Less and More

LifeLink Devotional

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Psalms 121:1 – 8  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. 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 LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

Less of me and more of Christ.

As I begin a new year, that is my highest goal. It will be hard. I have a natural bent toward self-sufficiency. I trust me. I believe it’s easy for all of us to depend on self first, but especially men driven by the macho mentality like me.

I can handle it!

I’ll take care of it! 

I’ll make it happen! 

I’ll fix it! 

These are all standard responses to the everyday situations and events that march us into emotional valleys, far from our preferred mountaintop lifestyles. But sometimes the valley we are in leaves us with no hope of escape. Everywhere we look we see nothing but hills, and we’re too tired to climb them.

Today’s Psalm is just the reminder I need to begin this new year of less of me and more of Christ. There will be days when all we can see are hills, and we have no hope of help. There will be many moments of trying to resolve the circumstances of life according to my own experience, strength, and resources. There will be moments when I am overwhelmed by it all and want to cave in, and rather than climb up the hill I would be content to slip into a cave in the hill and hide.

But the Psalmist reminds me that if I will simply look up to the hills, the Lord is there ready to help. When I stop trying, and start trusting, hope is restored and help is on the way.

The psalm begins with a declaration of who God is – He is the all-powerful Maker of heaven and earth. Certainly He is capable of handling whatever circumstance we are currently enduring.

Yet this all-powerful God comes along side of us and intimately cares for us. He will not let our foot slip as He leads us. He knows and has prepared the path. He has a plan. He is not tired. He will not make a mistake. He will not get distracted. There will be no accidents along the way.

Next, the Lord lets us know that He cares about our well-being. He watches over us to protect us from harm. Whether it be the potential harm from natural events or harm planned by enemies, God will protect us. Four times in this Psalm we are told that the Lord watches over us.

When I’m in a valley of any kind, it feels like I’m being watched. It feels like everybody on the hills is looking down at me. I respond with more and more self-condemnation because I assume that’s what everyone in the hills is thinking. But when the Lord watches over me it is with eyes of love and compassion. The Hebrew word used here in all four instances is shamar, which means to hedge about (as with thorns), that is, guard; generally to protect, attend to, etc. When it appears that people are trying to make the valley worse, God steps in and builds a hedge of protection around us and guides us back to the hilltop.

God provides and protects. When all my physical eyes can see are unclimbable hills, my spiritual eyes are opened to see the Helper of my soul. He knows what I’ve gone into and what I’m trying to come out of. He watches over my life. He is in control.

The valleys are necessary to teach us to trust Him. They teach us to be helpless, and it’s ok to be helpless. As the hills close in and become a formidable barrier to hope, look up into those hills. Your True Helper dwells there, and He is ready to help you when you let Him have control.

Less of me, and more of Christ.

Pastor John

2 thoughts on “Less and More

  1. Brother John,

    Your Life Link post today prompted my recall from 30 years ago, 1987. It is a time when I learned my need to be totally dependent on the Lord. This is how it happened.
    • It started when I began asking God to teach me contentment in March 1987. That week, the sermon at church was from one of the passages (Matt 8:23-27, Mark 4:35-41, Luke 8:22-25) where Christ takes a nap while He and His disciples are sailing from one side of Galilee to the other. While Christ is sleeping, a storm arises and begins to swamp the boat. The disciples panic and wake the Lord. Jesus reaction is something like, “Chill. I’ve got this. Where is your faith?” Then Jesus calms the storm by a simple verbal command. The application point in the sermon was that we all have storms and some of us are at a point where we are ready to turn them over to the Lord rather than trying to manager them ourselves.
    • Two weeks after I started asking God to teach me contentment, my boss gave me my 30-day notice. I searched for jobs but could find nothing until my final day with that business. My next employer told me he had been watching me and offered me a position I started the following Monday.
    • During the next eight months, we struggled to make ends meet, and in fact, they never did meet. We were slowly sliding downhill financially.
    • December 1st, 1987 arrived and Marybeth and I sat down to make the house payment and realized we did not have the money to make the payment. I see now the dichotomy of what I said as we sat there that morning. The dichotomy is that I was speaking out of human arrogance and at the same time God was speaking His truth to my heart. My statement? “Well, God’s going to have to do something this time, because I can’t.” What had I been asking Him to teach me? Contentment comes in total reliance on Him.

    There is much more detail in that story, but the recall was prompted by your reflection on the “independent human spirit” that is so championed in our society. “I can handle it! I’ll take care of it! I’ll make it happen! I’ll fix it!” No we can’t! That’s God’s job!
    • That chapter ended with God meeting EVERYTHING my family needed. And He led me into the career from which I just retired, 30 years later.
    Just like some vaccines need boosters, our memories of God’s lessons sometimes need boosters. I had one recently.
    • A few months ago, at the end of a union meeting, one of our members told us that he had recently attended a meeting of our states Public Employee Retirement System. He had learned that the system had been mismanaged and was in jeopardy of possible collapse. I first thought, “After 30 years, PERS could collapse and I’d have nothing. What am I going to do?”
    • Than I realized, I’ve got NOTHING to worry about. God promised to meet all our needs. 30 years ago God proved to me he would fulfill His promise. But He didn’t stop there!
    • I went home and shared the PERS dilemma and my recollection of God’s promise fulfilled with my wife and 33-year-old son. I told my wife that God’s got us! Even if we had to lose out house, we could live in the travel trailer. Not as comfortable as the house, but livable.
    • In the end, as we processed through this possibility, God showed us four solutions He had in place, other than the travel trailer, to provide for our needs.
    Psalms 121:1 – 8 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. 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 LORD watches over you—the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
    AMEN and AMEN
    Don

    Like

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