This morning we had a worship service in the Peaceful Vally Memorial Chapel at Peaceful Valley Ranch. We had lively singing, prayer, and praise. And I got to deliver the morning sermon. It's tough to keep people's attention with the beautiful mountain view out the front windows of the chapel, so I preached on Psalm 121 -- (I lift my eyes to the hills . . . )
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Take a look at the cover of this morning’s bulletin – I lift up my eyes to the hills . . .

It’s the beginning of a Psalm that expresses the emotions of a writer who is looking to God as perhaps they journey through a place of hills. It sounds like the thoughts of a person who is walking along and envisioning their own music video or their own documentary film.

If you were to put together scenes for the music video or documentary film of your life, what would you put in it? How would you capture what your essence in pictures? Spend some time thinking about it.

(Silence for a bit to let folks think)

Did you think of a mountain path? Visions of you as a child? Scenes of you looking out over a vast, lush mountain valley? You playing? You praying? You stressed out and wondering what could go wrong next? You wondering where help will come from?

My help comes from the LORD

The rest of the Psalm carries words of assurance that God – the creator of all things, never stops caring, watching, protecting – keeping.

One line from near the end of the Psalm is this:

He will keep your life.

That line is rendered – in different translations of the Bible:

  • (He) preserves your life. NLT
  • he will watch over your life NIV
  • He will guard your life. ICB
  • he shall preserve thy soul. KJV

That word that is translated as either ‘life’ or ‘soul’ is nephesh and it carries with it a completeness – both in what it means as it applies to a person (their complete essence) or as it applies to the whole of creation – nephesh describes the life essence in animals. It has been used to describe bodies without life and to describe God. It has a completeness to it that has even been used in some Jewish writings to describe plants – the vegetation that covers the earth.
It carries with it a completeness that seems to communicate – all that God has created.

Look around you.
Nephesh on your left. Nephesh on your right – in front of you, behind you, outside in this magnificent view, all over this beautiful place.
In that which we love and in that which we can’t live without and in that which we have lost.

Nephesh – the essence that only God gives.

The writer of Psalm 121 was communicating a sense the completeness of God

  • God of protection
  • God of preservation
  • God of all creation

And I think we can trust in the completeness of God.

But . . .
What about us?
Sure – we are part of God’s creation and we have learned and I hope understand how precious we are and how unconditionally loved we are by God.

But we live in un-completeness. The view of our lives is at times wonderful and at times awful and all the time somewhat disjointed:

Remember the view of our life? Did it include:

  • A mountain path?
  • You as a child?
  • A vast, lush mountain valley?
  • Playing?
  • Praying?
  • Stressed?
  • Wondering where help will come from?

It isn’t the picture of complete protection and preservation that comes from God

But it is a picture of the completeness of who we are – as those created by God. We are God’s children. Created by the same God who has created the beauty we see as we lift our eyes to the hills.

And God, who loves all unconditionally, will preserve your essence – your nephesh – your soul.

Close with prayer.

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