This is a review week.

Review 

"I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die."

John 11:25-26 

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called "today," that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.

Hebrews 3:12-13 

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58 

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! 14Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!

Psalm 27:13-14 

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.

James 1:22-24 

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

Revelation 2:10 

For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases.

Proverbs 26:20 

..."Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD."

Jeremiah 9:23-24 

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit

1 Peter 3:18 

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them.

Psalm 139:15-16 

Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.

Psalm 55:22 

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! 18If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.

Psalm 139:17-18 

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.

Psalm 127:1 

Stop! And trust! (Psalm 127:1)

| Nov 2, 2019

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Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. –Psalm 127:1

We seem to live in a uniquely unstable time. Protests rage around the globe. Climate change threatens our communities and our health. Even in the relative safety of our homes the next conflict on social media is always within arms reach. So much seems to have changed so quickly.

In the midst of all that insecurity, it’s a very human instinct to want to “do” something. One pastor put it this way:

We live in a time when more than ever before we speak and must speak of building and rebuilding…We ask ourselves how we can begin to become once more a rich, troublefree, happy, and respected people. We work today as perhaps we have never worked before to achieve that goal as soon as possible. We all want to do our best to add our one stone to this building.

And while it wouldn’t surprise us to hear those words spoken from the pulpit last Sunday, they were actually spoken almost 100 years ago by a young German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In 1926, he looked at his country rebuilding from World War I, and on the threshold of the events that would lead to World War II, and he applied this week’s Fighter Verse.

In Bonhoeffer’s words this Psalm contains “judgment over all times of frantic building and over all times of secure possession.” As we face insecurity, as we are tempted to invest ourselves in frantic building, this psalm screams the warning, “Stop!”

In this verse, the psalmist provides a stern rebuke for those of us who like to act as if we’re in control. He describes two common things that people do – building a home and guarding a city – and says if the Lord is not in that activity, it is “in vain.” In the original language, this word describes lies and falsehoods. It is a lie to build a house or seek security without depending on God.

Theologically, we would agree with that. But in our experience we often see a contradiction. People who trust God lose their homes and see their security destroyed. And those who live lives of direct rebellion against God thrive. Their buildings last. Their cities are preserved.

God confronts this very contradiction in Malachi 3. Some people look at their circumstances and say “It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts?…Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape” (verses 14-15b). It is not easy to serve God. It is not easy to act depending on His ultimate power and control.

The next verse in Malachi gives us the reason to live in dependence. When God seems absent, we need to hold our circumstances up to the light of eternity. Those who feared God were remembered by Him “a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name” (verse 16b). Then God himself spoke and declared “They shall be mine…in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him” (verse 17). Those who live dependently are God’s special possession. They also receive another comfort earlier in verse 16, they are not alone –“they spoke together” (verse 16a).

As we face the uncertainty of life, as we build and guard, we do it knowing that we are dependent on our great and sovereign God. And even when we don’t see blessing in the moment, we know that we are not alone, that God does not forget and that we belong to Him.
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Discussion Questions:

  1. When has it been particularly hard for you to depend on God?
  2. Read the rest of Psalm 127, why do you think the Psalmist chooses sleep as the gift to contrast with “frantic building”?
  3. In verses 3-5 the psalmist adds family to the categories of housing/wealth and security. Which of these areas is hardest for you to depend on God?
  4. What steps can you take this week to depend on God in that area?

Quotes taken from “Sermon to the Preachers’ Seminar Berlin, Psalm 127” in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Meditations on Psalms.


Peter Morris serves as a missionary with ReachGlobal focused on family discipleship and multicultural church planting. For three years, Peter and his family served in San José, Costa Rica and have served from Sydney, Australia since 2018. Peter grew up and completed college in Australia but lived in the United States from 2001-2015 where he completed his Masters degree and met his wife, Melanie. From 2007-2015, Peter served as the Family Ministries Director at Ambassador Bible Church, near Washington DC. He and Melanie have four young children: Samuel, Madeleine, Benjamin, and Alexandra.

Truth78 (formerly Children Desiring God) publishes curriculum, devotional books (especially Glorious God, Glorious Gospel resources), children’s books (including The World Created, Fallen, Redeemed, Restored), parenting resources (most recently Established in the Faith), Scripture memory tools and other resources designed to equip your home and church for leading children and youth to treasure God.

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Overcome anxiety: Don’t labor in vain (Psa 127:1)

| Oct 26, 2014

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Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. —Psalm 127:1 This post is an excerpt from the sermon Don’t Eat the Bread of Anxious Toil by John Piper. Four Ways to Labor in Vain That is the […]

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