Faithlife Sermons

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1 | How have I experienced the tension?
Many of you know that Ali and I and the kids got away for a month back in April and May, we found an incredible deal to go stay in Spain for a month for under $1000 so we jumped on it.
We did some of the tourist stuff of Barcelona but most of our time was spent in a small village called Cabrils enjoying time together.
If you would have asked me before what I was hoping out of the time I would have told you that I am aware of how much I desire to see God do in my life and heart and I know that this month away cannot fix it only Jesus can.
And I would have been completely right.
There were not many big epiphanies.
There weren’t seismic shifts that occurred, at least not in the sense that all of a sudden I completely took a 180.
But not that is wasn’t invaluable… it was.
But it was more the beginning of many important lessons rather than the completion of any of them.
Instead though God whispered to me as Ali and I read a book together called A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson.
I mentioned this book before because I loved the title but I took the time while we were away to really dive into it.
It was the balm for my soul, although it wasn’t the cure that I was hoping for either.
It is centered around a sequence of 15 psalms known as the Songs of Ascent.
These 15 songs were the worship album for the people of Israel as three times a year they would make their way to Jerusalem for pilgrimages for the feasts of Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.
Three times a year there was an expectation that followers of Yahweh would leave their homes and become pilgrims on a journey that would be unique to them, influenced from their geography, facing potential threats, meeting new fellow pilgrims along the path… but even though they each had their own unique journey they were a united people playing the same playlist on the road.
Each of these 15 songs were meant to captivate the imagination with another part of the journey.
Ultimately though, even these journeys themselves were meant to be seen as a living metaphor of the long journey each pilgrim experiences through their life with God.
We each have a vision of the good life, maybe its the absence of financial hardship, travel more, the right relationship, kids acting better, landing the promotion…
But in the Scriptures we get the image of the good life, one of flourishing… but it is a long journey.
Jesus called it one of abiding..
Experiencing the life of Jesus as we spend time in His presence day by day through life.
This is what the Pilgrimage to Jerusalem, singing these songs of Ascent were meant to symbolize.
I got my own version of this metaphor while we were in Spain because our Airbnb was in this beautiful town that was a few miles uphill overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
And we had no car.
And we had one stroller with two kids.
So each day was filled with a lot of uphill walking, and it felt like we just about never walked downhill.
Just uphill.
As we would walk I spent a lot of time thinking about my journey with Jesus, and how I want things to be quicker.
I want to be more patient, kind, understanding, and loving… And I spent time praying over these songs of ascent…
So I continued reading the Bible, Eugene Peterson’s book, and listening to a playlist I created for Ali and I that was inspired by these Psalms (a bit cheesy) but it helped me consistently come back to meditate on these ancient truths…
As I meditated on these concepts, I was struck by this question?
Do I have the mindset of tourist or pilgrim?
[Read section from the book]
2 | How have you experienced this tension?
We know a bit about a tourist mindset right?
We experience it every time a friend has a birthday party and requires us to brave I Drive.
Tourists are only here because its convenient and fun.
If there is any chance of a hurricane, families call off their vacations here, reschedule it for another time or go somewhere else.
Do you have the mindset of a spiritual tourist?
Pursuing Jesus only when its convenient with your schedule, doesn’t require too much of you, and only as long as you are having one of those weeks where you want to listen to worship music on your drive to work?
Pilgrims are different.
They have a singular focus.
The destination.
They are going to a place with purpose, and they are willing to brave whatever it takes to get there.
When it comes to your journey with Jesus, do you have the mindset of a tourist or pilgrim?
3 | What do the Scriptures say about this tension?
A Pilgrim has the mindset that the journey is A LONG OBEDIENCE IN THE SAME DIRECTION.
The reality is that often times our mindset and expectations leads us to become disenchanted because we start with the wrong mindset.
Let’s take that phrase and work from the back to the front…
Same Direction
Read Psalm 122:1-4
“I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
2 Our feet have been standing
within your gates, O Jerusalem!
3 Jerusalem—built as a city
that is bound firmly together,
4 to which the tribes go up,
the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
The journey of the tourist might be excited for the destination, but ultimately is just as likely to pick another destination or change plans if things don’t work out.
The journey of the pilgrim has to have a spot they are setting out for.
Frodo was heading to Mount Doom, Luke was heading to the Death Star, Jesus was heading to the Cross.
Here is the tricky part though, the journey is not just a quest next door to borrow sugar from your neighbor.
The journey changes you.
Tests you.
Challenges you.
It calls you to a long obedience in the same direction… so it has to begin with a daily rememberence of why the direction matters.
There are days when you cry out to God.
When you doubt the direction.
When you are unsure if this was the right path.
When the brokenness of other people and yourself gives you pause…
If you are anything like me you are good with a direction but once things get costly, frustrating, or upsetting we prepare to head to a safer passage.
But you see that totally makes sense if you are a tourist.
Tourists will try anything until something else comes along.
Pilgrims have a direction though.
But it can’t just be a direction you have intellectual agreed with… it has to be one born out of desire.
Genuine worship.
The Israelites didn’t go to Jerusalem begrudgingly or just because they had to, at least that wasn’t meant to be their posture.
They were created to be captivated by their affections for God, to experience His presence in the here and now and into eternity.
Do you hold onto the truth of the Gospel as genuine good news in your heart?
Do you find strength and courage for the journey in your relationship with Jesus?
If not, you aren’t alone.
But if you find yourself swayed in 12 different directions based on the time of day the truest hope for you is to become captivated with the hope found in Jesus, that you would become stoked by the fire of the Holy Spirit, and that you would find yourself on the journey in 15 years still moving in the same direction as Jesus called you onto today.
Read Psalm 132:1-5
“Remember, O Lord, in David's favor,
all the hardships he endured,
2 how he swore to the Lord
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
3 “I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
4 I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
5 until I find a place for the Lord,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
“True knowledge of God comes out of obedience” John Calvin
The first half of this Psalm is recounting a specific incident of obedience, David not resting until the ark of the covenant found a safe place to rest.
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