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.
“The Christian life is going to God. In going to God Christians travel the same ground that everyone else walks on, breathe the same air, drink the same water, shop in the same stores…The difference is that each step we walk, each breath we breathe, we know we are preserved by God, we know we are accompanied by God, we know we are ruled by God; and therefore no matter what doubts we endure or what accidents we experience, the Lord will guard us from every evil, he guards our very life.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 45]
The extent of God’s care is far and wide. List all the things that God “guards” (v.7-8).
According to this Psalm, is there anything that is out of God’s reach?
“Regardless of the vicissitudes of one’s life – whether at work or at home, whether in sleep or when awake – the Lord is there to help and protect.” [Willem VanGemeren, Psalms – Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 896]
As we close in prayer, take a moment to worship God for his comprehensive care over our lives, families, ministries, communities. Let’s also pray for that we would live a life that is constantly and consistently “going to God.”
The Lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade. The sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon at night.
“Psalm 121 says that the same faith that works in the big things works in the little things. The God of Genesis 1 who brought light out of the darkness is also the God of this day would guards you from every evil.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 44]
Some people get sunburned very easily. But rarely is anyone so sensitive to light that they get burned by the moon! Yet in this psalm, this is the extent of God’s detailed protection over the people he loves.
There is no challenge, illness, or problem too big or too small for God. According to Eugene Peterson, “the only serious mistake we can make is supposing that God’s interest in us waxes and wanes in response to our spiritual temperature.”
Is God too busy to care about the little things in our lives? Is God too upset with us to deal with our big self-inflicted issues?
How can we avoid falling into the trap of making the mistake of supposing that God’s interest in our lives changes based on our spiritual temperament?
As we close in prayer, ask God to help us develop a correct view of his love and passion to watch over every aspect of our lives.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The phrase “he who watches” is derived from the Hebrew term for “guardian.”
“What does the doctrine of Yahweh’s guardianship mean? He protects, guides, and blesses his own. He will not permit them to totter or stumble.” [Willem VanGemeren, Psalms – Expositor’s Bible Commentary, p. 895]
More than just our Guardian, God guards us all day, all night, and all the time! He never sleeps and never tires. He never stops protecting us, guiding us, and blessing us!
When was the last time you pulled an all-nighter? When was the last time you overslept? How does the fact that God never rests assure you of his protection, guidance, and blessing?
Is there an area in your life that you need God’s immediate protection or direction? If so, present your request to God and trust in him.
How can you practically live in this reality and depend on God’s incessant guardianship in your life?
As we close in prayer, ask God to help us depend on his protection and guidance in all aspects of our lives, families, and communities.
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.
“During the time this psalm was written and sung, Palestine was overrun with popular pagan worship. Much of this religion was practiced on hilltops. Shrines were set up, groves of trees were planted, sacred prostitutes both male and female were provided; persons were lured to the shrines to engage in acts of worship that would enhance fertility of the land, would make you feel good, would protect you from evil.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction, p. 40]
Psalm 121 gives us a snapshot of a Jewish sojourner on the way to Jerusalem. He or she may look up and see the majestic mountains littered with idols and pagan statues, and be tempted to wonder if there is another way to live, another source of strength. But the answer is “No!” A look to the hills for help will always end in disappointment. The Lordis our strength and we look to him alone.
Have you ever grown weary on your faith journey, or felt like there may be another better way to live this life?
Why is it important to remember that God “made heaven, earth, and mountains?”
As you close in prayer, ask God to help you fix your eyes on him. He alone is our help and source of strength.
Luke 5:27-28 (NIV) – After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. “Follow me,” Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
“We know that Israel, in saying that no [to the world], did not miraculously return to Eden and live in primitive innocence, or mystically inhabit a heavenly city and live in supernatural ecstasy. They worked and played, suffered and sinned in the world as everyone else did, and as Christians still do. But they were now going someplace—they were going to God. The truth of God explained their lives, the grace of God fulfilled their lives, the forgiveness of God renewed their lives, the love of God blessed their lives. The no released them to a freedom that was diverse and glorious… In all these immigrant stories there are mixed parts of escape and adventure… Every Christian has some variation on this immigrant plot to tell.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]
Is there a person that you look up to who has been on this Christian journey longer than you? What about that person and his/her life that inspires you?
What are the moments of major relocation that God had led you through in the past? Is God leading you through a moment like that now? Let’s step into this adventure together in prayer.
Our “no” to this world takes us on an adventure that many have walked before us without regret. Let’s worship to “Endless Alleluia” (click here) by Bethel Music.
O deceptive tongue, what will God do to you? How will he increase your punishment? You will be pierced with sharp arrows and burned with glowing coals.
“Any hurt is worth it that puts us on the path of peace, setting us free for the pursuit, in Christ, of eternal life. It is the action that follows the realization that history is not a blind alley, guilt not an abyss. It is the discovery that there is always a way that leads out of distress—a way that begins in repentance, or turning to God…The judgment of God invoked against the people of Meshech and Kedar was, in fact, a sharply worded invitation to repentance, asking them to join in the journey… Repentance is the catalytic agent for the change.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]
Have you ever experienced a time when you thought something was out of reach but it worked out in the end? Maybe you missed a plane or failed a class. How did it get resolved?
What other scriptures come to mind that reveal God’s open invitation for those who are far away to return to him? Did that invitation ever expire?
Repentance leads to life. And this avenue of repentance is always available… even to those who may live like God’s enemies. Let’s open our hearts to God’s loving redirection no matter where we are in life right now. Let’s worship to “I Turn to Christ” (click here) by Matt Redman.
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.
“Meshech and Kedar are place names: Meshech a far-off tribe, thousands of miles from Palestine in southern Russia; Kedar a wandering Bedouin tribe of barbaric reputation along Israel’s borders. They represent the strange and the hostile. Paraphrased, the cry is, ‘I live in the midst of hoodlums and wild savages; this world is not my home and I want out…I’m doomed to live in Meshech, cursed with a home in Kedar! My whole life lived camping among quarreling neighbors.’ But we don’t have to live there any longer. Repentance, the first word in Christian immigration, sets us on the way to traveling in the light. It is a rejection that is also an acceptance, a leaving that develops into an arriving, a no to the world that is a yes to God.”
Is there a time when you needed to leave a certain place to move somewhere better? What was the reason?
How does it help you to understand repentance as an act of intentional immigration or relocation? How is this different from your normal understanding of repentance?
Let’s take the time in prayer to say “no” to the world’s ways and “yes” to God. We need not live in the same values of this world. Let’s become pilgrims on God’s path of peace and real life. Let’s worship to “There Is a Name” (click here) by Bethel Music.
I’m in trouble. I cry to GOD, desperate for an answer: Deliver me from the liars, GOD!
“The single word God occurs only twice in this psalm, but it is the clue to the whole. God, once admitted to the consciousness, fills the entire horizon…The moment the word God is uttered, the world’s towering falsehood is exposed—we see the truth. The truth about me is that God made and loves me.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]
Our entire worldview changes once we turn to God and call upon his name. Without God in sight, we get jaded and twisted in our understanding of everything in life.
How does having God in your worldview change your relationship with your neighbor?… your family?… your enemies?
How does having God in your worldview change your understanding of suffering and brokenness in this world?
Can you recall a time when things started to change once God entered your perspective in a greater way?
When God fills the horizon of our perspective in life, we are set upon a path of rescue and healing. Let’s call upon God in our time of need and worship to “Won’t Stop Now” (click here) by Elevation Worship.
I took my troubles to the LORD; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer.
I search for peace; but when I speak of peace, they want war!
“The distress that begins and ends the song is the painful awakening to the no-longer-avoidable reality that we have been lied to… A person has to be thoroughly disgusted with the way things are to find the motivation to set out on the Christian way. As long as we think the next election might eliminate crime and establish justice or another scientific breakthrough might save the environment or another pay raise might push us over the edge of anxiety into a life of tranquillity, we are not likely to risk the arduous uncertainties of the life of faith. 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.” [Eugene Peterson, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction]
What would you add to Eugene Peterson’s list of false hopes in this world?
Would you agree or disagree that experiencing this “painful awakening” is necessary to begin a life of faith?
What started you or someone you know on a Christian faith journey?
It is into this world that Jesus boldly proclaims, “I am the way the truth and the life.” Let’s affirm in prayer that the voice of Jesus alone speaks the truth in this world of false advertising. Let’s worship to “Yes and Amen” (click here) by Housefires.
Mark 10:28-30 (NIV) – Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receivea hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.
“But the same Mediator who makes us individuals is also the founder of a new fellowship. He stands in the centre between my neighbour and myself. He divides, but he also unites. Thus although the direct way to our neighbour is barred, we now find the new and only real way to him – the way which passes through the Mediator.” – [Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p.100]
As we leave everyone and everything to follow Christ, his promise is that we will receive far more than we left behind, including a new home, new family and new suffering, along with eternal life. The individual call leads to the true community of God, following Him!
Prayer: Lord, thank you for joining us alongside others who have also left everything to follow you! We ask that you would deepen our relationships with one another light of the following of Christ and for a new generation of disciples to come!
Join in God’s heart for more to come through this song “The Glory of Our King” (click here) by Matt Redman.