Stephen Caswell © 2003
Not Built In A Day
It took many years to build Verdum into a fortress. This city-fortress the Crown Prince strove in vain to carry by storm during the World War. He marched his men in solid mass, shoulder-to-shoulder, and eight hundred thousand died. But the fortress-city was never taken. To build a Christian home takes both perseverance and dependence upon God. The family that God blesses is the one that depends on Him . Let me say that again.
When you think about the blessings of God, remember one child’s description of an elevator: I got into a little room and the upstairs came down. For Christians to receive God's blessings we must live in dependence upon Him. In words that reflect Ecclesiastes the author says it is vain to attempt things without the Lord. He says that the family God blesses depends on Him. Blessed families don't Build in Vain, Watch in Vain, or Work in Vain.
1. Doesn't Build In Vain - Stability Depends on God
Psalm 127:1: Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;
The Great Australian Dream
One of the things that Australian people desire above all is to have a place they can call their own. In our time this has been dubbed the Great Aussie Dream. We want to have our own castle, somewhere we can hang our hat and raise our kids. Our own little retreat from the world. TV shows like Hot Auction, Changing Rooms, Room for Improvement, Location Location and Backyard Blitz emphasise how true this is today. You might say, what's wrong with that? It's a worthy pursuit isn't it?
Why, does the Psalmist say to build our own home is vain? Because most Australians build their houses independently of God. They labor and toil without considering the plans that God has for them. Many Australians build houses but very few Australians own homes. Most Australians share their house with their families, yet very few families share a Christian heritage. Unless the Lord builds the house we labor in vain. Proverbs 19:21: There are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel — that will stand.
Why is it vain to build our house without God? Because only God can bring stability to our home. Only the Rock of Ages can make our homes last. Today the divorce rate is running at over 50%. Children are growing up in broken homes and often suffer abuse from the very people who ought to protect them. Continually the homes of broken families are sold off and divided up in the divorce courts. These broken families are the result of building independently of God. The parents labored in vain.
Matthew 7:26-27: Everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.
To have Stability in your home you must depend on God.
Building Our First Home
After Sandy and I had been married about 18 months we built our home. Firstly we purchased land at Manly for extravagent price of $19,000.00. Then we decided on the homes design and sought out an Architect to draw up the plans. We wanted our home to suit our needs now and later as our family grew. Then we engaged a builder with a good reputation. We wanted a solid house to provide shelter and protection for our family. Finally we chose the bricks and materials that would go into our home. Along the way we committed our plans to God to Whom we also dedicated our home. To build a good home we needed the right Blueprints, the right Builder and the right Bricks. The same is true when it comes to building a Christian Home.
a. The Right Blueprints
If we want to build a Christian Home we need to use the right blueprint. We need to build according to God's plans. How can we know God's plans for us? How can where God wants us to live? How can we know what God wants us to do with our lives? Whom we should marry, what career we should pursue? These are important issues. How can we find out God's will in these? How can we know His plans? Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
Psalm 33:11: The counsel of the Lord stands forever, The plans of His heart to all generations. Prayer is vitally important in knowing God's will. We should ask God to direct our paths. Before we make decisions we ought to pray and ask for God's leading. Our responsibility is to seek the Lord's will in prayer. In response He guides us through the Word, other Christians and our circumstances. He gives us His peace when we make the right choices. Will you seek out God's plans for your life?
b. The Right Builder
Putting Up Our Patio
Having the right plans is so important. But so is getting the right builder. It's one thing to look at a glossy photograph of our home, its another thing altogether to build it. Earlier this year we had a patio attached to our home. Believe it or not I was actually considering putting it up myself. Fortunately I decided not to do it. I recognised that it was a task beyond my abilities. So I called in an expert. Someone who had the training and skill to complete the job according to the plan.
The same is true of building a Christian home. We can't do it on our own, we need help. A Christian home is not the building, it's the family inside. The Lord is the Master Builder who alone can build a strong family. To have a solid Christian home Jesus Christ must be the Head. To do this we must submit to Christ and the commandments He gives us in the Word. Christ is the Builder and we must obey Him. We are His labourers. As Christian parents, we have been given the responsibility to teach our children about the Lord. Through the Bible the Master Builder tells us how to build our home. We must labor together with the Lord. We must example our Christian faith each day not just on Sundays.
Matt 7:24-25: Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.
c. The Right Bricks
Blueprints and Builders are very important. But so are the bricks. Sandy and I went to many displays before we found the bricks we liked for our home. We had two brick feature walls inside as well as the ones outside. We wanted bricks that were the right color and strong. We chose the colors of the tiles, fittings and paint in our home. In the same way Christians need to build their homes with the right bricks and materials.
1 Corinthians 3:10-12: According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is.
We must build on Christ's salvation. He is the only foundation for the Christian life and home. What are the bricks we build with? Simply the activities that take place in our lives. How we use our time and talents. How we serve the Lord. Paul says that spiritual work is like gold, silver and precious stones. Fleshly work is like wood, hay and stubble. How do we build with spiritual materials? By asking the Lord to work in our life through the Holy Spirit. Do you ask the Lord to work through you in all your activities. Do you commit each day to God? Are you having a personal quiet time each day? Do you pray together as a family? Are you sharing your faith? How much time do you spend with your kids? Are you using your spiritual gifts? Are you asking the Lord to build quality into your life each day?
Have you asked the Lord to build your Home, to be your master builder? Do you commit all your plans to Him? Are you building on the right foundation? Are you using quality materials? Will your house stand in trials? Let's depend on God to Build stable homes!
2. Doesn't Watch In Vain - Security Depends On God
Psalm 127:1: Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.
A group of individual houses makes up a city. What has been built must be safeguarded. In ancient times each city had watchman to guard it. Their job was an important one. They would position themselves on top of the city walls and watch for the enemy. Night and day they were to stay alert. Yet, the Psalmist says that the watchmen's work is in vain if the Lord doesn't keep the city. Why does he say this? Because he wants us to trust in the Lord for our protection. Watchmen can become complacent, walls can be breached and armies defeated. To have Security in your home depend on God. Psalm 121:1-3: I will lift up my eyes to the hills — From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.
Psalm 20:7 says: Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the Lord our God. Today we rely on security services, neighborhood watch and the police. People spend money on security doors and screens alarms. We rely on insurance companies to replace our possessions when stolen. But none of these things can guarantee our safety. We are unwise to place our confidence in the protection that man has to offer. September 11 and the Bali bombing show us very clearly how insecure our world is. Car accidents and sickness can strike us down at any time. Whenever our children leave our homes they face danger. We really can't protect them no matter how hard we try. The best efforts of defense forces and police can't provide security for our homes or families.
People should depend on the Lord. David had the right perspective on security. Even though he was a mighty warrior, David looked to the Lord for his safety. Psalm 18:2-3: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; So shall I be saved from my enemies.
Christians shouldn't trust in man's protection for their security. We should entrust our families to the Lord our God. Only He can keep us safe and secure. Romans 8:38-39: For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The story has been told of a believer, Frederick Nolan, who was fleeing from his enemies during a time of persecution in North Africa. Pursued by them over hill and valley with no place to hide, he fell exhausted into a wayside cave, expecting his enemies to find him soon. Awaiting his death, he saw a spider weaving a web. Within minutes, the little bug had woven a beautiful web across the mouth of the cave. The pursuers arrived and wondered if Nolan was hiding there, but on seeing the unbroken and unmangled piece of art, thought it impossible for him to have entered the cave without dismantling the web. And so they went on.
Having escaped, Nolan exclaimed: Where God is, a spider’s web is like a wall, Where God is not, a wall is like a spider’s web.
Where do you look to for security? To man or to God? Man's efforts alone cannot protect us. Let's regularly commit our families unto God for their safekeeping. Let's not turn to those things which can and do fail. Will you entrust your family into the Lord's care? Will you teach your children to trust Him too? Let's depend on God for secure homes!
3. Doesn't Work In Vain - Success Depends On God
Psalm 127:2: It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.
The Psalmist now turns his attention to the worker. Working 20 hours a day will accomplish nothing without God. He says that hard work on its own will not satisfy us nor be productive. Sacrificing our sleep is useless. Dependence upon God is vitally linked to fruitful labor. If you work 18 hours a day rising early and staying up late it won't accomplish anything if God doesn't bless your work. The Psalmist tells us for the third time to depend on God. Haggai tells how God withheld His blessing from Israel because they had forgotten Him. The people were only interested in gaining wealth for themselves. Haggai 1:6-7: You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes. Thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways!
Carefully balance your lives between work and rest. Refreshing sleep is also a reward from God. When our lives please the Lord He blesses our labour and rest. There is more to life than work. There's a saying hard work never killed anyone, but it doesn't guarantee success either. Another popular saying is, God helps those who help themselves. This is not biblical or true. God helps those who depend on Him. Only God can prosper our labor. Working ourselves to death isn't the way to prosperity. Faith and dependence in God is.
To have Success in your labor depend on the Lord. Psalm 37:3-7a: Trust in the Lord, and do good; Dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;
Statistics Of A Good Harvest
Some years ago, a study was done by an agricultural school in Iowa. It reported that production of a hundred bushels of corn from one acre of land required 4,000,000 lbs. of water, 6,800 lbs. of oxygen, 5,200 lbs. of carbon, 160 lbs. of nitrogen, 125 lbs. of potassium, 75 lbs. of yellow sulphur, and other elements too numerous to list. In addition to these ingredients are required rain and sunshine at the right times. Although many hours of the farmer’s labor are also needed, it was estimated that only 5 % of the produce of a farm can be attributed to the efforts of man. 95% is attributed to the providence of God.
Job 1:9-10: So Satan answered the Lord and said, Does Job fear God for nothing? Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
Farmers here can identify with this. God sends the rain or withholds it. He has power over the frost and hail. The Lord also controls things like grubs, mildew, mice and grasshoppers. When the Lord wants to bless he can produce a plentiful harvest. But He can also take it away very quickly. God even controls the prices obtained for the produce. Therefore we are wise to commit our labor unto Him. We should seek His blessing upon us and our work.
Are you relying on your own labour to be successful? Or do you depend on the Lord? Are you balancing your work with adequate rest? Do you pray about your work with its problems and needs? Do you ask the Lord to help you obtain a good price for your crops? Do you thank the Lord when He blesses you? Let's depend on God to have success in our work!
4. The Dividends Of Dependence - Spiritual Heritage
What happens when we depend on the Lord to build our homes, guard them and bless our work? The Lord gives some wonderful blessings. The blessings shared in verses 3 to 5 and Psalm 128 belong to those who fulfill the first three conditions. There are three blessings He gives us through our children, A Heritage, Help and Happiness.
Ps 127:3: Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Children are a heritage, a reward from the Lord. What is a heritage? Something passed on to the next generation. They are our personal investment in the future. When parents teach and example the faith they pass on a Christian heritage to their children and to the next generation. What a joy to see our children become the next generation of believers.
Psalm 127:4: Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, So are the children of one’s youth.
Children are also a help. In ancient Israel sons provided protection for their parents. The children helped to defend their parents against their enemies. The implication here is that there is a strong tie between the parents and their children. They work together well. Children also helped their parents cultivate their fields and worked in the home. Children often carried on their fathers trade when they grew old.
Psalm 127:5: Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; They shall not be ashamed, But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
Children are a source of great happiness to their parents. This of course implies that the children have grown up to respect their parents. That they have embraced their parents faith. Proverbs 23:24-25: The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice, And he who begets a wise child will delight in him. Let your father and your mother be glad, And let her who bore you rejoice. Children and grand children enrich their parents lives when they grow older.
How can we experience God's blessings in our lives? By depending on God. We should ask the Lord to build our homes, protect our homes and bless our work. Our own labor will always fall short. We must believe that God will keep His promises to us. Only Parents who live in dependence on God can pass on a Christian heritage. Will you depend on Him?
Num 6:24-26: The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you; The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.