grace notes- pastoral letter 1.3.22

01-03-2023 Grace Notes – Pastoral Letter Monthly memory verse: Whom have I in heaven but You?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:25-26).Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,It was a joy to be with you this past Lord’s Day as we learned together in Sunday School, worshipped together in our morning service, and fellowshipped together during our monthly lunch.  I have been praying for you since, asking that the Lord Himself would be your greatest joy, and that you would find a deep and sweet satisfaction in knowing that, in Christ, He is yours and you are His.  Which is to say, I have been praying that the verses 25-26 of the Psalm we’ve just considered together, Psalm 73, would, by the power of the Spirit of God working in you, be something that you can utter with all sincerity.The verses express the Psalmist’s deep and profound sense of identity and contentment in having the only living and true God as his God, such that, even if all worldly comforts should fall away, still he would be able to say, “I have what I need.  I have my God and always will.  This – He – is enough for me.  Indeed, He is my great and everlasting delight.”  In the words of the Psalmist Himself, as he addresses the Lord in a sign prayer, “Whom have I in heaven but You?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:25-26).  This, at the end of the day – over, above, in, and through all else – is to be the resting place of the Christian’s hope and source of the Christian’s joy: In Christ, God has become our God, and we have become His people; nothing can ever separate us from Him; He is with us now, and He will grant us to dwell with Him and delight in Him for days without end.The Lord is the Christian’s hope and joy in this life.  Thus, even as He wrestles with his painful awareness that much that takes place in this world is perverse and crooked, seeming to be quite upside down from how it ought to be, the Psalmist is able to arrive at a place of peace.  He does this, not by acting as if things are other than as they are, as if pretended ignorance of the world’s sorry state could produce bliss, but by lifting his eyes, by faith, above the immediate to behold the glory of His God.  He drinks in the remembrance of God’s mercies toward Him and can’t help but begin to give thanks and praise, even in the midst of so much corruption and foul boasting against the Lord and His people.  He can do so, not because his lot in life has suddenly changed, but his lot is more than things of this life.  His lot – his portion or inheritance – is the Lord Himself.  To him is granted, even now, to know the Lord as his God and heavenly Father.  To him is granted to commune with the Lord in worship and prayer.  To him is granted to taste, with new spiritual tastebuds given by the Spirit of God, the goodness of the Lord, savoring the One whose beauty knows no bounds, by faith.  In the words of the hymn-writer, he swims in a Sea with no shore; he basks in the light of the Sun of Righteousness, whose beams are unconstrained by time and space, radiating glory from everlasting to everlasting.  Therefore, though all else be stripped away, still he will be content – still he will be satisfied to know and praise his God.  Through all the ups and downs, the Lord Himself is the Christian’s hope and joy in this life.And, the Lord will be the Christian’s joy for all eternity.  As the Puritan John Flavel well says while referencing Psalm 73:25 and 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “The objective happiness [in heaven] is God Himself.  It is no heaven to us, except Thou be there.  In this our glory in heaven consists, to be ever with the Lord.”  When this life has come and gone, when the final judgment has taken place, when the wicked have been cast into the lake of fire and all things have been made new, the believer will be with the Lord.  In the words of the Apostle John, as he speaks of his vision of the Lord dwelling with His people in that day, “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb… They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Rev 21:22-23; 22:4-5).  The central joy of this eternal day is expressed a few verses earlier, in Revelation 21:3, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”  This is the Christian’s hope in this age, and everlasting joy in the age to come: We will ever be with the Lord.  No more warring against the world, the flesh, and the devil.  Nothing to distract or deter us from delighting in our God.  Rather, perfect, unhindered, heart-satisfying, joy-filled fellowship with the Lord we love.  It is the joy for which our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to endure the pain and shame of the cross (cf. Heb 12:2).  It is the joy that is the inheritance of every true believer in Christ: God Himself with us as our God, and we with Him as His people, forever.  The Lord Himself will be the Christian’s joy for all eternity.This being the case, I want to encourage you, believer, to take heart and make every effort to better know and more fully delight yourself in the Lord in this new year, and every year for the rest of your life.  As I sit and write this, I’m drinking coffee from a cup that bears the mission statement of the homeschool group of which my family is a part.  It reads, “To know God and make Him known.”  It is my prayer and urging that you let that be your mission also as you plot your course for 2023.  Through constant prayer, through daily study of the Word, through faithful weekly attendance at Sunday School and worship services, make it your holy ambition to better know the One who, in Christ, has given you the greatest gift that could ever be given – Himself.  And determine, having known Him, to make Him known to others, that, by the grace of God, they might share your joy.  May He work mightily by His Spirit to cause us to be of this mind, such that we can truly say with the Psalmist, “there is nothing on earth that I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Ps 73:25b-26). 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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Covenant of Grace Presbyterian Church
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