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Saturday, January 11, 2020

2020.01.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 4:16-26

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Jesus tell the woman to bring (John 4:16)? Why isn’t she able to do so (John 4:17)? How many husbands has she had (John 4:18)? Is the man she is living with now even her husband? What does the woman say to change the subject (John 4:19)? To what subject does she change (John 4:20)? What question does she ask? Which option does Jesus choose, from her options for a worship place (John 4:21)? But whom does Jesus say had it right (John 4:22)? Now what is the place of worshiping the Father (John 4:23)? How can we get there (John 4:24)? Whom does the woman say she is waiting for, to straighten her out on this issue (John 4:25)? What does Jesus say about Himself in John 4:26?
In tomorrow’s sermon text, Jesus provokes the woman at the well into changing the subject, directing her onto a glorious path that takes her through one of the most important statements in the Bible about how we worship to one of the most important statements in the Bible about Whom we worship.

She doesn’t really intend the “how” we worship question so much as the “where” we worship question. But that’s really the issue every Lord’s Day, isn’t it? Where you worship (which church) is going to determine how you worship.

Well, the problem for the woman is that she wants to go where God is, but Jesus rather easily dismisses that possibility. God is Spirit. He doesn’t live on a mountain or in a big house in Jerusalem. Yes, as the Jews rightly understood, God chose to make that house the place where He made His presence known and felt for a long time, but that time’s just come to an end, which means that’s not the answer anymore.

If that time has ended, what time has come? And more importantly for us, what is the answer to the where question now? That brings us to the how question: in Spirit and in truth. If God is Spirit, our feet (or cars or spaceships) can’t get us to Him. Only His Spirit can get our spirits there.

And, He has appointed a particular vehicle for this weekly journey to glory: the truth. His Word is truth. Yes, it can also mean sincerely, but it is even more important that we worship by that which is sincerely God’s than that we do so by intentions and actions that are sincerely ours. The former is 100% possible and effective; the latter would be impossible and ineffective and a terrible means by which to hope to worship well.

The woman doesn’t seem to get it, so she gives kind of a verbal shrug: when the Christ comes, He’ll explain it all. And that’s when Jesus drops the biggest truth yet: not only is He the Christ, but He declares it using a phrase once heard on that very mountain that is so dear to her: I AM. Jesus isn’t just Christ. He’s God in the flesh. 
How must we worship? Whom must we worship? Who can teach us what this means?
Suggested songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or TPH271 “Blessed Jesus, at Your Word”

Friday, January 10, 2020

2020.01.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:39-56

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Mary go in Luke 1:39-40a? What did she do in verse 40b? What two things happened, in Luke 1:41, when Elizabeth heard this greeting? What did Elizabeth say (Luke 1:42-45)? How does Luke 1:45 describe Mary? Whom does she magnify (Luke 1:46)? In Whom does she rejoice (Luke 1:47)? What does she call Him? How does she describe herself (Luke 1:48a)? What will all generations call her (verse 48b)? Whose greatness and goodness does Mary describe in Luke 1:49-55? How long does Mary stay with Elizabeth (Luke 1:56)?
Considering that Mary spent three months with Elizabeth, who was into her sixth month of pregnancy, but returned before the birth, it’s likely that Mary departed almost immediately after hearing the angels testimony about Elizabeth’s pregnancy as a sign unto Mary in Luke 1:36-37. Indeed, not only is the sign (Elizabeth’s pregnancy) true, but two more signs immediately appear: the baby’s leaping (Luke 1:41Luke 1:44) and Elizabeth’s being filled with the Spirit and prophesying.

With all of these signs presented to her, Mary’s faith is strengthened, and when Luke 1:45 says, “Blessed is she who believed,” it makes it clear that Mary is an example unto us of gospel faith. This is one reason that the manmade invention of Mary being sinless is so harmful. She is not blessed by her performance, but through faith in what has been promised to her about her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mary herself calls God “her Savior,” and her focus is entirely upon the greatness of God, and how in His perfect goodness, He shows mercy to the lowly, the humble, the hungry. God’s blessing is by promise (Luke 1:54-55) through grace, and not for the proud, the mighty, or the rich (Luke 1:51-53). Indeed, if it were possible for Mary or anyone else to be sinless, Christ would not have needed to be born at all!

We have not had an angel appear to us, but we do have the completed Bible, including many well-attested signs by Christ, together with what the Holy Spirit has been doing in applying Christ’s redemption for two thousand years. These are meant to strengthen our faith in the Word that has been given to us—that whoever believes In Jesus Christ shall be saved. And blessed we will be, if we believe!
What are some Bible promises, made to believers in Christ? Do you believe them?
Suggested songs: ARP116B “I Still Believed” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Thursday, January 9, 2020

2020.01.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:16-18

Questions from the Scripture text: Looking back at Galatians 5:15, what would be the outcome of walking according to the flesh? By what (Whom!), instead (Galatians 5:16), does the apostle urge them to walk? What would they then not fulfill? Against what does the flesh set its desire (Galatians 5:17)? Against what does the Spirit set His desire? What is the relationship between the flesh and the Spirit? What does the believer end up not doing? What are believers not under, if they are led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18)?
Coming out of Galatians 5:15, we are determined not to fulfill the desires of the flesh—otherwise we will be devoured! But, that presents the question: how does one keep from fulfilling the desires of the flesh? After all, our experience (end of Galatians 5:17, cf. Romans 7:15-23) is that we keep failing to do the good that we desire.

The answer is to walk by the Spirit. It is in this way that we will gain ground in the battle against the flesh. The word “flesh” here does not mean our physical nature but rather the remaining sin from our fallen nature. And the apostle tells us that the Spirit and the flesh have declared war upon each other.

The question for us is: which of the two will we side with in the battle? Or, if we are already determined against sin, then there is a great comfort for us here: we have an almighty Ally who has committed Himself to be the mortal enemy of our opponent! The battle against our sin may be frustrating, and it may be drawn out over the rest of our lives, but its end result is sure and certain victory. Hallelujah!

Furthermore, if the Spirit is leading us in this battle against sin (Galatians 5:18a), then we will know ourselves to be sons of God (cf. Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:13-17), whom the law has no more authority to condemn (Galatians 5:18b, cf. Romans 8:1). Just as in the transition from Romans 7 to Romans 8, so also here, the apostle presents to us the fact that we are in the battle for Father’s sake and for Christ’s sake, by the help of the Spirit, as evidence that we are justified.

This is great news for those who are battle-weary. And it is also an important reminder that only God’s own means can win, since He must win the battle. And He will!
Against what sins are you battling? Why are you battling—Who is leading you? Will you win?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

1/8 Prayer Meeting Folder; 1/12 Worship Booklet

Prayer Meeting Tonight at 6:30! If you can't physically join us, or simply wish to prepare your mind ahead of time, you may wish to go through tonight's prayer themes using the Prayer Meeting Folder

Also, the green link for the Lord's Day Morning Worship Booklet has been updated with the booklet for January 12. Let us prepare for this highest privilege and greatest duty!

2020.01.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 3:14-18

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Ruth lay (Ruth 3:14)? Until when? How early did she rise to leave? What did Boaz say in verse 14? What does he tell her to bring (Ruth 3:15)? What does he put in it? How much? Where does Boaz go (n.b. NKJV footnote “he,” which follows the Hebrew)? To whom does she come in Ruth 3:16? What does Naomi ask? What does Ruth tell her? What does Ruth 3:17 highlight her as having especially related to Naomi? What does Naomi tell Ruth to do in Ruth 3:18? When is Naomi sure that Boaz’s word will have been kept (cf. Ruth 3:13)?
Ruth has conducted herself uprightly—note, even, that she continues to lay at his feet rather than by his side. He would not send her home in the middle of the night, for that would be dangerous. And she rises to go before one can recognize another, almost certainly that she might bring shame on neither herself nor Boaz.

But, the field workers will start arriving soon. Whether his speech in Ruth 3:14 is to himself or to those in his trusted inner circle who kept the night watch with him, there would be a great difference between their knowing and how it might appear to a wider group. Also, if he is to win her hand that day, it must not come by prejudicing the proceedings. The nearer kin must feel completely free to redeem her.

Apparently, part of Ruth’s uprightness has been to bring a shawl/cloak big enough to keep herself warm so that she would not really be “under the covers” with Boaz at all. The amount of barley that he is able to measure into it weighs about one hundred twenty pounds! (It’s not surprising that this young woman who has worked so diligently from sunrise to sunset these three months to this point is able to carry that home).

Perhaps the question in Ruth 3:16 is because the person who came in is twice the size of the young lady who left! Or, perhaps it’s just her way of saying, “how did it go?” The latter certainly seems to be the question that Ruth answers, and she wants her mother-in-law to know (Ruth 3:17) that Boaz was mindful of Naomi’s wellbeing too.

For her part, Naomi has a high degree of confidence in Boaz’s character. He is a “greatly worthy” man as Ruth 2:1 said (using the same word that describes Ruth in Ruth 3:11), and if he has said that he will deal with it in the morning, then Naomi is sure that Ruth will know what is to come of her by the end of the day. Indeed, Ruth 3:15 as it reads in the Hebrew (most English translations follow the Syriac or Vulgate for some reason) tells us that as soon as Boaz had loaded Ruth with the grain, he headed into the city. He’s a man of his word—at great cost to himself, to lose a day during this threshing season.

In all of this, Boaz is a type of Christ to us. He has kept His Word to redeem us; and so great is His concern for our honor that, at the cost of the cross, He has obtained our public vindication as those who are right with God. Shall we not also imitate Him in our concern for others’ reputations and in our keeping of our word?
In what ways do you have opportunity to maintain others’ good names? What are some situations in which you have given your word, that you need to keep, even at cost to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent Who Will Reside” or TPH443 “Come unto Me, Ye Weary”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

2020.01.07 Hopewell Harbinger


Hopewell This Week, January 6-11, 2020


WEDNESDAY, PRAYER MEETING, 6:30p.m.
FRIDAY, Spirit and Truth” Dinner and a Movie, 6:30p.m. Bring a dish to pass, if you can (if you can’t, don’t worry about it!), and we’ll eat while we watch this excellently made film, as we begin to think about from Scripture “How God wants to be worshiped.” On the Lord’s Day, we’ll be starting a sermon mini-series on the same subject.

Children’s Catechism for January 12
Q11. Can you see God? A. No; I cannot see God, but He always sees me.

Shorter Catechism for January 12
Q19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell? A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Songs for January 12: 
TPH283 "Fairest Lord Jesus" 
ARP145A "I’ll Give You Praise, My God O King" 
ARP22C "I’ll Praise You in the Gathering"

A.M. Sermon Text for January 12: John 4:16-26
P.M. Exhortation Text for January 12: Galatians 5:16-18

▫Memory Verse for January 12
(John 4:23-24) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. At the outset of the NT book on the holy assembly of the Lord's Day, the first thing the apostle does is set before us the glory of Christ, who Himself is the glory of that worship.

2020.01.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 1:1-4

Questions from the Scripture text: When had God spoken (Hebrews 1:1)? In what ways had God spoken? By whom? When has God spoken in Hebrews 1:2? By Whom? What has He appointed Him to be? What did He do through Him? Of what is the Son the brightness (Hebrews 1:3)? Of what is He the express image? What does the Son uphold? By what? When did He sit down? Where? What had He become (Hebrews 1:4)? What had He obtained? How?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Hebrews 1:1-4 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Fairest Lord Jesus.

As the apostle is launching into an extended argument for why we should love the Lord’s Day, and its holy assembly, with Jesus as our Prophet and Priest in heaven, he immediately exalts Christ unto us in the loftiest terms.

Note while that God had spoken formerly by the prophets, the ministry of the apostles is on a different order—for, by them, God is speaking through His Son. The Old Testament is God’s speech, every Word coming from the Spirit of Christ Himself (cf. 1 Peter 1:11). What’s the difference? Now, Christ is the last and great human Prophet—the One who has purged our sins.

What can we say about the glory of Christ, the God-Man, the Redeemer, the ascended and seated One, who yet bears the marks of our redemption?

He is the Heir of all things. All things belong to Him; all creatures are servants in His domain.

Through Him God made the worlds. How can Scripture say this about Him in a place that is focusing upon His humanity? Because Jesus is not two persons, but one Person with two complete, distinct natures. And when we speak of Him, we speak of the Person. The One who (in accord with His human nature as fully Man) has by means of Himself purged our sins is the very One who (in accord with His divine nature as fully God) made the worlds.

This is why we can now say such remarkable things as “God was born” and “God died,” or, as Acts 20:28 says, that God has purchased the church with His own blood. Because, although these things have been done by the Son in His humanity, it is still the divine Person of the Son who has done it! Scripture speaks this way, and so must we. Perhaps you have heard the phrase communicatio idiomatum—that’s the theology term that says that we can say of Christ as a Person whatever is true of Him in accord with either of His natures.

How glorious, then, is the Son? He is the very brightness of the glory of God. He is the express image of God’s nature. There is no subordination here. The Bible knows nothing of greater or lesser degrees of glory in the Godhead. As the catechism rightly summarizes Scripture to say, “These Three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

Our minds are ready to melt in trying to put it all together: the One who was bleeding on the cross, under His own divine wrath, is simultaneously upholding that cross (and the nails! and that body and the very blood that flows from it!).

Oh, the sweetness of the Lord Jesus—God the Son, become Man, to save sinners! As one of our faithful Presbyterian ministers of old so aptly put it, “Put the beauty of ten thousand thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden, in one. Put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colours, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness, in one. Oh, what a fair and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less to that fair and dearest Well-beloved, Christ, than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths.”
At what times in your day and week do you meditate upon the loveliness of Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH283 “Fairest Lord Jesus”

Monday, January 6, 2020

A family worship lesson following up on the Lord's Day morning sermon. The Lord prepared both Rebekah's character, and the giving away of her to be Isaac's wife, by means of a home in which we see leadership in Communication, Consideration, and Consecration.

2020.01.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:29-58


Questions from the Scripture text: Who comes to the well at what speed in Genesis 24:29? What does he see that makes him go to the man (Genesis 24:30)? What does he hear? So how does he greet Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:31? When the servant has accepted the invitation, and food is set in front of him, why won’t he eat (Genesis 24:33)? How does he identify himself (Genesis 24:34)? How does he summarize Abraham’s life so far (Genesis 24:35)? What particular event does he especially highlight in Genesis 24:36? What has Isaac been given? What verses and event does the servant summarize in Genesis 24:37-41? What verses and event does the servant summarize in Genesis 24:42-48? What is the big question that he puts to them in Genesis 24:49? Who answer in Genesis 24:50? From where do they say that the thing comes? What do they say that they cannot do? What official answer do they give in Genesis 24:51? How AND TO WHOM does the servant respond in Genesis 24:52? What does the servant bring out now in Genesis 24:53? For whom? To whom does he also send gifts? What does he say in the morning (Genesis 24:54)? What request is made by whom in Genesis 24:55? How does the servant respond in Genesis 24:56? Whom do they propose asking in Genesis 24:57? How does she answer (Genesis 24:58)?

Again in Genesis 24:52, we find Abraham’s servant bowed to the ground in worship. Again, he has seen that the Lord has prospered his journey, and again we have the opportunity to consider what is that blessing that he has observed, that has brought him to this conclusion. What is that kind of family leadership that God commends to us as a blessing through Abraham’s servant's grateful praise?

First, we see Communication. Rebekah gives a report to her family. The family as a whole operates well as a unit. They even get it straight from Rebekah’s mouth what she thinks of going off immediately in Genesis 24:57-58.

Second, we see Consideration. Clod that Laban is, with great big dollar signs in his eyes, the family still has a great consideration for Rebekah’s comfort and joy. And not just for her comfort and joy—also for her willingness. When it comes time to send her away, they will send with her a company of women to be her helpers and edifying companions. There is a profound consideration for their daughter and sister’s needs, both physical and spiritual.

Finally, we see Consecration. All of life as holy because it is a gift from God. All of life as holy because it is an assignment for God. Laban understands the way to the servant’s heart. “Come in, O blessed of Yahweh,” he says. “The thing is from Yahweh,” he says. Now, this may not have been authentically true of Laban, but at least he knows that it should be. Abraham’s servant is the real deal, falling down on his face (again!) in worship.

Indeed, it is exactly because life is consecrated unto God that we desire to communicate well and show consideration well. God grant that we would live as those consecrated unto Him!
Which relationships of yours need improved communication and consideration?
How can you aim at and prepare for these by way of daily and weekly consecration?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH128B “Blest the Man That Fears Jehovah”