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July 22, 2019 10:56 am
David Livingstone was a well-known 19th-century Scottish missionary.
He explored the uncharted interior of Africa during his ministry the morning he left Scotland for the mission field. He gathered his family and read Psalm 121 seeking strength from God for the long, difficult journey that lay ahead.
He said this, it is my desire to show my attachment to the cause of him who died for me by devoting my life to his service. I place no value on anything. I have or possess except in relation to the kingdom of Christ. As for me I am determined to open up Africa or perish. While history shows us that in large measure how his efforts opened up the continent of Africa for the gospel. David Livingstone is a great example to us in that no matter how great the many challenges and hardships he encountered in his journeys. The all sufficient power of God saw him through his demanding ministry in like manner everyone of us desperately needs power to live the Christian life whether it is being an ambassador for Christ abroad or here in Charlotte. How is your spiritual walk going.
One of the greatest challenges for all of us is not to live on our own strength but in the power that only God can provide. Many of us have spent some restless nights, maybe even early this morning, praying, worrying, praying some more racking our brains trying to figure out why God allows such severe testing to commend our lives in the first place.
Or maybe it's simply because God is trying to teach us through our challenges in life that he is enough that he's enough that he's teaching us that we can trust and obey him even in the valley of the shadow of death moments in our Christian walk. Because our help comes from him. One lady put it this way when you have nothing left but God, then you become aware that God is enough to great state when you have nothing left but God, then you become aware that God is enough will. Psalm 121 affirms that truth that God indeed is enough that all true help comes from the Lord, who is our keeper. The psalmist tells us how he comforted himself in the Lord on his journey to Jerusalem to worship in the temple by sharpening his spiritual vision so I invite you to take your Bibles and turn to Psalm 121 as we look at this magnificent song this morning. Psalm 121 follow along as I read it to you. I lift up my eyes to the hills from where does my help come my help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. 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 guard or keep your going out and you're coming in from this time forth and forevermore I let me just give you a little bit of historical background here on this beautiful Psalm Psalm 21, 121 is the second of the 15 Pilgrim Psalms known as the Ascent Psalms or songs of Ascent. David offered for the songs Solomon one and the other 10, including this one, remain anonymous as far as their the writer was agreed that the Israelites sung the Psalms as they traveled together to the temple in Jerusalem to worship God three times a year for the annual feast of Pentecost unleavened bread and tabernacles.
These songs were labeled Ascent Psalms because those traveling to Jerusalem traveled upward.
Some 3000 feet as they ascended to the temple to worship.
This Psalm recounts the strenuous journey in the abundant strength they found in the Lord because there were no paved roads in those days only well-worn dirt pass through dangerous places for us. It is a Psalm that teaches us to have a total reliance upon the Lord supernatural strength as we journey through our earthly life so beloved. No matter what concerns you have on your mind today or this morning here as we worship this passage speaks directly to those concerns because of the marvelous spirit of a peaceful trust in God that this Psalm breathes out from beginning to end with those things said that in Psalm 121 gives us four divine assurances that God watches over us and keeps us safe for divine assurances assurance number one, we are assured of God's help, we are assured of God's help versus wanted to.
I lift up my eyes to the hills from where does my help come my help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. I think about this for a moment, the psalmist has been traveling for days. He is wary from the long journey to Jerusalem is feet are probably sore. His muscles ache, and he sees Jerusalem in the distance suddenly sees the hills where Jerusalem is situated atop Mount Zion and seeing the hills. He looks with great anticipation breaks into song through the form of a question. I lift up my eyes to the hills from where does my help come. Notice the word help here means support, guidance and blessing. So he's asking where is my guidance, my support and blessing come from.
It reminds me of King David's words and Psalm 70 verse five, but I am poor. Indeed, he hastened to me. Oh God, you are my help and my deliverer. Oh Lord, do not delay. So where does my help come from. As soon as I question Flood's his soul. The psalmist comforts himself with the thought that Yahweh's covenant keeping God has committed himself to provide that help look at verse two, with a strong testimony, says my help comes from the Lord. He affirms all the aspects of help that he needs physical help, emotional help, and courses. Spiritual help comes from the Lord. Notice he's not looking to the mountains for his help anyone dwelling on those hills. He looks above and beyond to the Lord who made them.
He looks to his creator for help. The only one who has the power to help him walk triumphantly through life.
King David said in Psalm 62 verses seven and eight on God rest my salvation and my glory, my mighty rock, my refuge is God, trusting him at all times so people pour out your heart before him. God is a refuge for us. He looks to the Lord who made the heaven the heavens and the earth. That phrase occurs several times in the songs of ascents from Psalm 120 to Psalm 136. Why is that important because the psalmist is refuting the Canaanite religion of his day whose gods were identified with the mountains that he saw and they worshiped there with all kinds of evil practices that he understood that the worship the gods of the mountains or any other gods was idolatry, and thus he made it clear that he was not looking to the gods of nature like the Canaanites, but nature's God. He was looking to Yahweh the sovereign creator of heaven and earth, thereby excluding any claims by pagan deities. One commentator writes this, the thought of this verse leaps beyond the hills to the universe beyond the universe to its maker here is living help personal wives and immeasurable that's our God. That's our creator, the one who made the mountains and here he is assuring us of God's help. Let's camp here for a few minutes to look at some significant ways God helps us so if you're taking notes. Feel free to jot down these verses, I'll read them to you. We don't have time to flip the each one so jot them down but let's take a brief look at some significant ways that the Lord has helped us and is helping us as believers in him first and foremost our salvation right time." In verses here for you and you help me fill in the blank art can art our salvation Romans chapter 5 verse six Paul says, for while we were still sinners, or helpless is the actual work there or week while we were still helpless at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.
When we were helpless, dead in our trespasses and sins, Christ died for us that we were reminded last week with Pastor Khalil's message from Luke seven about the sinful woman in Luke chapter 7 who recognize Christ as the Messiah and came bowed down and worshiped him anointed his feet and worshiped him because she understood that she was help less and Christ looked at her over sins were many, he said what your sins are forgiven, forgiven, we are helpless well outside of Christ. So first and foremost our salvation.
Secondly, he helps us each time we confess our sins, first John 19 if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. God helps us each time we confess to him, he is faithful, he forgives us he is helpful in our trials and tribute tribulations each and every day. Psalm 46 verse one, you know this God is our refuge and strength a very present help in times of trouble.
God is our help. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way, though the mountains. We moved into the heart of the sea. God is our help, God is helpful in our weaknesses. Hebrews chapter 4 verse 15 and 16. Such a beautiful passage here about our Lord Jesus. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are yet without sin.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. To help in our trials and inner weaknesses. Good example that is you think of Paul's thorn in the flesh, he prayed three times that the storm would be removed, but his requests were denied by God as God said to him, Paul, my grace is what sufficient for you, for my power is perfect made perfect in weakness. Paul goes on to say than for the sake of Christ that I am content with weaknesses for when I am weak, then I am what strong that I'm strong and beloved even helps us when we falter and even in our Christian walk's do we not falter from time to time, we struggle like the father of the demon possessed boy in Mark nine versus 22 to 24 Jesus asked his father how long has this been happening to him and he said from childhood and is it has often cast them into firing into water to destroy him.
But if you can do anything your combat. Have compassion on us and help us and Jesus said to him, if you can, all things are possible for one who believes immediately the father of the child cried out and said I believe what help my unbelief. God is always there for us, our help comes from the Lord. Even when we falter. The point here is that the psalmist is saying is that God's help is inexhaustible, it's endless. He's always there to help us because he is the shepherd of our souls. Psalm 23 one. The Lord is my shepherd. He's always there. Isaiah 4110. Fear not for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. God is always there to help us. That brings us to assurance number two we are assured of God's guardianship verses three and four. We are short of God's guardianship. He will not allow your foot to be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep, what does the doctrine of God's guardianship mean he protects us.
He watches over us at all times.
He is sovereign.
He is there and he won't allow her foot to be moved.
That's interesting to note while Pilgrim traveled to Jerusalem to go worship God in the temple. The sliding of one's foot was a natural type of misfortune given the land of Canaan was so mountainous people could slip, fall and injure themselves. But notice the psalmist assures us that God will not allow your foot to slip. He actively keeps us from falling during our spiritual journey throughout life. What's the key to walking integrity. Proverbs 27 says he is a shield to those who walk in integrity. He won't allow us to slip you won't allow us to be moved if we walk closely with him. What a great assurance that he's guarding us the story is told of a mountain climber in the Alps who came to a dangerous gap in the ice were the only way to get across the chasm was the places foot in the outstretched arms. The outstretched hands of his guide was a little way ahead of him. Told to do this by the one who was directing the party. The man hesitated a moment as he looked into the gloomy depths below where he would certainly fall to his death. If anything went wrong, you can imagine looking down, seeing his hesitation. The God said have no fiercer in all my years of service. My hands have never lost a man yet.
Think about that. If that man could trust in the strength of the human hand to get them across to the other side. How much more beloved, can we trust the sovereign hand of the Lord who created that man our God says I will never leave you nor what forsake you.
I will not allow your foot to be moved. Psalm 37 verse 31 the law of his God is in his heart he is steps do not slip Psalm 5522 cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you.
He will never permit the righteous to be moved or shaken. God will never allow the righteous to be shaken.
Look at verse four, behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep onset mean that God guards us at all times. He never sleeps and we can sleep at night with great confidence knowing those truths he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. God is ever awake, ever alert always focused on what is best for us. He never sleeps.
Notice the Hebrew word here keeps means he watches over us he's guarding us he's protecting us.
It carries the idea of watching over and guarding so as not to preserve or save us from harm like a shepherd watching over his flock. God's there. He guards us.
He protects us.
He's always standing ready to support us if we slip and fall into difficulty. The fan you quoted this verse in his prayer as I have in my notes here. Philippians 47. It made me think of Paul's words and the peace of God which is what surpasses all understanding, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus, God will guard us. He's our guardian. The sovereign one that brings us to assurance number three in verses five and six here we are assured of God's protection.
We are assured of God's protection, five and six 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 notices using figurative language here to make the point that nothing of either the day or night, can harm us because he's keeping watch.
He's protecting he's guarding us in the word shade here is simply a metaphor for protection from the scorching heat like God raised up the plant over Jonah for the psalmist shade provided needed relief from the blazing sun because the dangers of sunstroke's and Israel are very real as the sun drains weary travelers on their journeys. The shade provides comfort in the midst of oppressive circumstances and that is what God provides for all believers.
All of us comfort and relief.
So think about that, even by way of analogy here an illustration for us. Think about when you have worked out in the hot sun and you take a break in the shade with some cool water relief. It brings you relief. That's God watching over us. He is our shade. Isaiah chapter 25 verse four for you have been a stronghold to the poor stronghold to the needy in his distress a shelter from the storm, and a shade from the heat. God is our shade.
He watches over us. Look at verse six. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
Again, this phrase speaks of the Lord watching over us day and night no matter what conditions we are exposed to in life we have around-the-clock protection from God.
I think about this. Sometimes things are going well around us in our walk with the Lord at other times were hurting and were depressed but in all circumstances.
The psalmist is saying here God's protection for you is sufficient insufficient. Isaiah 26 verse three you keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you will, that brings us to assurance number four verses seven and eight we are assured of God's preservation. He preserves us. We are assured of God's preservation. Look at verses seven and eight the Lord will keep you from all evil. He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep her going out in your coming in from this time forth and forever. Here we see the promise that extends beyond the psalmist, immediate circumstances, the cover his whole life to keep you from all evil, which doesn't imply an easy life, necessarily, but one that is well armed, he will preserve us. Psalm 23, four, even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I fear no evil for thou art with me that God is there, so maybe you're here this morning and you're a bit discouraged and you're hurting because of the trials you're going through right now.
But God promises you, beloved, that he will preserve you if you look to him for strength. We must look to him. After all, that's the main point of this Psalm is that God will keep us safe. If we look to him as we go through the trials and tribulations of life, we must stay focused on him. John chapter 16 verse 33, Jesus puts it this way I have said these things to you that it made you may have peace in the world you will have tribulation, but take heart.
I have what overcome the world crisis overcome the we can trust him.
He is our great preserver or protector look at verse eight.
The Lord will keep you going out in your coming in from this time forth and forever. Here is using figurative speech. Again, everything that we do. God watches over us at all times, in every circumstance and forever Moses writes in Deuteronomy chapter 28 verse six.
This blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go God will watch over you. If we look to him. So these repeated assurances should help to calm and quiet our hearts and we need to be reminded of these truths outweigh again and again and again as Paul says nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ. We need to be reminded of these things and God is watching over us even when her going through tough times. The promise of this Psalm is not that we shall never stumble, but that no injury, illness, accident or distress will have evil power over us.
That is, nothing will be able to separate us from God's purposes you think of Joseph. You think of Joe. Think of Christ our Savior. So what should we expect based on this Psalm. What should we expect Eugene Peterson puts it this way on his book on the song of a sense his book entitled a long obedience in the same direction to great title the Christian life. He says, is not a quiet escape to a garden where we can walk and talk uninterruptedly with our Lord, nor a fantasy trip to a heavenly city where we can compare blue ribbons and gold medals with others who have made it to the winners circle the Christian life is going to God, go to him in going to God.
Christians travel the same ground that everyone else walks on, breathe the same air drink the same water shop in the same stores read the same newspapers are citizens under the same governments pay the same prices for groceries and gasoline fear.
The same dangers are subject to the same pressures and get the same distresses and are buried in the same ground. The difference is that each step we walk each breath we breathe, we know that we are preserved by God. We know we are accompanied by God.
We know we are ruled by God and therefore no matter what doubts we endure, what accidents we experience the Lord will preserve us from evil. He will keep our life great quote he will keep our life. He preserves us so you may be thinking to yourself, Pastor Paul, these are great principles and truths from Scripture and they are God is our help.
He is our guardian is our protector.
These are preserver but how do I apply this in my day-to-day life. Let me there are many ways that we could apply this message may give you a couple thoughts hereby waive application. How can we find God's strength in the midst of your multicolor trials.
Beloved, stay in the word number one. Stay in the word God's word is are all sufficient source of divine grace on our spiritual journey. If we are to know God's strength. I ask you to stay in his word. Read his word daily hear his word is our pastoral staff tries to bring you truth weekend and week out from this pulpit study is word and heed his word. Don't be merely hearers, but doers of the word stay in the word of God. Jesus taught us, sanctify them in the truth I word is what truth sanctify yourself in the truth. Psalm 119 verse 143 trouble and anguish have come upon me yet thy commandments are my delight. So even in the midst of our trouble and anguish. Where should we run to our creator, that's where we get our help in word we run to his divine book the Scriptures because his commandments are my delight. Jeremiah 1516 the prophet said this. Your words were found, and I ate them in your words became to be a joy in the delight of my heart may that be true of us beloved the God's word is a delight to our heart and that we desire to eat them and to live for him number two.
Secondly, trust in the Lord completely trust in the Lord completely when the psalmist looked to the mountains.
He was looking to a sovereign God who made the heavens and the earth from whom our help comes by staying focused on the Lord on our Savior we can stay away from trusting ourselves and worldly thing.
Trust him completely. First Peter chapter 5 verses six and seven. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God saw the proper time he may exalt you casting all your anxieties on him because he what cares for you and you know this passage well. Proverbs 3, five and six trust in the Lord with all of your heart, not some of our hearts. All of our hearts in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight. Do not lean you see on our own understanding. Let me close by quoting one of our senior saints here who I have great respect for who she is sharing with us some blessings that God has blessed her with in her almost 80 years of life.
As the psalmist teaches us we may live 70 or due to strength 80 years listen to her testimony. Let's walk in her steps that she follows the Lord as well.
I've been privileged was singing inquires teaching and the happy position of being a Calvary wedding coordinator for 30 years but most of all, I have been privileged with the growing understanding of the meaning of Scriptures awareness of the guidance and conviction of the indwelling Holy Spirit, and of trusting in God's sovereignty, love, protection, grace, mercy and forgiveness in my life for almost 80 years. I love the words from the hymn in which Tim will be leaving us in just a few moments how deep the father's love for us that God would give his only son to make a rich is treasure that's trust may not be true of our hearts as well. Let's pray Lord, thank you for this magnificent song. Thank you that you are our help that you created the mountains so that we look beyond them to you, our maker or creator our sustainer, our Redeemer and friend. As we been singing this morning. Thank you for these wonderful truths help us to apply them by staying in your word each day by trusting you completely.
No matter what were going through here this morning. Yes, some of our marriages may be struggling a bit, but let us look to you and to work together to be reconciled to her mates to follow you to be obedient to use some of us have been fighting spiritual depression and other anxieties and things of that nature. Lord, let us look to you knowing that you are very present help in times of trouble. So we thank you for these wonderful truths and we look forward to celebrating the remembrance of Christ's sacrificial death in just a few moments for we pray in his name. Amen