Summary: In an ever-increasing anti=Christian culture, how are American Christians to respond?
We live in a scary time. During my lifetime, I remember a time when our country was what I would call, “Christianized.” In witnessing, you could start with statements like, “You believe the Bible, don’t you?” or “Where’s your church membership?” Then, in the 80’s and 90’s our country moved to being “Post-Christian.” No longer could you assume that people accepted the Bible was inspired or that they even believed in God or were familiar with the basic teachings of Christianity. Now that we’ve moved into the 21st century, I’ve seen our country become increasingly “Anti-Christian.”
In “The Supreme Court Agrees With Hobby Lobby, But Your Neighbor Probably Doesn’t,” Trevin Wax writes, “A generation ago, a person’s religious observance was a public matter, a defining characteristic of one’s identity, while a person’s sexual activity was something private. Today, this situation is reversed. A person’s sexual behavior is now considered a defining characteristic of identity, a public matter to be affirmed (even subsidized) by others, while religious observance is private and personal, relegated to places of worship and not able to infringe upon or impact the public square.”
Rick Warren points out that the discussion in our country has moved from “freedom of religion” to “freedom of worship.” The subtle shift being to one’s faith being something they observe in the privacy of their church, but not something they are to bring into the public square.
According to research done last year by a group called the First Amendment Center, 1 in 3 Americans say the first amendment (which guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech) goes too far in the freedom it promises. Additionally, their research shows that the group most likely to believe the First Amendment goes too far are Americans under 30 years old.
All this points to difficult days ahead for God’s people in the United States. But we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus said: “In this world you will have tribulation.” But He also said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Psalm 121 begins with: “Where does my help come from?” (Verse 1). Then the psalmist not only answers this question by saying, “My help comes from the Lord,” but he expounds upon that answer in verses 3-8, as he tells us about the kind of help God gives to enable His
children to live victoriously in this scary world.
1. A Description - vs. 3-8
The psalmist describes the help that God makes available to us.
A. He will help me with the problem of weariness - vs. 3-4
In an anti-Christian culture, is can sometimes be difficult to “not become weary in doing good,” (Galatians 6:9). But though I often grow weary in my walk through this world, God never does. He is ever watchful over His children.
B. He will help me with the problem of weakness - vs. 5-6
Referring to our susceptibility to faint as a result of heat-stroke, the psalmist speaks of God’s help with our weaknesses. He will provide the help we need to compensate for our weaknesses. In fact, He tells us that, “my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
C. He will help me with the problem of wickedness - v.7
This is a wicked world, ruled by a wicked adversary (1 Peter 5:8-9). If possible, he will contribute to our demise. But God promises His help so that we might overcome and not be overwhelmed (1 John 4:4).
D. He will help me with the problem of wandering - v. 8
If we are not careful, we can have said of us what Paul said of Demas: “because he loved this world, has deserted me . . .” (2 Timothy 4:10).
Today, devout Jews keep a small metal cylinder fixed to the right hand door post of their homes. The cylinder contains a parchment inscribed with the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21. As they pass in and out of the house they touch this cylinder and recite the last verse of Psalm 121. Through this, they seek to lift up the prayer to God that they might be kept from wandering from Him.
Obviously, this ritual has not produced the desired result, for the Jews today have wandered from God in their rejection of Christ. How do we, as the true children of God, take advantage of the help God offers?
2. A Prescription - vs. 1-2
A. I must look to the Lord - v. 1a
The introduction says this is “a psalm of ascents.” Psalm 121 is one of 15 “psalms of ascent” (Psalm 120-134), a psalm recited by pilgrims journeying to worship at the temple in Jerusalem. The “hills” refer to the hills around Jerusalem, where the temple of God was, where the ark of the covenant was, the symbol of God’s presence.