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Providence - The Guardian God

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Providence – The Guardian God!

Theme for 2007: Growing Great Relationships… with God, Family, and Community!

Mk 12:29-31 MSG “Listen… the Lord your God is one; so love the Lord God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence and energy.’”

Friedrich Nietzsche said, "The essential thing 'in heaven and earth' is...that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living."[1]

The Psalms of Ascent (Ps 120-134) were songs that set the stage for the Israelites’ journey to the Holy City; they were songs “for the road.”[2]  Hebrew pilgrims sang these Psalms as they travelled up to Jerusalem to seek and worship God.  They would wind their way up from the lowest point on earth (the Dead Sea 1370ft or 418 meters below sea level) to Jerusalem (2500ft or 760 meters above sea level), the highest point in Israel.  Pr 15:24 NKJV “The way of life winds upward for the wise, that he may turn away from hell below.”

Ps 120: Repentance – God’s Crossroad.

The opening phrase of Ps 120 is, “I’m in trouble,” and the last is “war.”  Ps 120:5-6 TNIV “Woe to me that I dwell in Meshek, that I live among the tents of Kedar!  Too long have I lived among those who hate peace.”  Paraphrased, the cry is, “I live in the midst of savage, brutal, barbarians; this world is not my home – I am a pilgrim in search of God!”  It describes a man wrestling with and against “the spirit of the world,” that is choking the life out of him.  Eugene Peterson defines it as a, “an atmosphere, a mood...a spiritual atmosphere in which we live that erodes faith, dissipates hope, and corrupts love, but it is hard to put your finger on what is wrong.”[3]

Before we can say yes to God, we must first say no to the world.  Eugene Peterson said, “A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.”[4]  Lk 15:14-18 TNIV “After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine...he began to be in need...He longed to fill his stomach...but no one gave him anything. “  When he came to his senses, he said...  ”I will set out and go back to my father...”  Repentance is the starting point leading us upward toward life!

Read: Ps 121

Ps 121:1-8 MSG “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?  No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.  He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.  Not on your life!  Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.  God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you— Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moon-stroke.  God guards you from every evil, He guards your very life.  He guards you when you leave and when you return, He guards you now, He guards you always.”

I.              A Travel Advisory.

The moment you say NO to the world and YES to God, all your troubles cease, all your problems vanish, and nothing can disturb the peace that occupies your heart and mind – God solves everything.  “If any of these things should happen – a crushing doubt, a squall of anger, a desperate loneliness, an accident that puts us in the hospital, an argument that puts us in the dog house, a rebellion that puts us on the defensive, a misunderstanding that us in the wrong – it is a sign that something is wrong with our relationship with God.  We have, consciously or unconsciously, retracted our yes to God; and God, impatient with our fickle faith, has gone off to take care of someone more deserving of His attention.”[5]

In Ps 121, the author explains to us in plain terms that that view of God and the Christian life is wrong!  Jas 1:2-3 NIV “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”  Sometimes it is good to know that you are wrong.

There are many dangers along the way of life, this road of pilgrimage.  God does not promise that we will avoid the tests and trials of life because we are Christians.  Rather He promises us strength and hope in the midst of those tests.  2 Cor 4:8-10 NLT “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed.  We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.  We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God.  We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.  Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.”

1.   “He won’t let you stumble...”  The word translated stumble means, “to slip and slide, to stagger, to be shaken”[6] in such a way that you never recover.

2.   “Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moon-stroke.”  This describes the possibility of wilting under the pressure of life through fatigue or anxiety.  We easily understand the reference to “sunstroke” – physical exhaustion.  The reference to “moon-stroke”emotional exhaustion or lunacy.

3.   “God guards you from every evil...”  Jesus says to pray, “Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.”  This is not “don’t allow us to be tempted.”  God’s Spirit has already done this with Jesus.  Matt 4:1 TNIV “Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.”[7]  Rather, this is a promise that as you walk trusting God, evil will not overcome you and there is a promise of deliverance.

1 Cor 10:13 MSG “No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face.  All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; He’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; He’ll always be there to help you come through it.”  Unlike Baal, your Guardian God is not asleep, He is watching over you!

II.          So You Need Help.

Ps 121:1-2 MSG “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?  No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.”  A pilgrim gets into trouble, where do they go for help?  At the time this “song for the road” was sung, the hills and mountains – the high places were overrun with pagan shrines all offering help if you are willing to sacrifice some of your soul, and bow before an idol.

Do you fear the sun’s heat?  Go to the sun priest and pay for protection against the sun god.  Are you fearful of the malign influence of moonlight?  Go to the moon priestess and buy an amulet.  Are you haunted by the demons that can cause any pebble under your foot to trip you?  Go to the shrine and learn the magic formula to ward off the mischief.  Whence shall my help come?  From Baal?  ...A look to the hills for help end in disappointment.”[8]

Jer 3:23 TNIV “Surely the idolatrous commotion on the hills and mountains is a deception; surely in the Lord our God is the salvation of Israel.”

Warren Wiersbe said, “Popular religion” is usually false religion, for the road to life is narrow and lonely...”[9]  

Matt 7:13-14 MSG “Don’t look for shortcuts to God.  The market is flooded with sure-fire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time.  Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do.  The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.”

III.       The Guardian God.

Ps 121:1-8 MSG “I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains?  No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.  He won’t let you stumble, your Guardian God won’t fall asleep.  Not on your life!  Israel’s Guardian will never doze or sleep.  God’s your Guardian, right at your side to protect you— Shielding you from sunstroke, sheltering you from moon-stroke.  God guards you from every evil, He guards your very life.  He guards you when you leave and when you return, He guards you now, He guards you always.”

3 times in this Psalm God is referred to by the personal covenant name of YHWH.  8 times, He is described as the Guardian, or as the one who guards our lives.  Eugene Peterson writes this about providence:

All the water in all the oceans cannot sink a ship unless it gets inside.  Nor can all the trouble in the world harm us unless it gets within us.  That is the promise of Psalm 121.  “God guards you from every evil.”  Not the demons in the rocks, not the attack of the sun god, nor the fear of the dark from the moon goddess can separate us from the call and purpose of God.  None of the things that happen to us, none of the troubles we encounter have any power to get between us and God, it cannot dilute His grace in us, it cannot divert His will from our lives.”[10]

God does not guard us from life, but rather by faith, from life swamping us, for His love and grace cause us to overcome.  Rom 8:28, 31, 35, 37-39 TNIV “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose...What, then, shall we say in response to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  ...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  ...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


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[1] Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil, trans. Helen Zimmern (London: 1907), sec 188.

[2] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999).  Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.)

[3] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 15.

[4] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 25

[5] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 37

[6] Wiersbe, W. W. (2004). Be Exultant (1st ed.) (146). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Cook Communications Ministries.

[7]Blomberg, C. (2001, c1992). Vol. 22: Matthew (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (120). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[8] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 41

[9] Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). Be concerned (94). Colorado Springs, Colo.: Chariot Victor.

[10] Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Intervarsity Press 2nd Edition 2000), pg 43

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