Psalm 1:1-3 (NKJV) Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
Life is a progression. Days become months turning into years each according to the seasons. Seasons of life change some moving slowing while others seem to last forever. Living in Florida, natural seasons are not as clearly defined as our northern friends. Life in the spiritual is a progression that changes just like in the natural. God created the heavens and the earth. Though driven by dramatically difference forces, the Creator remains the same and in complete control of the created. As I read the all too familiar Psalm this morning, I wanted to race past the first two verses and leap into the third. We all want the blessings of God. Fulfillment of His Promises. Satisfaction in this life. Salvation for eternity to enter His Kingdom and live forever with Him. However, to ignore the progression will hinder our destination. You cannot get to the place you are going until you travel the route of arrival.
Blessed is the man (or woman) who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly…
As believers called Christians even, we are in this world but not of this world. God would not leave us here once the Blood of Jesus is applied and true repentance takes place unless there was a purpose. Why? Because He knows that we will stumble, fall, trip, get entangled in the enemy’s lies and sin again. But He does have a purpose in us remaining on the earth. To be disciples. True representations of the Gospel. To share the message of love and grace given to us and show others the way. However, sometimes this concept takes a religious twist rather than a righteous direction. I am righteous in Christ alone. He is the sole source of my salvation. I have access to the Father because of the right standing given to me as a gift from Jesus. He has handed me the keys to the Kingdom. However, sometimes believers stray off course.
The counsel of the ungodly is not necessarily what you may think. There are many people who believe that their way is the right way and are only trying to help. Yes, some people are just completely wrong living sinful lives but what Christian doesn’t know better. Well….a lot actually. Every day I see posts on social media of godly people seeking public opinion. Voicing cares, concerns and worries to the crowd. This is a dangerous progression. The progression of life in Christ begins with repentance that turns us back to God but it will take a great deal of dedication and devotion to stay on course. There are many distractions. Hebrews 12 tells us to “lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us”. Public opinion is a dangerous thing. As believers, it is important to know the Word and examine the tree before partaking of another’s fruit. Blessed is the person who goes to the Lord and His Word first. The one who seeks God for counsel for their walk is secure. However, if one may tarry in the thoughts and ideas of another there is an inherent danger. Do not take everyone’s advice especially the ungodly.
Nor stands in the path of sinners…
The one who was walking is now standing in the crowd of indecision. Avoid activities that lead to sin. While seeking public opinion our social circle will include those struggling with our issue because there is a sympathetic ear and comfortable consort. There are things that are easily given up to be washed in the Blood and carried off to forgetfulness. Everyone has hidden sin in even the most broken heart. Just because church and culture has labeled the most “deadly” sins – things such as a critical and complaining spirit remain sin to God. Those who tear down others rather than building them up. Gossip and slander. Rebellion against God when He speaks and there is no action on our part. Little distractions that stopped us from walking and bound us in the opinions of others now have us standing in sin. If you are bound by discontentment, complaining and the like there is another danger lurking in the dark…you will become cynical.
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful…
Ouch! Jesus forgive me for the times I have occupied this seat. Teach me to love and lead without being cynical. It is important to guard against the “Pharisee” spirit that overtakes us. It begins by asking the opinion of those who agree with our complaint. It moves into a place of sin as comparison builds a cell around our thoughts. Suddenly, rather than moving deeper in God’s Presence, it is our place to occupy the seat of the scornful. It is easy to lob rocks over someone else’s wall. Comparing our grass to others is dangerous practice. It implies that there is no uniqueness in God’s Plan or His Promise and that we would rather eat other people’s fruit and productivity rather than experience the divine provision for our life. When walking, becomes standing, and turns into sitting – the life of a believer becomes stagnant and nothing good is in the vineyard of their heart. God has a plan just for you. His Purpose for your life is unique and significant. The first verse of Psalm 1 is important to keep us moving from glory to glory and victory to victory.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
The English translation of the word “meditate” means to think about or contemplate. But in the Hebrew context to meditate is very different. Not just a mental exercise, now it is to speak the scriptures while utterly abandoning all distractions. People have good intentions. They mean well. It is up to us as believers to read the Word of God, study it, think about it and apply it appropriately to our life. The counsel sought after must be qualified by the Word and God’s Spirit. The Spirit takes the Word working it in our heart, mind and thoughts so that when give counsel – it has a credibility factor in comparison. Godly counsel requires a source rooted in the water that never runs dry.
Delight in God’s Word doesn’t come from skipping through it from time to time. When I go to the hardware store, I often entertain planting a garden in the backyard. A notorious plant killer by nature, I think about it and then doubt rises up. I begin to think of all the care it would require. Not to mention, our dog that would probably dig it all up. I just keep going and never put the seed in the ground. However, then I see my friends who do garden post pictures of the lovely veggies and fruits from their garden on social media. I want it too, but if I am not willing to sow the right seeds and work my own field – I will not get the harvest. God’s Word is full of promises and potential for my life that must be sown in my heart. Proverbs 16 tell us that the preparations of the heart belongs to man. We must stop comparing our life to others and seek God’s Plan first.
So here is the bottom line and food for thought today…the influence I allow others to have determines to a large extent my spiritual destiny. God has given me His Word and His Spirit. The counsel I need begins in this place and should be the comparison to which I gauge every other voice I allow access to my heart and my head. I must become a diligent gatekeeper of my thoughts and it will also impact my words. To voice my concerns and discontentment to others should be limited to godly counsel or I will be subject to distractions, delays and detours as my walking with God becomes standing and then sitting. God has a unique, wonderful and significant plan that is individual. Not everyone will get it, embrace it or encourage you to pursue it – it is in a deep and abiding relationship with the Lord and living in His Presence (alone if need be) that true peace in the process is discovered. This is the place where we become like a tree by the water. The tree that survives storms. The tree that produces good fruit. The tree that moves from surviving to thriving. Prosperity begins in our soul. The private moments and encounters with God seeking His Counsel and enjoying His Ways. Godly living is not a religious endeavor but knowing God personally and living in His Presence day by day from glory to glory. Our life is going someplace. There is a spiritual destination of complete confidence in Christ worth finding. There is only one way. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Psalm 16:5-8 (NKJV) O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.