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The Lord will keep you…
     16 Three times a year all your men must appear before the LORD your God at the
     place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and
     the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the LORD empty-handed:
     17 Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the LORD your God has
     blessed you. Deuteronomy 16:16-17 (NIV)

With these words Moses instructed Israel to appear before the Lord each year
for the celebration of the feasts, feasts which confirmed the identity of Israel as a
people special to God and reminded them of God’s presence, protection and bless-
ing. The book of Psalms preserves a catalog of songs which were sung by God’s
people during these pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Since all who approach Jerusalem
must travel up to reach it, these special psalms—120 through 135—are known as the
“Psalms of Ascent.”
As we read these psalms today we find that they contain a wealth of promises and
assurance from God that describe the breadth of his love and care for us. God’s at-
tributes are proclaimed in every verse of Psalm 121:
     1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from?
     2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
     3 He will not let your foot slip— He who watches over you will not slumber;
     4 indeed, He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
     5 The LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
     6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
     7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life;
     8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
We see that God is our helper (1), creator (2), unsleeping protector (3), watchman
(4), shade (5), constant guardian (6), life-preserver (7), and eternal companion (8).
As we sojourn through this brief series in the Psalms of Ascent we will be called to
remember what God has done for us, rest in His protection, and sing for joy, for “the
Lord will keep you.”
Remember: Psalm 124
To accompany the sermon preached by Renée Notkin on July 24, 2011
When we gather together to worship God we remember who he is and what he has
done. We learn who we are as we grasp a deeper understanding of our Lord.

Pray
Open our hearts and minds to see you more clearly through the study of your word.
Amen.

Review
As we embark on this new series, what do you already know about the Psalms?

Read
Read Psalm 124.

Reflect/Discuss
1. What personal escapes might David be remembering as he writes this psalm?
What escapes of the nation of Israel would people remember as they heard this
psalm? (See Exodus 14, Joshua 2, Judges 7, 1 Samuel 18:6-11, and 1 Samuel 21:10-22:1)

2. How has God helped you to escape the evil intent of someone else?

3. How has God provided a way for you to escape yielding to temptation? (See 1 Cor-
inthians 10:13)

4. What assurance do you have that God is for you? (See Romans 8:31-39)

Apply
What songs or psalms help you to remember God’s work in your life?

Pray
Lord, thank you for always providing a way out for us. As we continue to strive to
follow you this week we pray again that you may lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from evil. Help us to remember your past faithfulness in the midst of our
present struggles. In your almighty name we pray. Amen.
Security: Psalm 125
To accompany the sermon preached by Janie Stuart on July 31, 2011
It is easy to feel insecure when you are alone. When we gather to worship God we
are reminded that our stability comes from God. Not only does he make us stand
firm like Mount Zion, but he also surrounds us like the mountains surrounding
Jerusalem.

Pray
Lord, be near to us as we study together. Give us the understanding necessary to
unravel your promises of security and stability found in your word. Amen.

Review
What songs were you singing to God last week?

Read
Read Psalm 125.

Reflect/Discuss
1. What appeals to you about the picture of mountains the Psalmist gives here?

2. Read Psalm 121. We need help and protection for many difficulties. What types of
trouble and help do you find in these psalms?

3. Where do you need God’s protection from unjust authorities?

4. Where do you need God’s protection from your own temptation to act unjustly?

Apply
Throughout Scripture God offers us his shalom—peace, wholeness, and security.
(See John 14:27 and Isaiah 26:3.) What will you do this week to lean into the peace
God offers?

Pray
Lord, help us to trust you in uncertain times as well as in our times of security. We
ask for the peace only you can give. Help us to fully lean into your secure arms. Pro-
tect us from others just as you protect us from ourselves. We pray all these things in
Your Name. Amen.
Joy: Psalm 126
To accompany the sermon preached by Ryan Church on August 7, 2011
We have sorrows individually and as a church. God calls us to gather for worship to
restore our joy and to be a witness to the nations.
Pray
Father, open up your words to us that we may see the joy there is to be found in you.
Help us to see you in the midst of this psalm and throughout Scripture. Amen.

Review
Where did you have God’s peace in the midst of your life last week?

Read
Read Psalm 126.

Reflect/Discuss
1. Israel was restored after 70 years in exile. (As related in Daniel, Ezra, and Nehe-
miah) Imagine that you were among the first to return to Jerusalem. What would
you be thinking and feeling?

2. In Psalms 42, 43, and 80 the people are still waiting for joy. How do you worship
God in the midst of sorrow?

3. Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-17. What was Paul’s source of joy?

4. Describe a situation in your life where you can ask God for restoration.

Apply
Where have you received restoration that you can share with others for their en-
couragement?

Pray
Lord, we long to feel the joy of your restoration. Restore us this week. Help us to
worship you within our times of sorrow as well as in the times of rejoicing. We
praise you for the work you are continuing to do in our lives and in our world. In the
name of your Son who restores all things we pray, amen.

				
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posted:10/31/2011
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