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An Habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

An Habitation for the Mighty God of Jacob

Meditation on Psalm 132: 4,5 13,14     

I will not give sleep to mine eyes, or slumber to mine eyelids, until I find out a place for the LORD, an habitation for the mighty God of Jacob...For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation. This is my rest for ever: here will I dwell; for I have desired it.

What a beautiful psalm this was for God’s people as they travelled up to the temple to worship. May it be so also for us. The Israelites knew that David desired to build the temple. He desired to build the house for God to dwell in. God came to Nathan the prophet, saying that David was not to build that house. God said that He Himself will build a house for David!

The desire of David was a good desire. God had given David rest from his enemies, and David was now living in a beautiful palace. But the ark of God had no abiding place. It was resting in a tent that David had put up for it in Jerusalem. The ark of the covenant had been in Philistia. When the wicked sons of Eli had tried to force God to go out in battle for them, the Philistines had captured the ark and put it in the houses of their gods. Do you remember how the idol god, Dagon fell down into pieces before the ark? The Philistines endured various plagues, and were only too eager to get rid of the ark. They put the ark on a cart with milk cows and sent it back to Israel. There it rested in Kirjah-jearim (the city of the woods). David finally was successful in bringing the ark to Jerusalem, placed in a tent. But the glory of the Lord never settled upon that tent. The Shekinah of glory had come upon Moses’ tent, the Tabernacle. Later the glory of God came upon Solomon’s temple. But there was no heavenly glory on David’s tent.

David desired a glorious house to be built for Israel’s glorious God. But he was a man of war, his hands full of  blood. God would build the house. He would use David’s seed. Solomon, David’s son will build the temple. But Solomon could only put up a physical building. It was a beautiful building, but a building that could be torn down, as it was later by the Babylonians. God’s people needed to look for the Son of David who would build a temple not made with hands. The temple destroyed  would in three days be raised up. This was the temple of His body. The house of David would come to a dismal stump, the stump of Jesse. But from a lowly maiden, Mary, came ‘The Seed of David’. The Lord Jesus, the ‘Son of God’ and the ‘Son of Man’ would raise up the house of David. This is the church of the Lord Jesus.

This house that God builds is a spiritual dwelling place in the hearts of God’s people. The temple that Solomon built was a type of the church. What does the psalmist say about it? He says, “For the Lord hath chosen Zion.” That, my friend, is sovereign election! He has chosen for himself a people. What music in the ears of afflicted David! Zion is chosen by God, and therefore God desired it for His habitation. This is his rest for ever. Here God is pleased to dwell for He says, I have desired it. Does God dwell in your heart?

David’s resolution to establish a place for God’s holy presence teaches us that the one great purpose of God’s King is to build God’s temple. Nothing is more important to the kingdom of God than the worship of God. God’s presence with His people is their joy and God’s glory.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem Ephratah (the field of woods). He would have no house to call His own. He would create it. By His atonement, suffering, death, and resurrection, the temple destroyed is the temple raised up in three days. Jesus declared, “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). Jesus gathers and builds His church by His Spirit and Word. What a house for God!

As we go up to God’s house this coming Sunday, may we rejoice!  The Lord hath chosen Zion. We are His church by sovereign election and grace. The Lord Jesus desires His church for His habitation. He is pleased to dwell in our hearts and be worshipped by us. Jesus Christ rested from His work, having defeated sin, Satan, and death. He arose from the dead.

May we enjoy our Sabbath; we rest from our labors. We rest  in the accomplished work of our Savior. God’s worshippers no longer gather around one physical location. We worship Christ in the Holy Spirit regardless where they meet for public worship, for we are the temple of God.  That is wonderful to hear in this time with government restrictions because of Covid-19. The Samaritan woman asked Jesus if the correct place of worship was in Samaria or Jerusalem? Jesus answered, that yes, it was Jerusalem. But the day was coming when that no longer mattered. What mattered was that one worship in Spirit and in truth.

Christ dwells in the hearts and lives of His people! Let us pray on this coming Lord’s Day, “Thy kingdom come.” May it be that Christ’s kingdom comes more and more in my own heart. May it be that Christ’s kingdom comes as Christ continues to gather more and more of His people.

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Portrait of a Weaned Child

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Portrait of a Weaned Child

Meditation on Psalm 131

LORD, my heart is not haughty, nor mine eyes lofty: neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me. Surely I have behaved and quieted myself, as a child that is weaned of his mother: my soul is even as a weaned child. Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.

Travelers going up to worship at the temple in Jerusalem came in contentment and trust. What beautiful words, “My soul is even as a weaned child.” In this psalm, David paints the picture of a little child. This is not a fussy or crying infant needing or rooting to suckle, hungry or perhaps wet and uncomfortable. No, this little child has been weaned, no longer being suckled at his mother’s breast. Here is a child of two or three years of age that is resting on mothers lap with his head upon her breast. He is just happy and content as a clam to be near his mother, to be held by her, enjoying her love.

This portrait shows the child of God, simply trusting in the Lord, no matter the noise or troubles, calamities or circumstances around him. This was David’s situation. Oh, the calm times when David contemplated and sang songs to his God while he cared for his sheep. When a bear or lion came to snatch up one of his little lambs, or as he stood before the giant Goliath, he had a perfect trust in his God. What a nice picture of the full blown believer in the face of painful and trying circumstances. Does this picture tug at your heart? Do you say, “This is how I want to live and die?” Or do you find yourself often fretful moody, upset, frustrated, or even grumpy too often? May God give us grace that we may be able to say, “My soul is even as a weaned child.” May you have a calm, resigned, peaceful frame of mind, walking in faith and trust in Jehovah’s safe-keeping.

Oh, the weaning process for David was not easy. He was hunted by Saul who wanted to kill him. He had to hide all alone in the wilderness. He even resorted to living among the his enemies, the Philistines. He had multiple troubles with his children, even having to flee for his life from Absalom., The weaning of the little child is a process. The little child does not know why he cannot suckle anymore. He might even be upset that mother is not doing that anymore. Things have changed. The weaning was not to hurt the child, but to help him on life’s journey. So also peace and calm of the soul does not just happen. There is a process to go through in order to sit and be content in our Father’s arms.

Pride must be subdued and driven away. David writes, “My heart is not haughty.” We are all proud by nature. But we have nothing to be proud of before God. The proud heart gives way to lofty eyes. We look down at others in a condescending way. We think ourselves so much better. We think that we do not deserve God’s chastening hand or the trials that He gives to us. David confessed that he, by God’s grace, has given up his proud heart and lofty eyes. He will not depend upon himself anymore in his difficulties and sin. He will give himself to trust in his Lord and in the Lord’s mercy and love.

We too must confess our sin and wretchedness. We need to humble ourselves before God. We are so undeserving of all that He gives. We must look to our covenant God for our salvation and trust Him in His leading us in our life. We do not need to understand everything that happens in our lives. We want to shout at times, “Why Lord? Why are these things happening to me? We are tempted to question His providence in our lives and in the world around us. David confesses, “Neither do I exercise myself in great matters, or in things too high for me.” If David has learned this living in the Old Testament, how much more should this be true of you and me who live in the New Dispensation. We have God’s Word. We know God’s great love in the giving of His only begotten Son for our salvation. “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). How beautifully it is put in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” I need this in the trying times and circumstances in my life, when I am tempted to fuss, grumble, be fretful, or grumpy. Instead of being angry and asking, “Why LORD?” I will contently state that my Father in heaven knows best. Do I trust Him? This is the way of rest and peace. This is the way to live and die. “My soul is even as a weaned child…Let Israel hope in the LORD from henceforth and for ever.” Am I a portrait of the weaned child to those who know and see me?

Be still my soul – the Lord is on thy side! Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain; Leave to thy God to order and provide –In every change He faithful will remain. Be still, my soul -- thy best, thy heavenly Friend thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.  ~ Jean Sibelius 1865-1957

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The Penitential Psalm

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

The Penitential Psalm

Meditation on Psalm 130: 3,4

If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities, O Lord, who shall stand. But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.

This is the eleventh psalm of the Songs of Ascent. As we go up to the Lord’s house to worship Him in the beauty of His holiness, immediately there is, should be, the sense of our unworthiness because of our sin. The psalmist begins this psalm with the acknowledgment of depths. This could be the depths of the ocean or sea. It could be the depths of a dungeon or an empty cistern , (like the ones in which Joseph and Jeremiah were thrown by those who hated them. The depths is a position of helplessness and great need. Think of Jonah when he was in the belly of the great fish. The psalmist, aware of the depths of his sin and perversity cried “Out of the depths!”. His iniquities were against God! Surely, he has earned punishment; he is in these depths justly. The depths refer to guilt, the objective result of sin that brings a person under God’s condemnation. He deserves and experiences a sense of God’s wrath.

Affliction and guilt can bring a person very low. But in these depths, one must not give into despair or hopelessness. We must pray with great earnestness to the One who alone can rescue us. Notice, the psalmist cried unto the LORD. God gave him awareness of his sin. Faith makes us aware that we have earned what we received. Our sins bring God’s wrath! Faith cries; it does not whisper. Oh, the loud penetrating voice arises out of the depths. We have no right to be heard. Why should we be brought out? We cry out and supplicate Jehovah, our covenant God to look down in His mercy and hear our cry. Who can stand before the holy God who cannot endure iniquity? But if we do not want God to “mark our iniquities”, what do we wish for Him to do? Do we wish for Him to wink at our sin or pretend it is not there? To mark is literally to “watch over, tally up and keep a record of.” How awful and how long would be such a list! One sin against the holy God would damn us to hell, let alone the pile of sins heaped up. Who will be able to stand up and defend himself? No sinner can be justified before God by his own efforts. It is a cry of supplication, pleading for grace and favor. The guilty must pray for salvation.

Verse four begins with a significant “but”. Faith sees that with God there is forgiveness. This means that God lifts off from us the responsibility to pay for our sins. God also restores to us the right to live before Him. God alone can pardon the guilt of sin. What is the basis of this forgiveness? How can a holy God forgive? The answer is found in verses seven and eight. “Let Israel hope in the LORD: for with the LORD there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption. And he shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities.”

There is forgiveness by the redemption that God gives. Mercy is God reaching down to us, in our helplessness, and helping. He delivers us from the depths. With God is plenteous redemption. A redeemer was a near kinsman who was willing and able to pay the debts of a person or family, like Boaz did for Naomi and Ruth. Redemption is with God. It is never something that we have earned or merited. God pays the debt that we have accrued. The cost of our redemption was the blood and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. He bore the wrath that each and every sin of ours deserves. No, God does not wink at our sin or ignore it. He is holy and just. God provided for our redemption. In I Cor. 1: 30 we read, “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.” We must acknowledge that we cannot stand before God on our own merits. We in faith look to God as the God who forgives sin through Christ. How gracious is that forgiveness! It is not deserved by us. It is graciously given. Faith focuses its hope and desire upon Jesus Christ. He gave Himself as “a ransom for all” (I Tim. 2:6). Are you trusting in Christ alone for salvation? If so, then how has your faith evidenced itself in a childlike fear of the Lord?

God forgives us by redeeming us. The purpose is that you and I may always stand in awe of Him and His grace. Oh, the wonder that God loved me! Have you stood in wonder at your redemption? Aware of the great punishment that your sins deserve, are you made speechless that God forgave you? Instead of standing in the rags of your sin, you have been cleansed and clothed with the perfect righteousness of Christ Jesus. O, the wonder of it all! God’s salvation is abundant. Do you rest your hope entirely in Him?

My sin -- O the bliss of this glorious thought! -- My sin, not in part, but the whole, Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more; Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul. It is well…with my soul; It is well, it is well with my soul.” Philip Bliss 1876

 

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The Farmer's Psalm

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

The Farmer's Psalm

Meditation on Psalm 129: 3

The plowers plowed upon my back: they made long their furrows.

The psalmist is making a picture of the afflictions that come to God’s people. The picture is that of a field which the famer is plowing in springtime. He is making the field ready for planting and of course, a field prepared for harvest. Today  there is a lot of no-till farming. But as a boy, our Case tractor could only pull a four-bottom plow through the heavy clay. In the psalmist’s day, the plowman had oxen pulling a single blade plow through the soil of Israel.  Maybe you remember Elisha, who was plowing his field with twelve yoke of oxen. When the call came to follow Elijah, Elisha took a yoke of oxen and killed them and boiled the flesh with fire made from the plow. Elisha fed the people and went after Elijah and ministered unto him.

In this psalm, the furrows plowed in the field are  a picture of the afflictions brought upon God’s people, Zion. The entire history of God’s people is one of suffering . The song sung was “Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth.” Their youth was their early days in Egypt when they were made slaves for Pharaoh. Heavy tasks were thrown upon them, with taskmasters taking their whips upon their backs. Furrows were dug into their back by bits of bone or metal on the ends of the whips. The little male babies were to be thrown into the Nile River. Coming into Canaan, Israel was surrounded with wicked neighbors. Israel brought trouble against themselves with their idol worship. The remnant of true worshippers suffered also.

We should not be surprised when we too, for the sake of the gospel,  suffer, hated and persecution.  Here in the States, it is mainly ridicule. In many other countries, it is prison or death.  The entire history of the church is that of martyrs for the faith. The apostle Paul tells young Timothy about the persecutions and afflictions which had come upon himself. He writes, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (II Tim. 3:12). Do you remember to pray for the martyred church today in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East? Do you have scars for serving Christ? Maybe it is family that reject you or co-workers that mock you for your faith.

Did you notice how personal this psalm is? “Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth… the plowers have plowed upon my back.” This singular pronoun is used collectively for the church.  But the psalm is not ultimately about Israel. It is the voice of Jesus Christ, the suffering servant, the true Israel.  He suffered for us. He came down from heaven, born in a cattle stall, suffered from His youth, yea, His whole life. He had to flee with His parents from Herod. “He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (see Isa. 50:5,6  52:13,14  53: 3). Do you see the whip upon His back tearing furrows into it and the blood flowing? Do you see the crown of thorns upon His brow? Do you see Him hanging upon the cross, and the spear that is thrust into His side? Why did He suffer so? He suffered not  merely  at the hands of wicked men, He suffered the wrath of God in our place. “Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows…but he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed…Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him: he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed…” (Isa. 53:4,5,10). But God raised Him from the dead. “The LORD is righteous: he hath cut asunder the cords of the wicked” (Psalm 129:4)

What is the result of this plowing of the field?  The wicked grow up like grass on a rooftop, which amounts to nothing when the hot sun of summer beats upon it. Those who belong to Jesus Christ are like the  luxurious  wheat  fields being harvested this week. “By his stripes we are healed…He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities” (Isa. 51: 5,11).

The furrows upon the back of Jesus bear rich fruit. It is a field white unto harvest. Sinners such as you and I are by faith alone made righteous by the blood of Jesus. What about the afflictions that we as God’s people are made to suffer? Oh, the blood of martyrs is the seed of the church. God turns for good what is meant for evil. Think of Joseph’s brothers’ treatment of him, selling him. God used it for the preservation of  His people during the great famine.  Though the Sanhedrin and the Roman soldiers  put Jesus to death, God saved us through that death.  So let us say with the psalmist, “Many a time have they afflicted me from my youth: yet they have not prevailed against me” (Ps. 129:2). Let us learn the lesson of the plowed field!

Affliction has been for my profit, that I to thy statutes might hold;
Thy law to my soul is more precious than thousands of silver and gold.
(Charles H. Gabriel)

Sure as thy truth shall last, to Zion shall be given the brightest glories earth can Yield, and brighter bliss of heaven. Amen  (Aaron Williams  1731-1776)

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Limerick Reformed Fellowship Newsletter - July 2020

LimerickmeetingplaceLimerick Reformed Fellowship

Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary

38 Abbeyvale, Corbally Co. Limerick, Ireland

http://www.limerickreformed.com/

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Dear saints in the Protestant Reformed Churches,

The last few months have been tumultuous for the Limerick Reformed Fellowship. On March 9, the CPRC Council, recognizing the LRF’s unviability, voted to withdraw me, the missionary, which effectively means the closing of the mission field. Since, sadly, we have seen the departure of people from the mission group in the last year, the conclusion of the Council was inevitable: we lack the criteria necessary—a large enough group, potential officebearers, and prospect for growth—for mission field viability. The decision, which Rev. Angus Stewart and Elder Brian Crossett communicated to LRF mid-March, was a huge, unexpected blow to the people here, but upon reflection they were able to understand. Nevertheless, many tears were shed, as the hopes and dreams of many for a Reformed church in Limerick were shattered.

The second reason for turmoil in Limerick is COVID-19 with the accompanying government-imposed restrictions to public gatherings. On March 22, just after the government had limited indoor gatherings, we worshipped as a congregation of only ten souls (young mothers and small children stayed away as a precaution). It was also the last Sunday that the Wattersons were in Limerick. Anga Watterson was very close to the end of her pregnancy at the time, so the Wattersons decided to move to Northern Ireland, so that they could be settled before their daughter Lara arrived on May 6. In a very short period of time, therefore, the Wattersons found work and accommodation in Northern Ireland before travel became impossible. Thus, the LRF is already down one family.

Most of the other members plan to relocate to Northern Ireland to join the CPRC, although not as rapidly as the Wattersons did. One family is making plans to move before the end of 2020, because on January 1, 2021 Brexit will make relocation from a EU country (Republic of Ireland) to a non-EU country (Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom) for non-Irish citizens more complicated. Others plan to relocate sometime in 2021, God willing. It thrills a missionary’s heart to see the Ruth-like faith of the people here, willing to forsake life in Limerick to join a true church in Ballymena. I know—and have heard—how painful it has been for them to inform their families that they will be moving to Northern Ireland, but they have bravely faced that pain in order to enjoy the benefits of church member-ship.

On March 29 we conducted our first “home service.” Because the Irish government prohibited all gatherings of people outside one’s own household and restricted movements of people to within 5 km (3.1 miles) of their homes, we were not permitted to gather in the hall, which was closed to the public; or even in our homes, which are too small to allow for social distancing anyway. A solution was quickly organised: I preached from my study through a computer with the various families watching from their homes. The solution even permitted singing, so that one family led the Psalm-singing, while the rest joined in. Various participants were muted so that, for example, during the sermon no one could interrupt my preaching, and during the singing, I was muted—only Larisa was privileged to hear my singing! The program, which I called “bubble church,” because the various people appeared in “bubbles” on the screen in front of me, enabled me to see my congregation while I preached, which helped me. Preaching to a blank screen is not enjoyable, nor is preaching to an empty room. The setup also permitted us to chat afterwards, so that we could still enjoy fellowship together. After fourteen weeks of “bubble church,” “bubble Bible study” (on Tuesday evenings we studied James and have now begun Ruth), and online catechism, we were very eager to be back together again. In the meantime, I preached on texts such as Deuteronomy 32:11-12 (“Jehovah Stirring up Our Nest”), Jeremiah 48:11-12 (“Moab Not Emptied from Vessel to Vessel”), a series on Psalm 46 and an ongoing series on Ephesians 2 (“The Gentiles Brought Nigh”).

Finally, after the Irish government permitted indoor gatherings for public worship again, we met on July 5. What joy it was to go back to the hall—even with a diminished congregation of fourteen and the obligatory social distancing! I preached on Psalm 122:1 (“Rejoicing in the Call to Public Worship”). Currently, we are also permitted to have six visitors to our homes, so we have resumed Bible study (on Ruth) in our house. We also resumed in person catechism: Old Testament History for Beginners for three children, one of whom who still joins by Skype from Northern Ireland. The Catechism season was actually over, but the families requested more Catechism, citing the great benefit that it has been to their children’s spiritual development.

Where does a missionary go when his work of almost ten years abruptly ends? We are so thankful for our sister church relationship, which makes me eligible for a call from a PRC congregation. Unbeknownst to me, God, who cares for His church, was already working to provide for our future: on March 22, the Sunday after the announcement, I received the call to be the pastor of Providence PRC (Hudsonville, MI), which call I accepted on April 4. Larisa and I are very grateful for this provision of a future place to labour.

Of course, it is not as easy as getting on a plane and heading to Michigan: immigration is a major hurdle. On April 28 Larisa submitted an I-130 (“petition for alien spouse”), which according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website has a processing time of 12.5—18 months! After obtaining further legal advice Providence PRC filed two additional immigration petitions (R-1 and I-360—for religious workers) in mid-June: they have currently 8—10.5 months processing time. The immigration lawyer hopes for a late 2020/early 2021 approval for the R-1. May God move the hearts of the immigration officials!

In the meantime, travel is greatly restricted. Only recently did the Irish government permit us to travel more than 25 km (15.5 miles) from our homes. International travel is not recommended, and the government recommends/requires a 14-day self-isolation period on return to Ireland. Besides, I am not permitted to travel to the USA because I do not qualify for an ESTA, which is essentially a visa waiver for tourists to the USA. To qualify for a short-term visitor visa, I would have to demonstrate that I do not intend to immigrate, which is difficult to do, for in the long-term, I do intend to immigrate.

So we wait on the Lord, while the LRF slowly winds down and the wheels of government agencies turn. In the meantime, for those who have asked, I am still missionary-pastor under the care and oversight of the CPRC Council. I will continue to preach, lead Bible study, and teach catechism to the group here, until I am permitted to travel elsewhere. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD” (Ps. 27:14).

In Christian love,

Rev. Martyn and Larisa McGeown

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Our Need for the Lord's Blessing

This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.

Our Need for the Lord's Blessing

Meditation on Psalm 127:1

Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it; except the Lord keep the city, the watchmen waketh but in vain.

This psalm is listed as “A Song of degrees for Solomon”. Obviously it was written by Solomon, the great builder of the temple to which the people went up to for worship. Solomon wrote the book of Ecclesiastes in which we read, “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity…Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12: 8, 13).  Psalm 127 lays before us the necessary activity of faith.

The activity described is that of building houses and keeping the city. God builds and God keeps through our activity. Without God’s blessing, all is in vain. Building the house is important. The sovereignty of God never minimizes our responsibility. As Wolfgang Musculus (1497-1563) wrote, “The Holy Spirit is not the patron of lazy and inert men; but he directs the minds of those who labor to the providence and power of God.” In our activity, we seek and acknowledge not only the providence and power of God but our need for God’s blessing and grace upon our activity. Our duty is to build and keep, as instruments in God’s hands. Activity is necessary.

The activity is building homes. These are covenant dwelling places. The city is a collection of homes. These must be built and kept and guarded. Physically, we do this by godly marriages, God-fearing homes, having and raising children, filling our homes. We do it through our worship on Sunday and planting churches.  The spiritual activity is caring for the hearts and souls of believers so that they love, serve, and obey the Lord. This takes place through the preaching of the gospel from Sabbath to Sabbath and from house to house. It is through the gathering of God’s children in missions. We do it through the Christian instruction of our children and the study of God’s Word in devotions and family worship. As fathers, we not only teach our children, but set a godly example. The house and church are built upon the foundation of God’s Word. This house-building is not easy but involves diligent, strenuous labor. Are you laboring?

How we need God’s blessing upon our labors! Twice in our text, we read the words, “in vain.” Without the Lord’s blessing, our labor is worthless, empty, for nothing, and a colossal waste of time and effort. We need the grace of God, His gracious hand blessing our homes and our churches. Only by His grace can our homes be houses of covenant fellowship. Only by His grace can His church be a communion of saints dwelling in blest friendship. That is the opposite of bickering, fighting, strife, and bitterness. May our homes and may our churches be places where God makes His abode!

How we as sinners need our Lord Jesus Christ. It is only by the work of our Lord Jesus, our Mediator, that our sins are forgiven and we receive God’s blessing. Is not this what we confess in Lord’s Day 1? “My only comfort in life and death is that I am not my own, but belong,  body and soul, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ”? How desperately we need God’s blessing. Otherwise our building will be like the building of mighty Nimrod in the tower of Babel! Without God’s grace in Jesus  Christ, all of our marriages, child rearing, preaching, and mission work is meaningless. “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” Do you see your and my need for the LORD’S blessing?

We need to pray for God’s blessing upon our labors. My father would always quote to us children the Latin phrase, “Ora et labora!” Pray and labor. That is what this and many of the psalms are - prayers. The pilgrims to Jerusalem would go up to God’s house, praying. We are nothing. We need God’s blessing! Are you a praying saint? Do you start your labors at the beginning of the day only by calling upon Jehovah to bless and establish your work? That prayer is uttered in joyful expectation! We say with the Apostle Paul, I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).  It is, as we sing in Psalter # 246,

So let there be on us bestowed the beauty of the Lord our God; The work accomplished by our hand establish thou, and make it stand; Yea let our hopeful labor be established evermore by thee, established evermore by thee.

Let us labor for the Master from the dawn till setting sun, Let us talk of all his wondrous love and care; then when all  of life is over and our work on earth is done, And the roll is called up yonder, I’ll be there! James Black, 1856-1938

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  • Emeritus Committee
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Contact/Missions

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Classical Officers

Classis East
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Classis West
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