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); and the Weds. Prayer Meeting at 6:30p

Friday, May 31, 2019

Reformation: the True Unity-Project (2019.05.31 Hopewell Herald Pastoral Letter)


Dear Congregation,

In Genesis 11:1-9, we saw that man’s plan was to be united in our own way, in one another’s presence, for our own praise. God broke that up, but not because He did not intend for us to be united.

At Pentecost, people of many different tongues heard preached, in their own language, the gospel of Jesus Christ. This continued to be a sign of the authentic preaching of the gospel until the John 16:12-15 promise was completed. And to this day, the Scriptures continue to be translated into every tongue on earth.

This is one reason that Bible translation was a direct outcome and primary focus of the Reformation. The Reformation was a unity project. Man-made religion had allowed for the illusion of unity, but it had fractured the church from the Lord, and any common ground came at the expense of having forged a unity that God hates. And so the Lord had judged that “church” with centuries of bitter rivalry, murder, and slavery to the most heinous sins.

When, in His mercy, the Spirit of God brought about the great Reformation of the 16th century, the most important unity enjoyed a restoration: the unity between Christ and His church. And this unity was something that God blessed so that, even across denominations and language barriers, the more believers aimed at being thoroughly biblical in every way, the more they were genuinely united with one another.

Today, we live in an age of fracture that urgently calls for a new commitment to the true unity of biblical Reformation. And, we have another heavenly opportunity to enjoy that unity on the coming Lord’s Day. For, it is then that congregations of nearly every tongue on earth will be worshiping with the same Scriptures to read and sing and pray and hear preached, enjoying the same sacraments as instituted and directed by the same Lord.

In fact, from all over the earth, those who worship as prescribed in Scriptures will be meeting at the heavenly Zion, with the angels in festal gathering, and the souls of the just made perfect—yea even with our Mediator whose blood, from the throne, speaks better than the blood of Abel (Hebrews 12:18-24)!

This is the true and great unity. OF COURSE the Nimrod-led, worldwide consortium could not actually build a tower whose top was in the heavens. But, we have a High Priest who has passed through the heavens (Hebrews 4:14-16). And He has sprinkled us clean with His blood for access and opened a new and living way for us to get through the veil—even that way which is His own flesh (Hebrews 10:19-22).

In the weekly Lord’s Day assemblies, there is a unity of heaven and earth that bridges all divisions of tongues. And if we value Christ, and His flesh and blood, in a biblical way, then we will not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Isn’t it wonderful? The Lord’s Day assembly offers a unique opportunity to be united with the congregation in Heaven—while worshiping in 21st century American English!

Looking forward to enjoying this unity with you,

Pastor

190531FW Jn 13:1-17 - Christ's Almighty, Cleansing, Disciple-making Love

An example of a family worship teaching time in John 13:1-17

2019.05.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 13:1-17

Questions for Littles: What did Jesus know had come (John 13:1)? What had He done up until this point? Up until what point did He continue to do it? What had ended in John 13:2? What had the devil already done? But what did Jesus know that the Father had done (John 13:3)? What did He know about where He came from? What did He know about where He was going? What did He begin to do in John 13:4-5? Who questioned Him about it in John 13:6? What did Jesus say that Peter could not yet do (John 13:7)? How does Peter respond to that (John 13:8)? But what does Jesus say Peter cannot have without being washed by Him? Now, what does Peter want washed in John 13:9? What explanation does Jesus give for not needing to have more washed in John 13:10? How does John 13:10-11 show that He is especially talking about spiritual cleansing? In what way are believers cleansed already in this life? In what way do they still need to be cleansed? What question does Jesus ask in John 13:12? What does He affirm in John 13:13? What does He say they ought to do for one another in John 13:14? What has He given us (John 13:15a)? So that we would do what? If we do not humble ourselves to service, Whom are we claiming to surpass in greatness (John 13:16)? Who, among those who know these things, are blessed (John 13:17)?
Truly knowing who Jesus is will lead to self-denying service of others.

It’s pretty amazing to read just what it was that led Christ to “gird Himself with a towel.”

He knew that His hour had come. He was about to go to the cross, rise again, and ascend into heaven to sit down at the right hand of the majesty on high. So, what does He do? Take off his good clothes and assume the towel-garment of a foot-washing servant.

He knew that the Father had given all things into His hands. So, what does He do? He takes a water basin into those all-authoritative hands.

He knows that He has come from God. That is to say: He knows that He is the everlasting God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, that there was no time when He was not, that He is very God of very God. So what does He do? He begins washing the dirt off of the feet of dirt-beings.

He knows that He is going to God. That is to say: He knows that He is about to take His seat on the throne, even in His human nature. So what does He do? Kneel before a bunch of dirty sinners, one-by-one.

Peter didn’t know the greatness of the things in our little list above, but even he knew that this was way beneath Jesus. If only he wasn’t stupid enough to blurt something out immediately after Jesus had told him that he wasn’t able to understand it yet.

But the amazing thing here is Christ. He knew that this was infinitely beneath Him. But He also knew that it was absolutely necessary for us. We need Him to cleanse us from sin’s guilt at the cross. We need Him to stoop down into our lives and cleanse us from sin’s presence.

Why does He do so? Love. That’s the John 13:1 answer. He loved them to the end. He loved them enough to wash feet. But that was just the tip of the massive iceberg of cross-bearing love. And that’s the model that He left for us. Not just to “know” stuff. But to be like Him, and respond to what we know by Christ-loving, brethren-loving self-sacrificial love!
Where do you learn more about Jesus? What do you do with what you learn?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH463 “O the Deep Love of Jesus”

Thursday, May 30, 2019

190530FW 2Cor 11:1-15 - True Apostolic Christianity vs Satanic Apostolic Christianity

An example of a family worship teaching time in 2Corinthians 11:1-15

2019.05.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 11:1-15

Questions for Littles: In what does the apostle urge them to bear with him in 2 Corinthians 11:1? What does he feel toward the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:2)? What kind of jealousy? To how many husbands had he betrothed them? What did this make them and to whom? Now what does the apostle feel in 2 Corinthians 11:3? What was a previous example of someone getting God’s people to over-complicate things? From what was the apostle concerned that their minds might be corrupted? What name were the false preachers preaching (2 Corinthians 11:4)? What did they claim to give the Corinthians to receive? What did they claim to offer the Corinthians to accept? What did they even claim to be (2 Corinthians 11:5)? What did Paul not do as well as the super-apostles (2 Corinthians 11:6a, cf. 2 Corinthians 4:2)? But in what was the apostle *not* untrained? And who had seen the proof of that? What had Paul not received from the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:7)? Who enabled him to minister there (2 Corinthians 11:8)? What did he refuse to be to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 11:9)? Though they thought being an unpaid preacher was a knock against him, how did the apostle think of it in 2 Corinthians 11:10? From 2 Corinthians 11:11, what do some of them even have appeared to say is the reason he took no salary from them? But of what is he cutting off the super-apostles (2 Corinthians 11:12)? What kind of apostles are they, really (2 Corinthians 11:13)? Who was the pattern for this kind of false transformation (2 Corinthians 11:14)? Instead of being according to their appearance, according to what will the false apostles’ end be (2 Corinthians 11:15)?
In this passage, we find out a little more about how some Corinthians were getting the idea that it was OK to just keep going in their sins and not repent. There were actually so-called “super apostles” claiming that Christ, by His Spirit, in His gospel permitted and encouraged this.

That’s the real problem when someone comes up with supposedly Christian formulations that tolerate or even promote going on in sin. Not merely because it gets Christians into bad stuff.

But because a Christ who leaves you in your sin or doesn’t mind it is a false christ.

And a Spirit who is not at war with your sin is a false spirit.

And a gospel that does not liberate you from your sin’s control, and engage you against your sin in combat, is a false gospel.

These are not just nitpicky theology arguments. This is the absolute heart of the gospel. The sin-tolerators often dress it up in gospel language. Christ. The Spirit. The Gospel. Grace (cf. Romans 6:1). But it is exactly the opposite. Satan. Deception. Corruption.

Marriage can be difficult, but it’s not that complicated. Your husband is the only one for you, and there is no excuse for unfaithfulness to him. Christianity is difficult, but it’s actually not that complicated. Christ is the only One for you, and there is no excuse for unfaithfulness to Him. Anything that offers an excuse for unfaithfulness just isn’t Christianity.
What sins do you have a tendency to tolerate? Whom has Jesus given to help you?
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH187 “I Belong to Jesus”

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

2019.05.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 3:7-11

Questions for Littles: Who did evil in Judges 3:7? In whose sight? What did they forget? What did they do, that showed that they “forgot” Him? What was hot in Judges 3:8? From Whom? Against whom? Into whose hand did Yahweh sell them? How long did they serve him? To whom did the children of Israel cry out (Judges 3:9)? What did Yahweh raise up for them? What did the deliverer do? What was his name? Who was his father? Who was his uncle? Who came upon him in Judges 3:10? What did he do to Israel? To what did he go out? What did Yahweh deliver into his hand? For how many years did the land have rest? But what happened to Othniel, son of Kenaz (Judges 3:11)?
Many people are interested in the dynamics of history. What led to such and such a nation rising up? How did so and so become king over this other area? Etc. There’s a temptation here to delve into how it is that Cushan-Rishathaim from Mesopotamia ends up extending his rule into Canaan. And in a sense, that’s what the passage is about, but not in the way one might think.

Because the dynamic of the history here is that Yahweh rules history. However else this king may think he has ascended to power and taken over Canaan, the ultimate fact of the matter is that he is a tool. A tool in the hand of a very (hotly!) angry God.

Now, it’s interesting that Judges 3:9 only tells us that Israel cried out to Yahweh. In the Old Testament, this phrase by itself does not indicate repentance; in the few places in which it is connected to repentance, it requires some other phrase to add that meaning. So we have a hotly angry Lord, Whom they have forgotten, and to Whom they are crying out in the midst of worshiping the Baals and Asherahs!

And what does the hot-angry Lord do? He raises up a deliverer for them. Certainly not according to their repentance, but rather according to His mercy. Deliverance is messy business; he had to go out to war to do it. But he was given the Spiritual gift of doing so.

On the whole, it’s pretty amazing at the extent of the Lord’s grace. This people who did evil in His sight and betrayed Him spent only eight years in bondage, and He promptly raised up a deliverer by whom He brought them into forty years of rest!

Still, there are limitations to this deliverer. One is obvious, at the end of Judges 3:11. He died. By the end of Judges, we’ll be aching for a deliverer that can never die. The other is not quite as obvious but just as necessary. Othniel could deliver them from “Cushan-double-evil,” but the true bondage to evil was less to a Mesopotamian king and more to their own wickedness, guilt, and misery. Who can deliver from that?
Considering how God was with the unrepentant whose deliverer was Othniel, what reasons do you have to be hopeful of a greater and more permanent salvation? What sin do you fall into, in which you most need to remember that hope?
Suggested songs: ARP130 “Lord, from the Depths” or TPH503 “From Depths of Woe”

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

190528FW 1Chr 29:10-15 - The Generous Privilege of Worship

An example of a family worship teaching time in 1Chronicles 29:10-15

2019.05.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Chronicles 29:10-15

Questions for Littles: Who blessed Yahweh (1 Chronicles 29:10)? Before whom? What characteristics of God does 1 Chronicles 29:11 praise? What does it remind us belong to Him? Over whom is He exalted as Head? From whom do riches come (1 Chronicles 29:12)? From whom does honor come? From whom does greatness come? From whom does strength come? So, since they had all these things, from Whom had the things come, and what did they do (1 Chronicles 29:13)? From whom had the willingness come (1 Chronicles 29:14)? From of what (Whose) things had they given? What did David confess that they were before the Lord (1 Chronicles 29:15)? Who else had been homeless? What did he confess that our days on earth are like? What do we not have, except from God alone? 
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin came from 1 Chronicles 29:10-15.

This prayer of exuberant praise doesn’t come at the building of the temple… David was not permitted to be the one who built the temple. Rather, it comes after taking an offering for the building.

I wonder if we respond like this when others give… I wonder if we respond like this when we give: recognizing that everything already belonged to God anyway, and that the real gift is that God would give us not just the means to give, but the willingness to do so!

Do we see the offering bags going around and praise God with all our hearts that He has moved in our hearts and lives to give to Him?

Do we consider everything that we receive as already belonging to Him so that we respond with great thanksgiving and joy when we are able to give some as an act of worship?

And, rather than being proud that we have given something, are we instead humbled that otherwise homeless, helpless, and hopeless people such as we are might have a home, and a help, and a hope in our God?

Whenever we worship God in any way, whatever we give of heart or mind or voice is given according to the same principles. The Lord gives us the gift of being able to give Him worship!

May the Lord stir us up to give, and may He stir us up to praise and thank Him for our giving.
What are you able to give to God in worship? Will you? And will you turn around and praise Him for enabling you to do so? 
Suggested songs: ARP50B “O You, My People, Hear” or TPH185 “We Give Thee But Thine Own”

Monday, May 27, 2019

2019.05.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 11:1-9

Questions for Littles: How many languages did the whole earth have (Genesis 11:1)? What were they doing together in Genesis 11:2a? What did they find in Shinar? What did they do there? What building method did they come up with in Genesis 11:3? What did they want to build (Genesis 11:4)? Where would its top be? What did they hope that this would do for them? What did they hope that this would prevent? Who went where in Genesis 11:5a? What does He observe about them in Genesis 11:6a? What idea of theirs does verse 6b say the Lord seeks to prevent? How does the Lord’s speech in Genesis 11:7 resemble the people’s speech in Genesis 11:3 and Genesis 11:4? Who wins the competition between Genesis 11:8 and Genesis 11:4? What “name” did the people end up making for themselves (Genesis 11:9, cf. verse 4)?    
Often, while we are telling ourselves that we would like to know God’s plan for us, the hard truth about our hearts is that we’re trying to figure out how God can fit into or facilitate our plans for ourselves. We’re not alone, the whole of humanity had fallen entirely into this error in Genesis 11. They wanted to follow their plan, in one another’s presence, for their own praise. But truly, we exist to follow God’s priorities, in God’s presence, for God’s praise.

God’s priority for us was for us to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth with little replicas of Jesus Christ. Their plan was to stick in one place. And, if they were going to do that, then that would necessarily have put limits upon their multiplying.

And it was one another’s presence that they were emphasizing. They had one language and one speech. They resolutely determined NOT to be spread out over all the earth. Twice, they say to one another, “Come let us.” And the Holy Spirit lines that up right next to God’s own, “Come, let Us” in Genesis 11:7. While it is laughable that they could build a tower up to the presence of God, yet the language of, “Yahweh came down” reminds us that the Lord didn’t have to go anywhere to do this. How often we forget that we are continually in the presence of the living God!

Indeed, when we remember that we are always in His presence, it will help slow down our foolish desires to “make a name for ourselves.” This didn’t do a lot for Nimrod, whose reputation was literally “before Yahweh” in Genesis 10:9 (could even be translated, “in Yahweh’s face”!). But, God helping us, we should not be so foolish as to attempt to make a display of ourselves if we remember that we are always before His face.

We were created to live according to God’s priorities, in God’s presence, for God’s praise. If we’re full of our own priorities, then our plans won’t really be about Him, regardless of how anxious we think we are “to know God’s will.”

We were created to live primarily in God’s presence. If we forget about His always seeing us, we will be preoccupied by what others see, and our hearts will be ruled either by fear of man or a desire for men’s praise (which is also a form of fear of man!).

And we were created to live entirely for God’s praise. We simply cannot truly live for the glory of God and at the same time aim at having people also be impressed with us.
When you plan (do you plan?), how do you remind yourself of the Lord’s priorities? What habits do you have in place to keep yourself mindful of the Lord’s presence? By what habits do you train your heart to aim only, always at the Lord’s praise?
Suggested Songs: ARP33B “The Lord by His Word” or TPH33 “With Joy Let Us Sing”

Saturday, May 25, 2019

2019.05.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 11:1-9

Questions for Littles: How many languages did the whole earth have (Genesis 11:1)? What were they doing together in Genesis 11:2a? What did they find in Shinar? What did they do there? What building method did they come up with in Genesis 11:3? What did they want to build (Genesis 11:4)? Where would its top be? What did they hope that this would do for them? What did they hope that this would prevent? Who went where in Genesis 11:5a? What does He observe about them in Genesis 11:6a? What idea of theirs does verse 6b say the Lord seeks to prevent? How does the Lord’s speech in Genesis 11:7 resemble the people’s speech in Genesis 11:3 and Genesis 11:4? Who wins the competition between Genesis 11:8 and Genesis 11:4? What “name” did the people end up making for themselves (Genesis 11:9, cf. Genesis 11:4)?  
Who will be ultimate, man or God? That’s the question.

Twice, they say “Come, let us” (Genesis 11:3 and Genesis 11:4). But it is the Lord’s “Come, let us” in Genesis 11:7 that succeeds.

God had said “to dust you shall return.” They decided to try to ascend to heaven. But while they can’t ascend to heaven, Yahweh “comes down” because He is everywhere.

God said to fill the earth. The people stuck together, journeyed together, dwelt together, and aimed specifically at not being “scattered abroad over the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:8-9 twice emphasize that Yahweh “scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

God said “let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” But their making aimed not at bringing glory to God’s Name, but rather making a name for themselves.

And so God made a name for them. Babel. Commemorating not the way that they prevented themselves from being scattered across the faith of the whole earth, but instead commemorating the way that God humbled them and did exactly what they were trying to prevent.

Man makes his plans, but it is the plan of the Lord that prevails. Man cannot lift himself out of the death that he deserves. But one day, God Himself would come all the way down to be a man and do for us, as Christ, what none of us could do.

What name will we have upon us? If we aim at making a name for ourselves, we will end only with shame. But if we humble ourselves and trust in Christ alone for His glory alone, we will see that the Lord has given Himself for us, in order to put His name upon us, and glorify the name “Yahweh saves” above all other names.
What are your most important duties? What should your ultimate goal be in each of those duties? What competing goals are you tempted to have instead?
Suggested Songs: ARP98 “O Sing a New Song to the Lord” or TPH98A “O Sing a New Song to the Lord”

Friday, May 24, 2019

2019.05.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 12:42-50

Questions for Littles: Many of whom believed in Jesus (John 12:42)? Why didn’t they confess Him—of whom and what were they afraid? Why, really, didn’t they confess Him—what did they love more than what (John 12:43)? Who cries out in John 12:44? Whom do we believe in, when we believe in Jesus? Whom do we see, when we see Jesus (John 12:45)? Without Jesus as our light to show us the Father, in what would we abide (John 12:46)? What does Jesus not personally do during His time in the world (John 12:47)? What will judge them (John 12:48)? On what day? And Who will be the judge then? Whose Word do we hear, when we hear Jesus (John 12:49)? What do these words give (John 12:50)?
Believers grieve over our slowness and coldness to serve Christ and identify with Him. So, let us learn to beware the praise of men! This is what kept even those who believed from confessing Christ.

The biggest difficulty in preferring God’s praise over man’s is that we see men all the time, but we cannot lay our eyes upon God. Even those who had seen Jesus, heard Jesus, and believed Jesus in our passage… they cared more about what those Pharisees thought—Pharisees whom they would see all the time on the street, and by whom they couldn’t stand to be shunned.

So, Jesus cries out and says that He has come to even out the problem of perceiving men but not perceiving God. Believing in Christ is the way to believe in God. Seeing Christ is the way to see God. Hearing Christ is the way to hear God.

This is our one opportunity before we arrive at the judgment. We don’t deserve an opportunity. Without Christ, we’re in darkness. That doesn’t mean that there’s nothing we can see or know about God. Like a beautiful painting in a pitch black room, we just have no capacity for seeing Him. But He tells us in John 12:46 that He has come as a light in the world.

Now, here’s the question: how can you see Jesus? How can you have Him as your light? Look carefully at verse 46 again. “I have come as a Light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. And what does He use to give this faith? Look at John 12:47, “if anyone hears My words and does not believe…”

It is the hearing that is appointed to trigger faith. It is the faith by which we have light. Just as Romans 10 says, “How can they believe Him whom they have not heard? … Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”

One chance before the judgment. Pray God to give you faith through the hearing of the Word, and put yourself as often as you can under the preaching of that Word!
What opportunities do you have to hear preaching? How do you need God to use them?
Suggested songs: ARP19B “The Lord’s Most Perfect Law” or TPH172 “Speak, O Lord”

Thursday, May 23, 2019

2019.05.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 10:7-18

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle ask them in 2 Corinthians 10:7? Of what does he suggest that some of them are convinced? What should a person conclude about the apostle if he has included about himself? What could the apostle boast more about without being ashamed (2 Corinthians 10:8)? For what purpose did Jesus give the apostle that authority? What does he understand will be the (incorrect) response of some to this authority (2 Corinthians 10:9)? What are some Corinthians saying about Paul and his letters (2 Corinthians 10:10)? What does he warn them that his presence will be like when he comes (2 Corinthians 10:11)? What is the apostle NOT doing by asserting this authority (2 Corinthians 10:12)? What is the standard by which someone would have to commend himself? Whose appointment, then, is the basis for this authority that the apostle is appointing (2 Corinthians 10:13)? To whom did his authority especially apply (2 Corinthians 10:13-14)? What was the first display of this authority (end of 2 Corinthians 10:14)? With whom else does he hope to have such a relationship (2 Corinthians 10:15-16)? By whose help? Whose glory is extended by such an approach to authority and ministry (2 Corinthians 10:17)? And what does the Lord graciously do for those in such a ministry (2 Corinthians 10:18)? 
What does it mean to belong to Jesus? Is it just to feel bad about a select number of sins and warm and fuzzy about Him? That’s what it seems like among many today. The Corinthians also wanted to define what it meant to belong to Jesus.

They wanted to define it as selecting their own authorities (or, more likely, just having no authority at all—as our flesh rebelliously desires!). But the apostle said that if we are Christ’s, then we need to recognize that Christ is the One who has appointed for us particular people to oversee us (2 Corinthians 10:7-8 and 2 Corinthians 10:13-14). Not only is rejecting their authority a personal rebellion against Christ, but it is also harmful to ourselves, since the Lord Jesus has set these authorities over us “for edification and not for destruction” (2 Corinthians 10:8).

The apostle wants to make sure that they understand that he is not saying that he himself is anything great (2 Corinthians 10:12). Rather, following Jesus’s plan for how the church is led/overseen/shepherded is a necessary conclusion of believing that Jesus alone is great (2 Corinthians 10:17).

If this is the case, then we will recognize the church that we are in, and the ministry that we have in it, are assignments from God (2 Corinthians 10:13). This is the noble duty in which the apostle is inviting the Corinthians to participate in 2 Corinthians 10:15-16: “the Lord is giving you a Lord-appointed opportunity to be used by Him to bring the gospel to other regions!”

Whether to other regions, or here at home, the question is: “are you Christ’s?” And if you are Christ’s…
Are you striving to be led by those whom He has given you for that purpose? And are you laboring for the building up of any whom He has given to you to lead? And are you convinced that all the honor for any ministry belongs to Him alone? And are you eager to participate in any ministry He gives you in whatever way He allows you—even if it’s just to support others whom He is sending? 
Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH187 “I Belong to Jesus”

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

2019.05.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 2:6-3:6

Questions for Littles: Who dismissed the people in Judges 2:6? When did the people serve Yahweh (Judges 2:7)? Who dies in Judges 2:8? Where do they bury him (Judges 2:9)? What significant piece of information does Judges 2:10 give us about the next generation? What do these “children of Israel” do in Judges 2:11a? Whom do they serve? Whom do they forsake (Judges 2:12a)? What had Yahweh done (verse 12b)? Whom did they follow? To what did they provoke the Lord? Whom did they serve (Judges 2:13)? What was hot against Israel in Judges 2:14? So, what did the Lord do? According to Judges 2:15, what had the Lord said and sworn to do? How did Israel respond? With what beautiful word does Judges 2:16 begin? Whom did Yahweh raise up? To do what? But how did Israel respond after they were delivered (Judges 2:17)? What did Yahweh do with each judge (Judges 2:18)? For how long? For what reason? When the judge would die, what would Israel do (Judges 2:19)? What was hot against Israel in Judges 2:20? What long-lasting penalty did He pronounce against them in Judges 2:21 and Judges 2:23? What would the presence of these nations test (Judges 2:22 and Judges 3:4)? What does Judges 3:1 tell us that it is about to list? What had this new generation of Israelites not known? What ten nations are named in Judges 3:3 and Judges 3:5? What summary statement gives us the results of the test” in Judges 3:6.
This passage describes a pattern that follows through the rest of the book of Judges: Israel descends into wickedness; God gives them over to their enemies; God raises up a deliverer; when the deliverer dies, Israel descends back into their wickedness; and, so on. But this passage also gives us some important theological comments on the features of the pattern.

One is the Lord’s “hot anger” in Judges 2:11 and Judges 3:20. The Lord’s mercifully saving them and bringing them out of Egypt does not mean He has compromised His standards. And the Lord does not compromise His standards in the slightest bit when He saves us either!

Another important feature is the Lord’s faithfulness. Yahweh being “against them for calamity” in Judges 2:15 is “as Yahweh had said, and as Yahweh had sworn.” The Lord has promised to be faithful not just in covenant blessing but also in covenant curse. And, He has promised to us that if we are true believers, then whatever pain is necessary to bring us back into line, He will faithfully inflict upon us (cf. Hebrews 12:3-17).

Third, we see Yahweh’s compassion. He is “moved to pity by their groaning” (Judges 2:18). In light of the hotness of His anger, and the faithful reliability of His painful punishments for them, the tender compassion of the Lord is all the more stunning!

Fourth, we see part of His purpose for leaving things in our lives that might compete with Him for our affection and devotion. Judges 2:22 and Judges 3:4 tell us that these are opportunities for our hearts to express their allegiance. Living in a national culture or church culture in which there are religious observances that are made up by man is a test “whether they will keep the ways of Yahweh” (Judges 2:22) and “whether they would obey the commandments of Yahweh” (Judges 3:4). The failure goes all the way to Matthew 15:9 (and even the present day, retaining the name Ashtoreth/Ishtar/Eostre, Judges 2:13), where Jesus calls all worship of God vain (empty and blasphemous), when the precepts of men are observed as commandments. The Lord sometimes leaves impurity around us simply to test whether we will have His commandments be our only ultimate authority.

The repeated refrain throughout the book will be, “And there was no king in Israel, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes.” The book of Judges will demand to know of us whether we are satisfied for being saved out of crises from time to time, or whether instead we will know the Lord, and rejoice to be ruled always and only by King Jesus!
How much of you does King Jesus demand? Where could this most be improved? 
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1A “That Man Is Blest”

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

2019.05.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 17:16-26

Questions for Littles: Who are both “not of the world” in John 17:16? Since believers are not of the world, what does Jesus pray to have happen to them in John 17:17? What does He pray would be used to sanctify them? Who sends whom in John 17:18? Who sanctifies Himself in John 17:19? For what purpose? For whom does Jesus clarify that He is praying in John 17:20? What does He ask, specifically at the beginning of John 17:21? Who is the model for “being One”? In whom should believers be One? What effect does Jesus pray that this would have? What has Jesus given them (John 17:22a)? What, specifically, is it that the world knows and sees in John 17:23? Where does Jesus ask that we would be in John 17:24a? What does He ask that we would see (verse 24b)? What prime example of this glory does He give in verse 24c? What does Jesus call His Father in John 17:25? What does He say about the world in relation to His Father? What has Jesus declared to believers (John 17:26a)? What does He pray would be in them? Whom does He pray would be in them?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin came from John 17:16-26. Here is a wonderful, holy eavesdropping upon Christ praying for believers. He is about to go to the cross, and He is praying for the very things for which He is about to die. “I sanctify Myself so that…” What does He ask?

He asks that we would be sanctified—that we would have holier thoughts, feelings, choices, words, and actions. Why? So that we would be in our lives more and more the children of heaven, from which we have had a new birth. The believer is “not of the world.” The self that was is gone. The new one is born from above.

He asks that we would sit under preaching. “I have declared Your name to them” (John 17:26) is the same language as Hebrews 2:12. This is what He uses to sanctify us (cf. Ephesians 5:25). Jesus literally died for, and prays for, that we would sit under preaching on the Lord’s Days. And can we so easily take a pass on it?

He asks that we would be one. One in not being of the world—this is no request for careless inclusiveness! One in the truth that we hear preached—this is no request for doctrinal flexibility! One in the Father and the Son—this is no request for politely ignoring errors about Christ or personal identities in which He does not have the chief place. And it is precisely this kind of unity, that is almost the opposite of what so many today call unity, that Jesus prays would have an evangelistic effect. May they be so united in being so radically different from the world, “that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:21)!

The truly uniting factor in the church can be seen in John 17:22: the glory of Christ. Those who see and value the glory of Christ above all else will not be lax about holiness or truth or hearing preaching or devoted living. Christ’s glory is simply too reality-shaping for those things. Rather, as believers more and more realize the glory of Christ—that He indeed is the living God, in an eternal Unity of infinite love with the Father and the Spirit (John 17:24)—the more we will realize that the love with which we are loved is the very infinite love that God has in Himself and for Himself (John 17:23)!!

When believers are careless about holiness, truth, hearing preaching, or devoted living, they willingly relinquish what Jesus died for and prays for: fuller knowledge of Christ’s glory and infinite, divine love.

After all, the Father is a righteous Father, which means that the world cannot possibly know Him (John 17:25). When Jesus makes Himself and His Father known to a believer, then the love of Jesus and even Jesus Himself come to be in that believer, and the believer comes to treasure righteousness and his righteous Father (John 17:26).
If we are to be united in the way that Jesus prays in this passage, then what things need to become the most important things in your life? How can that happen?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Monday, May 20, 2019

2019.05.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 10

Questions for Littles: From whom does Genesis 10:1 begin to tell the story of what was begotten from them? Of what major event does this verse remind us? Whose offspring does Genesis 10:2-5 tell us about? How does Genesis 10:5 summarize who these descendants ended up being? What four different ways of categorizing them does verse 5 name? Whose offspring does Genesis 10:6-20 tell us about? What names and places do you recognize from these verses? What do you know about these names and places? What does Genesis 10:8 tell us about Nimrod? Before whose face did Nimrod display his mightiness (Genesis 10:9)? Do you think that God was impressed? What was the very first city of Nimrod’s kingdom (Genesis 10:10)? On which son of Ham does Genesis 10:15 focus? What did we learn about him in Genesis 9:24? What four different ways of categorizing Ham’s descendants does Genesis 10:20 name? Whose offspring does Genesis 10:21-31 tell us about? Of all of whose children is he the father (Genesis 10:21)? What happened in Peleg’s days? What four different ways of categorizing Shem’s descendants does Genesis 10:31 name? What three ways of categorizing Noah’s descendants does Genesis 10:32 mention? What came from them, how, and when?  
“Now this is the genealogy…” this phrase appears several times in the book of Genesis. It is related to the word for “beget” and the word for “child.” Literally, it means “this is what came from.” What came from the sons of Noah? Everyone. All of us.

You’ve probably heard of humanity referred to as all one family, with God as our Father. Well, that’s partly right. We are all one family, one blood (cf. Acts 17:26). But fallen humanity has rejected God as Father and chosen the devil instead (cf. John 8:42-44!!). So, while it is true that we are all family in Noah, this actually reminds us that we need a way back into the family of God. The way through Adam is closed by sin and wrath. The only way is Jesus, the only-begotten Son of God, who became a Man to be the last Adam (cf. Acts 17:27-31).

On the one hand, we must reject all ethnic racialism—whether hardening our hearts (or words or actions) against someone on the basis of ethnicity, or blaming others for our problems based upon our ethnicity and theirs.

On the other hand, we must confess that our truest brothers and sisters aren’t the ones who have the same blood in our veins. They are the ones who rest upon the same blood for forgiveness of sins. The ones who call God, “abba” by the same indwelling Spirit. These are family in an infinitely greater way than unbelievers can ever be. And Scripture tells us that this is ultimately not just estrangement but enmity. We know that we are to love our enemies. But, as they describe that our views of everything are completely incompatible with theirs, let us not expect them to conclude that they must love us!

You can see this in Nimrod, especially. Babel and Assyria are the hall of fame of the eventual enemies of God’s people (there are a bunch more in that list). And Nimrod—well, in front of Yahweh’s face, Nimrod was all about his impressiveness, not God’s. These two are always at odds. If we are full of ourselves, we will not be desperate to depend upon Christ and be full of Him. Nimrod. Pharisees. 21st century Americans. Being full of self gets in the way of trusting in Christ. And Christ is the great divider of humanity.

Everyone who reads Genesis 10 has ancestors in the text. Think about them. What did each of those men pass on to his children? What did their children pass on? We pass on our blood. But, as we have seen in this passage, there is something much more important to pass on: faith in Jesus Christ. Only the Spirit can give it, but if we are asking with words for the Spirit to give our children faith, let us also be asking by employing the means that the Spirit has appointed through which He gives that faith: Word, sacrament, and prayer!
Who are in your (extended) blood family? What are the most important ways to love them? Who are your closer family? What are the most important ways in which they are your family?
Suggested Songs: ARP72B “Nomads Will Bow” or TPH72A “Now Blessed Be the Lord”

Saturday, May 18, 2019

2019.05.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 10

Questions for Littles: From whom does Genesis 10:1 begin to tell the story of what was begotten from them? Of what major event does this verse remind us? Whose offspring does Genesis 10:2-5 tell us about? How does verse 5 summarize who these descendants ended up being? What four different ways of categorizing them does verse 5 name? Whose offspring do Genesis 10:6-20 tell us about? What names and places do you recognize from these verses? What do you know about these names and places? What does Genesis 10:8 tell us about Nimrod? Before whose face did Nimrod display his mightiness (Genesis 10:9)? Do you think that God was impressed? What was the very first city of Nimrod’s kingdom (Genesis 10:10)? On which son of Ham does Genesis 10:15 focus? What did we learn about him in Genesis 9:24? What four different ways of categorizing Ham’s descendants does Genesis 10:20 name? Whose offspring do Genesis 10:21-31 tell us about? Of all of whose children is he the father (Genesis 10:21)? What happened in Peleg’s days? What four different ways of categorizing Shem’s descendants does Genesis 10:31 name? What three ways of categorizing Noah’s descendants does Genesis 10:32 mention? What came from them, how, and when?
Genesis 10 is sometimes referred to as “the table of nations,” and Genesis 10:5Genesis 10:20Genesis 10:31, and Genesis 10:32 tell us that these are what are listed here. Verse 32 literally says, “These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to what was begotten from them, in their nations. And from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.” The word “genealogies” is often used to translate the Hebrew word that literally means, “what was begotten from them.”

It’s interesting that the story of the dividing itself comes afterward, in chapter 11. It seems that the Holy Spirit would like for us to see the effect that the sins of Noah and Ham had, just by the familiar names in Ham’s line and especially in Canaan’s. Mizraim (Egypt), Cush (Ethiopia), Nimrod (Babel, Assyria, Nineveh), Canaan (Sidon, Heth, Jebusite, Amorite, Girgashite, Hivite, etc., and then Sodom, Gomorrah, and company). All from one “little” sin! Ah, but don’t we learn here that there is no such thing as a “little” sin?

From the covenant line—the line of Shem—comes a great-grandson through his third-named son named (H)eber… father of the Hebrews. His son Peleg is mentioned, and will come up again later in Genesis 11:16-18. For now, Peleg’s claim to fame is that Babel happened while he was covenant head. A rather unimpressive beginning. But that’s just the point. There’s no reason for the favor of God to be shown to this people, except the freely bestowed love of God: “For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth. The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8a).

In the end, Genesis 10 makes us say of curse, “Ah, sin is precisely how this happened!” And of blessing, “there is no explanation for how this happened by the unmerited love of God!!”
How did you come to be under God’s curse? How can you come to be under His blessing?
Suggested Songs: ARP32A-B “What Blessedness” or TPH265 “In Christ Alone”

Friday, May 17, 2019

2019.05.17 Hopewell Herald Pastoral Letter - How to Be Blessed, and Blessed How Much?

The following is the pastoral letter from this week's "Hopewell Herald." The Herald includes much more information about the church and its activities, a congregational prayer reminder list, and often with links to helpful resources from the web. If you would like to receive the herald, please email church@hopewellarp.org to let us know!


Dear Congregation,

How do we come to be blessed, and how blessed will we be? The answers are bound up in that wonderful pronouncement from the morning text on the 12th, “Blessed be Yahweh, God of Shem!”

Shem was son of Noah and brother of Ham. He couldn’t come to be blessed by doing better than Ham. He had the same nature as Ham. But just as chapter 6 told us, “Grace found Noah,” so also now the end of chapter 10 tells us, “Grace found Shem and joined him to the ever-blessed God.”

How did Shem come to be joined to God? Through faith in Jesus Christ. What blessing would Japheth find in the church (the tent of Shem)? The blessing of finding that God belongs to him, and he belongs to God, through faith in Jesus Christ.

Is that your blessedness? That God is your God, and you are His through faith in Jesus Christ? For children of the first Adam, that is the only true blessedness that we can have.

Christ was not in the first Adam. Instead, He is a brand new start—an entirely new humanity. Not only does Jesus have all blessedness in Himself as truly God, but as truly Man He is also the representative through Whom all in Him have Yahweh as their God. And their Father!

That answer the question, “How do we come to be blessed?” But how about the question, “How blessed are we, when we come to be blessed?” The answer: blessed with the blessedness of God Himself, precisely according to the worthiness of Jesus, in whom alone we are blessed.”

The New Covenant is not in our blood. It’s in Christ’s. Its blessings aren’t secured by us. Rather, He secures us in Himself, and He secures all of the blessings for us. Those who believe in Jesus receive not merely some blessing, and not only great blessing, but literally every blessing in Heaven (cf. Eph 1:3).

“Blessed be Yahweh, God of Jesus… and may all of us dwell in the tents of Jesus!” He has given Himself to us, body and soul. He has secured for us all of the blessings of the New Covenant in His blood. This is what the Spirit represents to us at the Lord’s table. This is what the Spirit seals to us at the Lord’s table. This is what the Spirit applies to us at the Lord’s table.

As you examine yourself in preparation for the Supper on the Lord’s Day, here is the great thing to ask: is Christ my God, and is God my God through Christ? Have I turned from serving self to serving Christ? And—since this turning can never give me Christ Himself—have I turned from trusting in self to trusting Christ?

If the answer is yes; if you have true (though, of course, deeply flawed!) repentance and faith; then, come to the table seeking that the Spirit would press into your heart, “Blessed is the Lord who, in Christ, has joined Himself to me as my God!”

Eager to enjoy the displaying, sealing, and applying of this glorious reality with you,

Pastor

190517FW John 12:37-41 - Displaying Christ's Glory: Whom and What Isaiah Saw

An example of a family worship teaching time in John 12:37-41

2019.05.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 12:37-41

Questions for Littles: What had Jesus done before the people (John 12:37)? How many of them? But what did they not do? So that what would be fulfilled (John 12:38)? What is quoted from Isaiah 53 in verse 38? For what is this chapter famous? What is quoted from Isaiah 6 in John 12:40? For what is this chapter famous? When does John 12:41 say that Isaiah said these things—whose glory had he seen? Whose glory does Isaiah 6 describe? What does verse 41 say is being displayed about Christ in Isaiah 53?
In the gospel reading this week, we have an explanation for why the people (cf. John 12:34) still did not believe in Jesus. God gave them over to their blind eyes and hard hearts so that they could not be forgiven. It is difficult for us to swallow just righteous action on God’s part—precisely because we understand that we do not deserve to be forgivable; we have no right to the means of forgiveness, because we have no right to the forgiveness itself. Was God unfair? Of course not! This just shows how glorious it is that through giving Christ to die for a specific people, He made them righteous without sacrificing His own righteousness!

And there are two other glorious wonders here, which we can see if we are paying attention to John 12:41: “These things [plural!] Isaiah said when he saw His [Christ’s] glory [!!!] and spoke of Him.”

First, because of the plural in verse 41, we know that this refers both to the quote from Isaiah 53, and to the quote from Isaiah 6. So, in each of these cases, Isaiah had seen Christ’s glory and spoken of Christ.

This is amazing with reference to Isaiah 53, because this is the great chapter about the suffering of the Messiah. But the apostle tells us that as the prophet was seeing these things, he was seeing Christ’s glory!! This is just what Jesus has said in John 12:23 and John 12:32. His being lifted up on the cross is the greatest display of His glory that ever there was. Here, He is shown to be at least as great as the sins of His people, all of which sins are as weighty as the glory that they despise!

And, verse 41 is amazing with reference to Isaiah 6, because of what it means for whom Isaiah saw on the throne in the year that king Uzziah/Azariah died! It was Christ whom Isaiah saw enthroned, high and lifted up, with the burning angels hiding their faces from Him! How great is the glory of Him who glorified Himself most by His dying for our sins!!

Why is it that there are so many cults that refuse to believe that Jesus is Yahweh? Or that Jesus died a sacrificial death for His people? Because we wall deserve John 12:40. Christ’s glory is wonderfully clear, if we have eyes to see it. So, if we are starting to grasp it with our heads, but still having difficulty appreciating it in our hearts, we know where to go for better vision and understanding and faith—to God Himself! Won’t you ask Him to give you these for the glory of Christ?
Who is Jesus? What two things did Isaiah see Him doing and see His glory? How can you see that glory?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The Lord Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH270 “At the Name of Jesus”

Thursday, May 16, 2019

2019.05.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 10:1-6

Questions for Littles: Who is speaking in 2 Corinthians 10:1? What kind of speaking is it? Whom does he remind them is also meek and gentle? How was Paul’s manner among them? How is his manner while absent from them? What is he begging them in 2 Corinthians 10:2? With whom would he have to be bold? How do the apostles not battle (2 Corinthians 10:3)? What are their weapons not (2 Corinthians 10:4a)? What kind of power do they have (verse 4b)? What do the weapons do to strongholds? What do the weapons do to arguments (2 Corinthians 10:5)? What else do the weapons cast down? What do the weapons do to every thought? What is the apostle ready to do (2 Corinthians 10:6)? When will he do it?  
In a church context in which church discipline is almost unheard of, this passage may not make much sense. The apostle is leading up to his visit with gentleness in a letter, hoping that he will not have to be bold in person. Back in 1 Corinthians 4:21, he had given them a similar option—implying that it really is not up to him. Church discipline is so demanded by Christ that if there is not repentance, the under-shepherd has no choice but to use the rod.

Apparently, there are some in Corinth who don’t take this very seriously. This connects well with the experience of those who live in days in which people who are in danger of discipline just jump to another church.

But the apostle highlights this as a grave mistake. For, though he is a mere man, his ministry is Christ’s ministry. After all, Christ by His Spirit has used Paul’s plain speaking of the truth to take down the darkness and bondage inflicted by the devil himself. There are no powers or ideas that can survive a battle against the words of Jesus.

If this is true of the words of Jesus, then it must also be true of the discipline of Jesus. Apostles and elders are not only to teach authoritatively, but they are also to lead authoritatively. “Let no one disregard you,” the apostle would tell the elder that he later mentors (cf. Titus 2:15).

This, of course, is not license to be brash and heavy-handed. If the authority that is exercised is Christ’s, then let the manner that leads up to it be “the meekness and gentleness of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:1), and let it be conducted by someone who is pleading not to have to do (2 Corinthians 10:2) what he is yet ready to do (2 Corinthians 10:6).

How sad it is that very few are the churches in which there is such authority, or such manner in exercising it, or such reluctance to have to do so. For each of these are different types of displays of Christ, the Good Shepherd. The church exists to display His glory!
What would it look like for you to expect the results of preaching or discipline to be supernatural?
Suggested songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH244 “A Mighty Fortress”

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

190515FW Judges 1:27-2:6 - Incomplete Obedience or Repentance Is None At All

An example of a family worship teaching time in Judges 1:27-2:6

2019.05.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Judges 1:27-2:6

Questions for Littles: What did Manasseh not do in Judges 1:27? With how many villages and their inhabitants? What reason is given? What had happened in the time to which Judges 1:28 refers? What did Israel do? What didn’t they do? What did Ephraim not do in Judges 1:29? What did Zebulon not do in Judges 1:30? With whom? But what did they do? What did Asher not do in Judges 1:31? To whom? What didn’t Naphtali do in Judges 1:33? To whom? But what did they do to them? What was done to Dan from their own territory in Judges 1:34? When they became stronger, what did they do (Judges 1:35)? Whom did all of these tribes end up having living among them (Judges 1:29Judges 1:32Judges 1:33)? What had been done at Gilgal in Joshua 5:10-12? Who comes up from there now in Judges 2:1? What had he forbidden Israel to do (Judges 2:2)? What had He commanded Israel to do? Of what does He now accuse them? What does He say that He won’t do now (Judges 2:3)? What will the Canaanites become to Israel? What will their gods become unto Israel? How do the children of Israel respond in Judges 2:4? And what do they call the place (Judges 2:5)? And what do they do there? How does Judges 2:6 clue us into the fact that this sequence of events actually came before Judges 1:1-26?
We’re tempted, when we read the rest of the book of Judges, to see it as a downhill slide from a golden age of faithfulness under Joshua to the pits of despair by the time we get to the “Eli & Sons” priestly administration with which 1 Samuel begins. The problem with that is the jarring revelation in Judges 2:6, “And when Joshua had dismissed the people…”

We’ve turned back the clock. Judges 2:6-9 basically ends up covering the same ground as Joshua 24:29-31. So, although the people did in fact serve the Lord during the lifetime of Joshua and his contemporary elders, the seeds of their rebellion were already there. They were lazy.

Repeatedly, we see that the Canaanites were determined (Judges 1:27 and Judges 1:35). Repeatedly, we see that even when Israel could have followed God’s commands, they preferred receiving tax money over rendering obedience (Judges 1:28Judges 1:30Judges 1:33Judges 1:35). Sure, they worshiped Yahweh, but when push came to shove, laziness and greediness were more important than uncomfortable separation from the world (Judges 2:2a) or the offensive and difficult work of shattering all man-made worship (verse 2b).

So the Lord announces to them that He will bring upon them the consequences of their choices. And what do they do? Cry. Not all sorrow is godly sorrow. Sometimes, we cry because we got caught or because we feel badly about the consequences. But, if it doesn’t produce repentance—a change of course, then it is not godly sorrow (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:10).

This all puts Judges 1:1-26 into a different perspective. What had appeared to be “minor” flaws in an otherwise reasonably good start now look rather ghastly: it’s more of the same rebellion that earned Weepingville its name. It’s the threatened judgment of Judges 2:3 beginning to be carried out.

The Lord wants whole hearts. Devoted obedience with diligence and contentment (cf. 1 Timothy 6:6-11). And, when we see our sin and its consequences, wholehearted sorrow that produces fruit that is in keeping with repentance (cf. Matthew 3:8 and Luke 3:8). Are we lazy? Greedy? What does our “repentance” look like?
In what parts of your Christian life do you shrink back from doing what requires diligence and strength? In what ways are you careless about having your mind and heart shaped by the world? What consequences have you seen from this? How have you responded to those consequences?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

2019.05.15 Prayer Meeting Folder

Click [here] for a PDF of tomorrow's prayer meeting folder. As you can see from the schedule on the folder, we have a brief devotional (from the upcoming Lord's Day morning "call to prayer") by which we seek for the Spirit to stir us up to prayer by the Scriptures, and then we simply pray together for an hour. The praying in each section loops through the corresponding sections in Matthew Henry's Method for Prayer. This week's devotional is in Romans 1:8-10. Having worked through most of the passages in the Psalms explicitly about our calling upon the Lord and His hearing us, we turn now to begin working through the prayers that we find in the apostolic letters.

2019.05.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:1-17

Questions for Littles: Who spoke these words (Exodus 20:1)? How many of them? Who is God (Exodus 20:2a)? What had He done for them? What were they not to have in front of His face (Exodus 20:3)? What were they not to make (Exodus 20:4)? What were they not to do with such images (Exodus 20:5)? What reason does God give from His character? What does He call making an image of Himself? Upon how many generations will He visit such iniquity? What does He call the keeping of this commandment in Exodus 20:6? What does He show to those who do so? To how many generations? What does God call “bearing His Name lightly” in Exodus 20:7? What will Yahweh not do for someone who does this? What is the first word/command in Exodus 20:8? Which particular day is it that we are to remember? For what purpose are we to remember it? In order to keep the Sabbath holy, on which days should we have it in mind (Exodus 20:9)? To Whom does the Sabbath belong (Exodus 20:10)? How much work should we do on it?  Who else should not work on it? What else should not work on it? What explanation does Exodus 20:11 give for the pattern of “six and one”? What did the Lord create? How much of it? How long did He take to do this? What did He do on the seventh day? What two things did the Lord do to the Sabbath day? What must one do with father and mother (Exodus 20:12)? How does God promise to bless the keeping of this commandment? Who is giving them the land? What does Exodus 20:13 forbid doing? What does Exodus 20:14 forbid doing? What does Exodus 20:15 forbid doing? What does Exodus 20:16 forbid doing? What things are especially marked out as forbidden to covet in Exodus 20:17? What doesn’t verse 17 forbid coveting?
This week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, Song of Adoration, and Confession of Sin came from Exodus 20:1-17. These words were first spoken from the mountain by the very voice of God, then written in tablets of stone, by the very finger of God (meaning that God did not use any creaturely agency to make the words appear). Here is the great foundational statement of all moral law!

The first four commandments are summarized in the first and greatest commandment, “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” The other commandments are summarized in the second commandment, which is like it, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

In Romans 13:8-10, the apostle tells us that these commandments and love are the perfect definitions of one another. More importantly, Romans 13:11-14 tells us that these commandments describe the wicked darkness from which we have been saved, and the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ that has been counted for believers, and into which likeness believers are now being shaped. The following is our prayer of confession, following Scripture’s own teaching about what each of these commandments mean (You can also see a good summary of them in Westminster Shorter Catechism 40-84!). As you review it, consider what perfect obedience Christ has acted on our behalf, what we ought to be striving after now, and what we shall be like, when His work in us is done!

Lord God, we have lived in dependence upon and devotion to ourselves. We have worshiped in the way that we prefer. We have taken your Name lightly. We have filled Your holy day with our thoughts, words, and works. We have rebelled against authority in our hearts and resisted in our actions. We have despised those who were created in Your image. We have indulged fleshly appetites over keeping holy commitments. We have sought to acquire possessions in ways that You have not appointed. We have spoken deceitfully and harmed others’ names. We have had discontented, grumbling, craving hearts. Your good and pleasing and perfect law exposes how wicked and miserable and destructive is our remaining sin, which we so often commit. In Christ, You have given us His sacrifice to put away our guilt, and Your own righteousness to stand for us as our righteousness. Forgive us, we pray, through Jesus Christ, AMEN.
Which commandments did you find most convicting to review? What has Christ done about that in His own life? What can He do about it in your life? What does He use to do that? What are you going to do about, then?
Suggested songs: ARP119W “Lord, Let My Cry before You Come” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Monday, May 13, 2019

2019.05.13 Hopewell Harbinger

Hopewell This Week, May 13-18

▫A Hopwell @Home for this week is available here.

Prayer Meeting, Wednesday, May 15, 6:30p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.

Men's Breakfast, Saturday, May 18, 6:30a.m. in the Fellowship Hall.  

Children’s Catechism for May 19
Q. 122. How many sacraments are there? A. Two.

Shorter Catechism for May 19
Q. 92. What is a sacrament? A. A sacrament is an holy ordinance instituted by Christ; wherein, by sensible signs, Christ, and the benefits of the new covenant, are represented, sealed, and applied to believers.

Songs for May 19: TPH175 "Your Law, O God, Is Our Delight," ARP121 "I Lift My Eyes and See the Hills," TPH72A "O God, Your Judgments Give the King"

Morning Sermon Text for May 19: Genesis 10
Evening Sermon Text for May 19: 2Corinthians 10:7-18

Lord's Supper on May 19

▫Memory Verse for May 19
(Genesis 10:32These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.  

2019.05.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 9:18-29

Questions for Littles: Who were Noah’s sons who went out of the ark (Genesis 9:18)? Of whom was Ham the father? What happened to the whole earth from these three (Genesis 9:19)? What did Noah begin to be in Genesis 9:20? What did he plant? What did he drink (Genesis 9:21)? How much? What did he end up doing? Who saw (Genesis 9:22)? What did he do about it? What did Shem and Japheth do about it (Genesis 9:23)? How did they walk? Where did they turn their faces? From what did Noah “awake” in Genesis 9:24? What did he know? Whom did he curse in Genesis 9:25? What was he to be? To whom? Whom did he bless in Genesis 9:26? By what title did he call Yahweh? Whom did he prophesy to be Shem’s servant? Whom did he prophesy for God to enlarge in Genesis 9:27? In whose tents would Japheth dwell? Who would be his servant? How long did Noah live after the flood (Genesis 9:28)? How many years total did he live (Genesis 9:29)? Then what happened?  
This passage announces to us that it is our family’s story, “from these the whole earth was populated.” That’s a problem for us, because it concludes with, “and he died.” That’s discouraging and encouraging at the same time. It’s discouraging, because it reminds us that we are descended from the first Adam, through another covenant head whom we find drunk and naked in this passage, and in both of whom we deserve death and bring all the more upon ourselves through our own sins.

But the conclusion is also encouraging, because it takes us back to chapter 5, where we saw that over and over again, as we looked forward to the Seed of the woman Who would crush the serpent’s head. The line of the Savior seemed to be doing so well, until those opening verses of chapter 6, through which we ended up in a place where only Noah, from his entire generation, was right with God by grace. From just one in all the earth, we’re back up to 100% through a flood that brought both wrath and salvation!

But, there must be constant vigilance to believe in Jesus and live as those who belong to Him. We, like Noah, can turn the greatest blessings into instruments of the greatest curse. Noah went out of the ark—salvation blessing! “From these the whole earth was populated”—reminder of God’s commitment to re-fill the earth with those made in His image. Noah began to be a farmer—literally, “man of the dirt”… that same dirt that God promised not to curse ever again, and which brought forth not only thorns and thistles but grapes—blessing of the covenant of grace! But rather than use the wine for all of those glorious things for which God created and gave it, Noah uses it as an occasion for great sin, and more specifically one great sin that leads very quickly to many other great sins—in this case the sin of uncovering nakedness by exposing (Noah) or looking (Ham). Noah may have been chosen by God to get us through the flood, but he certainly can’t be the one in which we escape the curse or stand at the judgment.

And there’s a hint at Who this is going to be in our passage. The Savior has to be a man, the seed of the woman. But He is also God. For, it is not blessed be Shem but rather “blessed be Yahweh.” Shem’s blessedness does not come so much in being Noah’s son. Ham had that, and look at what he ends up bringing upon his own son! Shem’s blessedness isn’t even in being in himself. Rather, his blessedness is in belonging to the Lord Himself. Even Japheth, who finds his blessing as a covenantal member of Shem’s household, must find his blessing not so much in Shem, but in Shem’s God.

At last, there must be One who does have blessedness in Himself. And that One is the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the substance—the reality, the “true stuff”—of covenantal blessings. And, if we are to enjoy that which is displayed and promised in that covenant; and, if we and our children are to be included among the covenant people on earth; then, we must be joined by faith to Jesus Christ, that we may have Him who is the substance of the covenant. The outward form is not enough for those so guilty and wicked as we are!
How does one become part of the last Adam instead of the first? In which Adam are you?
Suggested Songs: ARP179 “Now Blessed Be the Lord” or TPH564 “Now Blessed Be the Lord”