Each week we webcast Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, morning public worship at 11a, and p.m. singing and sermon at 2:30p (sermon at 3:30); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Christian Meditation: Preaching to Ourselves from the God of the Peace (Family Worship lesson in Philippians 4:8–9)

How can we grow in our felt experience of God's peace? Pastor leads his family in yesterday's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Philippians 4:8–9 prepares us for the evening sermon on the coming Lord's Day. In these two verses of holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us how to make good use of His Word for controlling our internal, mental conversations. By meditating upon and doing what the Lord teaches us, we know His fellowship and live life as a joyous, reasonable, peace-full walking with Him.(click audio title in player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

2021.07.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 21:20–36

Read Luke 21:20–36

Questions from the Scripture text: What will apostles see where (Luke 21:20)? What will they know? Where will some of them be at the time (Luke 21:21a)? What should they do? And where will others be (verse 21b)? What should they do? What shouldn’t those who are out in the country do (verse 21c)? What days will those be (Luke 21:22)? As part of fulfilling what? What will make it much harder (Luke 21:23a)? Upon what people will there be great wrath (verse 23b)? What will happen to that people (Luke 21:24a)? And what will happen to what city (verse 24b)? Until what time? What happens at the fulfillment (Luke 21:25)? And how will men respond (Luke 21:26)? What will they see in this fear (Luke 21:27)? But how will believers respond (Luke 21:28)? Then what does He start speaking to them in Luke 21:29? With what command does He begin this parable? What are they able to tell from all the trees (Luke 21:30)? What primary thing that He told them that they would see (Luke 21:31a, cf. Luke 21:20a), and what would this mean is near (Luke 21:31b, cf. end of Luke 21:24)? By when should they expect all things they are told to see to take place (Luke 21:32)? What will pass away (Luke 21:33)? What won’t? In light of all this information, to what must they take heed (Luke 21:34)? To avoid being weighed down with which three things? If they are weighed down by those things, what would come upon them suddenly? Who will not be able to escape that moment (Luke 21:35)? What two things must they do (Luke 21:36)? At what times? By what does escape come? For what else would they be “counted worthy” (cf. Luke 20:35)?

The day is coming when the snare will be triggered, and all who dwell on the face of the whole earth will be caught in it (Luke 21:35). But Christ is unto us a Prophet by Whose instruction the apostles were sustained in their testimony, even unto death (Luke 21:12-19). And Christ is unto us a Prophet by Whose instruction believers in Judea and Jerusalem survived the Roman annihilation of that city and all who were in it (Luke 21:20-24). 

That which would be otherwise dreadful, He illustrates with spring and summer tree blossoms (Luke 21:29-30), teaching us to look with hope (Luke 21:31) upon that which others meet with dread: it is the advance of His kingdom. The things that He said would come to pass in that generation did indeed come to pass in that generation (Luke 21:32), so that we might be all the more encouraged about the absolute reliability of His Words (Luke 21:33).

So, when Christ tells us that all of the signs that come throughout the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24-26) will be eclipsed by the arrival of the Son Himself (Luke 21:27), we pay attention to what He tells us to do. For, we know that He is instructing us unto our preservation and salvation. He is teaching us how to live in such a way that what makes other men’s hearts fail them (Luke 21:26) are the very things that fortify our own hearts so that with uplifted heads we can receive Christ as One Who arrives with our redemption (Luke 21:28).

And upon what does He tell us to focus? Taking heed to ourselves, and especially our hearts (Luke 21:34a). Living not for earthly pleasures or cares, but for the Lord before Whom we hope to stand. Just as the apostles and others in the apostolic church were “counted worthy to escape all these things” that came to pass, those who rest upon Christ, and hold to His Words, and live for Him will find that in Christ they are counted worthy “to stand before the Son of Man.” Hallelujah!

What cares threaten to weigh you down? What pleasures tempt you to seek after them instead of pleasing Christ? How much do you think about living before Him now, and what does this say about your being able to stand before Him then?

Suggested songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song ” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Friday, July 30, 2021

2021.07.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 4:8–9

Read Philippians 4:8–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call them in Philippians 4:8? What eight types of things does he mention? What does he tell them to do with these things? What things does he now mention in Philippians 4:9—in what four ways have they come to know these things? For what purpose do they have such knowledge? What/who will be with them to bring this about? 

The end of Philippians 4:9, “and the God of peace will be with you,” points back to that peace of God in Philippians 4:7 and the nearness of God at the end of Philippians 4:5. So the apostle has not yet changed the subject. He is presenting to us those habits of thought by which the Lord displaces anxiety and gives us peace and joy.

At what do we aim with our thoughts? That will make a big difference in how much we struggle with anxiety. The word translated “meditate” in Philippians 4:8 most often has the sense of considering, or reasoning, or even reckoning/accounting. Here, then is a list of the kinds of things that are to be continually brought to bear upon our minds: whatever are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report—anything virtuous, and praiseworthy. 

The first two words have to do with the genuine and lasting character of things. True: real. Noble: substantial, significant. The second two have to do with their moral quality. Just: according to God’s law. Pure: without blemish or corruption. The next two have to do with the godly’s perception of them. Lovely: that which is endearing. Commendable: that which sounds pleasant. But this list isn’t exhaustive, as the last portion makes clear: anything that is virtuous or praiseworthy.

So, we know what our thoughts should be filled with, but how do we get there? After all, our hearts are deceitful. But the apostle isn’t finished yet. All those “things” in Philippians 4:8 are “the things” at the beginning of Philippians 4:9. God has graciously maintained to us our reason, our conscience, and the principles of His law which remain upon our hearts; yet, we are still sinners and must have our judgments subjected to the Word of God. We are not abandoned to ourselves but rather given the apostolic teaching: “the things which you learned and received and heard and saw” in the apostle. The Lord Jesus, by His Spirit, has preserved for us in the writings of His apostles and prophets a comprehensive and perfectly reliable guide to anything virtuous or praiseworthy.

Our minds are the battlefield on which is waged the contest between biblical joy and worldly anxiety. The Lord Jesus taught a parable about this. In Luke 8:14–15, he talks about the competition between the heart controlled by the “cares, riches, and pleasures of life” and the “noble and good heart” that is controlled by the Word. If we wish to escape the clutches of the anxieties of this life, then we need to reject worldly riches and pleasures and instead take what the Scripture teaches as the guideline for what to keep our minds full of.

With Scripture as the guide, the “noble and good heart” is not merely theoretical but practical. Philippians 4:9 says, “these things… DO!” While the Christian life rests entirely upon what Christ has done, it is still a “doing” life, and the Bible is to be for us a doing book. As Luke 8:15 says, those who hear the Word with a noble and good heart “keep it and bear fruit with patience.”

How is the battle for your mind going? Upon what do you spend the bulk of your thoughts? How are you availing yourself of the Scriptures to shape this?

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

Thursday, July 29, 2021

2021.07.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Samuel 18:19–33

Read 2 Samuel 18:19–33

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Ahimaaz ask to do in 2 Samuel 18:19? How does he summarize the results of the battle? What does Joab answer in 2 Samuel 18:20? What does he offer him instead? Why not let him carry the news today? Whom does Joab send instead (2 Samuel 18:21)? What does Ahimaaz now ask to do in 2 Samuel 18:22? What does Joab ask in response? But how does Ahimaaz now respond in 2 Samuel 18:23? And what does Joab now say? But which way does Ahimaaz run, and with what result? Where was David sitting in 2 Samuel 18:24? Who else went where? What did he see? Whom did he tell (2 Samuel 18:25)? How does the king respond? What does the watchman now see, and say, in 2 Samuel 18:26? And how does the king respond? What does the watchman recognize in 2 Samuel 18:27? What does the king conclude from the fact that the runner is Ahimaaz? What does Ahimaaz first cry in 2 Samuel 18:28? What does he then do? Whom does he bless? For what? But what does the king ask in 2 Samuel 18:29? And how does Ahimaaz answer? What does the king then tell him to do (2 Samuel 18:30)? Who arrives at that point (2 Samuel 18:31)? What does the king say? How does he summarize the results of the battle (cf. 2 Samuel 18:192 Samuel 18:28)? But what does the king ask him in 2 Samuel 18:32? And how does the Cushite answer? What effect does this have upon the king (2 Samuel 18:33)? Where does he go? What does he do there? And what does he say as he goes? What does he say he wishes had happened?

The advance of the kingdom sometimes requires honest brutality and brutal honesty. Honest brutality, we have already seen. What the Lord had told us in 2 Samuel 17:15b, Joab and company had executed in 2 Samuel 18:14–15. Our sanctification requires such brutality as well (cf. Romans 8:13, Colossians 3:5), even collateral damage if that’s what it requires (cf. Matthew 18:8–9). 

But now it’s time for the brutal honesty. Whether it’s because Joab wants to spare Ahimaaz the implied fate in 2 Samuel 18:13, or because he doesn’t think Ahimaaz will deliver the brutal truth in 2 Samuel 18:32, Joab doesn’t think Ahimaaz is the one to deliver the news of the death of the king’s son (2 Samuel 18:20). And Joab is correct. Ahimaaz begins with the most important half of the truth in 2 Samuel 18:28, but hedges when the king’s question in 2 Samuel 18:29 shows that he isn’t interested in the God’s agenda (cf. 2 Samuel 17:15b) but his own (cf. 2 Samuel 18:5).

The right Israelite for the job turns out to be a Cushite—even if he lacks the local knowledge to take the long, flat route (2 Samuel 18:23) instead of the more direct route over rougher terrain. He doesn’t have the personal nearness to David, and so he is not so sparing with him as Ahimaaz. 

There is a lesson here for our interactions with other believers. Sometimes, we come into a conversation to serve them in the Lord’s work in their lives, and things take a turn when we realize that they are not quite so onboard with Him as we had expected. We have a choice at that point: plead with them the goodness of the Lord even in this thing that they dislike (note well, the manner of the Cushite’s answer in 2 Samuel 18:32), or try to find a way to back out of the interaction (cf. 2 Samuel 18:29b). When Ahimaaz does the latter, he even compromises himself before God by lying.

It is possible to be faithful to the truth without being churlish. But it is impossible to be faithful to God and man while hedging on the truth. Even the Cushite’s faithfulness doesn’t get through to David (2 Samuel 18:33), which will require even more bluntness by Joab in 2 Samuel 19:5–7. But the Lord is too committed to David’s good to let him go. In order to follow Him in this, we need to recognize when the sympathy of our nearness, like that of Ahimaaz, endangers us of being unfaithful.

What blunt truth about your sin do you need to be telling yourself? With whom have you been soft-peddling the goodness of God to destroy His and our enemies (including their sin)?

Suggested Songs: ARP5 “Listen to My Words, O LORD” or TPH5 “Hear My Words, O LORD”

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

The Kind of Man That God Uses (Family Worship lesson in Exodus 2:11–22)

What kind of man does God use to lead families, churches, and nations? Pastor leads his family in today's "Hopewell @Home" passage. Exodus 2:11–22 prepares us for the first serial Scripture reading in public worship on the coming Lord's Day. In these twelve verses of holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit introduces us to Moses's character, teaching us that God uses godly men (conviction, compassion, courage), imperfect men, and opposed men. Most of all, we learn that God ultimately uses Christ alone and that, clinging to Him, we needn't be discouraged by shortcomings or opposition.(click audio title in player for a page where you can download mp3/pdf files of this lesson)