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Monday, September 29, 2008

Photo of mountain view in the Yukon
Mountain view in the Yukon
Click here to enlarge
(Photo by Rick Steudler)

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"The Eternal Source Of Help"

"I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth" (Psalm 121:1,2).

I really like mountains. We see a small mountain ridge across the Susquehanna River from our front lawn.  But as we move farther west or north we hit the real mountains in the Appalachian ridge.  Tomorrow I'll share a photo I took several years ago off the Appalachian Trail.

I've travelled to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina, the Rockies in Colorado, Mount Rainier in Washington and the Andes in both Central and South America. 

Mount Washington bumper stickerBut the most astounding mountain I've ever visited is Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Although it is not nearly as high in elevation as many other mountains, its steep incline is very prominent since the difference in elevation at its base and peak is well over a mile. Anyone who has ever driven the auto road to the top is likely to remember it.  It's quite harrowing! And for those who've climbed it, well, my hat is off to you.

Any given day as we prepare these messages there are issues that concern or distress us.  Some are at the personal level while others are international and affect all of us. For instance today we wonder what in the world is going on in regard to the economy. How we will be affected?  Generally, in our decision as to what to share in this encouragement series, we do not let these issues guide us since most every day there is some current tragedy or crisis headlining the news. Additionally, we have many faithful readers from other countries.

The power of Scripture is that the message is timeless and speaks to people all over the globe. Today's text is an example.  The human author of Psalm 121 is unidentified. Some Bible versions include this interesting designation in the heading of Psalm 121: "A Song of Ascents" or "Pilgrim Psalms" as do all the Psalms from 120-134.  Most believe that these Psalms were sung by those who journeyed to the temple in Jerusalem for the annual feasts. 

The Psalmist begins by giving us a word picture in verse one, "I lift up my eyes to the hills." You may be surrounded by flat lands, but I hope you're able to occasionally enjoy the splendid view of distant hills.

The Psalmist then asks a question that I believe he is prepared to immediately answer. "Where does my help come from?"   This is one of life's most important questions.

As the Psalmist lifted his eyes to the hills he may have been thinking about enemy invaders or those who were bringing slander against him (Psalm 120).  Allegorically speaking we might also consider the steep hills we face and see the many potential and real forms of invasion. We might also cry out: "Where does my help come from?"  The answers vary greatly.  For some it's the bottle, for others it's a pill.  Some believe it'll be that big hit at the casino, still for others it's the miracle diet.  And the list goes on and on.

The only right answer has not changed.  Dear believer, whatever your trying circumstance, join with the Psalmist who is inspired by the majesty and splendor of God's creation.  He looks beyond the visible creation to the invisible Creator who gives the needed help when facing distressing times.  Let us declare together, "My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth!"  He alone is the "The Eternal Source Of Help."

Be encouraged today,

Stephen and Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, our assurance and hope is in Your protection day and night.  You made the mountains and the hills, the valleys and the streams.  You do not leave us to fend for ourselves, but Your help is constant and ever-sufficient for all our needs.  Our help comes from You, the Maker of heaven and earth, who watches over us both now and forevermore.  Amen.

The first part of today's text presented an interpretive challenge as we prepared the message.  In one sense "I lift up my eyes to the hills" may be a look of distress in considering enemies who are in the hills poised to attack. But in another sense (and the sense we tend to usually take it and did so in the message) it may be one of assurance as we look upward toward God.

Matthew Henry's commentary interprets it as such: "We must not rely upon men and means, instruments and second causes. Shall I depend upon the strength of the hills? Upon princes and great men? No; my confidence is in God only. Or, we must lift up our eyes above the hills; we must look to God who makes all earthly things to us what they are. We must see all our help in God; from Him we must expect it, in His own way and time. This Psalm teaches us to comfort ourselves in the Lord, when difficulties and dangers are greatest."

Warren Wiersbe comments,
"Where does your help come from? The Psalmist lifted his eyes to the hills. The most stable, secure thing the Jews knew were the mountains around Jerusalem. Then the Psalmist lifted his eyes higher and said, 'No, I don't get my help from the hills. I get my help from the heavens. God is my Helper.' Whatever your need or task is today, your help will come from the Lord, the Creator of the heavens and the earth. A God big enough to make this world and keep it going is big enough to help you with your problems today."

Photo of Lois Hess and Andrew SamuelIn Friday's message we shared about Lois Hess and Andrew Samuel. Here's Andrew's audio testimony (about 30 minutes long) given at a CBMC meeting (mp3). It's well worth the listen although the audio quality is rather poor.

Mark Pulliam photo
Friday afternoon our longtime friend Mark Pulliam and his wife Carolyn stopped by for lunch and a visit. We met Mark when we worked for a national chaplaincy agency about ten years ago and for a year and 1/2 he was my immediate supervisor.  Mark made pineapple pie about seven years ago when we had a chaplain gathering in his home and recalls that we found it quite tasty so whenever we gather he brings his home-made pie.  We did enjoy it!!

Forry family
Two weeks ago we shared in a message about Jared, a 24 year old young man, who was having surgery for a brain tumor. He continues to recover from the surgery, but they were only able to remove a part of the tumor. Jared now faces radiation and chemotherapy. He is pictured with his mom and dad, Lynne and Gary Forry.

This weekend our church had a special outreach picnic and time of honoring local law enforcement. Here are some photos:

Police officers
Saturday evening the officers shared in a special panel discussion about their work and we really saw their heart and gained a new appreciation for their service. At least one specifically identified himself as a believer.  

A humorous highlight came when a question was asked from a lady as to whether they thought the drinking age should be lowered (which is actually under consideration in our state as a means of defining morality downward.) After the question was asked and before the officer could even answer, a little three year old boy in the back shouted out "Yes". Brooksyne was sitting near the visiting mortified mother who quickly silenced her young son. After the laughter faded, the officer went on to answer with a well reasoned and emphatic "No".

Now this occasion brings to mind a similar experience that happened about ten years ago in the church I pastored in New England.  See here for that story!

Jay with daughterAn effort is made to reach out to our neighborhood and community including fun activities for the children. Jay is our clown and I am not sure his infant daughter Janae knew what to think of her dad!

Redneck cooksA big BBQ meal was prepared and Fred, Nelson, and Lee are cooking the potatoes, peppers and onions outdoors over an open fire. They sure were tasty and I wish I could can that wood smoke smell!

Mountain goats!
Yesterday afternoon we drove by our neighbor's farm on the way home from church.  
I suppose they're pretending to be mountain goats!

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

(Click on the link to play)

"My Help"  Video  This song is by Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and is based on today's text.

Rick Steudler photo

Today's photo was taken by our friend Rick Steudler on a recent trip to the Yukon.  
Last week Rick showed me the photos he took during the trip and told me that today's Scripture text from Psalm 121 was among his late father's favorite verses.

Mount Washington - The elevation at the base where the auto road begins in Glen House, New Hampshire is 563' and the peak is 6,288'.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission; and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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