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Personal Choices For a Prosperous 2014 (Psalm 1)
Sermon Notes
Sunday, 05 January 2014 00:00

Psalm 1 instructs us how we may have a “prosperous” New Year in 2014.

1:1 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;

The believer who wants to be blessed by the LORD is not going to be listening to counsel that is going to be pulling him away from away from the Word and against what God is telling us is right.

Okay, so now I see what I need to avoid, but we’ve all met Christians obsessed with what they shouldn’t do. Their focus becomes: “I don’t do this sin or that sin, and they have their list, and usually feel pretty self-righteous about it. But they might not be walking with the LORD despite the fact that they have a pretty moral lifestyle. We get guidance in the next verse.
The blessed believer will steer away from ideas and things that keep Him from the positive thing we need to be doing to grow in our fellowship with the LORD, (found in v. 2)

1:2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
Believers experience God’s blessings when they delight in God’s word throughout the day.
Day and night means regularly: “I studied day and night for that test” means that I put in some time here between work and classes and I put in some time there – it was a regular part of life.
What is involved in delighting? I want to relate delighting in to the time requirements of v. 1
Walking to a destination – takes some time
Standing in the path –takes more time
Sitting in a seat – takes lots of time – a long visit! (like a grandmother holding her grandchild – something we look forward to and are focused upon with great expectation – something we truly enjoy and desire to spend time doing it – delighting in it). The amount of time will vary but we should treasure the time that we do have to spend in God’s Word.

If you want to get to know someone, you have to spend time with that person. If we want to come to know the LORD, then we need to spend time in His Word because that is what He has made available to get to know Him!!
Delighting in God’s Word = Spending significant time in the Word.
Now we see the results of a life like that in v. 3

1:3 He shall be like a tree
(trans-) 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.
Believers experience God’s blessings because they will be like a tree transplanted by dug irrigation channels (= rivers of water) that will bear seed in season and will have full, healthy foliage in season.
The Hebrew word shatal means to transplant.
Why is it important that it reads “transplanted?”
Who plants seeds? (Birds, wind; corn seeds in Nebraska blow out of truck)
But who transplants seedlings? (Arborist, tree farmer - the key idea is intentionality. The tree farmer says, “I want a tree of this kind here.” Is he going to go to that work and then neglect that tree? No! That tree receives attention from the one who transplanted it.
It will bear fruit in season But what is inside the fruit? – the pit, which is then planted and reproduces! When we think of fruit (Peach), we think of biting into that juicy fruit. But do you know what accompanies that fruit? There’s a pit! Do you know what you do with that pit? You plant it, and you’ve got another tree that will get growing.

Seed in the Bible is imagery for either life or the life-giving word.
Fruit bearing is always going to be connected with other people finding out from us about the Word, about the Lord, and about Him giving life to believers. It will always be pleasing to the Lord (passing out the Living Waters, etc.)

A productive believer is one who is pleasing to the Lord, sharing His life-giving message of life with others. Its leaf will not wither (in season) because it is nourished by the water (of the word).
This doesn’t mean that as deciduous trees they won’t shed their leaves in the Fall. He’s talking about it not withering during the growing season. What he is saying is that those irrigation channels are going to keep it supplied through the growing season so that it’s able to bear fruit, instead of becoming stunted and unable to bear fruit during the growing season. It will be productive!

The Hebrew word “prosper” (tsalach) is found in Deuteronomy 28:20 and 29:9 in the blessings and cursings passage of the Land covenant, which I suggested is the viewpoint from which we need to be reading this Psalm in order to understand it as it was intended for the original readers.
Other usages of this word are found in Genesis 39:3, 23; Joshua 1:7-8; and Isaiah 55:11. I suggested from these usages that we may be prospering from God’s point of view even though (as with Joseph and Jesus) we may temporarily be enduring a time of suffering before we experience the victory He intends to bring about in our lives (Think Romans 8:18).
His Word will prosper in that it will accomplish His purposes in our lives (Isaiah 55:11). So if I want to be prosperous in 2014, I need to be a man/woman of His Word, walking by faith in His promises no matter what temporary circumstances I face.

So then, the psalmist told us that a believer who delights in the Word will be productive. This is now put in stark contrast to the believer who is coming under discipline/cursing due to failure to learn, apply and delight in God’s Word (as we see in vv 4-6).

1:4 The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
Unlike the blessed believer who learns, applies and delights in Scripture, ungodly believers do not enjoy long-term blessing, but have as little value as chaff at threshing time.
They are coming to the cursing that comes from disobedience (Deut. 30). The key to growth and productivity is always our relationship to the Word of God.
Believers who delight in the Word resemble nurtured and protected fruit trees, but believers who have little time for the Word are as worthless as chaff, irritating to others, and disapproved by God.
(When harvesting, get away from wind-driven chaff or you’ll feel irritated all day long!)
These believers are being likened not to a plant or to the seed or fruit of the plant, but are compared here to the chaff that’s the waste product that has to be taken off the seed and is a terrible annoyance to get on you!

Such a contrast! A productive tree versus some useless chaff. Believers who delight in the Word resemble nurtured and protected fruit trees, but believers who have little time for the Word are as worthless as chaff, irritating to others, and disapproved by God.
There’s no fruit being produced. Instead they are interfering with the use of the fruit or grain. Have you ever been eating a fruit that has been incompletely cleaned and you bite into some of the chaff? (like stems of the green beans mixed in with the beans)
In verse 5 we see the longer term picture for these unproductive believers.

1:5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
Ungodly believers will not emerge from the judgment seat standing and they will have no standing (commendation) in the congregation of the righteous.
The issue is not eternal security, but our standing to receive commendation versus shrinking in shame at the judgment seat of Christ (remember 1 John 2:28?). They’re not standing there receiving a commendation from the LORD, as was the person described in 1:1-3.
Ungodly believers will emerge from the judgment seat broken.
They will not stand (to be commended) in the congregation of the righteous

Verse 6 shows us how the LORD views both groups of people.
1:6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
The LORD prospers the way of righteous believers, but the way of ungodly believers will perish.
When it says that the LORD knows the way of the righteous, I take it to mean that the LORD prospers the way of righteous believers, but the way of ungodly believers will be cursed (this is blessing vs. cursing as found in the Land covenant in Deut 30).
A lot of people get mixed up on the second part of this last verse because it says the way of the wicked shall perish. But what is it that is perishing? Is it the person? Or is it his way? When a believer lives out of fellowship with the word of God, his way of life is like a dead-end street! It leads nowhere. And it will not give him any standing (commendation) at the judgment.
These are people who have everlasting life, but they are unprofitable servants that are not pleasing to their Lord.
The LORD knows the way of the righteous – this is in contrast with the transitory status of the way of the wicked.
The word know as defined in context: the Lord blesses the way of the righteous believer both now, in the judgment, and in terms of rewards bestowed following the judgment.
The word perish does not speak of people perishing, but of their way perishing.
The believer can choose either a life of blessing or cursing.
What we have here is two different ways of approaching the way you live your life as a believer.

CONCLUSION: Believers face two choices in life.
Will I delight in the Word so that I’m directed to the Lord? If so, I will bear fruit (and seed) in life and will be rewarded. But if I delight in that which takes me away from the Lord and His Word, I will be as worthless as chaff in this life, will be broken down at the judgment seat, and will be without reward in the coming Kingdom.

So to prosper in 2014, choose to focus on the LORD and on His Word and abide in fellowship with Him! May we truly prosper in 2014!

 

 

 

 

 

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