grace notes-pastoral letter 12.28.22

Monthly memory verse: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I have been praying for you since we gathered to worship that past Lord’s Day.  I hope that as you read this you are warm and well in every way, and I especially hope that you are continuing to grow daily closer to the Lord who loved us and saved us by His grace.  To that end, this time of the year always provides a helpful opportunity to look back over the past year, both thanking the Lord for His many blessings and evaluating how to better pursue growth in Him in the upcoming year.  And, to the latter – how to better grow in the Lord in the new year – it is very useful for the believer to lay down some sort of resolution to be consistently in the Word of God and in prayer.  After all, at the very outset of the Psalter, Psalm 1 teaches us about the chasm exists between the one who delights in and daily mediates on God’s Word, and the those who alienated from the Lord and His Word, who are called, “The wicked” (Ps 1:2, 4).On the one hand, the Lord pronounces His blessing on those who delight and daily meditate on His Word.  Thus says the Psalm: “Blessed is the man… [whose] delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night” (Ps 1:1-2).  This person, writes the Psalmist, will be found flourishing in the faith, and experience many blessings besides.  In a spiritually barren world, this person, “is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither” (Ps 1:3a).  Indeed, “In all that he does, he prospers” (Ps 1:3b).  Here, then, is the key to finding refreshment and vitality for your soul in a world that constantly promotes that which is soul-destroying (cf. Deut 8:3; Matt 4:4; etc).  Here is bread from heaven, upon which you can feed in a world greatly stricken by a famine of hearing the words of the Lord (cf. Amos 8:11).  Here is water to revitalize you and cause you to grow up and produce fruit pleasing to the Lord, when many are withering while trying to satisfy themselves with the empty and fading this of this present evil age (cf. Ps 1:3).  Here is the instrument of the new birth and of our ongoing sanctification (cf. 1 Pet 1:23; Eph 5:26).  Here is a crucial help in avoiding spiritual stagnation and stumbling, instead growing in a way that will, with time, be evident to all (cf. 1 Tim 4:15).  It is the simple practice of daily opening, reading, praying over, and meditating upon (thinking about) the Word of God.  Yes, it takes a bit of planning.  Yes, it takes a bit of time.  Yes, it will mean laying aside certain other, less pressing matters.  But, the investment will prove more than worth it, as you grow in the knowledge of the Lord, in your love for Him, and in your desire and capacity to serve Him well.  Indeed, we should need no other than the knowledge that the Lord Himself has called us to it and has pronounced His blessing upon those who do it.On the other hand are those whom the Lord describes as wicked, over whom hangs the ever-present threat of judgment.  As opposed to the blessed man of Psalm 1, these do not give themselves to regularly reading and meditating upon God’s Word.  They are not continually transformed by the renewal of their minds, so it is no surprise that they, “[walk] in the counsel of the wicked… [stand] in the way of sinners… [and sit] in the seat of scoffers” (Ps 1:1).  Their minds are not trained by the truth of Scripture, so their hearts are not well-fueled and filled with love for the Lord, so their desires and lives quickly wander very far from the paths of uprightness – of obedience to, and close communion with, Him.  And, in the logic of Psalm 1, all of this rotten fruit is simply revealing what sort of tree they really are, deep within.  Thus, without repentance, in the day of the Lord’s judgment, they will be swept away like chaff in the wind, and will not be granted to stand in the congregation of the righteous (cf. Ps 1:4-5).  Indeed, for lack of the knowledge of God, they will perish (cf. Ps 1:6).  Not that simply reading the Bible saves anyone, but that the One who doesn’t desire to draw near to Him, and to grow to know and serve Him better, is evidencing a lack of true spiritual life – spiritual life that is found only in reading or hearing, and believing the words of the Lord.  Thus, to be without the Word is to remain among the wicked, over whom hangs the ever-present threat of judgment.Therefore, as we plot our course for 2023, let us be faithful to give thanks to the Lord for the blessing of having His Word in our own language, and let us be diligent to map out a plan to be daily in that Word in the coming year.  To that end, this (lengthy) link will take you to a number of reading plans that may prove helpful:https://www.ligonier.org/posts/bible-reading-plans#:~:text=Read%20through%20the%20Bible%20in%20the%20order%20the%20events%20occurred%20chronologically.&text=Four%20daily%20readings%20beginning%20in%20Genesis%2C%20Psalms%2C%20Matthew%20and%20Acts.&text=Two%20daily%20readings%2C%20one%20from,each%20testament%20before%20moving%20on.You don’t have to use one of these, but whatever tool(s) you use, I want to encourage you to lay it down as a determined resolution to spend time in the life-giving, life-sustaining Word of God in this new year.  May the Lord bless you as you do so, causing you to found like a tree ever green and full of sap, bearing fruit to the Lord all throughout your says, even to old age (cf. Ps 92:14)!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.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://covenantofgracews.org/event-calendar/· 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
 

‘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.

 

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Winston-Salem, NC  27103

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Covenant of Grace Presbyterian Church
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