Covenant Protestant Reformed Church
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Covenant Protestant Reformed Church

83 Clarence Street, Ballymena BT43 5DR
Rev. Angus Stewart
Lord’s Day, 22 July, 2012

"Those that be planted in the house of the Lord
shall flourish in the courts of our God" (Ps. 92:13)

Morning Service - 11:00 AM - Baptism

The Pilgrim Psalms (8)
The Necessity of God’s Blessing   [download]   [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Psalm 127-128
Text: Psalm 127
I. In All Things
II. In Our Children
Psalms: 24:1-6; 145:14-21; 37:3-9; 127:1-5

Evening Service - 6:00 PM

Scripture and the Fear of the Lord   [download]   [youtube]
Scripture Reading: Psalm 19
Text: Psalm 19:9
I. The Relationship
II. The Fruit
Psalms: 111:1-2, 7-10; 146:1-10; 119:129-136; 19:7-14

For CDs of the sermons and DVDs of the worship services, contact Stephen Murray
If you desire a pastoral visit, please contact Rev. Stewart

CPRC website:
CPRC YouTube:
CPRC Facebook:

Quotes to Consider

John Calvin on Psalm 127:1: "It behoves us to remember ... that since the minds of men are commonly possessed with such headstrong arrogance as leads them to despise God, and to magnify beyond measure their own means and advantages, nothing is of more importance than to humble them, in order to their being made to perceive that whatever they undertake it shall dissolve into smoke, unless God in the exercise of pure grace cause it to prosper."

J. Alexander: "Men are fond of talking about being the architects of their own fortune, and our ears are wearied with hearing of ‘self-made men;’ but unless the Lord builds the house, they labour in vain who build it. Hope itself becomes more secure, and energy is more constant, when they are founded on the belief that all is under the Almighty guidance. Our happiness in duty is greatest, when we feel that we are conducted through all our changes by an overruling power, which uses us for ends far above our comprehension."

John Murray: "The fear of God is the soul of godliness ... If we are thinking of the [marks] of biblical piety none is more characteristic than the fear of the Lord" (Principles of Conduct, p. 229).

Announcements (subject to God’s will)

With joy we witness the baptism of Emilia Rose Halliday this morning. May the Lord be with Gareth & Leona as they fulfil their vows, raising her in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

Everyone is invited to a barbecue at the manse this week Friday, rain or shine. We will be joined by about a dozen guests who will be in the area for the BRF Conference. Please come at 6:30 PM or as soon as you can thereafter. If anyone would like to help at the manse this week with yard work (trimming bushes and hedges, gathering clippings, sweeping, weeding, putting in fence posts, painting the fence, etc.), please talk with Rev. Stewart.

The BRF Conference starts this Saturday. Next Lord’s Day, there will be worship services at Lorne House (10:30 AM and 7:00 PM) as well as in our own building. Speeches will be held throughout next week. Conference programmes are on the back table. Meals at the conference centre should be booked in advance. For information about arranging a meal, talk to Mary Stewart.

The Reformed Witness Hour broadcast next Lord’s Day (Gospel 846MW at 8:30 AM) will be "Jerusalem Filled With Boys and Girls Playing" (Neh. 11).

Preaching schedule at the CPRC for the next four weeks:
29 July - Prof. Engelsma in the morning and Rev. McGeown in the evening
5 August - Prof. Hanko in the morning and Prof. Engelsma in the evening
12 August - Prof. Engelsma at both services
19 August - Prof. Hanko at both services

Men’s Bible Study is scheduled for Saturday, 11 August, on Disciplines of a Godly Man, Chapter 5, "Friendship." Notes are available on the back table.

Offerings: General: £445.02. Donations: £25 (DVDs), £100 (CR News).

Website Addition: 1 Portuguese translation was added.

PRC News: Randolph PRC called Rev. Spronk (Peace, IL).

Excerpt from Martin Luther’s Exposition of Psalm 127,
for the Christians at Riga in Livonia

Solomon composed this psalm. Not only was he enlightened by the Holy Spirit, but as he daily exercised his administrative functions and mingled with people, he learned from frequent experience how vainly unbelief burdens itself with worries about feeding the belly, when in fact everything depends on God’s blessing and protection. For where God withholds his blessing, we labour in vain; where God does not protect, our worry is futile ...

First we must understand that "building the house" does not refer simply to the construction of walls and roof, rooms and chambers, out of wood and stone. It refers rather to everything that goes on inside the house, which in German we call "managing the household" [haushallten]; just as Aristotle writes, "Oeconomia," that, is pertaining to the household economy which comprises wife and child, servant and maid, livestock and fodder. The same term is used by Moses in Exodus 1[:20–21], where he writes that God dealt well with the two midwives and "built them houses" because they feared him and did not strangle the children of the Israelites; that is, he helped them to obtain husbands, sons and daughters, and enough of whatever goes along with keeping a family. Solomon’s purpose is to describe a Christian marriage; he is instructing everyone how to conduct himself as a Christian husband and head of a household.

Reason and the world think that married life and the making of a home ought to proceed as they intend; they try to determine things by their own decisions and actions, as if their work could take care of everything. To this Solomon says No! He points us instead to God, and teaches us with a firm faith to seek and expect all such things from God. We see this in experience too. Frequently two people will marry who have hardly a shirt to their name, and yet they support themselves so quietly and well that it is a pleasure to behold. On the other hand, some bring great wealth into their marriage; yet it slips out of their hands till they can barely get along.

Again, two people marry out of passionate love; their choice and desire are realized, yet their days together are not happy. Some are very eager and anxious to have children, but they do not conceive, while others who have given the matter little thought get a house full of children. Again, some try to run the house and its servants smoothly, and it turns out that they have nothing but misfortune. And so it goes in this world; the strangest things happen.

Who is it that so disrupts marriage and household management, and turns them so strangely topsy-turvy? It is he of whom Solomon says: Unless the Lord keeps the house, household management there is a lost cause. He wishes to buttress this passage [Ps. 127:1a] and confirm its truth. This is why he permits such situations to arise in this world, as an assault on unbelief, to bring to shame the arrogance of reason with all works and cleverness, and to constrain them to believe.

This passage alone should be enough to attract people to marriage, comfort all who are now married, and sap the strength of covetousness. Young people are scared away from marriage when they see how strangely it turns out. They say, "It takes a lot to make a home"; or, "You learn a lot living with a woman." This is because they fail to see who does this, and why He does it; and since human ingenuity and strength know no recourse and can provide no help, they hesitate to marry. As a result they fall into unchastity if they do not marry, and into covetousness and worry if they do. But here is the needed consolation: Let the Lord build the house and keep it, and do not encroach upon his work; the concern for these matters is his, not yours. For whoever is the head of the house and maintains it should be allowed to bear the burden of care. Does it take a lot to make a house? So what! God is greater than any house. He who fills heaven and earth will surely also be able to supply a house, especially since he takes the responsibility upon himself and causes it to be sung to his praise.

Why should we think it strange that it takes so much to make a home where God is not the head of the house? Because you do not see Him who is supposed to fill the house, naturally every corner must seem empty. But if you look upon Him, you will never notice whether a corner is bare; everything will appear to you to be full, and will indeed be full. And if it is not full, it is your vision which is at fault; just as it is the blind man’s fault if he fails to see the sun. For him who sees rightly, God turns the saying around and says not, "It takes a lot to make a home," but, "How much a home contributes!" So we see that the managing of a household should and must be done in faith—then there will be enough—so that men come to acknowledge that everything depends not on our doing, but on God’s blessing and support.

... Solomon here wishes to sanction work, but to reject worry and covetousness. He does not say, "The Lord builds the house, so no one need labour at it." He does say, "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain" [Ps. 127:1a]. This is as if he were to say: Man must work, but that work is in vain if it stands alone and thinks it can sustain itself. Work cannot do this; God must do it. Therefore work in such manner that your labour is not in vain. Your labour is in vain when you worry, and rely on your own efforts to sustain yourself.

... Thus, the meaning is this: God commanded Adam to eat his bread in the sweat of his face [Gen. 3:19]. God wills that man should work, and without work He will give him nothing. Conversely, God will not give him anything because of his labour, but solely out of His own goodness and blessing. Man’s labour is to be his discipline in this life, by which he may keep his flesh in subjection. To him who is obedient in this matter, God will give plenty, and sustain him well.

... Unless the Lord keeps the city, the watchman guards in vain.

In the first verse he rebuked covetousness, worry, and unbelief in every, household in particular. In this verse he does the same thing for a whole community. For a whole community is nothing other than many households combined. By this term we comprehend all manner of principalities, dominions, and kingdoms, or any other grouping of people.

Now the blind world, because it does not know God and his work, concludes that it is owing to its own cleverness, reason, and strength that a community or dominion endures and thrives. Accordingly, they gather together great treasures, stuff their coffers, construct mighty towers and walls, provide suits of armour and vast supplies of provisions, enact wise laws, and conduct their affairs with courage and prudence. They just go ahead in their arrogance without even consulting God about any of it, like those who built the Tower of Babel [Gen. 11:1–9].

Meanwhile, God sits above and watches how cleverly and boldly the children of men proceed, and he causes the psalmist to sing in his praise, "God brings the counsel of the nations to naught" [Ps. 33:10]. Again, "God knows the thoughts of man, that they are vain" [Ps. 94:11]. And yet again, "He takes away the spirit of princes, and deals strongly with the kings of the earth" [Ps. 76:12]. He allows such cities and dominions to arise and to gain the ascendancy, for a little while. But before they can look around he strikes them down; and in general the greater the kingdom, the sooner. Even though they flourish for a short time, that is in the sight of God little more than a beginning. Never does one of them arrive at the point it strives to reach ...