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A Walk Through Psalm One

This year the kids and I have been working hard at memorizing more of the Bible. There can be no exaggeration to the importance of hiding the Word in our hearts. If you have the scripture hidden in your heart it’s a lot easier to meditate on. We don’t always have our Bibles in front of our faces but if we have as much of the Word memorized as we can, we can call it up at a moment’s notice to chew on. I’ve heard people liken it to a cow chewing its cud. We can feed on the Word, swallow it, let it sustain us, and then bring it back up to chew on some more to bring more of the nutrients out of it. But unlike the grass a cow eats, the Word never ceases to offer live-giving insights.

The first one we tackled was Psalm 1. This passage offers us a beautiful snapshot of the contrast between what our lives should and shouldn’t reflect — the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The teaching in this Psalm enforces that there is one way to life and that is through obedience to God and His Word.

Psalms begins with a very dangerous progression for the believer. Psalm 1:1 says, “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.” It speaks of a deepening involvement with the world and its all-encompassing wickedness. First, we find ourselves in the company unbelievers — we all have unsaved friends, family, acquaintances. It’s unavoidable, really. Should we take counsel or solicit advice from them? No. 2 Corinthians 6:14b says, “What fellowship has righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion has light with darkness?” Then something we see or hear causes us to stop. Something pricks our ear — we entertain what has been said. Alistair Begg wrote, “The challenge is always this: Are men and women going to allow the Word of God to sit in judgment on their puny minds, or are they going to make their puny minds the judges of the word of God?” Ultimately, we end up sitting in the seat of the scornful — that is a dangerous place to be.

When I think of sitting in the seat of the scornful, it makes me think of a message I heard Steve Hill preach. He was talking about believers pitching their tents toward Sodom. (Genesis 13:12-13) Lot did that and without going into detail — since I think we all know the story. It cost him dearly. How in the world does a believer end up sitting in the seat of the scornful? It’s not an intentional thing. It’s a gradual thing. It’s a series of unwise decisions. It’s a series of small, seemingly inconsequential compromises. Genesis 4:7 says, “If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” I don’t believe Cain started out his life as a homicidal two-year-old wanting to kill his brother. It was a gradual, little by little, kind of thing. There is nothing the enemy likes more than to corrupt a son or daughter of God. It is his singular aim.

In order for us to keep verse one from happening to us we have to move on. Psalms 1:2 reads, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” What happens to the believer when we delight in and feast on the Word of God? Certainly not verse one — verse three happens, that’s what!

“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.” A tree planted by the rivers of water has no lack of sustenance. A tree planted by the rivers of water is productive and a blessing to others. (A tree doesn’t eat its own fruit.) A tree planted by the rivers of water is able to offer shade and shelter to others. A tree planted by the rivers of water is prosperous. Much like most promises in the Bible, verse three is conditional on us doing what is stated in verse two.

Psalms 1:4, “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.” The ungodly are no so, what? They are not anything mentioned in verses two and three. The ungodly are dead. The ungodly are dry. Chaff is what’s left over after the grain harvest. The farmer has processed the wheat to remove what is useful to them and has left the rest. The chaff, which then dries up, is blown away by the wind. That is not to be us! We are not to be like the chaff — dried up, blown away, useless. We are to be like the tree — rooted, grounded, fruitful, productive.

A lot of people love verse three, but I have to tell you, verse 6 is my all time favorite.“For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” Knows in this verse is the same word that is used in Genesis 4:1 where it talks of Adam knowing his wife, Eve. It’s not just a general knowledge or awareness of, but speaks to a deep level of understanding — an intimate personal knowledge. If I am the righteousness of Christ, and 1 Corinthians 5:21 says I am, then God knows me. There’s no more beautiful thought than that!

The passage concludes with a goal that ought to be the goal of every believer. The enemy’s aim, like I said in the beginning, is to corrupt and draw away that which is God’s. Our goal? To know Him and be known by Him. We know we cannot know him if we stand in the counsel of the ungodly, or stand in the path of sinners, and certainly not if we sit in the seat of the scornful. His word must always be before our face, before our eyes, in our mouths, buried within our hearts.

We are here for a purpose. To know God and be known by Him and if we know God, we know his heart — His heart is to be known by people. 

Thoughts, Truth

Take it to Heart

It’s sad when you have to visit your own blog to remember the last time you posted. This year has been one long battle of the mind. In some of my previous blogs I have written about the loss of our baby girl in July 2013. Well, in January 2014 we found out we were expecting again and I am ecstatic to announce that our little Sophia Hope joined our family on September 5th.


God truly will redeem any situation. I can say that because He has done it time and time again in my life. I said last year was a battle because, as anyone who has been pregnant after a loss can tell you, it is hard to keep your mind from going to “that” place. That’s why it is so important to have the word of God hidden in your heart. Our best example in this life is Jesus. He came and lived this life as an ordinary man walking in the power of God. When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, what did he use as his weapon? When Satan taunted him, he responded with God’s word. In Matthew 4:9-11 “Satan said, ‘All this I will give you if you will bow down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away from me Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.” (Side note: It’s interesting to note that Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world. How could Satan offer that if he didn’t have it to give? The earth was under the sway of the wicked one, thanks to Adam, until Jesus bought it back with his death and resurrection.) It is written. If Jesus overcame by the word of God, and His life was meant to be an example for us, then that should be our first line of defense when the fiery darts of the enemy start rushing toward us. It’s called a sword for a reason, use it. But a skilled swordsman doesn’t just whack at things. He learns every aspect of his craft and hits what he aims for. It’s important for us to not just read the Bible. We must know it.

Thoughts, Truth

Bent, Not Broken

This week marks my 16th week of pregnancy. Little Bean is growing right on schedule for his or her September 11th due date. I have found it hard through this pregnancy not to think back to last summer when at 16 weeks we found out the little girl we were expecting had died a week before. So I reminisce, not to grieve, but to wonder at how God has brought us through. Closer. Stronger. More sure of God’s promises and plan than ever.

I find my self pondering on the shepherd boy and future king David—when his father sent him with food for his brothers who were on the front line of battle. As David approached to greet his brothers he heard Goliath—who for 40 days had been berating the Israelite army. As the mocking of the Philistine giant fell on David’s ears, an indignation filled him. In 1 Samuel 17:26 he asked the question, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” We should be just as indignant when anything or anyone seeks to exalt themselves over the word and the promise of the Lord. The Israelites were the army of the Lord, the chosen people. We, however, are literally the children of the one true King. We have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. When Jesus died and rose again He was seated at the right hand of God the Father. Ephesians 2:6 tells us that God “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all to stand, stand therefore…” (Ephesians 6:13-14 NKJV) When we stand against an enemy, we stand in His righteousness and authority. There is nothing, absolutely nothing—be it sickness, disease, poverty, addiction, depression, or anything else—that has the right to defy us if we dwell in the secret place mentioned in Psalm 91. When David stood he used what he had and trusted God do the rest. Ephesians 6:10 tell us “to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” When we stand—we stand on what God has already done. He has already provided our healing, our provision, our deliverance, our redemption. So we stand, trusting that God has already provided anything and everything we have need of through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus. So, what do we have? We have the promises of God sure and steadfast. He has never and will never fail. So we we stand—bending but never breaking.

Truth

God is Love…Really

John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses in the entire Bible. It tells us “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” The passage goes on to say in verse 17 “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” God does not merely love—He is love. He is the embodiment of that gift.

When Adam fell, instead of cutting His losses and annihilating His creation, He made a way. He sent His only Son. His only. He did not have to, but He did. And when Jesus walked this earth He could have chosen not to die. But instead He chose to do the will of the Father that we might be reconciled to Him. There is no other way back to God except through Jesus Christ.

“For I am persuaded that neither death or life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NKJV) People have twisted this verse to support an inclusive false doctrine. It does not mean that we cannot physically and spiritually be separated from God. It means what it says—that no matter what we do or where we go He will always love us.

Parents can understand this concept. A parent’s love for their child is all-encompassing—never ending. I love my children and because I do I guide, I correct, I discipline. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives. If you endure chastening, God deals with you as sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons. Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.” (Hebrews 12:6-11 NKJV) I just have to say that again—that we may be partakers of His holiness.

What people often forget amidst the love of God is—He is love; but He is also Holy, Righteous and Just. Nothing will EVER separate us from the love of God. He will always love us. Always. But He has given us the choice—free will. Deuteronomy 30:19 says, “I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” Not only did He give us choice—He gave us the answer. Choose life! 

Truth

Draw Near

Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. (James 4:8 NKJV)

God is for all men in all places for all time. He is omniscient (all-knowing), omnipresent (ever-present, everywhere) and omnipotent (all-powerful). He told us He would never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews13:5; Deuteronomy 31:6,8) and He is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19). So if we find ourselves feeling alienated from Him and alone. Who moved?  I’ll give you a hint… It was not God.

He tells us in His word to “draw near.” If we do that, He promises to draw near to us. You will notice that it is not God who moves sovereignly on our behalf. We move first. We have to make a conscious decision to get up off of our “blessed assurance” and draw closer.

In Exodus 3, Moses was tending sheep and as he walked he noticed a bush that was on fire but not being consumed. He could have kept walking but he made a decision to turn aside from the path he was on. You will notice in verse 4 it says, “So when the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush.” Once Moses approached, God was able to lay out His plan for the deliverance of the children of Israel. But take note—God didn’t speak until Moses drew near.

Paul and Silas made a similar decision in Acts 16:16-34. They were beaten…with rods and then thrown in prison. The purpose of beating someone with a rod is to cause the most pain possible. Not only to bruise the flesh but the bone. Flesh heals much quicker than bone so a bone bruise is a more excruciating pain by far. As they sat in jail in horrendous pain they had a choice to make. Verses 25-26 tell us, “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were open and everyone’s chains were loosed.”

You will notice in the stories of Moses, and Paul and Silas that not only did they get the benefit of being close to God but those around them benefited as well. Moses drew near and an entire nation was delivered from bondage. Paul and Silas drew near and every last prisoner in that jail was loosed from their chains and even the jailer and his whole family were saved.

So how do we draw near? It really is quite simple. You choose to. You meditate on His words, you talk to Him. And the beautiful thing is that when we do make that decision to draw near to Him the God of the universe draws near to us and makes Himself known to us. For me it is not a difficult decision. Live everyday as an ordinary person or live as one who walks with the God who breathes out the stars (Psalm 33:6.) Make the choice, my friends. Draw near.