Tuesday: Psalms 127-130 & 2 Timothy 4.1-5

From Jonathan Bailes

Psalms 127-128: The first verse of Psalm 127 has been and continues to be a theme verse for Church of the Cross: "Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain." Even for those who rise up early and who embody the famed Puritan work ethic that still characterizes much of our city, all effort and toil is useless unless it is guided and blessed by God.  But this should be an encouragement for us, because God does indeed bless those who fear him (128:1-2).  Indeed, because YHWH is the one who builds, we needn't worry.  God blesses us with gifts that we cannot secure for ourselves, and because of this our souls can rest (127:2).

Psalms 129-130: These psalms expand on the theme of dependence upon God, not simply for blessing that exceeds our control, but now in the face of threats.  Whether this threat comes from the oppression and mistreatment of others (129:1-2) or from our own failures and sin (130:3), the promise of hope remains.  The LORD delivers victims of injustice and oppression and He forgives the sin of those who fear Him.  As with the previous psalms, so too in Psalm 130 there is a proper response to this characteristic of God.  In a time of fear or of failure, we are instructed to wait and to hope.  Wait with the expectation of deliverance.  Hope in the dependable love of God. 

2 Timothy 4.1-5: Paul's instructions to Timothy are straightforward, but given with great urgency. "Preach the word," he tells Timothy, "be ready...reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." This is the ministry that Timothy has been given, to administer the word of God, the scriptures that Timothy learned from childhood and which have been breathed out by God (3:15-16).  This ministry does not require originality or creative genius.  It only requires faithfulness.  Because God's word includes not only instruction, but rebuke and reproof, Timothy must learn to expect that people will not wish to hear what this word, and that it will likely bring him suffering (4:3-5).  This is a timely word for us.  We live amidst people who no longer endure sound teaching, who do not wish to hear the reproofs and rebukes of Scripture (and often we are those people!).  Yet the scriptures do not change and we too must be faithful to hear, to obey, and to instruct when needed.