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, 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”

Saturday, January 25, 2020

2020.01.25 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 one standard can decide what defiles a man. Only one standard can decide what is morally good. Only one standard can decide how to worship. That’s the logic of these eleven verses.

The Pharisees were sure that the disciples were defiled, because they didn’t wash their hands because they ate. But they were fools. They thought that the “tradition of the elders” was an appropriate way of deciding what defiles a man. Jesus is going to give the Bible answer for what defiles a man—those things of which He lists examples in Matthew 15:18-20, things to which the laws for ceremonial cleanness pointed.

But before getting there in response to Peter’s question, Jesus asks the Pharisees a question of His own to expose their great mistake (Matthew 15:3)—setting up their own standards as equal to God’s. God’s standards are in perfect consistency and harmony with one another. Adding our own standards to His corrupts them and throws them out of balance. This was the problem with something that seemed very sincere: the idea that you could devote all that you did not need for yourself as a gift (probably to the temple, though Matthew 15:5 does not actually say). But their sincere idea conflicted with God’s moral law and the duty required unto parents.

And this was not the only place that they did this. Because they had added the standards of men to how to worship (Matthew 15:9b), they had rendered all of their worship vain (verse 9a), Why? Because when the heart honors God as God, it leaves the place of worship construction to God—to Whom it alone belongs. Their lips said words that sounded like honor, but by coming in their own way, they had failed to cede unto Him the place of true honor. And God declared a terrible verdict: “Their heart is far from Me.”

In Leviticus 10:3, God had described worship as drawing near to Him. How terrible a thing, then, to draw near in mouth but be far from Him in heart! When we understand what the Lord is saying here, we too will distrust all our own desires for worship, and resolve to follow only the Lord’s instructions, and as closely and simply as possible!
By what actions may your heart draw near to God in worship? What attitude is needed to match these actions? How does one prepare for or maintain such an attitude?
Suggested songs: ARP131 “My Heart Is Not Exalted, LORD” or TPH131B “Not Haught Is My Heart”

Friday, January 24, 2020

2020.01.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 2:1-7

Questions from the Scripture text: What came from whom in Luke 2:1? How does Luke 2:2 help establish the historicity of this event? What did everyone do (Luke 2:3)? Who went up, from where, to where, in Luke 2:4? Why? Who went with him (Luke 2:5)? In what condition was she? What happened while they were there (Luke 2:6)? Whom did she bring forth (Luke 2:7)? In what did she wrap Him? In what did she lay Him? Why? 
It is of critical importance that it is an historical fact that God the Son entered our world as a man. If this did not really happen—and His perfectly obedient life, and sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection—then we are left dead in our sin. So, Luke nails down for us the place and time and occasion for Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem.

Indeed we have here, already, God’s provision for Christ’s obedient life. Even the fulfillment of His predicted birthplace occurs because his parents are obedient to the civil magistrate. Even being of pure heart, Christ comes in such low and humble condition—a human baby!—that He is dependent upon His parents for God’s law to be fulfilled concerning Him.

Joseph and Mary are not only of the right line—the house and lineage of David—but they are of necessary character, as will come to the fore again in Luke 2:21-42. Thus, they have relatives in Bethlehem—albeit not ones with a full spare room. Yes, it is part of the lowliness of His condition that his cradle is a feeding trough, but it is part of the proof of His proper lineage that there was a spare room (albeit already full under the circumstances) that would have been designated for them with family in the City of David.

God did everything exactly right in bringing our Redeemer into the world!
What difference does it make for a baby to have godly parents? What difference did Christ’s godly parents make for you?
Suggested songs: ARP110B “The LORD Has Spoken to My Lord” or TPH322 “Once in Royal David’s City”

Thursday, January 23, 2020

2020.01.23 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:22-23

Questions from the Scripture text: Which works had been aspects named here are all of a single fruit—the Spirit fruit. While the unbeliever may seem to possess one or more of these aspects, he rarely demonstrates them all superficially; and more importantly, they are neither his in the heart and nor especially aimed first at the Lord. Believers will have all, and more importantly have them first and foremost toward the Lord, and in increasing measure.
Love—wholehearted desire for the good of the object, first and foremost the desire that God would receive His due glory, and then one’s neighbor as oneself. Joy—especially flowing from love for God, because of delight in the absolute confidence that He will, indeed, receive that due glory. Peace—the resting that this God bends all things toward that glory and our good.

And how does one whose heart is ruled by love, joy, and peace act toward others? With patience—necessary, because others are sinners, and love/joy/peace means bearing long with their sin. And with kindness—that countenance, and word choice, and tone, and manner that communicates a desire for others’ good. And goodness—actions that aim to covered in Galatians 5:19-21? Whose desires are against these (cf. Galatians 5:17)? What does Galatians 5:22 call the list in these verses? How many aspects of the (singular!) fruit are named? Which aspects are conditions of the heart? Which govern relation toward others? Which govern one’s relation to himself? How do these relate to God’s laws?

Is Paul teaching against the law? That’s an important question, because those whom Christ genuinely saves, He also genuinely changes, and their hearts start to view God’s law as “the perfect law of liberty” (James 1:25), crying out things like, “Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97).

The answer, of course, is that the apostle is not teaching against the law. He is teaching against the flesh—that same flesh that abuses the law to feel superior to others (Galatians 5:15), even while the flesh violates that same law in every way (Galatians 5:19-20). What the apostle is promoting is yielding ourselves up to the Spirit (Galatians 5:18) who is at war with that flesh (Galatians 5:17). And what happens when we are led by the Spirit?

He produces in us fruit. Not fruits, plural, but singular in Galatians 5:22. The nine fulfill this desire for the good of others. And faithfulness—saying what you mean, keeping your promises, fulfilling your obligations; never needing to compromise, because your wellbeing can’t be improved beyond that perfect good that the Lord is already doing you.

Finally, how does one whose heart is ruled by love, joy, and peace act toward himself? Primarily by distrusting our heart, actually. Distrusting our heart’s opinion of ourselves, and distrusting our heart’s emotions desires.

Gentleness, in many ways, is distrusting our heart’s overinflated view of ourselves. The word translated ‘gentleness’ is actually meekness. Meekness toward God: submissiveness to obey God’s Word and submissiveness to accept His providence. And meekness toward man: recognizing that any good we have is a gift, esteeming others better than ourselves, and preferring their interests to our own.

And self-control acts upon a distrust of our heart’s emotions and desires. It begins with the recognition that our feelings are not to be trusted, and that even when our desires aren’t wrong (as they often are), they constantly tend toward disproportion. So, self-control is really Scripture-control by Spirit-control. It measures feelings and desires against the Bible, and acts not according to the impulses of our hearts but according to the revealed will of God.

So, does being led by the Spirit mean that we have rejected the law? No! It means that we pursue the keeping of that law in the only possible way: by the Spirit producing His fruit in us, and our growing in all of those things that are perfectly consistent with the law of God. Against such things, there is no law.
In which aspects of the fruit of the Spirit do you find yourself weakest? Since it is the fruit of the Spirit, how can you grow in it, and Whom must you trust to produce the growth in that way?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH400 “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me”

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

2020.01.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 4:13-22

Questions from the Scripture text: What did Yahweh give Ruth in Ruth 4:13? What did she bear? What did the women say to Naomi (Ruth 4:14)? About whom do we find out they are speaking in Ruth 4:15? What do they pray that he will be for her? Who becomes one of the boy’s primary caregivers (Ruth 4:16)? Who call his name Obed (Ruth 4:17)? Who is the boy’s grandson? With whom does the genealogy in Ruth 4:18-22 begin (verse 18, cf. Ruth 4:12; Genesis 46:12)? With whom does it end? 
It is the fairytale happy ending to the story. Boaz and Ruth got married and lived happily ever after. Except that it isn’t. Because it isn’t even really about Boaz and Ruth.

They get a little mention in Ruth 4:13, but really the rest of the text is about Naomi whose forsakenness and forlornness was the main theme at the beginning of the story. Now, she is full and blessed. And who is her redeemer? Ruth 4:15 makes it plain that the redeemer mentioned here is the son that Ruth had borne.

But is it Obed? Already, of course, we have a hint that it is not. David is mentioned twice in the text. First, he is the short-term target of the line of Obed in Ruth 4:17. Then, the text reaches back to Perez, who received special mention among the grandsons of Jacob in Genesis 46, in order to reach down again to David.

Already, the elders of the city had recognized the specialness of this in Ruth 4:12. We too are remembering that there was a seed promised to Eve who would crush the serpent’s head. And then there was a seed promised to Abraham in whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed. And there was a prophecy upon Judah that the scepter would not depart from his house. The special mention of Perez in Genesis 46:12 and Ruth 4:12 and Ruth 4:18 has an eye that is not so much backward to Perez as it is forward to Jesus.

Soon this David, the great-grandson of Boaz and Ruth, would receive his own Messianic promise—that he would have a descendent whose kingdom would see no end! Naomi was blessed as she cradled little Obed the redeemer in her arms. Here was love and fulfillment and someone in whom the heritage would be preserved. But she—and we—are blessed here, because in little Obed is the coming Redeemer whose everlasting arms are underneath us, bearing us up (Deuteronomy 33:27). Even at the cost of spreading His human arms on a cross as He bore our sin. Hallelujah!

Whenever we experience these smaller, little-r redemptions, let us remember that for our holy God to do us any of these goods, it has required that big-r Redemption in our Lord Jesus Christ. And that is exactly what God was accomplishing, even as He was restoring the fortunes of Naomi.
What small deliverances have you enjoyed? How is it that a holy God could do this for a sinner?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

2020.01.22 Prayer Meeting Folder

As we rotate through the different things for which Holy Scripture teaches us to be thankful, guided by Henry's Method for Prayer, it is always deeply moving to come to "thank God for the great encouragement Christ gave to poor sinners to come to Him."

Tomorrow night 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/harpc200122pm

2020.01.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Hebrews 12:22-13:4

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does the church gather for worship on the Lord’s Days (Hebrews 12:22)? With whom does the church gather on the Lord’s Days (Hebrews 12:22-23)? Who is the Priest who leads that worship (Hebrews 12:24)? Who is the Preacher who preaches in it (Hebrews 12:25)? What is He using that worship to prepare us to receive (Hebrews 12:25-28)? How should we participate in that worship (Hebrews 12:28)? What kind of earthly life does that worship produce (Hebrews 13:1-4)?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Hebrews 12:22-13:4 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder.

This amazing little passage teaches, first, that congregational worship on the Lord’s Day joins a celebration already in progress in glory, where Christ’s gospel accomplishments are being delighted in by angels, perfected saints, and even God Himself.

Second, Jesus is the leader of this worship. He is the Great High Priest who is the Mediator of this new (everlasting) covenant.

And the blood that has sprinkled everything to sanctify it is not the blood of bulls and goats, but His own blood, which overcomes all of the guilt of all of His people’s sins.

Third, Jesus is the preacher in this worship. He speaks from heaven, and He calls for a response from us.

We must not come out of worship unchanged, which would be to refuse Him who speaks. Rather, we take all of His truth to heart, and all of His instruction as marching orders for our lives.

Fourth, we rejoice that rather than our trying to worship Him well enough to get something from Him, He has already designed His own worship as the method by which He is giving us an unshakeable kingdom.

Fifth, when we come to such worship, through such a Mediator, we must do so according to His prescriptions, with dignity of manner, and reverence of heart.

We come by grace, but we still come to a Holy God!

Finally, this God-loving worship sends us out into a neighbor-loving life. Love of brother. Love of stranger. Love of sufferer. Love of spouse.
How do you prepare for worship? What do you do during the services? How do you follow up afterward?
Suggested songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or TPH286 “Let Us Love and Sing and Wonder”

Monday, January 20, 2020

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. We regard God as holy in worship by giving priority to "the Lord spoke" over anything we feel, and to the instructions of God to the exclusion of the ideas of men, wholly devoting ourselves to the consecrated duty to which we have been called for that time.

2020.01.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 9:18-10:7

Questions from the Scripture text: What was being done at the end of the eighth day of the ordination procedure for Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 9:18-21)? What did Aaron do, having offered the climactic offerings of each type (Leviticus 9:22)? What did Moses and Aaron do, when they came out of the tabernacle (Leviticus 9:23)? And what did Yahweh do (Leviticus 9:23-24)? And how did the people respond? Which two newly ordained Aaronic priests does Leviticus 10:1 mention? What do they take and what do they offer? How does the end of verse 1 explain what was “profane” (literally “strange” or “foreign”) about the fire? From where does the fire in Leviticus 10:2 come? What does it do? What do they do? Who immediately speaks in Leviticus 10:3? What two groups of people does He mention? What must they do (e.g. what had Nadab and Abihu not done)? How does Aaron respond (or not)? Whom does Moses call in Leviticus 10:4? To do what? By what do they carry out the bodies (Leviticus 10:5)? What does Moses tell the father and brothers of the deceased not to do (Leviticus 10:6)? Who is to mourn what instead? What did their being “on duty” in the first full day of their ordained service mean they mustn’t do (Leviticus 10:7)?
This was to be a day of great joy and blessing. There’s Aaron giving the blessing in Leviticus 9:22. And Aaron and Moses, together, blessing the people in Leviticus 9:23. There’s the fire in Leviticus 9:24, coming out from the mercy seat, signifying at both one and the same time that God is a consuming fire in His holiness, and that He has consumed His own fire by atonement so that we can approach Him in mercy.

But one thing that the mercy of God never offers is for us to come to Him on our own terms or in our own way. And the joy and wonder of God making a way to approach Him in blessing, without disregarding His holiness, evaporates in Leviticus 10:1-2. This is strange fire—not the fire that God had commanded. It is not the fire that signifies the forthcoming sacrifice of Christ, in which the wrath of God would be consumed upon Him. This is because we do not get to decide what signifies Christ, and by what acts we come through Him. Only God, who gives Christ, and only God who brings us through Him to Himself, can authorize these things.

Although Aaron is often a poor example to us, that is not so this time. Having gone through the eight days of ordination, and seen what ought to happen to everyone who draws near to the Lord, just one solid word of God from Moses is enough to still his brother in Leviticus 10:3. Aaron held his peace.

Now, we are not Aaron, but we have a high duty in corporate worship, since Hebrews tells us that it is the equivalent of entering beyond the veil into the holy of holies. And it is in the context of that book that we are reminded that our God is a consuming fire, and that all of the parts of New Testament worship are personally led by Christ from glory.

This makes it very dangerous for us to come to worship, and assess (or plan, if that is our role) by anything that we want, or that any other mere man wants. Here, we are coming through the veil into glory, a holy of holies greater than the one from which the fire comes in this passage. And will we now come without regarding God as holy? Without coming in only those ways that have been commanded by Him who has provided the propitiation of His wrath (completely satisfying it so that there is only favor left)?

May it never be! But, how often have we evaluated public worship by how well we have liked what happens there, or how meaningful the experience has felt to us? Perhaps we could resist this tendency, if we studied to grow in understanding and embrace of how the Lord Jesus Himself is leading us in each part of the worship that He commands in Scripture!
Looking at the list of Scriptural parts of worship in WCF 21.3-5, how does Scripture show each of them being led by Christ? What habits, before and during worship, can help you improve your awareness of this?
Suggested Songs: ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” or TPH277 “Before the Throne of God Above”

Saturday, January 18, 2020

2020.01.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Leviticus 9:18-10:7

Questions from the Scripture text: What was being done at the end of the eighth day of the ordination procedure for Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 9:18-21)? What did Aaron do, having offered the climactic offerings of each type (Leviticus 9:22)? What did Moses and Aaron do, when they came out of the tabernacle (Leviticus 9:23)? And what did Yahweh do (Leviticus 9:23-24)? And how did the people respond? Which two newly ordained Aaronic priests does Leviticus 10:1 mention? What do they take and what do they offer? How does the end of verse 1 explain what was “profane” (literally “strange” or “foreign”) about the fire? From where does the fire in Leviticus 10:2 come? What does it do? What do they do? Who immediately speaks in Leviticus 10:3? What two groups of people does He mention? What must they do (e.g., what had Nadab and Abihu not done)? How does Aaron respond (or not)? Whom does Moses call in Leviticus 10:4? To do what? By what do they carry out the bodies (Leviticus 10:5)? What does Moses tell the father and brothers of the deceased not to do (Leviticus 10:6)? Who is to mourn what instead? What did their being “on duty” in the first full day of their ordained service mean they mustn’t do (Leviticus 10:7)? 
In tomorrow’s sermon text, we are confronted with the holiness of God in a way that is shocking to our sinful sensibilities. To too many of us, and far too often, it seems a small, primarily emotional or perhaps intellectual activity to draw near to God. We don’t realize how very much the holiness and glory of God ought to incinerate us in this nearness. And it is for this reason that we underappreciate what Christ has done to gain for us this nearness.

If anyone should have understood the costliness of one’s safety in drawing near to God, it should have been Nadab and Abihu. From the beginning of chapter 8 up until our particular text, they have been subjected to an eight day ordination ritual with dozens of sacrifices, the smell of burning animal flesh and burning organs, and the ferric scent and crimson-then-brown sight of blood poured out to consecrate the altar. Their righthand ears, righthand thumbs, and righthand big toes were all now deeply stained—monuments to the death and hell that ought to await any sinner in the presence of God, but also that God had provided a way into His presence by atonement. They had even been warned that sticking exactly to God’s plan for worship was “so that you may not die” (Leviticus 8:35).

If ever anyone had been sufficiently called, sufficiently consecrated, sufficiently attired, etc., to bring their creativity to the worship act, it would have been these two. The blessing of God had just been declared not once but twice, and God’s acceptance of the sacrifices had been demonstrated both by a display of His glory and by fire that came from the mercy seat to consume what was on the altar.

But that’s just it. By worshiping in any way at all that God has not commanded, the worshiper comes in a way that has not been bought by Jesus and is not being mediated by Jesus. There is no room for creativity in choosing the actions of worship. When the right men, in the right garments, at the right place, using the right fire pans, and the right incense substituted man-made fire for the God-provided fire, fire came out from Yahweh and consumed them.

Fire came out from Yahweh—meaning from the mercy seat. Even the mercy of God refused to save them. The only way to draw near to God in a way that regards Him as holy is to come through Christ. The only way to gather as the people of God in a way that glorifies Him is to gather through Christ. And it is always God’s commanded actions—and never man’s invented actions—that God accepts as coming through Christ.

But here is the astonishing glory and goodness of the gospel—Christ IS our mercy seat, and there IS mercy for us. This holy God who is a consuming fire has made a way for us to draw near to Him not only in safety, but in blessing and joy!
What habits, before and during corporate worship on the Lord’s Day, help you treat God as holy and glorious in the service? From where must all of our worship actions in corporate worship come? Through Whom are we coming, when we come with God’s commanded worship?
Suggested songs: ARP24 “The Earth and the Riches” or TPH274 “Jesus, My Great High Priest”

Friday, January 17, 2020

2020.01.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:57-80

Questions from the Scripture text: What time came in Luke 1:57? How did her neighbors and family respond (Luke 1:58)? What day does Luke 1:59 describe, and what was happening? What were they going to call him? What did Elizabeth call him instead (Luke 1:60)? Why was this strange to the guests (Luke 1:61)? Whom did they expect to overrule (Luke 1:62)? What name did he choose (Luke 1:63)? What happened to him at that point (Luke 1:64)? What was the response of not just the guests but the surrounding region (Luke 1:65-66)? What happens to Zacharias to shape his words for his first speech since having his voice restored (Luke 1:67)? For what event is Zacharias praising God (Luke 1:68-71)? What does he say that God is fulfilling (Luke 1:72-73)? What is God’s purpose in this salvation (Luke 1:74-75)? What part will Zacharias’s child have (Luke 1:76)? What would the Lord do, for Whom John would prepare the way, for His people (Luke 1:77-79)? What did God do for child John—and where (Luke 1:80)? 
We tend to be amazed by unusual things. It’s the spectacular that impresses us. So, baby John’s family and neighbors were abuzz with the news of his strange name and his dad’s muteness and prophecy.

That actual prophecy, though, focuses upon Someone Else altogether. Baby John’s significance is as a go-before. It’s a great honor to be His herald, to give knowledge of what He does. But He is the One who does it. Jesus is the great one, and someone who responds to John rightly will be impressed rather little with John and rather much with the One whom John proclaims.

John is still teaching this some 30 years later, when his disciples wish people would be more impressed with him, and he is teaching all of us, “[Christ] must increase, and [we] must decrease” (John 3:22-36).

But it is Jesus who saves us from those great enemies who keep us from “serving Him boldly in holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life” (Luke 1:74-75). Jesus atones for our sin, negates death and Hell’s claim upon us, and turns all the attacks of the devil upon themselves.
It is Jesus who visits us, in the tender mercy of God, and drives away our darkness and death by His light and life (Luke 1:78-79).

We too must desire that it would be Jesus who gets all the glory of our life. And, especially when we desire for others to be guided into the way of peace, it must be Jesus that we present and Jesus that we praise. Yes, what He has done for us or how He has used us are interesting and notable mercies. But the good news is not news about us. It’s news about Jesus!
What spiritual people/circumstances most easily catch your attention? How can you redirect this attention back to Jesus Himself and what He has done? Whom have you been telling about Christianity? How much has that telling focused upon Jesus?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH438 “I Love to Tell the Story”

Thursday, January 16, 2020

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. The apostle gives us a list of the works of the flesh, so that we may rightly recognize whether we are battling with the Spirit or against Him. If we find that we are consistently battling against Him, we can be sure that we are not inheriting the kingdom.

2020.01.16 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:19-21

Questions from the Scripture text: Which works are evident (Galatians 5:19)? What sixteen specific works do Galatians 5:19-21 mention? How does Galatians 5:21 end the list? When does the apostle say that he is telling the church? Before what—of what event is he speaking? Is this the first time that he tells them? About whom is he especially speaking at the end of verse 21? What will they not do? 
In the previous passage, we heard about a great battle between the flesh (our remaining sin from our original nature in the first Adam) and the Spirit—and how we are to be led by the Spirit into battle against the flesh. Of course, that immediately presents the question of how we can tell which side we happen to be fighting on. This week’s passage gives us a list of things to be fighting against. Next week’s passage gives us a list of characteristics to expect to grow as we trust in the Spirit for His work.

One important thing to note is that there are some things in this list that people excuse by saying that’s their “personality.” That’s not what this Scripture calls them. The Scripture calls them “works of the flesh”—expressions of that guilty, wicked nature with which we came into this world.

Galatians 5:19 targets especially the seventh commandment. These are sins where one indulges earthly desires over against the self-control and purity to which we are called. A couple of the terms especially highlight purity in our thought life and a regard for helping others remain pure in their thought life.

Galatians 5:20 targets especially religious sins—sins against the first table of the law, the first four commandments. Any compromising of the holiness or truth of God; promotion of self or of personal preferences or ideas about God; or, manmade ways of increasing spiritual vitality (“sorcery” in the NKJV, but the Greek word from which we get pharmaceutics, and implying concoctions of man to achieve health or power)—things that result in harm to the purity of the church, and often by this harming the peace of the church.

Of course, there is overlap between harming the church generally and harming others individually, and Galatians 5:21 brings us full-circle: highlighting sins that immediately damage ourselves or others, physically or spiritually.

It is important to note that, when it says "and the like," this Scripture invites us to other Scriptures that give us such lists (Romans 1:26-31, 2 Timothy 3:2-4, etc.), so that we can take an honest catalog of what behaviors we are nursing that are “harboring the enemy” in our spiritual battle.

It helps us rather little to go through such a list and focus upon those sins that are not issues for us. If we want more help, we need to focus especially upon those sins that are battles for us right now, and with the Scripture as an exposing mirror (Psalm 119:105, James 1:21-27, Hebrews 4:11-13), consider which side of the battle we have been fighting for.

Finally, there is a very serious warning. If those who are sons of God are led by the Spirit of God, and those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God, then our eternal destiny may be discerned by assessing which side of the battle we are on.

Because Jesus makes a true difference in every individual whom He redeems, this Scripture can say with 100% truthfulness and seriousness: “those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

God redeem us, and adopt us, and send forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, that we may be engaged on the right side of this battle!
Against which sins in this list have you been doing battle? Which, if any, have you been coddling?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. There are two potential redeemers for Naomi in Ruth 4:1-12--one admirable and one less so. But the great Redeemer that this Scripture holds out to us is the One who was orchestrating His coming into the world to redeem us by His blood. He is still orchestrating all things, for His redeemed, to apply to us what He has done for us.

2020.01.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 4:1-12

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Boaz go (Ruth 4:1)? Who came by? Whom did Boaz ask to sit down (Ruth 4:1-2)? What did he say that Naomi had done (Ruth 4:3)? What did he invite the closer redeemer to do in Ruth 4:4? How did the closer relative answer? What piece of information did Boaz add in Ruth 4:5? Now, what was the closer relative’s response (Ruth 4:6)? What sign might one give that he was giving up his right to something (Ruth 4:7)? What does he do in Ruth 4:8? What does Boaz say to the elders in Ruth 4:9-10? How do the elders respond in Ruth 4:11? What blessing do they pronounce in Ruth 4:11-12?
In this passage, there are two prospective redeemers. One of them is unwilling that his own inheritance would be thinned out by sharing, and unwilling to take as wife a widow of undesirable lineage. The other is eager that his brother’s inheritance would not be lost to him, and more than willing to marry the virtuous woman—even if she is a widow, and even if she is a Moabite.

There are happy parallels between Boaz and Christ—Who has taken a bride of ultimate unworthiness, that we might be joint inheritors with Him!

Perhaps the more central point of this passage is that the Lord is sovereignly orchestrating what occurs here, precisely with a view toward the coming of the Lord Jesus into the world. A great and godly man like Boaz is inexplicably unmarried to this point. The precise fellow with whom Boaz needed to negotiate just happens to come through the gate (Ruth 4:1). God’s good law about perpetuating the name of the dead is the hinge upon which the negotiation swings (Ruth 4:5-6). And the line of Judah, through Perez, is specifically on the mind of the elders, as they pronounce blessing upon Boaz (Ruth 4:12).

The same Lord who ruled and overruled, in every providence, in order to bring Christ into the world for us still rules and overrules. If you are a believer in Christ, He now rules and overrules in every providence to apply Christ to you, and to obtain for you what Christ has earned!
What are some difficult circumstances that you are going through right now, or that you anticipate going through soon? What is Christ doing in those circumstances? Why is He?
Suggested Songs: ARP46 “God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength” or TPH256 “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. At the outset of the NT book on the holy assembly of the Lord's Day, the first thing the apostle does is set before us the glory of Christ, who Himself is the glory of that worship.

2020.01.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Revelation 7:9-15

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom did John see in Revelation 7:9? In what were they clothed? What were they crying out in Revelation 7:10? With what kind of voice? Who respond to this in Revelation 7:11? What do they do? What do they say in Revelation 7:12? Who asks John a question in Revelation 7:13? How does John answer in Revelation 7:14? Whom does the elder say they are? In what have they washed their robes? Where are they (Revelation 7:15)? What do they do? When? What does “He who sits on the throne” do?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Revelation 7:9-15 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim.

When Jesus was talking to the woman at the well about the glorious worship that He was bringing into effect, He affirmed that the Jews worshiped what they knew, “because salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). Now, we see the innumerable multitude of those clothed in white (Revelation 7:9)—the kind of white that can only be bleached in by the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:13-14), saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

Our Lord Himself, and His blood, is that salvation that came from the Jews, and this is the worship to which the Old Testament shadows looked forward. The heavens are resounding with this—what is the innumerable multitude doing? Crying out with a loud voice! The scene here is deafening to mortal ears!! “SALVATION IS OF OUR GOD WHO SITS ON THE THRONE, AND OF THE LAMB!!”

In fact, this is so much the subject of heaven’s worship that ALL the angels and their elders (we can see by verses 13-14 that these are angel elders) fall on their faces in response to the salvation-praise of the redeemed!

And what has our salvation gained for us? The privilege of serving Him day and night in His glorious presence—AND the privilege of His making His dwelling place among them. When we sing, Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim, we will be reveling in the fact that this is what Christ has made us by His precious blood!
What is the first and great service that Christ’s servants render unto Him? What has Christ done in order to qualify us for this service? Who else praises Him for it?
Suggested songs: ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” or TPH284 “Ye Servants of God, Your Master Proclaim”

Monday, January 13, 2020

2020.01.13 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 4:16-26

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Jesus tell the woman to bring (John 4:16)? Why isn’t she able to do so (John 4:17)? How many husbands has she had (John 4:18)? Is the man she is living with now even her husband? What does the woman say to change the subject (John 4:19)? To what subject does she change (John 4:20)? What question does she ask? Which option does Jesus choose, from her options for a worship place (John 4:21)? But whom does Jesus say had it right (John 4:22)? Now what is the place of worshiping the Father (John 4:23)? How can we get there (John 4:24)? Whom does the woman say she is waiting for, to straighten her out on this issue (John 4:25)? What does Jesus say about Himself in John 4:26?
In John 4:26, Jesus declares to the woman with whom He has been speaking that He is the “I AM” of the burning bush that first gave her honored mountain its precious place in the history of worship. How she must have marveled! Perhaps, she understood a little at the time, but certainly she grew in her understanding over time: this Man who had engaged her, when no one else would, was doing so because He and His Father are one, and He was seeking her to be a worshiper—at the cost of His own atoning death!

We, too, must grow in our appreciation for what a glorious thing the New Testament worship assembly is! The Father seeks worshipers. And He has sent His Son into the world to redeem them, that they might be sanctified and brought all the way home. This is why the worship assembly, Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day, is such a wonderful reminder of our redemption.

We could not “worship in spirit and truth” except by His blood, sanctifying us and making the way for us to draw near to our glorious God! “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me” (Psalm 22:1) culminates in “I will declare Your name to My brethren; in the midst of the assembly I will praise You” (Psalm 22:22; cf. Hebrews 2:10-13). So, when we come to the worship service, our bodies can take us to the assembly; but, because of Christ’s blood, by faith we may enter heaven itself, where Jesus Spiritually and truly leads our worship. And, when we do so, it announces to us just how glorious it is that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has sought us to be worshipers!
Where does corporate worship spiritually and truly take place? What was necessary to get you there? What should we remember whenever we come to public worship?
Suggested Songs: ARP22C “I’ll Praise You in the Gathering” or TPH277 “Before the Throne of God Above”

Saturday, January 11, 2020

2020.01.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ John 4:16-26

Questions from the Scripture text: Whom does Jesus tell the woman to bring (John 4:16)? Why isn’t she able to do so (John 4:17)? How many husbands has she had (John 4:18)? Is the man she is living with now even her husband? What does the woman say to change the subject (John 4:19)? To what subject does she change (John 4:20)? What question does she ask? Which option does Jesus choose, from her options for a worship place (John 4:21)? But whom does Jesus say had it right (John 4:22)? Now what is the place of worshiping the Father (John 4:23)? How can we get there (John 4:24)? Whom does the woman say she is waiting for, to straighten her out on this issue (John 4:25)? What does Jesus say about Himself in John 4:26?
In tomorrow’s sermon text, Jesus provokes the woman at the well into changing the subject, directing her onto a glorious path that takes her through one of the most important statements in the Bible about how we worship to one of the most important statements in the Bible about Whom we worship.

She doesn’t really intend the “how” we worship question so much as the “where” we worship question. But that’s really the issue every Lord’s Day, isn’t it? Where you worship (which church) is going to determine how you worship.

Well, the problem for the woman is that she wants to go where God is, but Jesus rather easily dismisses that possibility. God is Spirit. He doesn’t live on a mountain or in a big house in Jerusalem. Yes, as the Jews rightly understood, God chose to make that house the place where He made His presence known and felt for a long time, but that time’s just come to an end, which means that’s not the answer anymore.

If that time has ended, what time has come? And more importantly for us, what is the answer to the where question now? That brings us to the how question: in Spirit and in truth. If God is Spirit, our feet (or cars or spaceships) can’t get us to Him. Only His Spirit can get our spirits there.

And, He has appointed a particular vehicle for this weekly journey to glory: the truth. His Word is truth. Yes, it can also mean sincerely, but it is even more important that we worship by that which is sincerely God’s than that we do so by intentions and actions that are sincerely ours. The former is 100% possible and effective; the latter would be impossible and ineffective and a terrible means by which to hope to worship well.

The woman doesn’t seem to get it, so she gives kind of a verbal shrug: when the Christ comes, He’ll explain it all. And that’s when Jesus drops the biggest truth yet: not only is He the Christ, but He declares it using a phrase once heard on that very mountain that is so dear to her: I AM. Jesus isn’t just Christ. He’s God in the flesh. 
How must we worship? Whom must we worship? Who can teach us what this means?
Suggested songs: ARP184 “Adoration and Submission” or TPH271 “Blessed Jesus, at Your Word”

Friday, January 10, 2020

2020.01.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 1:39-56

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Mary go in Luke 1:39-40a? What did she do in verse 40b? What two things happened, in Luke 1:41, when Elizabeth heard this greeting? What did Elizabeth say (Luke 1:42-45)? How does Luke 1:45 describe Mary? Whom does she magnify (Luke 1:46)? In Whom does she rejoice (Luke 1:47)? What does she call Him? How does she describe herself (Luke 1:48a)? What will all generations call her (verse 48b)? Whose greatness and goodness does Mary describe in Luke 1:49-55? How long does Mary stay with Elizabeth (Luke 1:56)?
Considering that Mary spent three months with Elizabeth, who was into her sixth month of pregnancy, but returned before the birth, it’s likely that Mary departed almost immediately after hearing the angels testimony about Elizabeth’s pregnancy as a sign unto Mary in Luke 1:36-37. Indeed, not only is the sign (Elizabeth’s pregnancy) true, but two more signs immediately appear: the baby’s leaping (Luke 1:41Luke 1:44) and Elizabeth’s being filled with the Spirit and prophesying.

With all of these signs presented to her, Mary’s faith is strengthened, and when Luke 1:45 says, “Blessed is she who believed,” it makes it clear that Mary is an example unto us of gospel faith. This is one reason that the manmade invention of Mary being sinless is so harmful. She is not blessed by her performance, but through faith in what has been promised to her about her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Mary herself calls God “her Savior,” and her focus is entirely upon the greatness of God, and how in His perfect goodness, He shows mercy to the lowly, the humble, the hungry. God’s blessing is by promise (Luke 1:54-55) through grace, and not for the proud, the mighty, or the rich (Luke 1:51-53). Indeed, if it were possible for Mary or anyone else to be sinless, Christ would not have needed to be born at all!

We have not had an angel appear to us, but we do have the completed Bible, including many well-attested signs by Christ, together with what the Holy Spirit has been doing in applying Christ’s redemption for two thousand years. These are meant to strengthen our faith in the Word that has been given to us—that whoever believes In Jesus Christ shall be saved. And blessed we will be, if we believe!
What are some Bible promises, made to believers in Christ? Do you believe them?
Suggested songs: ARP116B “I Still Believed” or TPH459 “My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less”

Thursday, January 09, 2020

2020.01.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Galatians 5:16-18

Questions from the Scripture text: Looking back at Galatians 5:15, what would be the outcome of walking according to the flesh? By what (Whom!), instead (Galatians 5:16), does the apostle urge them to walk? What would they then not fulfill? Against what does the flesh set its desire (Galatians 5:17)? Against what does the Spirit set His desire? What is the relationship between the flesh and the Spirit? What does the believer end up not doing? What are believers not under, if they are led by the Spirit (Galatians 5:18)?
Coming out of Galatians 5:15, we are determined not to fulfill the desires of the flesh—otherwise we will be devoured! But, that presents the question: how does one keep from fulfilling the desires of the flesh? After all, our experience (end of Galatians 5:17, cf. Romans 7:15-23) is that we keep failing to do the good that we desire.

The answer is to walk by the Spirit. It is in this way that we will gain ground in the battle against the flesh. The word “flesh” here does not mean our physical nature but rather the remaining sin from our fallen nature. And the apostle tells us that the Spirit and the flesh have declared war upon each other.

The question for us is: which of the two will we side with in the battle? Or, if we are already determined against sin, then there is a great comfort for us here: we have an almighty Ally who has committed Himself to be the mortal enemy of our opponent! The battle against our sin may be frustrating, and it may be drawn out over the rest of our lives, but its end result is sure and certain victory. Hallelujah!

Furthermore, if the Spirit is leading us in this battle against sin (Galatians 5:18a), then we will know ourselves to be sons of God (cf. Galatians 4:6, Romans 8:13-17), whom the law has no more authority to condemn (Galatians 5:18b, cf. Romans 8:1). Just as in the transition from Romans 7 to Romans 8, so also here, the apostle presents to us the fact that we are in the battle for Father’s sake and for Christ’s sake, by the help of the Spirit, as evidence that we are justified.

This is great news for those who are battle-weary. And it is also an important reminder that only God’s own means can win, since He must win the battle. And He will!
Against what sins are you battling? Why are you battling—Who is leading you? Will you win?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH51C “God, Be Merciful to Me”

Wednesday, January 08, 2020

1/8 Prayer Meeting Folder; 1/12 Worship Booklet

Prayer Meeting Tonight at 6:30! If you can't physically join us, or simply wish to prepare your mind ahead of time, you may wish to go through tonight's prayer themes using the Prayer Meeting Folder

Also, the green link for the Lord's Day Morning Worship Booklet has been updated with the booklet for January 12. Let us prepare for this highest privilege and greatest duty!

2020.01.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ruth 3:14-18

Questions from the Scripture text: Where did Ruth lay (Ruth 3:14)? Until when? How early did she rise to leave? What did Boaz say in verse 14? What does he tell her to bring (Ruth 3:15)? What does he put in it? How much? Where does Boaz go (n.b. NKJV footnote “he,” which follows the Hebrew)? To whom does she come in Ruth 3:16? What does Naomi ask? What does Ruth tell her? What does Ruth 3:17 highlight her as having especially related to Naomi? What does Naomi tell Ruth to do in Ruth 3:18? When is Naomi sure that Boaz’s word will have been kept (cf. Ruth 3:13)?
Ruth has conducted herself uprightly—note, even, that she continues to lay at his feet rather than by his side. He would not send her home in the middle of the night, for that would be dangerous. And she rises to go before one can recognize another, almost certainly that she might bring shame on neither herself nor Boaz.

But, the field workers will start arriving soon. Whether his speech in Ruth 3:14 is to himself or to those in his trusted inner circle who kept the night watch with him, there would be a great difference between their knowing and how it might appear to a wider group. Also, if he is to win her hand that day, it must not come by prejudicing the proceedings. The nearer kin must feel completely free to redeem her.

Apparently, part of Ruth’s uprightness has been to bring a shawl/cloak big enough to keep herself warm so that she would not really be “under the covers” with Boaz at all. The amount of barley that he is able to measure into it weighs about one hundred twenty pounds! (It’s not surprising that this young woman who has worked so diligently from sunrise to sunset these three months to this point is able to carry that home).

Perhaps the question in Ruth 3:16 is because the person who came in is twice the size of the young lady who left! Or, perhaps it’s just her way of saying, “how did it go?” The latter certainly seems to be the question that Ruth answers, and she wants her mother-in-law to know (Ruth 3:17) that Boaz was mindful of Naomi’s wellbeing too.

For her part, Naomi has a high degree of confidence in Boaz’s character. He is a “greatly worthy” man as Ruth 2:1 said (using the same word that describes Ruth in Ruth 3:11), and if he has said that he will deal with it in the morning, then Naomi is sure that Ruth will know what is to come of her by the end of the day. Indeed, Ruth 3:15 as it reads in the Hebrew (most English translations follow the Syriac or Vulgate for some reason) tells us that as soon as Boaz had loaded Ruth with the grain, he headed into the city. He’s a man of his word—at great cost to himself, to lose a day during this threshing season.

In all of this, Boaz is a type of Christ to us. He has kept His Word to redeem us; and so great is His concern for our honor that, at the cost of the cross, He has obtained our public vindication as those who are right with God. Shall we not also imitate Him in our concern for others’ reputations and in our keeping of our word?
In what ways do you have opportunity to maintain others’ good names? What are some situations in which you have given your word, that you need to keep, even at cost to you?
Suggested Songs: ARP15 “Within Your Tent Who Will Reside” or TPH443 “Come unto Me, Ye Weary”

Tuesday, January 07, 2020

2020.01.07 Hopewell Harbinger


Hopewell This Week, January 6-11, 2020


WEDNESDAY, PRAYER MEETING, 6:30p.m.
FRIDAY, Spirit and Truth” Dinner and a Movie, 6:30p.m. Bring a dish to pass, if you can (if you can’t, don’t worry about it!), and we’ll eat while we watch this excellently made film, as we begin to think about from Scripture “How God wants to be worshiped.” On the Lord’s Day, we’ll be starting a sermon mini-series on the same subject.

Children’s Catechism for January 12
Q11. Can you see God? A. No; I cannot see God, but He always sees me.

Shorter Catechism for January 12
Q19. What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell? A. All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under his wrath and curse, and so made liable to all the miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.

Songs for January 12: 
TPH283 "Fairest Lord Jesus" 
ARP145A "I’ll Give You Praise, My God O King" 
ARP22C "I’ll Praise You in the Gathering"

A.M. Sermon Text for January 12: John 4:16-26
P.M. Exhortation Text for January 12: Galatians 5:16-18

▫Memory Verse for January 12
(John 4:23-24) But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

An audio recording of a sample family worship lesson in today's Hopewell @Home Passage. At the outset of the NT book on the holy assembly of the Lord's Day, the first thing the apostle does is set before us the glory of Christ, who Himself is the glory of that worship.

2020.01.07 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?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Hebrews 1:1-4 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with Fairest Lord Jesus.

As the apostle is launching into an extended argument for why we should love the Lord’s Day, and its holy assembly, with Jesus as our Prophet and Priest in heaven, he immediately exalts Christ unto us in the loftiest terms.

Note while that God had spoken formerly by the prophets, the ministry of the apostles is on a different order—for, by them, God is speaking through His Son. The Old Testament is God’s speech, every Word coming from the Spirit of Christ Himself (cf. 1 Peter 1:11). What’s the difference? Now, Christ is the last and great human Prophet—the One who has purged our sins.

What can we say about the glory of Christ, the God-Man, the Redeemer, the ascended and seated One, who yet bears the marks of our redemption?

He is the Heir of all things. All things belong to Him; all creatures are servants in His domain.

Through Him God made the worlds. How can Scripture say this about Him in a place that is focusing upon His humanity? Because Jesus is not two persons, but one Person with two complete, distinct natures. And when we speak of Him, we speak of the Person. The One who (in accord with His human nature as fully Man) has by means of Himself purged our sins is the very One who (in accord with His divine nature as fully God) made the worlds.

This is why we can now say such remarkable things as “God was born” and “God died,” or, as Acts 20:28 says, that God has purchased the church with His own blood. Because, although these things have been done by the Son in His humanity, it is still the divine Person of the Son who has done it! Scripture speaks this way, and so must we. Perhaps you have heard the phrase communicatio idiomatum—that’s the theology term that says that we can say of Christ as a Person whatever is true of Him in accord with either of His natures.

How glorious, then, is the Son? He is the very brightness of the glory of God. He is the express image of God’s nature. There is no subordination here. The Bible knows nothing of greater or lesser degrees of glory in the Godhead. As the catechism rightly summarizes Scripture to say, “These Three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”

Our minds are ready to melt in trying to put it all together: the One who was bleeding on the cross, under His own divine wrath, is simultaneously upholding that cross (and the nails! and that body and the very blood that flows from it!).

Oh, the sweetness of the Lord Jesus—God the Son, become Man, to save sinners! As one of our faithful Presbyterian ministers of old so aptly put it, “Put the beauty of ten thousand thousand worlds of paradises, like the Garden of Eden, in one. Put all trees, all flowers, all smells, all colours, all tastes, all joys, all sweetness, all loveliness, in one. Oh, what a fair and excellent thing would that be! And yet it would be less to that fair and dearest Well-beloved, Christ, than one drop of rain to the whole seas, rivers, lakes, and fountains of ten thousand earths.”
At what times in your day and week do you meditate upon the loveliness of Christ?
Suggested songs: ARP45A “My Heart Is Greatly Stirred” or TPH283 “Fairest Lord Jesus”

Monday, January 06, 2020

A family worship lesson following up on the Lord's Day morning sermon. The Lord prepared both Rebekah's character, and the giving away of her to be Isaac's wife, by means of a home in which we see leadership in Communication, Consideration, and Consecration.

2020.01.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 24:29-58


Questions from the Scripture text: Who comes to the well at what speed in Genesis 24:29? What does he see that makes him go to the man (Genesis 24:30)? What does he hear? So how does he greet Abraham’s servant in Genesis 24:31? When the servant has accepted the invitation, and food is set in front of him, why won’t he eat (Genesis 24:33)? How does he identify himself (Genesis 24:34)? How does he summarize Abraham’s life so far (Genesis 24:35)? What particular event does he especially highlight in Genesis 24:36? What has Isaac been given? What verses and event does the servant summarize in Genesis 24:37-41? What verses and event does the servant summarize in Genesis 24:42-48? What is the big question that he puts to them in Genesis 24:49? Who answer in Genesis 24:50? From where do they say that the thing comes? What do they say that they cannot do? What official answer do they give in Genesis 24:51? How AND TO WHOM does the servant respond in Genesis 24:52? What does the servant bring out now in Genesis 24:53? For whom? To whom does he also send gifts? What does he say in the morning (Genesis 24:54)? What request is made by whom in Genesis 24:55? How does the servant respond in Genesis 24:56? Whom do they propose asking in Genesis 24:57? How does she answer (Genesis 24:58)?

Again in Genesis 24:52, we find Abraham’s servant bowed to the ground in worship. Again, he has seen that the Lord has prospered his journey, and again we have the opportunity to consider what is that blessing that he has observed, that has brought him to this conclusion. What is that kind of family leadership that God commends to us as a blessing through Abraham’s servant's grateful praise?

First, we see Communication. Rebekah gives a report to her family. The family as a whole operates well as a unit. They even get it straight from Rebekah’s mouth what she thinks of going off immediately in Genesis 24:57-58.

Second, we see Consideration. Clod that Laban is, with great big dollar signs in his eyes, the family still has a great consideration for Rebekah’s comfort and joy. And not just for her comfort and joy—also for her willingness. When it comes time to send her away, they will send with her a company of women to be her helpers and edifying companions. There is a profound consideration for their daughter and sister’s needs, both physical and spiritual.

Finally, we see Consecration. All of life as holy because it is a gift from God. All of life as holy because it is an assignment for God. Laban understands the way to the servant’s heart. “Come in, O blessed of Yahweh,” he says. “The thing is from Yahweh,” he says. Now, this may not have been authentically true of Laban, but at least he knows that it should be. Abraham’s servant is the real deal, falling down on his face (again!) in worship.

Indeed, it is exactly because life is consecrated unto God that we desire to communicate well and show consideration well. God grant that we would live as those consecrated unto Him!
Which relationships of yours need improved communication and consideration?
How can you aim at and prepare for these by way of daily and weekly consecration?
Suggested Songs: ARP45B “Daughter, Incline Your Ear” or TPH128B “Blest the Man That Fears Jehovah”