Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Stepping Up - A Pilgrimage to Jerusalem (2013)

a previous post from another blog that I'm reposting to here as the other blog is being deleted. Too many precious memories to lose. :)

previous post from March 4, 2013

Stepping Up - A Pilgrimage to Jerusalem

"I raise my eyes toward the mountains. Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber. Indeed, the Protector of Israel does not slumber or sleep. The LORD protects you; the LORD is a shelter right by your side. The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life. The LORD will protect your coming and going both now and forever."   Psalm 121:1-8  (HCSB)

 The words to this Psalm have become very dear to the ten of us who are preparing to leave for the Holy Land in a few days. We've recently completed the amazing Bible study by Beth Moore called "Stepping Up" and what a journey it's been!
 Psalms 120-134, known as thePsalms of Ascent, were sung by the Jews, the pilgrims, on their way to Jerusalem to attend the Feasts of the Lord three times a year. They speak of a personal pilgrimage and have incredible meaning each step of the way. Each one speaks directly into our own individual lives, just as they spoke into the lives of those pilgrims long ago.

This study has been the perfect preparation for our own pilgrimage to the Holy Land and for our own personal visit to Jerusalem. The study has taken us to many places in our own individual lives where we have needed to seek the Lord facedown and on our knees. He has spoken to each of us on this journey through these Scriptures and has moved our hearts in profound ways. Where does our help come from? Yes, from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth! He IS the only One who can sustain us, forgive us, save us, shelter and protect us. 

"I rejoiced with those who said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD."  Our feet are standing within your gates, Jerusalem...go up to give thanks to the name of the LORD...Pray for the peace of Jerusalem...may there be peace within your walls...because of my brothers and friends, I will say, "Peace be with you."  Psalm 122  (HCSB)

This is one of the locations that I (Lisa Braun) look forward to being at the most, as these would have been the southern steps that the pilgrims would have taken to walk up into the Temple area, bringing their sacrifices and to worship the LORD. My eyes shimmer with tears as precious memories flood my heart and mind of standing in this place, as it shows in the pictures above. Now that we've studied through these Psalms of Ascent, it will be even more meaningful to walk up these steps once again. I have read these psalms on these stairs before, as you see in the picture, but oh my, now they have come to have so much more meaning. This indeed has been a personal pilgrimage for me journeying through these Psalms, but even more so, this 4th trip to Jerusalem I already anticipate to be the most personal pilgrimage yet as I am going without a family member.

"Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion. It cannot be shaken; it remains forever.  Jerusalem--the mountains surround her, And the LORD surrounds His people, both now and forever....Do what is good, LORD, to the good, to those whose hearts are upright....Peace be with Israel."  Psalm 125  (HCSB)

Even though there are ten of us who will be going on this physical pilgrimage to the Holy Land in a few days, there have been over 100 women who have just completed this study of the Psalms of Ascent. Now that we've studied them, many of those women sure wish they were also coming with us on this journey! It will be such an incredible blessing to come back and share with them what we have experienced!

  • Pamela, who is coming on this tour, says she is "excited to see the mountains surrounding Jerusalem! Ever since reading and working through Psalm 125, I have a mental picture of God's hands surrounding me as I trust in Him."  

  • Sherri tells me that she is "excited to see the terrain the pilgrims traveled on foot to attend all of the feasts year after year and also to see the evergreen tree growing next to the palm tree."  Israel is definitely a land of diversity, color and all sorts of vegetation...such a beauty to behold and see.

  • Alice says that it's "The tabernacle study that is the one that gets her excited. The connection between the history and symbolism of the old and new testaments through to the connection to Christ now is what makes her want to experience the land where the history was lived out."  I'm so very excited to experience this trip with these wonderful ladies!!  It'll be life-changing!     
"For the LORD has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His home; "This is my resting place forever; I will make MY home here because I have desired it...I have prepared a lamp for My anointed one. I will clothe his enemies with shame, but the crown he wears will be glorious."  Psalm 132:14, 17b-18  (HCSB)

These verses thrill me because they speak of how God has chosen Jerusalem as the Holy City for all time. He has CHOSEN it! There's no place on earth quite like Jerusalem and we know that His Son Jesus journeyed there himself to worship His Father at the Temple...he walked those streets, stepped up those steps and taught at the Temple. One day, when He will reign from that city once again, His crown will be absolutely glorious!!  Oh how exciting!

For those women that have been through this journey of the Psalms, their relationship with the LORD has definitely taken a 'step up' from where it was when we started. How we all desire to follow God and to deepen our relationship with Him.

    Psalm 128:1,4-5 (HCSB) says"How happy is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways! ...the man who fears the LORD will be blessed. May the LORD bless you from Zion, so that you will see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life."  

Perhaps, one of the most meaningful Psalms to me has been 133 as it speaks of "living in harmony". Having led women's Bible studies for over 20 years, so many dear sisters in the LORD have come across my path...all from different walks of life, different backgrounds, different church denominations, etc. We've all come together on a weekly basis and have studied the Word of God together, regardless of where we came from. What a blessing!  We all attend different churches and we all grew up in very different home settings, but we can all come together and worship the Lord and study His Word! "How wonderful it is, how pleasant, when brothers live together in harmony!" (NLT)  And then in the HCSB version the Psalm ends with these words "For there the LORD has appointed the blessing--life forevermore."  Oh how God desires unity and harmony among His people! The joy of harmonious relationships!   That is also what the ministry of Women's Journey of Faith is all about too...bringing women together from all walks of life to worship our One True God together in unity and harmony! How "good and pleasant" it is! We are to be a united family of God and one day we will live together with our Lord Jesus Christ in the Heavenly Jerusalem!

I leave you with this blessing from Psalm 134, the last one of the Psalms of Ascent...but as we stand inside the gates of Jerusalem, we will say this blessing over you as well!  Shalom!

"Now praise the LORD, all you servants of the LORD...lift up your hands in the holy place, and praise the LORD! May the LORD, Maker of heaven and earth, bless you from Zion."

*We will be blogging about this exciting tour to Israel each day! Check back for updates and visit our tour site to view the itinerary of our journey to the Holy Land!

No comments: