Happy families?

Psalms decorativeBlessed is everyone who fears the Lord,     
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;     
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.
Your wife will be like a fruitful vine     
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots     
around your table.
Psalm 128:1-3ESV

One size fits all’ is probably never true; certainly not in respect to the blessings God gives us. Rather, Love and Grace are fitted to each of us, according to our need (perhaps more than our desire) and according to our Father’s perfect knowledge of each one of His beloved children. Timothy Keller comments on Psalm 128….

Timothy Keller wrote: “FAMILY: A loving spouse and growing children are a great blessing (verses 3-4). But sin in the heart and evil in the world have disrupted the life of the human family. Many wish to have families who don’t, and many who have families wish they had very different ones. There are also people who have suffered terrible abuse within their families. Jesus said that his family did not consist of his biological relatives: “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). The church must not only support and repair families but also find a way to become the family of God where everyone, married and single, childless or not, can flourish in love.”

Prayer: Lord, too many of us today relate to others at church as fellow customers rather than as brothers and sisters. We go to get religious services, not to live out our common lives together like family. Change my thinking; help me to help my church become a family. Amen.”

From Timothy Keller in My Rock My Refuge

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Psalm 128

A Song of Ascents

Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord,
who walks in his ways!
You shall eat the fruit of the labor of your hands;
you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you.

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine
within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots
around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed
who fears the Lord.

The Lord bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life!
May you see your children’s children!
Peace be upon Israel! 

Psalm 128 ESV

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Self-builders?

Psalms decorativeUnless the Lord builds the house,     
those who build it labor in vain.
Psalm 127:1 ESV

Not only the energy, the talents, and the time, to pursue our goals, are from God, but also (and this is perhaps the greatest challenge to our pride) the outcomes too, are entirely in His hands. Timothy Keller commented on Psalm 127 …

“REST. Prosperity and security are not ultimately your accomplishments but God’s gifts (127:1). So too thriving, happy children are God’s doing (127:3-5). ‘Helicopter’ parenting and over involvement in our children’s lives, cannot ensure their health and happiness. Unless the Lord enters their lives, all our watching is in vain. Giving our children to God is the only way we get to keep them.

“If you know that the one who loves you unfailingly is in complete charge of history, you will be able to sleep well (127:2). And if you are overworked and overstressed, you are forgetting who God is. Jesus said it most bluntly: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’ (John 15:5).”

Prayer: Lord, admitting my accomplishments are your gift is a bittersweet thing to do. It stings at first because it humbles. But then it is so very sweet and brings such peace. It is not up to me, and it never was. Let me work hard, with this liberating insight removing the pressure I sinfully put on myself. Amen.”

From Timothy Keller in My Rock, My Refuge.

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Psalm 127

A Song of Ascents. Of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds the house,     
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,     
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early     
and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil;     
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,     
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior     
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man     
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame     
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Psalm 127 ESV

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Deeper Troubles, Louder Praises.

Psalms decorative

The Lord has done great things for us;     
we are glad.
Psalm 126:3 ESV

Charles Spurgeon wrote: “Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, yet with scarcely any allusion to the mercy and help which God has (promised) them.

“But a Christian whose soul is in a healthy state, will come forward joyously, and say, “I will speak, not about myself, but to the honour of my God. He has brought me up out of a horrible pit, and out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings: and he has put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God. The Lord has done great things for me, (and) I am glad.”

“Such an … experience as this is the very best that any child of God can present. It is true that we endure trials, but it is just as true that we are delivered out of them. It is true that we have our corruptions, and mournfully do we know this, but it is quite as true that we have an all-sufficient Saviour, who overcomes these corruptions, and delivers us from their dominion. In looking back, it would be wrong to deny that we have been in the Slough of Despond, and have crept along the Valley of Humiliation, but it would be equally wicked to forget that we have been through them safely and profitably; we have not remained in them, thanks to our Almighty Helper and Leader, who has brought us (through).

“The deeper our troubles, the louder our thanks to God, who has led us through all, and preserved us until now. Our griefs cannot mar the melody of our praise, we reckon them to be the bass part of our life’s song…”

From Charles Spurgeon in Morning and Evening.

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Psalm 126

A Song of Ascents.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,     
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,     
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then they said among the nations,     
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
The Lord has done great things for us;     
we are glad.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,     
like streams in the Negeb!
Those who sow in tears     
shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,     
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,     
bringing his sheaves with him.

Psalm 126 ESV

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Trust as Praise.

Psalms decorative

Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,     
which cannot be moved, but abides forever.
As the mountains surround Jerusalem,     
so the Lord surrounds his people,     
from this time forth and forevermore.
Psalm 125:1-2 ESV

When tempted to focus on the benefits to ourselves of trusting in God in the face of trouble, we may be better blessed to consider that then, of all times, we are praising God best as He most deserves.

Timothy Keller commented on Psalm 125:1-2 ….

 ENDURANCE. In ancient times there was no more militarily secure position for a city than to be behind encircling mountains. Trusting in God is like being in a mountain fastness (verse 2).

“How? Trusting God provides a superior vantage point. It helps us see our own sin and see that wickedness only pays in the short term. Trusting God is also the way to eventually get breathtaking sights of God himself. When Isaiah saw the Holy One, high and lifted up, it permanently changed his view of everything (Isaiah 6:1-8). Most of all, trusting God means connecting yourself to the one person who will endure forever. And that means you will endure as well (verse 1). In a world in which seemingly everything changes and nothing lasts, fix your mind on that.

Prayer: Lord, I find the relentless transitions and changes of life exhausting. But you do not change, and you are my dwelling place. Help me calm my heart through this truth. ‘For his mercies, they endure; Ever faithful, ever sure.’ Amen.”

From Timothy Keller in My Rock My Refuge.

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