4)? Among whom? For what two characteristics? Under what circumstantial difficulties?

How are we to think and feel about true congregations of Christ’s church?  2 Thessalonians 1:1–4 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these four verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that we are to think of churches as being united to God through Christ, dependent upon God in Christ, unto the praise of God in Christ, by showing the power and goodness of God in Christ. 

Paul (and Silvanus and Timothy) thinks of the Thessalonians as having their existence in God as Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. He uses an adjectival form of their city so that the way 2 Thessalonians 1:1 reads makes it almost sound like God is their location. The Lord identifies Himself with His people. He has united them to Himself. They ought to be precious to us as part of His preciousness to us. 

Paul thinks of the Thessalonians as living in dependence upon God’s goodness and power. Rather than greet them from himself, the apostle greets them with grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. God’s grace is His blessing for those who deserve only curse and His strength for those who possess only weakness. His peace is the commitment of His whole self to our whole good. 

These are things that cannot come jointly from God and the apostle. They come only from God. By describing them as coming jointly from God as Father and Jesus Christ as Lord, the apostle makes a strong claim that Jesus Christ is God. But He is not just deity in the abstract; He is deity upon Whom believers’ lives rest in strong, safe dependence. 

Just as the apostle found them precious for God’s sake, he has a sure hope for them according to the working of God’s power in them. It is this working of God in them upon which the success of the apostolic letter hinges. The same is true for us. We read God’s Word because we trust the God of the Word to use it as He works powerfully in us.

Paul thinks of the Thessalonian believers as credits unto the divine grace. Indeed, when he thinks of them, he feels himself to be a debtor, under an obligation that must be paid. That’s what the word “bound” means in 2 Thessalonians 1:3. What God has done in them demands thanksgiving and praise unto God. Thanksgiving when talking to God directly (verse 3) and praise of God’s work in them when talking to others (2 Thessalonians 1:4).

This is “fitting” (properly merited) because it is from God that their “faith grows exceedingly” (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Their heart of faith toward God is something that only God can produce, and that is a proper cause of thanksgiving and praise!

It is from God that their love abounds each one toward each other (verse 3). It’s one thing when some of them love some others dearly, but this is a love produced by God (and therefore in all of the believers) in which they love others for God’s sake (and therefore they love all believers). Their heart of love toward one another is something that only God can produce, and that is a proper cause of thanksgiving and praise!

And it is from God that they maintain patience and persistence even under persecutions and afflictions (tribulations, 2 Thessalonians 1:4). Grace and peace are not found in the absence of trials but believing, patient enduring of them. Their heart of patience under trial is something that only God can produce, and that is a proper cause of thanksgiving and praise!

Dear reader, if we believe in the Jesus Christ as our Lord and God, and if we know the Father as God our Father, then let us think properly of other believers: valuing them as united to our God, praying for and ministering to them as those who will be preserved and prospered by God, and giving thanksgiving and praise to God for the heart that He gives them toward Himself, toward others, and in their circumstances!

Whom should you love with a similar love as the apostle had toward the Thessalonians? Why? How? What hope do you have for them, or for yourself? How do you express that hope or seek to obtain it? How are you going about identifying the fruit of God’s gracious work in others? How are you responding to it when you see it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for joining us to Yourself through Jesus Christ. Forgive us, for when we forget what a wonderful thing a believer is in his union with Christ, and when we fail to treasure them for their connection to Him. We thank You that You are graciously at work in us and other Christians. Forgive us for when we either think that our own power can add to this, or when we are doubting and anxious about them. Help us to give thanks and praise for what You have done, and strengthen us by this thanksgiving and praise to expect more of Your work until it is completed in Christ, in Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Theology Simply Explained — WSC39 What God Requires of Us

Q. 39. What is the duty which God requireth of man?
A. The duty which God requireth of man is obedience to His revealed will.
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The LORD's Almighty, Avenging, Providing, Saving Word (Family Worship lesson in 1Kings 16:29–17:24)

What is the great power in the world? 1Kings 16:29–17:24 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God operates in such a way as to convince us that His Word rules and overrules all things, great and small, with power and mercy.
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2022.06.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Kings 16:29–17:24

Read 1 Kings 16:29–17:24

Questions from the Scripture text: When did who become king over whom, for how long (1 Kings 16:29)? What is God’s assessment of him (1 Kings 16:30)? How badly? What seemed small to him (1 Kings 16:31)? What did he do in marriage to exacerbate it? With what further result in worship? What did he set up, in what, where (1 Kings 16:32)? What else did he make (1 Kings 16:33)? What assessment is repeated now (cf. 1 Kings 16:30)? What did he build (1 Kings 16:34)? At what costs? Why should he have known better (cf. Joshua 6:26)? Who from among whom now speaks (1 Kings 17:1)? To whom? In whose behalf? What will not happen? Except at what? Now whom does the word of the LORD address (1 Kings 17:2)? Where does He tell him to go (1 Kings 17:3)? And do what there? How will he be sustained there (1 Kings 17:4)? What was the response (1 Kings 17:5)? With what results (1 Kings 17:5-6)? But then what happened (1 Kings 17:7)? How does a solution come (1 Kings 17:8)? Where must he go now (1 Kings 17:9)? With what provision? Where does he go (1 Kings 17:10)? Whom does he find there, where, ding what? What does he ask her? What request does he add in 1 Kings 17:11? Why is this a difficulty (1 Kings 17:12)? For what was she going to use this flour and oil? What does Elijah tell her not to do (1 Kings 17:13)? What does he tell her to do first? And then what? How does 1 Kings 17:14 introduce? What matter was so significant that it received such an introduction? According to what does the widow act (1 Kings 17:15)? With what result for them? By what mechanism (1 Kings 17:16)? Who else acted according to the Word of the LORD? What new problem arose in 1 Kings 17:17? How severe was it? How does the widow address Elijah now (1 Kings 17:18)? In what action, and in what manner, does Elijah respond in 1 Kings 17:19? And then what does he do, and in what manner, in 1 Kings 17:20? Whom does he acknowledge is working this? What does he do in 1 Kings 17:21? How many times? What does he say? What does the LORD do first in 1 Kings 17:22? Then what happens? Now what does Elijah do with the child (1 Kings 17:23)? What does he say? What does the woman say that she knows now about him (1 Kings 17:24)? What does she now know about the Word of the LORD? Where does she find this Word?

What is the great power in the world?  1 Kings 16:29–17:24 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirty verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God operates in such a way as to convince us that His Word rules and overrules all things, great and small, with power and mercy.

A new dynasty has begun. Omri was already powerful (cf. 1 Kings 16:27), and now Ahab marries into the royal family of Sidon (1 Kings 16:31). We already know that he will reign twenty-two years (1 Kings 16:29). Surely, this is the story of a great power!

Yes, but not Ahab. What good is a reign without rain? The LORD God of Israel puts His Word in the mouth of a prophet, by which the seemingly insignificant man can control whether the heavens bless the earth with rain. The Word of the LORD stops up the heavens.

But the Word of the LORD also feeds His prophet. “The Word of the LORD came to him” in 1 Kings 17:2, giving Elijah instruction for where to go (1 Kings 17:3) and from where to expect rations (1 Kings 17:4). So the prophet “went and did according to the Word of the LORD” (1 Kings 17:5).

When the brook dries up (1 Kings 17:7), help again comes from the Word of the LORD. “The Word of the LORD came to him” in 1 Kings 17:8. It seems counter-intuitive to designate a widow as his provider (1 Kings 17:91 Kings 17:10). And it seems even more counter-intuitive when we find out that she is literally on her last meal (1 Kings 17:12). But, if the LORD can use a raven to feed Elijah, He can certainly use a widow. The prophet emphasizes to the widow that it is the Word of the LORD that is in control: “For thus says the LORD God of Israel” (1 Kings 17:14). And the Spirit emphasizes to us, that it was the Word of the LORD that was in control: “according to the Word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah” (1 Kings 17:16).

So, there’s the miraculous drought. And then there’s the miraculous provision. But the best is still to follow: resurrection. Lest we think that it is the man who is powerful, rather than the Word in his mouth, we see Elijah brought to extremity in the last scene of our passage. The widow’s son’s breath (1 Kings 17:17) and soul (1 Kings 17:211 Kings 17:22) leave him, and the widow fears the worst: that she is getting straight justice rather than grace (1 Kings 17:18). Elijah responds not with retort or rebuke but compassion and desperate cryings out in prayer (1 Kings 17:201 Kings 17:21). How marvelous—in a chapter on the power of the LORD’s Word to men, we read that “the LORD heard the voice of Elijah” (1 Kings 17:22). Prayer, indeed, is a wonder—even on the lips of a sinner like we are (cf. James 5:17).

But the point of the resurrection was not that the LORD truly listens, but rather that the LORD truly speaks. The woman summarizes the theme of our passage at the end of 1 Kings 17:24: “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the Word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth.”

Ahab has come to power, but the Spirit immediately points us to the real power that operates in the world: the Word of the LORD!

Who seem to be powerful in this world? What is the real power? By what means may you avail yourself of this power? How else does this speaking God invite you to seek His power?

Sample prayer:  Lord, by the Word of Your power, You created the heavens and the earth. And, by the Word of Your power, You uphold all things. Forgive us for when we are intimidated by wicked rulers like Ahab, or for when we despair over circumstances. Remind us that have not only Your Word, but also Your ear. Give us faith to believe You, and make us faithful in prayer. Sanctify us by Your truth, Your Word is truth, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP29 “You Sons of the Gods” or TPH29A “Now Unto the LORD, You Sons of the Mighty”