Caution! Life Under Construction
Lord Jesus, my life is at times a confusion. Stress tires me. I begin to lose a proper focus as to what my role is on the earth. This affects me personally and in my family. I need Your help and guidance. I need Your forgiveness. Open my mind and heart to hear, understand, and apply Your Word so that I am always building my life with You. Lord, we are here in Your House to praise Your great name! Be with us in worship. Amen.
The Tower of Babel was a construction project that grew out of pride and rebellion against God. The construction project never reached completion. God will not always physically destroy things that are done against His will. However, in due time, everything that is done without the Lord will come to nothing.
Organizations for "spiritual" support can be built on a variety of foundations and principles. The true Chruch of Christ is built upon the foundation of Christ and His Word alone! As we work together to build Christ’s Church we are reminded that many different workers will build, but it is always God who truly accomplishes the construction.
Building a visible church, a home – a life with the Lord involves more than just hearing the Word of God. Building a life that will last and be a joy here and in eternity also involves taking the Word to heart and incorporating it into life. A life built with the Word holding it together is a strong life that will withstand the storm.
Text: Psalm 127:1-2
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 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.
In Christ Jesus upon whom we build our dreams, hopes, and lives, dear fellow-redeemed:
"I have no life," said the bored teenager on a Friday night as he sat at home alone with nothing to do. "I HATE my life!" cried the angry teenager just after being grounded for something she had done. If someone seems "out of touch" people tell them, "get a life" and in our present society, sadly enough, there are many young people (and older ones as well) who take their own life because they don’t feel like they have one.
The prophet, Elijah, could identify very well with people who are frustrated with their lives. He had proclaimed the Word of God faithfully and then the queen had promised that by the next day, Elijah would be as dead as the prophets of Baal whom he had killed. So, Elijah was fleeing for his life. Elijah felt that he was the only one left in all of Israel who was remaining faithful to the LORD. Elijah was really ready to give up. He said, " It is enough! Now, Lord take my life, for I am no better than my fathers!” (1 Kings 19:4)
Job too had feelings of despair and frustration regarding his life. Just listen to portions of a few select verses in the earlier chapters of the book of Job: “After this Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. And Job spoke and said: "May the day perish on which I was born, And the night in which it was said, ‘A male child is conceived. . .As for that night, may darkness seize it; May it not rejoice among the days of the year, May it not come into the number of the months…."Why did I not die at birth? Why did I not perish when I came from the womb?…I despise my life…..My soul loathes my life (Job 3:1ff, 9:21, 10:1).
There are so many things that come together into what we call "my life." If there is trouble in just ONE of those areas, it messes up the whole thing. If there is frustration or disappointment in just one part of my life I’m likely to say, "My whole life’s a mess!"
We spend our entire lifetime on this earth building our lives—putting them together. As with many things in this life, we are often better at destruction rather than construction. We build our lives, but because of the sin in us and in the world we are frequently "tearing down" and causing ourselves misery.
If you were to walk through a construction zone in the city, you’d likely see signs saying "Caution! Construction Area!" or "Hardhat Area!" This morning we want to consider: "CAUTION! LIFE UNDER CONSTRUCTION." Each of us has a life under construction. We’re living in that construction zone and caution needs to be taken.
Caution is needed because there is importance in having goodconstruction. When we talk about building our lives on this earth it also has eternal implications so we want to be sure that as we build our lives stone by stone we’re building it WELL.
We want to be cautious so that we don’t fall into the danger of "cutting corners" – forgetting about one part of our life because we want to focus on this part, or using cheap materials and doing poor workmanship. We want to be cautious in the construction of our lives because as we know very well, the construction of our lives is a rapid-paced event. Things happen so fast…things change so quickly that if we’re not cautious we might think one day we have a building and the next day it’s all a heap of rubble.
There are three main areas in our life’s construction in which we can focus our building efforts. To learn what these three areas are, we turn to Psalm 128 which is a companion Psalm to 127 (very similar in content). In Psalm 128, the psalmist says, , “Blessed is every one who fears the LORD” (Psalm 128:1). The needs of our soul, the SPIRITUAL side of our life is one part of life’s construction.
Continuing in Psalm 128, “When you eat the labor of your hands you shall be happy and it shall be well with you”(128:2). Another area of our life’s construction is the labor of our hands—our day-to-day WORK. Then thirdly, "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine, your children like olive plants all around your table” (128:3). Another part of our life’s construction isFAMILY. These three areas: SOUL, WORK, and FAMILY form the full blueprint of our life’s construction.
As we take caution in these three areas of our life’s construction we will want to I. Build it to last and II. Build it with joy.
Psalm 127 begins, “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”[v.1]
We heard in the Old Testament reading just how vain it was for the people to think that they could defy God’s command to multiply and spread out over the whole earth. They made a start on their city and tower, but they never finished.
Without the LORD, any building project will come to nothing. Consider the success rate of some of the people in Scripture: Abraham and Sarah decided that they were going to build their own life. They knew what the building of their lives was supposed to look like. They were supposed to be the family of promise who would be a great nation and from which the Savior would come—God had promised. They knew what their life was to supposed to be, but it wasn’t happening that way so they decided "We’re going to build this ON OUR OWN." "Sarah told Abraham to have a child with Hagar her slave-woman." This self-construction of their lives wasn’t very successful. Later on, it created problems in their family life; and Ishmael’s descendants were not part of the great nation God would build from Abraham’s seed.
Lot, Abraham’s nephew, thought that he could build his own life. He had an image of a building that would be a life of success and prosperity—life in all the luxury and benefits of the city—Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot was building his own life and it came to nothing, and it could have cost him his soul.
Jacob and Rebekah knew from God’s promise that Jacob was going to be the one who would be the ancestor of the Savior. However, things didn’t look like they would work out that way because Isaac was doing some of his own sinful self-building by planning to give the blessing to Esau. To counter Isaac’s building of a life, Rebekah and Jacob started building a different way. They devised a plan to trick Isaac so that he would bless Jacob. Rebekah and Jacob’s building plan accomplished what they wanted, but it also made it necessary for Jacob to flee for his life.
The apostle Paul went his own way, persecuting the church, building his life against Christ, but through the Gospel of Christ the Lord showed Paul howHe would build Paul’s building as an apostle.
Proverbs gives us a good building plan as we construct our lives WITH the LORD, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5).
Still, we do tend to want to build our own lives. We say, "A little bit of this for my family. Here I’m going to accomplish these things. I’m sure that I deserve a promotion so that will mean I can make these changes. I can’t live without this and I will do this. Oh boy! I can’t wait until I have it better in this part of my life because then I’ll do that…and all of a sudden we realize: I’m the one that is trying to build this life. I’m the one who is deciding what building blocks are going to go into it and I’m the one who is putting them into place, but how successful can I be? “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”
There have been a number of times in the past when I had my life planned out exactly the way I wanted it to be. My life was built to the detail! I knew how the building would look. I knew what my whole life’s course was going to be. Now, a number of years later, there is very little of what I built in my mind that has come to pass—and with good reason because those things were not what the Lord had in mind. James reminds us, “Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit"; whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
We WANT to build our own building in all three areas of construction. We WANT to control what happens in the workplace (or school). We want to decide for ourselves how many children we will have in our family and what our family structure will be, and sometimes God says, "No, I’m going to build it a different way." We at times want to build our own life also in areas of spiritual construction. We rely on our own selves spiritually too and forget that without Christ we are nothing.
How do we then build our life with the LORD? We build our life with the Lord by first of all realizing that there are times when God will have to "tear down." If we start building our life with certain of our own ideas and by leaning on our own understanding, God may still use what we put into the building, but He will reshape the blocks and rearrange how they fit together. That can hurt (really hurt) our pride and in our emotions. God’s "restructuring" includes chastisement or hurdles and troubles in our life.
Sometimes God has to really tear things down. If we’ve built our own life up to here and God says "I need to tear that back down to here, so that I can build it up the way it is supposed to be," our life is going to seem as if it has hit a disaster. Maybe, God will take our life’s construction down only part way; maybe it will be completely gone so we’ll say, "My life is totally a shambles." Either way, when we are children of God building our house with the Lord, we recognize that when God tears down He does so in order to get rid of our building and build His building.
As we build with the Lord, it goes without saying that the construction blocks we use are not to be made with sin. As we put things together in our lives we want to do things that are not sinful.
We build with the Lord when we take His Word seriously. We could wonder how the Bible is going to help get the work done down at the shop. God says, “Commit your way to the LORD (that includes everything) trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass” (Psalm 37:5). Let God direct your paths, pray for His guidance, and seek to do all things according to His will.
The most important part of building our lives with the Lord is that we start with the foundation. Someone can build a huge building and on the very top he will put a decorative, finishing touch, for example, the pointed top of a church steeple. The "finishing touch" needs to go on the top, because it is decorative, it wouldn’t have to be there. You need to have the big stones on the bottom for a foundation. If you were to start building a church with the steeple on the ground and THEN the rest of the building, of course, that would be silly and the building would topple.
We are doing the same thing if we try to build our lives with something other than Christ and the Word of God as the foundation. We start with the ROCK of CHRIST, His salvation, and the good news of the Gospel, and from there we build everything else. But when we shove out that foundation and replace it with our own, then we are going to be in trouble because then we are using details as a foundation and forgetting the Rock.
Building a life without the Lord is dangerous. If we build a life on how we feel about ourselves its not going to last. If we build a spiritual life on what we can accomplish and how we’re going to get ourselves to heaven, we won’t get there. Again in Psalm 128, the Psalmist says, "thus shall the man be blessed who fears the LORD" (128:4). The happiness in labor, the prosperity at home, and all of the other blessings of life fall into place when we start with the foundation of our salvation.
In our text, the psalmist says that it is not only vain to build without the LORD, but also, “unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.” [v.1]
Jericho—a well built and great city complete with strong walls and strong watchmen. However, the LORD was not guarding that city so all the walls and watchmen of the world could not preserve it. King Saul once had the blessing of the Lord, but when he turned away from God, his life and work looked much different than it once did and it came to ruin. Saul had built up a life with the Lord, but he didn’t keep on protecting it with the Lord so it crumbled and fell.
We want to stand guard with the Lord in every aspect of our life’s construction: At work—being content with what we receive, being thankful that we have the work. No, one’s work place is not always perfect. No one can go to work every day and not come home without even one complaint, but we stand guard in our life when we go to work thankful for being able to serve our Lord as we work for our employer. We read in Ephesians, “Bondservants (employees) be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:5-7).
Preserving a life built with the Lord in family areas is also important. This aspect of our life’s construction is something that receives a great deal of notice in the media, and yet it seems as if so little is accomplished. The lack of accomplishment is because the world tries to address family issues by starting with the details and they never quite get to the foundation itself which is Christ and the truth of His Word. So their efforts in preserving sound family life will fail.
A building it requires maintenance. You have to paint, you have to fill the cracks, you have to clean. If you do the maintenance in an ongoing fashion it is much better than leaving everything slide and deteriorate so that a huge repair project becomes necessary. It is the same as we build our lives, and especially so in family life. If we involve ourselves with ongoing maintenance and care to preserve our family life with the Lord, we will be able to avoid many of the huge repair jobs that would otherwise come—repair jobs that regardless of how wonderfully they are done never leave things in quite the same way that they once were.
There are two "Ts" to remember in guarding our family life. They are: Time and Together. To preserve a family in the Lord TAKES TIME. There are somany other things going on, its true, but at what cost? It is way to easy to push things off—"we will deal with that later"—while the family weakness. Now is the time to keep working and guarding your family with the Lord by using TIME spent with children; TIME spent together in the Word and in the everyday activities of life. It has been said, "No one ever grows old wishing they had spent less time with their children and more time at the office."
It takes TIME with the Lord and in the family to guard that part of life’s construction. There are things that parents can do with children that the children can’t do with friends or anyone else—it takes TIME that needs to be spent. TIME for prompt, meaningful, and fair discipline. TIME for rest and relaxation so that even the smallest little frustration doesn’t blow up into a family crisis.
Closely associated with TIME is "TOGETHER." Why is it that so many marriages in our world struggle? It is because they continue to maintain two construction zones. When a man and a woman are married they become one. No longer is it two separate lives under construction, it is ONE. If, however, both continue construct their own lives they are sure to run into conflict. Rather, let their construction zones be the same, working TOGETHER to build ONE life with the Lord and then also guarding that life with Him.
As we build and guard our spiritual life, the needs are similar. The Foundation is Christ alone, the need for continual guarding of that life by making use of the Gospel is vital, and TIME spent is necessary. Without the Lord we are lost, with Him we find our true life and when we build our life on that, we are building it to last.
The psalmist goes on to say that we should also seek to build our lives with JOY. “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.” [v.2]
If you have ever had a sleepless night you know how frustrating they can be. As much as you want to sleep, you can’t because of all the thoughts that are racing through your mind and worrying your heart. If those sleepless nights stretch out one right after another, life can become pretty miserable. Sleepless nights, stressful days…it is all vain. “It is vain to sit up late to eat the bread of sorrows…”
What is the formula for a stress-free, building up of our life? Lamentations chapter 3 says, “O Lord you have pleaded the case for my soul.
Jesus has bought back our life. He died on the cross, shed His blood for our sins so that our life’s struggles are no longer ours to handle. It’s no longer our life so that we have to lie awake at night trying to figure it out. Our life has been purchased by Jesus. He is going to maintain His investment. He promises to do it! When we realize that we have been redeemed by Christ and that we are HIS children, it brings joy to our building project, for He will be there to lighten the load, take away the stress, and grant godly success in our lives.
In Isaiah 55 we read, “Why do you spend money for what is not bread and your wages for what does not satisfy” (Isaiah 55:2). If we are consumed with worries for the things of this earth we will be joyless. When we remember that our LIFE has been REDEEMED from sin and death by Christ and that we live for Him, we will always be able to rejoice in the Lord.
God also says in Isaiah that wherever His Word goes out it will prosper and accomplish His will (cf: Isaiah 55:10ff). Now, remember, we’re building our life with the Lord. So if we’re building our life with God and His word, and His Word is going to prosper then our LIFE is GOING TO PROSPER!
A child of God realizes that everything isn’t always going to be stress-free; that everything isn’t always going to go perfectly, but these don’t have to become a cause for losing our joy because we have a life that is redeemed by Christ.
In William Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet, one of the characters says, "Where care lodges sleep will never lie." We might tailor that a bit to say, "Where care lodges life will never be joyful." Cast ALL your care on Him for He cares for you (cf: 1 Peter 5:7). We who have our lives redeemed by Christ, who have a Savior who is there to provide for life’s every need of body and of soul are able to build our life with JOY!
In Psalm 121 God promises, “He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.” (Psalm 121:3-8).
With that kind of promise we can approach our life’s construction knowing that we are building it to last and that we are able to do so with joy…and patience. When we are building with the Lord and our life is guarded by the Lord, and our Lord gives us joy for our life, then we can be patient. We don’t have to pray saying, "God do this NOW. Build it MY way." Instead, we can cast our care on Him and say, "Lord, I’m here, build it YOUR way." Amen.
— Pastor Wayne C. Eichstadt