GRACE NOTES-PASTORAL LETTER 7.25.23

Monthly memory verse: “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might, and the wonders that He has done” (Ps 78:4)..

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I hope this finds you and yours filled with the joy of our Lord’s salvation.  I have been praying for you this week – asking the Lord to move His each of us to be zealous for every good work and diligent in watchfulness against the sin that dampens our fellowship with Him and dims our witness in the world, bringing with it many other undesirable consequences as well.  This dangerous and damaging nature of sin came through vividly as my family recently worked through David’s sin with Bathsheba and its awful results during family worship.  The whole episode and its multi-generational impact make very clear the fact that sin is never as isolated and controllable as we imagine it will be.It all begins with David engaging in what he likely imagined could be a relatively private, unknown sin, and relatively harmless.  When he should have been out warring, as kings did that that time of year, king David instead remained idly at home in Jerusalem  (cf. 2 Sam 11:1).  As was common at that time, he sought to relax by walking on the roof of his house, where he was perhaps surprised to look out and see a beautiful young woman bathing (cf. 2 Sam 11:2).  Rather than averting his gaze and driving any lustful thoughts from his mind, as he should have done, he instead asked about the woman and – amidst a chapter full of the king seeming to grow in pride and ordering people around – he commanded that she be brought to him, at which point he lay with her (cf. 2 Sam 11:3-4).  And that, we might surmise, is where he hoped it would end.  Just as many engage in everything from dishonesty to viewing pornography to outright engaging in sexual immorality to harboring bitterness, thinking it will remain an isolated incident with no further impact on their own lives or the lives of others.  Even so, David had his fun little fling, sent Bathsheba home, and surely thought he would return to life as normal.But, the account quickly advances to show that his sin wasn’t as private and unknown as he hoped it would be, and certainly wasn’t harmless.  It wasn’t long before Bathsheba sent a report to the king saying that she had become pregnant (cf. 2 Sam 11:5).  It wasn’t long before the king had cooked up quite a scheme, calling her husband Uriah home from war, in hopes that he would lay with his wife and assume that the baby was his own.  However, David was frustrated to find that Uriah was more honorable than he, and wouldn’t enjoy time at home with his wife while his countrymen were off at war (cf. 2 Sam 11:6-13).  Now desperate to keep his sin hidden, David sent Uriah back to the battle, ordering his chief commander to implement a foolish strategy one would never otherwise use, in order to ensure Uriah’s death.  It seems David thought that if he couldn’t convince Uriah the baby was his own, then he could at least kill Uriah and marry Bathsheba quickly, so that everyone would assume the baby to be born was legitimately conceived, preventing his infidelity from becoming widely known.  And so, as David ordered, Uriah was abandoned to die on the front lines.  Uriah perished and David took Bathsheba to be his wife (cf. 2 Sam 11:14-26).  What David thought could be a one-night, private affair had now led him not only down the path of adultery, but deceit and murder as well.  It is a good lesson to remember when sin comes tempting.  We might think it is just a glance, just a little lie, just a single incident of unfaithfulness that will never be widely known or do much harm, but it turns out that sin isn’t so easily quarantined, nor are its effects able to be contained.  To willingly engage in it is to harden our hearts and open ourselves to further sin, in addition to unwittingly inviting any number of ill-effects in the lives of those around us.Indeed, as the account goes on, it becomes apparent that David’s sin would have still far more wide-ranging and terrible consequences.  In time, the Lord used Nathan the prophet to rebuke David.  David confessed and Nathan assured him of God’s forgiveness (cf. 2 Sam 12:1-13).  But, Nathan added, this didn’t mean there wouldn’t be further consequences, including the death of the child in Bathsheba’s womb (cf. 2 Sam 12:14).  More than that, the Lord declared to David, “Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife” (2 Sam 12:10).  And it isn’t long before we go on to read of David’s son Amnon raping his own half-sister Tamar.  It was a sin that David, perhaps because of his own similar sexual immorality, failed to correct.  As a result, Tamar’s brother Absalom held vengeance in his heart for two years, eventually hatching and carrying out a scheme to murder Amnon.  Because of this, Absalom fled from Jerusalem – leaving David behind, along with what was now a shattered family (cf. 2 Sam 13).  Absalom would eventually return, but in time Absalom raised a rebellion against David, ending in Absalom’s own death (cf. 2 Sam 14-18).  Much later, there would be great conflict between David’s sons regarding who would succeed him as king.  Solomon would become king, and a wise one at that, but would fall into the same sexual immorality that blemished David’s reign, only in a far more extensive manner.  Eventually, following Solomon’s death the kingdom itself would split in half – divided between the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah.  It is stunning when you step back and take in the wide-angle view.  One supposedly isolated infidelity spreading like gangrene, infecting many generations and countless people – beginning by breaking David’s family into pieces and extending to the division of an entire kingdom.  Such is the deadly and contagious nature of sin.  In our foolishness we embrace it, thinking to keep it secret and safe.  But it can’t be kept quiet and it is the farthest thing imaginable from safe.  Its wage is death, and it takes down as many as it can, delighting to inflict collateral damage (cf. Rom 6:23).And the central, uppermost evil of the thing is made clear by one simple statement back near the start of David’s trouble.  Having taken Bathsheba and killed Uriah, while David might still have been able to persuade himself that the thing could be kept hidden away, we’re told in an understated sort of way, “But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD” (2 Sam 11:27b).  And there is the problem in a nutshell.  To sin, in whichever of ten-thousand ways we choose to sin, and especially to sin willfully, is to displease the Lord.  And, while He is a God of mercy who will forgive us as we confess and forsake our sin, He is also a Father who disciplines in order that we might understand the heinousness and severity of sin, and, unlike the sweet fellowship that comes with humble obedience, His discipline is never pleasant (cf. Heb 12:11).  More than that, as David’s sin and its outcome shows, it can impact far more than the individual transgressor, touching the lives and bringing sorrow to numerous others, and even for many generations.Let us therefore keep a close watch on ourselves, diligently guarding against every occasion of sin.  Let us not think it a small thing to willfully violate the Word of God, nor arrogantly and errantly assume that we can control it and contain its effects.  Let us not be a people who live with a mindset of seeing how much we can get away with, but of striving at all times and in every way to please the Lord. 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.

 

 We are located at:
508 Harvey Street
Winston-Salem, NC  27103

Our mailing address is:
Covenant of Grace Presbyterian Church
PO Box 26511
Winston-Salem, North Carolina 27114-6511

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