grace notes- pastoral letter 8.24.22

Monthly memory verse: “Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in Your ways” (Ps 119:37).
Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I have been praying for you all week and, as always, it is my hope that this note finds you very well in every way – in soul, in mind, and in body.  Of course, in saying that, it is a great comfort for me to know that we have our God’s assurance that, viewed from an eternal perspective, things are always being worked out very well for each one of His people (cf. Rom 8:28).  Nothing comes to us except by His eternal decree and perfect power (cf. Eph 1:11; Ps 115:3).  More than that, nothing comes to us that He Himself does not lead us through, being personally present with us at all times, in every place, and in every circumstance.  This is something of which I was recently and wonderfully reminded as I read through Psalm 139, that great Psalm that offers us so much comfort by expounding the glorious reality, among other things, of the Lord’s omnipresence – His being everywhere present.As the Psalm proceeds, the Lord teaches us, through the Psalmist, that He is present with us wherever we go.  Thus, the Psalmist asks and then answers a question about where he could possibly and somehow be found absent the presence of the Lord.  “Where shall I go from Your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, You are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me” (Ps 139:7-10).  If we could climb to heaven, or should lay in the grave or descend further into the very depths of hell itself, even there the believer would not be abandoned by the Lord or somehow escape His notice and presence.  If we were to take a plane to the far east, or to the western boundaries of our land and beyond, even there the Lord would be with us.  At home, at work, at the store, at the park on the road – no matter where you may go on any given day, believer, you are not alone, the Lord is with you.  In a room full of strangers, in the frustration of traffic, when enemies surround, at all times and in every place, your God is with you.  He is present with us wherever we go.The Lord further teaches us that He is with us in whatever circumstance we may find ourselves.  To this end, the Psalmist mentions a particularly isolating, fearful, and depressing situation, asserting that even at such a time the Lord is still present.  “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light about me be night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you” (Ps 139:11-12).  The word, “cover” is more literally, “bruise.”  It is the same word used in Genesis 3:15 of the serpent bruising Christ’s heel, and Christ bruising his head.  What the Psalmist is picturing, then, is a time when he is all alone, and the darkness seems to be crashing over him – filling him with feelings of loneliness and tempting him to despair.  Yet, even there, he announces, he is not alone and not forsaken, for the Lord is with him and sees him just as clearly as ever.  What a blessing to know this comforting truth!  When your soul is downcast and things seem gloomy all around, such that even your closest family and friends seem a thousand miles away, the Lord is still with you – His loving, fatherly gaze piercing the deepest darkness – fully aware of all that you’re enduring and as present as ever to support and help you.  It may sometimes feel like the weight is too great to bear, like the darkness will soon crush you, but you aren’t and never will be alone. He is with us in whatever circumstance we may find ourselves.The Lord is always with His people, and, in view of this terrific, unchaining reality, He directs us by the Psalmist’s example to cast our worrisome hearts upon Him and find peace.  So, as he wraps up his song, the Psalmist prays, “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous [or, ‘painful’] way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps 139:23-24).  He leads us to consider the certain fact that the Lord is never far off, but always personally present with us, and in light of this comfort-inducing truth to ask the Lord to search out every anxious and painful thought in our hearts – all that is needlessly fraught with troubles and fears – and to drive them far from us, leading instead in the peaceful way of close, conscious fellowship with Him.  It is a very practical application of the awesome doctrine of our God’s omnipotence.  He is constantly with us, never leaving us to ourselves for so much as a fraction of a second.  He upholds us at every instant, purposefully and lovingly directing our steps and shaping our every circumstance.  Not for a moment is He ever unaware of where we are or what we’re experiencing, nor does He ever leave us in actual isolation, though we may at times feel it to be so.  Always and in every place, the Lord is with us.  Therefore, we surely don’t need to be unsettled and driven to despair by an outward situation or a thousand restless thoughts spinning through our heads during sleepless nights.  Instead, we can take up Psalm 139, remember again that He is with us, take solace in His presence, and discover again the peace He alone gives to those who cast their cares upon Him (cf. Ps 40:17; 55:22; Phil 4:6-7; 1 Pet 5:7).So, wherever this week or life may take you, and whatever you may find yourself going through, remember Whose eyes is upon You and Whose Spirit dwells within you.  You are not alone and never will be.  The Lord is with you, believer and child of God.  Remember it, rest in it, and be at peace. In Christ,Pastor Eric 
P.S. Join us for the prayer meeting each Wednesday in the Fellowship Hall – dinner is served at 6:00pm, followed by a brief lesson and a time of prayer at 6:30.  Or, join us for prayer each Thursday at 10:30am in the adult Sunday School room.
ANNOUNCEMENT: In addition to our weekly Wednesday evening prayer meeting, we have a new prayer meeting every Thursday at 10:30am in the Adult Sunday School room.  We will read a brief portion of Scripture and pray together, ending at 11:00am.  It is our hope that this will allow some of our members and other visitors to attend who are not able to make it on Wednesday evenings.NOTE:  Our men’s breakfast study — Joshua’s Men is now recorded and available on YouTube.
NOTE2:  Our adult Sunday School lessons are now being recorded and are available on YouTube.
Just search for Covenant of Grace ARP Church to find the links.
· Daily devotions
o I continue to encourage you to daily read Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening as we seek to maintain a spirit of unity.  It is widely available – here is one link:

Our mailing address is:
Covenant of Grace Presbyterian Church
PO Box 26511
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27114-6511

 ‘Vision Statement’Covenant of Grace is a loving church family that equips people to know God and His Word through serious, joyful, Christ-centered worship and service, in reliance upon the Holy Spirit.Matt 22:37-39
37 “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself

Love God.  Love people.

Please mark your calendars!  If you ever need to double-check dates, events are usually kept up to date on the church’s website calendar:

 We are located at:
508 Harvey Street
Winston-Salem, NC  27103


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