Subject: Redeemer Downtown Devotional: Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Oct. 7, 2012

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Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost - Oct. 7, 2012

These devotionals are to help you prepare for each Sunday to come in the Christian Calendar.* 

[1] 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 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.
Psalm 127 (ESV)
Psalm 127 is but one of many places in the Scriptures where we read of God’s provision and care for our physical needs. In both Matthew and Luke’s gospels, Jesus teaches us to pray and instructs us to ask each day for our daily bread, a reminder of our continual dependence on a God who graciously and regularly meets our needs. The God who provides for his children does so with sustenance for our physical bodies as well as for our souls. And he never stops doing so. Jeremiah reminds us that God’s compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3).

In the first two verses of this Psalm, we are given a portrait of a life of work. In contrast to the experience of those who wake early or are sleepless from anxious labor, God provides for his children (“his beloved”) restful and peaceful sleep. The verses are a reminder that any work done apart from the Lord, whether that of a house-builder or a city-watchman, is done in vain right from the start. The psalmist gives us a clear picture of two distinct ways of approaching work: one that is full of self-reliance and therefore anxiety-ridden and another that is God-dependent and therefore peaceful and confident.

God wants us to do our work before him and in dependence on him, because it is only when we do so that we can be free from anxiety, fear, and restlessness. Work for its own sake can never give us satisfaction and meaning. Only God can, and he does so graciously, as a gift, like that of family and community (vv. 3-5), which is also not created and maintained by self-reliance but by dependence upon Him. God calls us to a life of fruitfulness and work characterized by a restful reliance on Him. Is that true of us in New York? Do we find our deepest rest in Jesus Christ, the One who gives us His peace?

John C. Lin, Downtown Lead Pastor

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Collect** from The Book of Common Prayer

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Downtown Congregation | Redeemer Presbyterian Church | 1359 Broadway 4th Floor | New York, NY 10018