JANUARY 2021 -SERIES
Theme: Spiritual wellness
Scripture: Psalm 1
From the time one becomes a Christian-believer, there is a yearning for a deeper walk with God and to grow spiritually. Almost like a new-born baby thirsting for milk for only one purpose and that is to grow.
This is the way of a Christian-believer: He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season, and whose leaf does not whither. Spiritual progress is being made.
The new life that has been formed by God, turns a believer’s entire attitude towards life upside down. Your passion and thirst for life is now to walk with God and to grow spiritually. It is humanly inexplicable. It truly comes from ABOVE – that is the only explanation there is.
Question is: HOW do you grow spiritually? What is the key to spiritual progress? Should one dig deeper into the Psalms to discover it? No. The good news is: it is an open secret and is already revealed in the very first Psalm.
However, Psalm 1 is not talking about “spiritual growth” but of being “blessed” (verse 1). “Blessed” means to be conscious of the Lord’s presence in all circumstances, and to be sure that His favour rests on you, and therefore you have peace and joy. The key to that (according to Ps 1) is to delight in the Word and to purposefully meditate upon the Word day and night. Then you are blessed: you know He is with you and His favour rests on you. And that produces matchless peace and joy. Your life turns into a fruit-bearing tree.
What we should not overlook, is that Psalm 1 is a picture of our Lord Jesus himself – even though His Name is not mentioned here. Besides, the entire OT is a picture-image of Him according to John 5:39 & Luke 24:27.
What we should also keep in mind is that the power – that enables us to grow spiritually victorious – is found in the fact that Jesus was on earth in human likeness as a real person-like-us (Phil 2:6-7). 1 Tim 3:16 says that the key to our growth in faith and devotion is the fact that Jesus has come as a human like us. In every aspect Jesus lived as human (Heb 2:17) and in our likeness He produced the same fruit as He calls upon us to produce, and therefore we can do it because He did it and was human just like us. Remember the Holy Spirit transforms us more and more to the image of Christ (2 Cor 2:18). That is why 1 John 2:6 says that we must live the way Jesus lived. Because the same Spirit who worked in Him, is working in the child of God (Eph 1:20).
Jesus was on earth in our likeness, and in our likeness He perfected Psalm 1. In other words, from childhood He drank in the Scriptures and made it part of Himself, therefore we can do it too. Jesus was everything that is written in Psalm 1 and He was a human just like us, yet was without sin (Heb 4:15). Therefore we can follow in His footsteps (1 Pet 1:21) and also make the Scriptures part of our thought process and inner heart, and be fruitful trees with leaves that do not wither.
Was there ever a person on earth who perfectly experienced the “blessedness” of verse 1? Enjoyed God’s favour every moment? Experienced joy? Who did not for one moment walk in the counsel and advice of the unsaved world? Who never for one moment stood on the road of sinners? Who never sat among mockers? Who found joy in the Word and meditated it day and night? Who at the age of 12 years knew the Bible, and chose to daily sit in the assemblies where the Word was preached? Whose mind-set was so saturated with the Scriptures that He even at His death quoted the Scriptures? Who was a fruitful tree? Of whom it can be said that He was successful in everything that He did? Was there ever someone like that? Yes. Jesus of Nazareth. But remember: He was that in you and my likeness and flesh (vicariously).
What is written in Psalm 1 is this: Every saved person has in Christ the ability to experience spiritual welfare and be blessed by doing two things simultaneously: 1) say NO to the downward spiral unsaved people are walking on, and 2) commune with the Word of God, love it, memorise it, meditate over it, make it part of your thought processes. Then you are blessed and fruitful tree, knowing that the Lord is watching over your walk through life (v 6).
The only alternative is the spiral of the unsaved that runs downward into eternal ruin. It runs downward gradually. One sees it in v 1 (in the Hebrew) with the verbs: walk, stand, sit. You also see it in the nouns: the wicked (those who do not live as they should), the sinners (those who do not live as they should), the mockers (the faithless). The wicked are only talking, but the sinners are actively on the spiralling road, and with the mockers it has become a way of life. Systematic downward spiral.
That is how spiritual backsliding always works. It happens almost unnoticed and with passage of time. Gradually you loose your spiritual cutting edge. Then it does not help boasting in a powerful conversion experience of 30 years ago. According to verse 4 you will be chaff blown away by the wind. And according to verse 5 you will not be able to uphold yourself in the judgment.
Psalm 1 is actually speaking the type of language that is what the entire Bible says: it is either, or. There is no middle ground. No grey areas. No neutrality. You cannot be lukewarm – neither hot nor cold (Rev 3:16). The person who is not on fire for Christ, has no right to claim the title of “Christian“.
Look carefully at Psalm 1. He does not see 3 groups of people: cold and hot and a 3rd something in between. Within the context of Psalm 1 you cannot say: “I am really a child of the Lord. I have a testimony. But I have been backsliding. I am lukewarm. I am in love with the world. I am sitting in company with the mockers.”
In the context of Psalm 1 such a person is not a Christian. Whoever is not an on-fire Christian, is certainly not a Christian!
Psalm 1 only knows TWO groups: those who love the Word, those who say NO to the downward spiral of the worldly person, those who bear fruit, those whose leaf does not wither and over whose way the Lord watches. Those who prosper in whatever he/she does.
Incidentally: Not “prosper” as the world sees it. Not becoming a multimillionaire overnight. Not necessarily up from a D-average to an A-average in Matric.
How does one know if your business is blessed and if you are a blessed student and if your relationship with someone is blessed? When do you prosper (v 3)?
Of course the Lord also blesses your secular activities, but the actual sign of true prosperity is that the secular things you do are inspired by a Spirit-filled spiritual life, family-life, church-life – and not the other way around.
A top student or a top businessman, is not necessarily Psalm 1-blessed. The moment when your relationship with someone/ business/ studies put you on the downward spiral, and do not enrich your spiritual life/advance your appetite for the Lord’s church, and your appetite starts to flag, there is a problem.
Take note: the problem is always in the fact that we do not discipline ourselves to be filled with the Word of God. The Word is set aside.
In any case: This is the first group we identify in Psalm 1: the people who love the Bible.
The only other group are those who inwardly shudder at the mere thought of being wedded to the Bible and find themselves somewhere on the downward spiral – those to whom the Word plays second fiddle. People who will be blown away by the wind like chaff and who will not be able to stand in the judgment. That is what Psalm 1 teaches black on white. That is that. There is no 3rd group.
Friends: The Spirit of the Lord is telling us this morning: there are only these 2 groups of people.
But let’s close with the positive explosive power of Psalm 1. And let us be practical.
The positive explosive power of Psalm 1 is this: The power of God abides in our lives – by our knowledge of the Scriptures (Mark 12:24). That is when we love the Word and purposefully fill our mind with the Scriptures. Almost like a cow that eats as much grass as possible and then later – when everything is calm – regurgitate and ruminate it.
And the apostle Paul gives the INSTRUCTION to every believer to see to it that the Word richly dwells in you (Col 3:16). See Ps 119:11 – “I have hidden your Word in my heart.” It is something we must do purposefully. It takes discipline. It is hard to be a disciple (follower) of Jesus without discipline. “Disciple” and “discipline” is exactly the same word. With daily discipline I must fill myself with the Word. To me personally, one of the most difficult disciplines to keep up.
How? A practical hint. See that you read the Bible in season and out of season (at any time) and do not jump around in the Word, but read a specific book every time. Take a notebook wherein you write down passages or verses which speaks to you and that you would like to remember. Add to it daily. Then take the notebook along with you wherever you go. And when there is an opportunity, go through it over and over.
For example in the car when the traffic comes to a stop. Or at the doctor’s surgery. Work through the notebook while the kettle is boiling or while you wait to take the food out of the oven.
We have a lot of time every day that we do nothing or when our thoughts are wandering aimlessly. You may not always carry your Bible wherever you go, but the notebook you can.
Gradually you fall into a disciplined pattern to absorb the Word. You start to live focused. And wonderful things start to happen. You start to realise that your thoughts often turn to the Scriptures. Your inner person is more and more filled with supernatural heavenly divine thoughts. That which you express and think becomes more and more pure. You manage more wisely in all kinds of situations. You conquer sin easier. Your spiritual discernment develops. Your appetite for worldly things wanes, because you have found a precious pearl that has more value than anything else (Matt 13:46).
Where you have previously had so much appetite for meaningless and senseless TV programmes, you discover that your heart yearns for something better and deeper. An inner thirst comes into being that you have never experienced before. A person who spends only 3 minutes reading the Bible morning and night, will never know this kind of life. You must cultivate the Psalm 1-discipline and absorb the Scriptures into your thought patterns. Then the power of God simply takes hold of you.
Guard against thoughts wandering aimlessly and meaninglessly. Every time you realise that your mind is wandering in that way, bring them back to obedience to Christ.
Think how miserable it is to always just hear your own inner voice and the voices/opinions of other people! While you can live in a different dimension, where you can ponder the words of the Lord. It is simply a different way of life!
Think about the following contrast: You ponder the riches of the truths in the Book of Revelation, filled with hope and power and glorious life.
Or: You worry about your finances/ reflect about so-and-so who offended you/ economy is so-and-so/ covid19 / Malema said this or that/ newspaper reports and so forth. Result: Inner deadness
I want to challenge you in the Lord’s Name to become truly serious about this matter. And to start TODAY to actively do something about starting to love the Scriptures and making it part of your inner being. And do not become discouraged.
You will soon become aware that the enemy will oppose you with all its power. And he will use people and circumstances to do it. But do not become discouraged. Persevere. Eph 1:21 assures us that all powers are subjected to Jesus.
Translated by Marthie Wilson