Saturday, May 23, 2020

The Necessity of Good Works Sends Us Running Back to Grace (2020.05.23 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – May 23, 2020

Dear Congregation,

After last week’s considerations of necessary and instrumental (NOT meritorious!) good works in Gen 26:5 and Eph 2:10, it was gratifying and moving to hear someone say, “I have had a real hard time with the idea of good works, but I hear what you’re saying in these passages, and I know it’s true, but it’s just so hard for me because I struggle so much.”

This is gratifying, because the good works of believers honor the Lord and glorify Christ for the difference that He makes in those whom He redeems. But it’s moving, because I so strongly feel the pain of that struggling!

This is why it’s so important to see not only Isaac’s failures in last week’s morning sermon Scripture passage, but especially God’s surprising mercy. The Bible tells us the truth about ourselves, and it’s not a flattering truth. But the Bible also tells us the truth about Christ, and it’s a GLORIOUS truth!

It is well and good for us to feel our struggle, if it gives us yet another opportunity to turn away from ourselves and to the Lord in repentance. Isaac is going to continue to have his ups and downs for the next several passages, but the Lord is faithful and persevering in His great power and great mercy!

Indeed, once our time of weakness and remaining sin is concluded, we will leave behind these opportunities for repentance. For then, we will be continuously, lovingly and thankfully focused upon Christ.

For now, however, let us rejoice over every opportunity for us struggling believers to be pointed back to our Lord’s great power and mercy in the lives of repenting sinners. In tomorrow morning’s passage, we will see Isaac’s surprising failure give way to an even more surprising spiritual recovery. Praise be to the God whose power and mercy so work in the lives of a struggling believer like Isaac!

And like us, praise God. Looking forward to worshiping Him together in this passage with you,


LORD'S DAY – May 24, 2020

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens (feel free to bring your own, separate food if preferred)
10 a.m. Bible Class
We are studying the ARP’s confessed theology from Scripture. We’ll continue studying Election as the ultimate source in the application of redemption to believers

11 a.m. Public Worship
Children’s Catechism for May 24
Q30. What is meant by "transgression"? A. Doing what God forbids.

Shorter Catechism for May 24
Q38. What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection? A. At the resurrection, believers, being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of judgment, and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity.

Psalms and Hymns
TPH371 “Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise”   
ARP78B “O Come, My People, to My Law” 
TPH534 “Fill Thou My Life, O Lord My God”

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service

Scripture Readings
Old Testament – 1Samuel 8:1–8
Epistle – Ephesians 2:11–13
Gospel – Luke 5:27–32

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from Genesis 26:12–22 about the fruitfulness that the Lord is pleased to grant, even and especially in barren lands and hearts, so that all the praise and glory is His!

12:45 p.m. Coffee Fellowship and Catechism Class

1 p.m. Fellowship Lunch & Open Mic Time
There will be plenty for everyone, but as with breakfast, those who are uncomfortable eating from the line are encouraged to bring their own food that they keep separate.

At open mic time, we’ll begin with birthdays and anniversaries and recitations of the memory verse: (Genesis 26:22) And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

2:30 p.m Psalm/hymn Sing
Carryover song requests from last week:
Blue: 104C
Red: 459, 485, 340, 478

3:30 p.m. P.M. exhortation from Ephesians 2:11–13

After Party at ???? (No open invitations to congregation yet at time of writing)

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for May:
Pressly-Memorial ARP in Red Level, AL

May Psalm of the Month
ARP78B O Come, My People, to My Law

Upcoming Events
•May 27, Prayer Meeting, 6:30p.m.
•June 8, Session Meeting, 6p.m.
•October 2-4, HARPC 200th Anniversary Celebration

Smooth Stones from a Babbling Brook
Internet links for this week
1.    Pastor Bob Godfrey asks, “Does God Miss Our Worship?” It’s difficult to emphasize enough how much this concerns me, and how thankful I am for this article. Reading through the Bible in big chunks with my family this year, it’s stunning to see how much God cares to be worshiped exactly as He says, and how different this is from the prevailing attitude toward worship by the church in Scripture and in our own day. It’s almost unsurprising that covid hasn’t brought a season of repentance, but it’s still deeply grievous.
2.    On the other hand, our hope is in the Lord. And He HAS used such circumstances to bring a genuine season of repentance before. Join hose Scott Brown as he interviews Pastor Gavin Beers about one such incident. May the Lord be pleased to bring revival in our day!
3.    Canadian ARP minister Stephen Richardson has taken flack for his pervious article (the “open letter to the churches”) linked in this space, but thanks be to God, who has kept him thinking more about what God thinks than what man thinks. I think that in this more recent article, he thoughtfully challenges us on whether our churches are giving to Caesar that which belongs to God.
4.    My friend Pastor Rob Hill’s fingerprints—and really, His God’s fingerprints—are all over this article by his wife Megan on how pastors are Jesus’s plan for shepherding believers. We live in an anti-authoritarian, anti-office-bearer, type age. But pastors and elders who realize that this is about Christ and His plan and power, rather than our own, are glad to lay themselves down in the work. We submit to them and entrust ourselves to their care and leadership on earth, because we are confident from Scripture that it is really Christ who is caring for us and leading us from heaven.
5.    OPC Minister Michael Spangler has endured much for conscientiously defending Christ’s order for teaching and governance in the churches. I thought that the third installment of his recent series of articles was the most helpful. As a pastor who has been alarmed by the rising number of women teachers of the churches (not for any lack of appreciation of women, but because my hope is in Christ alone, who is clear in His appointment of particular men as the teachers and rulers of the church), it has been alarming to see the rise of women leading worship and lecturing the churches on the need to be instructed by female voices. More alarming has been the hesitance of faithful men to speak up against this, and the viciousness of the storm denouncing them when they do. These are things that (as far as I know) don’t touch us too directly at Hopewell, but it is important for us to know what is happening in the broader “Reformed” world, especially in our sister churches.

Congregational Prayer Requests (new/updates in bold)
▪ Alan McClelland and his ministry at Ft. Rucker
▪ Repentance of the Church and the Nations, as well as comfort and strength through the advancement of the gospel against the backdrop of SARS-CoV-2 and its accompanying panic, especially joining the rest of the ARP at 9a.m. central every day
▪ Comfort and provision for the LeeAnn Billings family as they grieve, especially for new work, as the university just eliminated her position from the department
▪ Pray for the Jeffers family, whose granddaughter Isabelle (14) and then her mother Norma both attempted suicide; there’s a long way to go medically, financially, and especially spiritually for all involved; please keep praying for them and for Sue’s ministry to them
▪ Pray for Kacey and family, going through difficult trial
▪ Pray with D&L L for her 85yo mother and her heart issues
▪ Pray with KC for her acquaintance Linda who doesn’t seem to know the Lord, and just lost 21 year old son; and, for sister Diane and her husband Frank, who need a living faith in Christ; and for friend Patty, a believer, that she will continue to do well after treatment for uterine cancer
▪ Pray with D&M G that her mother would continue healing well and not smoking; for Sean; for Jeremiah and Julianna
▪ Pray with W&C G for her mother’s health and caregivers; and for spiritual (and total) well-being of son Greg
▪ Pray with J&H H for his father’s cancer and recovery from open-heart surgeries; and sweetness in his parents’ remaining time together; for his youngest brother
▪ Pray for James Heard to make good choices and to walk with an serve the Lord in this next phase of his life.
▪ Pray with H&K H for their health (especially Karen’s back, which keeps getting reinjured, and their schedule which it affects) and for many of their loved ones; needing Christian fellowship: her grandmother and father, widow Hope w/4 children, Brown family of 7 (wayward son Nicholas); needing health: her mom, sister Lisa and husband w/high bp, Martina, Donna, Joyce; needing spiritual life: Velvet and Reagan (lost their sister/daughter to a brutal murder), neighbors Shawn, Merlin, & children; other widows: Libby, Naomi (w/daughter Stacia), Stephanie (w/many children, were missionaries); friend Andrea’s New Age friends; Charles & Robert to be able to forgive; friends w/family problems: Dave, Lee, Melodie, Cole; spiritual growth and wife for friend Scott; their family’s evangelism, recently firefighter Dalton; Riggs to grow mighty in the Lord; Harwell’s sleep issues.
▪ Pray with R&M J for Meredith, young daughter of M’s college friend Ashely (and husband Brad), who’s taking medicine to shrink her brain tumor
▪ Pray with O&A L for her unbelieving mother w/heart condition, and her family’s grieving over her brother
▪ Pray with CM for comfort for Sheriff’s Reserve James Wilson and family in the loss of his wife Andra; and friend Michael Duval and his recovery from knee surgery
▪ PRAISE with SM for successful surgery, and pray for recovery
▪ Pray with C&T P for wisdom for him about what to do with two good career choices, and for the conversion of her brother Todd; and for her dad and family in the loss of his wife Jolene, and C&T’s trip to Kansas for the funeral.
▪ Pray with AR for friend Caleb Figura w/mysterious but debilitating gut illness
▪ Pray with D&K R for their family’s growth in godliness, especially dying to self, godly speech, and Lord’s Day keeping; for Micah, Rachel, and baby girl due in July; and for local pastor/constable Darryl Thrasher, who has an aggressive, malignant brain tumor
▪ Pray with GR for friend Abby to come to faith in Christ
▪ Pray with JeR for believing friend Jeanette Cary’s CHF, Fibromyalgia, & slow-healing wound
▪ Pray with J&M R for baby Bentley, and their family’s adjustment and future with him
▪ Pray with J&S R for her nephew, who needs life in Christ; and for her and her family in the loss of her father, especially spiritual impact on her sisters and nephews; and for her sister Rebecca’s pregnancy; and for the whole family, and especially his mother, as they grieve the passing away of his father
▪ Pray with S&V Y for his parents and siblings as they deal with his father’s declining health and his mothers dementia
▪ Please pray with Pressly Memorial ARP in Red Level, AL, throughout the month of May
▪ Please pray for the TN-AL Presbytery to be enabled to plant a faithful church with the resources available and earmarked for that purpose
▪ Please pray for all ARP presbyteries, churches, and agencies
▪ Please pray for our nation, state, community and all the officials thereof 

Prayer, with thanksgiving, being one special part of religious worship, is by God required of all men: and, that it may be accepted, it is to be made in the name of the Son, by the help of his Spirit, according to his will, with understanding, reverence, humility, fervency, faith, love, and perseverance; and, if vocal, in a known tongue. (WCF 21.3)

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