GRACE NOTES – PASTORAL LETTER 9.20.23

onthly memory verse: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is” (Eph 5:15-17).

Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,I hope the week has been going very well for you so far, and that as you read this letter you are healthy in body and encouraged in heart as you remember the great salvation of which we have been made partakers in Christ.  It certainly isn’t always easy to feel encouraged when we see so much wickedness all around us every day, but it is nonetheless truly possible for those whose faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ, who heed our God’s instruction to, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Col 3:2).  This is something of which I was reminded, and by which I myself was encouraged, as I recently read and pondered Psalm 49 during both our Thursday prayer meeting and my own family’s evening worship.Surely, in a day in which the wicked seem to prosper, there is a great temptation toward jealousy, anger, and even fearfulness.  The psalmist expresses as much in Psalm 49:5-6, asking, “Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me, those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches?”  Ultimately, he defies such anxiety, but the very statement of the question lets us in on the fact that the temptation was present.  After all, he may have been an inspired writer, but he wasn’t therefore free from the various struggles we face as we go through this life.  Indeed, the Lord uses his acquaintance with such difficulties to teach us that he both understands and cares about the hardships we face.  As we read on in the Psalm, we find that the writer couldn’t help but notice that when he scanned the landscape around him that sin was everywhere he looked, with those who wholeheartedly embraced it doing very well for themselves, enjoying wealth and ease, arrogantly boasting of their standing and exploits, and even being admired and applauded for it.  Given the state of things in our own country, it is easy for us to relate.  Sexual deviants hold high places of power in our land.  Corrupt politicians are busy lining their own pockets while the people they’re supposed to be representing suffer the effects of their vile, self-serving policies.  Positions that produce great wealth and popularity are increasingly reserved for those who shake their fist at the Lord while ridiculing, despising, and even threatening His people.  It would be easy to give in to the temptation to be overcome with constant worry and fear.However, the whole tenor of our Psalm is a defiant declaration that, even when the ungodly appear to hold all the high ground, the believer in the Lord need not give way to terror or despair.  Much could be said to parse-out how he demonstrates this proposition, but it really boils down to one concept viewed from two perspectives.  The concept is eternity, and the two perspectives are the eternal destiny of the wicked and the eternal destiny of the godly.In the first place, whereas he may seem to have everything going for him in this world, the wicked can never pay to God any price that would be sufficient to ransom his soul from hell, so that he must ultimately perish forever.  Thus, the psalmist announces, in verses 7-9,“Truly no man can ransom another, or give to God the price of his life, for the ransom of their life is costly and can never suffice, that he should live on forever and never see the pit.”  Do you see how this, rightly weighed, can’t help but put things in perspective?  All the accumulated wealth of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos can’t even begin to outweigh the weight of their sins, such that the Lord would accept their assets in exchange for freeing their souls from everlasting condemnation in the pit of hell.  In the first place, all their wealth is already His anyway, as is everything else in the world (cf. Ps 24:1).  In the second place, the guilt of one sin against an infinitely worthy God is more than can ever be repaid by anything less than an infinitely worthy sum, which no mere man has in his possession to give.  Therefore, though the wicked who rebel against the Lord may do very well for themselves in this world and be held in high regard among other blind and unbelieving people for it, their end is destruction, where the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever, with no rest by day or by night (cf. Rev 14:11).  Undoubtedly, this strips away the sheen of temporal treasures, which should relieve us of the temptation to envy or fear those who boost in their present status.  Soon, the tables will be turned quite upside-down.In the second place, whereas we may be hard-pressed in this world, those who are united to Christ by a true and living faith have a share in His sure ransom, so that we will surely dwell in the present of the Lord forever.  So, after taking several verses to describe the hopeless case of the one who insists on storing up his treasure in this world, the psalmist goes on to say, “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me” (Ps 49:15).  Naturally, given the time of his writing, he looked forward to the ransom that was to be given for his soul.  Thankfully, given the time of our reading, we look back with fuller understanding and know precisely when and how that ransom was paid, as we ponder the glorious reality that is the cross of Christ.  As He ministered on this earth, the Lord Jesus taught that He had come to give His life as a ransom (cf. Mk 10:45).  And, having offered Himself up once to God, a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice concerning our sins, we’re assured that, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses” (Eph 1:7).  What all the wealth in the world could never do, Jesus Christ did when He gave His body to be broken on the tree in our place, a Substitute offering Himself to pay our debt in the very courts of God.  Being not only truly man but also truly God, He paid by His own infinitely precious blood the price we required to ransom our souls, freeing us from everlasting damnation, now to enjoy pleasures forevermore in the presence of the God who will surely receive us for Christ’s sake.  Beyond question, this should be enough to produce contentment when things in this world are far from as they should be.  To be sure, we pray and work for reformation and revival, hoping for better days here and now for us and our children.  But whether we live to see such days or not, we can have hope and be encouraged when we remember to keep eternity and view.Keep eternity in view, then, and press on, dear believer!  The trials of life may feel almost unbearably heavy at times, but viewed in the light of eternity, they’re light and momentary, and soon to be overcome by a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory (cf. 2 Cor 4:17)!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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