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Psalm 127: The Rhythm of a Gospel Saturated Heart: See, Trust, Labour, Sleep

May 8, 2016 Speaker: Alex Kloosterman Series: Psalms

Topic: Transcriptions Passage: Psalm 127:1–127:5

The Rhythm of a Gospel Saturated Heart: See, Trust, Labour, Sleep
Alex Kloosterman- May 8, 2016, Peterborough, Ontario


Let’s pray: Father in heaven, we need your help now. We need your help to help us to see the work that you are doing, that you have done, that you will do. Help us to see the building you are building in and through us, Jesus Christ. Help us to trust in your labours, not our own. Help us to labour, not through the bread of anxious toil, but labour in the grace of God, and help us to sleep soundly, trusting you will do all that you have promised. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


Well we are going to be looking at Psalm 127 this evening, so if you have a Bible or if you have one in front of you, feel free to grab it. We are going to be looking at Psalm 127- I’ll give you a minute to turn there and we will read it together. I think the big idea from this passage, and we will read it, is that God has set up His kingdom in such a way that He gets the glory as the builder. That we labour and we toil, but we don’t labour and toil in the same way that He does and in fact our working and laboring- in the Psalms it says- is all for nothing, is vain, if God does not work. And this is how God has set it up so that He can get the glory as the builder. Our job is to receive His kingdom. Our duty is to trust Him, to labour by His grace and to sleep in His blessing. So let’s read this Psalm together- consider these things:
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.
2 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.
3 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children[a] of one's youth.
5 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

 


Amen. This is- if you come to prayer before the service this is probably one of the Psalms you have memorized in your head because, if I’m at prayer I usually always am praying this Psalm. I’m praying the first verse of this Psalm- almost every single week it comes to my heart. It’s because I’ve memorized it, it’s because I need it- it has ministered to me. “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (vs. 1).” That is always on my mind. And that’s because I’ve- I needed to hear this- that the laboring that I’m doing is nothing unless the Lord works. I’ve had members suggest to me that we should somehow on our website or something make this the life verse of our church, and that encouraged me. That’s a great verse to have. So we gather before our service to pray for what will happen, and what is constantly on our hearts is unless the Lord builds His house, everything we do is in vain. Everything we do is in vain. The reason why I’ve meditated on this personally is because I really also struggle to sleep. If you know me, you know this, if you’re close to me. I have serious trouble getting to sleep at night. If I- as soon as I wake up, I have trouble getting back to sleep, and I’ve had this probably since I was, I don’t know, 11 or 12 or something. I have a lot of problems sleeping. I think the first time I read this verse someone gave it to me to do with that- basically, that He gives His beloved sleep, and that’s when I came across it. And I want to share some of this with you. This might not solve all your sleeping trouble- that’s not the entire point of this Psalm, but I found it helpful to me.


Why do we sleep? Well, I took a sleeping course at Trent, and I’ve been to sleep studies, and a lot of people don’t know why we sleep. We know we need to, we know we’ll literally die if we don’t have sleep, we’ll die a lot sooner if we don’t sleep too, sleep is actually a very big thing. If you’re a mom and you wonder, “I’m not the same person as I used to be”, it’s probably sleep! It makes a big difference between how you feel and how you act. Sleep is necessary for us, but I think the biblical reason beneath that, underneath that- why do we need sleep- is sleep is a parable of trust. Sleep is a parable of trust and dependence. It’s saying, I labour and I work, and at some point, I stop. And the world continues, and the world spins, and it keeps going. And I wake up the next day, and we’re still here by the grace of God, not my doing. See, we need rest. We are finite. We need sleep. But the human temptation and the human sin is to live for ourselves- is to live as if we are strong and we are powerful and we can do whatever we want. But sleep is a reminder that no, we can’t. We have limits, and we will look at that this evening. Jesus said the same thing about the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, he sleeps and rises night and day and the seed sprouts and grows- he knows not how. The earth produces by itself, ie.- not the farmer, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But then the grain is ripe- at once he puts in the sickle because the harvest has come. The farmer knows that what he does is scatters the seed and then harvests the crop- and he has nothing to do with the growth. And Jesus is saying this is what the kingdom is like. We preach and we share, but we are totally dependent upon the work of God- totally dependent on the work of God. And I think a farmer knows more about the kingdom, and we should be spending more time looking at farmers than CEOs, because the Bible was written for farmers, my professor says. A farmer knows he can do everything he wants to do. He can scatter the seed but the weather can be bad. The season can be terrible. Pests can come in and the whole crop is lost. In other words, all of his labour is in vain. That’s what Solomon knew. Paul knew the same thing- “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.” So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. God is the one who receives the glory for what He did. So we’re going to walk through this Psalm together- I want you to see that God is the one who is building His house and is protecting His city. He has done this, He is doing this and He will finally bring it to completion in the new creation. We are to trust His labour and His protection. We are to labour, not in anxiety and fear, but by God’s grace. And then, we are to sleep. That’s what we are to do. We’re going to go through this Psalm and hopefully this will help you set a pattern for how we live our life day to day. We see, we trust, we labour, and we sleep. We see, we trust, we labour, we sleep. This is the rhythm of a gospel-saturated heart. We see the work of God in Jesus, we trust the work of God in Jesus, we get to work by the grace of God and the work of Jesus. And then we go to sleep, trusting again that He will continue His work apart from us. And we wake up, and we see, and we trust, and we work, and we sleep. That is the pattern of the Christian life and I want to walk through this Psalm and show you that.


We are going to walk through this Psalm and I’m going to point out things in the original context, I’m going to apply it in light of the rest of Scripture- the New Testament revelation we’ve been given, how it’s fulfilled in Jesus- and then I’m going to have some theological principles and application for us at the end. So let’s walk through this together starting in verse 1. Verse 1 is actually, “a song of ascents”. That is actually the first part of the verse- “a song of ascents, of Solomon”. The Psalms of ascent are Psalms 120-134, and these would likely have been sung as Israel was journeying up to Jerusalem towards the temple to worship. Psalm 122:4, another song of ascent, says the tribes of Israel “go up”- the same word for “ascend”- the tribe of Israel ascends to Jerusalem- why? To give thanks to the Lord. So the Psalms of ascent are a group of songs in the book of Psalms they would have sung corporally together as they are heading towards the temple, the house, the city of God. They would have been singing these things. And this isn’t any ordinary song of ascent, this is also a song of ascent of Solomon. That’s important, we’re going to see that. The Psalm is written by Solomon, it’s a wisdom Psalm. Psalm 127 and 128 are wisdom Psalms, they look and sound and feel a lot like the book of Proverbs. So what does this Psalm mean? Verse 1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” His point is that God has to be the one to build the house, and HE has to be the one to protect the city. If He doesn’t build the house, then all we’re doing is a waste of time. If He doesn’t protect the city, this is just a waste of time. We could stay up all night keeping guard, but we could be overwhelmed. We could labour all we can to build this house and it might not happen. It could all be in vain, but what does he mean when he talks about the house and the city? Well the house is the temple and the city is Jerusalem in this context. Chance just read from 2nd Samuel 7:1-17 and that is the covenant that God makes with David. I’m not going to read through it again but we can summarize. David said, here I am living in a house- by which he meant family dwelling- and yet the Lord and the Ark is dwelling in a tent. I need to make him a house. How can I live in a house if God doesn’t live in a house? All these other gods have temples and I haven’t even built a temple, I need to go do this. And God gives Nathan a dream: go to David, tell him what’s up. Essentially, have I ever asked you for a house David? I’ve never asked you for a house. In fact, I’m the one who chose you as a little shepherd boy- that was my work in your life. If I wanted a house, I would have asked you for a house. You know what? I’m going to build you a house. If I needed a house, I would have asked you. If I needed a house, I would have built it. In fact, I am going to build a house now. And by house, He means a temple and a dynasty. I’m going to build a house in that there will be a temple that will be built but I’m going to build a house in that one of your offspring, which is your children, will sit on the throne. I’m going to build your house when you are dead. So house means the family home you live in. House means the temple where God’s spirit dwells- a house for God, and house also means a family dynasty. And God says to David, you’re not going to build me a house, I’m going to build you a house. We know from the rest of the story- did David go on to build the temple? No he didn’t. He was a man of war and he shed blood so God said, your son Solomon, he is going to build me a house. And so the task of building the temple was given to Solomon. So now we come back to our Psalm, and it has a context. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who labour in it labour in vain. You want to know someone under a lot of pressure? Building a temple for Yahweh- no pressure. You read through the instructions that he was given and the complexity of that thing, and you have got to think that this was a guy with a lot of pressure on him. So the house is the temple. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. The city in this context is Jerusalem.

Psalm 122 in the same set of Psalms:

I was glad when they said to me,¨ “Let us go to the house of the Lord!” 2 Our feet have been standing¨ within your gates, O Jerusalem! Jerusalem—built as a city¨ that is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up,¨ the tribes of the Lord,¨as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord.¨5 There thrones for judgment were set,¨ the thrones of the house of David.

Skipping to verse 9: For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,¨ I will seek your good. The city of God in the Old Testament was the city of Jerusalem where the house of God, the temple of God, where the throne of David that he would rule from was set. Where there would ideally be peace. When the city is protected and the city does well, the house does well. The temple does well. If the city were to fall, the temple would fall and all would be ruined. So Solomon, when he was praying for the house- that God would build it, for the city- that God would protect it, he is thinking of the temple and he is thinking of Jerusalem. Verse 2: “ 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.” It is vain to get up early and stay up late working from the anxiety that we can, in ourselves, build this house and that we can, in ourselves, protect this city. And that we must. Working is not the problem. You know, he doesn’t say stop working, stop building. He doesn’t say that it’s vain that you want to build me a house- it’s not vain that you have watchmen watching over your city. Unless the Lord is in it, it is vain. In other words, it is vain on your own. The work is not vain, the watching is not vain. It’s the anxiety from working in your own strength. The opposite of anxious toil, he says, is sleep for God’s beloved. God’s beloved in this context, I think, is Solomon, thinking about himself. I didn’t know this, I guess I should have- Solomon’s name that God gave him is Jedidiah- who knew that? Put your hand up- okay I don’t feel too bad, one, two of you? I feel a little bad. SO I didn’t know that. Solomon is the name that David gave him, just read the account. Solomon is born, David calls him Solomon and the Lord says because I loved him I named him Jedidiah, which means “the Lord’s beloved”. That’s what this means. So Solomon is saying, it’s vain for me to labour and labour and labour in anxious toil because God gives his beloved, God gives me, God gives those He loves sleep. Sleep. All of this waking up super early because this won’t get done without me to staying up very late because it’s not going to happen without me stems from vanity. That this whole plan is actually my plan. That this whole thing really rests on me. the crushing burden of responsibility that’s not really his is keeping him up and waking him up. Work is not the problem. It’s not what we do, it’s how we do it. And Solomon had to wrestle through this, he had an enormous responsibility- building the temple, protecting the city, guarding the temple. And he remembered the promise that the lord gives his beloved, Solomon, rest. Verse 3: “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” “Behold” signals that this is the center of the Psalm.

We need to look at this- this is the key. SO what is the connection between God building the house and protecting His city and our need to trust in His work and not give ourselves to anxious toil- what does that have to do with this? I get what you’re saying Alex, a lot of responsibility, yes temple, yes Jerusalem, yes don’t labour from anxiety. What’s with this shift in the Psalm, immediately seems like totally unrelated to children? What does this have to do with anything? Well, I think the connection is what we read in 2nd Samuel 7:1-17. David said, I’m going to build you a house and God said, no you’re not going to build me a house. The house that I’m going to build, you can’t build. The house that I’ve actually been building your entire life through you and I’m going to keep building after you, you can’t build- only I can build. And built into that master plan of God to show that He is the true builder would be not only David wouldn’t do it and his son Solomon would, but that HE was going to build this house through his offspring. Through children. I’m not going to build this house with bricks and mortar in a gigantic architechtural display. I’m going to do that, but that’s not the house that I’m building. That’s easy, that’s like that *snaps*. That’s one generation of men and they’re gone. The house that I’m going to build, I’m going to build it in such a way that people will look and they are going to say, “That wasn’t David. That wasn’t Solomon. That was God.” So back to the Psalm, Why is he talking about children all of a sudden, and how they are a heritage and they are a reward? Because Solomon, I think, is thinking, I’ve been given this responsibility which I cannot do on my own. I’ve been given the task of building and of watching and it is vain of me to think that I can do this but praise God that it is His gift and His grace and His work and His power Through offspring, through the weak, the vulnerable, the children, the powerless, He is building this house. This house is a gift of God, exactly like children. This house is evidence of God’s grace and blessing, exactly like children- not the result of Solomon’s efforts. Not the result of Solomon’s wisdom,. Not the result of Solomon’s rising early and staying up late and being very clever. This house that we’re going to see is being built, is a result, entirely of the work of god. And what shows that more than children? He says that children are a heritage from the Lord- the fruit of a womb, a reward. The point is children are the grace of God. That yes, we know a certain amount about how children come to be, but ultimately it is a gift of God. That God is the one who gives life, God is the one who creates life. God is the one who blesses with children if we are to receive that blessing. It’s God, not us. It says that they are not only a gift, that they are a blessing. And the reason they are a blessing, he says, “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 gates (vs. 5).” What they would do- they didn’t have a courthouse back this in time in the ancient (inaudible)- you wouldn’t go to a courthouse if there was a dispute to settle you would go towards the city gates and that’s where the elders in authority would gather and would hear dispute and they would give a judgment. To go down to the gates- the city gates- is where there would be judgment. Where people would hear a case between two people. And he’s saying children are a gift, children are a blessing. You know why they’re a blessing? Because you didn’t do anything to get them, God gave you them. They’re going to grow up, be trained in the Lord, and when you go down to the gate and your enemy is falsely accusing you and your enemy is slandering you and this could go one way or the other, your children will be there to vouch for you. They will be there for advocate for you. That this is my father, this is my mother. They have not done this. They are too protect us from shame, you will not be put to shame when he speaks to his enemy in the gates. So children are a blessing, they are not simply a burden. They are not simply a nuisance. They are not something that is given as a curse to us, a trial to just get through. Children are intrinsically a blessing from God, And yes, it’s a blessing that’s difficult. It’s a blessing that takes work, but it is a blessing to receive from God. And in this context, the blessing is that they will go and they will protect you from judgment, they will advocate for you, and they will keep you from shame. A child. I hope the bells in your head are going off right now, about another child who would protect us from judgment, who would advocate for us, and who would keep us from shame. Which is where we will go now.


Now I want you to see Christ. I want you to see Christ from this passage and then I want you to trust what He has done and then we will commit to laboring in His strength and we will sleep tonight. We need to see, to trust, to labour, to sleep, so let’s walk through this. Jesus is the offspring of David. He is the true house of God and the true temple. This is explicitly what He said. God said to David “I’m going to build your house, you’re going to have offspring and when your children’s children’s children’s children, they’re going to sit on the throne of David.” Jesus is the offspring of David, who will take his throne, establish His kingdom which will last forever. Luke 1:32-33, this is what the angel tells to Mary: This child that you are going to have- this is the offspring of David. This is the one who is going to sit on the throne, and this is the one whose kingdom will last forever and ever. This child, born to a poor girl. Powerless, is how God is establishing His kingdom. Jesus is the true house. We’re not talking about a physical place. And we as Christians are God’s house, which he built. Hebrews 3:3-6 says that we are His house. Jesus himself is the builder of that house and the ruler of it. Therefore, He gets the glory. 1st Peter 2: says the church is a spiritual house, or a temple, a holy priesthood who offers spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. The house that God is building, that He promised to David which we are seeing in the church, is not bricks and mortar. It’s people who worship Jesus Christ. Who don’t slaughter lambs and goats- who worship the lamb. That is the temple that he promised. That is the temple He’s building. That is what we can not build. I can’t build that. You can’t build that. God has been building that. So if we move from the house which is fulfilled in Jesus and the church to the city. The city is transformed in the New Testament, It’s not just a place in the Middle East, It is the people of God. Abraham went out from his home because he was looking forward to this city that has foundations, whose designer and builder was God- Hebrews 11:8-10. You know what He wasn’t thinking? Some place in the Middle East. He didn’t leave his home for a little tiny city. The city that he was looking for was the city that God built. He goes on to clarify that. That city was not the earthly Jerusalem, but the heavenly Jerusalem. Explicitly, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, Hebrews 12:22. That’ is the city that the writer of Hebrews says we have come to. We have come to the heavenly Jerusalem. You, if you are a Christian, you have come to the heavenly Jerusalem. You may have never travelled outside of Canada or Ontario, or maybe Peterborough if you’re that unfortunate. But you have been to the heavenly Jerusalem if you know Jesus Christ. On earth, he says in chapter 13:14 of Hebrews, we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. So the city is not a place on earth, it is a place in heaven. We have come to it but it is not here yet. And this makes sense if you are aware that life sucks. Because it does suck. There’s great things in life. There are many blessings in life. Everything we have we need to be thankful to God for, but we are not yet in that city. I’m going to read to you about that city- we are not there. We have come to I, but it is still coming. And we live as people who are on our way, like pilgrim’s, to the heavenly city.

That is the Christian life. We are on our way. We have no lasting city here. I love Peterborough- it’s not going to last forever. We live to bless, to serve, to care. But we long for, we wait for, the city that is to come. We read at the end of this story this city, the heavenly Jerusalem, comes down from heaven. How is it described? Is it described as bricks and mortar? No- listen to how it’s described: as a bride adorned for her husband. New Jerusalem, he sees in New Jerusalem, He looks at it and His description of it is a bride. He’s describing a city as a person. After the old heavens and the earth have passed away, in this city God dwells with man fully and forever- chapter 21:3, and he will wipe away every tear- 21:4. This is not a city of stone but of spirit and flesh for it is actually the bride of Jesus Christ, the church- chapter 21:10. Jesus, the lamb of God sits on the throne in this city, and He Himself shelters them, fulfilling the promise to Israel. The sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat- that is from Psalm 121, speaking of Jerusalem- god is going to protect Jerusalem. Book of Revelation He says, this is actually speaking about the new heavens and the new earth, the new Jerusalem, the heavenly Jerusalem, where there will finally be peace, Where there will finally be no suffering. We haven’t experienced that yet, but we will. He will protect them forever, and those He protects are those who have washed themselves in the blood of the Lamb- Revelation 7:14. So the house is Jesus and His body, the church. The city is the new heavenly Jerusalem which we have come to but what we wait for. And the beloved is Jesus and his church- Matthew 12:18. Jesus is God’s beloved son and in Christ we are God’s beloved- Romans 9:25- adopted into His family. And all of this happens through the blessing of a child. All of this happens. The city is protected and built, the house and the temple are built in Him. The promise for rest all comes through the blessing of a child, not the strength of men. Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favour with God and behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son and you shall call His name Jesus. And He will be great and He will be called the Son of the Most High and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father, David. David, I’m going to build your house, when your kids’ kids’ kids’ kids’ kids (inaudible) the throne. And it happens, and it’s Jesus. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever. In his kingdom there will be no end. Jesus came in the form of a child, not with the presence of an army. God’s display of power was manifested in the promised king, the house of David, being born to a poor, weak, powerless woman. And it is through the blessing of this child that we would receive all the blessings that He speaks of. So to summarize: God is, has been, and will build His kingdom, and He is doing all of this through Jesus Christ. This is the work that only He can do. One day in the new heavens and the new earth, we will fully and finally see this building complete, see this city protected, see the peace that we long for. And that’s what we wait for. All of this is God’s work.


So some reflections on this, that we have seen the work of God. We need to trust the work of God, He is the builder. He is the protector. Without God it is useless- it is vain. His kingdom is a gift, like children. It is a result of his labour. Are we seeking the city that is to come? Can we say with the writer of Hebrews, here we have no lasting city? Will people look at us and say, these people live, they love us and care for us, but they aren’t just living for this. And we would say, we’re not living for an earthly city, we’re living for a heavenly city. Anxious toil springs from the heart that thinks that we are the builder and God is the sleeper. That’s where anxiety comes from. I am the builder and God is sleeping. This is all on me. But God is the builder of this house and this city. It’s our job to labour and then to sleep. Anxiety comes when we think it is our strength and power and responsibility. Our first step is always to see the work of Christ and receive it by faith. And lastly on this- this is the difference between making a name for God and making a name for us. So much of our anxious toil comes from living self-focused lives, forgetting it is God’s kingdom we live for. And if it is our kingdom it’s one that we can build, and we give our energy and our labour to doing that. So we must trust what God is doing through His son Jesus Christ to build His house and to build His city. Second, we actually do labour. We do work. See this is not “let God and let go”. That’s not very helpful, and a little bit misleading- a lot of people say that, I’ve said that. “Let God and let go” is vague- rather it is “trust God, get going, sleep soundly”. If you want to get a tattoo, get that one. I’m not saying you should, you can. Trust God, get going, sleep soundly. That’s a good motto to have. See what God has done in Jesus, trust that. Out of that place, do as much work as you can. Stop your work, go to bed. Have a good sleep. Wake up the next day, see Jesus, trust Jesus, work really hard for Jesus, go to sleep for Jesus. It is not let go and let God and sit still, it is trust God, get going, and sleep soundly. Work as hard as you can, trusting that your labour in the lord is not in vain. Am I making this up? No- God’s grace and His gifts are not in vain. Trusting in His building, His protecting, His work doesn’t lead to passivity but great, driven effort. Paul- 1 Corinthians 15:10, “10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain…” It is only by God’s grace I am what I am. He is the one building. He is the one building me. “…On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them…” God’s grace to me was not in vain. Me working apart from God is vanity, but god working in me is never useless and it results in him working as hard as he can. And lest you think this is some kind of partnership between me and God, some half-and-half, he says, “…though it was not me, but the grace of God in me.” At the end of the day, all that we are doing is not only owing to the grace of God, it is the result of the grace of God. And it is totally the grace of God in us. And yes, that’s a mystery, by the way, Don’t try to work that out in your head- is it me or is it Him or is it me?- work as hard as you can trusting in Jesus. We need to labour from grace. Laboring in the Lord is the Lord working. When you labour as someone who trusts in the work of God, that is not just you working with the strength that He gives. What Paul is saying is that is actually God working. That’s why He can get the glory. It’s not like God gives you a shot in the morning and says, “go about your day, hope it lasts!” It is when we see the grace of God and we trust in the work of Jesus and we go and we love and we serve- everything we do is actually God doing. And yet it was not me. It was the grace of God working in me. Everything I did in His strength was actually Him doing, so that He might get the glory. Labouring from grace doesn’t mean freedom from anxiety completely. It means freedom from working from anxiety. I found this practically helpful. If you’re a parent, you’re going to find this helpful. If you’re a student- if you’re a human, you’re going to find this helpful. Because there’s things you feel anxious about, and you think, “should I just feel guilty about being anxious? Is all anxiety wrong?” No. Paul- five times I’ve received at the hands of the Jews 40 lashes less one. He goes through all of his suffering and he says, “In toil and hardship through many sleepless nights” Well doesn’t He give His beloved sleep? Is Paul just in sin? In hunger and thirst, often without food. In cold and exposure, and apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety- for all the churches. So Paul was the apostle and he is saying here, boasting, kind of tongue-in-cheek about his accomplishments, that he has many sleepless nights and that he has burdensome anxiety for the churches. What we are saying- working from a place of trusting in the grace of God doesn’t mean you will have no burdens. We talked about this last week- doesn’t mean you will never feel anxiety. What it does mean is that you don’t labour from a place of anxiety. You don’t labour from a place of “the entire responsibility of this thing is on me”. But you still love people. The analogy I’d use for this is the difference between your child waking up at night and taking them to the hospital because you love them and you care about them and them being strapped into a machine and you are naturally concerned for them. You are not sleeping, you are burdened and anxious- that is godly. You know why that happens? Because you love them. But there’s a big difference between that and laying awake all night because you just can’t sleep thinking about all the things you did wrong that day. There’s a major difference. Both of them are anxious, both of them are sleepless. One of them is vain. And in closing- Jesus gives us sleep. When we trust in Him, and are empowered by His grace for labour, we go to bed tired at night from all that we’ve given, from all that He’s supplied, and we go to sleep trusting in all that He will do. I need this. I have enormous trouble sleeping. I think a lot of it stems from this. Our muscles grow best after a workout, not by keeping going, keeping running, keeping lifting, but sleeping. That’s when you recover. That’s a built-in mechanism that God has put in the world, like the kingdom. When did growth happen for the farmer? At night. He scatters, he sleeps. He wakes, and there’s something popping up out of the ground and it wasn’t him. God builds His kingdom. God is working in us. God is working in others. This is an enormous practical help in relationships- for patience in the slow work of God, for patience with a spouse. We need to build in God’s way, which primarily means prayer. End your day with prayer. Lord, YOU are the builder, YOU are the protector, YOU give the growth. Help my family, help me, change me. See if we think we can grow and change and build God’s kingdom through our efforts, we don’t pray. If we think we can grow and change people, our children, our souses, relationships, our bosses by ourselves then we will seek to do that and be controlling and try to fix everything. And we’ll be anxious people. And we’ll get up early and we’ll stay up late and it won’t be nice. But if we realize that only God can do this work, and He can do this work, then we’ll give ourselves to prayer. If we want our children to know Jesus, it changes how we parent. If we want them to grow up to simply be socially acceptable and have some kind of manners then that changes how we parent. But if what we’re asking for is a miracle of God, then we need to pray. We don’t primarily need a new tip and a new regime and a new strategy every week- the latest parenting fad. Never ending anxiety. We need to trust God that He loves our children, He wants them to know Him. We give ourselves to parenting in the gospel through love, patience, grace, discipline, instruction, gospel, prayer, and sleep. So let us commit ourselves to seeing the work that God is doing through Jesus to build. Let us trust in that work. Yes, let us labour in His strength, and let us rest in the work that He is doing in us and in others. Amen.


Father, we come before you now in prayer and ask that you would work in us. We ask that you would transform us. Unless you build your house, which is your people, then all of this is in vain. Unless you open our eyes and open our hearts to see the beauty of what you are doing, what you promise, you’ve brought fulfillment in Jesus, you are doing in us and you will one day bring to completion. We need you to show us that, so help us to believe that. We ask that you would forgive us for our anxious hearts, for our anxious toil, for laboring not from a place of faith but a place of vanity, anxiety, fear. Labouring for the wrong kingdom in the wrong way. We pray that you would deepen our faith as a church. We pray that you would help us to pray and to sleep like farmers. We ask these things in Jesus name, amen.

 

The Gathering in Peterborough. A church in Downtown Peterborough. Trent University, Students

 

 

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