Dear CSOPC brothers and sisters,
With Thanksgiving behind us and the Christmas holiday in front of us – we are entering a very unique time of year. For all the joy that seems to be in the air, for many the Holidays are times of great stress, sadness, and hurt. What a time to draw near to our Lord who draws near to us. What a time to find our sufficiency and our identity in Christ – all our blessing are in Christ – and we are new creations in Christ. With the world running this way and that during the next month, may we be salt and light as we point our neighbors to the greatest gift known to man – the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Please note the following dates and events:
- Tonight we meet at 7:00 at the Barnes’ home (2530 Teague Rd) for our monthly prayer meeting.
- This Saturday, the men will meet at 8:30 at the Egg and I on Hwy 6 & Little York for our monthly breakfast.
- This Sunday we will celebrate the Lord’s Supper and will receive the Roundtrees into membership.
- Also this Sunday we will enjoy our monthly fellowship meal (more details to come) after worship.
- Also this Sunday we will collect the annual thank offering (please remember the matching the church plans to do)
- Next Saturday, Dec 12, the Ladies’ will gather at the Arendale home at 5:00 for their annual Christmas party (more to come).
- Finally, attached is this week’s devotion from Malachi on the Lord’s call to his people to look backward and forward.
God bless and I look forward to being with all of you this Lord’s Day,
From the Pastor’s Desk
“Backward and Forward”
Malachi 4:4-5, “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel … Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet.”
Malachi brings God’s final prophetic word of the Old Testament. Following Malachi, and for 400 years until the dawn of the New Testament, there is silence from God to his people. So what was God’s final word to his people before the curtain closed on the Old Covenant administration? It was a word of covenantal rebuke. For centuries, Israel had spurned their covenant obligations; and the situation during Malachi’s ministry was no different. In both worship and in life, the people of God were abandoning their covenant obligations (Mal 1:6-10; 2:1-3; 10-12, 13-16, 17; 3:5, 6-9, 13-15). Thus God condescends in mercy to rebuke and to chastise his people. At the same time, however, he calls them to repentance. “Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts (3:7). And the final verses of the book provide a wonderful template as to the ways God encourages us to return to him.
First, the Lord says to his people through the prophet: “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel” (4:4). The Lord points his people back – he calls them to remember. And specifically, he calls them to remember the covenant which he entered into with them. It was at Horeb (Sinai) that the Lord took Israel to be his special possession and constituted them a holy nation (Ex 19:4-6). And it was at Horeb (Sinai) that Israel covenanted to lead a life of faithfulness to God’s law (Ex 24:3-8). And thus the Lord is calling his people to remember the covenant relationship – the relationship sovereignly and graciously initiated by God. They are to remember God’s covenant love to them – he chose them to be his people – not because of anything noteworthy in them (Deut 7:6ff), but because this was God’s eternal purpose (Mal 1:2-5).
And second, the Lord says to his people through his prophet: “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes” (4:5). Here the Lord points his people forward to the coming ‘day of the Lord.’ He points them forward to the time of covenant fulfillment – to the time when his promises will be finally and fully realized. And according to the New Testament, that day has come. John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah preparing the way for the Messiah and the deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt 11:13-15; Mark 1:1-4). Indeed all of God’s promises are yes and amen in Christ (2 Cor 1:20).
Dear brothers and sisters, I want you to see where the Lord calls his people to look – his people struggling in despair and discouragement. Where does he call them to look? Both backward and forward. May we do the same! May we look back to see God’s sovereign, eternal, unchangeable, love bringing us from death to life. May we look back to God’s patience with our wanderings. To his wisdom in guiding us to where we are today. But may we also look forward. May we look forward to the time when Christ will return. When he will return to consummate his kingdom and to set all things right. May we always remember his matchless grace in our life and look forward to seeing our Savior face to face!
Rev. Robert Arendale, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church (OPC), www.csopc.org