|10-04-2022 Grace Notes – Pastoral Letter Monthly memory verse: “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps” (Ps 135:6).”|
Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I have been praying for you and hope that this letter finds you and yours full of the joy of the Lord and guarded by His perfect peace. It was wonderful to be with you this past Lord’s Day as we learned in Sunday School, shared in worship, and then enjoyed a time of fellowship and food afterwards. This struck me as especially sweet in light of the aftermath of hurricane Ian last week, as a result of which great numbers of people aren’t currently able to go about their normal daily and weekly routines, or to gather in their places of worship. It was quite the storm, and seeing videos of its wind, rain, and the general devastation it caused led me to think of Who it is that rules over every storm, and is therefore far greater and more greatly to be feared. Of course, at times like this, when many are hurting and reeling from loss, it is right to be concerned about and pray for all who are in need. But, as the Lord Jesus demonstrated when some Galileans had been slaughtered by Pilate and a tower in Siloam had fallen and killed eighteen people, it is also fitting and necessary at such times to remember who reigns over it all, how awesome He is and how terrible His judgment, and therefore to humble ourselves before Him, learning to seek and rest in His mercy (cf. Lk 13:1-5). With that in mind, my thoughts ran to Psalm 135:6-7 as the headlines were filled with the latest hurricane updates.In these verses, we learn that behind every drop of rain, flash of lightning, and gust of wind lies a God who is stronger than and sovereign over these things. In the words of the Psalmist, “Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all deeps. He it is who makes the clouds rise at the end of the earth, who makes lightnings for the rain and brings forth the wind from His storehouses” (Ps 135:6-7). I remember some years ago, when another large storm had hit the coast, hearing a fellow Christian say, ‘God doesn’t have anything to do with this. He doesn’t want this.’ She seemed to want to do some good and soften the blow of the storm by vindicating the Lord of any guilt in the matter by assuring others that this wasn’t something He had done. The problem is that what she said was completely unbiblical, and if taken to heart would actually bring not comfort but terrific anxiety. After all, if God didn’t do this, who did? If God didn’t plan for this to come about, then who is really in charge? And, if God can’t stop things that He doesn’t want to happen from happening, then what assurance can we have that He will be able to fulfill any of His promises or protect us from any given harm that might come our way, whether temporal or eternal? It might seem like a quick way to ease some tension and remove theological difficulties to say that God doesn’t want certain things that we view as undesirable to happen, or bring them to pass, but it isn’t scriptural and it does more harm than good. The reality, as the verses cited above make very clear, is that the Lord sovereignly rules over everything that comes to pass in His world – from the great events of history to the smallest details of our daily lives – from the sunshine that kisses your cheek in the spring to the wind that rips roofs in pieces and bends signposts like paper clips. He reigns over it all. Nothing is beyond His control – nothing.More than that, He has designed it all for a good purpose and actively guides it all to see that His good purpose is accomplished, such that every rainstorm, hurricane, flood, tornado, lightning strike, and rumble of thunder is a call to remember and give glory to God Almighty who sits enthroned over all the works of His hands. That is just what Jesus’ instruction and call to repent at the outset of Luke 13 is meant to teach us when the Lord sends things like hurricane Ian our way. I won’t pretend to have a handle on all the reasons the Lord sees fit to send a massive storm spiraling into the southeastern coast of our nation. His ways are beyond finding out and His ways forever above ours. But, when consider what our Savior says in Luke 13:1-5, we that, at the very least, many people are being presented with a clarion call to acknowledge that there is a God in heaven who, given that He can send such storms, must be a God of enormous power, and who, if He at times sends such destruction, must also be a God of fearsome judgment. And, in light of this, great numbers of people, both those directly affected and those witnessing from afar, are being warned and called to humble themselves in repentance, seeking to be at peace with this God before they fall into His hands, which is far more terrifying a thing than to stand exposed before hurricane-force winds. So, while such a massive storm and all its unsettling effects can in one sense be viewed as the consequence of sin entering the world and thus a form of judgment in itself, it can at the same time be viewed as a great mercy – the Lord thundering from heaven at much less than full force in order to warn of a far more severe judgment to come, and calling all who will act wisely to kiss His Son and be saved before the great and awesome day of the Lord. And, should He be pleased to grant such repentance in the aftermath of Ian, then it hardly seems far-fetched to say that, while still weeping at the damage it caused, some might look back one day and find themselves giving thanks to the Lord for sending the storm that sent them fleeing to Him. He may have a thousand or more purposes besides, but that, at least, is something we could call very good.Therefore, when we see such storms, or other great and tragic events, let us not respond merely as the world around us does, but let us lift our eyes above, to Him who does all that He pleases in heaven and on earth. Let us humble ourselves and give thanks to the God of such power, judgment, and mercy for providing a refuge from His wrath in the Rock that is Christ, Our Lord. And, let us storm His throne with prayers for those who don’t yet know Him, asking that they too might find in the Lord Jesus a strong tower and shelter from the storm to come on all the world.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. · 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:
‘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.
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.
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