It has been said that you can gauge a good sermon by how many other sermons it inspires. This has been said concerning the Sermon on the Mount. Pastor Myron Powell’s expositional book Look Up! Get Up! Worship! has successfully inspired at least one sermon for me so far. That is a good book! Perhaps this volume dedicated to the Songs of Degrees will do the same for you.
Pastor Powell takes the aged-old truths of Psalms 120-134 and applies them to their time and context. However, he fails not to relate them to our generation—our everyday lives. The concepts shared here are simple and relatable. In this, his book becomes a devotional as we traverse here below, plodding to our New Jerusalem. The message is that our journey will be by degrees and ascents. A constant climb to higher elevations. He says, “You will go up from any direction you enter Jerusalem.” Jerusalem is a higher elevation than addiction, jealousy, murder, and even good morals. Any direction to Jerusalem is an upward direction. You do not condescend to Jerusalem. You ascend there. By location, there was no higher elevation than the Holy City. You did not look for something more or something else or better. It was the apex of the journey.
As with any trip, it’s not without challenges. The psalmist was distressed when he started and was met with potential bandits along the way. Nonetheless, we are reminded of God’s protection. We are encouraged to keep looking where we are going. Thus, we must look up. Being these psalms were sung, Pastor Powell iterates this expedition has undertones of worship and crescendos at Jerusalem—God’s house. We may have started as individuals, but various people have collected along the way. Ultimately, we coalesce into a massive force of worshippers in the end. Chapter 3 (Psalm 122) and chapter 13 (Psalm 132) use a different layout from others. The subheadings did not follow the same form of a subtitle attached to a verse or verses of the psalm. If format continuity is essential, that may unsettle you. Also, “God cannot lie, fail, or deny Himself” was stated in some form or another throughout several different chapters. We can look at this in two different ways. One, that was a point our author wanted to drive home. Two, maybe it was unintentional redundancy. Either way, it is noticeably there.
Pastor Powell iterates this expedition has undertones of worship and crescendos at Jerusalem—God’s house. We may have started as individuals, but various people have collected along the way.
Regardless, we have been given a helpful resource in Look Up! Get Up! Worship! As the author moves linearly through the Songs of Degrees, he also incorporates many supporting and cross-referenced scriptures. Therefore, the concepts of these psalms are held together by other applicable bible verses. Nothing works better than scripture interpreting scripture. In addition, Pastor Powell keeps in mind the unsaved audience. He directs them toward what passages they should read and their next steps in their experience.
Since this book is the eighth volume, there are seven previous volumes we should checkout. Not to mention, there is one final volume in this series to be released. I commend our author for committing this series to print. He has taken the reader on a journey they are consciously or subconsciously traveling now. He has placed these Songs of Ascents on an accessible shelf for all. Therefore, Christians of all levels of experience can benefit from them. So, start your voyage today!
Paul McGee is the Pastor of First Apostolic Church in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. He is an ordained minister in the Assemblies of the Lord Jesus Christ (ALJC) and has served in a few different capacities including full-time evangelism. He is part of a national prison team that holds conferences in state penitentiaries for women/men across the United States. Paul mentors young men in an Iron Sharpens Iron program. He has been honored to speak at conferences, camp meetings, and special meetings throughout the United States as well. Paul often says, “God keeps good records.” He lives by the philosophy that everything we do for the kingdom of God is important and ought to be done with a level of excellence. Paul is complemented by his wife, Dawn, along with their two teenage children, and a small dog, Rascal. His pastimes include reading, woodworking, and motorcycling.