Today’s devotional, prepared by Pastor Jason Sato, was originally posted on December 13, 2013. He and his wife Jessica (along with their three young children) recently moved to Japan to serve as missionaries.
Devotional Thought for Today
“Childbearing of a Different Sort”
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.
How many of us feel frustrated at working so hard, yet having nothing to show for at the end of the day? In this Psalm, the Lord declares that true meaning in life, blessedness, and real rest will not be found in one’s anxious toil, but only in Him; these things cannot be obtained by our effort but by God’s gracious favors. And the writer shows that the sign of God’s blessedness is having many children—to the singles and childless couples, this may be a turnoff, but read on!
Theologically, childbearing was the means by which the Israelites could participate in the land promise God gave to their forefather Abraham (Gn. 13:14-6). This means that the land (i.e., the Lord’s heritage to the Israelites) would be passed down and remains in their possession. Childbearing, in this way, contributed to the fulfillment of God’s promise to make Abraham a great nation that would bless all families of the earth (Gn. 12:3).
In the New Covenant, believers, whether single or married with children, participate in the promises of God as well. It is not through childbearing, but in their involvement in God’s work of making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-9). The ultimate goal of seeking prosperity for ourselves, therefore, is so that we can bless the nations, which also depends on the favors and might of God, as we work hard as well (Prov. 14:23).
Often our labor is filled with anxiety, sleeplessness, and a disappointing lack of fruitfulness. Even our successes fail to bring us the peace, security, and significance that we strive to obtain. Pray that the Lord would give you eyes to see the Kingdom work He is calling you to today. Ask that He might give you freedom to simply obey His will and entrust the fruit to Him.
Prayer: Lord, so often I find myself laboring in vain, rising up early, and eating the bread of anxious toil. I thank You that You give sleep to Your beloved. May I rest easy, knowing that ultimately, my blessing and significance is secured by Your hand and might. Grant me freedom and joy that I may participate in Your Kingdom work today. May my labor bear the fruit of worship. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 59
Lunch Break Study
Read Mark 4:26-29: And he said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27 He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28 The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.”
Questions to Consider
- What is man’s role in the Kingdom?
- What is not man’s role?
- What time is most important for the man to recognize?
- To scatter seed on the ground; that is, to share the gospel with those around us.
- To make the seed sprout and grow; that is, to convert people. After we clearly communicate the gospel at an opportune time, it’s God’s job to convert and grow the people.
- When God calls us to do our part in building his Kingdom (e.g., sharing the gospel, persuading a skeptical person to believe, and discipling a new believer).
Would you describe your labor today as anxious toil? What opportunities might the Lord give you tomorrow to participate in His Kingdom work? Ask that He might give you, His beloved, restful sleep tonight.