The next (scheduled) webcast is Lord's Day Morning, 11:00 p.m. Central.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Looking Forward with Joy to Our Redeemer's Fertilizing and Fruit-Provoking Work (2020.04.18 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – April 18, 2020
Dear Congregation,

What stock have you and your household taken of your repentance this week? 

What is being done that ought not to be? What ought to be done that isn’t? 

In your hour-to-hour living, what place belongs to the knowledge of Christ, trust in His goodness, obedience to His commands, and service unto His glory?

We heard last week from His Word that, by certain moments and seasons of His providence, He means to arrest our attention upon whether we are bearing the fruit of repentance.

Surely, He is making holy all those whom He has brought to faith in Christ, and whom He is bringing to glory (Phlp 1:6; Heb 12:14; 1Jn 3:2).

And He presses us now not only to ask the question whether we are they, but also to respond to His glorious patience and mercy with renewed love and zeal, in dependence upon His grace (1Jn 3:3; 2Pet 1:2–11).

It is especially by His Word read, and especially by His Word preached in the Lord’s Day assembly, that He works by His grace to bring us at last into His rest (Heb 3:7–4:13; 10:19–25; 12:18–29).

So, let us each take stock of where we need to be growing, and let us look forward with joy to our Redeemer’s fertilizing and fruit-provoking work in His worship tomorrow,

Pastor

2020.04.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:59–67

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Bethuel’s household send away in Genesis 24:59 (cf. Genesis 24:61)? Whom does Bethuel’s household bless in Genesis 24:60? What blessing do they give her? Where was Isaac in Genesis 24:62? What was he doing in Genesis 24:63? What did he see? Who sees him in Genesis 24:64, and what does she do? What had she asked in Genesis 24:65? What did the servant say? What did she do? What does the servant tell Isaac in Genesis 24:66? Where does Isaac bring her (Genesis 24:67)? What does she become? What does he do for her? What does she do for him?
The Lord cares for His people in things great and small. Here, He has overseen the obtaining of a bride for the son of promise. He is bringing the Christ into the world.

And we see that in the benediction. Rebekah’s family says, “Our sister, may you be thousands of rebebah [multitudes].” It’s a clever play on words, for the sending away of their dear one. But it’s also an echo of the blessing from when Isaac had been spared on Mt. Moriah, “blessing I will bless you, and multiplying [harbah] I will multiply [arbeh] your descendants […] and your descendants shall posses the gate of their enemies” (cf. Genesis 22:17). It’s as if they are saying, “May all the Messianic promises about your fiancĂ© and you come true!”

The Lord has His eye to His great saving plan, and by that plan the great and ultimate good of all His people. But He also has His eye to the everyday care of His people. The finding of a good wife. The comforting of a man who, three years after his mother’s death, still takes a stroll with God every evening in his sorrow.

Isaac has struck out on his own, leaving Abraham back in Hebron. But, he has taken his mother’s tent with him (perhaps, living in it himself), and has not been comforted for her loss (Genesis 24:67). We (and Rebekah, her nurse, her maids, Abraham’s servant, and his men) find Isaac out in the field in the evening.

It’s likely that the text intends for us to view this time of meditation (and, perhaps, strolling) as his normal habit. Certainly, he is a man of prayer. Doing the math from Genesis 25:20 and Genesis 25:26, we discover that the “pleading” in Genesis 25:21 describes twenty years of responding to his wife’s barrenness by prayer. Isaac will soon become a cautionary tale for allowing our spiritual vigor to lapse in old age, but thus far we see the Lord providing for His servant’s comfort by stirring him up to prayer and by answering that prayer.

And what an answer to prayer! The parallel language in Genesis 24:63 and Genesis 24:64 of Isaac lifting his eyes and looking, and Rebekah lifting her eyes and seeing, implies that this occurs at the same time. Each has been some time in intense expectation of the other. She had heard the servant’s stories, he was undoubtedly sharing in the servant’s prayers, and now the expectations were being realized.

Love at first sight! Rebekah surely seems to be hoping for a particular answer in Genesis 24:65. Isaac must have been delighted with the account of Rebekah’s character given in Genesis 24:66. And the tent of the matriarch of the clan is empty no more. Rebekah takes her place as the bride of the covenant head. But the conclusion of the passage focuses on something that took place not in Isaac’s home, but in his heart: Isaac was comforted. The God who is bringing Christ into the world is the God of all comfort: both the eternal and infinite, and also the circumstantial, but just as real, to His people.
About what do you need comfort? What greatest comfort, and also small ones, has God given?
Suggested songs: ARP128 “How Blessed Are All Who Fear” or TPH128 “Blessed the Man That Fears Jehovah”

Friday, April 17, 2020

2020.04.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 4:14–30

Questions from the Scripture text: In what (Whom) did Jesus return (Luke 4:14)? To where? What went through all the surrounding region? What did He do where (Luke 4:15)? What did all do? To where does He come in Luke 4:16? What had He done there? Where did He go on what day? What did He do there? What book was handed to Him (Luke 4:17)? What text did He find when He opened the book (Luke 4:18-19)? Who was upon Him (verse 18)? What did the Spirit anoint Him to preach to whom? Whom did the Spirit send Him to heal?  What else did the Spirit send Him to proclaim (verses 18–19)? What does He do in Luke 4:20? What does He say is happening in Luke 4:21? What do they all do in Luke 4:22? What do they ask? What does He tell them they will say (Luke 4:23)? What does Jesus say will happen to no prophet (Luke 4:24)? To whom had Elijah been sent instead of whom (Luke 4:25-26)? To whom was Elisha sent instead of whom (Luke 4:27)? How did the synagogue respond (Luke 4:28)? What did they do to Him, and what did they try to do to Him (Luke 4:29)? But what did Jesus do (Luke 4:30)?
The same Spirit who had led Jesus to glorify God in the midst of suffering and temptation empowered Jesus in His preaching, as He taught in the synagogues, Sabbath by Sabbath (Luke 4:15Luke 4:16Luke 4:31Luke 4:44). Let us learn to depend upon the Spirit of Christ, wherever His providence takes us. Not all of us preach, but all of us must have our hearing be with the faith that only the Spirit can give, and it is through many tribulations that we must be attended by the Spirit until we enter the kingdom of God.

How does Jesus apply Isaiah 61:1–2? By declaring Himself to be the Messiah (“anointed”) of whom it speaks, and declaring His hearers to be the poor, brokenhearted, imprisoned, and bound to whom that Messiah would speak. “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

That was the first line (“began to say to them”) of the gospel sermon that Isaiah 61:1 said He would preach. The gospel is the good news of who and what Jesus is, against the backdrop of the bad news of who and what we are, precisely because He came to undo what we became and did in Adam and since Adam.

It must have been a marvelous sermon about God’s mercy to those who are helplessly bound in sin and misery. They “marveled at the gracious words.” But it wasn’t the marveling of worship. They were more committed about whom they thought Him to be (Joseph’s son, Luke 4:22) than whom He preached that He was (the anointed One, the Messiah, Luke 4:18).

And Jesus announces to them that they will mock Him (Luke 4:23) with an insult that will get echoed even at His cross (cf. Luke 23:35). And why? Because they are not only mistaken about Him; they are mistaken about themselves. God saves the surprising (the widow from Zarephath, Naaman the Syrian), not the deserving. If we view ourselves as needy (widow or leper, Luke 4:25-27) but also perhaps partially deserving “in Israel,”), then we have mistaken ourselves.

Impressively, the congregation understood what Jesus was saying about them. But did they repent of their mistake? Did they cry out, “we were wrong about You, our Messiah! And about ourselves who are wholly undeserving!”? No, they were “filled with wrath” (Luke 4:28), and tried to kill Him. How will we respond when Jesus tells us that we are worse than we thought?
How do you respond to Scripture saying how bad you are? What’s this do to your view of Jesus?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH431 “And Can It Be”

Thursday, April 16, 2020

2020.04.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 1:13–14

Questions from the Scripture text: Who also trusted in Christ (Ephesians 1:13)? After they heard what? What else was done to them, once they had believed? Of what is the Holy Spirit a guarantee (Ephesians 1:14)? Until what does the Holy Spirit seal/guarantee believers? Unto what?
How glorious is Christ who died for us!

How glorious is Christ who has given us His Word of truth!

How glorious is Christ, who has purchased our inheritance for us!

How glorious is Christ, who seals us with His Holy Spirit!

How glorious is Christ, whose Spirit guarantees our inheritance until its redemption!

This has been the theme of Ephesians 1:3–14. This is the theme of our salvation. How glorious is Christ!
What has Christ done for you? How often do you think of His glory? How do you respond?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH375 “All Hail the Power of Jesus’s Name”

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

"Hopewell This Week" (2020.04.15 Hopewell Harbinger)

Hopewell This Week, April 13–18, 2020

▫Attached is a pdf of Lord’s Day’s Worship Booklet, complete with Hopewell @Home devotionals for this week, in addition to 8.5x11's of the memory verse and catechism questions that can be used as posters to help with memory work.

▫Since the Harbinger is a little later this week, also attached are the Session Meeting Digest from Monday as well as tonight’s Prayer Meeting Folder.

▫There are a couple of updates from the Session in the Digest

▫The link is now active for audio and pdf of the Lord’s Day morning sermon (Luke 13:1–9 How Jesus Wants You (and Everyone) to Respond to COVID (and all Calamity))

Every day at 9a.m. Joint prayer with the rest of the ARP Synod for repentance and revival in light of the current chastening providence of God.

Wednesday, April 15, at 7p.m. Live webcast of the Prayer Meeting devotional and led-prayer. The prayer meeting folder will be available at http://bit.ly/harpclive

Children’s Catechism for April 19
Q25. What did God promise in the covenant of works? A. To reward Adam with life if he obeyed him.

Shorter Catechism for April 19
Q33. What is justification? A. Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein he pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in his sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

Songs for April 19 morning service: 

TPH341 "Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed"   

ARP119N “Your Word’s a Lamp” 

ARP045B "Daughter, Incline Your Ear"

A.M. Sermon Text for April 19: Genesis 24:59–67

▫Memory Verse for April 19
(Genesis 24:67) Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.


Today's Hopewell @Home lesson is from the first serial reading on the coming Lord's Day, 1Samuel 5:1–5. When God humiliates our idols, we need to be grateful and respond by abandoning them, not trying to "go back to normal" or creating ways to keep them. The recording of pastor's family's entire worship time (after catechizing) is available [on Facebook]

2020.04.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 5:1–5

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did the Philistines take the ark (1 Samuel 5:1)? Into whose house did they set it (1 Samuel 5:2)? By whom did they set it? At what time did the people of Ashdod wake (1 Samuel 5:3)? Where did they find Dagon, and what was he doing? What did they do to Dagon? When did they arise the next day (1 Samuel 5:4)? Where was Dagon? What was he doing? What had happened to him? How did the priests and worshipers of Dagon respond to this, long term (1 Samuel 5:5)? 
The Philistines thought Dagon had won the battle of the gods (cf. 1 Samuel 4:7). But, as we will painfully find out if the Lord is merciful enough to bring us to our knees in this life, He abides no competition.

The first lesson is pretty obvious. You can try to prop your god up, but it will end up on its face, and if you keep going, it’ll lose its hands and its head. Your money can’t love you back, and it will sprout wings and fly away. Fame is empty and vanishes quickly. Legacies get forgotten. Laid up possessions just wait until calamity takes them, or even just a foolish descendant. Your sin cannot give you deep joy, and even its light pleasure cannot last long—ultimately, apart from Christ, that sin will bring the wrath of God upon you forever and ever.

The second lesson is only slightly more subtle. We have a hard time giving up our idols. What a ridiculous and hard-heartedly wicked tradition arises in 1 Samuel 5:5! Their idol has been humiliated and destroyed, and still there are priests who serve him and worshipers who frequent his temple. They even treat as holy the threshold on which their god was humiliated! We are so stubbornly wicked—even when God’s mercy knocks our idol on its face, we tend to double down and press on in living for it anyway. God help us!
What have you been depending upon or delighting in that has failed you lately?
Suggested Songs: ARP42A “As Pants the Deer” or TPH42C “As Thirsts the Hart for Water Brooks”

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

2020.04.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Mark 15:24–38

Questions from the Scripture text: What were they doing with His clothes (Mark 15:24)? What was the charge against Him (Mark 15:26)? What does Mark 15:28 give as the explanation for the two robbers being crucified with Him? What did those who passed by do (Mark 15:29)? Who else blasphemed and mocked Him (Mark 15:31-32)? What happened for three hours (Mark 15:33)? What did Jesus say at the ninth hour (Mark 15:34)? What happened in Mark 15:37? And what happened to the veil of the temple (Mark 15:38)?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Mark 13:24–38 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed.

Truly, Jesus was numbered with transgressors, and not just the robbers on His right and left. The irony is rich: soldiers casting lots beneath His cross for what they wanted, but He is hanging above them giving that which they need infinitely more.

The inscription above His cross said “King of the Jews,” which His enemies hated, but in reality the inscription told only part of the truth. The inscription could have read, “The Living and True God.” This is what brings three hours of dark (Mark 15:33) Simply astonishing.

Many pass by and blaspheme in Mark 15:29, whom He is saving by His blood above them, and whom He will bring to faith by His Spirit in several weeks at Pentecost. Then there are the priests, in Mark 15:31, from among whom many will be saved at the end of Acts 6.

The question of the text is on Jesus’s lips in Mark 15:34, “Why have You forsaken Me? And the answer is given from heaven to earth in Mark 15:38: to open the way to the Holy of Holies for sinners such as all of these! Sinners such as you, dear reader. The True and Living God went through literal Hell to grant entry into the Holy of Holies for selfish gamblers, ruthless robbers, and other mocking blasphemers who would come to believe in Him. Sinners like you. Astonishing.
Have you believed in Christ? What use are you making of access to the holy God?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH341 “Alas! and Did My Savior Bleed”

Monday, April 13, 2020

Today's Hopewell @Home lesson is from yesterday's morning sermon text, Luke 13:1–9. In calamity, God displays His wrath, patiently and persistently provoking fruitless church members to produce fruit, or else reveal that they are perishing in their sins. The recording of pastor's family's entire worship time (after catechizing) is available [on Facebook]

2020.04.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 13:1–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What did some people tell Jesus about in Luke 13:1? What does Jesus recognize that these people had concluded about those who died (Luke 13:2)? What does Jesus say should have, instead, been their conclusion (Luke 13:3)? Concerning what other event does Jesus challenge them concerning their conclusions (Luke 13:4)? What same conclusion does He teach them to draw in Luke 13:5? To what does Jesus compare an unrepentant person in Luke 13:6? What does the property owner say to do with the fruitless tree in Luke 13:7? What does the caretaker say that He will do first in Luke 13:8? What will be done if it still bears no fruit (Luke 13:9)?  
How should we respond to plagues? Government oppression? Economic disaster? Or other calamities?

It seems, from Jesus’s question in Luke 13:2 that they assumed that what had happened to the Galileans was punishment for some specific sin of theirs. And we know that in both the Old and New Testaments, the Lord did threaten and carry out particular punishments upon His people at particular times. So, maybe we have wondered if when something hard comes upon us, whether that’s a particular quid pro quo for a particular sin.

But unless the Lord has threatened something particularly, we do not have good ground to assume a direct relationship. There are many reasons that believers suffer, including to increase God’s wrath against their enemies, to have fellowship with Christ, to know their own weakness, to be sanctified and prepared for glory, and even just to glorify God.

But there is one thing that we must always do, with any kind of calamity: remember God’s wrath, repent of our sin, and cling to Jesus Christ. By introducing the second calamity (Luke 13:4), and saying the same thing about it (Luke 13:3Luke 13:5), the Lord Jesus makes clear that this is an all-purpose application. “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”

Jesus says that what we are to see is that God is very angry with sin. Look what sin has brought! And this is just the slightest display of it. Sin doesn’t just deserve for us to be slaughtered by Roman provincial governors or have towers fall upon us. It deserves the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire, together with undying worms that consume us from the inside out forever. Every calamity is a reminder of this.

But we are also to see that glorious word, “unless.” That the Lord is patiently calling us unto repentance. He is giving us opportunity to believe. And He is grabbing our attention and stimulating us to cling to Christ and bear fruit in keeping with repentance.

Calamities, says our Lord, function like the Lord digging down around us and fertilizing us to produce fruit. He is patiently provoking us to repentance. The question, then, is what will He find this effort has produced?
Of what do you personally need to repent? Your family? Your church? Your country?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH340 “There Is a Fountain Filled with Blood”