Friday, April 8, 2011

Advice From Psalms

Great Advice From the Psalms
(Psalm 1)

      “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked…” (1a). Where do we seek out good advice? When we need serious counseling, where do we go? Do we go to the bartender or the man who engages in deceitful business practices? Do we seek out druggies and swindlers when we are in a jam and need words of encouragement? Would Bernie Madoff be a good financial advisor? Think about it, church. Our Lord tells us we will be blessed when we see out the counsel of godly people. I have often gone to Jere when I felt I had no other place to go. Of course, we are always just one prayer away from getting the best counsel in the world. “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance” (Pro 20:18).

      “…or stand in the way of sinners…” (1b). Who are our best friends? Consider who you hang out with most. I knew a couple who were having constant financial problems and were always seeking marital counseling. Sadly, their best friends weren’t Christians and had a negative influence on them. Our best friends should be children of God whose very presence lends positive encouragement and reinforcement. Hanging with people of questionable character and bad behavior will only drag you down. Run from sinners. “Evil companions corrupt good morals” (1 Cor 15:33). I just behave myself better when I am in good company. So get out of the way of sinners.

      “…or sit in the seat of mockers” (1c). Do we really enjoy being with people who make fun of others? I even grow weary of the pundits who poke light at our elected officials. Some of them surely do need some advice from their constituencies, but mocking them and making light of them doesn’t help. We had a kid in school who had a severe speech impediment. Many of our classmates would tease him by mimicking his speech defect. Remember in 2 Kings 2 when Elisha was mocked by 42 youth? They made fun of his bald head. Two bears came out of the woods and mauled these young people. A hard lesson to learn. We don’t want to be made fun of, so we should never do it to others.

      “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates both day and night” (2). What do we spend most of our time dwelling on? I saw where people were weeping because some singer got bumped from American Idol prematurely, according to those who enjoyed her talent. This is not world-shaking concern. We watch TV dramas that provide horror and angst that is merely faked by actors. Don’t we have enough tragedy in the world than to look at make believe trauma and mayhem? All of God’s children should be thinking of godly matters, meditating on his word, praying to the Father of lights. This is what we do and who we are. Both day and night. We are into the word of God and living it out in our lives. “Your word, O Lord, is eternal: it stands firm in the heavens” (Psa 119:89). It is far better to concentrate on eternal matters than to focus on the transient and temporary.

      “He is like a tree planted by the streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (3). Our purpose on earth is to honor God and bear much fruit to his glory. “By this is how my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). A fruitless tree isn’t worth taking up space. Jesus had a fig tree cut down for not bearing fruit. We yield fruit for our Lord by doing good deeds and aiding others in coming to Christ. We bear fruit when we come to the rescue of those in need and who are found in the throes of hardship and grief. We have a promise that God will prosper those who live such lives.

      “Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away” (4). I was mowing my lawn on Thursday. The wind was blowing so fiercely that every other row I found myself breathing and spitting the dust and grass that I had kicked up from cutting. I had to literally stop and let the dust settle in order to take a breath. Those who live evil and selfish lives will be no better than the dirty grass clippings blow away by the wind. It will be as if they had never lived. There presence to the Father will be so useless that he will “destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt 10:28). We will trim trees and rake up clippings soon at our workday on Saturday. After a while I will set fire to them and burn them up as if they had never taken up space. The Bible says this is the end of those who are wicked. They become chaff.

      “Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous” (5). Have you noticed that typically the wicked don’t present themselves in our assemblies? They don’t do church. They do world. They do whatever they please. They become ends unto them-selves—self-serving and inwardly focused. We have gotten out of the sinning business. We’ve taken down our shingle and have risen to walk in newness of life. The last great day will not be enjoyed by those outside of Christ. They won’t get to sit in the assembly with God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and all of the saints of ages past and present. Church, I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to think of what it will be like for the wicked at judgment day. “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome of those who do not obey the gospel of God” (1 Pet 4:17,18)? I’m not planning on finding out, are you?

      “For the Lord watches the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish” (6). Throughout he Bible we are told the wicked will perish. They will not have eternal life as those in Christ will enjoy. We have the Lord’s promise that he will look over the way of the righteous. He cares for us. He wants our very best. Even in hardships, which he allows, he is able to make us stronger and better able to serve him and others. But the wicked and unbeliever has no hope. He is fit for the burning dung heap outside Jerusalem. It will be like being tossed into the Valley of Hinnom where the trash and carcasses were disposed of. The very word for “hell” comes from the Greek word Gehenna, a reference to this very garbage dump at the outskirts of Jerusalem. It’s our choice. We can be dumped and destroyed and forgotten, or we can be with the Lord forever. “I my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2,3). These are comforting words for believers.  

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