I have come across two bible references which I think we should take a look at. I have been studying Psalm 1:1-3 and Isaiah 40:28-31. These are two separate verses which to my knowledge have never been put together before. But I believe that when they are put together, we then have a set of partners in the message of God’s word.
In Psalm 1:1-2 we read “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” Let’s begin by looking at the very first word. Blessed. What does it mean to be blessed? You can go to the dictionaries you have and you will find all sorts of different definitions. Most of us look at the word blessed and think about having received some special gift of grace or mercy from God. And that’s true. In Malachi 3, God promises such blessings to those that tithe, that “there will not be room to receive it.”, In Matthew 5 Jesus tells us about the blessings that people will receive. Being blessed has two connotations. When blessed is applied to God, it has a sense of praise, giving to God the things that we can give, that will make him happy. Love, obedience, worship—these are some of the things that we can do to bless God. When blessed is referring to man, it means that we receive those things which make us happy as men and women of God. I think that it is safe to say that a person who receives God’s blessings are made happy for it. So blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly. This man is made happy by the giving of God. The counsel of the ungodly. Who are they? Are they the sinners of this world? Yes. Are they the things that as Christians we should not be doing? Yes. In Ephesians 5:11 Paul says that we are to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness”. So where is our happiness? When we are not walking in sin. But listen to this. This verse goes on because it describes our lot in life-the things we have to endure, the temptations that Satan throws in our path that will affect our walk. That affect our rewards in heaven, that affect our lives and our relationship with our Savior, Jesus Christ. Blessed is the man that standeth not in the way of sinners. Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Note, we’re talking about three ways of moving. Three different types of motion which every Christian goes through. And we all do this, we are either sitting or standing or walking. So lets look at the next part of this verse. If we are sitting in the seat of the scornful, do you know what we’re doing? We’re joining in on the sin. We become fully engulfed in it as a willing participant. We have become one of the fellow sinners. We see something that delights us and we join in on it. Now, I need to remind you at this point, just what sin is. Sin, is willful disobedience of God. That’s right. When you are doing something that God doesn’t want you to do, it’s sin. Some people may claim that the “devil made me do it”. Well, let me tell you that is an outright lie. Satan, cannot make you do anything sinful, Christian. Sin is willful. We chose it. Satan only provides the temptation. We sin when we CHOOSE to give into that temptation. Some of you may be faced with what seems like insurmountable sin, some of us may have habitual sin. But the point is that “all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.” Every one of us has dealt with some type of sin in our lives. All of us come face to face with temptation. For some people perhaps there is a struggle with pornography, or others-alcohol, for some maybe it’s that third or fourth helping at the local buffet, for others it might seem smaller, perhaps an attitude we have, or the gossip we like to share, or that person we won’t witness too, because we believe they don’t deserve God’s grace and mercy. Regardless of what it is, it is still sin. “ But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; we all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” Sin is sin, there are no varying degrees, one sin worse than the other. In God’s eyes, a murderer is just as bad as someone who tells a little white lie. We all have sinned, all of us. So we sit in the seat of the scornful. We are doing the things that we shouldn’t be doing. We are sitting, and we shouldn’t be, because we have no blessing in that.
So when we sit we’re joining in, so what does it mean when we are standing in the way of sinners? I picture it as us looking in upon sin—we are tempted. It looks so inviting—we’re standing on the fence, wanting to join in. We’re standing there saying-gimme some of that. It looks so good. It looks so fun, but you know what? It’s still sin. Remember, in Genesis 19 when Lot and his wife were fleeing Sodom and Gomorrah? What happened to her and why? As they were fleeing from Sodom and Gomorrah Lot’s “wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt” Why? Because she desired the city, she wanted to see it. Her heart belonged to the city. And the angel had previously said “do not look behind you…lest you be destroyed.” She willfully disobeyed God’s angel, and she looked back. She became a pillar of salt-a flavor, a seasoning with no more life; just like the cities she watched get destroyed. Jesus said in Matthew 5:28-“…whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Are you beginning to get the picture? When we are standing in the way of sinners, we are talking about sinning with our hearts. Having a lustful eye makes us focused on the wrong thing, and looking in the wrong direction. If you’re looking in on sin, then you’re not looking to where you are going, and you will eventually walk into something that you could have avoided- a wall, a closed door, or another person. Or your head is so turned away from the path that God has laid out in front of you that , where it turns you don’t see it and you miss it. How many of you have ever been going down the highway and you get so involved in listening to the radio, or talking on the cell phone, that you are too preoccupied and miss your exit? That’s kind of the same thing. Because of our lusts we miss the opportunities that God presents to us. How many here know one of those people that like to look at things alongside the road? I’m not talking about a glance. I’m talking about a sustained look. Have you ever noticed that after awhile, the car starts to veer towards what the driver is looking at? I tore my back tire to sheds a couple of years ago by doing that. Look at the results. The distraction that we stand in, the sin that we stand in draws us in, it makes us veer into it’s lustful grip. And then look what happens. You end up with a busted tire or even worse. That’s what happens to us. We miss the opportunity because we’re not focused on where we’re going. We’re focused on where we’d like to be.
The next thing we can do as Christians is we can walk not in the counsel of the ungodly. When we are not walking in the counsel of the ungodly then we are walking in the counsel of the godly. Right? Let me repeat that. When we are not walking in the counsel of the ungodly then we are walking in the counsel of the godly. So what does that mean if we are walking in the Counsel of the godly? We’re focused on where we’re going. We’re not looking at other things to snare us. We’re going; we’re staying the course that God has put us on. We’re not wandering from his path. His path is the path of righteousness. What is righteousness? In a nutshell, righteousness is right living, for a right relationship with God. How do we have a right relationship with God if we have the capacity for so much sin? It is through the advocacy of our relationship with Jesus. You see, when a person accepts Jesus Christ as their personal savior, their relationship with God is changed. Because of Jesus who had no sin, his life is a righteous one. Since by our profession of faith in Christ we are in him and he is in us. In Romans 8:15 we read “…you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba, Father. The spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, the heirs-heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…”What Jesus has, has been imputed onto us. We have his perfect righteousness in us. We are made right before God. But we falter and that’s why we have to be wary of what we’re doing as we go through life whether were standing sitting or walking. Now in order to walk this walk what must we do? We have to take delight in the law of the Lord. How do we do that? How can we take delight in the law of the Lord? First of all what is the law of the Lord? Is it the Mosaic Law? In part. All those commandments? In part. But the law of the Lord is a way of living. It is who we are as Christians. Do you take delight in Jesus Christ? Do you delight in knowing that your actions serve God? That your actions reflect Christ’s love within you? So what is the best thing that we can do that allows us to take delight in the law of the Lord? Where do we find it? The law of the Lord is the Bible. It is God’s holy word preserved for us that it may instruct us in all righteousness. Second Timothy 3:16 says all Scripture is given by inspiration of God. It is profitable for doctrine for reproof for correction for instruction in righteousness. That the man of God may be perfect totally furnished unto all good works. . Scripture is profitable. Scripture teaches us doctrine. It teaches us what God expects us to believe. It teaches us the foundation of our faith. It teaches us how to correct, how to deal with instances of wrongdoing and instructs us how to be righteous.
The next verse continues in Psalm 1:3. “And 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.” .” This is a beautiful picture of what being in God’s word means. It shows us what it makes us like. It shows us the after effects of being in God’s word. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. A tree! Not a sapling, not a flower, but a tree! A big sturdy tree! You know what it’s by the water, it’s by the river. You’ll never be thirsty. Tell me, didn’t someone else say something about never being thirsty? Jesus said in John 4:14 “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” People, are we a tree planted by the rivers of water? Do our roots dig down into the soil and drink of that living water?
What else does this tree do? It brings forth fruit. . But it brings forth its fruit when it is supposed to. Because it is obedient. It is obedient to the laws of nature. Are you obedient to the laws of God? Are you obedient in doing what he’s given you the ability to do? Are you bearing that fruit when he tells you to? When you need to? Do you know what that fruit does? It helps nourish others. It helps to spread the word. Expand the kingdom! It nourishes those that are hungry. Galatians 5 tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are Godly attributes which are bestowed upon Christians through the Holy Spirit. The fruit fills the hungry. Jesus said in John 6 “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me shall never hunger, and he who believes in me shall never thirst.” Are you beginning to see a theme here? Without Jesus, nothing satisfies permanently, and efficiently, and perfectly.
His leaf shall also not wither. All trees have leaves except pine trees. Oh and palm trees, but we are Northerners so we don’t care about them. But think about that. The leaves shall not wither. Leaves. What do leaves do? Leaves give us a picture of beauty. They’re a covering that protects the tree from the hot onslaught of the sun. It makes the winds noticeable. The wind. Doesn’t the Holy Spirit move like a wind? Hmm. So do leaves make the Holy Spirit noticeable? Are the leaves our witness? Are the leaves what other people see that they may know we are Christians? I think so. I think the leaves show the world that we are Christians. I know some leaves may fall; but that’s okay because there’s hundreds of thousands of leaves on a tree. And leaves provide shade. Don’t they? And that sun that just beats down on us--comfort. And in the autumn it even gets more colorful, our outer covering our witness becomes more attractive. How does our witness become more attractive? Because we show who we are. And even though those leaves may turn color they are not going to wither, they are not going to fade away. Because what we have through Christ is not destroyable! It is permanent! It is everlasting! And it cannot, shall not, will not die because those are the promises that God has put before us.
Now the last part of this verse—whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. You have this beautiful cover. You have nutrition on the inside; you have this covering on the outside. Both your witnesses on the inside and the outside are perfect. It shall prosper. It shall not fail! Never to fail! Isn’t that amazing? The tree that cannot die. It’s a wonderful thing.
Yes it is a wonderful thing and there is another tree that is talked about in the Bible as well. And we read in revelations chapter 22 versus one through five “"And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, (who’s the water of life?) clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”
The tree of life. Could this tree of life be an example of what the tree in Psalm one refers to? That the Tree of life represents Jesus Christ. And you know what? We can be like that tree planted by the rivers of waters. Because those waters are the rivers of the waters of life.
Jesus said, come all ye who are thirsty and I will give you drink. Imagine putting yourself and your roots deep into the soil by the waters of life. And you grow and are nourished. Just as the tree of life. Now you won’t be the tree of life but you will be a tree in the image of the tree of life. It’s kind of like an acorn tree that drops an acorn and a new acorn tree with all of the attributes of the parent tree begins to grow. You will still have trials and tribulations. But you know what? Your strength will come as this tree grows. Your strength will come from that growth. Because of whose image you are made. Because of whose you are. A tree planted not just by the water but by the waters of life.
Now we’ve talked about sitting standing and walking. Now I’d like to go to that other Bible verse I was talking about in the beginning. And this one I know you’ve all heard too. Isaiah 40 we’ll start with verse 28. “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding.” Now we just got through reading about what we go through with temptation. What we personally do. The personal choices that we make in this journey of life. That’s us. This verse is talking about God. So who is God? This verse we just read is full of examples. He is the everlasting God. That means he has no beginning and he has no end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. The beginning and the end. He was before the beginning and he’ll be after the end! Everything that we do has a beginning point and an end point. But with God that does not exist! He always was, he always is, and he always shall be! Even after us and the things that we do are nothing but dust and a distant memory. Who else is God? He is the LORD! I know your Bible should have Lord in all capitals. Why is that? When the Bible has Lord in all capitals it’s actually a reference to the original Hebrew language. It is a word for; some people say Yahweh and some people say Jehovah. It’s the same thing. It’s the same name. The name that God gave Moses—I am who am. That’s God the promise keeping God. He never breaks his promise. He always keeps his word. Who else is God? He is the Creator of the ends of the earth. Creator. He has the ultimate power to make everything from nothing. And in that power of creation also comes that power of destruction. Now that power of destruction is for another sermon down the road, but trust me he is all powerful. Everything that we see, everything that we touch, smell, hear, feel; he’s created from the beginning to the end. God Fainteth not, nor is weary. Kind of sounds like its saying the same thing twice. Doesn’t it? Well there’s a difference, a minor difference here in the translation. Fainteth not means that God doesn’t get weary. I know some of you may say well on the seventh day he rested. He rested not because on the seventh day he was tired, he rested because he stopped creation. He rested from creating. He stopped creating. He didn’t stop because he was tired. Weary. In the Old Testament weariness refers to being over exerted from work that we do. God can’t over exert himself. He’s not gonna go into sugar shock, he’s not gonna have a heart attack working too hard, he’s not going to get a back ache from lifting a heavy box. Our God can move mountains with the blink of an eye. He does not get weary.
In verse 29 we read “he giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:” when we are weak it is God who gives us strength. He gives us strength because he doesn’t grow weary. He has so much strength, so much power he can give of himself continuously and never give too much. But we are not him. And we have a hard time. We will fail. We will utterly fail because we use up our own miniscule strength. Because we do grow weary and we do faint.
Verse 31 “but they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” There's one little word in this verse that is so, so important. Wait. How do we plug into God’s renewing strength? We wait. Now what does that entail? When you think of waiting think about going on a trip. Do you just go down to the airport and get on a plane? No. You make reservations, you pack your bags, make sure you got your toothbrush and toothpaste, change of clothes, PJs. The things that you need you take with you. And you wait for that plane to come to take you where you want to go. And that is what we do with God. We come prepared; we know that we have a struggle to face. So when we are ready to face it we say God here I am. I’m ready. Take me through it. Because if you’re not ready you don’t have the desire to go through it. There’s something empty there’s something missing in your heart. There is something missing in your luggage. Do you bring a winter coat when you’re going to the Bahamas? In the middle of summer? No. You bring what you need. You don’t bring everything you have. You bring what you need. And you know what? We talked about it before Psalm one remember standing sitting and walking? Those are the things that we ourselves do. Those are the things that we do under our own power when we have that valley to go through, and it seems like there’s no way out—that there’s no way we can get up to the other side of that valley! Up that mountain to the top. But when we wait upon the Lord then we stopped depending on our strength and we start depending on his strength! And we shall mount up with wings as eagles. How does an eagle mount up? Have you ever seen an eagle in flight? It’s a thing of beauty really. It seems like they hardly flap their wings they just glide up and up, higher than any bird. We shall fly over that valley. And that valley shall no longer be a problem. Because God can bring us out of that valley so easy because he has so much strength, because he does not grow weary, he does not FAINT! and we are ready willing and able, we are waiting for him in his time by our prayers he will bring us up out of that valley. And take us where we need to be. Not once in a while, not once every 10 years, but for those that are waiting he promises --Jehovah the Lord of promises, promises to bring us up out of that valley. In preparing this I am reminded of an old song, which by the way we will not be singing today. The temptations sang this song. It is called “ain’t no Mountain high enough” Some of the words are as follows:
If you need me call me no matter where you are, no matter how far don't worry just call out my name. I'll be there in a hurry you don't have to worry
'Cause there Ain't no mountain high enough. Ain't no valley low enough Ain't no river wide enough To keep me from getting to you
Remember the day I set you free? I told you could always count on me. From that day on I made a vow--I'll be there when you want me some way, somehow
No wind, No rain, Or winter's cold. Can stop me
Cause you are my love When you're in trouble I'll be there on the double.
My love is alive Way down in my heart Although we are miles apart. If you ever need a helping hand I'll be there on the double just as fast as I can.
So by ourselves we can either sit in sin and be sinful, we can stop and yearn to be involved in that sin, or we can be walking away from that sin. But sometimes even just by us walking away from that sin is too great a burden to carry. Jesus said “come all ye who are heavy laden and I will give you rest” do you want rest? Do you want hope? Then wait on the Lord and he will bring you up out of the valley.
Several years ago, on October 15, 1995, I preached my first sermon atop the hill at Peru Church. I had no idea what I was doing. But I trusted in God to provide me with the words to say. The title of my sermon was to soar with eagles. . And I mentioned how we had gone on a picnic up to the top of Mount Greylock. It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining the birds were singing, the flowers were in bloom and I saw a man standing at the top of that mountain. Looking around him, he started to run and he jumped off the side of that mountain…. And he flew! He flew up into the sky, touching and occasional cloud, soaring higher and higher. The amount of faith it takes to jump off a mountain. Do we have that same amount of faith? Do we have the ability to jump off a mountain? Yes we do, if we’re waiting on the Lord. By the way, that man flew because he had a hang glider attached to him. He had the right stuff to make that leap of faith. He was dressed for the weather. He had his helmet, his goggles, a good pair of boots for the landing. And probably most important, he had a hang glider. Is that how we come before God? Is that how we show him that we are waiting on him? Are we prepared to make that leap? It’s important, it’s important because there are times in our lives when we need to make that leap. where that walk we have with the godly is wearisome. Do you want to fly with eagles? Do you want to fly as eagles? Do you want to soar effortless over your valleys? Christian we don’t need a hang glider! All we need is God.