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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.

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Serving: Trail Hazards & Safety Tips

June 23, 2002

We continue this morning in our series on the Christian life, from what are commonly called, “The Psalms of Ascent”.

These were Psalms specifically written for travel, as the early Israelites made their ascent every year, upwards to worship at the temple in Jerusalem.

We said that each one of these Psalms describes a different dimension of Christian living. And the Psalms we’re going to be looking at this morning are no different

As you continue following God, there are going to be all kinds of hazards and obstacles that will threaten to trip you up and knock you off the beaten path.

If you’re like most of us, you’ve probably received one of these, (or something like it), in the mail this past week. According to my letter… I qualify for a “MasterCard Executive Business Card”! In fact, I’m to be congratulated for my “preferred credit status”. Says here that I’m such an important person, that I deserve to have a platinum colored credit card! Wow! Heady stuff!

All I have to do is sign on the dotted line, and I can have a $100,000 credit line at my disposal! And look at this! A 9.99% variable APR! No annual fees and… I’m pre-approved! This is my lucky day! I’m rich!

Oh… wait a minute! (take out glasses) According to these teensy-weensy little letters on the back page…the terms of my account are subject to change?

What’s this? If I fail to make my payments on time… I lose the low rates? If I default, my APR will be increased to a “Default APR” equal to the higher of the account APR plus 3%, or the variable rate index, PLUS a default margin of 17.24% (Don’t know what it means, but it’s not sounding as good as I thought!)

Don’t you just hate fine print? You’re promised one thing, only to find out that it’s got an escape clause attached to it!

If that’s you, then I’ve got good news. When Jesus called you & I

to follow him… He didn’t use any fine print! He was totally upfront & honest about the cost and the complications that following him would involve…

He told us in Lk.12:49-53 that obeying Him would cause division in our homes… believing spouses would struggle over going to church with unbelieving spouses, other family members would hassle us…

In John 16:33 , he told us, “In this world you will have trouble”.

In Luke 14:25 Jesus said that in comparison to loving him, if you didn’t hate your mother, father, wife, children, brothers, sisters… and even your own life… you couldn’t be his follower.

Now, I’d say Jesus was pretty upfront about the downside of following him! Wouldn’t you? No fine print here!

So after hearing that, if you still decide you want to follow Jesus, believing that the benefits (eternal life, abundant joy in this life, purpose & meaning, healthy strong marriages, great relationships, deep friendships…ect)

If you believe that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages… then I want to talk to you about 2 Trail Hazards you need to be aware of as you travel the upward way!

Now, each of these 2 Trail Hazards are taken from each of the 2 Psalms we’re going to be reading this morning. (123,125)

The 1st trail hazard that you need to be careful of is taken from Psalm 123. Let’s read it…

I look to you, heaven-dwelling God,

Look up to you for help.

Like servants, alert to their master’s commands,

Like a maiden attending her lady,

We’re watching and waiting, holding our breath

Awaiting Your word of mercy.

Mercy, God, mercy!

We’ve been kicked around long enough,

Kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men,

Kicked when we’re down by arrogant brutes.

Trail Hazard #1… BURNOUT

Burn-out was originally a psychological term used to describe a condition that happens to members of the “helping” professions… (pastors, nurses, doctors, social workers ect.) It occurs when a person works to hard, for too long, in a pressured environment.

The burn-out victim becomes drained at every level – (physical, emotional, attitudinal, and spiritual).

In fact there are 3 distinct stages that the “burn-out” candidate goes through…

1. The “Honeymoon Stage”: in this stage you start out with enthusiasm, commitment and great satisfaction… but eventually the energy reserves begin to drain off and you move into the 2nd stage

2. The “Fuel Shortage” stage: Mothers of newborns and pre-schoolers experience this a lot!

This stage is characterized by exhaustion, detachment, illness, anger, depression and escapist behavior, (like drinking, drugging, or obsessive garage sale-ing!)

3. The Crises Stage: At this pt. pessimism, self-doubt, apathy, disillusionment, and an obsession with your own problems sets in.

When I read that this week, I thought to myself… “You know, I’ve seen Christians working hard in the church go through every one of those stages! And I always thought it was a purely spiritual problem!”

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