Psalm 1:1 Guard Your Company

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, not standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful (Psalms 1:1)

The key words in this text for today’s message are:

  • blessed
  • ungodly
  • sinners
  • scornful

In order to move ahead with this message, we have to make sure we all have the same understanding of these words.  What the intent of the writer is and how the ancient Hebrews would have most likely interpreted the meaning of these and then put them into context.  I will attempt to do this for us.

*References are from Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. 

Blessed

The Hebrew root for the word used in blessed is ashar, meaning to go straight, go on, or advance.  Many scholars translate the intent of this word to mean “level”, or “sturdy”.  We could go on to say that this is a good foundation, in order to move ahead.  That you’re on the “right path”, if you follow what is about to be said.  Interestingly enough, this is the same term that Jesus starts his 1st sermon of his public ministry.  In the sermon we have come to know as “The Sermon on the Mount”, Jesus begins with the “Be-attitudes”.  He says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:3)  This shows the understanding that God has for us.  Jesus’ first sermon and the 1st Psalm start off with an encouragement to us.  Be happy, you’re on the right path!  Be of good cheer, you are right with God.

Ungodly

The Hebrew root for the word use for ungodly is rasha: wicked, criminal.  A criminal or someone who is wicked, is someone who made a choice to be in err.  The Latin term would be “Malum in Se”, this means that something is just wrong in itself.  No one needs to tell you that murder, rape, burglary, robbery are wrong.  Those that commit these crimes are wicked.

Sinners

The Hebrew root for the word used for sinners is chata: to miss, go wrong, sin.  This is to fall short.  Like a basketball player that just cannot make a basket.  There is a standard and it is not being reached.  The term we are probably most familiar with would be “lost”.

Scornful

The Hebrew root for the word used for scornful is luts: have in derision, make a mock, mocker.  These are those who make fun of the righteous.  Who question the authority of scripture.  Those who elevate their own craftiness, who think they are smarter then God.  Those who believe in their own wisdom.  Those who are arrogant.  The saying goes, “He is too smart for his own good”.  The 1st Cor. 3:19 says, “For the wisdom of the world is foolishness with God.”

So from the Hebrew perspective it would read more like:

Steady or Level is the man that;

                Does not walk in the counsel of those who depart from the path;

                Does not stand in the way of those who miss the mark;

                Does not sit in the seat of those who imitate (mock) the truth.

 We can even say, “At peace with God are those who:

                Do not follow those that have strayed from the true path;

                Do not hang out with those who miss the mark;

                Do not believe there is no God.

 

A sinful man is one who misses the mark, stumbles and fails.  A sinful person makes mistakes.  An evil man is one who is bent on hurting someone and who has a life style of injuring others.  No Christian should ever want to just hurt anyone.  Sin is progressive. “But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse…” (2nd Timothy 3:13)

Every evil person was once just a sinner. Sin causes separation from God and hardens the heart. If you hang out with people who have no morals, or have gray areas, or do not have a definite truth, then you will eventually adopt this way of thinking.  Somehow we think that we can hang around evil people, people who take the Lord’s name in vain, who lie, steal, and cheat on their spouses, and think that we will not be corrupted.  Have you not read? “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (Galatians 5:9 NIV)  We are warned of this fact over and over in the scriptures.

(Proverbs 4:14-16) “Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men.  Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.  For they sleep not, except they have done mischief; and their sleep is taken away, unless they cause some to fall.”

Eventually this evil will get inside of you, and you will start thinking about the evil desires and it will grow in your heart.  That is why Jesus let us know that if a man even looks on a woman in lust, he has created adultery already.  This is just one example of how impurity corrupts the heart and mind of a man.  Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) It starts with a suggestion, grows into a thought, then a desire.  This desire may manifest itself in words first, then before you know it, you have committed the act.  James 1:15 says, “Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

When someone is living a certain lifestyle contrary to what others perceive as right, they will at first hide this lifestyle.  They will lie and deceive the ones they love, to protect this lifestyle.  Then they will seek out others who live this same lifestyle, this gives them a sense of acceptance.

Even though they still know it is wrong inside.  Then they move on to trying to convert others to their lifestyle.  This is a progressive hardening of the heart.  Once the heart has grown callas then they turn and attack the ones that tried to keep them from going down the forbidden path.  They turn vicious and try to destroy the ones who care about them and who try to show them the way that they should have come.

They will try to say there is no God, because if there is no God then there is not absolute truth.  Without truth there is no moral compass.  Without a moral compass there is no judgement.  Without judgement there is no penalty.

In reality God does exists, man knows it, and has turned their back on Him.  Psalms 14:1 “The fool hath said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’  They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”  We have all missed the mark, we have as a whole and individually been corrupted.  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 KJV)  You will die and be judged.  Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for every, including a time to die. (Ecclesiastes 3:2) After this we will all be judged.  “and as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement:” (Hebrews 9:27 KJV)

What is the judgement?  What is the criteria? Why are you condemned? You have turned your back on Jesus and rejected Him, even allowed yourself to be fooled by the mockers, and you have no excuse.  You are personally responsible to Jesus.  “And this is the judgement, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light; for their deeds were evil.”(John 3:19 KJV)  The consequence of the judgement is that you will be cast out of the presence of God.  Much like those who violate the laws of society, they are thrown into prison and the fellow prisoners do what they will.

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers the sexually immoral, the murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” (Revelation 22:15)

“Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God?  Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men,” (1 Corinthians 6:9 NIV)

If you are on a trip and decide that you no longer want to go to the destination, how do you prevent arriving there?  Your make a decision, and get off the course you’re going and correct your course.  If you hang out with evil men you will become evil.  Paul writes to us, “But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler.  Do not even eat with such people.” (1 Corinthians 5:11)

Hiding from your sin will do you no good, “Whosoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13)  Jesus is the only way to be forgiven of your sin and have death Passover you.  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood-to be received by faith.  He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished.” (Romans 3:25 NIV)  Turn away from your sins, confess to Jesus your sins, and receive him as the atonement for your sins.  Serve him as Lord of your life.  You have a life debt to Him.

If you are a Christian and not doing what you should, forsake your life and confess, take up your cross and follow Him.  The time for salvation is today.

This is the way to blessings.  Being in fellowship with Jesus, who is God.  The blessings of God are peace, joy, love, forgiveness, and fellowship with the One who created everything that is seen and unseen.  He is a marvelous God who sacrificed all to make a way for you to experience His love.  Hold fast to that which you have been told.  Guard your mind and your heart from the ones who seek to destroy your fellowship with Jesus.

 

Always Be Prepared to Give an Answer

I was at work one day.  Working on a customer’s computer and I was there about an hour.  She quietly watched as I progressed through the tasks at hand.  Every now and then, she would ask me a question about her computer or my work related experience.  I courteously answered and explained as best I could.  She was an intelligent person, so I didn’t want to assume that she didn’t understand what I was saying, so I asked her questions about her questions, in order to determine what she really wanted to know.

Once I had completed the work and answered her questions, she told me she had two more questions.  I jokingly told her, I would answer as honestly as I could.  She smiled and said, “You’re a Christian aren’t you?”  I told her, “Yes ma’am”.  She said, “I could tell, by the way you act.”  I told her that was an amazing complement, and one I could never forget.  She then asked how I became a Christian.

So I sat down and told her my story.  When I had completed, she told me, you have to tell someone else now.  Your testimony is the most important way to saving someone else, and not enough Christians tell their story these days. I thought that kind of odd that she would say such a thing.  Once I left her office, I could not get her statement out of my head.

I remembered when I was young, and it seemed that everyone was telling their testimony when I went to church, or school, and even in the supermarket.  Now I can’t even remember the last time I heard someone’s testimony at church.  Did we forget?  Did we become afraid?  Did we become complacent?

Remember the scripture says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” (1st Peter 3:15, 1980)  So how do we give our testimony?  Is there some kind of method to convey to others what God has done for us. Is there an example in the bible?

I remembered then, that when I was in Youth For Christ, that part of the discipleship was to show and tell new believers how to share their testimony.  Maybe that is what we have forgotten.  So, I will tell you that there are 3 parts to your testimony that you should make sure you include.  You probably already know them, but I’m gona tell you anyway, just to make sure you know. The 3 parts to a testimony are:

  • Before
  • During
  • After

That seems kinda simple doesn’t it?  Can it be that simple?  Don’t I have to tell everyone my deep dark secrets?  Don’t I have to show them what a terrible person I was?  Don’t I have to confess to everyone I see, what vile and depraved things I did before?  Let’s look at Paul’s example in Acts 26.

In verses 9-11 Paul outlines what his life was like before Christ.  He starts saying, “Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.” (Acts 26:9) Paul goes on to describe how he acted in general terms, but never confesses specific incidences. He gives enough information so that his audience can identify with the type of person he was before he met Jesus the Messiah.  This should be fairly simple, after all you lived your life, you’re not making it up or embellishing in any way.

So think, what was your life like before Jesus?  What thoughts did you entertain?  What kind of self-serving acts did you do?  What did it drive you to?  How did you feel? What were your insecurities? How did you fool yourself?  Did you try to hide it by abuse… drugs… sex… alcohol?  Did you think that money, education, friends, or work could save you, or make you feel better about yourself?  Did you grow up in a church home and think that it just covered you, or gave you an excuse? Did you even care? A simple summary of this portion of your life is good.

Then Paul moved on in, verse 12-18, and described in detail, how he me the Lord.  Where he was at, what his condition was, what he was thinking, how he felt.  Where were you when the Lord touched you?  When did you experience real Christianity?  Why did you need the Lord?  How did you talk to the Lord?  What did you hear from the Lord?  This portion of your testimony lets the use see how someone can meet the Lord for themselves, it shows the process of accepting Christ and the forgiveness that is there at the throne of mercy.

After Paul explained how he met the Lord.  He immediately told what his life was like now.  The Lord gives us all a command to go forth and testify.  Tell how your life has changed.  Don’t use generic terms like “I’m so blessed now.”  Instead, give specific examples like of how following Jesus has changed your life, restored relationships, given your courage to face the past mistakes.  How life with Jesus has given you the ability to love others.  How studying scriptures has helped to give you a better understanding of God.  Explain the hope you have in the future and in life, because of the faithfulness God has shown you, by example.  What prayers has he answered?  Don’t forget to tell how you are faithful to God.  What changes have you made in your lifestyle, how has those changes benefited your life.  How do you serve God now?  Some of the people you testify to are going to be old friends who have not seen you in a while, and will still remember how you used to be.  This then becomes a re-affirmation of faith.

Take the time today to be alone with God and examine yourself.  Write out your testimony and remember these few points.  There are many different things you can say.  Many different approaches to take.  You need to take the time to find your story and your approach.  Your testimony does not need to be a long drawn out affair.  Keep it simple and short and to the point.  Once you have your draft, then go to a mirror and speak it to yourself, share your testimony with a fellow Christian.  Then take it to the streets.

Yes it will change depending on who you talk to and the circumstances.  You do not need to have some static script memorized.  You don’t need to preach to the individual you are sharing your story with. This is your story of how you met Jesus. Take your time with who you share it with.

Sometimes I talk to someone over a course of months, revealing parts of my testimony as the situation arrives.  Cultivating a relationship with the individual is very important.  The important thing is to share.  Remember, it is the Spirits job to convict and to lead to Jesus.  Your job is just to share what you know.  You know Jesus.

Pod Casts for The Way of Christ

The Tea Bag

1 Peter 5:6-7

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

Have you ever observed a  tea bag in hot water?  The tea bag contains the essence of the tea.  Tea leaves ground down and put into a porous  bag, when submerged into the water, slowly begins to drift into the water.  Streams of dark and light brown drift into the vessel, mixing into the water.  The water cannot resist the tea as it slowly does its job.  You do not need to stir, or shake the water for the tea to overcome the water.  The longer the teabag remains in the water, the darker it becomes, then the substance in the cup is no longer water, but tea.  Everyone who walks by and sees your cup knows you are about to enjoy a hot cup of tea.

So it is as you surrender to Christ.  The Spirit of God enters you and goes to work.  Now if you were to remove the tea bag as soon as you had placed it into the water, then you would not have tea.  Jesus warned us that we should remain in him.  “Remain in me, as I also remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4 NIV).  The only way for the tea bag to turn the water into tea is for the teabag to remain in the water.

Through this constant interaction the molecules transform the water into tea. Romans 12:2 says not to be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  So how do we renew our minds?  What does it mean?  How are we Transformed?  How do we remain in Him?

We can remain in him through prayer, study, and fellowship.  If you look at the life of Jesus, he was in constant prayer throughout his ministry.  He made is a point to pray, it was his priority, even over sleep and eating.  Prayer is spending time with God, being in his presence.  They Lord says that if we draw near to him, he will draw near to you. (James 4:8).  Have you ever had someone that you wanted to spend time with and had made plans to do something with them?  You spent time making arrangements, reworking schedules, and anxiously waited for the time that you could see them, just spend a little time catching up and seeing how they were doing?  Then on the appointed day, they called off, or even worse, just didn’t show up… and maybe didn’t even bother to speak to you about it.  Imagine what your heavenly Father feels like, he rearranged, creation, made sacrifices, and waited for you, and you didn’t even spend time to talk to him today.

If you love someone, you want to spend time with them.  You can’t wait to hear their voice.  Talking with someone is a way to let them get to know you, and for you to get to know them.  It makes you both feel special and needed.  If I never spoke to my wife and learned what her likes and dislikes are, how long do you think I would be married?  By watching her I can learn allot about her.

God has given us all kinds of information about himself in his word.  In fact he even told us that the bible is so much him that it is synonymous with his being.  John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  In reading the scriptures we gain insight into the very character of God.  I can tell allot about a man, by the way shakes my hand, and the way he talks to his wife and children.  I can see the way he sees himself by his posture.  We can tell allot about God by the way he treats his bride.  The Apostle Paul told Timothy to “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the work of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).  Not don’t get confused, Paul was not saying that the work is what saves a man.  God forbid, Salvation is through GRACE.  What Paul was saying is that we should know the scriptures, we should know our faith.  We should know who we believe in.  We should know Jesus. Being with likeminded people can help us to develop and maintain this fellowship with Jesus.

I know you have heard that “Birds of feather flock together”.  This is true.  2 Corinthians 6:14 warns us, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers, for what do righteousness and wickedness have in common?  Of what fellowship can light have with darkness.”  Have you not heard where it is written, “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5)?

Being with fellow believers strengthens your walk.  In Alcoholics Anonymous, you meet as a group, of likeminded people, who suffer from addiction and support one another to overcome this disease.  You get a sponsor, you to meetings, you work the 12 steps, and you share your testimony.  And for those who do these things, it works.  Does this sound familiar?

If you’re a Christian, you seek out like-minded people seeking to grow closer to God.  You get a mentor, you go to church, bible study, fellowship diners, and you share your testimony.  For those who do these things, IT WORKS. If an addict falls of the wagon, then it is almost impossible for them to get clean again, and they will more than likely die from their disease.  But the signs of this progression are not hidden.  They stop going to meetings, they stop working the steps, they lose contact with their sponsor, they revisit old hangouts and hangout with old friends who still use.

Remember the tea bag.  The more you stay in the vine, the more fruit you will have.  The healthier your relationship with God will be.  The more you will know who God is.  The more you can share with others who God is.  The darker your tea will be.

You Can’t Live in Fear

When I was young I use to read a comic book called Ghost Rider.  This was about a lost soul who could look in the eyes of an evil person and reflect all the pain and fear they had caused other people back at them and the result would drive them insane.  Now that has nothing to do with what I’m saying other than his favorite saying was, “You can’t live in fear”.  I was reminded of it when I read my verse for the day.

The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1.

When the Lord brought the Hebrews out of Egypt and to the Promised Land.  They sent out scouts to survey the land, and gain intelligence on the resources and the inhabitants.  They sent 12 scouts in all to investigate the land the Lord had promised.

When the scouts returned, ten of the scouts spread stories of how strong the current inhabitants were, stories of giants and great cities and powers. Effectively scaring the whole of the Hebrew race.  They whipped up a strong frenzy in the Hebrews who now wished they had never left Egypt or that they had died in the wilderness, rather than face the enemies below.

Two of the scouts however, brought back reports of how plenteous the land was, ripe fields ready for the harvest.  Cities that were waiting to be conquered, and militaries in ill repair that were weakened by to many years in splendor.  The two scouts were Caleb and Joshua.

Caleb and Joshua remembered what the Lord had done for the Hebrew, how he had called them out of Egypt, parted the sea and crushed the Pharaoh and his immense army of chariots.  How the Lord had always been before them.  Providing food, shelter, and water along their journey.  How the Lord had prepared their path and protected their way.

Many times we as followers look out at the world, work, and our neighborhood and all we see are the fortifications, the walls of stone that are build up.  The weapons poised for defense, and the fires burning behind iron gates.  We become fearful, and sheepish, choosing to avoid the confrontation, and keeping silent.  Not doing what the Lord has commanded us all.  Praying the Lord would send others to do what he has already sent us to do.

We forget that the Lord has delivered us from bondage and protected us from our enemies.  Forgetting that the Lord has provided us food and nourishment, shelter and a stronghold.  He has given us strength and a comforter who resides within us.  We forget to look at His provisions.  The armor he has given us, we choose not to take up the shield and the sword for fear of rejection from those who reject Him.

How sad it is, that if we, just looked with remembrance in what the Lord has done for us we could see so much more.  We would see the fields ripe for harvest, and the rust on the enemy’s weapons.  We would see the foundation of the enemy build on shifting sands and unable to withstand the pressures of their buildings.  We would see a tabernacle already prepared for the Lord to indwell.

We are all called to bear witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Remember it is written, “ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” Acts 1:8   If you have ever wondered what it is that God wants you to do…. “Here’s Your Sign!”, as Bill Engvall would say. Let us all remember that we will all be called to give a testimony for what Christ has done for us.

Matthew 6:6

“But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly”

M Caligraphy
M

When I was young and in Jr. High, I use to lock myself in my bedroom closet.  The closet was big enough to put a small desk in.  So I would lock myself in and read and study my bible.  While studying I would often pray and discuss the scriptures with myself and God allowed.  While doing so I would write my studies and prayers into a journal.  I could then reflect back months later and see the things I had prayed for in secret, and see the answers to prayer and I could thank God for the things he had done or the fears he had delivered me from.  In that small little closet with a makeshift desk and the light above I often felt closer to God then in any other place.

I remember when my oldest son was a toddler and he would go into the closet and play with my shoes, because he didn’t know I was home yet, but he missed me.  I slowly enter the bedroom without making a sound, and lay on the bed and watch and listen to him.  He would pretend he was talking to me and act like he was helping me with my boots.  Then inevitably he would notice me and then his eyes would light up and he would smile the biggest smile I have ever seen while raising his hands for me to pick him up.  Out joy for one another was uncontained.

Take time to be alone with God and He will be there, just quietly listening like a father to his child.  Waiting for you to see him and he will pick you up and show you all the joy he has in being your father.