Thursday, April 2, 2020

2020.04.02 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 1:9–10

Questions from the Scripture text: What has God made known to us (Ephesians 1:9a)? According to what had He decided this? What had He done “in Himself”? When would He carry out His plan (Ephesians 1:10a)? What would He gather into one? In Whom would He gather all things? What things would be included in these “all things” (verse 10b)? 
We tend to focus upon ourselves when we think about God’s eternal purposes. And that is understandable, not because it is right, but because we are fleshly, and it is understandable that we would so sinfully think about things.

The Lord, however, thinks upon us with amazing love and goodness and generosity precisely by putting us in our proper place: under Christ and in Christ.

In the previous verses, we read that He bent “all wisdom and prudence” (Ephesians 1:8) upon redeeming us by Christ’s blood (Ephesians 1:7). Now in this passage, we read the heart and goal of that wisdom and prudence: to gather all of creation (signified by the “bookends” of “heaven and earth,” Ephesians 1:10) together in one in Christ.

This was that “mystery of His will” to which Ephesians 1:9 refers. In the New Testament, the word “mystery” generally refers to something that God had not at first made known, but which He has now revealed in Christ and the gospel. And what has God now revealed: that Christ redeeming us (and all creation with us) has always been at the center of God purposes.

These, of course, are eternal purposes. He purposed this in Himself. And, this plan was “according to His good pleasure.” That is to say that in these purposes, God was not responding to hypothetical futures at all. He is pleased to glorify Himself. He is pleased to glorify Himself in His Son. He is pleased to glorify Himself in His Son by displaying Him as the Redeemer. And now, God has sent as a Redeemer that Son unto His glory! These riches that He has poured out in love to purchase us are all, entirely, only because it pleased Him!

This is the true and biblical way to think about election and predestination. And it is a source of great wonder and worship, and love back to God, and peace and security in His redemption. What a doctrine! What a Redeemer! What a God! Hallelujah!
How have you talked and thought about election and predestination? How should we all?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Archive of the entire worship time is also available on Facebook.

2020.04.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 4:1–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Israel go out to do (1 Samuel 4:1)? Where did each army encamp? What happened in the battle (1 Samuel 4:2)? What did the people ask (1 Samuel 4:3a)? What did they think would change the outcome, and what did they think would save them (verse 3b)? Who dwelt between the cherubim (1 Samuel 4:4)? Who else were right there, when they were retrieving it? How did Israel respond when the ark arrived (1 Samuel 4:5)? What did the Philistines ask in 1 Samuel 4:6? What did they understand? What did they call the ark in 1 Samuel 4:7? Where did they assume that God was not, before? What did the Philistines think of this new development at first (1 Samuel 4:7-8)? But how did they determine to respond (1 Samuel 4:9)? How did the outcome of this battle compare to the outcome of the earlier one (1 Samuel 4:10, cf. 1 Samuel 4:2)? What was captured (1 Samuel 4:11a)? Who died (verse 11b)? 
They are dreadful things that we do, when we take God lightly or treat Him as an easily manipulated genie in a bottle.

Israel, asks the right question in 1 Samuel 4:3, “Why has Yahweh struck us down”? The answer (or at least a significant part of it) is buried way down in 1 Samuel 4:11, “and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.” This was a sign that we have been expecting since 1 Samuel 2:34, and especially after 1 Samuel 3:121 Samuel 3:191 Samuel 4:1a. So, if we have been paying attention, the answer is, “Out of respect for His own honor in His own worship!”

That’s startling to us, if we live in a day of worship chaos, where “everyone does what is right in his own eyes, and there is no king in Israel.” If that’s true of our worship situation in the churches, then we can see the parallel with Samuel’s situation, coming out of the period of the Judges.

But that’s the answer to the “why” question: “Out of respect for His own honor in His own worship!”

Israel was treating Yahweh as a deity that could be easily manipulated. His worship was being desecrated, but their answer to why they lost was that they had forgotten the magical furniture (1 Samuel 4:3–4) that has God’s power infused in it in such a way that God would have to give them what they wanted. It turns out, from 1 Samuel 4:7, that this was also the Philistine view of how deities work.

The Lord punishes Israel’s superstitious, manipulative approach to Him with a defeat more than seven times as bad (cf. 1 Samuel 4:41 Samuel 4:10) as before. He takes from them that symbol of His presence that they had treated as more important than Him Himself (1 Samuel 4:11a). And He crowns it with the sign of His judgment (verse 11b).

The question for us, then, is where we might be doing such things. Are we bowing to God’s complete authority over His worship, or do we seek to modify worship to be more pleasing to ourselves or others? In those things that God has given us as means by which He works, are we trusting in Him and interacting with Him, or are we trusting the means and using them in a way that is not mindful of Him?

If God acts in such a way as to vindicate His glory and honor over against the church’s cavalier approach to the means of grace, then let us bow and worship and repent and confess that He is righteous and just and holy to bring upon us whatever He determines to do.
How can you improve your personal interaction with God in His worship or means of grace?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH130A “Lord, from the Depths, to Thee I Cry”

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

2020.03.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 5:12–6:3

Questions from the Scripture text: What opportunity was Paul giving the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 5:12)? What kind of people were the Corinthians dealing with? What did the Corinthians need to be able to say about Paul, for their own sakes (2 Corinthians 5:13)? Whose love was pressing and pushing Paul to speak this way (2 Corinthians 5:14)? What is true if One died for all (verse 14)? How does 2 Corinthians 5:15 describe the life of those who have died in Christ—for whom do they live? According to what are they not to regard anyone, including Christ (2 Corinthians 5:16)? If someone is in Christ, what is true about him (2 Corinthians 5:17)? Who has done this (2 Corinthians 5:18)? What is this change called a ministry of? What was it necessary not to impute to them, if they were going to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19)? What do Christ’s ambassadors plead (2 Corinthians 5:20)? For what reason did God make Him who knew no sin to be sin (2 Corinthians 5:21)? What are Paul and his companions pleading with them not to do in 2 Corinthians 6:1? What day is the day when you hear how Jesus died so that we could be forgiven and begin to live for Him instead of ourselves (2 Corinthians 6:2)? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from 2 Corinthians 5:12–6:3 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with O Sacred Head, Now Wounded.

Here, we learn that a critical part of the gospel is the good news that we no longer have to live for ourselves. Yes, forgiveness is entirely by grace alone—by that glorious substitution in 2 Corinthians 5:21. God made Christ, who had not sinned at all, to be punished on the cross as sin itself, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. This is why when we believe in Jesus, our sins are not imputed—that is, not counted—against us (2 Corinthians 5:19).

But this is just the beginning. It was the guilt of these sins that kept us from receiving the glorious gift of being made new creatures. Jesus took the guilt, and He makes us new creatures.

This is why 2 Corinthians 5:15 tells us that the reason that He died for us was that we should no longer live for ourselves but for Him. To be made holy is a gift that we don’t deserve. So Jesus took upon Himself what we deserve, so that we could be made holy!

This is why someone who claims to be forgiven but not holy is literally playing with the fire of Hell. 2 Corinthians 6:1 calls this kind of thinking “to receive the grace of God in vain.” The word translated “vain” here is the same as the word translated “foolish” in most translations of James 2:20, and both are describing the same person: the one who claims to have a saving faith that doesn’t produce serving faithfulness.

Paul is literally begging the Corinthians not to think this way. It’s a salvation issue. “Today is the day of salvation!” he says. “Live like those whose chief desire is to please the Lord before whom you will one day stand!”

This is a word that aims at the perfection of His finished work in us, but knows that we will not have that perfection in this life. For us in the here and now, it’s a word about priorities. What are your priorities? For whom are you living? Is your sin an enemy whose days are numbered? Or is thinking about Christ an irritation or inconvenience to you because you’d really like to just keep living for yourself?
What is one way that you could be living for Him who died for you and rose again?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Monday, March 30, 2020

2020.03.29 Morning Sermon, 1Corinthians 11:17–34 "The Lord's Supper is the Lord's!"

2020.03.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Corinthians 11:17–34

Questions from the Scripture text: Was the Corinthians’ coming together making it better or worse (1 Corinthians 11:17)? What was the first reason that coming together for church was actually hurting them instead of helping them (1 Corinthians 11:18)? What is one reason that God allows these divisions—these factions—in the church (1 Corinthians 11:19)? Whose Supper, then, were they not eating (1 Corinthians 11:20)? Because whose supper were each of them taking (1 Corinthians 11:21)? From whom did Paul receive these instructions about the Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23)? What did Jesus take on the night He was betrayed (verse 23)? When He gave thanks, what did He do with it (1 Corinthians 11:24)? What did He say? When did He take up the cup (1 Corinthians 11:25)? What did He say about it? What do eating the bread and drinking the cup proclaim (show forth) (1 Corinthians 11:26)? And for how long? If someone eats or drinks in the wrong way (“an unworthy manner”) of what are they guilty (1 Corinthians 11:27)? What is someone to do about the way he takes the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:28)? What happens to us if we are wrong about that (1 Corinthians 11:29)? What was happening to them because they were taking wrong (1 Corinthians 11:30-32)? What should we do at the Lord’s Supper, when we come together to eat (1 Corinthians 11:33)? If we are hungry for food, what are we to do (1 Corinthians 11:34)? 
In the sermon yesterday, we heard that Jesus is the primary Actor in the Lord’s Supper. He commanded it. He tells us the manner in which to take it. He gives Himself to us in it. He binds Himself to us in it. He binds us to Himself in it. It is a corporate meal that is all about Him, as He feeds His covenant body, the church.

By each taking on their own, the Corinthians exposed that they were ignorant of both what the meal is and also of whom the meal is for. The meal is not bread and wine, but Christ and His covenant. Of the bread, Jesus says “this is My body.” Of the cup, Jesus says “this cup is the New Covenant in My blood.”

And for whom did Jesus give Himself? Not merely for individuals separately so much as for His bride, who is now His corporate body—bone of His bone and flesh of His flesh (cf. Ephesians 5:25–32). And with whom has Jesus made the New Covenant—or, better put, with whom has God made the New Covenant in Christ? Not merely with individuals separately so much as with His covenant people.

If we come to the table and focus upon ourselves, this passage says that we despise His church, shame those whom we are not careful to have partake with us, and even that we are guilty of the body and blood of the Lord!

It is a horrendous thing to focus on ourselves at the table. And so, the culminating procedural command in 1 Corinthians 11:33 addresses the procedural symptom from 1 Corinthians 11:21 that showed that the church in Corinth wasn’t getting this.

But we, too, can do this if when we come we are so focused on a personal, mystical experience that we are not eagerly expecting and enjoying the rest of the body’s feeding upon Christ. We, too, can do this if when we come we are more impressed by how needy we are than by how sufficient Christ is for that need.

So, when we come to the Table, let us do so, rejoicing over what Christ is doing there, and rejoicing that He is doing it for His corporate, covenant people. Let us not each take our own meal, but rather take together, waiting for one another—eagerly expecting and enjoying our brothers’ and sisters’ taking, too!
What do you plan to focus on, to become more biblical in how you take the Lord’s Supper?
Suggested Songs: ARP191 “I Love the Lord” or TPH201 “Twas on That Night, When Doomed to Know”

Saturday, March 28, 2020

"Reminder from the Session" — the 2020.03.27 pastoral letter and Hopewell Herald

Hopewell Herald – March 27, 2020

This week’s letter is from the Session, reaffirming the commitment to the public worship of God in keeping the 4th commandment, while keeping in view the profound duties of the 6th Commandment, as concisely summarized from Scripture in WLC 135.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

There seems to be some question as to how Hopewell will operate during this epidemic. The Session has cancelled all unnecessary gatherings for several weeks until we can get a handle on how this virus will run its course. Right now, that means everything outside of Lord’s Day morning worship is unnecessary. Until we have more information that the danger is past, we will only be gathering for worship Sunday morning, our normal 11 am service.

Some might ask why we are gathering at all if there is a present danger, and for that answer we need to go to Scripture. The feasts in Leviticus and the Calls to Worship in Psalms all show that we, as covenant people of God, have a duty to gather and worship our God and Father, “in His courts” or “before His presence.”  Hebrews 10:25 says, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” We have been given the invaluable gift of being able to draw near to Glory itself and worship our God in Christ. Why would we want to forsake that?

However, if you are feeling ill, running a fever, or having respiratory trouble, please stay home! We have the technology to bring the worship service right into your living room, and there you can pray, sing, hear the word preached, and worship along with those gathering at Hopewell. Remember, the same commandment that forbids murder also commands us to do everything in our power to save and preserve life. Unnecessarily increasing the risk of exposure runs contrary to that commandment.

The Session also asks the congregation to join them in prayer and fasting, mourning and repenting over the sins that has brought this judgement on the world. We are also looking into social media where the congregation would be able to connect Wednesday nights and have the Prayer Meeting, each in our own home.

If there are any questions, please do not hesitate to call the Pastor or one of the elders.

The Elders

LORD'S DAY – March 29, 2020

Lord’s Day worship and prayer meeting are live-streamed at

A couple times each day, the audio of the pastor’s family worship is also streamed at that link, as well as at The facebook page archives the full audio session, and recordings of just the teaching times can be found at

11 a.m. Morning Worship
Children’s Catechism for March 29
Q22. What is a covenant? A. An agreement between two or more persons.

Shorter Catechism for March 29
Q30. How doth the Spirit apply to us the redemption purchased by Christ? A. The Spirit applieth to us the redemption purchased by Christ, by working faith in us, and thereby uniting us to Christ in our effectual calling.

Hymns and Psalms
+ SONG OF ADORATION — TPH325 "All Glory, Laud, and Honor"           
+ SONG OF RESPONSE — TPH201 "Twas on That Night When Doomed to Know"

Basis of first portion of worship service

Scripture Readings
Old Testament – 1Samuel 3
Epistle – Ephesians 1:7–8
Gospel – Luke 3:15–20

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from 1Corinthians 11:17–34 about the Supper that Christ commands as part of His worship, in which it is Christ who gives Himself to His church, His covenant people.

No formal/organized gatherings other than public worship. Heads of households are encouraged to find other ways of helping their families keep the day.
WLC 118. Why is the charge of keeping the sabbath more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors?
A. The charge of keeping the sabbath is more specially directed to governors of families, and other superiors, because they are bound not only to keep it themselves, but to see that it be observed by all those that are under their charge; and because they are prone ofttimes to hinder them by employments of their own.

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for March:
Lincoln Memorial ARP in Fayetteville, TN

March Psalm of the Month
ARP100 All Earth, with Joy

Upcoming Events
•March 30, Monthly Session meeting 6p.m.
•October 2-4, HARPC 200th Anniversary Celebration

Smooth Stones from a Babbling Brook
(Internet links of the week)
▪ Worshiping during plague, and the spread of disease, was once something with which the church was acquainted and more theologically (and medically, ironically, in some cases) informed. I'd encourage you to read through this list of doctrinally sound and spiritually wise statements at ReformedBooksOnline. I'm not a big fan of Joel McDurmon (he tends to make mistakes like calling George Gillespie a theonomist, rather than a general equity Westminsterian), but if there's just too much on that page, you might read through just the briefer selections that he made from the reformedbooksonline page.
▪ A very good follow-up to this past Lord’s Day’s sermon is this sermon preached on March 18 by Pastor Robert McCurley. It is a word in season, and I urge you all to listen to it with hearts open unto God and His Word.
▪ Also, though I have linked you to it before, I continue to urge you to listen to this sermon preached by Sinclair Ferguson, if you haven’t yet. The Lord’s focus in His works in history is upon His church, and we must heed His Word if we are to learn from His recent actions and respond rightly to Him.
▪ Dr. Pipa, reflecting upon current events in light of Scripture, gives us six suggestions for what to do in times like these when the Lord roars like a lion.

Congregational Prayer Requests (new/updates in bold)
▪ Alan McClelland and his ministry at Ft. Rucker
Repentance of the Church and the Nations, as well as comfort and strength through the advancement of the gospel in the wake of the tornadoes in Middle Tennessee, and against the backdrop of SARS-CoV-2 and its accompanying panic
▪ Comfort and provision for the LeeAnn Billings family as they grieve, especially for new work, as the university just eliminated her position from the department
▪ Rebecca Sterling’s new shunt and tube to properly drain brain fluid
▪ Pray for the Jeffers family, whose granddaughter Isabelle (14) and then her mother Norma both attempted suicide; there’s a long way to go medically, financially, and especially spiritually for all involved; please keep praying for them and for Sue’s ministry to them
▪ Pray for Kacey and family, going through difficult trial
▪ Pray with D&L L for her 85yo mother, who has a small blockage and needs a procedure for it in the next couple weeks
Pray with S&D B for Andrew’s medicine to help his body to stop eliminating his protein
▪ Pray with KC for her acquaintance Linda who doesn’t seem to know the Lord, and just lost 21 year old son; and, for sister Diane and her husband Frank, who need a living faith in Christ; and for friend Patty, a believer, that she will continue to do well after treatment for uterine cancer
▪ Pray with D&M G that her mother would continue healing well and not smoking; for Sean; for Jeremiah and Julianna; for Jordan & Atlanta whose twins are due mid-April
▪ Pray with W&C G for her mother’s health and caregivers; and for spiritual (and total) well-being of son Greg
▪ Pray with J&H H for his father’s cancer and recovery from open-heart surgeries; and sweetness in his parents’ remaining time together; for his youngest brother; for sister-in-law’s recovery from cancer treatment
▪ Pray for James Heard to make good choices and to walk with an serve the Lord in this next phase of his life.
▪ Pray with H&K H for their health (especially Karen’s back, which keeps getting reinjured, and their schedule which it affects) and for many of their loved ones; needing Christian fellowship: her grandmother and father, widow Hope w/4 children, Brown family of 7 (wayward son Nicholas); needing health: her mom, sister Lisa, Martina, Donna, Joyce; needing spiritual life: Velvet and Reagan (lost their sister/daughter to a brutal murder), neighbors Shawn, Merlin, & children; other widows: Libby, Naomi (w/daughter Stacia), Stephanie (w/many children, were missionaries); friend Andrea’s New Age friends; Charles & Robert to be able to forgive; friends w/family problems: Dave, Lee, Melodie, Cole; spiritual growth and wife for friend Scott; their family’s evangelism, recently firefighter Dalton; Riggs to grow mighty in the Lord
▪ Pray with R&M J for Meredith, young daughter of M’s college friend Ashely (and husband Brad), who’s taking medicine to shrink her brain tumor
▪ Pray with O&A L for her unbelieving mother w/heart condition, and brother w/lung cancer.
▪ Pray with CM for his sister Ginger, diagnosed with an aggressive and advanced leukemia, and for Sheriff’s Reserve James Wilson, and his wife Andra’s cancer
▪ Pray with C&T P for wisdom for him about what to do with two good career choices, and for the conversion of her brother Todd
▪ Pray with D&K R for their family’s growth in godliness, especially dying to self, godly speech, and Lord’s Day keeping; for Micah, Rachel, and baby girl due in July; and pray for Hannah’s and Noah Martyn’s thriving and fast recovery; and for local pastor/constable Darryl Thrasher, who has an aggressive, malignant brain tumor
▪ Pray with GR for friend Abby to come to faith in Christ
▪ Pray with JeR for believing friend Jeanette Cary’s CHF, Fibromyalgia, & slow-healing wound
▪ Pray with J&S R for her nephew, who needs life in Christ; and for her and her family in the loss of her father, especially spiritual impact on her sisters and nephews; and for her sister Rebecca’s pregnancy, PRAISE for her successful surgery; and for his parents in coping with his father’s Parkinson’s; and PRAISE for friends’ baby Arianna successful kidney surgery
PRAISE with S&V Y for the full recovery of 12yo Peyton, a relative of theirs from an unbelieving family, who had leukemia
▪ Please pray with Lincoln Memorial ARP in Fayetteville, TN, throughout the month of March
▪ Please pray for the TN-AL Presbytery to be enabled to plant a faithful church with the resources available and earmarked for that purpose
▪ Please pray for all ARP presbyteries, churches, and agencies
▪ Please pray for our nation, state, community and all the officials thereof 

Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men: and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of his Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue. (WCF 21.3)