G4-Where Does My Help Come From?

SCRIPTURE TEXT:

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.


BIG PICTURE

Psalm 121:1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?

Where do I look for help? In the high places, the mountains? In the Old Testament, before the Israelites built Jerusalem, they would worship God in the high places (see John 4:20).

So where do I look for help? I look for help, not in the high places, but in the One who created the high places!

What kind of God do we have? How do we know we can trust in His promises?

BREAKTHROUGH POINTS

1. The One who will help you created heaven and earth

Psalm 121:2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.

We can be assured because the One who promises to help had the power to create heaven and earth. That same power can be used on your problems! Are your problems as large as heaven or earth? No! If Our Lord can handle heaven and earth, then certainly He has the power to handle our problems!

2. The One who will never let your foot slip never sleeps

Psalm 121:3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;

If He never sleeps, then He watches over us 24/7. If He promised to not let your foot slip, then He promised to do it 24/7! Even those who love you – your mom, or dad, or wife, or husband, cannot be there 24/7. They cannot watch over you 24/7, but God is there! He protects us 24/7!

3. The One who watches over you controls the moon and the sun

Psalm 121:6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.

He watches over you because He loves you. And if He controls the moon and the sun, how can our problems compare? How much power He has! He has power over our problems, over our situations, and even over the people who give us problems.

4. The One who will keep you from all harm watches over your coming and going

Psalm 121:7 The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going…

He is concerned about every detail of your life, about your schedules and activities. He knows when a sparrow falls [Matthew 10:29]; He counts every hair on your head [Luke 12:7] – He is a God of details. And what is important to you is important to Him. What is precious to you is precious to God!

I remember about 7 years ago, I wanted to attend a worship service that was held every Monday night. My boss at the time refused to let me off early from work to go to this service. Instead of complaining to him (boss), I prayed to God to change my boss!

Well, less than a year after that, I had a new boss – who left work even earlier than the time I needed to leave. my old boss was transferred to a different division. Obviously, I was able to attend the worship service. Now, 2 bosses later, my current boss not only allows me to attend the service, but in fact urges me to go: “It’s Monday, aren’t you supposed to attend church? Go!”

What is important to me is important to God! Isn’t He wonderful?

BLESSED PROMISE

The One who preserves you promises to be there not just now but forevermore!

Psalm 121:7 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 never outgrow our need for God.

He will never leave us nor forsake us! No matter where we are, no matter where we go – if we stick with Him, He will stick with us – forever!

PRAYER

Thank You Lord, that You always keep Your promises. Thank You for being there 24/7. Thank You for protecting me. Thank You that I can look to You for help with my problems. Thank You that You will stick with me forever! Amen and Amen!

 

SM8-How I put God first

Matthew 6:33 Offertory

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NIV)

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (KJV)


This is my life verse, my guiding principle as I continue my walk with the Lord.

Giving to God’s work is one way of putting His Kingdom first. You can be sure of this: There is no need to worry about your needs. All these things will be added unto you!

How do I seek first His Kingdom? How do I practice this principle in my everyday life?

1. First with my TIME –  this includes quiet time, bible study, prayer, service in church, singing praise and worship songs, etc. I have found that if I spend enough time with the Lord, He arranges my schedule for me:

My deadlines are separate, I have enough time to finish my requirements, my meetings are scheduled  with enough time to prepare for each one.

If I become too busy, with two meetings scheduled at the same time, or several deadlines are set for the same day – with little time to prepare – then I would stop and think, did I skip a session with the Lord? Did I postpone a quiet time or cancel a bible study? I would immediately pray and schedule a quiet time, or a bible study, and my schedule would start to become smooth again.

2. Another way I put the Lord first is with my FINANCES – which includes tithes and offerings. At the start of each year, I prayerfully make an agreement with the Lord on how much my tithes and offerings should be for the year.

If I am on track with my budget, then I have no money problems, and sometimes, I get freebies – free meals or free products 🙂 The more I give, the more the Lord pays it back!

However, if I am behind on my spiritual budget, if I skip an offering, or use the money reserved for the offering on something else, then my expenses seem to pile up, and my ready cash seems to disappear as fast as I get it. Panicking, I would re-check my bank balance, and see how I can catch up with my tithe or offering, as fast as I can safely manage it.

PRAYER

Thank You Lord for reminding us that You control our circumstances, our time, our money and our resources. Help us to prayerfully consider our expenses, and guide us on our budgets and our schedules. Thank You, Lord, that You are our provider, and as long as we put You first in our lives, we have nothing to worry about. Continue to bless us and protect us, as we continue to serve You, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

SM7-ASK!

John 16:23b-24

23 “…I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 24 Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.” (New International Version)


There is a scene that has stuck with me for the past 6 years. I was on an overseas trip with a group, and after seeing the places of interest, came the shopping. One of the young people on the trip, who was with her parents, suddenly said out loud: “Don’t go too far, Dad, I am going to need your wallet.”

I had no idea why I never forgot this, so I asked the Lord what the significance of this scene was.

He told me that the child said those words because she was never disappointed: her father was always there fulfilling her needs, and even her wants. Her father never put her to shame, and she was confident that her father would always be there to take care of her.

Now I am not telling you that you should give your children all their wants, but I am telling you that our Lord, our Father wants you to rely on Him, in the same way the daughter in this story relied on her father.

ASK! Our Lord will never put us to shame, He is always there to take care of us and to provide for us. He will never disappoint us. And while our earthly parents had limited wallets, our Father has an infinitely large wallet! He is telling us that whatever seeds we plant for Him will reap a hundredfold harvest! So don’t be afraid to give unto the Lord, because He promises to take care of us, and He promises us a plentiful harvest! Our joy will indeed be complete!

PRAYER:

Thank You, Lord, that You provide for us. Thank You that You promise to bless us with an overflowing harvest every time we plant a seed in Your Name. We fully rely on You and we are confident that You will fulfill Your promises. When we ask, You never disappoint us, You fulfill our needs, and You keep us safe. Bless the people who are thirsty for Your Word, and bless their offerings that they share willingly to advance Your Kingdom, in Jesus’ Name, amen.

SM6-Lord, make my steps firm

Psalm 37.23-24, New International Version

23 If the Lord delights in a man’s way, he makes his steps firm; 24 though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.


Lord, guide me so that You will delight in my way. I do not want to stumble, whether physically or spiritually. Neither do I want to fall. You promise to make my steps firm – catch me when I fall. I trust You to lead me in the safe and righteous paths, for You know all things. I rest in the strength and safety of Your hands. Thank You for being my protector, guide and teacher.

 

G3-Why Praise God?

Acts 16:23-36 New International Version

23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” 29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household. 35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” 36 The jailer told Paul, “The magistrates have ordered that you and Silas be released. Now you can leave. Go in peace.”


PROBLEM:

Paul and Silas were jailed for preaching about Jesus. They were arrested, flogged, jailed, put in chains. The Greek word plege (verse 23)  means severely flogged, causing a deadly wound; a death-stroke. They were in severe pain, practically near death, in a dark and dirty jail. And yet they were still praying and singing hymns to God (verse 25). Why? What do they know that we don’t?

For us, what do WE do when we are “in chains”? When we are under pressure at work or at school, with family crises — when we are buried under our problems?

What do we get when we praise God?

1. Praise ushers us into God’s presence

Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.

When we are ushered into God’s presence, it does not mean that God was not already there. It means that praise ushers us into an awareness of God’s nearness, it ushers us into belief, into an increase in faith. There are two people that I would like to quote because they explained it so much better.

John Piper says:

[Being in God’s presence] means that we taste or feel or realize the reality of God more directly, more authentically, more intimately, more effectively. In other words, his presence as we experience him is the heightening of his reality in our lives either for good, if we are in his grace, or for ill, if we are under his wrath.

James 4.8a Come near to God and he will come near to you.

These are invitations into the fuller, more intense, more certain, more joyful, more satisfying, more transforming experience of the reality of God.

Mark Roberts says:

Recently, I’ve been thinking about what it means to live all of the time in God’s presence. I’m not focusing on the fact that God is always present in my life. This is a given, a wondrous implication of God’s grace. He is always with me. But am I always with him? To be sure, since God is with me, then I am with him. But I am wondering not so much about this reality as I am about my awareness of it. Am I living each moment with a sense of God’s presence in my life?

Psalm 116:9 NLT And so I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!

Do we walk with an awareness of God’s presence every minute of every day? Do we even realize that every event in our lives is affected by how we perceive God? If you have not already done so, welcome God’s presence in your life today! Especially because …

2. Praise ushers us into God’s power.

Acts 16:26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

From Dale A. Robbins:

Paul and Silas knew the secret of how to lift their hearts above their troubles and enter into God’s presence and power. Through praise and worship their hearts were raised into the joyous presence and peace of God, and provided God a channel for his power to operate in their circumstances. God’s presence responds when we move upon Him with worship! Lifting up Jesus Christ through praise and worship invokes the Lord’s presence and power to flow in our midst.

There is power in true worship!

What are the prisons in our lives? What are the chains in our lives? God will break the walls of your prison; He will break the chains holding you back. He will shake the foundations of your life – your beliefs, your feelings, and your convictions.

God’s presence responds with power when we worship.

WHAT IS GOD’S PROMISE FOR US?

Praise ushers us into God’s pardon.

Acts 16:30-31 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

Praise ushers us into God’s salvation! Paul and Silas said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved—you and your household!” (verse 31) The jailer took them to his house because he wanted them to preach to his family.

In verse 31, the Greek for household oikos can mean a household, a family, even a lineage, or a nation. God promises us that when we believe, we can pray for the salvation of our families (even our descendants and country-men!) and He will arrange circumstances so that they will have every opportunity to hear His word and be saved. He can even soften their hearts so that they will be more open to His message. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but it will happen!

Every Christian living today had someone pray for him/her to be saved – either a family member or a friend, but most often it is a parent, a grandparent or a child that prayed. I know someone who was a drug addict during his teens until his thirties, but his parents and sibling prayed for him, and he was saved! He is now drug-free (over 20 years) and is a lay pastor in his church.

That is the power of God’s promise for each one of us! Let us claim the promise … and our household – even our descendants will be saved!

Praise the Lord!

SM5-Can we even imagine how much the Father loves us?

2 Corinthians 5:21

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (NIV)

He orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God. (VOICE)


Can we even imagine how much God loves us? He made His own Son to be sin in our place, knowing the heavy penalty for sin: death.

How many parents suffered when they sent their sons off to war, knowing there was a probability they will not come back?

How much more with God our Father! Not only did He know that His only Son will die, but He also knew the suffering Jesus would go through before He died. In fact, the Father Himself set what kind of punishments Jesus would have to go through to pay for all our sins. He (the Father) orchestrated the plan, the punishments, the payment. How much more painful could it be, knowing your only son would be the one going through all that, feeling each and every lash of the whip, the punctures of the thorns, even the scorn of the people, and knowing you planned it all?

How could He have borne it? But He did 2000 years ago. And every time we sin, it is as if the memory is refreshed in His mind again! How can we ignore God’s pain?

Yet He still loves us, in spite of it all.

How humbling, how loved I feel because of this. How can people say that God does not love them? How can others say God is indifferent to them? He already planned the ultimate gift, paid the ultimate price for all of us. I certainly cannot do what He did.

Thank You, Father. Words cannot express how thankful I am for Your plans, and how sorry I am for my sins….

SM4-Can we even imagine how much Jesus loves us?

Romans 5:6-8 NIV

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.


Can we even imagine how much Jesus loves us? He died for us, while we were still powerless, while we were still sinners. Even when He knew that some will never turn to Him, never thank Him, and even hate Him!

Before He was born,  He already knew His birth will be in a manger, not at a comfortable bed, or at a hospital.

Before He was born, He already knew what kind of life He will live in this earth, not comfortable, not restful, but full of needy people wanting every bit of His time and energy.

Before He was born, Jesus already knew that His death will not be pretty or honorable. He already knew the suffering He will need to go through! He knew ahead of time that His friends will turn away from Him, that even His Father will leave Him (when He took on the sins of the world). He knew the cutting pain of the whip, the tearing open of skin, the bone-deep pain that exceeds any known pain we may experience – physical pain, emotional pain and even spiritual pain.

How could He have borne it? But He did 2000 years ago. And every time we sin, it is as if the memory is refreshed in His mind again! How can we ignore Jesus’ pain?

Yet He still loves us, in spite of it all.

How humbling, how loved I feel because of this. How can people say that Jesus does not love them? That Jesus neglected them? He already paid the ultimate price for all of us. I certainly cannot do what He did.

Thank You, Lord Jesus. Words cannot express how thankful I am for Your sacrifice, and how sorry I am for my sins….