No amount of human sacrifice or hard labor can accomplish much unless God’s blessing is upon His people. That is the major message of this psalm. It is assigned to Solomon, who was both a builder and a father, but the message also seems to fit the post-exilic times of Nehemiah. The population of Jerusalem was small and the people had to build and repair the buildings. Houses were desperately needed for families or else the struggling Jewish nation had no future (Nehemiah 7:4).
Surrounded by numerous enemies, Jerusalem needed strong gates and walls with watchmen on the alert day and night (Nehemiah 4:9, 7:3). This psalm deals with the same issues Jeremiah wrote about in his letter to the Jewish exiles (Jeremiah 29:4–7). But Psalm 127 also speaks to us today and reminds us of some privileges we have as the people of God in a dangerous and demanding world.
The Point of the Message Today – the presence of a Christian home in a community or neighborhood must be developed and built. By doing so, that home itself represents a platform for sharing and demonstrating the message and testimony of the gospel of grace and salvation found only in Jesus Christ.
Today I will talk about Value of Lighthouses, the Vanity of Life, and the Vacuum of Space. Now that I have your attention, I know you must be curious as to where I am going with this message!
The Value of a Lighthouse
LIFE PURPOSE: Have you ever asked, “What is the purpose of a lighthouse?” Today, lighthouses serve for a single purpose, are you ready? For tourists to take photographs.
There is simply no reason whatsoever to use a lighthouse these days, unless somebody is at sea with no access to a GPS or some other satellite technology.
Back in the day, the purpose of a lighthouse was a navigational tool, to steer mariners away from cliffs, shorelines, and coral reefs, while in dense fog or on dark nights. The lighthouse provides a signal to ships that they are close to such hazardous areas.
So, a good GPS will provide a captain with a tool to navigate dangerous waters and various hazards that could wreck his ship. While the image of a lighthouse is beautifully poetic, for today, let’s let “GPS” could stand for this…
How will people find their way in this life if we, as the body of Christ, the church, are not all about the one task given to us, the task of making disciples? The Bible does not call us to BE disciples, but to MAKE disciples (Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20). So, immediately we see a process of growth, and we can therefore never say, “NOW I am a fully devoted disciple of Jesus Christ.”
Getting “born again” is quick and efficient, while becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ takes a lifetime, it involves a process called sanctification.
Actually, the Great Commission does not call us to BE disciples, but to MAKE disciples. I submit to you that we will never BE disciples until we are involved in MAKING disciples. It is very similar to the Paul-Timothy relationship. We need someone to pour their lives into us, and at the same time, we must find someone into whom we can pour our lives. So, feel free to evaluate yourself as discover where you fit in this discipleship model. OK, I’m back now…
LIFE VERSE: Let me tell you a little personal information. I challenge people in the Connection Class to find and embrace what I call a Life Verse. What is that verse which jumps out at you and describes what you want your life to be all about? My Life Verse is Acts 20:24 – “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”
Many of you have heard me talk about a missional lifestyle – which is not adding more activity to your already busy schedule, but using our existing activities (in which you are already involved) for kingdom purposes. How can you use your existing relationships and circles of influence to make a difference in the kingdom?
So, since you already live in a home, located in a neighborhood, and have relationships with people all around you, how can you look for opportunities to demonstrate the love of Christ in word and deed? How can you and your home become the lighthouse that unchurched people can see and eventually find safety and security and salvation (“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12)
There are a few things that prevent us from being as valuable as we can be for God’s sake. Let’s call these, “the Vanities of Life.”
The Vanities of Life – there are three found in our passage…
1. It is vain to build a HOME without God – Psalm 127:1a
In Hebrew, the word ben (son), bath (daughter), and bayith (house) all come the same root word, which is banah (to build). In your efforts, you can build a nice house but you will fail to build a home.
Many people in America are trying to build a home without God. They seek God’s blessing by having a church wedding, and perhaps dedicating their children to God. But I beg the question, how often do they teach their children the words and the ways of God? If anything, they abdicate that parental responsibility to the church, if they attend church at all. One hour out of 168 hours in a week does not impact a child that much, so it is very important that parents take the lead in raising biblically-minded children.
Here is another hard truth bomb; you cannot lead your children to a place where you have not yet been, so what is YOUR plan for your own spiritual growth? Growth does not happen by accident, you need to be intentional.
This same principle goes for building our church home. We can wrongfully seek to build our own kingdom without a second thought about furthering God’s Kingdom.
2. It is vain to guard the CITY (or HOUSE) without God – Psalm 127:1b
Human efforts for protection (the watchmen on the wall) are futile without the ultimate protection coming from God.
What can you do? Lock doors, hire a guard, use a protection service, but a fire, theft, illness, tornado, or a drug addiction of someone in that home can still happen WITH a watchman on the wall. So take reasonable measures, but ultimately trust in the Lord.
3. It is vain to WORK HARD without God – Psalm 127:2
If verse 1 is a warning about overconfidence, then verse 2 is a warning against overwork. I sense Psalm 127:2 is directly connected to Psalm 127:1, so, it is also vain to lose sleep in such a way that we are not trusting God for his provision and protection (building and guarding).
Yet, the notice the phrase, “to eat the bread of painful labor” in verse two. It seems to indicate our tiresome efforts to obtain such food, which could represent the basic necessities of life. How often do we take on two jobs in order to provide the lifestyle we desire, at the expense of our rest, health, and any trust we may have in our Provider? At the end of the day, after 40 years, what do we have to show for all our hard work? Stuff, toys, possessions, but at the end of life, no one ever requested that their possessions be brought to visit them in the hospital, it’s all about family and friends: relationships.
As good stewards of the family with which God has entrusted us, how often do we spend an extraordinary amount of time on activities that have little or no impact for eternity? Maybe it is time to let God back into our everyday lives, into our families, and allow him to lead us in the direction he sees fit, for the kingdom’s sake.
The end of verse 2 does not tell us it is wrong to get up early or get a jump-start on the day, but the point is that our work should be enjoyable rather than a burden. We can look back at Ecclesiastes to read Solomon’s counsel on enjoying life and labor (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25). Notice the restful language in Psalm 127:2b, “he gives to his beloved even in his sleep.”
God had a special name for Solomon, Jedediah, which means beloved (2 Samuel 12:25), but the Bible is clear that WE are also God’s beloved (Romans 1:7, Colossians 3:12, 1 Thessalonians 1:4, 2 Thessalonians 2:13).
A final comment on Psalm 127:2; while we may get tired IN God’s work, we never get tired OF God’s work. It is for God’s will and purpose that we are on this planet, and it is rewarding to know that God has a plan and purpose for his children, if we would only keep looking for those opportunities to be his hands and feet, and put in a good word for Jesus.
Finally, I need to talk about the Vacuum of Space…
The Vacuum of Space
When I was between ages 6-9, we lived in Florida, and I remember those early days of the space race, and watching TV when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. You have seen it too, the special equipment used to protect the astronauts while in the vacuum of space. There was a whole lot of nothingness out there, even air to breathe! Air is obviously essential to us carbon-based units, so when we think about our homes, whether we are a home of one or a home full of many, there are some essential areas that we need to develop.
A vacuum (not in outer space, but in science) is defined as “space void of matter. The word comes from the Latin adjective vacuus for “vacant” or “void.” We can see a simple principle at work with our vacuum cleaner at home. When the motor sucks air out of the chamber, outside air rushes up the hose to take its place.
Imagine a home that is void of Christian influence; there is a vacuum. When I relate this to the Christian home, you will discover that if you don’t follow the blueprints and build it properly, the emptiness, the space, and the void (or lack of Christian spirituality, priority, or emphasis) will suck in a lot of things that the world has to offer, rather than the things God has planned for us. Let’s follow the Architect’s blueprint in this illustration…
When I was in college, I read a little booklet called, “My Heart, Christ’s Home,” so with respect to the author, Robert Munger, I’d like to use a similar theme to make this message a bit more practical. What parts of our home need to be developed in order for our homes (whether literally or figuratively) to be a meaningful lighthouse to those around us? To really understand the house you are building, these blueprints are essential to getting it done right. Let’s go room by room to see what God has for us.
THE FRONT HALL – this is the place where we initiate relationships. We greet people at the front door, and generally invite people in for a brief conversation. This room may be considered a place of hospitality, but for us today, let this be the place where we entered into a relationship with Jesus. Think back to the time when you heard him knocking and decided to open the door and let him in. As you think about this time, did you keep Jesus at the front door or did you let him into every room or your house/heart? Think about how awkward it would be to leave a guest in the front hall and go on with our business, but that is exactly what many American Christians do all the time.
THE DINING ROOM – this is the place where we eat, so it should represent our appetites and desires. It is the place where I spend a lot of hard work, laboring to get the shiny things that make me happy. Perhaps we have invited Jesus to sit at the table and tell him that he will be pleased with the menu. Then I serve my favorite dishes of money, stocks, academic degrees, fine cars, and my fame and fortune are my side dishes. And Jesus eats none of it. Doesn’t he care for my food? Then he tells me that he has food that I don’t know about, stuff that will really satisfy my heart’s desire. We then have to ask ourselves, do we find ourselves eating more devil’s food cake or angel’s food cake?
THE LIVING ROOM – this is the place where we get to know one another, fellowship together, and live in community. Jesus expects us to meet him in THIS room every day, but how often do we go days without number and forget to meet with him? We met together much more in those early days, but lately, life catches us by surprise and our getting together is less intentional, if not non-existent. How often do we leave Jesus sitting in the living room all by himself and go on with the rest of our day, totally ignoring our guest?
THE WORK ROOM – maybe you have a place in your home that has a work bench, maybe in the garage or perhaps in a shed. It is well furnished with great tools and equipment, but he asks about what you are building that would impact the kingdom of God. Maybe you say your time is limited so you CAN’T do ministry or serve others, or maybe you WANT to do more, but perhaps you lack the strength or commitment.
THE BED ROOM – this is the room that could get R-rated so since we have children here, let me say that all followers of Jesus need to look at the issue of moral purity, whether single or married. What will your browser history reveal? Are you living a life that honors our Lord and Savior, or will we ask him to keep his nose out of our private business?
THE REC ROOM – this is the place of your amusements, the place for fun and relaxation. The friends you pal around with, maybe engaging in activities that Jesus is really not invited to. Then, perhaps you think about this room and you realize that you leave Jesus out of many of the activities in your life.
Finally THE HALL CLOSET – as we go through our entire house, the heart into which we have invited Jesus, and we find embarrassment in most every room. We give reasons for the items found in each room, and then Jesus walks toward the hall closet, you know the one, it’s totally private. It’s packed full of stuff that we can’t turn loose of. We bargain with Jesus that we will let him have more control and influence over the rest of the house, but PLEASE, let me keep this one small area just for ME. Jesus stands there and tells you that there is a particular odor, a stench, and there must be something dead in here. As soon as he says THAT, you know exactly what he’s talking about. You get angry and say that you have given him access to everywhere in the house, why can’t you have this one little thing? Jesus tells you that he wants the key, “Let me take care of that dead smell.” In reality, we really don’t have the strength to deal with it, or we would have done it long ago.
What now? Next Steps…
TRANSFER YOUR DEED. Jesus needs to take over the management of the entire place. We cannot be a victorious Christian in our own strength. Ask him to take the responsibility for cleaning up your life. Be the lighthouse that you were designed to be. Point people to Jesus without your life being a glaring contradiction to his saving grace. Don’t let Jesus be a guest in your home, but let him be the owner that he really is.
CHOOSE YOUR VERSE. As you read Scripture, what is that one verse you will commit to memory and seek to live your life in accordance to the truth found in it? Here are a few Life Verse possibilities for your consideration: Acts 20:24, Galatians 2:20, Matthew 6:33, Proverbs 3:5-6, Matthew 28:19-20, Philippians 4:13, 2 Corinthians 5:17, Hebrews 12:1-2).
EMBRACE YOUR PURPOSE. How will you use your home as a lighthouse for the good news of the gospel of Christ? As a follower of Jesus, we have a purpose, and the home in one tool at our disposal. Hospitality is often mentioned in the Bible (Romans 12:13, 1 Timothy 5:10, Hebrews 13:2, Matthew 25:37-39, 1 Peter 4:9.
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Jesus says in John 15:5 that he is the vine and we are the branches, in him we bear much fruit, apart from him we can do nothing.
Remember the PURPOSE of a lighthouse: The purpose of a lighthouse was a navigational tool, to steer mariners, while in dense fog or dark nights, away from cliffs, shorelines, coral reefs, and other potentially hazardous areas. the lighthouse provides a signal to ships that they are close to such hazardous areas.
Your home as a lighthouse will provide an IDENTITY (that you are a family of faith) and SECURITY (that you understand the meaning of this life). Your home is not just a location, but it means something much more, it is established by God for his glory and his purposes.
CLEAN YOUR CLOSET – Only with God’s help. Allow the Lord to build your home. Have you already made a mess of it on your own? He is the God of new beginnings. Are you young and just starting out and desire to build according to the blueprints we find in this book? A lifetime of regret can be avoided if you just build it right at the beginning.
In this series Ken talked about Mothers, and then last week it was about investing in children. Today it is about building a home that will bring honor to God and salvation to those around you. What commitments do you need to make today?
Next week Ken is teaching about the Joy of Life Together, the Family; as we gather around the table, we do this also with our children at home, (from Psalm 128:3).