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May 7, 2020

Please read today’s Scriptures and use the comment section on this page to share your insights from today’s reading. You can also just mention a verse that impacted you or post a question!

Read (and Hear) the Bible in One Year
New American Standard Bible for 2020

Text: 1 Chronicles 18-21
Audio: 1 Chronicles 18-21

Psalm 127 (ESV)

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.

English Standard Version (ESV)
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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This Post Has One Comment
  1. The Builder

    The opening verse of today's psalm provides critical information that every person should know – from the most faithful follower of Jesus Christ whose life is devoted to service the Lord and others, to the most hardened atheists who have no interest in anything related a God they don't believe exists. 

    Psalm 127:1 says…

    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.

    There is enough contained in this one verse that a series of sermons or an entire book can be written. I'm going to focus on the first half of the first verse.

    If I were to paraphrase this verse, it would be:

    Anything and everything we build is built in vain if the Lord does not build it. 

    Another way of saying it might be:

    Anything and everything we build outside of the will of God, without His blessing, empowering, and equipping, does not honor and glorify Him.

    In a general sense, everyone, no matter who they are or what they believe (or don't believe) about God, are builders. Pastors build just as atheists build, as do everyone in between.

    If an atheist builds something of tremendous earthly value and does good for a lot of people, that is the only value it has since it wasn't built to bring God glory. While many philanthropists do incredible work giving away wealth to solve the world's problems, if they are not born again, they have not built to glorify God and have built in vain (spiritually speaking). 

    For believers, our lives should not only reflect the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control), but we should be known by our love for God, love for one another, and love and service to those around us.

    We should not live in leisure or luxury, or be motivated by selfish ambition or vanity. If we truly love the Lord, our desire should be to honor and glorify Him, not ourselves.

    The warnings in Psalm 127:1 should cause all followers of Christ to pause and take heed to the truths contained in this verse – especially those of us who are called to shepherd the flock of God!

    This morning I woke up at 2:30 AM. Michelle has been tossing and turning a lot lately (probably due to her work). After a while, I decided to continue reading the second volume of the autobiography of D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones "The Fight of Faith 1939-1981" by Iain Murray (Banner of Truth Publishing).

    In an entry from 1945, Jones spoke with a young man who desired to enter the ministry. He advised the young man to study 1 Corinthians 1-3, saying, "I am convinced that no chapters are more important to preach from at this time."

    I put down this 832-page book (Volume I, "The First Forty Years – 1899-1939" is "only" 412 pages), and read 1 Corinthians 1-3. I'm glad I did because it applies to today's reading, in particular the possibility and potential of building in vain. 

    1 Corinthians 3:10-15 says, "According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder, I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

    How will we know if what we have built has been built by the Lord or ourselves? We will know when we stand before God in judgment – not judgment for our sin (since those who are born again are saved from this judgment), but the "Final Judgment" where Jesus tests the things we have built in His name.

    In an article at Ligonier Ministries, John Sartelle writes, "Who among us is able to perceive the motives and purposes of the deepest recesses of the heart? The minister or elder who worked tirelessly may have been chiefly motivated by a desire to rise to a place of power. The one who seemed so humble may have been totally motivated by a raging fire of pride in his inner being. The pastor whom we thought should have been more of an extrovert and more visible in the community may have been the quiet priest who spent hours on his knees daily for his city and flock."

    In a devotional at Ligonier, I found the following words impactful and humbling:

    "Paul writes concerning church-builders that some labor with wood, hay, and stubble, and some with gold, silver, and jewels. On the Day of Judgment, some men will see their wooden works burned up, but they themselves will be saved. Paul is not speaking here of believers in general, as if our own works can consist wholly of straw. Rather, in context he is speaking of pastors. Some pastors labor their whole lives in dead, strawy churches, and their labors are lost in the sense that the church dies."

    Regarding Psalm 127:1, the ESV Study Bible says, "The necessity of the Lord's power for temporal achievements anticipates the necessity for God, and Him alone, to accomplish eternal salvation through Christ."

    Again, what I read in the middle of the night comes to mind as I reflect on these challenging truths, "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1 Corinthians 3:7).

    While the context of the "house" referenced in Psalm 127:1 is more than likely the house/Temple Solomon built (since this is a "Song of Ascents" written by Solomon), the significance of God's involvement and blessing in all that we build is beyond a physical residence from the days of Solomon. 

    Father, I pray that I would not build in vain. I pray that my deceitful heart, which is beyond cure, would not deceive me and cause me confusion in matters related to my life and ministry. 

    If I have built in vain, I ask for your forgiveness. If I have done anything in your name which was motived by anything other than to glorify you and serve others, I ask for your forgiveness. I also ask you to show me where I have gone astray.

    Help me to discern the straight path and narrow gate for my life as your child, as a husband to the wife you have given me, as a dad to the child you have given me, to the friends and family you have provided to me, and to those I minister to that you have called me to shepherd. Amen.

    ~ Puritan Prayers ~

    "Fighting the Daily Fight" by Robert Parker

    "Dear God, it is so hard for us to fight against ourselves.

    It is very difficult to overcome an enemy that lies so close and hidden within us as our flesh does. And unless you arm me with divine power, I am in great danger of yielding to this treacherous foe.

    Help me die to myself daily, I beg you. Do not let me be eternally separated by the attractions of the flesh from the life that is in Christ my Savior.

    Preserve me this day in your fear and favor, and in the end bring me to your everlasting kingdom, through Jesus Christ. Amen."

    (Excerpt taken from Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans)

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