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Message Notes

September 20, 2020

SONGS FOR THE JOURNEY

THE PSALMS OF ASCENT

Psalm 121

A Song of Ascents.


[1] I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?

[2] My help comes from the LORD,

who made heaven and earth.

[3] He will not let your foot be moved;

he who keeps you will not slumber.

[4] Behold, he who keeps Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

[5] The LORD is your keeper;

the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

[6] The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.

[7] The LORD will keep you from all evil;

he will keep your life.

[8] The LORD will keep

your going out and your coming in

from this time forth and forevermore. (ESV)

The Problems We Face (v. 1)

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

From where does my help come?


What did you expect?


But no sooner have we plunged, expectantly and enthusiastically, into the river of Christian faith than we get our noses full of water and come up coughing and choking. No sooner do we confidently stride out onto the road of faith than we trip on an obstruction and fall to the hard surface, bruising our knees and elbows. For many, the first great surprise of the Christian life is in the form of troubles we meet. Somehow it is not what we had supposed: we had expected something quite different; we had our minds set on Eden or on New Jerusalem. We are rudely awakened to something very different, and we look around for help…

- Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

The Posture & Prayer We Need (v. 1-3)

Where are you looking for help?


The Hills are Not Your Hope


Jeremiah 3:23

Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills

    and mountains is a deception;

surely in the Lord our God

    is the salvation of Israel.


My help comes from the LORD,

who made heaven and earth. 


The world is big, yes. But God is bigger. Yes, your life is a story, but you are carpet-dwelling, dust-mite teensy on the scale of this stage, and number only one in the multitude of His cast. Your world is tiny, yes. But God gets tinier. Not one dust mite falls through the carpet fibers and into the pad apart from your Father. He’s big enough that small doesn’t matter. When one is infinite, one can enjoy two black holes arm-wrestling over a galactic snack, and an uncoordinated junior high quarterback struggling to escape an overweight junior high defensive end. Infinite goes all the way up and all the way down; and at every level, with equal attention, He creates with the full dose of His personality.

- N.D. Wilson, Death by Living


He will not let your foot be moved;

he who keeps you will not slumber.

The Protector We Have (v. 4-8)

Behold, he who keeps Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.


The LORD is your keeper;

the LORD is your shade on your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day,

nor the moon by night.


The LORD will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

The LORD will keep your going out and your coming in

from this time forth and forevermore.


IS THIS HOW YOU TELL THE CHRISTIAN ’S STORY?


Do you think the way to tell the story of the Christian journey is to describe its trials and tribulations? It is not. It is to name and to describe God who preserves, accompanies and rules us.

- Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction


Romans 8:31–39

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written,


“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;

we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”


No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


WILL TRUTH BE YOUR GUIDE?



But to deviate from the truth for the sake of some prospect of hope of our own can never be wise, however slight that deviation may be. It is not our judgement of the situation which can show us what is wise, but only the truth of the Word of God. Here alone lies the promise of God’s faithfulness and help. It will always be true that the wisest course for the disciple is always to abide solely by the Word of God in all simplicity.

- Deitrich Bonhoeffer

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A Prayer for Salvation

“Heavenly Father, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through your Son Jesus I can be more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you that he lived the life I should have lived and paid the debt and punishment I owed. Receive me now for his sake. I turn from my sins and receive him as Savior. Amen.”