GRACE NOTES- PASTORAL LETTER 3.6.24


Monthly memory verse:
“But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:4-5).
Dearly beloved saints of Covenant of Grace,
It was an encouragement and blessing to be with you as we learned, fellowship, worshipped, and considered the great gift of gathering together as Christ’s church this past Lord’s Day.  I have been praying for you since, asking the Lord to increasingly fill each of us with that love for Him that runs over in a longing for and delight in the company of His gathered saints.  As we saw in looking at Psalm 84, the beauty and blessedness of being with God’s people is a consistent them in His Word, and something that should be evident in the way we think about the Lord’s Day.
Scripture is clear in calling to us observe the Sabbath and, as part of that observance, to be diligent about weekly coming together to worship.  The institution of the Sabbath goes all the way back to creation, where we read that, “So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation” (Gen 2:3).  This is reiterated in the giving of the Law at Sinai, where we’re told, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy… For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Exod 20:8, 11).  Honoring the Sabbath formed part of the life and ministry of our Savior (cf. Mk 1:21; 6:2; Lk 4:16; 6:6; 13:10).  Upon His rising from the dead, the church continued to gather to worship the Lord, though now on the first day of the week, calling it the Lord’s Day, as a result of Christ’s having risen on that day (cf. Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; Rev 1:10).  And, as we recently heard in our series on Hebrews, we’re specifically instructed not to neglect the corporate gathering of God’s people (cf. Heb 10:25).
Scripture further emphasizes that this is not intended to be a burdensome but a joyful thing – a delightful duty.  Thus, Isaiah 58:13-14, “If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”  And likewise, as Jesus spoke of the Sabbath, He stressed that, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27).
Consequently, Scripture records the delight the faithful having being together with one another for worship, and the sorrow they feel when prevented from joining in this gathering.  Psalm 48 exults in the  beauty of the place of God’s dwelling – today, the congregated church – and encourages us to think upon the excellency of our God and of His resting place.  Psalm 84 declares the loveliness of God’s dwelling place, and teaches us what it looks like to long for the courts of the Lord as we go from week to week, looking toward and eagerly longing for the time when we will again draw near to Him together.  And, Psalm 63 expresses David’s distress when circumstances kept Him from joining with God’s people to praise His name, saying, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek You; my soul thirsts for You; my flesh faints for You, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps 63:1).
Let us therefore not think lightly or lowly, but highly of every opportunity to meet together each Lord’s Day morning and evening, viewing as a weighty thing that is worthy of our diligence and a joyful thing that holds for us rich blessings.  Let us labor throughout the week with the remembrance of having begun the week with His worship, and the knowledge that we’re laboring to please the One who first loved us and gave Himself for us.  At the same time, let us labor in the hope, and with the planned intention, of soon seeing each another and lifting our voices to join in the praise of the heavenly host once more.  Let us get our affairs in order and prepare our hearts well beforehand, coming into His courts with thanksgiving, eager to hear from Him in His Word and anticipating the blessing we will receive from a heavenly Father who loves to give good gifts to His children, as He continues to work in us that which is well-pleasing in His sight.  Let us, with the faithful in every age, not forget but remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy, and to call it a delight!
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.