grace notes- Pastoral letter 2.15.23

02-15-2023 Grace Notes – Pastoral Letter Monthly memory verse: “Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood” (Heb 12:3-4).Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I hope you have been having a wonderful week so far, filled with the Lord’s praises.  It was a blessing to praise Him with you this past Lord’s day.  All through the week, it is a blessing to praise Him in the morning, and it is good to praise Him in the evening.  Indeed, it is always good to praise the Lord, as it fills the heart with joy and brings glory to Him who is most worthy of it.  And certainly, while all people have reason to praise the Lord for His kindness, which is over the face of the whole earth, we who belong to Him have ample reason to offer Him continual praise.  Who can begin to fathom the depths of His mercy and goodness toward us in Christ?  Who can ever fully express the wonder and thanksgiving that fill the believing heart for all of His compassion toward us?  Who can find a sufficient way to say just how extraordinarily blessed we are to belong to Him?  It is something that should move us to exult in Him and His salvation every day of our lives.  It is something that moved the Psalmist to offer up praise to the Lord, of which I was reminded as we read through Psalm 65 in our Thursday morning prayer meeting last week.In Psalm 65, David declares the wonder of the Lord’s kindness in electing us to be His people.  In David’s own words, “How blessed is the one You choose and bring near, to dwell in Your courts!” (Ps 65:4).  It is a declaration rooted in the awesome reality of God’s election of certain people to be His own, before He ever set the earth upon its foundations.  In the words of the Apostle Paul, “He chose us in [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph 1:4).  It is an astounding thing to think about, believer.  Before the world existed, before the Lord called the sun, moon, and stars into being, He knew you and set His affection upon you in Christ (cf. Rom 8:29).  He knew how badly the human race would fall, and the sin and misery that would result.  More than that, He knew how far you would stray in your heart and life.  He knew about the sinfulness that would pervade every aspect of your being, such that you would never move so much as one inch in His direction of your own accord (cf. Rom 3:11).  He knew all about you.  But, more than that, by His grace, He knew you.  Not due to anything in you, not due to anything you would do, but of His own will, He chose you and set His affection upon you, predestining you to be called to His Son, conformed to His likeness, and brought to share in His everlasting inheritance.  It is, or should be, a breathtaking thought.  He knew you would turn aside in a thousand different ways.  He knew that, even after He united you to His Son by faith, you would continue to struggle with, and sometimes stumble into, sin.  He knew you wouldn’t deserve to be saved, certainly not at the infinitely worthy price of the precious blood of His own Son.  He knew that you would deserve only one thing from Him, the pains of hell forever.  And yet, being a God gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, He set His love upon you, wrote your name in the Lamb’s book of life, and thus guaranteed that, having predestined for this very end, you would be glorified in His presence in the consumption of all things.  What can we possibly say to such unmerited love?  How blessed are you – chosen by God, welcomed to draw near to Him by faith in Christ now, and promised that, even through death, you will ever be with Him!  How incredibly blessed!  This is exactly what David says as he declares the wonder of the Lord’s kindness in electing us to be His people.And David doesn’t just state the fact of our blessedness, he shows us how we should respond.  A few verses before delighting in the reality of God’s electing love, he starts his Psalm by saying, “Praise is due to You, O God, in Zion” (Ps 65:1a).  That is the heart and center of the response we should offer to the Lord for choosing us to be His people, to draw near to Him now and live with Him forever – we should recognize that praise is owed to Him, say that praise is owed to Him, and freely offer the praise that is owed to Him.  In our homes, at school, at work, when we’re out and about, and when we’re gathered together as His people, we should open wide our lips and praise the Lord for His unparalleled kindness in electing us and setting us apart for Himself.  It isn’t a prideful thing, but very humble, to turn all praise away from ourselves in this way, declaring that we had nothing to do with our being called to Christ and saved by Him, but that all glory is His alone for choosing and powerfully calling us, who otherwise would have come – for giving us salvation and eternal glory when everything in us seemed to cry out for Him to cast us into the outer darkness.  It isn’t to say, “I’m better than you, or one of the good ones, because God chose me,” but rather, it is to say, “I am the chief of sinners, the worst of all, and yet God loved me and sent His Son to die for me.  Isn’t He glorious!”  It is to declare with the hymn writer, “My Lord, I did not choose You, for that could never be, my heart will still refuse You, had You not chosen me.  You took the sin that stained me, You cleansed me, made me new; of old You have ordained me, that I should live in You” (My Lord, I Did Not Choose You).  It is to give our God the glory He was due.  This, says David, is how we should respond to the fact of our Lord’s blessedness as the objects of our Lord’s electing love.So, Christian, whatever else may take place this week, make sure to pause and praise Him for His kindness, already shown to you in setting His love upon you before He laid the foundations of the earth.  Of His own good pleasure, He chose to bless you, and you are blessed indeed!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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