Sun, May 16, 2010 Trees Planted by the Water: How to Get Started Right in 2010
Like it or not, time marches on and the calendar changes. But the Word of God remains the same. Would you like to be blessed by God in 2010? “May the favour of God rest upon you all year long.” We all want to be blessed, be happy, find fulfillment in what we do every day. In 6 verses we learn the secret of the life God blesses. This is God’s prescription for happiness. Blessedness relates to the way we live and the choices we make. It depends on the kind of people we are. From God’s point of view, there are only 2 ways to live because there are 2 kinds of people in the world. There are the righteous and there are the wicked. Everyone falls into those 2 categories. Psalm 1 shows us how the righteous live and why they are blessed. It also shows us the end result of both ways of life.
1. The Way of the Righteous v. 1 - 3
A. It is possible to have a truly blessed and happy life. To be blessed means to be rightly related to God so that your life is fulfilled and you experience deep satisfaction. This happiness is not related to our circumstances. It doesn’t come simply by seeking for it - but by doing certain things (and not doing others). The blessing comes as a benefit of the choices we make.
Our nation has experienced so much pain, confusion, doubt and sadness. No one knows what the future holds. Something has gone badly wrong in the world. Psalm 1 assures us that it is possible to live a blessed life, but only on God’s terms. The world offers entertainment, cheap thrills and momentary pleasure, but true happiness, authentic joy and true peace are found only in the Lord. B. Blessedness begins with the negative, not the positive. The blessing begins with what the righteous person does not do. He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked - stand in the way of sinners - sit in the seat of mockers.
Progression: Walk … Stand … Sit. The man is walking down the road. Then he stops to hang out with the sinners. Eventually they prove to be such good company that he sits down and has fellowship with them. What started as casual contact becomes a declaration of allegiance. The “counsel of the wicked” means the advice of the morally unstable - describes the worldview of those who do not know the Lord. The “way of sinners” involves a series of lifestyle choices. The “seat of mockers” means to have close, long-term fellowship with those who openly reject the Lord.
Progression: Thinking … Behaving … Belonging.
Worldly wisdom - Worldly action - Worldly fellowship. Blessings come not only from what we do, but also from what we don’t do. Blessed people avoid certain things, certain people and certain situations. They don’t hang out just anywhere and they don’t quickly buy into every line of thinking. They are very careful not to join themselves to those who do not love the Lord.
“But how are we going to reach the lost if we don’t spend time with them?” Good question. You do not win the lost by living like the lost. You win the lost by loving the lost and living like the saved. If you adopt the lifestyle of those who don’t know the Lord, why would they want what you have? If your life is just the same as theirs, why should they want your Jesus? We can’t reach people by lowering our standards or compromising our values.
C. Blessedness comes from building on the Word of God. We come to the positive side - having refused to walk in the way of evildoers, we instead focus on knowing God’s Word. The godly person “delights” in the law of the Lord - means he loves the Word of God. “Delight” means to take great pleasure in. Everyone “delights” in something. Your “delight” determines your direction. What do you delight in? What gets you excited in the morning and keeps you awake at night? Those who are blessed by God love his law and they meditate in it day and night - digesting something thoroughly. “Day and night” - “all the time.” Any time is a good time. There is no “wrong” time to meditate on the Word of God. If we are serious about this, we will find the time. If we delight in the Word, we will find a way to read it, to meditate on it and even to memorize it. D. Blessedness is marked by stability and fruitfulness. i. Stability - A mighty tree with large branches and deep roots that go far down into the soil. Many times the root system will equal or exceed the part of the tree above ground. The unseen root system gives them stability - hold the tree in place and ensure that it has enough moisture and nutrients to stay alive. How do you know when a tree has good roots? When the storms come. All the trees look alike when the sun is shining or a gentle rain is falling, but let a mighty storm with fierce rain and howling winds pass through. Then the true difference is apparent. The trees with few roots are blown over, but the trees with deep roots are still standing when the storm has passed. So it is for the child of God. You won’t know how good your root system is until the storms of life crash against you. Only then will you discover the strength of your spiritual foundation. The only way to be ready for the storm is to spend time now delighting in God’s Word day by day, meditating on its truth, and building a foundation deep and strong for whatever may come your way. ii. Fruitfulness - The tree produces fruit that expresses its true inner character. Orange trees produce oranges. Whatever is on the inside must eventually be seen on the outside. Applied to the spiritual life, this means that when our roots are deep in the Word, we will be given what we need, when we need it. If we need love, a forgiving spirit, courage, patience and perseverance, God will produce it in us. This sort of supernatural life is for every believer, but it will only be realized as we walk with the Lord and delight in his Word. E. Blessedness prospers in all situations. i. Their leaf does not wither - Evergreen tree - leaves are in season all year round. People like this are refreshed by the Word of God, renewed, drawing on new strength for new situations. They are never boring, dull, living off yesterday’s blessings, but living each day in the strength of the Lord whose mercies are new every morning. ii. They prosper in all that they do - Prosperity doesn’t only refer to material success (though that is not excluded). They prosper in the sense that no matter what happens, they find strength for the day and hope in the midst of the hardest difficulties. They bring forth godly fruit in good times and bad times. Why? Because they are planted deep in the good soil and their roots reach out to the water of the Word of God.
In this world we face disappointment, sorrow, rejection, failure, sickness and discouragement. We may hear things about our children we prayed never to hear, our dearest friends may desert us, our spouse may leave us and we may face a series of earthly tragedies. Even then, we prosper, we thrive, we survive, we are not destroyed. Some days to survive is to prosper.
2. The Way of the Wicked v. 4 - 5
The truth about the human race - 2 words: “Not so.” They are not like the righteous and have no part in the blessing. They do not follow God’s Word, but have chosen a different path. A. The wicked are ultimately insubstantial. Chaff refers to the husk - seems quite strong, but once the kernel has been removed, it is light and insubstantial. That’s what the wicked are like in the eyes of the Lord. They look so powerful on earth, but to God they are like dust that is quickly blown away. Their “wisdom” is like chaff - new theories, new ideas, new beliefs. Nothing solid, nothing definite. They live for themselves, they don’t know right from wrong or good from bad. Life without God is useless, empty, trivial, and worthless. If a man lives for a hundred years and yet does not know God, he is just a piece of useless chaff! Blown away and forgotten! B. Their character will be revealed in the Day of Judgment. When judgment comes, the wicked will not stand because they have no roots. There is nothing of lasting value. With one breath, the Lord will blow all the wicked into hell. But the righteous will stand because they are like trees, with deep roots in the Word of God. The tree stands, the chaff disappears. That’s why sinners won’t be in the assembly of the righteous. They won’t be there because the winds of judgment will already have removed them.
3. The End of Both Ways v. 6
The righteous are preserved by God despite the trials of life on earth. The wicked will finally and utterly perish in hell. A. The righteous will endure because they are known by God. He “knows” the righteous the way a father “knows” his children. I have personal knowledge of many people, but I “know” my 3 daughters and 2 sons in a very direct way. I watch over them, think of them and do whatever I can to help them. But what I do in my small way, God does continually and with absolute perfection for all his children. It is because of his loving kindness that his children are preserved through their trials and brought safely home to heaven. B. The wicked and their wicked ways will ultimately perish. All that they have lived for will disappear like mist in the morning sun. Their “way” comes to a “dead end,” their life ends in destruction as they rush over the edge of a cliff only to find themselves not annihilated but in eternal hell forever. I freely admit that things don’t always appear to work out this way. Several of the psalms deal with the prosperity of the wicked versus the suffering of the righteous. The answer goes like this: What we see in this life is not God’s final verdict. Things today may seem quite inverted from the perspective of Psalm 1 when the wicked sometimes quite literally get away with murder. But God will have the final word because this life is not the final judgment.
4 Contemporary Conclusions
1. Flirtation with sinners leads to domination by evildoers. If you run with the pigs, you’re going to smell like the pigs. Pretty soon, you’ll look and act and dress like the pigs. When that happens, don’t be surprised if others mistake you for a pig. What seems small to you today may lead to total sin tomorrow. Be warned. Don’t play with fire if you don’t want to get burned. 2. Because of the world, godliness must largely be negative. Godliness will always involve separation from evil. How that works out in your life is an issue between you and the Lord. I cannot make rules for every situation but we dare not ignore the principle. Godliness involves more than staying away from evil, but it is not less than that.
3. Many who seem successful will be judged failures by God. Some of us will live in the shadow of these “successful” people for years, and we may be compared with them in an unfavourable way. There isn’t much we can do about that except to remind ourselves that the only evaluation that counts is God’s. If we are faithful to him, everything will come out alright in the end. 4. The happiest people build their lives on the Word of God. The truly happy people follow the prescription of Psalm 1. Others may be happy in a temporary or worldly sense, but they do not know the joy and deep satisfaction that comes from living with God’s approval. That is reserved for the true children of God.
Prayer - “Lord, we cannot read this psalm without asking ourselves, “What are we living for?” In these momentous days, when the world shakes beneath our feet, as one year fades and another year comes before us, your Word stops us in our tracks and shows us the truth. Have we discovered the blessedness that comes from a God-centered life? Or are we still chasing the dust that rises from a collapsing world system? Lord Jesus, you came to show us a better way. Help us to be people who delight in the Word. May we say No to every form of evil, even the casual friendships that pull us away from you. Grant us the strength and resolve to say “Yes” to you and to your Word. Help us to live so that in the Day of Judgment, we will not be blown away, but we will stand because you have made us to stand for eternity. Amen.”