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Saturday, May 18, 2019

2019.05.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 10

Questions for Littles: From whom does Genesis 10:1 begin to tell the story of what was begotten from them? Of what major event does this verse remind us? Whose offspring does Genesis 10:2-5 tell us about? How does verse 5 summarize who these descendants ended up being? What four different ways of categorizing them does verse 5 name? Whose offspring do Genesis 10:6-20 tell us about? What names and places do you recognize from these verses? What do you know about these names and places? What does Genesis 10:8 tell us about Nimrod? Before whose face did Nimrod display his mightiness (Genesis 10:9)? Do you think that God was impressed? What was the very first city of Nimrod’s kingdom (Genesis 10:10)? On which son of Ham does Genesis 10:15 focus? What did we learn about him in Genesis 9:24? What four different ways of categorizing Ham’s descendants does Genesis 10:20 name? Whose offspring do Genesis 10:21-31 tell us about? Of all of whose children is he the father (Genesis 10:21)? What happened in Peleg’s days? What four different ways of categorizing Shem’s descendants does Genesis 10:31 name? What three ways of categorizing Noah’s descendants does Genesis 10:32 mention? What came from them, how, and when?
Genesis 10 is sometimes referred to as “the table of nations,” and Genesis 10:5Genesis 10:20Genesis 10:31, and Genesis 10:32 tell us that these are what are listed here. Verse 32 literally says, “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to what was begotten from them, in their nations. And from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.” The word “genealogies” is often used to translate the Hebrew word that literally means, “what was begotten from them.”

It’s interesting that the story of the dividing itself comes afterward, in chapter 11. It seems that the Holy Spirit would like for us to see the effect that the sins of Noah and Ham had, just by the familiar names in Ham’s line and especially in Canaan’s. Mizraim (Egypt), Cush (Ethiopia), Nimrod (Babel, Assyria, Nineveh), Canaan (Sidon, Heth, Jebusite, Amorite, Girgashite, Hivite, etc., and then Sodom, Gomorrah, and company). All from one “little” sin! Ah, but don’t we learn here that there is no such thing as a “little” sin?

From the covenant line—the line of Shem—comes a great-grandson through his third-named son named (H)eber… father of the Hebrews. His son Peleg is mentioned, and will come up again later in Genesis 11:16-18. For now, Peleg’s claim to fame is that Babel happened while he was covenant head. A rather unimpressive beginning. But that’s just the point. There’s no reason for the favor of God to be shown to this people, except the freely bestowed love of God: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8a).

In the end, Genesis 10 makes us say of curse, “Ah, sin is precisely how this happened!” And of blessing, “there is no explanation for how this happened by the unmerited love of God!!”
How did you come to be under God’s curse? How can you come to be under His blessing?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, May 17, 2019

2019.05.17 Hopewell Herald Pastoral Letter - How to Be Blessed, and Blessed How Much?

The following is the pastoral letter from this week's "Hopewell Herald." The Herald includes much more information about the church and its activities, a congregational prayer reminder list, and often with links to helpful resources from the web. If you would like to receive the herald, please email church@hopewellarp.org to let us know!


Dear Congregation,

How do we come to be blessed, and how blessed will we be? The answers are bound up in that wonderful pronouncement from the morning text on the 12th, “Blessed be Yahweh, God of Shem!”

Shem was son of Noah and brother of Ham. He couldn’t come to be blessed by doing better than Ham. He had the same nature as Ham. But just as chapter 6 told us, “Grace found Noah,” so also now the end of chapter 10 tells us, “Grace found Shem and joined him to the ever-blessed God.”

How did Shem come to be joined to God? Through faith in Jesus Christ. What blessing would Japheth find in the church (the tent of Shem)? The blessing of finding that God belongs to him, and he belongs to God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Is that your blessedness? That God is your God, and you are His through faith in Jesus Christ? For children of the first Adam, that is the only true blessedness that we can have.

Christ was not in the first Adam. Instead, He is a brand new start—an entirely new humanity. Not only does Jesus have all blessedness in Himself as truly God, but as truly Man He is also the representative through Whom all in Him have Yahweh as their God. And their Father!

That answer the question, “How do we come to be blessed?” But how about the question, “How blessed are we, when we come to be blessed?” The answer: blessed with the blessedness of God Himself, precisely according to the worthiness of Jesus, in whom alone we are blessed.”

The New Covenant is not in our blood. It’s in Christ’s. Its blessings aren’t secured by us. Rather, He secures us in Himself, and He secures all of the blessings for us. Those who believe in Jesus receive not merely some blessing, and not only great blessing, but literally every blessing in Heaven (cf. Eph 1:3).

“Blessed be Yahweh, God of Jesus… and may all of us dwell in the tents of Jesus!” He has given Himself to us, body and soul. He has secured for us all of the blessings of the New Covenant in His blood. This is what the Spirit represents to us at the Lord’s table. This is what the Spirit seals to us at the Lord’s table. This is what the Spirit applies to us at the Lord’s table.

As you examine yourself in preparation for the Supper on the Lord’s Day, here is the great thing to ask: is Christ my God, and is God my God through Christ? Have I turned from serving self to serving Christ? And—since this turning can never give me Christ Himself—have I turned from trusting in self to trusting Christ?

If the answer is yes; if you have true (though, of course, deeply flawed!) repentance and faith; then, come to the table seeking that the Spirit would press into your heart, “Blessed is the Lord who, in Christ, has joined Himself to me as my God!”

Eager to enjoy the displaying, sealing, and applying of this glorious reality with you,

Pastor

190517FW John 12:37-41 - Displaying Christ's Glory: Whom and What Isaiah Saw

An example of a family worship teaching time in John 12:37-41

2019.05.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 12:37-41

Questions for Littles: What had Jesus done before the people (John 12:37)? How many of them? But what did they not do? So that what would be fulfilled (John 12:38)? What is quoted from Isaiah 53 in verse 38? For what is this chapter famous? What is quoted from Isaiah 6 in John 12:40? For what is this chapter famous? When does John 12:41 say that Isaiah said these things—whose glory had he seen? Whose glory does Isaiah 6 describe? What does verse 41 say is being displayed about Christ in Isaiah 53?
In the gospel reading this week, we have an explanation for why the people (cf. John 12:34) still did not believe in Jesus. God gave them over to their blind eyes and hard hearts so that they could not be forgiven. It is difficult for us to swallow just righteous action on God’s part—precisely because we understand that we do not deserve to be forgivable; we have no right to the means of forgiveness, because we have no right to the forgiveness itself. Was God unfair? Of course not! This just shows how glorious it is that through giving Christ to die for a specific people, He made them righteous without sacrificing His own righteousness!

And there are two other glorious wonders here, which we can see if we are paying attention to John 12:41: “These things [plural!] Isaiah said when he saw His [Christ’s] glory [!!!] and spoke of Him.”

First, because of the plural in verse 41, we know that this refers both to the quote from Isaiah 53, and to the quote from Isaiah 6. So, in each of these cases, Isaiah had seen Christ’s glory and spoken of Christ.

This is amazing with reference to Isaiah 53, because this is the great chapter about the suffering of the Messiah. But the apostle tells us that as the prophet was seeing these things, he was seeing Christ’s glory!! This is just what Jesus has said in John 12:23 and John 12:32. His being lifted up on the cross is the greatest display of His glory that ever there was. Here, He is shown to be at least as great as the sins of His people, all of which sins are as weighty as the glory that they despise!

And, verse 41 is amazing with reference to Isaiah 6, because of what it means for whom Isaiah saw on the throne in the year that king Uzziah/Azariah died! It was Christ whom Isaiah saw enthroned, high and lifted up, with the burning angels hiding their faces from Him! How great is the glory of Him who glorified Himself most by His dying for our sins!!

Why is it that there are so many cults that refuse to believe that Jesus is Yahweh? Or that Jesus died a sacrificial death for His people? Because we wall deserve John 12:40. Christ’s glory is wonderfully clear, if we have eyes to see it. So, if we are starting to grasp it with our heads, but still having difficulty appreciating it in our hearts, we know where to go for better vision and understanding and faith—to God Himself! Won’t you ask Him to give you these for the glory of Christ?
Who is Jesus? What two things did Isaiah see Him doing and see His glory? How can you see that glory?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Thursday, May 16, 2019

2019.05.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

Questions for Littles: Who is speaking in 2 Corinthians 10:1? What kind of speaking is it? Whom does he remind them is also meek and gentle? How was Paul’s manner among them? How is his manner while absent from them? What is he begging them in 2 Corinthians 10:2? With whom would he have to be bold? How do the apostles not battle (2 Corinthians 10:3)? What are their weapons not (2 Corinthians 10:4a)? What kind of power do they have (verse 4b)? What do the weapons do to strongholds? What do the weapons do to arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5)? What else do the weapons cast down? What do the weapons do to every thought? What is the apostle ready to do (2 Corinthians 10:6)? When will he do it?  
In a church context in which church discipline is almost unheard of, this passage may not make much sense. The apostle is leading up to his visit with gentleness in a letter, hoping that he will not have to be bold in person. Back in 1 Corinthians 4:21, he had given them a similar option—implying that it really is not up to him. Church discipline is so demanded by Christ that if there is not repentance, the under-shepherd has no choice but to use the rod.

Apparently, there are some in Corinth who don’t take this very seriously. This connects well with the experience of those who live in days in which people who are in danger of discipline just jump to another church.

But the apostle highlights this as a grave mistake. For, though he is a mere man, his ministry is Christ’s ministry. After all, Christ by His Spirit has used Paul’s plain speaking of the truth to take down the darkness and bondage inflicted by the devil himself. There are no powers or ideas that can survive a battle against the words of Jesus.

If this is true of the words of Jesus, then it must also be true of the discipline of Jesus. Apostles and elders are not only to teach authoritatively, but they are also to lead authoritatively. “Let no one disregard you,” the apostle would tell the elder that he later mentors (cf. Titus 2:15).

This, of course, is not license to be brash and heavy-handed. If the authority that is exercised is Christ’s, then let the manner that leads up to it be “the meekness and gentleness of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:1), and let it be conducted by someone who is pleading not to have to do (2 Corinthians 10:2) what he is yet ready to do (2 Corinthians 10:6).

How sad it is that very few are the churches in which there is such authority, or such manner in exercising it, or such reluctance to have to do so. For each of these are different types of displays of Christ, the Good Shepherd. The church exists to display His glory!
What would it look like for you to expect the results of preaching or discipline to be supernatural?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress”

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

190515FW Judges 1:27-2:6 - Incomplete Obedience or Repentance Is None At All

An example of a family worship teaching time in Judges 1:27-2:6

2019.05.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 1:27-2:6

Questions for Littles: What did Manasseh not do in Judges 1:27? With how many villages and their inhabitants? What reason is given? What had happened in the time to which Judges 1:28 refers? What did Israel do? What didn’t they do? What did Ephraim not do in Judges 1:29? What did Zebulon not do in Judges 1:30? With whom? But what did they do? What did Asher not do in Judges 1:31? To whom? What didn’t Naphtali do in Judges 1:33? To whom? But what did they do to them? What was done to Dan from their own territory in Judges 1:34? When they became stronger, what did they do (Judges 1:35)? Whom did all of these tribes end up having living among them (Judges 1:29Judges 1:32Judges 1:33)? What had been done at Gilgal in Joshua 5:10-12? Who comes up from there now in Judges 2:1? What had he forbidden Israel to do (Judges 2:2)? What had He commanded Israel to do? Of what does He now accuse them? What does He say that He won’t do now (Judges 2:3)? What will the Canaanites become to Israel? What will their gods become unto Israel? How do the children of Israel respond in Judges 2:4? And what do they call the place (Judges 2:5)? And what do they do there? How does Judges 2:6 clue us into the fact that this sequence of events actually came before Judges 1:1-26?
We’re tempted, when we read the rest of the book of Judges, to see it as a downhill slide from a golden age of faithfulness under Joshua to the pits of despair by the time we get to the “Eli & Sons” priestly administration with which 1 Samuel begins. The problem with that is the jarring revelation in Judges 2:6, “And when Joshua had dismissed the people…”

We’ve turned back the clock. Judges 2:6-9 basically ends up covering the same ground as Joshua 24:29-31. So, although the people did in fact serve the Lord during the lifetime of Joshua and his contemporary elders, the seeds of their rebellion were already there. They were lazy.

Repeatedly, we see that the Canaanites were determined (Judges 1:27 and Judges 1:35). Repeatedly, we see that even when Israel could have followed God’s commands, they preferred receiving tax money over rendering obedience (Judges 1:28Judges 1:30Judges 1:33Judges 1:35). Sure, they worshiped Yahweh, but when push came to shove, laziness and greediness were more important than uncomfortable separation from the world (Judges 2:2a) or the offensive and difficult work of shattering all man-made worship (verse 2b).

So the Lord announces to them that He will bring upon them the consequences of their choices. And what do they do? Cry. Not all sorrow is godly sorrow. Sometimes, we cry because we got caught or because we feel badly about the consequences. But, if it doesn’t produce repentance—a change of course, then it is not godly sorrow (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10).

This all puts Judges 1:1-26 into a different perspective. What had appeared to be “minor” flaws in an otherwise reasonably good start now look rather ghastly: it’s more of the same rebellion that earned Weepingville its name. It’s the threatened judgment of Judges 2:3 beginning to be carried out.

The Lord wants whole hearts. Devoted obedience with diligence and contentment (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6-11). And, when we see our sin and its consequences, wholehearted sorrow that produces fruit that is in keeping with repentance (cf. Matthew 3:8 and Luke 3:8). Are we lazy? Greedy? What does our “repentance” look like?
In what parts of your Christian life do you shrink back from doing what requires diligence and strength? In what ways are you careless about having your mind and heart shaped by the world? What consequences have you seen from this? How have you responded to those consequences?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

2019.05.15 Prayer Meeting Folder

Click [here] for a PDF of tomorrow's prayer meeting folder. As you can see from the schedule on the folder, we have a brief devotional (from the upcoming Lord's Day morning "call to prayer") by which we seek for the Spirit to stir us up to prayer by the Scriptures, and then we simply pray together for an hour. The praying in each section loops through the corresponding sections in Matthew Henry's Method for Prayer. This week's devotional is in Romans 1:8-10. Having worked through most of the passages in the Psalms explicitly about our calling upon the Lord and His hearing us, we turn now to begin working through the prayers that we find in the apostolic letters.

2019.05.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:1-17

Questions for Littles: Who spoke these words (Exodus 20:1)? How many of them? Who is God (Exodus 20:2a)? What had He done for them? What were they not to have in front of His face (Exodus 20:3)? What were they not to make (Exodus 20:4)? What were they not to do with such images (Exodus 20:5)? What reason does God give from His character? What does He call making an image of Himself? Upon how many generations will He visit such iniquity? What does He call the keeping of this commandment in Exodus 20:6? What does He show to those who do so? To how many generations? What does God call “bearing His Name lightly” in Exodus 20:7? What will Yahweh not do for someone who does this? What is the first word/command in Exodus 20:8? Which particular day is it that we are to remember? For what purpose are we to remember it? In order to keep the Sabbath holy, on which days should we have it in mind (Exodus 20:9)? To Whom does the Sabbath belong (Exodus 20:10)? How much work should we do on it?  Who else should not work on it? What else should not work on it? What explanation does Exodus 20:11 give for the pattern of “six and one”? What did the Lord create? How much of it? How long did He take to do this? What did He do on the seventh day? What two things did the Lord do to the Sabbath day? What must one do with father and mother (Exodus 20:12)? How does God promise to bless the keeping of this commandment? Who is giving them the land? What does Exodus 20:13 forbid doing? What does Exodus 20:14 forbid doing? What does Exodus 20:15 forbid doing? What does Exodus 20:16 forbid doing? What things are especially marked out as forbidden to covet in Exodus 20:17? What doesn’t verse 17 forbid coveting?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin came from Exodus 20:1-17. These words were first spoken from the mountain by the very voice of God, then written in tablets of stone, by the very finger of God (meaning that God did not use any creaturely agency to make the words appear). Here is the great foundational statement of all moral law!

The first four commandments are summarized in the first and greatest commandment, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” The other commandments are summarized in the second commandment, which is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In Romans 13:8-10, the apostle tells us that these commandments and love are the perfect definitions of one another. More importantly, Romans 13:11-14 tells us that these commandments describe the wicked darkness from which we have been saved, and the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been counted for believers, and into which likeness believers are now being shaped. The following is our prayer of confession, following Scripture’s own teaching about what each of these commandments mean (You can also see a good summary of them in Westminster Shorter Catechism 40-84!). As you review it, consider what perfect obedience Christ has acted on our behalf, what we ought to be striving after now, and what we shall be like, when His work in us is done!

Lord God, we have lived in dependence upon and devotion to ourselves. We have worshiped in the way that we prefer. We have taken your Name lightly. We have filled Your holy day with our thoughts, words, and works. We have rebelled against authority in our hearts and resisted in our actions. We have despised those who were created in Your image. We have indulged fleshly appetites over keeping holy commitments. We have sought to acquire possessions in ways that You have not appointed. We have spoken deceitfully and harmed others’ names. We have had discontented, grumbling, craving hearts. Your good and pleasing and perfect law exposes how wicked and miserable and destructive is our remaining sin, which we so often commit. In Christ, You have given us His sacrifice to put away our guilt, and Your own righteousness to stand for us as our righteousness. Forgive us, we pray, through Jesus Christ, AMEN.
Which commandments did you find most convicting to review? What has Christ done about that in His own life? What can He do about it in your life? What does He use to do that? What are you going to do about, then?
Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Monday, May 13, 2019

2019.05.13 Hopewell Harbinger

Hopewell This Week, May 13-18

▫A Hopwell @Home for this week is available here.

Prayer Meeting, Wednesday, May 15, 6:30p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.

Men's Breakfast, Saturday, May 18, 6:30a.m. in the Fellowship Hall.  

Children’s Catechism for May 19
Q. 122. How many sacraments are there? A. Two.

Shorter Catechism for May 19
Q. 92. What is a sacrament? A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

Songs for May 19: TPH175 "Your Law, O God, Is Our Delight," ARP121 "I Lift My Eyes and See the Hills," TPH72A "O God, Your Judgments Give the King"

Morning Sermon Text for May 19: Genesis 10
Evening Sermon Text for May 19: 2Corinthians 10:7-18

Lord's Supper on May 19

▫Memory Verse for May 19
(Genesis 10:32These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.  

2019.05.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 9:18-29

Questions for Littles: Who were Noah’s sons who went out of the ark (Genesis 9:18)? Of whom was Ham the father? What happened to the whole earth from these three (Genesis 9:19)? What did Noah begin to be in Genesis 9:20? What did he plant? What did he drink (Genesis 9:21)? How much? What did he end up doing? Who saw (Genesis 9:22)? What did he do about it? What did Shem and Japheth do about it (Genesis 9:23)? How did they walk? Where did they turn their faces? From what did Noah “awake” in Genesis 9:24? What did he know? Whom did he curse in Genesis 9:25? What was he to be? To whom? Whom did he bless in Genesis 9:26? By what title did he call Yahweh? Whom did he prophesy to be Shem’s servant? Whom did he prophesy for God to enlarge in Genesis 9:27? In whose tents would Japheth dwell? Who would be his servant? How long did Noah live after the flood (Genesis 9:28)? How many years total did he live (Genesis 9:29)? Then what happened?  
This passage announces to us that it is our family’s story, “from these the whole earth was populated.” That’s a problem for us, because it concludes with, “and he died.” That’s discouraging and encouraging at the same time. It’s discouraging, because it reminds us that we are descended from the first Adam, through another covenant head whom we find drunk and naked in this passage, and in both of whom we deserve death and bring all the more upon ourselves through our own sins.

But the conclusion is also encouraging, because it takes us back to chapter 5, where we saw that over and over again, as we looked forward to the Seed of the woman Who would crush the serpent’s head. The line of the Savior seemed to be doing so well, until those opening verses of chapter 6, through which we ended up in a place where only Noah, from his entire generation, was right with God by grace. From just one in all the earth, we’re back up to 100% through a flood that brought both wrath and salvation!

But, there must be constant vigilance to believe in Jesus and live as those who belong to Him. We, like Noah, can turn the greatest blessings into instruments of the greatest curse. Noah went out of the ark—salvation blessing! “From these the whole earth was populated”—reminder of God’s commitment to re-fill the earth with those made in His image. Noah began to be a farmer—literally, “man of the dirt”… that same dirt that God promised not to curse ever again, and which brought forth not only thorns and thistles but grapes—blessing of the covenant of grace! But rather than use the wine for all of those glorious things for which God created and gave it, Noah uses it as an occasion for great sin, and more specifically one great sin that leads very quickly to many other great sins—in this case the sin of uncovering nakedness by exposing (Noah) or looking (Ham). Noah may have been chosen by God to get us through the flood, but he certainly can’t be the one in which we escape the curse or stand at the judgment.

And there’s a hint at Who this is going to be in our passage. The Savior has to be a man, the seed of the woman. But He is also God. For, it is not blessed be Shem but rather “blessed be Yahweh.” Shem’s blessedness does not come so much in being Noah’s son. Ham had that, and look at what he ends up bringing upon his own son! Shem’s blessedness isn’t even in being in himself. Rather, his blessedness is in belonging to the Lord Himself. Even Japheth, who finds his blessing as a covenantal member of Shem’s household, must find his blessing not so much in Shem, but in Shem’s God.

At last, there must be One who does have blessedness in Himself. And that One is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the substance—the reality, the “true stuff”—of covenantal blessings. And, if we are to enjoy that which is displayed and promised in that covenant; and, if we and our children are to be included among the covenant people on earth; then, we must be joined by faith to Jesus Christ, that we may have Him who is the substance of the covenant. The outward form is not enough for those so guilty and wicked as we are!
How does one become part of the last Adam instead of the first? In which Adam are you?
Suggested Songs: ARP179 “Now Blessed Be the Lord” or TPH564 “Now Blessed Be the Lord”