grace notes-pastoral letter 8.30.22

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 hope this week has been going well for you so far, and that you have known the blessing of daily seeking the Lord in His Word and prayer.  It is always a blessing to learn and worship with you, and this past Lord’s Day was no exception.  In addition, to see both the Wednesday evening and Thursday morning prayer meetings growing lately has been a terrific encouragement.  Praise the Lord for moving among His people to move us with a spirit of prayer!  All of that being said, it never ceases to humble me how I can be surrounded with so much blessing, and yet find myself fixated on my own remaining sinfulness and inadequacy, and therefore feeling quite downcast.  Perhaps you’ve been there as well.  If so, then perhaps you will share in the encouragement I have found in reading through Romans 7 again recently.  It might seem like an odd route to encouragement, since it begins with a massive blow to the ego, but, rightly understood and followed through to the end, it does indeed prove quite comforting.  Much more could be said about this grand chapter, but consider the following.In the first place, Paul notes that, considered in ourselves, nothing good dwells in us.  As I said, it isn’t necessarily where we might think to go in our minds when we’re seeking encouragement.  Paul spends some time wrestling with and lamenting the fact that he so often finds himself doing the very sort of sinful thing he really doesn’t want to do, noting that he agrees with the Law and considers it to be holy, righteous, and good.  He loves God’s Word and wants to order his thoughts, words, and deeds according to it.  But, he says, while he desires to do good and walk uprightly before the Lord, he finds that evil still dwells with him and refuses to be silent.  Sin remains and keeps causing him to stumble – not doing the good that he wants to do, and doing the evil that he hates.  So, having examined himself and his life, he declares, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom 7:18).  Paul has, we might say, reached the end of himself.  He has conducted a thorough examination of himself and realized what every believer knows when he or she is covered, but remember all our lives long, that left to ourselves we have no good within us.  And, this awareness then leads him to finally cry out, saying, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Rom 7:24).  It is an interesting place to reach.  On the one hand, it is the lowest point – seeing ourselves as we truly are before the holy One of heaven and His perfect standard, and finding ourselves overwhelmed with humiliation and cast down in the dust, grieving over our sinfulness.  Yet, on the other hand, this is exactly where the Lord would have us to be, because it is where mercy meets the sinner – at the place of brokenness, in the recognition that we have nothing with which to commend ourselves to God and are therefore in desperate need of His deliverance.  So, paradoxically, the place of bitter weeping is the place where the greatest joy breaks in upon the believing soul.Thus, having noted that, considered in ourselves, nothing good dwells in us, Paul goes on to rejoice that we’re not left to ourselves, but have been delivered by Jesus Christ.  You see it in the exclamation of verse 25 that follows on the heels of the question in verse 24, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”  This is then shortly followed by the declaration of chapter 8, verse 1, “Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  Coming to the end of himself has, so to speak, brought Paul to the beginning of Jesus Christ.  Examining his own cistern for any goodness and finding it dry as a bone, he has begun to wade in the boundless ocean that is the grace of God toward His children in Christ.  Seeing no goodness in himself, he has remembered that his acceptance with God isn’t based upon any goodness in himself, but on the redemption provided by God through Jesus Christ.  In Christ, his sins, though real and many, are forgiven.  In Christ, he has the deliverance for which he longs.  It is the shift in focus that the believer must learn to make when our conscience cries out against us, when Satan accuses, and when we’re therefore tempted to despair.  Acknowledging our sinfulness, we must turn our eyes from looking within ourselves to looking upon Christ and Him crucified.  We must remind ourselves of the same gospel we first believed, which remains our sure and only hope all our lives long.  We must hear again the promise, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (Jn 3:36).  We must hold to the promise by faith and let it fill us with the joy of the Lord, who Himself looks not upon our righteousness, but upon the righteousness of Christ freely imputed to us by faith.  In so doing, as the Spirit of God presses the promises of God into us once again, we will come to delight in that wonderful and ironic truth that the place of our humiliation before God is the very place He is pleased to turn into our exultation – not by telling us how wonderful we are after all, but by reminding us of His wonderful love and mercy toward us in His beloved Son.So, the next time your sin starts to weigh heavily and you feel as though it will surely crush you, follow the apostle’s pattern and let it drive you nearer to Jesus Christ.  Yes, confess and repent where sin is present.  But, don’t linger there forever.  Rather, run quickly to your Savior who is quick to show mercy to those who seek it in Him.  Run to Him and rejoice – in Him there is not now, nor will there ever be, any condemnation remaining for you.  Lay yourself once more at the foot of the cross, and, as He lifts you up again, join your voice with Paul’s and say, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:25). 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:
§ https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/morning-and-evening/today
 

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:  https://www.covenantofgracews.org/events.html
 

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


  
   
  
    
  
   
  
  
     

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