The Fruitful (Psalm 128)

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Fruit is fascinatingly relevant to our lives.

  • Fruit grows from a plant having deep roots.
    • We cannot manufacture a fruitful life; like paperclipping apples to a branch. Likewise, our lives must have deep roots in God’s grace, faith and walking with the Lord.
  • Fruit grows on the outside.
    • Interesting bc many things grow on inside.

 

  • Babies (life)
  • Character (maturity)
  • Love (relationships)
  • PB inside Chocolate

 

  • Yet, all these items growing on the inside are always visible. Life happens. Maturity is noticeable. Relationships are healthy. And yes, one must bite into a reeses and taste that goodness!
  • Likewise, if our spiritual lives do not have visible fruit then we are not spiritually healthy.
    John 15:8 “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

 

  • Fruit grows to be consumed by others.
    • If a fruit is not quickly picked and eaten, then it spoils.
    • Our spiritual fruit is never meant to sit, be static, and simply stare at. It is meant to be sent out and enjoyed by those around us.
      • Our character is to result in making our homes and communities pleasant to live in.
      • Our faith is to result in making disciples of Jesus to de-populate hell and crowd the city of God in Heaven.
    • When it comes to church life, there are two basic types of fruit growth:
      1) Attractional: People attend church for the event experience and consume the fruitfulness of a person or group; i.e. preacher, music group, ministry draw (children, counsel, entertainment, etc.).
      2) Missional: People attend the church to be equipped with fruit and sent to share it to flavor and impact others. The communities, marketplaces, schools, and region is deeply influenced by the people of God bringing the kingdom of God upon every earthly domain.
      Don’t get me wrong, my prayer is that people come from far corners of our county to our church. But the aim isn’t to amass an audience but to galvanize an army.

Today I want to talk about our lives and our church being fruitful for the glory of God.

Summer Psalms 2018

EXAMINE                       Psalm 128      The Fruitful

*Last message in series, but there will be other Psalms in 2018.

*Psalms at Getty Conference

***God is waiting for you in the Psalms… read!

Psalms 120-134 were called the songs of ascent because they frequently reference Jerusalem and Zion, and the priests sung them as they ascended the temple mount steps, and the Israelites sung during their annual festival pilgrimage to worship at the temple.[1]

Psalm 128 is sibling of Psalm 127, relating to the home and family life.

  • Psalm 127 has in view the early years of children and family life
    • The blueprints and foundation.
  • Psalm 128 has in view the empty nest years of children and family life.
    • The building and finished product.
  • Psalm 127-128 are wisdom literature in that they express God’s ideal design. Yet, we do not live in an ideal world or circumstances. Therefore, do not despair at God’s design but seek to learn and grow in God’s wisdom.

 

Blessed

  • Mentioned 4x in Psalm 128 (in vv. 1, 2, 4, 5)
  • ʾesher: happy, content & satisfied
    • Psalm 1:1-3 “Blessed is man who walks not in counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
  • Target of God’s blessing is everyone. God wants to pour out His glory and grace upon all creation.

Psalm 128 gives 1 Principle for God’s blessing with 4 Rewards

Our lives are fruitful if we fear the Lord (Ps 128:1-2)

The Psalmist equates fearing the Lord with walking in God’s ways (128:1). To fear God is to have faith in and fire for the Lord. Further, the Psalmist is communicating a vision for a blessed life with ever expanding circles of God’s favor for the one who fears the Lord.

After reading the Psalm, two questions may arise:

  • “Do you want God’s blessing?”
  • “Who wouldn’t want to fear the Lord?”

The first question is one of desire. Most will admit the desire for blessing, but fewer people want God’s blessing. Blessings on their own are material, which are superficial and fade quickly. Material possessions age as fast as they are accessed: music cd’s & itunes (but now with spotify & youtube, etc.), movies, phone upgrades, computers, cars (my mistakes: buick skylark, nisan pulsar, chevy cavalier, ford taurus, toyota corolla, nisan pathfinder, toyota echo, toyota sequoia, volkswagen routan, toyota rav4, ford econoline), etc.  These are items of my impulse purchases – what are yours!?!

God’s blessings relate to providing material needs but not for self-serving but for spreading the grace of God. God wants to enrich our character and capacity for spreading the gospel more than enrich our economic or popularity status. The key difference to discerning apart from God, what item we cannot live without that creates dissatisfaction. Our answer indicates the potential for idolatry and how we seek blessing apart from the Blesser.

The second question is one of devotion. Many people shy away from discussing fearing the Lord. Instead of fear we emphasize asking Jesus in our hearts, believing in God, being on a spiritual journey, living in God’s love, and an array of others. While all these phrases can be helpful in communicating Christian faith, they can sometimes/often lack genuine devotion to God. Fearing God implies profound reverence and distinct devotion before the Lord.

Psalm 33:18 “the eye of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.”

Psalm 34:7 “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.”

Psalm 34:9 “Oh fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack.”

 

If God’s people are to equate fearing the Lord and walking with God then we must understand the blessing of boundaries:

  • First, there are no boundaries where God’s lordship is not over. A person cannot have Jesus as Savior who will not have God as Lord. We cannot fulfill the design of our life apart from our Maker. Therefore, we must increasingly grow to know God’s ways and word. Joy and blessing is a byproduct of obedience to God.
  • Second, Christians must learn to implement boundaries according to God’s word. We cannot live hypocritical lifestyles and claim holiness. There are likely actions needing stopped and started to take seriously our Christian walk.
    • Parents, teaching boundaries to your children is one of your key responsibilities. Do not set boundaries based on peers but on the principles of God’s word.
    • Teachers, boundaries are the key to influencing children and impacting our world (Prov 22:28).
  • Blessed Fulfillment: “eat the fruit of the labor of your hands” Ps 128:2a
    Psalmist speaks of God’s blessings by eating. Eating is essential to life, but is also enjoyment. Eden was created for eating (Gen 2:16) and so will the new Heavens & Earth with a promise of divine fellowship (Rev 3:20), a marriage supper (Rev 19:7), and restored tree of life (Rev 22:2).
  • Eating the fruit of your labor implies profound fulfillment, understanding the meaning and value of work with reward.
    • Eating home grown corn in IA (or MD farmers) tastes better than store bought or frozen.
    • Living in a home where your sweat, blood, work efforts, and life experiences have built.
    • Seeing your flesh & blood of children, niece/nephews, grandchildren grow up and repeating the cycle of family investment. OR The heartache when this is/does not happen.
  • Work as worship; do everything to the glory of God as we finish 2018 / start a new quarter & school year.

 

  • Blessed Framework: ”you shall be blessed , and it shall be well with you” Ps 128:2b
    When you fear God you understand the right way to view celebrations and challenges – highs and lows of life. Having the right perspective will enhance our purpose and passion in life.

    • Framing highlights what is in the center. The Christian life is the process of shifting self out of the picture and allowing God’s redemptive work become the center highlight of our life.
    • “It is well” isn’t a trite statement of not having experienced tension or trouble. Instead it’s a declaration of faith that the God who triumphed over the grave is with me, and His presence and power are daily at work in my life.
      • Prayer helps you to discern perspective for you and with God.
        • Next sermon series…

 

  • Blessed Family: “wife will be like a fruitful vine” Ps 128:3a
    Psalm is to “everyone who fears the Lord” but special emphasis on men. He references God’s blessing upon spouses and households.Husbands who fear the Lord influence wives to be fruitful vines; and while the implication may be about bearing children, it is not just this area of life for the wife to be fruitful. Consider the Proverbs 31 woman who is fruitful in and outside the home. Yet, the prioritized emphasis and benefit is “within your house.”

    à Dads & Moms, your greatest legacy is not your career but your children. Your greatest gift to world and mission on earth is within the home.

    • Contrast Prov 7:11 with the woman whose “feet would not stay at home”

 

“Children will be like olive shoots around your table.” Ps 128:3b
Olive trees were significant in Bible times.[2] They often grow to be hundreds of years old. Olive trees are not raised from seeds but are selected cuttings from trees to be rooted and grafted in with other olive trees. Olive roots spread widely to gain nourishment, and hence the trees are often well spaced. Although flowering begins when the trees are less than ten years old, full yield fruit is not reached until they are forty to fifty years old, after which branches are pruned to produce more fruit. Olive trees are nearly indestructible from their environment and need little maintenance, as it cares for itself once it is established. Olive groves have great benefit to far reaching future generations.
– – – Jesus – Isa 11:2 / Hos 14:6 / John 15:5
Healthy vines have three actions[3]
1) Connect:
They take a firm grip of other vines and become so twisted and intertwined that you cannot tell which are separate or single vines. Vines are interdependent.

à Every family will find identity in a people and place of belonging.

  • Many families today are experience rich but relationally poor, we need to reverse this principle.
    • Most families eat more than half their meals alone.[4]
    • Studies show that families that eat together are better physically, emotionally, and spiritually.[5] In this case, children not only eat healthier, they gain increased vocabulary, get better grades & higher test scores in school, have less medical issues, lower anxiety, lower high risk behaviors and higher likelihood for positive social behaviors.
  • “Children need more than just a family that gives then unconditional acceptance and love, they need a tribe that gives them a sense of belonging and significance.” (Reggie Joiner, R2L p. 42) 
  • Your child will be a visitor somewhere but a member somewhere else[6]. They will imitate the people wherever they feel they belong. It’s parents job to make sure their children belong (member) in the right communities as the character of closest friends determine our future.
    • Proverbs 13:20 “He who walks w/ wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.”
    • 1Corinthians 15:33 “bad company corrupts good character”

2) Climb: Once a vine has roots and has clung to other vines, they grow. Vines grow to climb a supporting wall or trellis and they spread across great distances.

à Every family serves somewhere.

– PTA / Sports / Cheer / Scouts
– – – > Church ? …. Too often we view church as boring bc we haven’t applied bold faith.
                  Seek to move from consumer to God-climber and Church-contributor / and see what God may do!
                 The church is central to God.
Eph 5:25-30 “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way, husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.”

3) Create: Healthy vines not only connect to each other & climb distances, but they cultivate & produce fruit.

à God loves to create new things.
– New life & destinies in salvation.
– New hope in relationships.
– New directions… What new thing do you want God to create in your life? What new thing does God want to create in your life?
– – – – – – new often springs through angst
Isa 43:19 “Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.”

  • Blessed Future: “May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life! May you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.” Ps 128:5-6
    • Lord bless from Zion. Zion stands for the city of God.
      • Satan killed Christ but God resurrected Him from the dead.
      • Rome burned Jerusalem and Temple, but God’s people still lived.
      • You can take away our church building but we still have the church.
      • Zion is the heart of God who is making a city for His people to gather.
    • Seeing children’s children is precious.
      • Instead of seeing our children snuffed by abortion.
      • Instead of seeing our children silenced and stifled by political correctness.
      • Instead of seeing our children slaughtered by violence and war.
      • God’s people will see offspring and spend eternity together.

APPLY/THINK

May…. NOT GUARANTEED W/O Prayer & Participation of Growing Godly Generations.

[1] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 120:title). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Adapted from Holman Bible Illustrated Dictionary. “Agriculture” by F. Nigel Hepper.

[3] Adapted from John Philips, Exploring The Psalms, Psalm 128, pp.497-498.

[4] http://www.foxnews.com/leisure/2014/08/08/americans-eat-more-than-half-their-meals-alone/

[5] http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2015/01/12/the-most-important-thing-you-can-do-with-your-kids-eat-dinner-with-them/

[6] J.D. Greear, Ready To Launch parenting series.

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