Delivered on Jan. 8, 2017
Blessed is the one, who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither, whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked! They are like chaff, that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
A young man was learning to be a paratrooper. Before his first jump, he was given these instructions:
1. Jump when you are told.
2. Count to ten and pull the ripcord.
3. In the unlikely event that your chute doesn’t open pull the emergency ripcord.
4. When you get down, a truck will be there to take you back to the airfield.
The young soldier memorised these instructions and climbed aboard the plane. The plane climbed to ten thousand feet and the paratroopers began to jump. When the young soldier was told to jump, he jumped. He then counted to ten and pulled the ripcord. Nothing happened. His chute failed to open. So he pulled the emergency ripcord. Still nothing happened. No parachute. “Oh great” he thought, “And I suppose the truck won’t be there when I get down either!”
Have you ever felt like that? Have you experienced failures and disappointments to the point that you just don’t expect anything to go right for you? Sometimes the whole world seems to be against us.
But then there are some people who seem to just breeze through life. They always land on their feet. And success always seems to come their way - almost to the point of being unfair. There’s a feeling of jealously.
What does it take to be a person who always lands on their feet? Well unlike the situation of the young soldier in our story there is hope.
Psalms 1 offers us an understanding of “A Blessed Life” that differs enormously from the way these things are usually understood today. It turns the common perception of being blessed suggests a life of blessing, through successes, wealth, material, fame, and so on…that is so radical that it’s remarkably appealing today.
Being blessed by God…
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in he way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” (v1)
The leading thought here is that the believer is blessed by God. God is the one who blesses people who “do not walk in the counsel of the wicked,” who refuse evil advice. It is in God’s law that this person finds their delight. It is the sound of God’s voice and through God’s direction that this person finds “happiness.” In short, the understanding of how life works in this first Psalm is thoroughly God centered.
The “righteous”, person is described by what he avoids. The “righteous” person is described to be someone who loves the law of God…. “if you love Me, you will obey My commands”.
Isn’t this so opposite to the way we often think. Almost without exception we find humanity today centering fulfillment upon oneself. Think about it - to “have a good time” in our society, in our time, almost always means to go out and “enjoy yourself.” Not God, but yourself! Not others, but yourself. We can be so extremely self-centered at times, right??? I just want to do it, I know God will understand.
In this Psalms, true satisfaction involves not enjoying oneself, but taking delight in a real and living relationship with God. This is the secret of a lasting Christian joy. This is important so please listen - the goal of the Christian life is not to enjoy oneself, but to enjoy God - and this is what brings that deeper joy. Far more permanent than mere happiness.
As the saying goes… “you only live ones, enjoy it while you can”. Sure… that saying may be true, if your only focus is this life, and that you know that there is no eternal life waiting for you. So, why not…enjoy this life, its the only one I have. Not so for the Christian.
Let me explain this a little bit further. The goal of life for the writer of the Psalms, and for every believer today, is not found in self-fulfillment but in praising God. For the person in the street “well-being,” or energy for life, comes from within us. But for the believer, “well-being” in life comes from their connection to the source of life - God.
What’s so unsettling about all of this is that what the Psalmist calls “wickedness” is what many people today see as life’s idea goal, “independence.” What generally marks success and maturity in our culture is self-sufficiency…being a self-made success. I made myself successful, I worked very hard for what I have.
Wanting or needing help, whether from others or from God, is taken as a sign of weakness or instability. What is so dumb about this is that we crave to be accepted and admired by others and yet seek it by attempting to “stand on our own two feet.” This independence effectively cuts us off from the very people whose friendship and acceptance we ache for! “I have to make a good first impression”. I have to fit in…I Just want to be accepted, so that I can be happy!
Let me remind you…”Blessed”, is a stronger word for being “happy”.
“Happy is the man, who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked”.
On the are being self happy…trying to fit in to be happy…joining the crowd.
Jesus spoke about this when He said…
34 When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. 35 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it.
Jesus spoke to two audiences here. “He called the people to Himself, with His disciples also”. Believer, ( disciples ) people, the rest of the crowd, (non believers)
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it”, Let me put it this way…whoever wants to live a happy life…without God will loose it! “You only live ones, so enjoy it while you can”. It is a lost life. “ but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it”. Letting go of who we are, and letting God take control. Because happiness in God…Being blessed by God is eternal. Everything that we have here and now is just a temporary fix. Temporary happiness.
What Jesus is saying is that when we place God at the center of our lives, we risk losing every physical thing, fitting in, being accepted, loosing friends, being hated by your family, maybe even life itself. Yet true happiness is only found here…in God and the loss involved is trivial when we compare it with gaining a new and eternal life in His Son.
By failing to trust God and make connections with God as the source of life, we can’t be truly happy. To be blessed, being blessed, the word itself comes from God… To be independent, self-sufficient and so alienated from God and others, in biblical terms, is to “perish.”
Yet to the believer is different. The believer is connected to God and therefore blessed by him. You cannot call yourself blessed, if you don’t recognize where all blessings flow. “Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, praise Him all creatures here below”
Blessed in Christ…
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither, whatever they do prospers.
Like this first Psalm, Jesus also promised that his followers would be blessed. His famous Sermon on the Mount begins with that promise - “blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the meek, and so on… ( Matt 5 )
In our Psalm the blessed life is described as a tree planted by a stream. A fruitful tree which provides shade to all who come under it. We read that the righteous person…
“is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers”.
This verse alone should be like a self examination for those who carry the name of Christ. Are you still growing in your walk. Are you still bearing good fruits. It says there, “whose leaf does not wither”. or have you stopped growing? You shouldn’t!
Jesus also drew upon Himself the imagery of a growing plant to describe how His followers are blessed. Jesus said…
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
This is what I meant earlier when I said… “have you stopped growing, you shouldn’t”
Because, Jesus does not stop… “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing”. Are you still being blessed, by bearing fruit?
The next thought then is that everyone who “remains in” - “follows” Christ is blessed. Take note of the place where the tree has been planted - by streams of water. Jesus and all that he taught us is our life giving stream. People who are open to Jesus and his instruction are like trees planted beside a source of water, they are never without a resource to sustain their lives under any circumstance. No matter how tough life gets, no matter how many dislike you…I don’t fit in, I don’t join in, I avoid the counsel of the wicked… Jesus provides the source of new life.
Everyone who is connected to the True Vine will continue to be blessed. Key word, connected to the Vine…not the world. Now… I don’t know about you, but even though I am convinced that I am firmly planted in Jesus Christ, whatever I do does not “always prosper”, as the psalm suggests it should. My life is not always fruitful and as a result my joy fluctuates. Why? Sin gets the best of me, whether by thought, action, speech you name it. Sin, can…and will always rob you and I of Gods blessings, Gods joy.
Maybe today you’re circumstances have robbed you of your joy. Let me point you back to the voice of God as we hear it in these verses. Let his compassionate word to you today penetrate your mind and heart. Hear his answer, it may not change your circumstances but it will change you. Listen…
Blessed is the one, who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.
What robs us of our Christian joy? Listening to the lies of the world around us. Have we given credit to the advice of the world over the voice and commands of God?
Listen to His voice…“Blessed is the one, who does not walk in step with the wicked”
It’s one thing to hear the advice of the world, it’s quite another to get up and stand in it,. to accept it and act on it. After we have heard it, have we accepted worldly advice to be true and then acted upon it? Maybe this has robbed you of your joy.
Listen to His voice. “or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers”. Are we settled, in worldly wisdom? The first step away from the blessing of Christian joy is to listen to worldly advice. The next step is to act on worldly advice the final step is to own it as the ultimate truth. To sit in it – to rest in it. That is, to adopt a hardened and ungodlike (or unbiblical) attitude? Cut off from the True Vine!
No Joy!!! No Blessings!!!
The progression from walking, to standing to sitting reminds us that even to take that first step away from a Godly… Christ centered thinking will rob us of the blessing of lasting Christian joy.
That is why Jesus said…
“Abide in Me” ( John 15:5 ) Add To Power point!
Jesus and all that He taught us is our life giving stream. People who are open to Jesus and who are willing to follow his instruction no matter what the cost are like trees planted beside a life giving stream, they are never without a resource to sustain their lives under any circumstance.
A short story from a devotional I once read…
I like ferns - I think what it is about them is that they are so easy to grow and that when they sprout a new frond you can see it open up over a period of a few days - you can watch its progress. I actually get excited when I see a new frond appearing.
You may be going through a time like my fern has gone through. My fern was rejected by its previous owner, he said if I could be bothered nursing it I was welcome to have it for nothing. When I first saw it, it was uprooted from the ground and sitting out in the scorching sun without a pot. Most of its fronds were burnt brown - its previous owner didn’t hold out much hope for it - it was worth nothing to him. But I like ferns and I could see the potential in this one.
So I took it home, re-potted it (I bought a pot especially), trimmed all it’s burnt fronds back leaving it with only two and those weren’t too healthy , gave it some quick release fertilizer, placed it in a nice shady spot (They love the shade), and gave it a big long drink. I’ve been watering it about every other day since. In just four weeks it grew three new fronds, and soon after that I cut off the last original frond . It didn’t need that frond any more - the new growth was providing the life it needed now.
How much more does your heavenly Father love you? Maybe you want another chance at life.. then you need to be planted “abide” into his Son. Maybe you have been planted but you… your faith is a bit like this burnt frond, only just alive. You need to trim some old ways to make way for new growth and kingdom fruitfulness.
Notice that the blessed person is “like a tree planted by streams.” This is no wild bush …it was planted intentionally and it has an owner who wants to lovingly tend it and so your heavenly Father wants to lovingly shape you for the best possible life.
Blessed with all blessings…
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither, whatever they do prospers.
And what a life it is! Not only is the believer blessed by God, in Christ but also with all blessings. Because, “Whatever he does prospers” What an awesome promise! It’s almost too outrageous to believe it. At least it would be if we were to look for the fulfillment of such a promise with our own eye sight. And not in the eyes of someone else. Because… you know who you are connected to.
This final line of v3 has often been interpreted to mean that following Jesus is materially rewarded in the here and now. Instead to “prosper in all they do” should be viewed through the eye of faith. It’s not outward prosperity that is most valuable. It’s the prosperity of the soul. The everlasting fruit.
Often it is for the health of the soul that we find our income inadequate, often it is for the health of our soul that we suffer grief, often it’s for the health of the soul that our family life is going through storms, often it’s for the health of our soul that we are harassed by life and circumstances. The worst things that can happen to us are often the best. There are often blessings wrapped up in the misfortunes of a righteous person. Often the storms that we go through are lessons for a more fruitful living.
The prosperity that the Psalmist is speaking about is this: “that people who trust God have discovered the resource for sustaining their lives under any circumstance.” They are experiencing life the way it was meant to be. On the surface it may look like the world is falling down around us…on the other hand, the believer is blessed with all blessing.
For a start they are blessed through time and into eternity. Blessed none the less, even through difficult circumstance. Simply because, it abides in the “true Vine”.
Listen to Gods voice, once again… in regards to the wicked.
4 The ungodly are not so, But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
A godless, self-sufficient life is like chaff, it can be blown away at the slightest breeze. On the other hand a righteous life that relies on God for everything, is like a well placed tree whose stability allows it to live and bear fruit.
Those who honor God and order their lives in all things according to His will are the “congregation of the righteous” which the Psalmist identifies in v5. They have a relationship with God. And they alone experience his presence both now and in the life to come. They alone will be able to stand under the weight of his judgment.
But the self-sufficient life only has itself to rely on, no connection with the True Vine, it will have to sustain itself on the Lord’s day, and sadly it won’t be able to. “You only live once, enjoy it while you can”. That is the life of the wicked.
For those who are in Christ a blessed to the highest degree, listen to the voice of God again…
For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
In another translation
Psalms 1:6 (NIV)
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
It’s a high calling, to order you life according to the will of God ,in fact it’s the highest calling! But to this highest calling is attached the highest blessing, eternal life!
What more do want? What else can you ask for?
This tells us that the righteous are at the center of God’s attention. The Lord knows his people intimately, not just intellectually, but through a personal relationship. And the blessing is the assurance that God cares for his own, protects them, and will reward them….
Psalms 37:18 (NIV)
The blameless spend their days under the Lord’s care, and their inheritance will endure forever.
The “blameless, or the righteous” spend their days under the Lords care. That is from now and forever. That is a promise to those who are truly connected to the One True Vine! No amount of free will can break that bond!
What is praised here in the first Psalm is a complete commitment of the whole self to God… Total commitment!
14 After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15 “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
That is to give up self-sufficiency and to live under the full control of God. Jesus said, “If anyone wants to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me”. Take up your cross and follow Him! When it comes to the word “repent”, it means to “let go, turn away”. even it means, to turn away from the people the can cause you to sin. Keep in mind…”you are the company you keep”.
“Blessed is the one, who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers”, (Psalms 1)
And like our Psalm, Jesus also promised that his followers would be blessed, despite what trouble the world can throw at them. Jesus mentions that if you read the Sermon On The Mount. There’s something appealing about that kind of blessing. It’s supernatural and it’s refreshing in the face of the world’s view of success. I want to encourage you to seek it, to turn away from self-sufficiency, choose the crowd that you are in, and make sure that you are both connected to the Vine, and not a weed that will lead you to sin and death. Open yourselves up to God’s teaching, to sink your roots deep into Him, His instruction and His direction. Is all the blessings you will ever need.
Pastor Richard Santos
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