19 July 2008

Labor & Love

Psalm 127:1

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchmen stand guard in vain.
in vain: without effect or avail; to no purpose.

Unless the LORD builds the house, its builders labor without avail. Unless the LORD watches over the city, it is purposeless for the watchmen to stand guard.

We will not be successful apart from God. The following are notes drawn from John Piper's sermon on July 29, 1980 over Psalm 127:1-2. It can be found in its entirety here: Don't Eat the Bread of Anxious Toil.

What does it look like to labor in vain?
1) If God isn't with you. You may build, but God will no allow you to finish. Take the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 as an example.

2) If the building collapses in a year...because of a poor foundation.
Matthew 7:26-27
But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
3) If you die before entering. When the achievement is complete and ready for their use, they may die and get no pleasure from it.

4) If it becomes a house of tragedy - a broken marriage, rebellious children, amid an abundance of meaningless knick-knacks on marble shelves. Emptiness, futility, vanity because God id not build the house.

No matter how hard you work to achieve anything, its achievement and the fulfilling enjoyment of it depends decisively on God.

If my highest efforts are only in vain without God's special help, then the success or failure of my efforts lies ultimately in Him, not me. A weight is lifted off my back that I was never created to carry: the final responsibility for the success or failure of any venture.

God is not only willing but eager to take the burden of final responsibility for whether the house gets built and the city is saved.
So do not be anxious in your labor.

Romans 10:1
Dear brothers and sisters, the longing of my heart and my prayer to God is that the Jewish people might be saved. (NLT)
Paul's heart was for the lost.
Why should we share his heart for the lost?
1. Because the secret things belong to God. (Deuteronomy 29:29) What is revealed belongs to us (God's promises and commands).
2. Because God takes no pleasure in the deaths of the lost. (Ezekiel 18:23, 32)
3. Because they were made in the image of God. The lost have the potential to live for God's glory as long as they live on the earth. Oh, that the image of God might shine to his glory!
4. Because our own salvation is an undeserved gift.
Surely it is unthinkable that we should be drug from the bottom of a lake, resuscitated at the cost of another's life, handed the instruments of rescue, and then just sit down and play cards on the beach while others are drowning.

How do we have Paul's heart for the lost?
1. Never forget the plight. Keep in mind the terrible reality of entering eternity without Christ. (John 3:36)
2. Meditate on Christ's sufficiency to cover the sins of absolutely everyone who repents and believes in him.
3. Meditate on the Spirit's convicting and drawing power. God has the power to convict and change every sinner.
4. Think of your joy at the conversion of one lost soul.
1 Thessalonians 2:19
For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you?
3 John 4
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.
5. Think of God's amazing grace to you in Christ. Your spiritual awakening and conviction for sin and grasp of the gospel and submission to Christ were the free gifts of God's grace.
6. Act on your loving desires. If you don't have many desires to love, still act on what you have. Acting on your existing desire leads to an increase in the genuineness of your desires.
1 John 3:18-19
Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
7. Pray for God to increase your love for the lost
1 Thessalonians 3:12
May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.


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