Psalm 129 – Facing Our Enemies – Part 1

In our lifetime we will have to deal with people that can be considered enemies, our enemies. They are our enemies, even if we think that we did not do anything to become their enemies. 

They are our enemies first of all, because they are enemies of our God. They do not like God, or even the idea that there is a God. Secondly they are enemies of our faith. They do not believe in what we believe. They will do everything that they can to destroy our faith. Thirdly, they are enemies of our behavior. Their hatred toward our God and our faith will bring their animosity to us. They do not like the way we live our lives. We will suffer for that, for our God and for our faith.

There is only one way out of persecution, and that is giving in. If you do not want to face your enemies, you must give up your faith in God, your beliefs, and your behavior. If you do not want to face your enemies, you must be quiet and not talk about your God and your faith. If you do not want to face your enemies, you must stop practicing your faith and the commandments of your God.

In  Psalm 129 we learn that the people who took the journey to Jerusalem to worship would have opposition, and sometimes those enemies would use violence to deter them. In the same way the enemies of our faith are real and active. They will do anything in their power to stop us or to destroy us, because of our God and our faith.

Let us learn with the psalmist how to face our enemies.

1 – RESISTING THEIR ATTACKS – The first thing that is mentioned in this psalm is how to resist their attacks. Let us look at how the enemies attack our faith, our God and us. In the first verse  we have this, “[1] They have greatly oppressed me from my youth — let Israel say”

            A – The Attacks – The first thing that the psalmist helps us to understand is the attacks.

                        I – Many – “They have greatly” – These attacks are many and great; this is the first thing that the psalmist mentions. It is not just a little word here and there; or a little action here and there. Our enemies will unleash a strong and organized attack against everything we believe.

                        II – Public – “Let Israel say” – The second thing mentioned in this psalm is that the attack is public. The psalmist calls for the testimony of the whole nation. He is saying that the attack is not something hidden in some corner of the world, but it is public, made in the daylight.

                        III – Time – “Since the Youth” – Time is the third subject that the psalmist mentions when he talks about the attack. This attack is coming and happening since he was young. It has been for a long time, and it does not look like it will go away soon.

Unfortunately, we do not need to go too far to experience opposition on our faith; we are facing it right here and right now. Our children are facing it in their schools; we face it in our working places, and sometimes in our families.

My friend, in the same way that the pilgrims sang this psalm as they went to Jerusalem to worship their God, do not let your enemies stop you from serving the Lord.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 128 – The Blessings of the Lord – Part 3

We are watching and some of us are adhering to the new fad among the evangelicals, the seeker-friendly church. Someone called it the zip code ministry. Those churches try to do everything that they can to attract seekers, people that are hunting or shopping for a church.

Most of us have been there and done that. At a certain point in our lives we thought that if we had a good community where we could plug in, our families would be better, and our personal lives would improve. We thought that the community would make the difference.

Sometimes we think that if the community has the blessings of the Lord our family will receive some and we will get some. We are wrong! This is not the way that God planned. He starts with the individual and goes to the family and then to the community.

After you have the blessing of the Lord in your personal life and in your family life, then and only then, will you  have the blessings of the Lord in your community.

3 – IN THE COMMUNITY LIFE – Let us see how the blessings of the Lord come to the community. In Psalm 128 we have these verses: “[5] May the Lord bless you from Zion all the days of your life; may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem, [6] and may you live to see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel.”

            A – The Temple is the starting point – The psalmist helps us to understand that the blessings come from Zion, where the Temple was built. We must realize that the blessings of the Lord will come to the community from the Temple.

            B – It involves your whole life – The Second thing that we must know is that the blessings will come from the Temple but it will involve our whole life. Some times we have a good season in our lives and we think that that will be enough to bring the blessings of the Lord. We are wrong. The psalmist says, “all the days of your life.” That is the goal and purpose for us.

            C – It will produce fruits – This kind of community life will bring fruits in our lives. They are the fruits that come from the blessings of the Lord. Let us look at some of these fruits:

                        I – Watching the community prosperity – The first fruit is that the community will prosper in every area. We will see good things in every aspect of our lives.

                        II – Watching your posterity – We will grow old and see our posterity grow. We will see our children, grandchildren, and some of us will see great grand children. This is an extraordinary blessing.

                        III – Peace – Finally we will have peace in the community. We really could use some of that right now, in our communities; the problem is that this is the end of a long and sometimes hard process. It is possible, but it is not always easy.

As you can see the blessings of the Lord start in our personal life, reaches our family, and goes to our community. Every one of us is responsible to bring these blessings to our communities and our families.

If our community does not have prosperity, growth, and peace it is because the blessings of the Lord are not flowing from our families and our personal lives.

Every one of us has work to do, to be an instrument in bringing the blessings of the Lord upon our family and our community.

Let us do it!

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 128 – The Blessings of the Lord – Part 2

Abuse, addiction, communication issues, divorce, grief, parenting, pornography, same-sex attraction, and suicide, are just a short list of all the challenges that the contemporary family is facing today.

Family probably is one of the traditional institutions that has suffered the most changes in the past years. We are seeing and experiencing so many changes that some people are starting to advocate the abolishment of marriage.

Psalm 128 makes clear that God has a plan for the family and He will bless it. The blessings will start in the individual or personal life and will expand IN THE FAMILY LIFE. That is the second step for the blessings of the Lord, the family life. 

After receiving the blessings in our personal life, those blessings will flow to our family. This is what the psalmist says: “[3] Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your sons will be like olive shoots around your table.” 

            A – Wife/Spouse

The first person to receive the blessing from the Lord that comes from you will be your spouse. Today the kids are replacing the spouses. They are becoming more important and getting more attention than our spouses. The love and care for your spouse should have priority in your house.

                        I – Will be fruitful – The psalmist says that the spouse will be a fruitful vine. We are watching a bigger involvement of both parents in house chores.

                        II – A source of joy – That person also will be a source of joy. The fruit that that person will produce is joy. The word vine here means joy, since they were a source of joy for the Israelites. When we have the blessings of the Lord the marriage grows and we have joy in it.

            B – Children

The next area where the blessings will affect the family is with the children.

                        I – Like olive shoots – vitality, health, and precious – The psalmist mentions two things about the children, the first one is that they would be like olive shoots. Olive, at that time, represented not only vitality and health, but also it was precious. The children would be like that, healthy and very important.

                        II – Around your table – close relationship – The second aspect of the blessings of the Lord over the children is the relationship. The psalmist says that the children would be around the table. That means a close relationship, something that we do not see today between parents and their children. More and more we are watching the relationship between parents and children being dissipated. With all the communication tools parents are still having a hard time communicating with their children. 

The psalmist goes on saying that “[4] Thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord.” Who fears the Lord is blessed this way. That is what happens when you have your life in the right place with God.

Our families are special in the eyes of the Lord and He wants to bless them.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 128 – The Blessings of the Lord – Part 1

In Brazil it is common to live in houses with grades and bars in the windows, reinforced doors and gates, high walls with broken glasses to protect against burglars and robbers. People are locked inside their houses while the bad guys walk freely in the streets. It is a very sad situation.

I remember my shock when I arrived in America and did not see walls around the houses. Everyday, during my first weeks, I would go outside in the end of the day to collect the toys and tools that were left on the front yard. My hosts, had fun with me.

After a while they challenged me to let it go one day and see if the toys and tools would be there the next morning. I accepted the challenge, and the next day to my surprise, everything was there untouched. It was then that I realized that America really was a different place.

Violence, immorality, doubts, despair, drugs, child abuse, among other things are staining our world. How can we have a better place where we are? Maybe more police, more laws, more security companies, etc.?

Our starting point is wrong. We want a better country and if we have that, we will have a better family and then we will be better.

God has a different approach: He starts with the person, goes to the family, and then, and only then, goes to the community. This is what we learn with Psalm 128.

The word blessing means happy, fortunate. The blessed one is the one who God makes happy and rewards. Let us see the steps toward the blessings of the Lord.

1 – IN THE PERSONAL LIFE – The first step is in our personal life. We are, most the time, turning the pyramid upside-down. We want the national and community blessings to come to us in our personal life. That is not going to happen.

The blessings start first in our personal life. The psalmist helps us to see that.

            A – Its causes – The first thing he shares with us are its causes. Verse one says: [1] Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways.”

                        I – Fear of the Lord – The first cause is the fear of the Lord. That is the realization that God is God and He is all-powerful and almighty. The sense that He is the Lord should make us tremble.

                        II – Obedience – walking in his ways – The second cause for the blessing in our personal life is obedience. The psalmist says that we should walk in His ways. When we fear the Lord we sure will obey Him, and do whatever He says in His Word.

            B – Its Results – Fruits – After that the psalmist will tell us the results of that kind of life, its fruits. The second verse says: [2] You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours.” 

                        I – Blessings – The first fruit is the personal happiness. The person that fears and obeys the Lord is a happy and fortunate person.

                        II – Prosperity – The second fruit is the prosperity. That person will advance in all directions of his or her life.

As you can see, God is willing to bless our country, community, and family, but he will star with you and me. Are you ready?

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 127 – God’s Actions In The Life Of His Beloved – Part 3

I remember an event that I witnessed in Brazil in my youth that the passage of time has not been able to erase. I used to live in front of a gas station owned by a family. They were a big family and good people. One day I saw a customer very upset with the owner of the gas station, things got out control very quickly, people got out of a car and started to beat him. And then, out of nowhere his boys rushed to rescue him, and were able to overpower his attackers. 

I know that I should not glamorize violence, but that scene was imprinted in my memory, it was one of the most beautiful things that I saw and remember in my life from that time. Seeing those boys coming in defense of their father was really something.

I believe that this story is a good illustration of the last verses of Psalm 127. This is the last action of God in the life of his beloved.

4 – PRESERVATION – The final action that God will perform in our lives is preserving and maintaining. God will preserve us from all evil and attacks of the enemies. He will find ways to keep us going, moving forward.

The psalmist says, “[3] Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him. [4] Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one’s youth. [5] Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate.”

He is going to do that by putting people in our lives. Here in this text we have the sons. The children are a blessing from the Lord because if you have many you will be preserved in the day you face your enemy. At that time a big family could influence the judgments at the gate of the city.

Even today, in many places in the world, people have large families, so they can work together and produce more, they can defend themselves against their enemies, etc.

But here, in the western civilization, we live in a time when  big families do not exist anymore. Because of that we need to find in the church brothers and sisters, sons and daughters in the Lord that will be there for us when we need them. The church must become our family. 

As we see in this psalm, we as children of God must put our confidence and trust in God. We need to put our priorities in the right place. It is important for us to work to sustain our family, but it is more important to have the right relationship with God. If we put God first, He will take care of the rest.

Our problem is, we do not know God enough to trust in Him. My suggestion is for you to start one step at a time. Give to God small parts of the time everyday to pray and read His word. 

Start to surrender, little by little; some areas of your life, that you think you have control over.

Make an effort to attend church every week, make it a priority. Find a time, even if you have to rearrange your schedule, to meet with brothers and sisters during the week, for fellowship, prayer, and Bible study. Ask God to help you to do that.

Trust in God and know that He is the one with more interest in you and in your action than you.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 127 – God’s Actions In The Life Of His Beloved – Part 2

Many people go through trials and tribulations in their lives because their faith and knowledge of God is limited. In their minds and hearts God is able to do some things but not others. It seems that God is a good specialist, but not the all-powerful being.

Sometimes we think that God can take care of some areas of our lives, but He is incapable of managing other areas. That kind of vision can cripple our Christian walk, because it will force us to find answers and help somewhere else than God.

 Psalm 127 helps us in a simple and poetic way to see what God is capable to do for those who love Him. In our last message we saw that He edifies and builds up. Today we will see two more things for which we can count on Him in our journey.

2 – GUARD – The second action is guarding, protecting. The psalmist says, “[1] “Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.” 

You can buy the best security system available on the market. You can have dogs, cameras, a security guard, etc. But in the end the Lord is the one that has to guard your house and your city, all the money and people will be in vain.

Most of the time we put our trust in things and in people and forget to involve God in the process. God must be our first and main source of protection; the other things are good, but our faith and confidence must be in God Himself.

I am not saying that we should not be aware when we walk on the street at night, or lock our cars and houses. The idea is that those attitudes without the work of God are not enough.

3 – SUSTAIN – The third action of God in our life is sustaining, nourishing. The psalmist says, “[2] In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat–for he grants sleep to those he loves.”

How many hours and days we work hard to put food on the table for our family? Some of us are struggling very hard to find a job, or to find a better job to support his/her family. Because of that we cannot find time for God, church, and spiritual life. We are so busy trying to provide for our own family, that we neglect the most important things.

It is important for us to understand that God does not want us to be lazy. He wants us to have our priorities in the right place. God makes clear here in this text that working hard with wrong motivations and intentions will not give you what you are looking for. God will give to His beloved ones while they sleep, or as our translation states, for he grants sleep to those he loves.” He grants rest for those who trust in Him.

My friend, do not forget that God loves you and if you trust in Him He will guard you and sustain you in your journey.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 127 – God’s Actions In The Life Of His Beloved – Part 1

WORK! WORK! WORK! BUSY! BUSY! BUSY!

We live in a time when we are pushed to the edge with work and activism. We do not have time for anything else but work, work, and more work. We are so busy that we do not have time even for God. We think that if we do not do something we are not going to get anything done.

The problem with this attitude is that, there are things in our lives that if the Lord does not act, our work and determination will be in vain. Psalm 127 deals with the fears that we have these days.

What is going to happen with my family if something happens to me?

What if I lose my job?

What if I get hurt?

What if…

What if…

The problem is that we think that this is a situation exclusive to modern days. We could not be more wrong. This psalm helps us to understand that it is not. People who took the journey to Jerusalem three times a year for the festivals, had the same questions:

What is going to happen to our house?

What is going to happen to our business?

What if something happens to me during this journey?

If my family does not come with me on this journey, who will protect them?

This psalm shows  us that God has a special interest in His beloved ones. Because of that He will do things in his or her lives to get things done.

When we learn that we will be able to enjoy God and His presence and we will be able to concentrate in things that have real importance in our lives.

God wants us to put our efforts first in His things, His kingdom and His justice, and He will take care of all the other things.

When we put our trust in God there are four things that He will do for us, and this Psalm will help us to see that. Let us see God’s Action in the life of His beloveds.

1 – EDIFY – The first thing that He will do is to build up and to edify the lives of His beloved ones. The psalmist says, “[1] Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”

You can do everything that is in your hands to do, but if the Lord does not work you will not get anything done. You will just waste your time and energy.

He is the one who will build up your house, family, children, relationships, business, and your church. Sometimes we think that everything depends on us, but this psalm helps us to put our trust in God.

We can put our own abilities, money and efforts to build those things, but if we do not have His presence and action we will lose everything.

As we start examining this psalm, I would like to challenge you to count on God to build your life, and to put your trust in Him.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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Psalm 126 – The Restoration of God’s People – Part 3

I know some churches and some people that are stuck, frozen, almost paralyzed in a time when God acted in their lives. They just do not want to move away from that experience. It is like Peter, John, and James on the Mountain of the Transfiguration. After seeing Jesus, Moses, Elijah, and hearing the voice of God, they said, let’s build some tents for each one of you and stay here.

They had no idea that down in the valley the other disciples were struggling with a child possessed by a demon. How many times, we see God doing great things for us and we just do not want to move, we want to stay there as long as we can.

The last aspect of the restoration of the people of God focuses in the future. It is important for us to look back and see what God did in our lives; it is important for us to pray and receive restoration in our present situation; but we must move on, keep walking, and advance in our lives. So, the next lesson that we learn in Psalm 126 is: THE HOPE IN THE PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE – VS. 5-6

Here are the last verses: “[5] Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. [6] He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.”

The psalmist makes sure that we need to keep moving. He also tells us that there is a promise for our future and we should put our hope on it. Because we have this hope we move, we act. Let us see the components of this action.

            A – It Is Painful

The first thing that the psalmist mentions here is that this attitude will be painful. This is why we need hope. God made some promises about our personal life, family life, business life, and we do not have those promises fulfilled yet. We do everything that we are supposed to do and we do not see any result. It is painful. Like the sower, we plant, but for some time we do not see anything happening, we just wait and hope, and that period can be very painful.

            B – It Is Active

The psalmist also says that this hope must keep us active. We cannot stop. We have things to do. We are planting, we are not seeing the fruits yet, but they will come in due time. We just cannot be still and wait, we have work to do

            C – It Is Rewarded

Finally the psalmist tells us that that hope will reward everyone who planted, even during pain and struggle. They will come back with joy bringing the fruits of their labor.

When was the last time that you felt a refreshing renewal from God in your life? When was the last time that you looked back in your Christian life and meditated on what God had done for you? How dry is your spiritual life now? Are you living without hope that you are going to reap what you are planting?

My friend, God can restore your life. He can bring the streams of living water inside your heart. Open your heart and ask Him to do that.

Have a blessed week,

Pastor Lucas

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