Avoiding Trouble

Psalm 1:1-3Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, or set foot on the path of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. 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, yielding its fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, and who prospers in all he does.”

As a young man, I tried to avoid trouble when I saw it, I wasn’t always successful but there were times I avoided big disaster. I was out of sorts my first couple years of High School, having transferred from a small ACE Christian school into a large 4A public school it was a culture shock to say the least. Fights, bullying, drugs, alcohol and sex dominated the conversations common among my classmates. I recognized early how destructive these were by listening to their stories, but it wasn’t until I was invited to a party in the woods did I recognize it wasn’t for me.

As I walked up that dirt road and noticed couples in sleeping bags all around, pot smokers around the fires and alcohol flowing freely, I thought to myself, these are not my people. What am I doing here?

Years later I was thankful that I had enough teaching to recognize the dangers those situations presented. From the stories at school it all sounded so glamorous and exciting, fun, and fulfilling, but once I saw it first hand, I could tell it was all a lie. I ended up transferring to another Christian school, met my future wife, made lots of wonderful memories and was blessed for it.

In Psalm 1, David was giving us some insightful wisdom on how to prosper or what it takes to fail. We all have a choice, sometimes the ramifications of making a choice for righteousness can be detrimental to our health, our welfare, and our relationships but the end result is glorious. The pathway was not guaranteed to be easy, only blessed. On the other hand, choosing the path of wickedness has a set of consequences that leads to much trouble.

Upon a closer look into the first three verses of Psalms 1, there are several relatable elements that lead to success:

1. Where we get our counsel. Who do we listen to when it comes to decision making? If we trust in our own intellect, our experiences are the only measure by which we have to go by, if we trust someone who has a poor track record or one that has gone off the rails on numerous occasions without learning from their error, we risk making the same mistakes they did. Finding godly counsel requires effort and a measure of wisdom, but when you hear it, you know it resonates with the Word of God if that is your source.

2. Who we associate with. There’s an old saying that goes, “you can tell a lot about a person by the type of friends they hang out with”. Another, “bad company corrupts good morals”. These short words of wisdom are reflective of how much we value character. Character is reflective of the moral principles we make as a standard in our lives. If our friends are the type that lead lives contrary to the character we desire to uphold, we continually wrestle with decisions that challenge our character. Do we partake in what they’re doing at the risk of losing their friendship or being called a prude? You can make life so much simpler if you associate with those who value the same principles as you do.

3. By what standard we judge. So many claim to despise those who judge others, unless you agree with them. You are castigated as being close minded, a relic, or some another form of insult that implies your belief system is archaic and irrelevant if you give a point of view contrary to theirs. These mockers digress into a pattern of insult that attempts to tear down rather than build up. The lack of love is self-evident and yet if we associate with such people, whether we partake or not, we are associated with their degeneracy and self-righteousness.

The Counter

David reflects on a man committed to the law, a man who delights in the law, and a man who meditates on the law as the {counter} to a man who positions himself in troubles way, among troubled people.

The moral law (10 commandments), is the border on God’s highway of life. How do you know if your venturing off His path? Hold your situation up to God’s standard of righteousness and see if it meets the criteria.

Am I exalting something in my life over my desire to honor God? Am I committing my time, resources, or money into an endeavor that replaces my commitment to holiness? Have I blasphemed Jesus’ name by the way I speak or act? Do I still set aside a time each week to honor the Lord for His faithfulness? Is my family dishonored by my conduct? Do I show hatred for others by how I act judgmentally. Is my heart full of lust? Do I try to justify taking that which doesn’t belong to me? Am I truthful? Am I content with what God has given me and where He has me now?

This pattern of godliness is a guide to how we live, the decisions we make, and the way we respond to temptation.

This person is like a tree planted by water. They are continually nourished by the Spirit of God. Their roots grow deep and they are not moved. Trees don’t grow overnight, they grow steadily and weather the storms. If we are firmly planted in God’s garden, in other words, we are established by Him and for Him. We are where He wants us to be. This all requires a process of submitting to His leading and trusting that His ways are good.

Producing the fruit of righteousness is evident by the Spirit of God manifesting His attributes in a persons life. This is not possible unless this process of submission takes place in humility and contrition.

Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

When we judge a person righteously, we see the attributes of God in a persons life. There are several other signs that reveal how someone is clearly walking in obedience.

* A love for others reveals God’s love. Mark 12:30-31

*A spirit of praise. Psalm 84:4

*A desire to with the body of Christ. 1 Peter 1:22

*A hunger for the Word of God. Psalm 119:140

*A conviction of sin. Psalm 32:5

Who’s leaf does not whither…..

Leaves change with the seasons, when winter arrives the leaves whither and fall, and yet there is no dormant season in the life of a believer.

God is always acting upon the hearts of His people. We may not always serve in the same capacity, but we are always growing and learning how to submit to His authority in our lives. Prayer is as vital an endeavor as going out and sharing the gospel. Growth in the Word of God, encouraging others…there are so many ways to love God without being a busy body.

Finally, as we look at the idea of prosperity, the American view often times differs from those who live elsewhere in the world.

Deuteronomy 28:2 And all these blessings will come upon you and overtake you, if you will obey the voice of the LORD your God.”

Prosperity to a small farmer in Uganda may look like a healthy crop or his cow giving birth, to a man in Pakistan, it may appear as a healthy family or child that was born without complication. Prosperity takes many forms and expecting God to bless us in one particular way with our eyes fixed on that prize, can hinder us from seeing where He has blessed us elsewhere.

Psalm 1:4-6Not so the wicked! For they are like chaff driven off by the wind. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD guards the path of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.”

The Wicked

Chaff represents the refuse of the wheat husk. Thrown in the air, the chaff blows away as the breeze carries it away while the seed remains. So it is with the wicked, they will be carried away into everlasting torment when their days have ended. The wicked might have success in life, the rains may water their crops and they may produce many children but their lives will be lost and the wealth they accumulated will remain behind. Their children will be left with a heritage of darkness, their reward will be one that is bitter.

When judgment day comes for the wicked, they will fall in shame. To stand is to be honored before the King of kings, they will not have a leg to stand on. The honor of the righteous will be in their Savior, the One who redeemed them from death and Hell, not so for the wicked—-they have rejected the Son of God and chose to exalt themselves.

When the Lord separates the righteous as a ransom for Himself, there will not be one wicked person standing among them. The wicked will be cast into the Lake of Fire, along with Satan and the other fallen angels by his side. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

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*The Lord guards the way of the righteous

*The way of the wicked will perish.

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The path of the righteous is ordained by the infinitely powerful God of all. Do you think there is anything that can move us off His path?

~No there is not~

Romans 8:38-39For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Don’t fear. Know the path you must take and stay on it. Be wise. The wicked are not on God’s path, so they are not walking with you. We can share with them the hope we have found, we just don’t associate with them in how we live. That is the difference.

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