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

Saturday, February 01, 2020

2020.02.01 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 1:1-4

Questions from the Scripture text: When had God spoken (Hebrews 1:1)? In what ways had God spoken? By whom? When has God spoken in Hebrews 1:2? By Whom? What has He appointed Him to be? What did He do through Him? Of what is the Son the brightness (Hebrews 1:3)? Of what is He the express image? What does the Son uphold? By what? When did He sit down? Where? What had He become (Hebrews 1:4)? What had He obtained? How? 
In tomorrow’s sermon, we will briefly trace how each particular action commanded by the New Testament for public worship ties directly to Christ’s person and work, and His leading that worship action from heaven. The force and weight of this reality is carried by the greatness of the glory of Him who is both the Apostle and the High Priest of this worship.

This is one reason that Hebrews leads off with the greatness of Christ’s glory. This is one of many reasons why we need to feast our hearts upon the greatness of Christ’s glory.

He is God the Son. The eternal, living, glorious, almighty God.

He is the heir of all things. Everything exists for Him and belongs to Him. We belong to Him. Being His by faith means that He joins you to Himself in this inheritance.

Through Christ, God made the worlds. The glory of Christ is the power by which and the point for which God has made every single thing that has been made.

He is the brightness of God’s glory. Christ’s glory is not only that which is displayed in the creation, but God Himself is pleased that Christ would be the great display of the intensity of His own glory as well!

He is the express image of God’s person. Christ is a display not only of the intensity of God’s glory, but He so completely and comprehensively demonstrates the character of God that He is the exact imprint of His nature.

He upholds all things by the Word of His power. The point of all of history is the power and glory of Jesus Christ! This is the point not only of everything that is but of everything that happens!

Here, in our Lord Jesus, we have God’s own infinitely intense, perfectly accurate, completely comprehensive display of Himself and His glory. This is the foundation and essence of the holy Lord’s Day assembly of the Christian church.
What do your feelings tell you is what makes worship glorious? Are they in agreement with this Scripture? Whenever they are not, which one needs to correct which?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

Friday, January 31, 2020

2020.01.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 2:8-14

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Luke 2:8 introduce? Where were they? What were they doing? Who stood in front of them (Luke 2:9)? Around whom did the glory of the Lord shine? How did they respond to these two occurrences? What is the first thing that the angel tells them (not) to do (Luke 2:10)? What did he bring them? For which of the people were these tidings? What had happened (Luke 2:11)? For whom? When? Where? What is the identity of this baby? What did the angel give them to prove the identity of the baby (Luke 2:12a)? And what was this sign—where would they find the swaddled baby? Where did the heavenly army appear (Luke 2:13)? What were they doing? What is unto God (Luke 2:14)? Where? What is on earth? What is unto men?  
It is a strange thing: the living God reduced to be a creature. It is a much smaller step down from the highest of creatures to the helpless baby in the feeding trough, than it is from God down to the most glorious of angels. And since we are slow to see this, the Lord keeps the strange occurrences going.

Certainly, it looks a bit odd to those led astray by various songs and cartoons over the years. The angel is not in the sky. He’s standing before the shepherds. Think Joshua outside Jericho, or Abraham running to prepare “a bit of bread.” The glory isn’t even around the angel—it’s around the shepherds. The angels don’t sing, they praise God. Staccato shouts of praise—Glory to God in the Highest! And on earth peace! To men, good pleasure (i.e., of God)!

But, even after getting the facts of the event straightened out by the text, the strangeness has only just begun. Who is the baby? Christ the Lord! This is strange. We do not expect the Lord to be a baby.

How can we know that it is the Lord? A sign! What’s the sign? He’s napping in a feeding trough. Almost certainly not a cave or a stable—the word for “inn” from Luke 2:7 is the same as the upper room where they had the last supper, and is almost certainly a guest quarters. There were often indoor animals in such a home, which would be kept in a room on the main floor with the family. Not ideal, but squeezing extended family from out of town into whatever parts of the house you can find is just about as old as families having houses.

So, what great sign has God chosen to prove that this baby is Christ the Lord? He’s in a feeding trough. And to what learned noblemen would this announcement be made? Shepherds out in the country. Strange.

And that’s just the point, for the way that God has decided to glorify Himself is the strangest thing of all. Men who deserve Hell are instead objects of His good pleasure. An earth that should have been made into Hell is instead a place of peace. Glory has come down—that which belongs in the third heaven has surrounded some shepherds, and will soon be beheld in the Word made flesh by all who receive faith to see it.

It is the strange illogic of the gospel—God displays His highest glory in the lowest people and places, so that the greatness of the glory will belong only to Himself. The angels don’t even need saving, but they are the first to give praise for God’s salvation. Because they are—just as we should be—preoccupied with the glory of God.
When you think about your own salvation, what place does the glory of God have in those thoughts? When you tell others about God’s salvation, what place does a desire for the glory of God have in that telling? How does pride compete against this desire?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

Thursday, January 30, 2020

2020.01.30 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:24-26

Questions from the Scripture text: To Whom do some people belong (Galatians 5:24)? What have those who genuinely belong to Christ done? In Whom do those who belong to Christ live (Galatians 5:25)? What must they also do in the Spirit? What must we not become instead of dependence upon the Spirit (Galatians 5:26)? What would this false pride cause us to be toward one another?
As we come to the end of Galatians 5:26, we see that this has all been a unit with what began in Galatians 5:13-15. Our freedom is not for indulging the flesh but for killing it—otherwise, in our fleshliness, we will consume one another (verse 15), provoking and envying one another (verse 26).

The Spirit is out for death—the death of the flesh. The apostle uses a word image that is pretty gruesome: crucifixion. If you belong to Christ, you have crucified the flesh. You have pinned down your remaining sin, nailed it up, and are determined to choke every last bit of air-gasping life out of it.

This is not a passive, just-learning-to-enjoy-Jesus-more-and-more, low-effort, low-activity approach to sanctification. But it is the Scripture-picture for what it looks like to keep in step with the Spirit. Why? Because the Spirit’s desires are against the flesh (Galatians 5:16-17). The Spirit wants our remaining sin dead, and if we are being led by Him, then our battle against our flesh is a ruthless death match. Crucifixion.

If we forget that we are dependent upon the Spirit, and try to approach sanctification in any other way, then we are conceited (Galatians 5:26a). And, when we fall out of step with the Spirit, it is then that we shift from bring hard on ourselves to being hard on others (verse 26b). On the flipside, if we find ourselves hostile to or envious of others, we have good reason to ask ourselves, “Am I walking in the Spirit? Do I belong to Jesus? Am I locked in a crucifying-to-death battle with my sin?”
Against which of your sinful desires are you currently engaged in a crucifying-to-death battle?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

2020.01.29 Prayer Meeting Folder

As we rotate through the different ways in which Holy Scripture teaches us to confess our sins, guided by Henry's Method for Prayer, tonight's special focus is on the Lord's great patience and long-suffering and willingness to be reconciled.

One thing that we begin to see in Scripture, when we realize the greatness of God's holiness, is how incomplete our repentance is, and how guilty and filthy before God is this incompleteness.

But Scripture has been given us not only that we might see ourselves truly, but especially that we would see God Himself truly. And the more we see of ourselves, the greater our opportunity to see how very great is our God's patience and long-suffering and willingness to be reconciled to sinners!!

Tonight at 6:30, you can join voices and hearts with us in this thanksgiving at Hopewell ARP Church. If you can't be there in body, you can use the attached pdf to pray along with us (or maybe to prepare for prayer before coming): http://bit.ly/harpc200129pm

2020.01.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 1:1-8

Questions from the Scripture text: From where was the man in 1 Samuel 1:1? What was his name and lineage? How many wives did he have (1 Samuel 1:2)? What difference does verse 2 point out between them? How was this two-wife system working out in 1 Samuel 1:5-7? When did Elkanah go up (1 Samuel 1:3)? To do what? Where? Who were there? To whom would Elkanah give portions, when (1 Samuel 1:4)? How much did he give to Hannah (1 Samuel 1:5)? Why? What had Yahweh done? What was Peninnah doing (1 Samuel 1:6)? What does verse 6 call her? How often did this happen (1 Samuel 1:7)? Where? What did Hannah (not) do with her double portion? What did she do instead? What did Elkanah ask her in 1 Samuel 1:8? What did he claim about himself?
The irony of Elkanah’s challenge in 1 Samuel 1:8 is pretty rich. Even his favoritism—even out of love to her—in 1 Samuel 1:5 indubitably made the entire situation worse. Really, by taking two wives, he had made himself less than half a husband.

The worst part of it, however, wasn’t even the wickedness and folly of the polygamy. It was the idolatry of presenting himself to his wife in a position that really only belongs to God. It is our Lord who ought indeed to be more to us than any spouse or any amount of children. Our flesh desires to be all-important, all-comforting, and all-satisfying, but at its core this is a blasphemous idolatry. As we seek to comfort, strengthen, and gladden our loved ones in word and deed, our aim should be that they find these things in the Lord Himself.

In some ways, this is setting us up for the rest of 1-2 Samuel. Eli’s sons are going to be in it for themselves instead of the Lord. The people are going to reject being ruled and protected by the Lord and His Word, and ask for a king. Saul is going to fail miserably as Israel’s great hope, and there will be a temptation to shift that hope onto David.

The message of Samuel and Kings is that Christ Himself must be our great Prophet and King, because it is ultimately Christ Himself in whom God delivers us, speaks to us, rules us, and gives unto us that which is more than all other things put together. Himself.

This is one reason why God uses so many barren women in bringing Christ into the world. Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, Mrs. Manoah, Elizabeth, Mary in her virginity… not by might, nor by power, nor by fertility, nor even by how much your husband Elkanah might mean to you. But only by the Lord Himself. We must find in Him all of our hope, peace, comfort, strength, gladness, and purpose!
In what area of life are you grieved or unfulfilled? How might the Lord be your consolation in this part of your life? What are you doing to direct your heart back to Him?
Suggested Songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH446 “Be Thou My Vision”

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

2020.01.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 14:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Jesus say immediately after John 13:38 (in John 14:1). In Whom does Jesus tell them to believe? In Whom else? Where does Jesus tell them there are many rooms (John 14:2)? Why is Jesus going there? What will Jesus do later (John 14:3)? Why? What two things does Jesus say that they know in John 14:4? Who says that they do not know either of these things (John 14:5)? What does Jesus say is the Way to where He is going (John 14:6)? What does Jesus say is the Truth about where He is going? What does Jesus say is the life by which they may follow to where He is going? When does Jesus say that they know the Father and have seen the Father (John 14:7)? 
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from John 14:1-7 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with We Come, O Christ, to You.

We often think of this passage in terms of conversion: how one comes to know the Father (John 14:7). However, this is not the first and primary sense of the passage in its original context.

Jesus is talking to His disciples about the time of His absence, and what He is doing where He is going. He’s talking about how they will be preserved and guarded in the path to glory (John 14:1-5), and how they can connect with and serve the Father (and even Himself) in the intervening period (John 14:8-28).

It is not only through Christ alone that we are justified. It is through Christ alone that we know God. It is through Christ alone that we worship God. It is through Christ alone that we are equipped (are strengthened in grace, grow in grace) for service. And therefore, it is only according to Jesus’s Word, which He has appointed to be used by His Spirit.

When we feel (like Thomas and Phillip in this chapter) that “it isn’t working,” we are to remember His Word (John 14:26), enjoy His peace (John 14:27), and recognize that we are spiritually powerless. Christians are not to begin by Christ and move on by something else. As the apostle says in Romans 1:16-17, the power and righteousness of God for us is both from faith and for faith—by faith from start to finish.

We need not come up with new ways to feel rejuvenated spiritually, but rather to rejoice all over again that God has sent His Son and His Spirit on this divine rescue mission, and to trust that when we use His ordinary means, He is effectively and surely continuing to carry it out!
Upon what are you tempted to base the feeling that God is really working or that you are really close to Him? In Whom is God really working in you and keeping near to you? In what particular activities does His Word say that He/They are doing so?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH288 “We Come, O Christ, to You”

Monday, January 27, 2020

2020.01.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 15:1-20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who came to Jesus from where (Matthew 15:1)? What do they accuse his disciples of transgressing (Matthew 15:2)? Why—what were they doing? What does Jesus accuse them of transgressing (Matthew 15:3)? Why were they transgressing? What had God commanded (Matthew 15:4a)? What penalty showed God’s seriousness about this (verse 4b)? But what did they say one could do with something—thereby making it unavailable for honoring father or mother (Matthew 15:5)? What does the tradition end up doing to the commandment (Matthew 15:6)? What does Jesus call them in Matthew 15:7? Who had prophesied about something similar? With what had God said they were near to Him and honored Him (Matthew 15:8)? In what way were they far from Him? What did He say about their worship (Matthew 15:9a)? What made their worship empty (verse 9b)? Whom did Jesus call to Himself in Matthew 15:10? What did He say did not defile a man (even though the old tradition said so, Matthew 15:11a)? With what Scriptural teaching was this idea in competition (verse 11b)? What is the eternal problem with the Pharisees (Matthew 15:12-13)? What is their situational problem (Matthew 15:14)? Who else doesn’t see very well for the moment (Matthew 15:15-16)? What doesn’t defile a man (Matthew 15:17)? What does defile a man (Matthew 15:18-20)?
Only God decides what is true religion. Tradition about religion always eventually displaces God’s Word about religion. Only God decides what are good works. Manmade ideas about good works always eventually displace God’s Word about good works. Only God decides what is true worship.

Regardless of what sounds like it is coming out of man’s mouth and off of man’s lips, if he has decided for himself how to worship, he has put himself in the place of God. He may be full of sentimental notions about the idea of God that he thinks he is honoring, but God’s own verdict is, “their heart is far from Me.”

In Isaiah 29:13, God is judging His people by blinding their eyes. With open Bibles, they are yet blinded—unable to see that the Lord commands the specific way of drawing near to Him and fearing Him, but still making vain attempts to draw near and honor Him. Now Jesus takes this and says that the Pharisees are voluntarily doing this to themselves. Whether our traditions are newer or older, whatever is manmade instead of Scripture-derived in worship always does this: makes our hearts far from Him and our worship worthless.

There are two more issues that we must see in what happens here, especially in Matthew 15:12-14: legalism and powerlessness.

One aspect of legalism in worship is that, when manmade ideas are introduced into the service, others must suddenly obey men rather than God. In corporate worship, so long as the church only does what Scripture commands, all are being led by God and obeying God. But as soon as a manmade idea enters public worship, the whole congregation is being made to do what man has invented.

We are in a spiritual war, and the weapons we must use cannot be fleshly but must be spiritual (Ephesians 5-6; 2 Corinthians 3-5, 2 Corinthians 10). Whatever comes from us is fleshly. It cannot reach up to heaven. It cannot make worship true. It cannot do anything to reduce filthiness or guiltiness. It cannot do anything to produce spiritual life. Our ideas are lifeless, powerless, helpless. Only what God has given carries with it the attending of God’s own power and therefore has in it life, and power, and help. This is one reason the favorite call-to-worship in the Reformation was Psalm 124:8, “Our help is in the Name of Yahweh, who made the heavens and the earth.”

Indeed. He alone is our help. So, on His day, let us rejoice and be glad in Him!
Why is it dangerous for us to have anything in public worship that is not commanded by God? If the worship is commanded by God, what does this say about the way in which we ought to be participating in it?
Suggested Songs: ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” or TPH266 “Thou Art the Way”