GRACE NOTES- PASTORAL LETTER 8.9.23

Monthly memory verse: “Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor” (Rom 12:9-10).

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,It was a great blessing and encouragement to see you and worship together this past Lord’s Day.  What a privilege to be among those who are called “saints” as we gather to adore our great God and Savior, humbling ourselves in His presence and giving thanks for all of His incomparable kindnesses to us.  Indeed, giving such thanks is not only a blessing for us, but an essential part of our duty to the Lord who made, redeemed, and continually sustains and provides for us.  This is something that I have been pondering over the past week or so, contemplating the beauty of a thankful spirit, over-against the self-righteous entitlement and ingratitude that are so pervasive today.  Whereas many spend their days in bitterness and complaint, Christ’s people are to be markedly different, always giving thanks.Giving thanks to the Lord is central to the life of the Christian.  Thus, over and over again, the Word of God calls us to remember to give Him thanks.  “Give thanks to the Lord” (Ps 33:2).  “We will give thanks to Your name forever” (Ps 44:8).  “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving” (Ps 50:14).  “The one who offers thanksgiving as a sacrifice glorifies Me” (Ps 50:23).  “I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples” (Ps 57:9).  “Let us come into HIs presence with thanksgiving” (Ps 95:2).  “Rejoice in the LORD, O your righteous, and give thanks to His holy name” (Ps 97:12).  “Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good” (Ps 106:1).  Many, many more instances in the Psalms could be cited.  But, it isn’t just the Psalms.  Consider the inspired words of the Apostle Paul.  “Give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thess 5:18).  Indeed, even when we’re tempted to anxiety, so that we’re driven to pour out our hearts before God in prayer, we’re to remember to salt our prayer with gratitude, remembering that, even in difficult times, we have much for which to be thankful: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).  Given the abundant weight of biblical testimony, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that giving thanks to the Lord is by no means an optional or a peripheral, but a central part of the Christian life.Therefore, failing to be thankful is sinful and not in accord with a profession of faith in Christ.  We see this in a striking way in a chapter often, rightly, cited to highlight the sinfulness of the world outside of Christ.  As Paul works to demonstrate the sinfulness of all people in Romans 1, he notes that the existence and certain attributes to the Lord are made obvious in the things that He has made.  Then, having asserted this, he goes on to declare the guilt that is borne by all who refuse to humbly submit themselves to Him, trusting and worshipping Him.  To this end, he writes those well-known words, “For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God” (Rom 1:21).  And then, in a brief few words that must not be overlooked, he adds, “or give thanks to Him” (Rom 1:21).  Here is the great sinfulness of the world at enmity with God, laid out plainly for us to consider.  And, we’re told, this sinfulness is found not only in refusing to honor the Lord as God, but also in failing to be thankful to Him.  If it wasn’t obvious from all of the direct commands to give thanks to the Lord, then here it is made painfully clear: It is a sinful and guilty thing, and therefore no tin accord with a profession of faith in Christ, to be an unthankful person – to go through life grumbling and complaining, or simply receiving the Lord’s countless good gifts without pausing to purposefully declare our gratitude to Him.Imagine, if you will, of a very wealthy and powerful person who lives in the most magnificent mansion imaginable.  Much to your surprise, he invites you over for dinner.  To your greater surprise, upon arriving, he welcomes you to stay in his house for a time – eating his food, sharing his many fine possessions, enjoying his entertainment, and sleeping in quarters he gladly supplies.  Naturally, you would be grateful, and would, I would hope, say as much, thanking him for being so kind to you, who have done nothing to deserve such generosity.  But imagine that, as time passed, you began to simply take it all for granted.  Imagine you forgot that you were a guest and began to assume that all of these gifts were simply yours by way of right.  Imagine you walked past the owner in his own house to take food from his pantry before putting your shoes on his couch, without so much as acknowledging his presence or stopping to tell him, “thank you.”  He would be rightly offended, he might well rebuke you, and he would be well within his rights to send you packing.Now, remember the words of the Psalmist that, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps 24:1).  Remember that, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (Jas 1:17).  Remember the rhetorical question posed to the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?”  Remember and consider that, every single day, you live in a world created and upheld by the powerful Word of the Lord.  Remember and consider that every breath you take, every sip of water you drink, every morsel of food you eat, every piece of clothing you don, every sun-ray you feel on your skin on a warm summer day, every drop of rain that refreshes the earth, every star you see in the night sky – every good thing you possess and experience – is a gift, freely given to you by Him who owns the world and everything in it, who has graciously allowed you to reside in His estate for a season.  Much more, Christian, remember and consider that this same God and King over all has given His only Son to redeem you, so that you can dwell with Him in His kingdom forever.  Remember, consider, and don’t take it all for granted or go on without a second thought, but take time to give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! 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/