grace notes- pastoral letter 2.22.23

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 this letter finds you and yours healthy and happy in the Lord, our glorious God and Savior.  It was a joy for me to see you and worship Him together this past Lord’s day, and I have been praying for you ever since, asking the Lord to daily draw you near to Him, granting that, in coming to know Him better and better, you would increasingly delight in Him and reflect His likeness.  This transformation of the believer as we become more and more like the One we love was the subject of some discussion after our prayer meeting last Thursday morning.In reading and praying through Psalm 135, we noted that those who choose to worship another so-called “god” become like the things they worship.  In the words of the Psalmist, speaking of such idols, “The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them” (Ps 135:15-18).  It is easy enough to understand.  Those who focus their minds and hearts on a block of wood or statue made of silver choose to devote themselves to something that is inherently lifeless.  As such, they receive from such idols no wisdom, no insight, no knowledge – nothing at all.  Thus, fixing their attention and affections on dead and dumb things, their own thoughts become increasingly empty.  In order to persuade themselves that this breathes, thoughtless thing is one sense or another a source of life, joy, and so forth, they are forced to vacate their minds of the truth, blocking it out and suppressing it, and so becoming duller in their thinking and desensitized in their hearts to what is truly beautiful and good.  Of course, in our supposedly secular society, we’re less inclined to mold images of wood, silver, or gold, but we’ve found ready replacements in countless glowing screens, which seem to promise wisdom and happiness, but more often promote lazy thinking, falsehood, and disappointment with their flashing images and de-contextualized soundbites.  Whether in the form of a TV screen, a smartphone, or a metal image, all such things are poor substitutes for the living and true God, and those who choose to worship them become like them.On the other hand, those who worship the living and true God increasingly become like Him.  This was the prayerful reflection of our Elder Brent Dettloff, and it aligns well with the reasoning of Scripture.  Indeed, our coming glorification is said to be the result of our seeing the Lord Jesus as He really is.  So great will that beatific vision be, that it will powerfully change those who share in it into the very likeness of Christ.  This is how the Apostle John puts it, inspired by the Holy Spirit: “what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is” (1 Jn 3:2b, emphasis mine).  To see Christ will be to be made like Christ.  Such is the glory of our Savior.  But, while the fullness of that transformation is reserved for a set date in the future, the believer is able and intended to undergo a transformation in part even now.  And, as we might expect, given all that we’ve just seen, this too comes by our gazing, by faith, upon the glory of our God.  So says the Apostle Paul: “And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18).  Do you see it?  How is the believer sanctified in this life?  How are we helped to put sin to death and grow to more closely resemble our Savior?  How do we, Christ’s disciples, become like Him whom our souls love, whom we’re called to follow and imitate in all of life?  The answer, according to God’s Word, is that we grow to be more like Him by beholding Him.  Which is to say, by meeting Him where He has most plainly revealed Himself, in His perfect Word, and drinking in all that He has been pleased to record for us.  Reading and thinking upon His glorious character.  Reading and pondering His mighty works.  Reading and meditating on His salvation and perfect law, both of which reveal the beauty and goodness of the God we’re blessed to know and serve, even as we call Him our heavenly Father.  Seeing His glory, we’re moved by His Spirit who lives within us to strive to be more like Him – to hate sin and love righteousness; to abhor wickedness while loving truth and mercy; to be done with the old man, whom we have put, off and live in keeping with the new man, who is being renewed after the image of its Creator (cf. Col 3:9).  All of this comes from the simple beginning of spending time gazing upon the glory of God in His Word.  Seeing Him – adoring Him – we are made like Him.This being the case, let us be diligent to spend time each day, and every week in corporate worship, beholding the glory of our God, in order that we might be transformed into the same image, from one degree of glory to another.  I know your busy schedule cries out for your attention.  I know the appeal of those colorful and shining screens.  But, I also know that such things, while they may have their proper place in life, are unable to do what only time spent with the Lord can do – to renew your minds in the truth, awaken your affections with that which is truly glorious, and so to satisfy you and refashion you, bit by bit, into the likeness of Him who made you for His own glory.  So, in a world where many are increasingly becoming but shadows of what we were made to be, like lifeless automatons parroting back what they see and hear from lifeless screens, determine, by God’s grace, to be another sort of person altogether.  Determine to be someone who is filled with the life and joy of the Lord, shining ever more brightly until He calls you home, or comes and effects your final transformation in one glorious instant, in which you see Him and are made like Him at last!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
PO Box 26511
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27114-6511

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