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Take Life’s Journey with the Lord

Notes & Transcripts

Take Life’s Journey with the Lord

Psalm 121:1-8

Sermon by: Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - May 6, 2012

*One of the best trips Mary and I ever took was in the summer of 1976. We went all the way from Florida to Canada, living in a pup tent. Our vacation budget was $10 a day. One night we really splurged and got a room at the “Space Motel” in Niagara Falls. Mary put the receipt in the scrapbook she made. Total for the room: $16.85! We didn’t have a lot of money, but it was a great trip.

*Let me ask you: If your life is a trip, how is it going? Are you going forward or backwards? -- Maybe you feel like you are broken down on the side of the road. But God wants to help you move forward. God wants us to move onward and upward in life. And with Jesus Christ we can.

*Psalm 121 can help us on our life journey, because it is a Psalm for travelers. We learn this from the title, which calls Psalm 121 a song of “degrees” or “ascents”. The original word means “a journey to a higher place,” and that’s the way people thought about going to Jerusalem.

*The Jewish people always thought of going UP to Jerusalem, in part, because the city was higher geographically. For example, the 17-mile road from Jericho to Jerusalem goes up 3,500 feet. But travelers mostly thought of going UP to Jerusalem, because the Temple was the spiritual mountaintop for the Jews.

*When the Jews went up to Jerusalem for the feasts, they had special songs to sing, and this Psalm was one of those songs.

-When Jesus was a little boy, He went up to the Passover Feast with His family.

-And they probably sang this song along the way.

*This is a Traveler’s Psalm. And it reminds us that the best way to travel in life is to travel with the Lord. Travel with the Lord, because He will help you like no one else can.

1. First: Jesus wants to give us the strongest help.

*This song reminds us of the Lord’s strength in vs. 1&2. And all Christians can sing:

1. I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help.

2. My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

*The Jews traveling up to Jerusalem needed that kind of help. The trips were long and dangerous for most people. Scholars estimate that during Jesus’ earthly ministry, there were at least 12,000 thieves in the wilderness around Jerusalem. They roamed the countryside like packs of wild dogs attacking innocent victims. That road from Jericho to Jerusalem was so dangerous in those days that it was called “the way of blood.” (1)

*Travelers were in real danger. There were no interstates to travel on, or tow trucks to call with their cell phones. No 9-1-1. They had reason to fear. And they wanted to feel the same sense of security you and I want today. (2)

*So, those travelers would sing this song about our strongest source of help: “My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” You will never have stronger help than from “the Lord who made heaven and earth!”

*And the Lord they sang about in Psalm 121 is the Lord Jesus Christ. HE is the One who made heaven and earth. The Book of John put it this way:

1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

2. He was in the beginning with God.

3. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.

4. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

9. That was the true Light which gives light to every man who comes into the world.

10. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.

11. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.

12. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name. (John 1:1-4 & 9-12)

*In 2004, scientists pointed the Hubble telescope at a blank-looking patch of sky near the Orion Constellation. The Hubble stayed focused on that spot for 400 orbits over 11 days. The patch of sky they were looking at is no bigger than a grain of sand held out at arm’s length. And in that tiny patch of sky, they discovered over 10,000 galaxies! (3)

*Not too long ago, astronomers thought that there were 100 billion galaxies in the universe. Then the number jumped to 200 billion galaxies. Today scientists think that our universe may have as many as 500 billion galaxies.

-Each of those galaxies has hundreds of millions of stars.

-And Jesus made them all!

*Listen to part of the praise from Psalm 89:

6. . . Who in the heavens can be compared to the Lord? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the Lord?

7. God is greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, And to be held in reverence by all those who are around Him.

8. O Lord God of hosts, Who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You.

9. You rule the raging of the sea; When its waves rise, You still them.

11. The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.

12. The north and the south, You have created them; (Mount) Tabor and Hermon rejoice in Your name.

13. You have a mighty arm; Strong is Your hand, and high is Your right hand.

*If Jesus Christ was strong enough to create the whole universe, then He is surely strong enough to take care of us! -- And He will.

-Jesus wants to give you the strongest help.

2. And He wants to give you His steady help.

*We see the Lord’s steady help in vs. 3-4:

3. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.

4. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.

*That word “keeps” is the picture of a guard carefully keeping watch over His people. That’s how the Lord wants to watch over you. And nobody can watch over you better than the Lord!

*He gives us steady help. First in vs. 3, the Lord steadies us: “He will not allow your foot to be moved. . .”

-Now this must be talking about our eternal destiny as believers, rather than our everyday destiny, because all of us have stumbled (certainly physically).

*I remember one cold winter night back in the 1980s. I hit a patch of ice on the sidewalk, and both of my feet flew out from under me. It was kind of like a Road Runner cartoon. I was hanging in the air for what felt like 3 seconds. Then, wham!

*All of us have stumbled both physically and spiritually. But if we know Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, God will never let us fall, because we are standing on the Rock of Ages!

*Jesus Christ is always able to steady us, because He is always steady. In vs. 3&4:

3. . . . He who keeps you will not slumber.

4. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

*Who can say that but God?!? -- Some of you are probably having trouble staying awake right now, but not the Lord.

-He never slumbers, and He never sleeps.

-So He is able to watch over us every day and night.

*And as John Beehler says: “Nothing ever catches our God by surprise: Not skinned knees, not parking tickets, not dashed hopes, not cancer scares. Not marital problems, not financial setbacks.” (2)

*And that’s because our God never sleeps, and He never slumbers. This means that Jesus Christ is here for you right now. And if sickness, sorrow, pain or worry wakes you up at 3 o’clock in the morning. He will be there for you.

*Most of the people here today could give testimonies of how the Lord has watched over them. Stanley Baldwin has a testimony like that. When Stanley was a little boy, his family took a trip to the Pacific Coast. This was during World War II, and fear of a Japanese attack had led to a strict lights-out policy after dark.

*Stanley and his family stopped at a motel for the night. They decided to take a quick walk along the dark beach to get some fresh air. Like most little boys, Stanley ran ahead of his parents and sister, and he came to a barricade wall blocking his way further. And like any other boy, he decided to climb the wall and explore the rest of the beach.

*But just as Stanley reached the top of the wall, his sister called out and stopped him. Then, in the blink of an eye, some soldiers drove up, guns aimed right at the Baldwin family. The squad leader chewed them out and sent them back to the motel.

*The next morning, the family returned to the barricade wall to look at the beach. Imagine their horror when they looked over the wall and saw a 40-foot drop to the rocks below!

-If Stanley’s sister hadn't called for him when she did.

-If the soldiers hadn't shown up when they did.

-Stanley probably would have jumped over that wall to certain death. (4)

*God was watching over Stanley Baldwin that night.

-He wants to watch over you every day and night.

-Jesus wants to give you His steady help.

3. And His sheltering help.

*In vs. 5&6, we see that the Lord IS our Shelter:

5. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

6. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.

*“The Lord is your shade on your right hand.” That meant a lot to those people who were walking in the hot, burning sun with no air conditioning. But it also means a lot to us today, because it reminds us that the Lord is always close by.

*How close is He? --Well, just reach out your right hand, and there He is. But for believers, He is even closer, because the Spirit of Christ is living in our hearts.

*And the Lord will be our shelter. This does not mean we will be trouble-free in this fallen world. Sometimes our troubles will seem as big as the sun. And sometimes we will feel like the darkness of night surrounds us. But Jesus is the Light of our life. And He will shelter us when the worst comes our way.

*King David put it this way in Psalm 61:1-4:

1. Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.

2. From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

3. For You have been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.

4. I will abide in Your tabernacle forever; I will trust in the shelter of Your wings.

*Hundreds of years ago, Robert Bruce of Scotland was running for his life. Persecutors were trying to kill him for his faith in Jesus. Robert ducked into a small cave. Just then a spider appeared and spun a web over the opening.

*The men after Robert fanned out across the countryside, knowing that he was near. Two of them came to the cave and one of the men started to go in. But the other one stopped him, saying, “He never could have gotten in there without breaking that spider’s web.”

*Robert Bruce heard them, and then prayed: “O God, I thank You that in the tiny bowels of a spider you can make a shelter for me.” (5)

*Our God can make a shelter out of anything! -- But He Himself is our best shelter. And the Lord wants to be your shelter, so that we can all say to you:

5. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand.

6. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night.

*Jesus wants to give you His sheltering help.

4. And His saving help.

*We see the Lord’s saving help in vs. 7-8:

7. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.

8. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.

*Notice in vs. 7 that the Lord will preserve His people from evil. That promise can seem hard to understand when we go through the hard times of life.

-But we all need to see that the biggest problem we have with evil is not the evil that comes from outside.

-Our biggest problem is the evil that comes from inside our own hearts.

*The evil from outside can hurt us for a while. But the evil from inside can hurt us forever. And all of us have this problem. The Bible says that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.

*But vs. 7 here says: “The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul.”

-The only way this could happen was for Jesus Christ to die on the cross.

-On that cross, Jesus took all of the punishment for our evil ways.

-Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us.

-Then He rose again in victory over sin and death.

*And we receive the victory when we receive Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. The Apostle Paul described it this way in Romans 10:9-13:

9. that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

10. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made to salvation.

11. For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.''

12. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him.

13. For "whoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.''

*“Whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved!” And that changes everything.

*So trust in the Lord and you can say:

1. I will lift up my eyes to the hills from whence comes my help.

2. My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.

*Trust in the Lord and:

8. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore.

*Let’s go to the Lord in prayer.

1. Adapted from ChristianGlobe.com sermon “Like a Good Neighbor, Jesus Is There” by James Merritt - Luke 10:25-37

2. Adapted from SermonCentral sermon “Who Ya Gonna Call” by John Beehler - Psalm 121:1-8

3. Clip seen on You Tube

4. Stanley C. Baldwin, “What Did Jesus Say About That?” - Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1975 - p. 175-176 (Source: Sermons.com)

5. Robert J. Morgan, Nelson’s Complete Book of Stories, Illustrations & Quotes

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