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.
For too many years of my life I walked in the counsel of the ungodly; in fact, I was ungodly. As I reflect on much of my life, I have to acknowledge that I was acting in accordance with a nature that is contrary to who I am. Only, I didn’t really know who I was because Christ was not the center of my existence. Much of my behavior was influenced by a desire to impress, fit in, or to fulfill some selfish desire that had no lasting good. Not only did I walk in the counsel of the ungodly, I stood with sinners, and assumed a seat at the table with the scornful. I was that ungodly, sinful, and scornful person that fed from a table of filth and influenced others to do the same. In the same way that our bodies become acclimated to the cold lake water, we also become acclimated to the life of sin and almost dread stepping out for fear of getting the chills when a cool wind passes by.
2. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.
I grew up in a Christian community and went to church almost every week but I would be lying if I said that I delighted in the law of the Lord and meditated on it for even part of the day. In fact, I barely understood what I was reading and the King James language didn’t really help. I never at any point in my life believed that Santa Claus is real but I treated God as if He was. I found myself praying when I was in the midst of a difficult situation and reading the bible when I found myself sitting on a sand hill in Iraq. My delight was in whatever seemed pleasing in the moment or the near-term. It was what satisfied a physical or emotional craving; a lust that has nothing to do with honoring God and everything to do with honoring self. The word was near but I was far from the word; the law was on my heart but only to remind me to disguise my sins. I didn’t consider that God saw my sins because……well, I didn’t even consider God.
3. 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 whither, and whatever he does shall prosper.
I was more like a tree in the middle of the river, soaking up the best of what I came in contact with and shedding dead leaves and poisoned fruit in the waters surrounding me. Even worse is that I didn’t see it that way. I thought I was doing good; that I was contributing to society in a positive way and fostering positive growth in those with whom I came in contact. I left a wake of pain and disappointment in my past and it was not immediately clear just what my life had amounted to. While I felt remorse for the pain that I caused, there was no repentance. I continued to produce poisonous fruit hidden behind withered leaves, deceiving myself that I was prospering. Even those things that could be viewed as prosperity were simply high hollow walls; a valley of dry bones.
4. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
That I can now reflect on my past and share my testimony is only possible by the mercies of God. I should have been driven away like chaff, yet here I stand with roots that drink of the rich waters of forgiveness and redemption. Here I stand on the Rock that is higher than I; on Jesus Christ who has redeemed me from among the ungodly [from myself]. Like the Apostle Paul, I was chief among sinners. I was on the fast track of destruction, running a faithless race to a fiery trial; but God, who is gracious and forgiving, snatched me out of my self-destructive lifestyle and has planted me by the rivers of water. He has set the times of my fruit and has appointed them for good – for His glory. I stand strong in the winds of strife, anchored in His Holy Spirit with my eyes stayed on Jesus Christ. I no longer walk in the counsel of the ungodly nor do I stand in the path of sinners. I do not sit in the seat of the scornful but my counselor is the Holy Spirit, my path is that of Jesus Christ, and my comfort is in God – the Triune God. Though the world throws them all at me, my sure hope is in Christ and He has already overcome. I remain on watch and dawn the full armor of God, acknowledging that the enemy is crafty – but God is all-knowing!
5. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
Immediately the song “Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine” comes to mind. Yes, “This is my story” and I will continuously praise my Savior because He has secured my place in His kingdom. He has rescued me from the judgement and seated me in the congregation of the righteous. How do I know this? If you are saved you already know the answer to that question!
6. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.
There is only one way of the righteous and His name is Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach). “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me””. (John 14:6)
There is a flood of information coming our way on a hourly basis and much of it is very convincing. But is that information all true? The enemy deceives us with partial truths and the only way to counter these attacks is to know the truth. We do this by immersing ourselves in scripture and prayer each day, throughout the day. We have to “put on the full armor of God“, take of the shield up faith and arm ourselves with the sword (word) of God. Today, immerse yourself in scripture and prayer and “you will know the truth and the truth will make your free“!
Someone asked me, “why does it matter that when know when Jesus returns, to what end do we look for signs?”
How would you answer that question? Is that a question that you have even pondered? Tomorrow, or even the next breath, is promised to no one. That’s something we don’t often think about and even those who are mindful of that may not think in terms of how we live in the now, witnessing to others that they might find rest in Christ and for the glory of God. Then there are others who are burdened with the knowledge of human condition and a desire for their salvation.
It is at this point that differences in belief often direct the approach to evangelism; the topic of the Rapture. As one who believes in a pre-tribulation rapture, I believe one of the burdens on the hearts of likeminded believers is for others to “escape the coming wrath”. The larger desire is for the gospel and the conversion and/or repentance of others but the thought of family and friends having to endure those things written about “that day” breaks the heart.
However, returning to the question at hand – to what end? We are commanded to watch (Matt 25:13, Mark 13:35). The Church in Sardis was rebuked for being dead and warned to be watchful and to strengthen the things that remain but are ready to die. More specifically, Jesus warned them that if they did not watch he would come up on them as a thief and they will not know what hour he will come upon them (Revelation 3).
In the Garden of Gethsemane, He rebuked the apostles and warned them to watch and pray that they will not fall into temptation. You say “what does that have to do with his return and didn’t Jesus say no one know the day or the hour?”
I believe that is all the more reason to watch. I would also ask, why watch if there is nothing to watch for and if we would only be watching in vain? Why would He warn the church in Sardis to watch or He would come up on them as a thief? If we have no way of know the season of His return wouldn’t He come up on all of us (believers and non-believers alike) as a thief?
In that same scripture Jesus also said “not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only”. Then He went on to give a list of things to watch for. Are we even watching for those or do you think all those things have already passed? Let’s think about this for a minute. The Father knows the day and hour…..Jesus and the Father are one…..the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son and together they are One. The Holy Spirit dwells in us [Christians] and reveals to us the things of God. Given all of this, is it possible that since Jesus spoke those words He has revealed more of this mystery to his followers; like Paul, who gives additional insight into what will happen in the last days? Who wrote, “But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).
Are believers among those who Christ warn in Luke 21:34-36 whose “hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life”, and on who “that Day come unexpectedly”.
Jesus goes on to say “For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Does that in anyway describe believers? Or do you suppose because He said it will come upon all those who dwell on the earth it includes everyone? Is that what the last since suggests?
So, to what end should we watch? So we don’t fall into temptation? So we aren’t caught unprepared like the five foolish virgins? So we can comfort and strengthen one another? So we can warn others? Or, maybe all the above?
Do you even care?