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, April 11, 2020

2020.04.11 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 13:1–9

Questions from the Scripture text: What did some people tell Jesus about in Luke 13:1? What does Jesus recognize that these people had concluded about those who died (Luke 13:2)? What does Jesus say should have, instead, been their conclusion (Luke 13:3)? Concerning what other event does Jesus challenge them concerning their conclusions (Luke 13:4)? What same conclusion does He teach them to draw in Luke 13:5? To what does Jesus compare an unrepentant person in Luke 13:6? What does the property owner say to do with the fruitless tree in Luke 13:7? What does the caretaker say that He will do first in Luke 13:8? What will be done if it still bears no fruit (Luke 13:9)?
All of God’s judgments against everyone demand that each of us ask of ourselves the question, “Am I repenting or perishing?”

We’re tempted to ask “which particular sins did the particular sufferers commit to bring this upon them?” That’s the thinking of the people that Jesus answers in Luke 13:2.

But Jesus’s answer is clear. All sin deserves this. And, apart from repentance (which cannot come without faith in Him), all sinners will get this and worse. Jesus is telling us that such judgments are just a picture in time of what every single sinner receives at God’s judgment. We will all die, but that’s not the worst of it. We die, because God is righteously angry. We die, because we deserve Hell. And, if we don’t turn from our sin to trust in Christ, that is exactly what we will get.

And just so we don’t think that the slaughter of the Galileans is the only such event which we should understand this way, the Lord Jesus proposes another—not Galileans this time but Judeans, not at the hand of a man, but in a clearer lashing-out of the providence of God.

We live in an age where the news reporters continuously confront us with disasters. Sometimes, it’s a real disaster. Sometimes it’s manufactured. But the cumulative effect is the same: we’ve been numbed into ignoring such reminders unto repentance.

And what does this repentance look like? It looks like bearing fruit. It looks like God identifying us as a tree that has been grafted into Jesus, because we’re starting to bear Jesus-type-fruit. In fact, He’s pretty clear in the parable that if we don’t bear this fruit, then we will be cut down (and, the implication is, cast into the fire).

This is frightening for us who have been just coasting along—satisfied to have some nice feelings about Jesus, to define for ourselves what makes a Christian life look or feel Christian. Maybe we’ve made rather little study of what the fruit is that the Lord looks for from us. Maybe we’ve been bothered rather little by whether or not that fruit is growing in/on us.

But, behold the patience of our God! He has not cut us down. In fact, He keeps bringing things into our lives to stimulate a jump-start of our fruit growth. By the breaking into time of God’s wrath and judgments, He digs around us and fertilizes us. He urges us to bear the fruit of repentance.

If you have Christ and are alive, you will bear that fruit, and bless the patience and persistence of your God. But if you continue as you have always done, God’s justice will be all the more glorified by this patience, when at last He cuts you down and casts you into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and His angels.
How can you know what fruit God looks for in you? What are some examples of its growing?
Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH400 “Gracious Spirit, Dwell with Me”

Friday, April 10, 2020

2020.04.10 Hopewell @Home ▫ Luke 4:1–13

Questions from the Scripture text: With Whom was Jesus filled and led, and into where (Luke 4:1)? What happened there for how long, and what did Jesus do and feel (Luke 4:2)? What does the devil now question in Luke 4:3, and what does he suggest in that questioning? How does Jesus answer in Luke 4:4? Where does the devil take Him, and what does He show Him in Luke 4:5? What does the devil offer to Jesus for doing what (Luke 4:6-7)? What does Jesus command the devil in Luke 4:8, and why? Where does the devil take Jesus in Luke 4:9, and what does he again question? What does he quote (Luke 4:10-11)? But how does Jesus insist upon interpreting these Scriptures (Luke 4:12)? At this point, what has the devil ended, and what does he do until when (Luke 4:13)?
Christ is the Son who perfectly trusts and obeys, submitting to God’s determination of when and how God will fulfill His Word.

At His baptism, the Father declared from heaven, “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22).  And then the evangelist reminded us in Luke 3:23–38 that Jesus came into the world to be the perfect human “son” that Adam had failed to be, and the promised son of God that God had promised to be a son of Abraham and a son of David.

Now, the devil comes to challenge that notion: “If You are the Son of God” in Luke 4:3, and again in Luke 4:9, “If You are the Son of God.”

After 40 days in the wilderness, where He was led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus is suffering from hunger. And that’s just the beginning of the suffering. We know where Peter got the idea of a Kingdom without suffering in Matthew 16:22, because Jesus gives him the same response in Matthew 16:23 that He gives to the devil himself in Luke 4:8, “Get behind Me, Satan!”

Satan offers sonship without suffering. Satan offers glory without suffering. Satan offers suffering on our own terms—not “nevertheless not My will but Thine be done” but rather, “Here’s how I want You to prove it, God.”

Praise be to God, the Lord Jesus is our righteousness, and He rejected all of these Satanic offers! And may He work the same mind in us as well: to suffer trustingly, if it comes at the hand of Him who has given us fellowship with Him in every word that proceeds from His mouth; to suffer greatly, if that is the part that He has assigned to us in the bringing of His kingdom; and, to suffer on His terms, doing whatever part He has assigned to us, and trusting that He will always keep every word of what He has promised is His own part.
How have you suffered? How much does that change God’s word to and purpose for you?
Suggested songs: ARP2 “Why Do Gentile Nations Rage?” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right”

Thursday, April 09, 2020

2020.04.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ Ephesians 1:11–12

Questions from the Scripture text: What have believers obtain in Christ (Ephesians 1:11)? When was this determined to happen? Whose purpose decided this? How many things does He work according to this purpose? What is this purpose called at the end of verse 11? What, then, was the purpose of bringing the first (and the rest!) of the predestined ones to believe in Jesus (Ephesians 1:12)? 
Our inheritance is guaranteed. We don’t need to struggle to get good things from God. He has been planning to give us literally everything for literally forever.

This frees us to live for our purpose, which is clear: the praise of God’s glory. Our God “works all things according to the counsel of His will” (Ephesians 1:11), aiming at this praise of His glory. So, we too pursue our inheritance by aiming at that same praise of His glory.

This praise is the reason for which God brought that first generation to trust in Christ (Ephesians 1:12). And everyone whom He has brought to faith since then, He has also brought to faith in Christ for the praise of His glory.

Christ is at the heart of all of this. Our purpose is in Christ, that inheritance is in Christ, our trusting is in Christ, and that glory is in Christ. God grant us to live with a single eye to Him!
What more might you feel that you need from God than He has given you? What are some things that you really desire in life—how do they relate to or compare to bringing Him glory?
Suggested songs: ARP8 “Lord, Our Lord” or TPH214 “Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above”

Wednesday, April 08, 2020

2020.04.08 Prayer Meeting

The following is a recording of the prayer meeting. While it is best to tune in during the live-stream, in order to be led in prayer and agree in prayer in real-time, it is hoped that some of this biblical benefit of shepherding may be had via recording as well. The folder for the prayer meeting is available at bit.ly/harpc200408pm
Audio of the full family worship time is available [on Facebook]

2020.04.08 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Samuel 4:12–22

Questions from the Scripture text: Who ran where in what condition (1 Samuel 4:12)? Where was Eli (1 Samuel 4:13)? What was he doing? For what was his heart trembling? What caught Eli’s attention (1 Samuel 4:13-14)? What was Eli’s condition (1 Samuel 4:15)? How does the man identify himself, and what does Eli ask (1 Samuel 4:16)? What four things does the man report in 1 Samuel 4:17? Which of these four causes what reaction from Eli (1 Samuel 4:18)? What happens to him? What had been his physical condition? How long had he judged Israel? Who was about to do what in 1 Samuel 4:19? What three news items put her into labor? What do the women around her say in 1 Samuel 4:20? But what she name her child in response and why (1 Samuel 4:20-21)? Which part of this does the narrative emphasize by restating in the conclusion (1 Samuel 4:22)?
Much occurs here that is devastating, but the departure of the ark most of all. Not so much because of the loss of furniture but because God Himself, Whom they first rejected, is now forsaking them. He and His glory have departed to Ashdod of the Philistines.

If Eli had cared so much about this in his life, as he has learned to do here at his death, perhaps he wouldn’t have been so heavy from the fat that belonged to the Lord from the sacrifices of the people. But, while he scolded his sons (1 Samuel 2:23–25), he did not restrain them (1 Samuel 3:13). Now, he makes a pathetic picture: watching and trembling for the ark of God. His sons are lost—the words of the prophet have assured that. But the ark of God?

And then the news comes. Israel fled, but that’s not the mortally bad bid. There has been a great slaughter. Your two sons are dead. So far, the old priest has cause for grief, but none of these is the trigger of his demise. “Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God” (1 Samuel 4:18)… that was it. The last old man (98, 1 Samuel 4:15) in his family’s history died at this news.

His daughter-in-law reflects the same priorities. She hears about the death of her father-in-law and even the death of her husband. She at first names all three, when giving her new son his sad name (1 Samuel 4:21), but the summary statement in 1 Samuel 4:22 concludes her thoughts and indeed the entire passage, “the ark of God has been captured.”

God made the cherubim on top of that ark the place of the presence of His glory. And now the glory has departed. Ichabod. I wonder if we who read of Eli and Hophni and Phinehas and are tempted to think better of ourselves—do we care so much for the display and presence of the glory of God as Eli and Mrs. Phinehas do? When the news is bad and much is lost, would the news of the loss of God’s worship be the worst to us by far?

God grant that we would desire His glory above all, and God restore and increase unto us the display and presence of that glory!
What’s some bad news that you have received lately? How would the loss of worship compare?
Suggested Songs: ARP42A “As Pants the Deer” or TPH42C “As Thirsts the Hart for Water Brooks”

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Audio of the full family worship time is available [on Facebook]

2020.04.07 Hopewell @Home ▫ Philippians 3:7–11

Questions from the Scripture text: What has the apostle counted as loss (Philippians 3:7)? For Whom? What else does He count as loss (Philippians 3:8)? For what? Who is Christ Jesus to Him? What has the apostle suffered for his Lord? As what does he count them? In order to gain what (Whom)? What else does the apostle want to do with Christ (Philippians 3:9a)? Of what does the apostle have none of his own? What is the only righteousness that he can have? From Whom is this righteousness? By what is this righteousness? What three things does the apostle come to know/have through the knowledge of Christ (Philippians 3:10)? Of what is the knowledge of Christ the only means to the attaining (Philippians 3:11)?
Next week’s Call to Worship, Prayer for Help, and Song of Adoration come from Philippians 3:7–11 in order to sing God’s thoughts after Him with When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.

Christ is the prince of glory! We sinners have nothing of our own that is worthy or praiseworthy, and now God has given Himself to us in His Son of infinite worthiness and praiseworthiness.

By what other righteousness could we be right with God? “And count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” Christ is all of the righteousness that we have before God!

What other treasure could we desire? “I count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” Christ is all of our treasure!

By what other power could we defeat death? How I should be willing to suffer, if it is part of having fellowship with Him in His sufferings! How I should be willing to die, if it is part of being conformed to His death! To know Him is also to know the power of His resurrection—Christ’s resurrection is the only means by which any of us may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Christ is all of our power!

O, may God grant to us to renounce our own righteousness, to renounce any treasure apart from Christ, and to renounce all other power. Christ is all our righteousness; Christ is all our treasure; Christ is all our power!
What are we tempted to have make us feel more right with God? What are we tempted to treasure for its own sake? What are we tempted to think will make us strong Christians?
Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH338 “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross?”

Monday, April 06, 2020

Christ's Covenant Mark on Christ's Covenant People in Christ's Covenant Assembly

The Lord Jesus builds His church using disciples who are authorized by Him, in dependence upon His power and His faithfulness, to make more disciples who are dependent upon His power and His faithfulness.

n.b. The minister forgot to read the text after praying. The audio of the reading is inserted from the family worship lesson in the same text from the previous week. The pdf of the outline that was distributed can be found [here].
Audio of the entire family worship time is available [on Facebook]

2020.04.06 Hopewell @Home ▫ Matthew 28:16–20

Questions from the Scripture text: Who go to Galilee (Matthew 28:16)? Which mountain do they go to? Whom do they see (Matthew 28:17)? What do they all do to Him? What do some of them do? Who came and spoke to them (Matthew 28:18)? How much authority has been given to Him? Which authority has been given to Him? What are they to make, therefore (Matthew 28:19)? By what two actions are disciples made (verse 19b, Matthew 28:20)? Into what single name are they baptized? What are they taught to do with Jesus’s commands? How many of them? Who is with them always, as they make disciples? Even until when?  
The Lord Jesus had said that He Himself would build His church and that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it (cf. Matthew 16:18). But now the Lord Jesus is leaving, and this group before Him is not very promising.

There are only eleven of them because one who was numbered among the disciples turned out to be the betrayer. That might dampen your confidence about the new disciples in Matthew 28:19—especially when you consider that even from among the eleven that remain, there are still some who are doubting.

But it is exactly into our consideration of these disciples, and the disciples that they are to be making, that Jesus announces that it is about His authority and power, not ours, and His faithfulness, not ours.

Jesus announces that He has authority in heaven and on earth, and a church that is in heaven and on earth. The resurrected Man before them has authority even in Heaven to pour out the Holy Spirit, for He is a divine Person. They have known since Matthew 3:11 that He would baptize with the Holy Spirit.

Baptisms were already used as initiations into groups, and now Jesus notifies them that as He is the Second Person of the Trinity, the church of the Lord Jesus Christ is the church of the Triune God. He commands that the one Name (singular—one God) into which they be baptized be Triune (three Persons, whose one name is “Father and Son and Holy Spirit”). And so, our baptisms remind us that Jesus has this authority both with reference to His eternal godhood, and with reference to His finished and perfect work as the Redeemer.

When He marks of His holy assembly with this particular sign in this particular Name, we can see that He is saying: “it depends upon My power.” And when He follows by saying, “and lo, I am with you always,” we can hear that it depends upon His faithfulness. That is wonderful news for those whose weakness and unfaithfulness would lead to ultimate failure!

Jesus answers our weakness by His strength in His gospel signs and words.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that we need not do anything. It rather means the exact opposite: that we must do everything. He has marked us as His own, and as those to whom He has committed His power. We ought to obey all His commands merely because we are His creatures, and then again because He has bought us by His blood, and now again because He has marked us off as holy and set apart to Him! Therefore, disciples must be taught to “observe all things I have commanded you.”

Thus, we realize that baptism is not a statement by the new disciple, but by the Lord of the disciples, through those whom He has commanded to mark and teach them. It is a mark that is displayed anew to the holy assembly, whenever it is being applied to a new addition to that assembly. In it, our Lord presents Himself and His Spirit for the worship of His people!
Who is speaking when we witness a baptism? What is He saying? How should we respond?
Suggested Songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH424 “All Authority and Power”