Summary: Learn how each Psalm in the Songs of Ascent (120-134) describe the exciting life of the modern day follower of God as we climb and grow in our relationship with Christ.

Discipleship: Getting Your Bearings

June 2, 2002

Our map for this “Great Adventure” is found in 15 short Psalms from the book of Psalms, (chap. 120 – 134). These Psalms are called the “Songs of Ascent”, because they were sung in sequence by Israelites as they traveled to Jerusalem for their great festivals and religious holidays.

3x’s a year, a faithful Hebrew would make the trip. This picture of the Hebrews singing these 15 psalms as they left their routines and made their way to Jerusalem is a picture of the Christian journey.

I don’t know if you’re family ever did this… but when our kids were small, (and before there were portable VCR players)… we used to sing little chorus’ (mostly to keep the kids occupied), but also to instill values in our their hearts, as we went down the road.

Well, these “songs for the road” did the same thing for the ancient Hebrews. Even today, many of the essentials of Christian discipleship are incorporated into these songs… they give us a way to remember who we are, and where we’re going.

Now, if you were to go to Jerusalem (which I wouldn’t recommend right now) you would find that topographically, Jerusalem is the highest city in Palestine (show slide of Jerusalem) , and so everyone who traveled there spent a lot of their time ascending, walking up…

What I want you to see is that the ascent wasn’t only literal, but it’s a picture of a life lived pursuing God. A life filled with progress & set-backs, troubles and victories… but always moving up, from one level of maturity to another.

The early Christians used to call the life of following Jesus, “The Way”. And so as we learn “Lessons Along the Way”, we’re going to have our share of good times & hard times.

An ancient Chinese Proverb says that “a trip of a thousand miles starts with the 1st step”… and so I want to start out by talking about the 1st step in following God this morning…

It’s found in the 1st Song of Ascent… and it’s the step of REPENTENCE. Let’s read Ps. 120 together, and I want to read it to you from the Message Version (Ps. 120, READ)

Let me tell you a true fish story… It seems that a few years ago some scientists decided to develop a fish that could live outside of water.

So by selecting a healthy herring, they bred and crossbred, hormoned and chromosomed until they finally produced a fish that could exist & live… out of water! (True story!)

Only one problem… the project director wasn’t satisfied. He suspected that even though the fish had learned to live on dry land

… it still had a secret desire for water.

“Re-educate it”, he said. “Change it’s very desires!” So again, they went to work, this time retraining even the strongest reflexes. Finally they achieved their goal. A fish that would rather DIE than get wet! Even humidity filled this fish with dread!

The director, proud of his triumph, took the fish on tour. And then one day, the unthinkable happened. Accidentally (according to official reports)… the fish fell into a lake!

It sank to the bottom, eyes and gills clamped shut, afraid to move, afraid of becoming even wetter. And of course, it dared not breathe! Every instinct said “NO!”… but breathe it must…

So the fish drew a tentative gill-full. Its eyes bulged. It breathed again and flicked a fin. It breathed a 3rd time and wriggled with delight. Then it darted away. The fish had discovered water!

Now, that’s really a parable of how you and I, educated and re-educated by the worlds system… react to the thought of God before our salvation. In fact, we’ve been conditioned by the world to reject God!

Even the thought of God “fills our gills” with fear and dread. So we run, (or waddle) away from Him. Yet in spite of all the worlds’ efforts to change our desires… we still have a secret longing to know Him.

And then one day, almost as an accident (at least from our pt. of view)… something happens to get our attention.

Slowly, painfully… eyes that were clamped shut to spiritual things, begin to slowly open. And against everything we’ve ever been taught… we take in a tentative breath… and to our surprise we discover God!

And to our delight, we find out that we were really created to know and love Him all along! Acts 17:28, puts it this way… “For in Him, we live and move and have our being!”

Someone once said that, “It’s as hard for a sinner to recognize the worlds system as it is for a fish to discover impurities in the water.” There’s a sense, a feeling that things aren’t right… but you just can’t put your finger on it.

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