grace notes-pastoral letter 9.30.22


09-30-2022
 Grace Notes – Pastoral Letter
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,I was blessed by our time together this past Lord’s Day.  It was a joy to get to sit among you and under the excellent preaching of the Word.  What a gift it is to have a God like ours, who welcomes us into His presence – receiving our prayers and praises through the continual intercession of His Son.  What kindness He shows in filling us with good things as we enter His gates with thanksgiving each week, and indeed in providing for and sustaining us through everything that we face in this life.  Rainy days, sunny days, sorrowful and strife-filled days, joyful and peaceful days – through them all, the Lord our God is a constant source of goodness to those who look to Him in faith.  I have been colorfully reminded of this lately by an unlikely source, namely, car troubles.Unlike so much else in this world, our God is stable and steadfast, unshifting and unchanging, ever-reliable through thick and thin.  “Now how,” you may wonder, “did trouble with an aging truck bring this to mind?”  Well, precisely because, as of late, my truck has proven to be something less than stable and steadfast, unshifting and unchanging, and ever-reliable.  It began on the way to a cross country meet for our oldest boys a while back.  The temperature warning light came on, the low-battery warning light came on, steam began to pour out from under the hood, and the truck broke down mid-trip.  A few hours and dollars later, and I was back on the road.  But, as is so often the case, one problem led to another.  This past week the check engine light came and the truck began to shake and make strange gurgling sounds at every red light or stop sign.  What has resulted from all of this?  Well, of course, there is the practical matter of having repairs done.  But then, there is also the strange feeling of uncertainty that arises when a vehicle starts to seem unreliable.  A quiet anxiety that lurks just beneath the surface at the slightest strange sound as I drive along.  The unsettling feeling that the truck could break down at any given moment.  The awareness that the vehicle that went so long without any issues at all (praise the Lord!) has now become undependable.  It is the disquieting result of repeated car troubles.And, pondering all of this led me to think of how sweet a thing it is that the Lord is exactly unlike my troubled truck.  He is the Rock of Ages who never shifts in the least (cf. Isa 26:4).  He is the self-existent, eternal God who exists outside of the boundaries of ever-changing time (cf. Exod 3:14).  He is the the same yesterday, today, and forever (cf. Heb 13:8).  In Him is no shadow of turning (cf. Jas 1:17).  His doesn’t change His mind and His promises never fail (cf. Num 23:19).  His Word never falls to the ground unfulfilled (cf. 2 Kgs 10:10).  His mercies aren’t exhausted toward His own, and so we aren’t consumed by His wrath (cf. Mal 3:6).  His love for us is from everlasting and we can never be separated from it (cf. Jer 31:3; Rom 8:35-39).  He will never turn against His children in Christ.  He will never revoke His precious promises to us.  He will never forsake us, leave us to fend for ourselves, or fail to provide for our needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  We will never speak or act by faith in Him, according to His Word, and find Him unable or unwilling to sustain us.  He will never, “break down,” or prove untrustworthy in so much as the smallest detail.  It is obvious, but I say it anyway because it is a cause for praise: the Lord is altogether unlike an old truck that might start to spit and sputter at any given moment.  Yes, unlike so much else in this world, our God is stable and steadfast, unshifting and unchanging, ever-reliable through thick and thin.And this means that we have no reason to fear or be anxious, but rather to set our hearts upon the Lord, find courage, and take heart through everything this life holds for us.  Unlike me as I drive around wondering if I will soon find myself on the side of the road again, those who lean upon and hope in the Lord need not fret that He will come up short in any given situation.  He will be with us in every trial and difficulty – ever-caring for us, ever-ready to be called upon, ever-ready to strengthen and comfort us, ever-faithful to lift us up and continue His good work in us.  He will not be found absent in the day of great trouble, or despising our tears when they flow like rivers.  He will not be shown too weak, or no longer willing to work all things together for our good.  His promises to this effect are many, and they are a wellspring of assurance and peace to the believing soul.  Consider just a couple.  “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you” (Isa 43:1-4).  “I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt 28:20).  Because of words like these, the believer can pass through the hardest and most trying times in this life and confidently say, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Ps 23:4).  We can press on, journeying heavenward on the paths of this pilgrimage, knowing that the One who carries us along will ever fail.  Because He is the opposite of an unreliable vehicle, we have no reason to fear or be anxious, but rather to set our hearts upon the Lord, find courage, and take heart through everything this life holds for us.Therefore, be of good cheer, dear, Christian, you have hoped in the Everlasting Rock, and for this hope you will not be disappointed or put to shame!In Christ,Pastor Eric P.S.