Living for the Lord in a Canaanite Culture
I am the Lord your God.
You shall not do as they do in the land of Egypt, where you lived, and you shall not do as they do in the land of Canaan, to which I am bringing you. You shall not walk in their statutes. You shall follow my rules and keep my statutes and walk in them.
I am the Lord your God."
Our culture is obsessed with sex and sexuality, but, then again, so is the Bible.
Sex and sexuality are the lead headlines on virtually ever news outlet. No streaming service would be complete if some LGBTQ+ scene, plot, or reference had not been inserted in each of its shows. You can't even say hello to a stranger without fearing retaliation for not using their preferred pronoun.
Yet, despite the obsession with these topics, our culture couldn't be more confused about them.
In less than a week we've seen men taking over in women's sports, a man being regarded as the woman of the year, a woman supreme court nominee not knowing the definition of her own gender. These were but a few of such stories spinning off the news reel.
This is where Scripture offers us good news. Scripture doesn't play bashful when it comes to the issue of intimacy. It also speaks profusely in its pages about human sexuality.
One may say that the Scriptures are just as obsessed about the issues clogging our culture today. The only difference is that the Bible speaks with authority and clarity, as well as frequency.
One must never forget that the Israelites lived in the sexual sloughs of Egypt and Canaan. The early church grew up and blossomed in the midst of the decline of Rome, which was overly infatuated with eroticism.
As a result, the Bible doesn't treat the issues as taboo. God has let his voice be heard on the matter in order to deal with such a time as this.
Whether it be temple prostitutes or an impassioned Shulammite, the Scriptures contain all the spirit informing, hormone inducing, eye raising, cheek blushing details we may need in order to gain understanding, enjoyment, and fulfillment in regards to our sex life.
So, despite feeling like we may be losing the culture war, we as Christians can be stout hearted and of good courage. The answers our culture are looking for lie with us because we possess the truth regarding the human body and its divine design for intimacy.
We shall tackle some of these issues over the next few editions of the Hopewell Weekly. For now, though, we can simply rejoice in the fact that "the Lord is our God."
Furthermore, we can affirm our calling to "not do as they do" in Egypt and Canaan. We must follow the statues and rules of the Lord and walk in them, knowing that our purity will testify that the God we serve is himself the very embodiment of purity.
The Lord has done great things for us!
We were blessed to have several of our young people profess faith and be baptized this past March. May the grace of our God only continue to abound!
Good Friday Service
Join us on Good Friday (April 15) as we meditate upon the seven last words of Christ from the cross and reflect upon his atoning work. The service, which will go from 6:30-7:30 pm, will consist of Scripture readings, music, and a brief meditation.
I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”
Meeting with God
Why the Fuss about in Person Worship?
Hopewell returned to in person worship "many moons ago." Had we not had to scoot out of Hedstrom, we may have continued meeting. However, in person worship is still hotly contested in different circles.
But why does "pew sitting" matter? In the digital age, you can tune into some of the greatest speakers in the world just with a click or two. One can easily Zoom church too. Is that not soul food enough?
Even without COVID there are factors that may prevent one from going out on Sunday mornings: introvertism, scheduling conflicts, relational conflict, "they are a bunch of hypocrites," shame, and the age old "I can worship God just as well (if not better) simply by taking a walk in the woods."
In a day when gathered worship is not seen as vitally important, we need to rejuvenate our understanding of worship's true nature. In sum, what you get in worship is much different from what you may get through your screen or at home. Consider the following...
1) Public Worship Maximizes His Glory: While it is true that you can meet with God at home, God is most glorified in the context of corporate worship. It is truly different to sing in the confines of your house, where no one will hear or see. But when you acknowledge God publicly, in front of witnesses, the Lord receives greater honor. You "declare His glory among the nations" (Ps. 96) and enlarge the praise by virtue of an enlarged witness.
2) Public Worship Maximizes His Blessing: In Ex. 20:24 the Lord gave instructions about building an altar. Right after it he says, "Wherever I cause my name to be honored (i.e. in public sacrifices and worship), I will come to you and bless you."
What does this mean? It means that greater blessings are to be found where God is openly and corporately acknowledged. While there is always a risk of sickness, there is also the blessing of increased health, protection, joy, economic security, etc. A people (and possibly even a whole community) may enjoy His bountiful favor when a group of people gather together to exalt him.
3) Corporate Worship Maximizes His Interests: We Americans like our individualism and (as a result) tend to focus on what we want or what we get out of things. But have you thought about the Lord's interests?
God commanded His people to convene at the temple 3 times a year. He wanted them to drawn near to Him as a corporate body in week long increments. Psalm 87 states that the Lord loves the gates of Zion (where corporate worship takes place) more than the dwellings of Judah (where individual and family worship takes place).
In sum, God is absolutely fanatical about his people gather together in person to fellowship, worship, and learn.
4) Public Worship Maximizes His Presence: In the context of gathered worship, the Lord draws near to His people in a special way, particularly during the celebration of the Lord's Table.
Of the Communion service Paul says, "The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?" (emphasis added) When we come together at the Lord's Table there is a real, spiritual meeting with Christ, where he draws near to affirm His promises and apply the benefits of his mediation.
5) Public Worship Maximizes His Loving Nurture: In the book of Revelation Jesus is depicted as standing amid the lampstands (i.e. the churches). He had drawn close to those bodies to minister his encouragements and discipline.
Hebrews 10 says that we should not neglect gathering that we may be stirred up by one another. Colossians 3 talks about how the Lord works through corporate singing to teach and admonish His people.
While there can be great gains through individual worship and study, the Lord puts a significant emphasis upon the spiritual socour that one gains in a gathered context.
To be sure, in person worship may not be possible for some (be it illness or some other providential hindering). These small exceptions more serve to prove the ordinary rule than mitigate against it though.
Yet these points are but a few reasons why there should be a earnest interest in gathering personally and corporately for worship. These examples also serve to show that Scripture puts a high emphasis on mimicking the gathered multitudes in heaven each Lord's Day.
Sunday Night Fellowship!
You're invited to join us at 6 pm this Sunday evening at Hedstrom. We'll be starting an informal time of worship and study. The time will consist of prayer, song, and study. We'll be focusing our attention on the OT Prophets. Children are welcome
Take the Next Step @ Hopewell
Have you been thinking about affiliating with Hopewell? Is your child ready to profess faith and/or be baptized? In September we will be receiving new members into our fellowship. So let us know if you would like to learn more or take the next step in your walk with Christ.
Want to Talk? Let's Connect!
Is there something weighing on your soul? Do you have some questions you'd like to ask? Or are you just interested in grabbing a coffee and enjoying a time of fellowship? Let us know; our leadership is always happy to meet up.
This past Lord's Day we were blessed to have two young people make their professions of faith and to receive some new brothers into communing fellowship. We pray that the Lord will establish and prosper them in every way!
What a blessed time remembering the Lord's promises to cleanse and receive sinners. May this memorial live on and continually stir us up to faith and obedience.
I will bring your offspring from the east, and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, 'Give up,' and to the south, 'Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth.'
Hopewell was blessed to participate in Mansfield's annual pro-life walk/rally again this year. The Richland Source provided coverage of the event and highlighted some of Hopewell's involvement.
We might note that the RS article does need some modification. Those who participated numbered well over 100 people.
Six kids from the Hopewell Bible Bee competition qualified to compete at the national level this past week. This is quite a feat as you must rank in the top 120 from all across the nation to be eligible to compete at nationals.
Lots of smiles were had on our annual camping weekend. Even though a few showers came through, it was not enough to stop the joy of fellowship had we all had together.
The weekend was filled with games, swimming, godly conversation, laughter, and (as always) SO MUCH GOOD FOOD! (The latter is certainly becoming something of a trademark of Hopewell!)
All in the church agree that the greatest blessing is being able to see so many children having such a wonderful time together.
"Behold how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity." Ps. 133:1
Hopewell Church is a church in Ashland, Ohio.
We meet at 10:30 at Hedstrom Plastics, 100 Hedstrom Drive.
The Hopewell gang enjoyed a splendid day in Willard, enjoying the many graces of fellowship.
Our first highlight was having the blessed opportunity to see three of our young people baptized. We were all exceedingly glad to have the promises of grace reaffirmed through in the service and for these young people's personal profession of faith
After the baptisms the congregation spent the day together swimming, eating, playing games, and enjoying fellowship together. The Lord blessed us with superb weather and by solidifying the bonds of unity.
The families of Hopewell Church, along with a handful of visitors, joined together in their first morning worship service this past Lord's Day. All expressed joy and were greatly edified by the time spent in the presence of God.
During the service 9 young people made a first time public profession of faith. Teaching elder Matt Timmons gave a message entitled, "Professing the Faith" for the occasion. The message was drawn from 1 Timothy 6:12, "Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
Prior to the service Timmons noted that a handful of families gathered together 200 years ago to form the first church in Ashland. These families were also dedicated to the Reformed faith and had taken the name "Hopewell Church."
A new pulpit was constructed for the service by member Dave Lillo. Others were acknowledged for having a hand in making the service possible.
We recognize most of all the sovereign hand of God and the immense grace of His Son in allowing us the blessed opportunity to gather together.
The Hopewell congregation is excited to begin morning worship services on May 15th. We want to invite you to join us as we come together to give homage to our Almighty Savior!
The services will begin at 10:30 am and we will be meeting at the conference room at Hedstrom Plastics (100 Hedstrom Drive). We are truly delighted to have this as our venue. It is a great location! As you can see from the pics below, the space is beautiful, spacious, warm, and bright!
If you are not able to join us for morning worship, we'd still love to have you come participate in our evening services (6:30pm). We've had a wonderful time in fellowship with friends from a number of different churches around town. It has been a great blessing to be able to worship together. It truly is a celebration of our union in Christ, despite our belonging to different churches.
This past weekend we at Hopewell Church held our first worship service! About 100 people from all around Ashland came together to sing, pray, and hear the proclamation of God's word.
We are exceedingly glad to have had the opportunity to join together with others who wanted to dedicate their Sunday evening to the Lord and we look forward to their continued fellowship over the upcoming months and years!
We are also ever thankful for our brethren at Heritage Church for allowing us to use their facility. Their generosity is amazing and we pray that the Lord would return the kind favors in abundance!
Soli Deo Gloria!