This Way to the Good Life
Turn with me in your Bibles to Psalm 1. You don't know where that is in your Bible. You can take yours or the Pew Bible in front of you. If you open up right to the middle. It's probably going to put you in the Psalms and where someone is the very first and that book of the Bible. And with the start of the New Year this week a lot of people maybe you are going to start again at trying to read the Bible. You might start with Genesis 1 the first chapter of the whole Bible. You might start with Matthew 1 the first chapter of the New Testament. You might start with Psalm 1 the beginning of what for many Believers. Is there their favorite book, And out of a hundred and fifty psalms it's no accident that this particular one is the first in the whole collection. Why is that? Well, it's right here at the beginning to catch all of us who were well not really sure if we are interested in the Bible not all that committed to reading it. I mean you just barely have the willpower to get in the door here Psalm 1. so as we walk through this passage this morning and might feel like you're that that scene being in a crowded gym in January the Nash the YMCA Planet Fitness and you know, some of us are embarrassed that we haven't exercised in awhile and others are wondering if we'll be able to stick it out till February but it's okay. We're all here right now and we all need this. This psalm isn't about whether you're in better shape spiritually than the person sitting next to you. It's putting right in front of each one of us. a choice that will be life-changing. So we better pay attention. I hope you keep your Bible open, but work going to ask you to read all together from the screen Psalm one. So make sure we're looking at the same English translation right here in front of us. Psalm 1 together blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked nor stands in the way of Sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers. But his Delight is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night he is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its Leaf does not wither. In all that he does he prospers the wicked are not so but are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the Judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the Way of the Wicked Will perish. This is God's word. to try to summarize the song to summarize the sermon this is you'll find this by the way on the back of the worship folder and outline that we're going to work our way through here's this the psalm summary are the sermon in summary. There are two ways to live but only one leads to the good life the life that starts and ends with God. Choose Wisely you can see the song breaks down in three parts. If you have it in front of you open, there's two versus each. We're going to focus now on the first part verses 1 and 2 and the first part of that statement. There are two ways to live. Question is who are you listening to? No to quick clarifications on at opening line blessed is the man it's not gender-specific as in men only its generic any any person in human being and and the word blessed or blessed is is not specifically the favor of God or the grace of God. The Hebrew were here describes ate a happy vibrant flourishing state of being Part two is going to describe what that happy flourishing is like this opening line just makes clear. What kind of Psalm this is. It's what Scholars call me wisdom song because it's not a Psalm of Praise like a bless the Lord of my soul or a Psalm of lament how long oh Lord. Will you leave me suffering like this wisdom sauna gives us a profile of the good life. He does not do this. He does do this and it never says directly but it only applies. When do you want this good life? Well choose accordingly Choose Wisely. What does the person with the blessed life not do well verse 1 blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked North stands in the way of Sinners North sits in the seat of scoffers some look at this until we have a slippery slope hear you start off walking with the wicked pretty soon you're standing with the Sinners and before you know, it you're sitting with the scoffers. It's not exactly that so much as it is a trying to give you all the aspects all the facets the dimensions of Life the whole range of activity lived under the influence of those who are opposed to God, so it's not necessarily a progression of the wicked the center of the scoffer though. I did read one of my favorite commentators on the Psalms said this about the scoffers it is the most fatal of attitudes. But its coffers if not, the most scandalous of Sinners and you could imagine a worse in her right then ask offer, but the scoffer if not, the most scandalous of Sinners are the farthest from repentance. I think about it. They're just they're always like now that's dumped. It's stupid to believe that it's ridiculous to do what they're so dismissive their the far they can be actually the farthest from repentance. Noted contrast between the counsel of the wicked and the law of the Lord in verse to council think of council as as in a device as in guidance recommendations, the the law of the Lord that he brought here is not only the commands of God but his instruction that is what to do. The question here is so what is it that guides you and your life who influences you I am I'm sure that there is everyone in here. It is a person at one time or another who is looking for advice who's looking for guidance helpful information and isn't it a wonder that we live in an Information Age so that if we're shopping for something, for example, we have at our fingertips all kinds of expert reviews and customer reviews to tell us which is the best product or if we want to watch a movie. What what did the critics say about it? What were what was the audience rating for those who sought if you're spending just a couple of hours or a few bucks, you might not be really worried about doing a lot of research but the but think about the more that you're going to invest in something the more careful you are in getting good advice. So you're you're spending maybe hundreds of dollars on a new phone or a computer or a major appliance your spending thousands, maybe tens of thousands of dollars on a new car. You're spending a hundred thousand or maybe hundreds of thousands on a house or property while not now we're getting serious. How much attention? Are you going to give to your life? Who you're listening to? Are you going to pay attention to? To who is influencing who is who is speaking into your life? You will not join the ranks of the Blessed the happy The fulfilled if you were taking advice from the ungodly, if you're following the lead of those who do wrong if you're settling into the attitude the posture of those who mock what is right and what is good? It's probably worth noting here. And then I'll paraphrase the Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians 5 9 and 10. Of course, it doesn't mean that you don't listen to anybody who's not a Christian. If you can't avoid contact with unbelievers Paula said to otherwise you have to go out of the world and there's not really a way to to do that. But the question is, who are you listening to who influences your attitude and your decisions whose opinion do you value? It might be for you up a favorite author or political pundit. It might be that that beautiful actress or that amazing athlete or are simply the circle of friends that you have on social media. Those are the ones that are influencing your attitudes your direction in life. The question is are these voices encouraging you in the things of the Lord? Did the stories that you were absorbing from the podcast the movie is the novels that you retard are they are they sketching a different portrait of your identity or are they skipping a different story for for your purpose and direction in life? Question also his what place does God's word have in shaping who you are and how you live. You might have come this morning. If you've been a Christian for a long time you been in church for years you say up. It's the new year. It's someone we we just know one of the applications for this sermon is going to be pastor wants us all to do personal devotions this year having a little quiet time on your own every day to read the Bible but really pay attention to verse 2 This is not good. But let's be clear. This is not asking if you have the notion in your head that personal devotions is kind of punching the clock with guy you today read three chapters and took the box or you know, read a chapter a day to keep the devil away. That's not what verse 2 says. His Delight is the light. Is in the law of the Lord and on his law he meditates day and night this the person who is living the good life. the lights in enjoys being in God's word and he's he's meditating. He's he's chewing on it all the time. It's just kind of going through his head his her head the vision of this song. For having you and Gage with God through his word cannot be reduced to knowing theology or joyless rule keeping or just reading a Through the Bible in a year. It's it's bigger than that. It's better than that. It's about the kind of life that you have and the kind of life that you will have based on who is shaping you. That's what someone is about remembered as as God's instruction manual for us. It's way more than that understand but it is God's instruction that the laudatory it's it is God's instruction for us and it's meant to be practical. It is a truth that is to guide sometimes correct you and lead you or is Psalm 119:105 says your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. So you can Delight in What God Says really chewing on it? In a lot of ways not just doing your personal devotions. You can do that partly by being a church regularly make that a regular habit in your life. Some of you I know he'll even listen to the sermon more than once. I I'm not I'm not saying that they're they're saying that the sermons are great, but they may be that says that they just need to hear it again for for me to be clear but they listen to the sermons over more than once to go to the other sermon from other good preachers or there or their reading good books. That's another way to walk with the wise or they're they're getting together their talk about what they're learning in the Bible with your family or with other friends from church or Beyond. That those are great things some of you may have your you're getting ready January when you're going to start a new Bible reading plan. That's great. I think it's good to be intentional but it doesn't have to be a no read the Bible in a year can this all kinds of ways for you to to have a plan and A & M be intentional about being in God's word the most important thing. The most important thing is just you find a way to get God's word in you and in a way that impacts your thinking and living I understand all this is some might be like my all I had and I'm just not really someone who naturally Delights in God's word. I don't meditate. I'm not really much of a reader and I'm not I don't sit around and think well by was not always easy to read and if not always fun and it's okay if I can give you some sort of permission not that I have any kind of authority to to say I don't quite understand this mystery quickly and and keep reading you'll probably the next time you come to that. You'll probably get more out of it, but just just get it in front of you get get it into you. I want to continue through the song. And let the scripture hear make its own case for why you should do that. Even if it's not something that you're inclined to do. So we've said there are two ways to live. Part two, but only one leads to the good life. Question here is what do you want to be like? so we're trying to the second part of the song verses 3 and 4 and as we said before one reason, we identify this as a wisdom type of Psalm is it it doesn't issue a command to to read and Obey God's word although it could instead it sets the good and bad results of your choices in front of you and says so what do you want to be like
Well, here we go with the one who devours guys were the one who savors it. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and it's Leaf does not Wither in all that he does he prospers. The wicked are not so but are like chaff that the wind drives away. So we moved from two ways to live to two very different outcomes. Pictured as a healthy tree, lush green fruitful and the dry empty husks that are left over after grain is thrashed. What makes the difference? You can you can figure it out right to do what what makes a difference between the two. It's not just the outcome. There's that there's something behind it that the tree has its roots tapping into the steady supply of water. In in this analogy that of course describes the person that's tapped into God's word. And that is the source of its vibrant life of its prosperity and all that. He does he prospers not when it talks about in everything. He does he prospers it's not talking about financial profit but flourishing and all of life. We read very similar words at the beginning of the Book of Joshua. We're going to have these on the screen now and you these are God's own words to Joshua. Do we have can we get that up on the screen? Thank you. These are God's own words to Joshua as he takes over leadership of Israel after Moses death. Joshua 1:8 this book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it for then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. I don't know but you can make a case that that the psalmist wanted Rose. Someone had this verse in mind. Maybe you got the the book of The Law of the law of the lord. It's got meditating on a day and night doing of that and then you will make your way. That's in someone way prosperous and then you will have good success.
Regular deep engagement with God's word not only in thinking but in doing with careful attention to application. That's how your way your life will go. Well, this is the good life again this Prosperity. This success is not a big house and a fancy car. It's not designer clothes and exotic vacations the career that takes off in a skyrocketing investment account know what this song calls as to imagine. What kind of what kind of lush Health vibrant life Are we talking about? It's it say do you want to be someone who even in the dry times? The drought of shortfall and suffering that we all go through in our lives. That you would be someone that even through those times is remarkably resilient and hopeful because your roots go down deep someone who in the lean times still experiences fullness because the steady stream of your resources are in God and they are not diminished by the heat of your circumstances. You want to be someone who is able in each season of life? Is child as a young adult? In middle age and old age and even declining years. Do you want to be in every season of life to be able to produce the kind of good things that you were created to be able to bless others with the Bounty of your life what God is doing in your life. That's Prosperity that success as God defines it. No, that's not you. Maybe you are ruthless.
You're trying to build a life that has no connection to truth no foundation in God. And when you find that you've been that that your soul is just dry. When you shrivel up and wither away don't be surprised that you have nothing to offer nothing to offer your spouse or your children. Nothing to offer your church or your neighbors. See, this is not simply a question of whether or not you. Have you have to read the Bible like it's a rule somewhere that you have to have daily devotions, please this is this is way bigger than that. It's just the reality that God has made each one of us to thrive in certain conditions. As Jesus said quoting Deuteronomy man does not live by bread alone. But by every word that comes from the mouth of God, and I'm afraid that some of us are starving ourselves.
The song says that's why you're so weak. There's a good thirsty in a bad Thursday. There's a there's a adjust a parched. Reality to life that some of us have because we're not connected whenever routes down the water and some I pray will be thirsty saying all I want more. That's the good kind of thirst today.
There are two ways to live. But only one leads to the good life. This is part 3 the life that starts and ends with God. The question here is where do you think you're going?
In the last part of the song we leave the imagery of trees and chaff and return to the reality of these two ways to live. And now it also becomes clear that these ways lead to a still more ultimate outcome than just the fullness of a tree or the The Emptiness of the chat verses 5 and 6. therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment. Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous for the Lord knows the way of the righteous. but the Way of the Wicked Will perish
put the whole song together and it's saying you don't want to stand with the Sinners through the course of your life because Sinners will not stand at the end on Judgement Day.
Oh, no, don't get me wrong. They will stand before God at the end, but they will not have a leg to stand on SB idea. And the congregation he's talking about here is not not just the Assembly of people who the people of God at the temple in the Old Testament or the congregation to assembled people of God here at a church. It's talking about what each of those congregations point to. The Gathering at the temple every Gathering we have at church even this morning around the world. All of these congregations point to anticipate V great congregation the throng of people worshipping Before the Throne of every tribe tongue nation and language. That's the ultimate and final congregation. And these will not be a part of that Gathering.
Don't you want to be there a Lord? I want to be in that number When the Saints Go Marching it. We we should want to be in that congregation.
If these Eternal consequences don't get your attention understand this that the sinner the wicked in this section of the song is not only referring to the bad influences in the first part of the song The Wicked sinner the scoffer. It's including everyone. Who is chosen? to follow them
keep the path that you're on determines the person you become.
You walk in the counsel of the wicked? Guess what?
It is in the way of sinners. That's who you are. Now this isn't the Bible but some of you will remember Forrest Gump. Stupid is as stupid does or maybe I just was he would save calling his mom or somebody from stupid is as stupid as and what that means is. Oh no. Oh, no, I'm smart, but you keep doing stupid things.
Stupid is as stupid does. Wicked is is wicked does.
Sinners but that's Forrest Gump. That's not the Bible what it but what about what about the New Testament? What about Grace and forgiveness and perfect obedience to the to the law of God because none of us have done that what about trusting in Jesus and what he's done for us on the cross? Yes. I'm glad you brought that up. With we need that message this morning and we're not going to leave that out of the of the equation but that does not negate the reality of this song If you think that you're a Christian saved by grace because you made a profession of Faith, but you ignore God and his word on a regular basis and you followed those who are opposed to him. The question is who Do You Think You Are And where do you think you're headed? Do do not Comfort yourself with a notion that oh, well, I'm just a I'm just a wayward believer that that's I think that's who I am. Well maybe Maybe that maybe true you might be a genuine believer who is just straight who just got a little cold a little dry that possible.
or maybe the seed of the Gospel fell on rocky soil and know you were you look pretty good for a while, but then you just withered away. Why did Jesus say that that happens because they had no root.
But they weren't they weren't they had no root and they bore no fruit.
Jesus himself says there will be some who when they stand before God and they'll say yes. I was I was I was one of yours, right Lord Lord. Look what it look with all that I did.
We can read into Jesus worship. You can stand before God. I read through the Bible in a year.
and for some of those who would say I never knew you.
The Lord knows the way of the righteous. but the Way of the Wicked Will perish Please hear me. This is no simplistic religion of you. No be good. And you'll go to the good place. This is about knowing god and being known by God. This is about going through life with him and ending up with him forever. You want to let you do what you're like to end with God will start today by walking with him by Faith by pursuing a relationship with him knowing him personally experienced Experiencing. God and His Fellowship through his word and expressing that life that relationship that love that Joy by joyful obedience.
There are two ways to live. But only one leads to the good life the life that starts and ends with God Choose Wisely. That's that's what the song it is is asking without asking for it is is prompting without without coming out and saying it the question here is what are we going to do about? This has been put in front of you. Not just by Me by God himself putting this right here. You just you just had enough gumption to open the crack open the Bible read one little short passage at but it's not going to let you close it and walk away. and say well I don't need that. Okay, but at least you know what you're saying no to write. You understand what I said.
Of course. To preach this passage at this time of year because I was hoping that yes, I am hoping and praying that it will inspire some of you to start a a habit of regular pattern of engaging with God in a personal way through his word and prayer and yes doing so in that in it and a personal individual way and away together with other believers as certainly As We Gather week by week in church. Small groups but I hope that you're also hearing this is something much richer and much and much more terrifying and its consequences than simply a pep talk to have personal devotions. Are we getting that today from God's word? I hope the the picture of dry and windblown chat like that that you want to be you. I hope that scares you really really I don't I don't apologize for that. I hope the vision that the expectation that the prospect of being blown away like dust at the judge will make us shudder. but I also hope picture the beautiful picture of a living vibrant healthy tree draws you in I want that. I want to be that as it so that you say how can I put my roots down into where I can? Find life in God. Please understand. He didn't make trees to live in any other way. He didn't make you to be able to survive in any other way. It won't happen unless your roots are in him.
The first truth you need to know to guide your steps the first decision you make in choosing to listen to God rather than the wicked is to to embrace the good news of the Gospel to receive the promise what God has said that that Christ is the one who can forgive your sins that he can make you stand when you stand with him by faith, but when you become a Christian when you say yes Make Me Yours God forgive my sins take me give me the promise of life forever with you when you become a Christian you are saying that he Jesus is the one you follow. Not the council the Wicked at the center is not the scoffers. And did she not give us the example of the Blessed Life the blessed life? You can read in Luke 2 not not what we read last week the Christmas story. But but the end of the chapter when when Jesus is a boy of twelve. And remember how he's he's in the temple talking with all these experts in the Bible. He's Bible scholars and they are amazed. Are we thinking that that he just came to Earth with all the knowledge for a downloaded?
I know that the passage of cell that said he he increased in wisdom and stature and favor with God and then he learned this boy of twelve had to have been in the scriptures. He was in God's word. Work for think about the story of Jesus in the wilderness facing Temptation from the Devil Himself and he it took to fight that Temptation. He quotes scripture three times from Deuteronomy dit-dit-dit. Did he pull out his pocket Old Testament to do that? He quoted it. It was in here. It was in here. Jesus was in the word or during his ministry. Did he did he ever claimed that well, since I am the Son of God and then I don't really need to listen to or obey my father. I'm the son of God. Or did in fact work the other way around. Because he was a Son of God. He love to listen to and do what his father asked him to do. That was how it works. That's how it works and it's no different for each of us being saved by grace being a Christian doesn't doesn't exempt us from obedience to God. Justin exempt us from following our Lord and savior What are some other words being a Christian being saved by grace through faith does not make a relationship with God optional. It makes it possible. Jesus makes a relationship with God possible. So that as we come to God's word and his spirit is at work in us then that destroyed that the very Breath of God the breathed out these words and has inspired them. As His word has brings now life and Breeze into us his word father son Spirit making this life this relationship realize he speaks to us through his word and we respond with our words in prayer and thereby we know him. And are known by him. And have a relationship with him. through Christ buy spirit is possible to know God to listen to his word to follow an obedient with every expectation and hope of life with him through each year and through eternity now. and forever That's the picture we have in someone. How about starting? January one today
oh God, I pray that we would feel both the the weight
of the choice that you put before us and the opportunity.
That you have set before us. Way of death in a way of life with you.
But there are many ways that we could. apply this truth Can I pray that you would impress upon each one?
How we might come draw closer to you? through this year I pray that I'll also that you would you would relieve release us from pressures to conform to a particular notion of what personal devotions has to be but I am praying that there would be something real and Powerful there be something regular and ongoing in our lives that reflect our route snu.
I projected that we would also. sea experience Happy Blessed by the fruit that you will bring about in our lives.
for our joy the benefit of others and For Your Glory we pray this in Jesus name.