June 30

Today's Bible Readings
     Joshua 1
     Psalms 120-122
     Isaiah 61
     Matthew 9
''I will lift up my eyes to the hills - from whence comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth." (Psalms 121:1-2)
            On one occasion in West Virginia, I had driven a large motor home on a road that I thought was a straight, smooth route to my destination.   As it turned out, it was a dangerous mountain road with no place to turn around. Our question of life and death was “where do we look for help?”We had to move forward.
            For every traveler in this journey of life, the road will bend in different directions, and have different uphill challenges. That does not always display where the road will take us, but we must walk on until we meet the bend, the dip, or the steep uphill climb that has been set in the path for each of us.
            So many of the Psalms are written for pilgrims on the path.  As we read Psalms 121, we can hear the Psalmist     crying out, ''Lord, I need guidance for my journey. I've lost my way. Can't you show me the right way to go?'' In this beautiful Psalm of just eight verses, we are encouraged to trust God even when life gives us what we have not asked for. The confidence expressed in Psalms 121 is rooted in the grandeur of the Psalmist' vision of God, the Maker of Heaven and earth. The Psalmist lifts his eyes to the hills above and sees the One who is not only the destination of the journey, but also the strength for every step of it. This is a Psalm of ascent. There are 15 of these Psalms, and this is the first of them. These pilgrims would be traveling to Jerusalem for feast days at the Temple. From wherever they came, they would be going up to Jerusalem. As these travelers walked up their natural incline, the uphill trek to Jerusalem, they would sing another of these joyful Psalms at each new level.
            There was a time when these Psalms were sung by the captives of Jerusalem upon their return from Babylonian   exile. That was an uphill journey from the pits of despair. Adversity, pain, and despair will come to every pilgrim. I'm not sure what God has placed on your path but, among other things, for me it has been cancer. It is helpful to understand that thousands of cancer victims face a painful, pitiless journey. Whatever has caused the difficulty on your road, it is there for all of us. We are only strangers and pilgrims in a foreign land whose roads are filled with hazards. The road is long, weary, and dangerous. It winds through rails of tears, and Bunyan's Slough of Despond; but the long and winding road finally comes to the City of God, a place of joy and feasting. Simply stated, that is the Biblical view of life in the world. Where can we look for help?
            We can look around for help. The Psalmist actually is asking a question when he says, “Will I lift up mine eyes to the hills?”The mountains are beautiful, but they have not given him any help.
            We can look within for help. Again, the Psalmist asked a question, “From whence comes my help?”This is what scholars call an internal monologue. The Psalmist is really talking to himself, so he looks around, and he looks within, and finally he looks above. The Psalmist proclaims, ''My help comes from the Lord who made Heaven and earth''.  So he looks above for help.
            Uzbekistanis a nation of more than 27 million people who are 83% Muslim. Christians represent less than 2% of the population. As you pray today, give praise to God for Uzbek believers, now numbering more than 3 thousand.
Most believers are in the city of Tashkent despite 61% of Uzbeks living in rural areas. Pray for the discipling of new believers, recognition of the church by the government and indigenous leadership to be raised up. These Christians face constant persecution in this country, and should be the focus of our prayers today.
“The essence of true holiness consists in conformity to the nature and will of God.”
Samuel Lucas