Wednesday, October 31, 2012

A Song for the Climb- Devotion 10

PSALM 128 
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!

The greatest misconception about the road of Christian discipleship is that it is dour and sour. Too many, including Christians, see God as the COSMIC KILLJOY who works overtime to make sure his followers don't have any fun.

Many stay away from Christ with the fear the following Him means giving up the 15 things you like to do and having to start doing the 15 things you hate doing. My old friend, Pastor Keith Pugh used to say, "I thought becoming a Christian meant you had to marry a girl that doesn't kiss, go to Africa and die of mosquito bites."

Now, we do have to be very careful here... we do not come to Christ to get an easy life. We don't come to Him under the guise of a commercial- "Party with Jesus".

But at the same time, there is NOTHING wrong about receiving all the benefits of following God. Reward and blessing IS an incentive to carrying on when the climb seems tough.

Some followers of Christ are too monastic- they think that turning down a time of rest, leisure, or joyful experiences is a mark of their commitment to the King. No doubt, our tendency is more likely to get worldly, lazy, and distracted- but we must dance and celebrate and enjoy the fruit of life when it is presented under the allowance and pleasure of the King Himself.

It is so interesting the timing of this Psalm.

Psalm 120- distress
Psalm 121- crying to God for help
Psalm 122- worship
Psalm 123- cries for mercy
Psalm 124- past struggles and hope in God
Psalm 125- staying steady in the storm
Psalm 126- bring back the blessings
Psalm 127- labor in the Lord

and now- Blessed- fruit- olive oil- full table- prosperity.


Recently, my family and I have been through a season of trial by fire. We have felt squeezed in every way imaginable- inward distress and outward pressures. There were times it seemed like God was distant and silent. Was He there? Did He care? It seemed like one trial on top of another. We were tired, depressed, and defeated. Our nerves were frayed and our home was filled with more conflict than comfort.

But we hung in there.

God does sustain- but rarely is it easy and, most of the time, victory is in doubt.

It has to feel like a fight or it really isn't a fight. Courage is only shown in the presence of fear. Strength is only gained in the strain against resistance.

In our case, it got darkest right before the dawn... and then I saw the ray of light. I sensed the winds shift. I felt the pressure lift- God had held us in the storm and we had made it... albeit by a sliver.

But this Psalm shines a great truth- God's sliver is a beautiful and bountiful blessing. The crumb of God's table is better than all of the world's best together. And one day, we will be seated at that table of His royal wedding feast- and we do not have the capacity to dream large enough in anticipation of that reality.

So for now... when a time of rest from the storms come your way.... CELEBRATE.
Take time to sip and soak in God's good gifts.

Our home had laughter last night. It doesn't mean that the daily duties and life concerns aren't there. But the Proverbs ring true:

Better to have little, with fear for the LORD, than to have great treasure and inner turmoil. Proverbs 15:16

"Taste and see that the Lord is good". Psalm 34:8

As I look into Psalm 128 I am reminded- God defines blessing and prosperity in different terms and categories than we often do.

It echoes a little bit of yesterday's devotion:

Blessing is wife and family, enjoying your day's provision, and living long enough to experience grandchildren in the peace and security of God's grace!

Some days the climb is a grind- but the last few days, I have danced on a flat, smooth, and beautiful path! It is easy to sing on those days!

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