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                         "THE LABOR THAT FAILS"

                             Psalms 127:1-2

INTRODUCTION

1. There are things in life that most people desire...
   a. A good family life
   b. Protection from violence
   c. Success in their work
   d. Victory when there is war
   e. Worship that pleases God
   f. Churches that flourish and grow
   -- For such things people expend much time and energy to attain

2. Yet our effort alone will not ensure that we obtain such things...
   a. Consider what is written in Ps 127:1-2
   b. Where the keynote is the word "vain" (used three times)
   c. Solomon's theme is "that human enterprises only succeed by the
      divine blessing" (JFB)
   -- Not all labor succeeds; there is "the labor that fails"

[In the Psalm, several examples are provided; elsewhere in the
Scriptures we have other examples when not all labor is successful.
Let's first consider the examples in the Psalm, such as...]

I. IN OUR FAMILIES

   A. GOOD HOMES ARE CERTAINLY DESIRABLE...
      1. There are blessings to being part of a large family
      2. There is nothing wrong with desiring such

   B. GOOD HOMES REQUIRE GOD'S BLESSINGS...
      1. In Ps 127:1, the word "house" may refer to the temple, but the
         context suggests it refers to the home or family
      2. A large family is indeed a blessing from God - cf. Ps 127:3-5
         a. Not to imply that a small family or no family is a curse
         b. For there may be times when it is God's will that one be
            single or have a small family - cf. 1Co 7:7,32-35
      3. Yet without God's involvement, our effort will fail
         a. It is necessary that we invoke God's blessings our efforts
         b. This also involves not putting family over God! - cf. Mt
            10:37; 22:37

[If we put family before God, then our labor regarding our family will
ultimately fail!  The principle also applies...]

II. IN OUR SECURITY

   A. PROTECTION FROM VIOLENCE IS DESIRABLE...
      1. Which is why cities had walls, with watchmen standing guard
      2. Providing security is part of providing for one's family - cf.
         1Ti 5:8

   B. TRUE SECURITY REQUIRES GOD'S PROTECTION...
      1. Unless God is our guard, efforts to protect are vain - Psa
         127:1b
      2. While providing locked doors and security systems, don't leave
         out God! - cf. Ps 121:1-8

[Any labor to provide security without looking to God for help will
fail.  Solomon then applies the principle...]

III. IN OUR WORK

   A. GOD WOULD HAVE US WORK WITH OUR HANDS...
      1. To walk properly toward those who are outside - 1Th 4:11,12
      2. To provide for those less fortunate than us - Ep 4:28

   B. TRUE SUCCESS REQUIRES GOD'S FAVOR...
      1. Despite efforts to work long and hard - Ps 127:2
      2. Our efforts will be little more than gathering and collecting
         for others - Ec 2:26
      3. We must therefore not put our jobs before God! - cf. Mt 6:33

[If we want to succeed in business (where we can enjoy the fruits of our
labor), then seek to succeed with God first!  Otherwise our labor is in
vain.  Now let's see how the principle of this Psalm is applied
elsewhere...]

IV. IN OUR BATTLES

   A. WHEN WAR IS INEVITABLE, VICTORY IS DESIRABLE...
      1. Especially when attacked by evil aggressors
      2. Governments therefore build armies and weapons to defend
         themselves

   B. VICTORY DOES NOT DEPEND UPON MIGHT ALONE...
      1. Preparation alone does not guarantee success in battle - cf.
         Pr 21:31
      2. Armies and weapons are not sufficient to ensure victory - cf.
         Ps 33:16-17
      3. We must also look to the Lord as our help and our shield - cf.
         Ps 33:18-22

[Many greater nations have fallen in the day of battle because of their
arrogance and pride.  A nation cannot hope for victory unless God wills
it.  Now let's apply the principle to more spiritual themes...]

V. IN OUR WORSHIP

   A. GOD DESIRES THAT WE WORSHIP HIM...
      1. As Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well - Jn 4:23
      2. It is our duty that proclaim His praises - cf. 1Pe 2:9

   B. BUT NOT ALL WORSHIP IS ACCEPTABLE...
      1. There is worship that is an abomination - Pr 15:8
      2. There is vain worship, based on commandments of men - Mt 15:9

[Such worship is labor that fails to please God.  Finally, consider the
principle as it applies...]

VI. IN OUR CONGREGATION

   A. WE ARE ENCOURAGED TO LABOR FOR THE LORD...
      1. A labor that is not in vain - 1Co 15:58
      2. A labor that God will not forget - He 6:10

   B. SUCCESS DOES NOT COME FROM LABOR ALONE...
      1. God is the one who gives the increase - 1Co 3:6-7
      2. He is the source of any sufficiency that we may have - cf. 2 Co
         3:5
      3. While we work as though it depends on us, we must pray as
         though it depends on God (for it does!)

CONCLUSION

1. Whatever our endeavor (labor), it will fail unless God is involved...
   a. Will we look to God to build our families?
   b. Will we look to God to deliver us from evil?
   c. Will we look to God to bless our work?
   d. Will we look to God as our shield and protector?
   e. Will we look to God to guide our worship of Him?
   f. Will we look to God to give us the increase in His Vineyard, the
      church?

2. Remember the words of Solomon...
   a. "Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build
      it;"
   b. "Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman stays awake in
      vain."
   c. "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."

To ensure that our labor not be in vain, this prayer by Moses should be
our attitude:

   "And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish
   the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands."
                                                         - Ps 90:17

Are you looking to God to establish you in all your labors...?
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