grace notes- pastoral letter 9.13.22

Monthly memory verse: Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies” (Rom 8:33).”
Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,It was a blessing to worship our great God and Savior with you this past Lord’s Day.  I hope you have been well since, and that this letter finds you filled with the joy of the Lord and praise for His goodness.  That goodness is something that has often seemed particularly sweet and evident to me at this time of year, as we begin to transition into the fall season.  The temperatures are beginning to drop, the leaves will soon be changing, and the air will be permeated with a crisp, cool scent.  Indeed, those who are up and out early in the morning are already getting a small taste of that fall air.  In order to enjoy it a bit, I’ve been taking small, early morning runs with some of our children.  Though, I have to confess, the air is slightly less enjoyable when you’re gasping for it with burning lungs.  And yet, in its own way, that struggle has proven encouraging, as it has reminded me of the nature of this thing called the Christian life, which is undoubtedly a great joy, but also a terrific struggle at times.  This is precisely what the writer to the Hebrews makes clear as he opens his twelfth chapter.The Christian life is a hard contest that must be fought and won with vigorous striving.  Thus, the opening lines of the aforementioned chapter, in which the Lord uses the imagery of an athletic competition to challenge us to pursue our calling with purpose and strong effort.  Having pointed us to great numbers of others who have run and finished before us, the author writes, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Her 12:1).  My boys are far better and more dedicated runners than I have ever been or currently am, but I know enough to know that if you want to run to the best of your ability then you would do well not to strap needless weights to yourself.  Indeed, runners look for very lightweight shoes in order that they might remove every potential hindrance to reaching their maximum potential.  Thus, in an metaphor that likens the Christian life to running a race, we’re told to get rid of those things that would hold us back and keep us from growing as we should – every sin and anything else that, while perhaps permissible in itself, would nonetheless prevent us from living wholeheartedly for the Lord.  Of course, even having thrown off needless weight and lightened our load as much as possible, there is still the matter of running the race, and that is an endeavor that, even with the lightest footwear, requires a great deal of exertion.  to run to both finish and win is to pace oneself, remembering that it is a long haul and not won all at once, but it is also to keep going, pressing on through the hills and burning lungs.  It is, in other words, hard work that requires a great deal of discipline and dedication.  Even so, says the Lord, if we would live to the glory of God in all of life, and share in the commendation of those listed in the ‘hall of faith’ in Hebrews 11, then we must devote ourselves to the task at hand and keep going.  We must keep seeking the Lord, keep trusting in Him, keep striving to obey Him, keep killing sin, and keep doing good.  We must run with endurance.  It is a very fitting picture then, when we’re taught that the Christian life, like a race, is a hard contest that must be fought and won with vigorous striving.Thankfully, we’re also told that the Christian ‘race’ isn’t one that we have to run according to our own wisdom or strength.  Rather, we have One who has run this course before us, who is able to both instruct us on how to navigate it and strengthen us to enable us make it through to the end.  So, having called us to lay aside every hindrance and run well, the author to the Hebrews goes on to tell us how we’re to go about this running.  In his words, we’re to be always, “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb 12:2).  I have found that I run much more swiftly when I have my boys to help set the pace and push me along.  Even so, we’re here told that we have One to whom we can look, by whose example we can be helped to keep going and not give up.  We have Jesus Christ.  He has already trodden this trail, He knows its every bump and stone, and He knows how to make it to the finish line.  Thus, we can look to Him for guidance – for wisdom concerning how to move through every trial and temptation this life may hold without stumbling and falling to the ground.  More than that, we can learn from His example concerning how it is that we’re supposed to keep going when it simply seems like more than we can possibly endure.  We’re to do as He did, looking not merely at the hard road ahead of us, but toward the finish line, remembering and being greatly encouraged by the glorious scene that has been set before us, when we shall see our Savior, be made like Him at last, and be welcomed into His own joy, and thus, being heartened to keep going, knowing that these present afflictions are but light and momentary when compared with what lies ahead.  More still, we’re to look to Christ with all confidence, not in ourselves, but in Him who is the Founder and Perfecter – the Author and Finisher – of our faith, knowing that He who is in the seat of authority over all things, at the right hand of the Father, is Himself committed to helping us through to the end.  We may be foolish, frail, and weak in ourselves, but, praise the Lord, this Christian ‘race’ isn’t one that we have to run according to our own wisdom or strength.Therefore, let us take this text to heart and understand that the Christian life isn’t one of floating to heaven on flowery beds of ease, but one of pushing forward through many difficulties to reach the end and enter into glory.  Life will surely be full of hills, and ascending them will often find us struggling against the spiritual equivalent of aching muscles, racing hearts, and flaming lungs.  But, as the runner keeps going and rejoices to cross the line at last, so we have been promised great rewards even now kept in heaven for us, and have been given all that is needful to make to that day in our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.  Let us then keep our minds and hearts firmly fixed upon Him, for He knows the path before us very well, having gone before us, and He has promised us His unfailing aid and ultimate victory, saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” and, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (Jn 14:3).  Whatever inclined you’re called to climb next, set your eyes on your great Forerunner, know that He is with you and helping you every step of the way, and press on dear Christian runner!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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