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)

Saturday, April 4, 2020

"Valuing Public Worship As Jesus Does" — this week's pastoral letter (with Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – April 4, 2020

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It’s the Lord’s Day tomorrow, and again we are “only” having public worship.

We long to have that fellowship that is peculiar to keeping the day together, which is not available to us on other days. We miss extra times of study and informal worship. We feel it hard to have do without (or with less, or only on our own terms) these excellent parts of keeping the day.

Yet, if we do think of it as “only” public worship then I wonder if, together with all of the other things that the Lord is doing in these days, He might be calling something big—indeed, something infinite—to our attention: the difference in quality and kind between that called, congregational, Lord’s Day assembly and all other types and times of worship.

We saw it in the general principles of His worship. How God seeks to gather in congregations on earth to the assembly in glory. How regarding Him as holy, and drawing near to Him with our hearts, means worshiping only as He says and not getting creative with it. How the assembly that is led by Christ personally is the culmination of His redeeming work, and the reason that God refers to it as the act of “those who love Me” (and manmade embellishments as the act of “those who hate Me”).

Then, we began seeing it in the specific actions that He has commanded in this worship.

Preaching in which Jesus Himself speaks from heaven through a sent-preacher.

Singing, in which Jesus Himself sings His Father’s praise through our mouths in the assembly, as sustained by the accompaniment of His grace in our hearts, filling us with His Spirit, and indwelling us richly with His Word.

Praying, in which the House of Prayer that Jesus has built for all nations is a building constructed for public worship—constructed first of all upon Himself as a living stone, chosen and precious, to which He adds other living stones, a kingdom of priests, people set apart for public worship.

The Supper, which He commands the covenant assembly to eat as an assembly, in the way He instituted, feeding upon Him Himself, and both assured and obligated by the covenant in His blood.

In short, it is good and right to miss other blessings of the Lord’s Day, but how grateful we ought to be that the Lord has yet maintained unto us His public worship! We are out of synch with the mind of Christ concerning public worship if we view it as “only public worship.”

Some of us have been in congregations that had this public worship morning and evening on the Lord’s Day—and have we grown accustomed now to feeling that once is “enough”? That we who are led by our Forever-Priest should be content by a smaller helping than those who were led by the sons of Aaron?

And all of us, even your author (God have mercy upon him!), have often been wearied by public worship. Or distracted in public worship—our minds running to what came before or was coming after, or even just lulled into thoughtlessness. Or indulged a preference for the other things of the day above the holy assembly.

Many times, the Lord has taken His public worship from His people that they might discover that it is not “only” public worship. If He is threatening that again, or at least teaching us the lesson, then I wonder: are we listening?

The Lord grant us hearts that value His holy assembly the way that He does, and then bless to us that desire with great fulfillment by His Spirit,

Pastor


LORD'S DAY – April 5, 2020

Lord’s Day worship (and Wednesday prayer meeting) are live-streamed at http://bit.ly/harpclive

 Often, the audio of the pastor’s family worship is also streamed at that link, as well as at facebook.com/hopewellarp. The facebook page archives the full audio session, and recordings of just the teaching times can be found at https://bit.ly/harpcFW

 11 a.m. Morning Worship

Children’s Catechism for April 5
Q23. What covenant did God make with Adam? A. The covenant of works.

 Shorter Catechism for April 5

Q31. What is effectual calling? A. Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

 

 Hymns and Psalms

+ SONG OF ADORATION — TPH336 "O Sacred Head Now Wounded"           

+ HOLY SCRIPTURE PUBLICLY SUNG — ARP119N "Your Word’s a Lamp"

+ SONG OF RESPONSE — TPH424 "All Authority and Power"

 

Basis of first portion of worship service

2Corinthians 5:18–6:3

 

Scripture Readings

Old Testament – 1Samuel 4:1–11

Epistle – Ephesians 1:9–10

Gospel – Luke 3:21–38

 

Sermon Scripture text and topic

We will be hearing from Matthew 28:16–20 that because church members may be unsaved like Judas, or doubting like some of the other eleven, Jesus marks the church that He has set apart to Himself with a sign of His authority to strengthen our confidence in His salvation and commitment to His commandments. It must be in the covenant assembly that the Covenant Lord displays His covenant signs, with His covenant Word, as a mark upon His covenant people, by His officers, applied to those whom He is adding to the number of His covenant assembly.

 

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 April:

Madison-Monrovia ARP in Madison, AL

 

April Psalm of the Month

ARP119N Your Word’s a Lamp

 

Upcoming Events

•April 13, Monthly Session meeting 6p.m. via “Zoom” teleconference

•October 2-4, HARPC 200th Anniversary Celebration

 

Please rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn:

The Rouden family has had to say goodbye to Jordan’s dad, who fell asleep in Jesus on Wednesday.

Jordan and Atlanta Goodwin welcomed new baby twins, Hew and Charlotte, also on Wednesday. Hew has had times of struggling to breathe on his own and is in the NICU at Maury regional

▫Karen also passes this along: Valerie was born on Monday to a young couple (Joe & Lauren) in our church (Heritage) who are also very dear friends to all of us. She was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS) and had her first heart surgery yesterday. While in surgery the surgeon found out that her coronary arteries are much smaller than normal. He tried to enlarge them but was unsuccessful. He doesn't think the arteries will be able to sustain blood flow to her heart as she grows, so that is obviously a huge concern. They are working to figure something out.

 

Congregational Prayer Requests (new/updates in bold)

▪ Lord’s Day worship/study, Daily worship/discipleship/evangelism in homes and community

▪ Pray with the Reformed sidewalk-counseling group @PP in Nashville for their Wednesday and Friday ministries

▪ Early Rain Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church, Christians in Nigeria, and other persecuted churches like them; Pastor Wang Yi in prison.

▪ R&C H ministering among Muslim refugees in France w/children H&D

▪ 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 against the backdrop of SARS-CoV-2 and its accompanying panic, especially joining the rest of the ARP at 9a.m. central every day

▪ Valerie, newly born to Joe & Lauren from Heritage CPC in Centerville, with heart abnormalities

▪ 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 with D&V F for rapid, full recovery

▪ Pray for Kacey and family, going through difficult trial

▪ Pray with D&L L for her 85yo mother and her heart issues

▪ 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; and PRAISE for Jordan and Atlanta’s new baby twins, Charlotte and Hew—pray for full recovery for all, especially that Hew would strengthen to breathe will without needing any help

▪ 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; and for her dad and his wife, who recently had a brain bleed and was in critical care at KU Med in KC.

▪ 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; and for the whole family, and especially his mother, as they grieve the passing away of his father

▪ 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 Madison-Monrovia ARP in Madison, AL, throughout the month of April

▪ 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)


2020.04.04 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 28:16–20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who go to Galilee (Matthew 28:16)? Which mountain do they go to? Whom do they see (Matthew 28:17)? What do they all do to Him? What do some of them do? Who came and spoke to them (Matthew 28:18)? How much authority has been given to Him? Which authority has been given to Him? What are they to make, therefore (Matthew 28:19)? By what two actions are disciples made (verse 19b, Matthew 28:20)? Into what single name are they baptized? What are they taught to do with Jesus’s commands? How many of them? Who is with them always, as they make disciples? Even until when?  
When Jesus’s disciples are brokenhearted at the Passover, the Lord Jesus instituted the Supper to direct their hearts and minds unto Him, to feed spiritually upon Him repeatedly for the rest of the age.

And now, when some of them are still doubting after having seen Him multiple times (as we learn from John 21), the Lord Jesus institutes baptism to affirm to them His authority and glory (Matthew 28:18), obligate them to His service (Matthew 28:19), and assure them of His presence and power  unto the end of the age. These are exactly the things to which every single one whom Jesus adds to His church needs to commit.

Baptisms were already initiations/identifications with set-apart groups. The same had been true of circumcision. Now, Jesus initiates baptism as the mark of the church of His disciples. And what does this mark teach us?

That all authority has been given to Him in heaven and earth. He is God from all eternity. But He became a Man, lived a perfectly obedient life, died an atoning death, and rose again from the dead. His saving work as the Christ is done. His time of humiliation is over. Even in His human nature, He is now exalted. Not only over the earth. But even over heaven! He is, in His divinity, “He who sits upon the throne.” But He is also, in His humanity, the risen and ascended and exalted “Lamb who sits upon the throne.” We must trust in Him and worship Him. Faith.

Christian baptism also teaches us that we are obligated to be disciples who make disciples. If our  risen Lord is in authority generally, how much more over His disciples specifically! And what does He want them (and us) to do? Well, there is a great and primary duty: make disciples. But, there is also something else that He wants disciples to do “observe all thing that Jesus has commanded.” If the church does not teach the whole counsel of God, it is guilty of the lives of its members (Acts 20:26–27). Not all may be teachers, but all must learn. We have a duty to study in order to believe all of Jesus’s doctrine and obey all of Jesus’s commands. Obedience.

And the last big thing that Christian baptism teaches is that this faith and obedience can come only through the grace of ongoing, continual delight in and dependence upon Jesus’s fellowship. “and lo, I am with you always.”
Who is “saying something” in baptism? What is He saying? How are you responding?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”

Friday, April 3, 2020

Audio of the entire family worship time is available [on Facebook]

2020.04.03 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 3:21–38

Questions from the Scripture text: Who else was baptized when all the people were baptized (Luke 3:21)? What did Jesus do, when He was baptized? And what opened? Who descended in Luke 3:22? In what kind of form? What came from heaven? What did the voice say? At what age does Luke 3:23 say that Jesus began His public ministry? Whose son was He considered to be? Through which of David’s sons did Jesus come (Luke 3:31)? To what man does this genealogy trace back (Luke 3:38a)? To whom does it ultimately trace back (verse 38b)? How does this connect to Luke 3:22
We were created to be in the image of God. Adam was, in that way, something of a “son” of God (cf. Luke 3:38).  But God already had a Son. An eternal Son. Whom He loves. With Whom He is the same in substance, and equal in power and glory, and of course with Whom He is eternally well-pleased.

Gloriously, at Jesus’s baptism, heaven opened (Luke 3:21). Heaven opened. And the Holy Spirit took a physical form and descended (Luke 3:22). And God spoke from heaven something marvelous. The man that was standing, head dripping, in the river with the baptizer is one of Them: Persons of the Godhead. He is the Second person of the Trinity.

So, what is He doing here, now, as true a Man as He has been God from all eternity? Why has He been born of a woman whose husband would cause Him to be considered the son of Joseph (and Zerubbabel of Luke 3:27, and David of Luke 3:31, and Judah of Luke 3:33, and the patriarchs of Luke 3:34)? What is He doing being baptized to identify with a people who need repentance when He is sinless? Why has God added to Him a dependent human nature in which He must pray (Luke 3:21) and is only thirty years old (Luke 3:23)? In which He is, for some purposes, considered as if He descended from Adam (Luke 3:38)?

He is representing us so that when we receive His baptism (the Spirit, who works faith in us, when the Lord pours Him out upon us), we will be identified with Him, and in Him, God will declare the same about us: that in Christ, believers are just as loved and pleasing to God!
What did Jesus’s baptism say about His identifying with believers? What does ours say about the benefits that believers receive in Him?  
Suggested songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH302 “A Shoot will Spring from Jesse’s Stump”

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


Audio of the entire family 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”