Notes from Psalms of Ascent – Introductory Session

Summary notes from the Introductory Session to Psalms of Ascent

I’m a little behind this week getting the summary notes posted. This is such an exciting study that it is hard to know where to start!

In the Introductory Session, we focused on what the Psalms of Ascent are, where they are located, and why they are important. The Psalms of Ascent consist of Psalms 120 through 134, and these 15 psalms are traditionally associated with the pilgramage of Israel to Jerusalem for the three yearly feasts. Recall that the people of Israel were scattered throughout the near East (often referred to as the “Diaspora”) and were required by the Law (Torah) to return to Jerusalem three times a year for the “Three Great Feasts” as described in Deuteronomy 16:16. “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, ad at the Feast of Booths.” (ESV)

The 15 psalms are commonly associated with the 15 steps of the temple leading from the Court of Women (the furthest place that women were allowed to advance within the temple) to the Nicanor Gate that led to the Court of the Israelites. We can rejoice that, although the women were prevented from further approaching the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple, we have full freedom in salvation through Jesus Christ to boldly approach the throne of our God!

We are encouraged in this study to do two things:

  • One, to develop a practice during our daily study to get down on our faces before God in prayer. This is not something that many modern Christians are accustomed to doing, but we will be richly blessed in the process. We can imagine ourselves as our ancient Jewish brothers and sisters making their way to Jerusalem, falling on their faces before God for his mercy and also in their longing to see the City of Peace.
  • Second, to memorize Psalm 121. This will be the memory verses for this Bible study, but you are welcome to memorize more of the Psalms of Ascent if you want to!

Psalm 121 is amazing and so beautifully designed by the Holy Spirit (as so much of God’s word is). There are 58 syllables leading up to the middle phrase “The LORD protects you” and there are 58 syllables leading to the end of the psalm (imagine stairsteps!). God is referred to as LORD (or Yahweh) five times throughout the psalm, reminding us that He is our covenant keeper. The Hebrew word “shamar” (translated at “protect” or “keep”) occurs six times throughout the psalm, reminding us that this Maker of heaven and earth is our constant Protector and watches over every step of our journey.

See you next week!

Viewer Guide answers (pages 8-9 of your study book):

  1. 15, 120, 134
  2. to go up
  3. Great Feasts, Pilgrimage; song, steps, places, faces; exiles, captivity
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Coming Up on 9/22! New Beth Moore study with the women of Grace Chapel

On Monday 9/22, the women of Grace Chapel in Lincoln, NE, are beginning the latest Beth Moore study “Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent” and we are very excited! Won’t you join us?

This will be an in-depth look at Psalms 120 through 134, which were the psalms sung by the Hebrew people on their pilgramages to Jerusalm for the three major yearly festivals — Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.

For those of you attending the study at Grace, here are some notes and helpful reminders to help prepare you for the study:

Study Book

While a study book is not required, the lessons are an essential companion to the DVD lesson series and are highly recommended. You will quadruple what you learn of God’s word by using the study book!

There will be 6 weeks of homework, and each week consists of 5 daily homework lessons that should take approximately 45 minutes each to complete. Many women use their daily quiet time to complete the lessons, or use the lessons as a great way to establish a daily quiet time.

Cost of the study book plus shipping and handling is approximately $13 plus tax. Please do not put your payment in the Sunday offering bag as it may get lost in the shuffle and I need to keep track of those who have paid. Payment can be made by cash or check made out to Grace Chapel. Payment can be made at Bible study.

Monday Meetings

This study is 7 weeks long, so we will be meeting every Monday night from 7-9 pm until November 3. Please plan to meet for approximately 2 hours on Mondays to discuss questions from the previous week’s lesson (30-45 minutes) and watch the current week’s DVD lesson (~1 hour). I also want to include prayer and social time after each meeting if anyone wants to stick around.

Blog Review

For those who may have to miss a Monday meeting, please visit this blog where I plan to summarize the lesson from Monday night. Look for the heading “Notes from Psalms of Ascent” under Categories in the left sidebar. I’ll go over the main points so that you won’t feel lost or behind the following Monday.

We hope that there might be women who regularly frequent the Women In His Image blog who will join in the study with us. Feel free to leave comments on the blog posts, ask questions, or just let us know that you are with us!

In the press: “Not-quite-so-thin is in for models at Fashion Week”

According to this report from the AP, models at New York’s Fashion Week were “up to” sizes 2 and 4 instead of the usual size 0…this is somehow considered an improvement.

Did you know that in 2006 at least two models died from complications linked to eating disorders?

Lunch with Travis of the True Campaign

I got to sit down to lunch today with Travis Stewart of the True Campaign. What an incredible privilege! I am such a fan of what they are doing with their young organization, and it was just awesome to listen to Travis talk about some of the True Campaign’s goals and plans. I hope to be able to work with them to further their cause and be a part of the changes they are making in how women in America view beauty, culture, and identity.

Are you interested in what the True Campaign has to say? Do you think there are people in your community who would attend a True Campaign conference or presentation? Do you want to be a part of the True Campaign movement? Take a look at their True Pact below and go to the True Campaign website to sign up!

HOW YOU CAN HELP HAITI

Here is the most recent information I have about how you can help the crisis in Haiti. Thanks to readers for your concern and interest in contributing to the relief effort, and your care for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Option #1: Food and Water Supplies

Pastor Dony St. Germain of El Shaddai Ministries needs funds to provide food and water directly to the people of Gonaives who have been devastated by the hurricanes. The people have not eaten for several days. Food and water will be distributed to 145 community leaders who in turn will distribute supplies to the people. Please send checks to:

El Shaddai Ministries International (ESMI)
c/o Haiti-Hanna Disaster Relief (write this in the check memo line)
13651 S. Biscayne River Drive
Miami, FL 33161

You can also contact EMSI directly at (305) 891-8966

Option #2: Relief for Haitian Orphans in Gonaives

C3Missions is a partnership ministry with El Shaddai Ministries International (ESMi). C3’s work goes directly to feeding and caring for the 250 ESMI orphans in Gonaives. Checks can be mailed to:

C3 Missions International
c/o C3 Haiti Relief Fund (write this in the check memo line)
3000 NW 50th Street
Kansas City, MO 64150

You can also contact C3 Missions directly at (816) 820-5556

Haiti Update: Hit Full Force by Hurricane Ike

I urge readers to continue praying for the nation of Haiti as they undergo another beating, this time by Hurricane Ike, which is currently a Category 4 storm with winds of 135 mph. My pastor has received word that the last remaining bridge into the city of Gonaives (already nearly destroyed by Hanna) was just taken out by Ike today. Our friends with El Shaddai Ministries have recently been airlifted into the city to bring food and water. We rejoice that we serve a sovereign and loving God, and pray that those in Haiti and the rest the Caribbean who are in Ike’s path will cling to the Lord and see His face in the midst of the storm.


Update from Gonaives, Haiti

Thanks to Pastor Mike Hsu for updating his blog regularly regarding the situation in Haiti and thanks to everyone for your continued prayers. According to Reuters, 695 dead bodies have been recovered in Gonaives alone. Here is the latest from C3 Missions:

Here’s the situation: the kids in the south have endured much but seem to be safe.

Gonaives is a mess. BUT, the 250 orphans in our children’s village are ok. In fact, the water has receded in the village such that the grounds of the children once discarded in this country will become a staging ground for a large relief effort tomorrow (Saturday). Through the help of Ed Barber, one of C3’s key players in Atlanta, we secured 2 helicopters on Friday. Dony and Louis and 140 pastors they’ve trained have set the children’s village as a staging ground for (a) relief to our children in Gonaives – 400 of them; and (b) relief to the 300,000 in Gonaives suffering so miserably. It’s brutal. Right now, I think it’s fair to say that the most miserable place on earth for a human being to “live” is Gonaives, Haiti. We’ve secured a huge supply of food and water. Virtually the entire population of Gonaives have gone without food and water for over 2 days. We’ll start running about 2,000 lbs. of food and water every hour tomorrow. I figure we’ll be able to get in 14,000 lbs. plus before dark, God willing. That will shore up our kids and provide sustaining, life saving relief for thousands others. The biggest threat to this effort is that the people there are so desperate that they rioting is a real possibility. These people aren’t animals. They’re just hungry. They have children to feed. What in the heck would you do if you saw a shot at a meal in that situation? You get that point. It’s our understanding that the local police and U.N. will secure the perimeter of the children’s village to allow us to stage the relief effort. A top gov’t official will be working with us in this relief effort, and we’re hoping that seeing what a little weenie organization like C3 can do frustrated by inaction will motivate other “emergency responders” to get off their butts and get some food and water in there.

Time and circumstances permitting, we’ll fly to the south just to check on all of our kids there and take them a load of food. No guarantees. We’ll just have to see what happens.

Thanks to El Shaddai. Dony and Louis have mobilized an army for this relief effort. Their local leadership inspires. . . .

“Catastrophe” in Haiti after Hanna

Gonaives, Haiti
Gonaives, Haiti

Please continue to pray for Haiti as they struggle to begin recovery efforts after Hurricane Hanna. Flooding has increased as the storm has passed, and UN aid workers say that they are currently unable to rescue anyone who is stranded because of the severity of the damage in the country. This is a country with such limited resources, extreme poverty, and little to no infrastructure that recovery efforts will be difficult to say the least.

There is video of the situation on the BBC website.

Please also pray that the 2 hurricanes still pending in the Atlantic, Ike and Josephine, will not affect Haiti.

Please Pray! Safety for Haitian orphans in Hurricane Hanna

The following is the latest news received from C3 Missions (partners with El Shaddai Ministries in Haiti) regarding the status of Haiti during the bout with Hurricane Hanna going on right now. Please take a moment to pray for these vulnerable orphans as they try to stay safe amidst the storm. If any readers want more information on how to support either of these ministries please let me know!

First, give thanks.  All of our children in the south are safe.  We’ll have to assess damage, but the children are safe.

Second, boldly ask the Lord for help in Gonaive.  You won’t read it on the news, even now, but the greatest Hurricane problem in Haiti is from Hanna, not Gustav.

250 of our children are huddled on the top floor of the only 2 story structure in our Gonaive village.  By the grace of God, that happens to be where the food and kitchen is located.  The rest of the village is turning into a lake that’s rising.  And this is some of the “higher ground” in the Gonaive area.  Most of the city of Gonaive is under water 5 or 6 feet high and rising.  Water is pouring down in rivers from the mountains to the sea.  The sea is too full to drink another drop.  So, the water keeps rising as Gonainve joins the sea.

DouDou went to secure the children as best he could.  The road from Port au Prince to Gonaive passes through a long, low-lying stretch.  That stretch is now a giant lake, cutting-off Gonaive from the main route for help.  DouDou had to swim across this lake.

This mess snuck-up on the people of Gonaive – again.  Gonaive isn’t getting slammed with the hurricane.  Rivers from rains elsewhere – a problem nobody saw coming – just started pouring out from the mountains like someone turned on a faucet.  Even at this minute, if you look to international reports on the news and internet, you’ll see next to nothing about this problem.  The news reports and hurricane updates for Haiti still focus on Gustav.  Hanna is a blip on the radar screen.  That blip is drowning a city, and has 250 of our children looking down from their perch praying that the rising water will miraculously stop.

This e-mail is not hype.  It’s not drama.  We know these children.  Dan Tasset and I spent the day with them 3 weeks ago.  Our village in Gonaive started with a local church sending a busload of orphaned pre-teen girls – about 15 of them.  Dony wasn’t expecting the village to start with older children.  He told the church leader that he could not take them.  Those girls heard the news and scratched and wailed as they boarded the bus back to nowhere.  Dony couldn’t take that pain.  He relented and took the girls and started the village with a group he never anticipated.  Those girls now help take care of the little children – they’re vital to the village.  Dan and I watched 3 weeks ago while 1 of those “unintended” girls set tables for the wave of more than 100 little girls coming to take their turn for dinner.  She led those children two-by-two, hand-in-hand to their tables.  She led them in song and prayer giving thanks to the Lord for about 10 minutes, standing over their food full of contentment and gratitude to eat what was pre-prayer a warm meal.  She was the first to the dining room, and the last to sit down to eat.  The smile never left her face.

She and 249 other children are in that same dining room now watching the water raise, praying that it will stop, but knowing that their hope does not come from receding waters or the fragile life Gonaive has to offer.  Their hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is what I’d like us all to do:
1)  Pray that Hanna will pass and the water will stop short of the second floor.

2)  Pray that others in Gonaive find higher ground.

3)  Pray that Hurricane Ike, next in line, steers clear of Haiti.

4)  Pray that the damage to our Gonaive village isn’t too great, and that we will have the blessing of repairing and doing whatever is necessary to make sure we can tuck every one of these 250 little ones into new beds, unharmed.