Psalm 121 – Moving Forwards – 5

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.

God would help His people by establishing them in a firm place, He will not let your foot be moved. Think back to 1 Peter; chosen and precious Cornerstone…that is where we stand, nowhere else. Our feet are not being moved from that!

I love what David Guzik wrote about this,

For the Christian, this reminds them of the principles found in Ephesians 6:11 and 13—that the believer is to find a place to stand, and this can only be done by looking to the Lord and trusting He who will not allow your foot to be moved.

The standing of the believer in Jesus is impressive.

· We stand in grace (Romans 5:2).

· We stand in the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1).

· We stand in courage and strength (1 Corinthians 16:13).

· We stand in faith (2 Corinthians 1:24).

· We stand in Christian liberty (Galatians 5:1).

· We stand in Christian unity (Philippians 1:27).

· We stand in the Lord (Philippians 4:1).

· The goal: that we should stand perfect and complete in the will of God (Colossians 4:12).

Again then,

He will not let our foot be moved,

He will not slumber or sleep.

The short answer to where does my help come from? was that we look to God for our help.

He does not sleep or slumber, He is always watchful, always watching over us as we are moving forwards to the next thing He has called us to.

Isn’t that a glorious promise to us? God will not allow my foot to be moved. He’s watching over me night and day. He will preserve me (Smith).

Psalm 121 – Moving Forwards – 4

People nowadays worship all sorts of gods, don’t they…pleasure, power, prestige, career, cash, all sorts…But the God that we worship is the only true, eternal God who has created the heavens and the earth, the living God. So, 

“From whence cometh my help?

My help comes from Yahweh which made the heaven and the earth.”

So, new year, new target, new goals, renewed you, maybe even new you if you are on the verge of committing to Christ or been window shopping Christianity and now is the time to really go for it. The new year then could well bring, literally, a new you. Literally. The new birth, the new you, and the Bible says that unless we are born again of the Spirit we will never see the riches that He has laid up for those who love Him.

So wherever you are on the journey, we look ahead to where we are going and we know that God is our help, a very present help, Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us, the indwelling Holy Spirit is alive in us and active in the world, we know this, we look ahead, and we push on, knowing that God has a plan and a purpose for you this coming year, as He does every single day of your life. 

We just need to submit and commit, there is a new year’s resolution that we can get on board with;

submit and commit.

This is the year I will;

read the entire counsel of God’s Word to us,

attend a home group,

serve in church not just come and go as stealthily as possible,

this is the year I will smash that spiritual hangup I have had for X number of years,

this is the year I ditch all the excuses that have prevented me from living the life that God wants me to live, that I will ditch all the excuses that keep me from being here with God’s people, that I will ditch the excuses that stop me being who God has made me to be! 

We look ahead and we push on and we move forwards knowing that God is our help, and that if God is our help, if God is for us, then who can be against us?

Psalm 121 – Moving Forwards – 3

2 My help comes from the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth.

Our  help comes from God. Not in the journey itself, not in the city we are walking towards, not in the job we are pursuing, not in the bank balance we are chasing, not in the promotion we are desperate for, in absolutely nothing that is of this world.

See no riches but in grace, no health but in piety, no beauty but in holiness, no treasure but in heaven, no delight but in “the things above.”

Anthony Farindon.

I was running along recently, well, chasing along half a step behind two far better runners than me, trying not to wheeze out loud, running along and watching the water lap the shore or crash against rocks, can’t remember really as I was too focused on not collapsing, and the conversation went something like this…

this is beautiful…wheeze cough wheeze cough…this is beautiful…but we should never worship the creation always the creator…

That was quite profound given the beautiful, natural surrounds of where we were running, and it’s the same with the help. We don’t get help from the city, we don’t get help from where we are going, what we are going towards, we don’t get our help from the creation, our help comes from God, the Lord, not from anywhere else.

He works in and through others, sure, the church is His chosen vessel to bless the nations, wow, how much do we want to be part of the church, but the power, the goodness, the ability, is His, He actualises our potential, we are FULL of potential, God has none, He cannot become anything else, He IS, so, when we need help moving forwards,

2 My help comes from the Lord,

    who made heaven and earth.

Psalm 121 – Moving Forwards – 2

Psalm 121 is probably up there as a favourite of many people, it’s certainly one of my favourites, and, the idea behind it is that the writer/poet/psalmist/person/you and me by extension and application is on a journey

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.

Where can we look to draw hope and strength for the future, where does our help come from?

The singer of Psalm 121 looked to the hills, likely the distant hills of Jerusalem as they travelled towards the city to fulfil their pilgrimage.

Imagine you’re on a journey, walking, towards a city that is set on a hill, you can see if from a distance because it’s higher than you are, you are walking along and you see the city, it’s on a hill so it can’t be hidden, can it, you’re walking along on a special journey towards this city, 

I lift up my eyes to the hills.

    From where does my help come?

You can see it, but you’re far away, but God is not far from each of us, is He, and on our journey, God is not, nor will He ever be, far from any of us, we lift up our eyes to the target in the future, in the distance, and we think, man, this journey is tough, this journey is long, this journey is dangerous, where is my help going to come from?

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

Psalm 121 – Moving Forwards – 1

2020 is just around the corner, and at this time of year people often pause, reflect, look back on the year gone and look ahead to the new year with a renewed sense of optimism, sense of purpose, sense of determination that this is going to be the year; the year I read the entire Bible, the year I run a marathon, the year I (insert motivational activity personalised to you).

Kind of strange, really, isn’t it, as 31 December 2019 is no different to 1 January 2020, but, it’s a good opportunity to look back and draw hope for the future, and, as we tick over into 2020, it’s a good opportunity to look ahead and push on, as we’ll talk about in Psalm 121.

Often here at Saar Fellowship we talk about us all being on a journey, being in Bahrain is an important stop on the journey, isn’t it, whether you chose to come here, you were put here, or whether you felt called to be here, Bahrain is an important stop on the journey…and we are all on a journey, aren’t we…life…family…discipleship…faith…

I want us to think about the journey we are on, bigger picture; life, faith, faith life, and I want to ask you;

What part of the journey are you on?

The answer will be different for all of us, and that is good, there is unity in our diversity, we have people here who are the right people to turn to in every situation, and every situation they will turn you to Jesus, but they have been there before. We are all at different points; some maybe window shopping Christianity, deciding if this is for you or not, (spoiler, it is), maybe you’re a new believer, adolescent believer, mature believer, adolescent believer who behaves like a mature believer…mature believer who behaves like you’re window shopping, and everywhere in between.

So, wherever we are at on our own journey, our own individual discipleship walk, we all need to keep moving forward, don’t we, a walk implies forward motion, you can’t walk and stand still, you look ridiculous, and it’s not really walking, is it, but, you can walk backwards…

As we work through Psalm 121, we will talk about moving forwards, and where we find help to do so.

Even Then

Most Thursday’s we have a devotional with a bit of music, and today we’ve got Even Then by Micah Tyler.

On the nights when the dark lasts a little bit longer
When the wind and the storm is a little bit stronger
When the fear in my heart dips a little bit deeper
When my faith to stand gets a little bit weaker

Where could I run to?
Where could I go?

There will be times in our lives when things get tough, when we experience periods where we think ‘Where are you Lord?’, when we have doubts of emotion and feel as if nothing will ever get any better. 

I read recently that when things are happening that we don’t understand, we must fall back on the things we do understand. When life gets rough and tough where do we run, where do we go?

Psalm 73 offers a very present help in times of need and trouble,

Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

It should come as a great comfort to us that the Lord never lets go (John 10.28) of those who have turned to Him in faith. When the dark, stormy, fear-filled times come along, we have an ever present help in our times of need. We must turn first and foremost to the Word of God in times of trouble, not our own feelings, not someone else’s experience, the solid, tried, true, and tested Word of God. 

It is always good to start with the Bible, where there is explicit teaching on every condition…

D.Martin Lloyd-Jones

He is our refuge and strength, He is in our midst, He will help, He is with us.

We need only be still and know that the Lord of hosts is with us (Psalm 46).

Spiritual Depression – General Considerations – Psalm 42

In the 1960’s D.Martin Lloyd-Jones had a series of sermons published as a book called ‘Spiritual Depression‘. A Pastor I know recently said it was the best Christian book he had ever read, and that it changed his life. As providence would have it, I had an old copy in the office, so, as I read through it I’ll share it too. In between this on-and-off series if you have suggestions for Bible books you would like to see as devotionals, leave a comment and let me know!

Lloyd-Jones writes that spiritual depression is a condition that appears in both the Old and New Testaments, and seems to be one of the major issues that God’s people have to deal with. How they deal with it will be illuminating and instructive for us. 

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.

11 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Psalm 42.5, 11 (KJV)

The Psalmist is sharing his woes and it’s suggested that his spiritual depression is due to not being able to gather with others in the public worship of God (vv.2-4). How interesting, that not meeting with other believers to worship God has led the Psalmist to a place of spiritual depression, where he feels that his soul is downcast, his very being is feeling blue. 

When we face similar periods of spiritual sadness, drought, and depression, we would do well to turn to the Word to see how to move through this. 

It is always good to start with the Bible, where there is explicit teaching on every condition and it also good to look at examples and illustrations [in principles] from the same source.

D.Martin Lloyd-Jones, 1964, P.10

The big thing to remember when this kind of feeling comes upon us is this –

it is vital to take the teaching of the Word of God first and foremost.

Feelings, experiences, Janet-down-the-road’s-friend’s-story, our own interpretations, emotions, all of this must come second to the explicit teaching of the Word of God and the principles therein.

If something we feel or experience doesn’t line up with the Bible, we shouldn’t put any stock into it as a method for moving through the spiritual depression we may be feeling. 

Period of feeling like this will affect us all.

There will be days where we don’t see the sanctifying process and progress at work in our lives.

There will be days when we feel like we are going backwards.

There will be says when we doubt.

There will be days where our behaviour is even more un-Christian than before we believed.

We see great heroes of the faith in the Bible experience periods of feeling like this, but the key is to hope in God, His Word gives us an abundance of reasons to do so, and know that we shall yet praise Him for the help he brings. 

When we do this, our attitude and feelings are supernaturally changed in His perfect timing to a point where we can say I shall yet praise Him, for He is the health of my life, and my God

We will move from knowing He will help us, to knowing He has helped us.