Sermons

A Year Of Ascent

by Reagan McClenny

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Scripture: Acts 2:5 Jan 7, 2024

The sermon describes how devout Jews would ascend the mountain toward the temple in Jerusalem, singing psalms of ascent that reminded them they were strangers in the world who found refuge in God's house. As Christians today, though we dwell in the world, we too must set our minds on heavenly things, finding refuge in Christ as we join in worship with gladness, foreshadowing our eternal heavenly home. This year, may we make our own ascent toward God's presence, spurred on by the psalms of ascent sung long ago.

Transcript

Good morning again, and thank you again to those who are visiting with us this morning. We're so glad that you've chosen to be with us. And if you have a Bible with you, or if you'd like to take one that's provided for you there in the pew, would you open it up please to Acts chapter 2. Acts chapter 2, and we'll begin reading in verse 5 here in just a moment.

Acts chapter 2, beginning in verse 5. And while most of our time this morning will come from the book of Psalms, we'll begin here in Acts chapter 2 and verse 5. This comes from our Daily Bible reading that we've been doing over the past week as we've entered into the book of Acts in our studies on Sunday morning.

And so many of us in the room this morning have already read these words from Acts chapter 2 beginning in verse 5. Would you read that with me please? And there were, dwelling in Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, that is, the Holy Spirit falling upon the apostles, as we studied this morning, and when this sound occurred, the multitude came together and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear? Each in our own language in which we are born. Parthians and Medes, Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontius and Asia, Pergia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya, joining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs.

We hear them speaking. In our own tongues, the wonderful works of God. Now we discussed the events here in Acts chapter 2 in our Bible class this morning, but what I'd like to focus on for our time in the lesson this morning is that long list of places that all of these people were from. It says that during this time, on the day of Pentecost, which was roughly 50 days after the day of Passover, during this time there were devout Jews, Jews who were strong in their faith, strong in their courage, strong in their devotion to the Lord, who were in Jerusalem during this time.

And it says they were dwelling there from every nation under heaven. And certainly there's a degree of hyperbole there, but when we think about the ancient Greek and Roman world. And we throw a map like this up on the board, we see that, in fact, when you go through this list, starting basically in the east over here and going to the west, there are nations represented from all of the Roman Empire.

When I was in college, I went through and I, I traced these, in fact, this is a picture of the, the atlas that I bought when I was in college, and you see these stars of all of the places where these devout Jews were from, coming, making the pilgrimage, if you would, back to Jerusalem for these two major feasts with Passover, It's interesting, maybe it's not just a matter of East and West and seeing these nations, but they're representative of all the nations of the world, because another way of looking at it is, basically it is every point on the compass.

And there are Jews who are coming to Jerusalem from all over the world, who were there for, for these days. These 50 ish days. They would come for Passover, they would stay for about 50 days until the day of Pentecost, and they would return to their nations. Thousands of Jews would come together on this occasion.

These Jews had been dispersed. In fact, they're sometimes called the dispersion. during the Babylonian captivity. They were taken into other nations, and so Jewish communities were formed in these other places. But they came back to remind themselves of who they were as the people of God for these 52 days, if you want to think about it in those terms.

And it's just something that I discovered in In preparing for this lesson, not that I discovered it, but I discovered it for me for the first time, that if you think about 52 days or so, which is how long they were in Jerusalem, we're talking about about one seventh of the calendar year that they spent in Jerusalem.

One out of seven should have some significance for us, not just that seven is a perfect number and all of those sorts of things, but the days of the week. We've got a day. of the week where we come together to worship God. And that primarily was the reason why they came together. And we can imagine that scene, can't you?

You can imagine coming together with friends and family that you've not seen for, for a whole year. And the joy and expectation of getting to see those people again. I come from a, I'm a, a rather large family on my dad's side. My dad has five other siblings. He has thirty something first cousins. And so that's kind of the context from which I have thirteen first cousins, and aunts and uncles, and all those sorts of things.

And at Thanksgiving and Christmas, we would all come together at my grandparents house every year. And there would be these first cousins, and aunts and uncles, and usually some great aunts and uncles, and some second cousins that would be there as well. And as we got a little older, there'd be spouses.

But I, I think especially as when I was a kid, And, and how exciting it was to get those, to see those people. We lived about six hours away from Lindale, where my grandparents lived. And so, it was really only Thanksgiving, maybe Christmas, that we got to see everybody. And getting to see these cousins, all the pallets on the floor, all over the living room and the dining room, and, and getting to do all these fun things with all these people, it's something that we look forward to.

And as a kid, at least, it felt like it was just one big happy family, and it wasn't until I was an adult I realized that things were not quite as unified, perhaps, as they felt at that time. But I think back to that, and I expand it out to an entire nation, an entire nation of people who are your kin, children of Abraham, who come together, and you get to see people that you've not seen for a year.

How joyous that must have been to see friends and family again. To see how young people have grown over the course of a year. To mourn together the loss of older folks who have passed on over the course of that year. To be together in feasting and celebration. And most importantly, to be together in worship.

Would you turn now to Psalm 120. Psalm 120. As they worshipped, they would sing psalms, and not all Jews were literate at this time, but they would know many of these psalms by heart, and they would sing the same ones over and over at this time of year. And beginning in Psalm 120 through Psalm 134, we find what is called the Psalms of Ascent, or the Psalms of Degrees, or Steps, depending on your translation.

And it's believed, we don't know exactly why they're called the Psalms of Ascent, but it's believed that, But the most commonly accepted explanation is that these were the Psalms that were sung by the Jews in Jesus day and before, as they were coming up to the temple to worship at these feast days, especially as we think about this time from Passover to Pentecost.

Even as they were walking up the many steps of the temple. Some of those steps survive even to this day, that lead up to the Temple Mount. And it's a It's an ascent, if you want to put that term on it, up to the temple, up to Jerusalem, from all of the various places where they were staying as they came together in the temple to worship God.

And these psalms these psalms from, these 15 psalms from Psalm 120 to 134, We're a yearly reminder and encouragement to the people who were singing them for many areas of life and worship to God. We have songs about prayer and the family and contentment and joy and spiritual mindedness and unity.

And we can imagine, as they were coming up to the temple to worship at the same time for the hour of prayer at three o'clock, let's say, and they're all coming up to the temple to worship, we can imagine people coming out of the houses and the chorus of these psalms beginning, and as it grows in number, it grows in volume, as, Perhaps as many as tens of thousands of extra Jews are in Jerusalem coming together in the temple at the same time for the same purpose, to worship.

Can you imagine? Can you imagine what that was like? Perhaps it's a commentary on our society. I was thinking about, how could we illustrate this? How could we imagine that sort of thing? I think the best we could probably come up with is a sporting event, right? Most of you know that I, I'm married into a family that's from Ohio.

And so, along with that, Stephanie and I, it sounds made up, but Stephanie and I actually sat down and had a discussion about which teams we're going to root for so that we didn't have conflict in our marriage. And so, so part of that, part of that discussion in Ultimate Compromise is that I, I am now a fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

And there's this little thing that, that Buckeyes fans do anywhere you are. So we're traveling, we're in an airport. In fact, as we were traveling over the Christmas break, I did this thing. You see somebody who is in the scarlet and gray, they've got the Ohio State paraphernalia on, and you yell out, O H, and they yell back, I O, proving to everyone that we can spell, right?

And I've only been to Columbus a handful of times, I've only been to one basketball game in person but I'll, I'll do that. Whenever I see somebody out and they've got Ohio State stuff on, I go, O H, and if they don't respond back, I, I nudge Stephanie, I say, not a real fan, not a real fan. Stephanie's from Columbus.

That's where she was born. She was raised in Tennessee. But she's got family all through Ohio, so we've gone up there to visit a number of times. And one of the times we went up there to visit, we got to go to an Ohio State basketball game. And so we're talking about 35, 000 people or so. And you see from all over where everybody's parked, you see these people coming together and the energy.

That is found in there and then everybody gets in there and they're chanting together and cheering together and something good happens and everybody stands up and cheers together. Who in here has ever been to an exporting event kind of like that? Okay, many of us in here have. So, all you Aggies, I know you're better than everybody else, and your fans are better, and all those sorts of things.

So, imagine going to your Aggie football game.

And there's kind of a unity in all of that, isn't there? It's kind of neat that everybody's on the same page, everybody has the same ideas, everybody's rooting for the same thing. But I want you to imagine that scene of all of those people coming from all over to the same place, tens of thousands. But instead of saying, OHIO or GIG'EM or whatever, All of those people are followers of Jehovah.

And all of those tens of thousands join in song together. Until you reach the temple, and you're all there for the same reason, to worship God.

It gives me chills just thinking about it. Of the ascent that they made for the singular purpose of worshiping God.

And these were the things that they sung. What we find in these psalms as sojourners in the world from from all of these places across the compass, they were finding refuge together in the Lord. They were ascending to the city, the temple, the dwelling place of God to worship Him together. And we, too, are sojourners in the world as Christians.

We, too, are seeking refuge in the Lord. We, too, are in the midst of our ascent to the presence of God. And we, too, are joined by others of like mind and like faith who are making the same journey. As us and so here at Timberland Drive Church of Christ. Our goal over the course of this year is to use these psalms, these Psalms of as sense as a jumping off point to consider the concepts they contain.

Our congregational focus for 2024. Is this a year of ascent with this primary verse in mind? Psalm 1 22 in verse one. I was glad when they said to me. Let us go into the house of the Lord. And, and I want us to have a special focus on three concepts that we see emphasized in these first three of these psalms.

Number one, our distinctness from the world as sojourners, as pilgrims, as strangers in the world. Whatever you want to call it, we are sojourners, just like they were. And we're supposed to be distinct from the world, just like they were supposed to be. Number two, our need to find refuge in the Lord and refuge in the Lord's people.

That this is where we should be focused on, on God and our service and worship to Him. That is where we find refuge in the midst of a world that is often against us, just as it was against them. And then number three, Our love, our love for worship as it foreshadows eternity with God and with our brethren.

That we love to come to worship. As Mike Penn has so often said, as he's made comments at various times, at least in my thirteen and a half years that I've been here. Are you coming to church, or are you coming to worship? Well, I pray that we are here this morning to worship. That we are coming together to glorify and magnify our God.

And so let's think about these three Psalms. These first three introductory Psalms. Psalm 120, And that will provide the text for the rest of our lesson this morning. Psalm 120 reminds us that we are sojourners in the world. And if you'll begin reading with me in verse 1, this is the first of the Song of Ascent.

The psalmist says, In my distress I cried to the Lord, and he heard me. Deliver my soul, O Lord, from lying lips and from a deceitful tongue. What shall be given to you, or what shall be done to you, you false tongue? Sharp arrows of the warrior with coals of the broom tree. We see that there are these lying lips and false, deceitful tongues.

And where are those things found? Well, they're found in these lands where they do not know the true and living God. Now, to our shame, oftentimes they are also found among those who are supposed to be God's people. But in this psalm specifically, they are found in those places where these aliens, these, these strangers, these sojourners were living.

No longer in Judea, no longer in Israel, no longer in Jerusalem. They find these lying, deceitful tongues where people are against them and what they stand for. That's seen there in verse 5, if you read that. Woe is me that I dwell in Meshech, that I dwell among the tents of Kedar. Now, Meshech was in Asia Minor, and that's to the north and west of Israel.

Kedar was in Arabia to the south and east of Israel. They were separated by, by several thousands of miles. And it's unlikely that the psalmist literally lived in both of those places. That was just super unusual in the ancient world. Usually you lived in the same place your whole life. And maybe you would travel somewhere else.

But even that was something that was somewhat unusual. And so it's likely that it stands to reason, at the very least, that these two places, one to the north and east, one to the south and west, were representative of the world, just like that list of nations that we find in Acts chapter 2. These two places, one in Arabia, one in Asia Minor, what's modern day Turkey, these two places were vastly different from one another.

They had different languages, they had different value systems, different living arrangements, and more. But they had one overriding commonality between these two places. There was hostility toward those who were servants of Yahweh. And in verses 6 and 7, notice what the psalmist says, My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace.

I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war. Why? Because he speaks the truth. Their lying lips and deceitful tongues don't like the truth, don't want to hear the truth. They don't want peace with God's people, they want war with God's people and with God himself. And that has always been the case with the world.

Just as these places weren't the true homeland of the Jews, this world in which we live is not supposed to be our true homeland either. Like them, we are dispersed abroad on this world, but our homeland, the place where we belong, is not here. Kidner says of this psalm, It voices very well the homesickness of those who have settled among strangers and enemies.

I'm curious. I'm not much of a homesick kind of person. That's just not the way I'm wired. Who in here has ever been homesick? Homesick? Homesick people? I had some big hands on that. You know what that feels like, being homesick? May I suggest, humbly, as Christians, we should be homesick all the time.

Homesick for a place we've never actually been. Are we homesick for heaven? Are we homesick for being with those of like mind and like faith all the time? And a number that far exceeds the number that was going up to Jerusalem to worship as we read about in Acts chapter 2. Or, are we quite at home in this world?

Have we made a place in this world that is so comfortable, that is so much a part of who we are, that we're not really homesick for anywhere else because this has become our home? Let us never forget. That this world is not our home. It's not intended to be our home. That we are sojourners. That we are strangers and pilgrims in this world too.

And yes, we desire peace. And we desire fellowship with the world by their conversion to Jesus Christ. But too often all the world really wants is war with God's people. We live in a world that is hostile to us, brothers and sisters, beloved, and is hostile to God himself. But like the Jews of the dispersion, it is easy to forget that we are supposed to be distinct and different from the world.

I want you to think about that. I know there's this nagging feeling, I think all of us have it to one degree or another, this desire to blend in, to not stand out too much. To be like everybody else. And maybe sometimes what we need to be reminded of is where our homeland really is. Mark in your spot there in Psalm 120.

Will you turn with me to the book of Hebrews, Hebrews chapter 11? This is a book, a book about faith in many ways. A chapter certainly about faith in Hebrews chapter 11. With all of these men and women of faith. who are types of Jesus, who, who prevailed despite suffering, who went through the things that they went through and remained faithful to God because of their faith, who acted out of the strength of that faith.

And after describing a number of these men and women, and, and the Hebrew writer is going to describe even more, in the midst of that, in verse 13, this is what he says. These, Abraham, and Enoch, and Noah, and so forth, these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were assured of them, embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly, if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. All of us, even after we are Christians, we have the opportunity to go back to the world. We can do that. But we shouldn't look back at our life before we came to Jesus with longing, saying, that's my home, that's who I am.

Instead, we look forward with longing. To the place we truly belong. And what does it say in the text? But now they desire a better. That is a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God for He has prepared a city for them. So, um, I want you to think about your life. Think about when you interact with other people.

Maybe it's at school, maybe it's at work, maybe it's with family, whatever the case might be. Do people know? Are people able to identify Your nationality, not in terms of your skin color or where your family's from. Your spiritual nationality, that you are part of another kingdom, that you're a Christian.

Can they identify you as being different? Not in some, you know, holier than thou, I'm better than you, I know more than you, I'm judgmental toward you sort of way. But in a, look, that person is different. They're committed to their faith, and they're not afraid to share the things that they believe. And I can identify them by lots of things.

By that commitment, but also by their love. By their graciousness, by their willingness to forgive, and by the unity that they have with others of like mind and like faith. Think, think soberly and carefully about the way you appear to other people. And do they see you as distinct, as being a sojourner in this world?

And in some ways, when we are the closest to experiencing the true home in heaven, is it not when we come together to assemble in the midst of God to worship together? Perhaps, like the Ephesians, we need to recapture our first love for Christ, His Church, and the worship we offer to our Father in Heaven, because this, beloved, is a foretaste of the assembly to come.

As sojourners, we dwell in the world, but we are not of the world, and we are not like the world. Instead, we are those who find refuge in the Lord. Go back to the Psalms of Ascent, this time to Psalm 121. Read verse 1 with me, if you would. Psalm 121 and verse 1. I will lift up my eyes to the hills, the psalmist says.

From whence comes my help? You know, the Israelites were people of the hills. That's what they were. They were mountainous people. They often fled into the hills there in Israel to be preserved from their enemies. Going all the way back to the days of the judges, when the Syrians or the Philistines would come, they would flee to the hills away from these people of the plains.

And there was always this temptation for God's spiritual people to defend, to depend on physical things, like the hills, the hills will protect us, or the city walls, or our military fortifications and preparations, or chariots and kings and alliances with foreign nations, or whatever else, maybe it's idolatry, that's going to help me.

But what the psalmist asks here from whence comes my help, he answers directly. My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth. And in our time, the hills might be any number of things. It might be our money. It might be our position in life. It might be the government of this nation. It might be our family.

It might be any number of physical things. But those things are not the source of our most important help. My help, our help, comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. Verse 3, He will not allow your foot to be moved. He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper, the Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you, keep you, protect you from all evil. He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth and even forevermore.

From the sojourner's dwelling place in the physical world, and ours, we turn to the creator of the universe. We turn to him for direction, for purpose, for help. And maybe the hills aren't where good things come from. Maybe for us the hills are where bad things come from. I look to the hills and I'm afraid and I say, from whence comes my help?

Maybe it's like the old westerns, you know, it's always dangerous, you're going through a canyon because you look up on the hills and who's up there, right? It's the bandits, it's whoever else is trying to get at you, right? I look to the hills! And sometimes that's what we do, we look to the hills and we're worried.

We're worried about all the things of this life. What shall we eat? What shall we drink? What shall we wear? What's going to happen with my health? What's going to happen with my family? What's going to happen with my job? What's going to happen with the future? What's going to happen with the regrets I have about the past?

And all of these physical things, maybe we're looking to the hills not for help. We're looking to the hills with worry and stress. And we need to ask ourselves again, from whence comes our help? Our help comes from the Lord. So whether it's relying on physical things or being discouraged by physical things, neither can be the case.

For those who are Christians, our focus does not change. It is on things above. Again, let's turn to one New Testament scripture this time. Colossians chapter three, if you would. Colossians chapter three I. I love this verse, this series of verses. It would be a good one to commit to memory if you've not already done so.

Colossians chapter three verses one through four. Colossians three, one through four.

If then. You are raised with Christ. Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind, your focus, your direction, your intentionality, your purposes, your plans. Set your mind on things above. Not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. Brothers and sisters, it is a matter of perspective. It describes that change in verses 5 through the end of this chapter, really, into chapter 4. It describes that change in all sorts of ways. It changes the way we worship.

It changes the way we live. It changes our morality. It changes all those things. But it begins with a change of perspective, that I'm not looking down here at these physical things. I am, I am resolved to seek out those things that are above, to ascend, if you want to put it in those terms. Where am I looking?

From where does my help come? And then finally, the third thing to emphasize this morning, as we think about this year, we're sojourners in the world, we find our refuge in the Lord. And Psalm 1 22 emphasizes to us that we enter the city and the house or temple of the Lord with gladness gladness, not gladness.

Gladness if you turn back to Psalm 1 22, and let's read verse one and two together. I was glad when they said to me, let us go into the house of the Lord. Somebody said that to you. Maybe not this morning, but at some point, let's go. Let's go to worship. Let's go. Let's get back in church. Maybe you put it that way.

Let's go. Let's find people who are truly trying to serve Christ. Let's go and worship God in spirit and in truth. Were you glad? Are you still glad at the opportunity we have to do just that? Our feet have been standing within your gates, O Jerusalem, the psalmist says. And we too have entered the temple of God this morning.

God is here in our midst. Yes, He knows everything, sees everything, and is everywhere in some ways. But He is here in our midst this morning. Not this physical building. This isn't the temple. But the spiritual building of His people. Of Christ's Church. What joy there is to come together to worship. Is that my attitude when I come to worship?

Is it yours? I bet it is. I know so many of the people here. I bet that is your attitude. That you were glad this morning. And every opportunity you have to come and worship. I mean, think about it. I get to be with the very best people in this world who stir me up to love and good works, worshiping God in anticipation of the next world.

What could be better than that? Earlier this week, I was sitting on a beach and it was 85 degrees and the water was perfect and I was in the shade with this chair and I was sitting there thinking to myself and all my little mind could think about was getting back to you people. And maybe you say that's pretty dumb, maybe it is, but I couldn't help myself.

I was so excited about this year, and about what God can accomplish through us this year. If our focus is on Him, and worship to Him, and service to Him, and expanding the borders of His kingdom, what mighty things can God do as we come together with gladness to enter His house and His city. What could be better than a room like this?

Well, what about a whole city of people like this? Coming together in perfect peace and harmony. If you've been here any length of time you know that I've taught, and I think the Bible teaches, that cities are cast in a mostly negative light in the Bible. I mean, think about the cities that you know of in the Bible.

The, the Tower of Babel, right? Babel, that city, later becomes Babylon. That's negative, right? We think about Sodom and Gomorrah, that's negative, right? Tyre and Sidon, that's negative, right? We think about Rome. That's negative. And yet there is one notable exception to all of these cities filled with sin and rebellion against God.

There is a city where we all want to be, the city of God, the city of Jerusalem. And that city is described here in verses 3 through 9. Would you read those verses with me? But I want you to think about, was this ever true of Jerusalem? Was it ever really true of that place that still exists today? You can go and visit.

You get the opportunity. I encourage it. Jerusalem is built as a city that is compact together, where the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, to the testimony of Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord, for thrones are set there for judgment, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for peace of Jerusalem.

May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls. Prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, Peace be within you. Because the house of the Lord, our God, I will seek your good. And if you read through the Psalms, man, Jerusalem is put up on a pedestal.

It is described in the Psalms as a place of beauty. A place of refuge, a place of safety and peace. It is a place of justice and righteousness and holiness. It is a place of prosperity and abundance and joy and fellowship. Jerusalem is the place you want to be. And to top it all off, we see this concept in the Psalms that it is supposed to be this way.

But

it never was. And of course, if you want to turn to Revelation chapter 21, Revelation calls the heavenly city, not Jerusalem. In Revelation 21, it calls it the New Jerusalem. Why? Because the Old Jerusalem never lived up to the ideal that was placed upon it. Instead, the physical Jerusalem, still located over there in the Middle East, has often been a place of pain.

Suffering and war and sin, even the crucifixion of our Lord. And in the centuries since Christ's death, it has been fought over and the blood of men and women and children have been shed for it and shed for it in vain. Peace has rarely, if ever been in the walls of that city up to and including the present day where there is ongoing war even now.

But even in peacetime, it is still a city that is divided up. Divided up between sects of the Jews and the Christians and the Muslims. No, the physical city falls short of all of this prayer for peace and prosperity. But God's heavenly city will not. Are you there in Revelation 21? Begin reading with me in verse 2.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold! The tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain. For the former things have passed away, including that former city and all of its shortcomings. And yet, as this city is described, there is one oddity as we compare it to the original Jerusalem.

Look down at verse 22, if you would. Isn't it strange? John thinks it's strange. But I saw no temple in it. That's what Jerusalem was. It was the place of the temple where all of them ascended to come and worship. For the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun. or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it.

The Lamb is its light. and the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day, and there is no night there. The gates, the gates are never shut. and they shall bring the glory and honor of the nations into it.

But there shall by no means enter into it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written.

That's it. That's the place. That's where we're ascending. And what will we be doing there? Well, honestly, it should be fairly similar to what we're doing here. Serving God and worshipping God together. Until then, as sojourners and pilgrims on the earth, we gather together on days like this, with

50 something more opportunities, over the course of this year, if the Lord wills. As fellow sojourners and pilgrims on this earth, We have come together to spur one another on, to stir one another up to love and good works, to encourage one another as we make this spiritual ascent, to find refuge in the Lord, and to worship Him with gladness until we can all be there together.

Don't you want to come? Won't you come with us? And if we can help you to grow closer to the Lord, even this morning, if we can help you to make your ascent to the house and city of God, won't you come now while together we stand and while we stand?

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