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,

MEN’S BREAKFAST, tomorrow (Saturday) morning, 6:30 A.M. Boys and men of all ages are encouraged to attend! The monthly service/skill project begins this month. Tomorrow, after the breakfast we will head over to Josiah’s house and help with some of his needs. We will be laying flooring, which means taking out some cabinets. If you have drills and or drivers and knee pads, please bring them.  If you have any questions, please get in touch with Josiah or Charlie.

LORD'S DAY – July 19, 2020

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens
10 a.m. Sabbath School
This week, we’re beginning a series on topics related to important issues that people around us are talking much about right now, continuing this week to study what Holy Scripture teaches us about “Racial Reconciliation.”

11 a.m. Public Worship
Children’s Catechism for July 19
Q38. Can anyone go to heaven with this sinful nature? A. No; our hearts must be changed before we can be fit for heaven.

Shorter Catechism for July 19
Q46. What is required in the first commandment? A. The first commandment requireth us to know and acknowledge God to be the only true God, and our God; and to worship and glorify him accordingly.

Psalms and Hymns
TPH390 “Christ Is Coming!”   
ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” 
ARP197 “Christian Unity”

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service

Scripture Readings

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from Ephesians 4:1–7 about how the manner of church members’ interaction with each other should be a response to the church being God’s astonishing display of His own glory.

1 p.m. Coffee Fellowship and Catechism Class

1:15 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 30:2) And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, “Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?”

2:45 p.m Psalm/hymn Sing
Carryover song requests from last week:
Blue: 46, 1, 99A, 127
Red: 253, 277, 476
(if you wish to make this week’s requests in advance, please feel free to reply to this email, and let me know!)

3:45 p.m. Evening Sermon from Genesis 30:1–24

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for July:
Riverside ARP in Prattville, AL

July Psalm of the Month
ARP72A God, Give Your Judgments to the King

Upcoming Events
•July 18, Men’s Breakfast, 6:30 a.m.
•July 20, Monthly Session Meeting, 6 p.m.
•July 22, Prayer Meeting, 6:30 p.m.
•August 30, Sermon to “launch” class series on delighted consecration of the Lord’s holy day
•September 13, Lord’s Day series begins in the Sabbath School
•October 2-4, HARPC 200th Anniversary Celebration

Congregational Prayer Requests (new/updates in bold)
▪ Alan McClelland and his ministry at Ft. Rucker
▪ Repentance of the Church and the Nations for general rejection of the Kingship of Christ
▪ Comfort and provision for the LeeAnn Billings family as they grieve
▪ 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 Rebecca Sterling, whose condition seems to be deteriorating again, and who would like to not end up back in the nursing home
▪ Pray with D&L L for her 85yo mother and her heart issues
▪ Pray with P&D W for his mom who fell, and for their return trip back out there to situate her more safely and with proper care
▪ Pray with S&D B for Andrew to be able to wean off the medicine well
▪ Pray with S&D B and D&D R for Doug and Dianne’s oldest son Dave. He is not a believer, homeless and in despair.
▪ Pray with KC for her acquaintance Linda who doesn’t seem to know the Lord, and just lost 21 year old son; and, for her dear friends who need to live a life of faith and devotion to the Lord; 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; for sweetness in his parents’ remaining time together; for his youngest brother, and the same brother’s son (with CP, and recovering from hip surgery) and daughter
▪ 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; and for Meredeth and baby, due in January
▪ Pray with O&A L for her unbelieving mother w/heart condition, and her family’s grieving over her brother
▪ PRAISE with CM for friend Michael Duval and his recovery from knee surgery
▪ Pray with C&T P for the conversion of her brother Todd; and for her dad and family in the loss of his wife Jolene
▪ 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; and for local pastor/constable Darryl Thrasher, who has an aggressive, malignant brain tumor; PRAISE for birth of baby Mercy to Micah and Rachel on July 6
▪ 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 the situation with his work furlough; 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; for his whole family, and especially his mother, as they grieve the passing away of his father; and sister Kathy, who just lost her husband; and for Celeste and her ministry to her professing friend who has decided that homosexuality isn’t wrong
▪ Pray with S&V Y for his parents and siblings as they deal with his father’s declining health and his mother’s dementia; and for her niece Carina and her husband Luke and their newborn daughter Callaway who was born with an acidemia and is recovering from an extended period of high ammonia in her blood
▪ Please pray with Riverside ARP in Prattville, AL, throughout the month of July
▪ 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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