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, July 18, 2020

2020.07.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 30:1–24

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Rachel see (Genesis 30:1a)? What was her initial solution (verse 1b)? What does Jacob acknowledge (Genesis 30:2)? What does Rachel suggest and implement (Genesis 30:3-4)? To what effect (Genesis 30:5)? What does she say about the name she gives her son (Genesis 30:6)? What does she name the next son and why (Genesis 30:7-8)? Who implements the new method in Genesis 30:9-10? What does she name that son and why (Genesis 30:11)? What does she name the next one and why (Genesis 30:12-13)? Who ends up wanting something from whom and how in Genesis 30:14? How does Leah turn this to her advantage (Genesis 30:15)? Who is taking orders about all this in Genesis 30:16? To Whom has Leah apparently been talking about this (Genesis 30:17)? What does He do? What does she name him and why (Genesis 30:18)? What happens again in Genesis 30:19? What does she name him and why in Genesis 30:20? Whom does she bear in Genesis 30:21? What does God do in Genesis 30:22? To whom has Rachel been talking, and what does He do? What does she say in Genesis 30:23? What does she name him and why in Genesis 30:24?
This passage is basically an arms race. How does Israel finally get going? We’ve been squeaking along—the covenant line barely surviving from one generation to the next, as just one son extends the church on earth.

Suddenly, there are twelve sons and a daughter! How?

Certainly not by man’s ability. Infertility often strains a marriage (cf. Genesis 30:1). It so quickly exposes the helplessness of our humanity. As Jacob exasperatedly says (and Joseph will reassuringly say in Genesis 50:19), “Am I in the place of God?” (Genesis 30:2).

And certainly not as a response to man’s godliness. Rachel resurrects an old family technique for covenant-line-propagation, when she gives Bilhah to Jacob. As if two wives wasn’t sinful enough or miserable enough. And she has the audacity to name they boy on presumption of vindication by God (Genesis 30:5)?! May God preserve us from the folly of taking His providential mercy as if it were judicial approval!

Rachel’s provocations become the occasion for the stumbling of Leah, who follows her sister’s (and great-grandma-Sarah’s) lead (Genesis 30:9). Gad’s name (Genesis 30:11) seems to be a response to Napthali in Genesis 30:8.

Jacob, who started all this mess with his myopic pursuit of Rachel in the previous chapter, presents the pathetic picture of a passive man, engulfed in his own ungodliness, leading a house of ungodliness—or, rather, being dominated by the women who are actually running things. We don’t know whether to weep or mock him, when Leah notifies him that he has been hired out for the night (Genesis 30:16), and apparently Leah is able to repeat the transaction later (Genesis 30:19).

The most amazing thing is that God is bearing so patiently with all of this sin. That God actually listens to Leah in Genesis 30:17 and remembers and listens to Rachel in Genesis 30:22. How astonishing! Not by man’s ability but God’s, not by man’s worthiness but by God’s faithfulness, the covenant line is multiplied. And not in a cold, detached, distant sort of way. But by His remembering and hearing them, even in the midst of their wretched sin. How astonishing!
What worship response do you give God for grace toward you like what we see in this passage? What repentance response do you give Him for it? What are examples of things that He did for you that were over-against both your inability and your unworthiness?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

Friday, July 17, 2020

Am I in Spiritual Warfare? Yes! (2020.07.17 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)


Hopewell Herald – July 17, 2020

Dear Congregation,

I received a question about spiritual warfare this week (this person was “feeling resistance” during prayer) and thought that there might be many of us who could use some clear biblical thinking about the topic.

From Genesis 3 on, Scripture is teaching us about God's sure victory over Satan and how it applies to and involves us.

So the LORD God said to the serpent: “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”
Genesis 3:14–15

One of the main ways that God distinguishes Himself from us in His deity is by how completely unchallenging He finds spiritual warfare to be. So, in His famous interview with Job, putting Job in his place, much of the Lord’s discourse (chs. 40–41) focus upon behemoth and leviathan, which were real creatures but also emblematic of the power and of the devil. They are so fearsome! Yet, the Lord rules over them all.

So also Scripture teaches us that God bends even the wickedness and wicked actions of the devil to do whatever is good for His people (Ps 74:14). The devil’s attacks upon Job became the means by which already-godly Job grew dramatically in his knowledge of the Lord. When Satan attacks Christ in the wilderness, his temptations become the occasion by which Christ is qualified as our Mediator, being tempted as we are in every way (except without sin). When Satan enters Judas to attack Christ’s life, the ensuing crucifixion is the means by which Christ is exhibited as a propitiation and redeems us by His blood. How great and continual is Christ’s victory and Satan’s eating dust!

But the period of Satan being permitted even to be used in this way quickly draws to a close. The crushing of Satan is joined to the restoration of God's forgiven people in Isaiah 27. This is the same idea as in Rom 16:19–20, where the Lord tells His people to be wise about goodness, and simple about evil, since He Himself is about to crush Satan under our feet.

We know that Satan attacks, particularly by weakening the fellowship of the church. So, in 2Cor 2:11, if a church nurses bitterness instead of forgiving and showing affection, it becomes susceptible to the devices of the devil. And, 1Tim 3:6–7, a young believer who might become puffed up and bring shame upon the church, should not be made an elder, even if he has the other characteristics. Because humility is essential for both elders and church members (1Pet 5:1–7), lest a believer become disconnected from the flock and become easy prey to the prowling lion (1Pet 5:8).

It’s not surprising, then, that the “classic” spiritual warfare passage comes at the end of the letter to the Ephesians, in which we have already seen such a glorious theology of the church these last few months.

Ephesians 6:10–20 and the warfare/armor of God is actually one bookend to an extended spiritual warfare section, with Eph 5:3–16 as the other bookend. This section describes the clash between the unclean kingdom of darkness and the saints who are children of light.

But, what are the “books” between these two bookends? Where, primarily, does the battle take place for us? Public worship (5:17–21), marriage (5:22–33), childhood and parenting (6:1–4), and the workplace (6:5–9).

When we study 6:10–20 to understand how to use the weapons of our warfare, for battling well in these areas, we find that it basically boils down to always always clinging to the gospel of Christ, and always always praying.

On balance, the great part of our warfare is to live in a godly manner in all the ordinary spheres of life, while resting and rejoicing in Christ's finished work in our behalf in the past, together with the certainty of His forthcoming final victory.

In these ways, we resist the devil and he flees from us (James 4:6–7). In other ways, the Lord permits him to attack us, when it is for our good (2Cor 12:7–9).

But it is especially by clinging to the shed blood of Jesus as the heart of all our verbal and life testimony that we overcome—ultimately winning, even if we are killed in the meantime (Rev 12:11, cf. Rom 8:35–39).

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
Revelation 12:11

Looking forward to that part of the battle that is our corporate worship,

Pastor

2020.07.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 6:46–49

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus say they call Him in Luke 6:46a? With what is their calling Him this inconsistent (verse 46b)? What kind of person does Jesus say, in Luke 6:47, that He is about to illustrate? What does the man in the illustration do (Luke 6:48a)? What happens to him—and what does not happen to him—and why (verse 48b)? How does Jesus summarize the unbeliever in Luke 6:49a? What is Jesus’s illustration for him (verse 49b)? And what is Jesus’s illustration for what will happen to him (verse 49c)?
Are we justified by faith apart from works? That’s a very carefully worded question, and it may surprise you that the answer is “no.”

We are justified only by what Jesus has done in the finished work of His life, death, and resurrection. But this justification never happens in someone who does not proceed to love, learn from, and obey the Lord Jesus. No one ever receives half a Christ. The same Jesus who justifies always sanctifies and glorifies.

Still, the problem of people calling Jesus “Lord” but not obeying Him as Master (which “Lord” means), is an old one. Here, we see that it was already happening early in His earthly ministry.

Absolutely, Jesus is a rock, a foundation, that whoever is built upon Him is saved from destruction. But building upon Him is more than an idea or a feeling. It’s a reality that expresses itself not just in “coming” to Him (Luke 6:47a), but also in “hearing His sayings” and “doing them.” It seems pretty obvious that if you don’t trust Him enough to trust what He says and obey Him, that your “trust” is more fantasy than reality.

But, praise God, Jesus is real. And He really gives faith to people that they may come to Him. And hear His sayings. And do them. If this is how Jesus describes the ones that He is saving from destruction, then let us pray God the Spirit that this would be how we may honestly be described.
What parts of your life most need to be brought into line with what Jesus says for you to do?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Thursday, July 16, 2020

The Prayer of Faith That Works and Accomplishes Much (Jam 5:16–18 Prayer Mtg Lesson)

Prayer through genuine faith in Christ is always effective. It always works. It accomplishes much, even in the praying of it. This is the truth in Jesus, and must override any earthly-minded assessment of whether a prayer "worked."

The Proper Manner of Church Members (Family Worship lesson in Ephesians 4:1–7)

Pastor teaches his family today's Hopewell @Home lesson in Ephesians 4:1–7. Though believers may have different particular callings in life, they each have the glorious calling to be a member of the body of Christ. Recognizing the great glory of what we have in common produces a humble and forgiving manner of conduct with one another.

2020.07.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 4:1–7

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the apostle call himself in Ephesians 4:1? What does he beseech them to do? According to what? By what three characteristics is such walking marked (Ephesians 4:2a)? What does such walking do (verse 2b)? What does such walking endeavor to keep (Ephesians 4:3a)? By what have they been bound (verse 3b)? What six things do Ephesians 4:4-5 tell us all believers have in common? Upon what final commonality does Ephesians 4:6 focus, and what does it say about Him? What was given to each believer (Ephesians 4:7a)? Who measured out gifts to each (verse 7b)?
The apostle who is the prisoner of the Lord has been given a remarkable grace in his office and calling (Ephesians 4:1Ephesians 4:7; cf. Ephesians 3:1–2, Ephesians 3:7–8). But he is not the only one with such an office and calling. To each of us grace is given, as Christ Himself—the chief cornerstone—has measured gifts out from Himself unto the rest of the building, the rest of the body, the rest of the nation, the rest of the family (Ephesians 4:7, cf. Ephesians 2:19–22). Whatever else a Christian does from 9–5 M–F (or whatever your ‘vocation’ is), there is the glorious calling of church member.

There are various duties of church members that we hear about in several places in the next three chapters. But, whatever the matter or substance of our role in the body, we are all called to the same manner or character of walking: lowliness, gentleness, longsuffering, bearing with one another in love.

We notice that the sevenfold list of things in which we are “one” in Ephesians 4:4-6 are all realities that exist already, realities to which the apostle has already largely testified in this letter. This helps us to notice that Ephesians 4:3 isn’t telling us to make peace, but rather to keep it. God Himself has already made the peace. God has created the church as Christ’s body. God has given to each member His same Holy Spirit. God has given each member the same hope—adoption and inheritance as His eternally blessed sons. God is the same Lord over all. God has given the same faith in the same gospel. God has placed the same sign upon all.

The unity of the church, then, is not something that we produce, but that exists in God Himself. The list crescendos until it climaxes on the “One God and Father of all, Who is above all, and through all, and in us all” (Ephesians 4:6, MT).

So this unity exists, but it demands a response. It demands the response of each of us functioning as church members, which we will see later. But even before we see what we are to do as church members, the apostle presents us with the manner in which we are to do it.

Lowliness, considering others better than ourselves and generosity of spirit toward them. Gentleness, strength under control, not a flimsy tolerance of wrong ideas and practices, but yet a kindly and compassionate manner of interaction even when loving the Lord and the brethren in a holy intolerance of all that is against Him and them. Longsuffering/bearing with one another, having a long endurance and high “pain tolerance” in relationship with one another.

As we will see later in this book, a genuinely biblical “spiritual gift inventory” would look like: submitting to the teaching of the elders, shoring up our doctrine unto stability, expressing real love by building one another up in Bible truth, living for eternity, being a Christ-transformed wife / husband / parent / employee  /boss whose conduct is heavenly light over against the satanic darkness of this age.

Oh that even above any spiritual gift inventory—this calling with which we were called—we would each devote ourselves unto the “still more excellent way” of walking in the manner described here in Ephesians 4:2-3. When we don’t, we treat as worthless the glorious realities of Ephesians 4:4-5—and God Himself, Ephesians 4:6. God forbid!
With whom in the congregation do you need to most work on “keeping the unity of the Spirit”?
Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

2020.07.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Read 1 Samuel 14:1–23

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Jonathan say to whom (1 Samuel 14:1a)? Whom did he not tell? Where was Saul, and whom did he have with him (1 Samuel 14:2)? What person is especially highlighted in 1 Samuel 14:3? What topographical feature do 1 Samuel 14:4-5 highlight? What does Jonathan call the Philistines in 1 Samuel 14:6? What does he propose doing? What is his reasoning? How does the armor bearer respond in 1 Samuel 14:7? What does Jonathan propose as a sign (1 Samuel 14:8-10? What does this “sign” ensure will be the result, regardless of where it actually happens? How do the Philistines respond (1 Samuel 14:11-12a)? What does Jonathan conclude (verse 12b)? What do he and his armor bearer do in 1 Samuel 14:13-14? How do the Philistines respond to their initial loss (1 Samuel 14:15)? Who notice this (1 Samuel 14:16)? What does Saul want to know in 1 Samuel 14:17? What does Saul decide to do first (1 Samuel 14:18)? Now what does he decide in 1 Samuel 14:19? What did they see at the battle in 1 Samuel 14:20? Whom do we now find out were in the Philistine army (1 Samuel 14:21a)? But what do they now do (verse 21b)? Who else joins up in 1 Samuel 14:22? How does 1 Samuel 14:23 summarize what happened so far in this chapter?
“Nothing restrains Yahweh from saving by many or by few.” Here is Jonathan’s statement of faith.

He and his armorbearer are a stark contrast to Saul and Ahijah. Saul’s kingship has been rejected by God (1 Samuel 13:13–14), and so has Ahijah’s priesthood (1 Samuel 14:3, cf. 1 Samuel 2:34–36, 1 Samuel 4:21–22). So while the lame ducks sit under a pomegranate tree, the Lord is saving His people by two guys climbing an impossible ravine (1 Samuel 14:4), who aren’t even missed (1 Samuel 14:17) until the lookouts notice that the Philistine army is imploding upon itself and scattering to the mist (1 Samuel 14:16).

Saul’s response is pitiable. Having failed to obey God’s approved prophet in chapter 13, he tries to follow what he thinks is the correct religious ritual in 1 Samuel 14:18, but notices that he’s about to miss the battle altogether (1 Samuel 14:19-20).

How very different is Jonathan’s faith. Instead of calling for Yahweh’s furniture (verse 18), he trusts in Yahweh Himself (1 Samuel 14:6), knowing that Yahweh has appointed means: “by many or by few” recognizes that although Yahweh does not save by the might of His people, He has in fact ordained to save by their actions. “Few” is still a few. In this case, it is two guys and one set of weapons (which currently make up half the swords and spears of Israel!).

But Jonathan knows that the Lord wants His people to act, and uses their actions. He also knows that his daddy is a little gun-shy at the moment, which probably explains his not running the plan up the chain of command at the end of 1 Samuel 14:1. At the end of the day, Yahweh doesn’t need swords at all, and if He decides to use them, the swords of Philistine enemies and Hebrew traitors will serve nicely (cf. 1 Samuel 14:20-21).

In the final analysis, Yahweh will come Himself as a man, a King in the hardest of places, all by Himself without the assistance of even an armor bearer, at the cross. But while the atonement is completed, the Lord is still working in this world, and the followers of Jesus are like Jonathan. We trust in a Lord who uses means. We don’t have to look for signs like Jonathan did, because we have a completed Bible for our instruction. And the God who “works in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure,” commands us to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

So, we look not at the impossible difficulty of the circumstance, nor at the meager resources that we have in ourselves, but to Yahweh, Whom nothing can restrain. Since He saves by many or by few, we cheerfully set our forehead like flint to do what He has commanded, knowing that the outcome of the battle isn’t in doubt. In the short term, we are not presumptuous—like Jonathan, we say of any one endeavor or another, “it may be that Yahweh will work for us,” but if we do not achieve that particular outcome, still we may be sure that God makes “all things work together for good.”

After all, He has not just made us to love Him. He has also called us according to His purpose. And He will accomplish that purpose. This is a good summary statement of the operating faith of someone who holds to Romans 8:28–32, “Nothing restrains Yahweh from saving by many or by few.”
In what difficult or impossible situation do you find yourself? What does the Lord say to do in it?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

2020.07.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 8:15–27

Questions from the Scripture text: What spirit did we not receive (Romans 8:15a)? To not do what? What Spirit did we receive (verse 15b)? What does He make us cry out? Who bears witness with us (Romans 8:16)? What does He testify? What three things do we do jointly with Christ, according to Romans 8:17? What do we have in the present time (Romans 8:18)? With what are they not worthy to be compared? Where will this glory be revealed? Who(what) is eagerly waiting for this revelation (Romans 8:19)? What was it subjected to (Romans 8:20)? Who subjected it? In what did He subject it? When the children of God are revealed from what will creation be delivered (Romans 8:21)? Into what? What does the whole creation do (Romans 8:22)? Who else groans (Romans 8:23)? What does our groaning wait for? If we are still hoping for this, what do we not yet do (Romans 8:24)? How do we wait for it (Romans 8:25)? Who else groans (Romans 8:26)? With what is He helping us as He groans in this way (verse 26a)? According to whose will is this groaning intercession (Romans 8:27)? And who listens to this groaning of the Spirit’s mind?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Confession of Sin come from Psalm 85 in order that we will see that we are singing God’s thoughts after Him with Christ Is Coming!

In this passage, there is a whole lot of groaning going on. The whole creation is groaning. We are groaning. The Holy Spirit is groaning.

That might sound like a bad thing at first, until we realize that the Holy Spirit is doing it too. What is going on here? There is a sense in which we are already saved (Romans 8:24). But there is a real sense in which our salvation is not yet complete (cf. Romans 13:11).

We aren’t resurrected yet. Our bodies are not glorious yet. And these are reminders that we are still in the midst of that struggle from the second half of chapter 7. Remaining sin—now there’s a reason for some groaning!

But we’re not groaning in fear. We’re groaning in hope. The creation is groaning in hope. Its bondage to corruption is time-limited. When “the big reveal” that God has made us His children happens, the entire creation will be remade. Until then, God has subjected it to futility.

But at the day of resurrection, we won’t just be revealed to be physically indestructible. We’ll be revealed to have been made perfectly holy like our daddy. We will be revealed to be the sons, the children, of God.

This is why the Spirit does not make us to groan in anxiety or fear—as if the work of God in us might never make any progress… as if it wasn’t genuinely on its way to being completed at the last. No, He is a Spirit of adoption to us. He trains us to call God, “daddy”—not in the sense of taking God lightly, but rather in the sense of taking holiness seriously.

We already know that as joint-heirs with Christ, we will be jointly-glorified with Christ. The glory that is coming is not merely a glory that will be revealed to us but a glory that will be revealed in us. And that’s the comparison in Romans 8:18. That’s what the suffering is being used by God to produce.

The Holy Spirit is praying that we would be made like Jesus, so that we can enjoy bringing to Him that glory forever! He groans that we would not continue as we are. And we who have the first-fruits of the Spirit also groan. And the whole creation groans. And God will do it! He’ll finish the work!
How do your prayers groan toward glory? What trial of yours needs this sweetening?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH390 “Christ Is Coming!”

Monday, July 13, 2020

2020.07.13 Hopewell Harbinger


Hopewell This Week, July 13–19, 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.

▫The links are now active for the Sabbath School class (Reconciliation, Part 2: Civil Justice vs Personal Justice),  morning sermon (Gen 29:31–35, “The God Who Sees, Hears, and Attaches Himself to Us Is Enough”), and evening sermon (Ephesians 3:20–21, “Praying for the Glory of God”) from yesterday, as well as last week’s Prayer Meeting lesson (James 5:15–16a, “The Prayer of Faith That Saves the Sick”).

Prayer MeetingWednesday, July 15, at 6:30p.m. The prayer meeting folder is available at https://bit.ly/harpc200715pm (prayer meeting is also live-streamed at both fb.com/hopewellarp and bit.ly/harpclive)

Lord’s Day, July 19:

Praying for the Glory of God (2020.07.12 Evening Sermon in Ephesians 3:20–21)

Since we pray for whom we love, we must pray especially for God's glory. In this text, we learn to adore His unfathomable wisdom, and His abundant power to carry it out, as He glorifies Himself in the church, by Christ Jesus, forever.

The God Who Sees, Hears, and Attaches Himself to Us Is Enough (2020.07.12 Morning Sermon in Genesis 29:31–35)




The Lord Jesus always sees, always hears, always cares, has attached His people to Himself, and is able to do according to all His holy and loving will for us.

Reconciliation (Part 2): Civil Justice v.s. Personal Justice (2020.07.12 Sabbath School)

Began with a brief summary of part 1 ("The Current Culture's View of Reconciliation"), since it didn't get recorded the previous week. This second installment focused upon the difference between what the Bible requires from an authority and what the Bible requires from an individual.

2020.07.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 29:31–35

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Yahweh see in Genesis 29:31? What did He do for Leah? For whom did He not do it? What did Leah do in Genesis 29:32? What does she call her son? Why? What does she hope will happen? What did Leah do in Genesis 29:33? What did she say about her bearing a second son? What did she call his name? What does Leah do in Genesis 29:34? What does she say about her third son? What does she call him? What does Leah do in Genesis 29:35? This time what does she say? And what happens? 
By the time we come to Genesis 29:31, we’ve heard very little from Yahweh for a long time. In fact, in the entire Jacob narrative so far, we’ve pretty much only heard from Him at Bethel—something that seemed to have a big impact on Jacob in the moment, but didn’t end up affecting his life that much.

Where has Yahweh been? The God of Beer-Lahai-Roi has been watching (Genesis 29:31Genesis 29:32; cf. Genesis 16:7–14). The God of Ishmael has been listening (Genesis 29:33, cf. Genesis 16:11Genesis 16:15). Here is an outcast wife who is bearing children. We have seen and heard this before. And so has Yahweh.

The words that introduce this passage are precious: “When Yahweh saw that Leah was unloved.”

Men will always disappoint us. “Put not your confidence in princes, nor in a son of man in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to the earth; in that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in Yahweh his God” (Psalm 146:3–5).

But there is One who always sees, One who always hears, One who always cares, One who has attached His people to Himself. Even a good husband sins, and his wisdom and ability is limited when he is alive, and he is prevented from continuing to help by death. We can see this in the fact that a man is powerless to open the womb of his wife; the Lord has reserved this as a place where He especially demonstrates His power and sovereign will (Genesis 29:31, cf. Genesis 30:2). Blessed are they whose hope is the Lord, and may they offer their lives to Him in praise!
Upon whom are you most tempted to hope? Whom are you most tempted to live to please?
Suggested songs: ARP146 “Praise the Lord” or TPH146 “Praise the Lord! My Soul, O Praise Him!”