God Is Always Ready To Help Us!
We will face perplexities and problems all of our lives.
Many times we are hindered by potential difficulties.
Often we will seek help from people, ourselves, and then, finally, from God.
I can imagine when we come to God that His response could be, "Why did you wait so long to ask for help?"
So often there is a time period between when we become aware of a problem,
and when we finally allow God to help us.
Someone has suggested that we go through the process of what he called the four looks.
The first look is the outward look to others for help.
Second is the inward look to discover our own abilities.
Third is the upward look to God.
Fourth is the forward look to the future.
We must learn to move to the last two looks more quickly really we need to look
immediately to God for help.
A pastor tells of a woman in his church who shared with him what to her was an overwhelming problem.
She described herself as done in, tired out, and uptight in meeting the needs of her family.
Her pastor asked, "Why not let God help you?"
The woman responded, "That's a strange way of putting it.
Are you saying that I have a choice?"
The pastor immediately answered, "Yes, you have a decision to make.
Are you going to manage this problem on your own or are you going to ask God for help."
The woman said to her pastor, "Are you suggesting that I may be blocking God's efforts to help me.
I have tried everything and everybody else.
How do I let God help me?"
The pastor shared with her how to surrender her needs to the Lord more quickly,
and have to allow Him to help her.
He described that many people have a strong will and a determined desire to be self-sufficient including himself.
So he shared with her these words, "When I let go of my own tenacious control
of problematic people and situations, I lower the barrier I so often erect around my mind and heart.
God has never failed give me supernatural power in response to a prayer of complete surrender."
The pastor went on to say, "God helps me to see deeply into the problem with wisdom.
God gives me discernment to know what to do, and He provides me with faith, courage,
and endurance to follow through."
Then He added, "I am amazed at how He steps in to change people in the circumstances
that brought me at last to look to Him for help.
I can tell you that He is faithful.
Sometimes, He changes the situation, but He always changes my attitude toward it.
If I have made any progress in the Christian life, it is in not waiting so long before I cry out to God for help."
The psalmist faced certain danger in Psalm 121.
He was either on a pilgrimage or a journey.
High mountains lay ahead of him.
He feared there would be robbers, wolves, and dangerous passages in which he could slip and fall.
He also knew there was no other way other than through the hills to his destination.
So, how could he make it?
The problems that he faced lead him to talk within himself about the problem.
He took the four looks that I discussed earlier.
So, notice the progression.
"I will lift up my eyes to the hills
" (Verse 1)
This was the outward look at his problem.
There were indications that the hills were where we could look to for help and inspiration.
There were were times when the majesty and the grandeur lifted us out of ourselves,
and caused us to think about eternal things.
The look would be different if we had to climb the mountains on foot.
The look would be different if we had to consider the possible dangers they contained.
Then looking to the hills wouldn't give us strength.
They do accurately focus on the problems over which we must climb.
If we shift the metaphor, looking to the hills can be understood as our outward look for help
from people or groups.
It is to cry out, "Please, somebody help me!"
If there is a complete silence or the response is slow in coming, we are tempted to believe
that no one cares.
Then despair leads us to ask the crucial question the psalmist asked in his inward look.
The psalmist asked, "From whence comes my help?"
Take notice of the New King James Version, which corrects the inadequate translation of the King James Version.
The new version is closer to the Hebrew language that interprets the clause as an interrogative,
and not as a completion of the statement.
That is to say that the older version implies that the hills are the source of the help.
The more accurate translation is: "I will lift up my eyes to the hills (pause) From whence comes my help?"
Two looks are implied.
One is a look to the hills for help, and then, an inward look for some self-help remedy
which leads to the real question -- as to the ultimate reliability of our own courage and strength.
We live in times when the inward look is stressed as the source of our sufficiency.
Self-esteem is given as the cure-all.
That is we are to believe in ourselves.
We are to become self-reliant, and we are to love ourselves.
Self-esteem is great if it is rooted in the Lord's accepting love for us,
and in His Spirit as the source of our courage and boldness.
The truth is that many of us look inward to ourselves for answers to our problems,
and we are perplexed and disappointed.
We do not have the insight or resourcefulness to solve the problems of life.
So, we become worried and filled with anxiety.
As someone has said, "We muddle through the midst of problems trying desperately
to work out some solution, and therefore, we become exhausted and totally disappointed."
The psalmist's inward look resulted in the pertinent question, "Where can I go to find help?"
The psalmist came up with an answer that he had known all along, but came to it only after
he had tried other sources of help.
He finally lifted his eyes in prayer to the ultimate source of help.
That prompted his admonition of assurance to his own soul.
That assurance is found in verse 2.
"My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth."
God who made us, sustains us.
He knows and cares about us and is ready to help us in the ups and downs of life.
Just as He is the creator, He is the re-creator of the person He wants us to become
through what we experience.
This Psalm stresses the sovereignty of God over all our affairs.
We cannot breathe a breath or think a thought without Him.
Yet God has created us with a free will so we can choose to love Him and call on Him in times of need.
Knowing that our help comes from God and crying out for His help is an expression of maturity.
Immaturity is thinking that we can make it on our own.
In the rest of the Psalm the psalmist stresses three reasons why the Lord is a reliable aid
for our difficulties for the rest of our lives.
God always watches over us.
He is always ready to strengthen us.
God brings the maximum growth out of all we will ever go through now and in the future.
Let us look at these truths.
First, there is God's providential care.
"He who keeps Israel... Shall neither slumber nor sleep." (Verse 4)
This verse reminds us that God is at work night and day, interceding for us,
arranging blessings for us, and influencing our thoughts.
I read of a Bishop a leader of the Methodist Church some years ago who related
an experience of the Lord's persistent province.
One night he had worked into the early morning hours trying to finish his work and solve his problems.
The Bible on his desk was open to Psalm 121.
His eye fell on the assurance of the Lord's twenty-four hours a day of His watchful care.
This reminded him that his efforts to work for God rather than allowing God to work
through him were defeating and extremely, exhausting.
In his inner being, he heard the Lord say, "There is no need for both of us to stay up all night.
I'm going to stay up anyway, so you go to bed and get a good night's sleep."
The psalmist could go to sleep under the stars knowing that the Lord would watch over him;
and knowing that no harm would come to him.
We often need to be reminded of this truth when sleep refuses to bless our tired minds
and bodies or when we are awakened in the middle of the night by unresolved tensions.
We toss and turn, fretting over the anxieties with which we went to bed.
Many times we are doing His work when we should have been sleeping in preparation for a new day.
We need to be rejuvenated to tackle our concerns with His help.
The psalmist knew that the Lord would guide his steps through the treacherous passages
of the mountain terrain the next day.
He could sleep in peace with the assurance that God would make his steps decisive and secure.
Verse 3 says, "He will not allow your foot to be moved."
This means that God will keep us from slipping.
A wrong step would have hurled the psalmist to his death.
The implication for us is that the God who neither slumbers nor sleeps lets us do both serenely,
so on the following day we can allow Him to guide our steps.
Think about how God helps us.
He is always ready to give us clarity about the next step in His strategy for us,
but we must want His help.
We must make that decision to look to God.
We have been given the freedom to accept or reject His directions in our choices and decisions.
God also wants to help us implement what He has instigated in our mind.
Second, there is God's protective care.
This leads us to the second way that the Lord helps us.
"The Lord is your keeper;
The Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day,
Nor the moon by night." (Verses 5-6)
The word, "keep", means protection, reminding us of the way that the shepherd cares for his sheep.
The metaphor in this psalm is expanded by the idea that the Lord not only watches over us,
but is at our right hand.
The protector of a king always stood at his right hand.
He was there to ward off attacks, and to hold the armor and weapons ready to battle.
That is what Christ -- God with us and God in us, does for us.
He stood by our side in the incarnation and promised to be with us always as we remember
the promise in Matthew 28:20.
We are never alone.
We do not need to ask Him to be with us.
He promised that He would, and He is faithful to His word.
He is the "Keeper."
Our Lord guards us, intercedes for us, pleads our case, and equips us for the battles of life.
We are promised in verse 6 that "The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night."
The danger of sun- or moon-stroke was very real in the mind of the psalmist and in the context of the understanding of his time.
Sunstroke was a constant danger to a traveler in Palestine, and there was a mysterious belief
that the moon could affect a person's mental stability.
Our word, "lunacy," (Latin, luna, "moon") comes from that.
The idea was that there was a correlation between the moon's phases and mental and emotional disturbance.
The importance of this for us is simply that nothing or no one, day or night, while we sleep
or while we are awake that can ultimately harm us.
The Lord may not keep us from trouble, but we can be sure that He will be with us in it,
and use it for our growth and our ....blessing.
Third, God's Preserving Care
We have seen how the Lord providentially watches over us, and how he protects us.
Now the Psalm goes on to consider how He preserves us.
This word seems out of sync with our contemporary usage.
How does the Lord preserve us?
The word means to maintain, conserve, and keep from destruction.
The most crucial ministry of Christ present with us is not just beside us, but within us.
Jesus promised that He would abide in us. (See John 15:4)
His preservation of us is from within.
He takes on the responsibility of making us like Himself, guiding our thoughts,
giving us His attitudes, and enabling us to love, forgive, care and minister by His power.
The psalmist claimed the preservation of the soul against all evil in our "going out and coming in."
Those words encompass all of life when we began a day and end it and all that happens in between.
Just as the Lord does not slumber while we sleep, He never forgets nor forsakes us
in all the demands and difficulties of any day.
Deuteronomy 28:6 says of the Lord's daytime care:
"Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out."
Those words, along with Deuteronomy 6:4-9 were repeated by every Hebrew
as he or she touched the mezuza attached to the door frame of his or her house.
"The Lord our God, the Lord is one!"
God would preserve His people in their coming and going.
F. B. Meyer gave a personal witness of the impact of Psalm 121:
"O unslumbering Keeper!
O sleepless watcher!
Shade from the heat, shelter from the cold, protector from assault, transformer of ill to good,
escort when we go out, home when we return!
Thou art the complement of our need.
We are content to suffer the loss of all things, to find all in Thee.
And therefore we betake ourselves to thy shadow till life's calamities are overpast."
Psalm 121 has shown us how to let God help us.
He is our power, protector, and preservation,
Our challenge is to trust Him for rest at night and resiliency during the day.
Our great need is to turn our difficulties over to Him as soon as they confront us,
not after we have struggled to solve them by ourselves and failed.
He is ready to help us now!
Sermon adapted from several sources by Dr. Harold L. White