Saturday, July 25, 2020

Increase Your Desire for Baptisms by Diligence in Improving Your Own! (2020.07.25 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – July 25, 2020

Dear Congregation,

We were blessed to attend upon the sacrament of baptism this past Lord’s Day. Among the many thoughts that this has fostered for me is that this doesn’t happen often enough.

Many of us, as we have begun to prepare better for the Supper, and attend better upon the Supper, and respond better to the Supper, have longingly desired to move to a biblical frequency (weekly) of taking that Supper together. When we go weeks without it, we feel famished of it; and, how dreadful it is if we happen to miss one and must wait two full months!

Why are we not longing more for the sacrament of baptism? Surely, if we view covenant children as Scripture does, we should be eager for the Lord to add them to us. And in this way, we ought to longingly desire to see more of their baptisms. Surely, if we view the bringing in of those who are far off as Scripture does, and if we love the souls of lost men, and the glory of Him Who is the Redeemer of those souls, we ought to longingly desire to see more of their baptisms.

But I wonder if one of the ways that the Lord grows us up into connecting these theological dots to form a picture of longing desire in our hearts is by our attending better upon the sacrament itself.

Ever powerfully and succinctly condensing Scripture truth, our Larger Catechism says this about our attending upon Baptism:
Q. 167. How is baptism to be improved by us?
A. The needful but much neglected duty of improving our baptism, is to be performed by us all our life long, especially in the time of temptation, and when we are present at the administration of it to others;

by serious and thankful consideration of the nature of it, and of the ends for which Christ instituted it, the privileges and benefits conferred and sealed thereby, and our solemn vow made therein;

by being humbled for our sinful defilement, our falling short of, and walking contrary to, the grace of baptism, and our engagements;

by growing up to assurance of pardon of sin, and of all other blessings sealed to us in that sacrament;

by drawing strength from the death and resurrection of Christ, into whom we are baptized, for the mortifying of sin, and quickening of grace; and

by endeavoring to live by faith, to have our conversation in holiness and righteousness, as those that have therein given up their names to Christ; and to walk in brotherly love, as being baptized by the same Spirit into one body.

Did you take the time, and put in the effort, to do these things before last week’s baptisms? With them fresh upon your mind, were you able to renew and stoke these heart-actings-upon-God by faith during the administration of it? Did you reflect later upon what had transpired with the three who were baptized, meditating upon the effects of the Lord having also done the same to you?

Baptism is a means of God’s grace! Just as you have discovered that, in approaching the Supper in a biblical way, He has been faithful to make it effectual to your benefit. So will you discover that improving your own baptism in a biblical way, He will be faithful to increase your benefit and joy from it.

And, I suspect, that one of these benefits will be an increased desire to see more of them. An increased crying out for the blessing of covenant children. An increased faithfulness in the duties by which He brings them to faith and applies to them the full and eternal blessings of the covenant. An increased “truthing” among one another (tune in to the sermon on Ephesians 4:15 in a couple weeks!) and especially unto the lost, that we might see them brought to faith in Jesus Christ, added to His church, and baptized.

Perhaps, in working on improving our baptisms, not only in times of its administration to others, but also in times of temptation (cf. WLC 167 above), we can be looking to God to give us a biblical increase in the frequency of that sacrament as well!

Looking forward to worshiping Him with you in the other means of grace tomorrow,


LORD'S DAY – July 26, 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 26
Q39. What is this change of heart called? A. Regeneration.

Shorter Catechism for July 26
Q47. What is forbidden in the first commandment? A. The first commandment forbiddeth the denying, or not worshiping and glorifying the true God as God, and our God; and the giving of that worship and glory to any other, which is due to him alone.

Psalms and Hymns
TPH391 “Come, O Come, Thou Quickening Spirit”   
ARP72A “God, Give Your Judgments to the King” 
TPH105C “O Praise the Lord, His Deeds Make Known”

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service

Scripture Readings

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from Genesis 30:25–43 about how God makes effectual all that He has commanded, and overrules all that we or others do that He hasn’t, to fulfill His plans and promises toward us in Jesus Christ.

1 p.m. Coffee Fellowship and Catechism Class

1:15 p.m. Fellowship Lunch & Open Mic Time
Members are encouraged to bring at least 20% more than their own family would eat, so that there will be plenty for everyone, including any members or guests who are deciding last-minute whether or not to stay.

At open mic time, we’ll begin with birthdays and anniversaries and recitations of the memory verse:
(Genesis 30:27) And Laban said to him, “Please stay, if I have found favor in your eyes, for I have learned by experience that the LORD has blessed me for your sake.”

2:45 p.m Psalm/hymn Sing
Carryover song requests from last week:
Blue: 110B, 149B, 80B, 197 ||
Red(P): 34C
Red(h): 531, 517, 276, 180 || 508, 340 ||
(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 Ephesians 4:8–10

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 29, Prayer Meeting, 6:30 p.m.
•August 10, Monthly Session Meeting, 6 p.m.
•August 15, Men’s Breakfast, 6:30 a.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 family in his ministry at Ft. Campbell
▪ 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 her precarious situation living alone in Tulsa
▪ 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, and is 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 her 7/22 surgery to put in a new medicine port after her body rejected the previous one; 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
▪ Pray with C&T P 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; and for secretary Sarah, an unbeliever who has had cancer before, and has a surgical consult on 7/23 for two new abdominal tumors
▪ 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 his adoption process
▪ 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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