Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Burdensome Religion And Joyous Faith (Psalm 1:1-2)

Burdensome religion and joyous faith are worlds apart. They are exact opposites.
“I have to” – How shallow and superficial is “I have to” religion. The man or woman who thinks like this hasn’t even begun to appreciate the great love of Jesus Christ.What a far cry this is from a truly heartfelt and joyful Christian faith!
When someone is really interested in something, it’s never a matter of “I have to.”
- Does a young man, desperately in love, “have to” meet his sweetheart?
- Does a football fanatic “have to” travel miles to watch his team?
- Does a music lover “have to” buy the CDs and go the concerts of his favourite band?
- Does a keen golfer “have to” play golf?
Do you get the point?
The real question is not “Do I have to?” It’s “Do I want to?”
It’s much better to do something good because you want to – not just because you have to!
Have you begun to appreciate something of the great love of God, which is revealed in His Son, our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ? If you have, you will count it your great privilege and wonderful pleasure to come to His Table and remember His love for you, with joyful and heartfelt thanksgiving.
There are times when even the strongest of Christians don’t feel on top of the world. There are times when attendance at worship seems to be more of a duty than a delight.
When we feel like this, we need to be reminded of the facts of the Gospel. Jesus died for us. Jesus was raised again for us. As we remember these great facts, our feelings will, once again, be stirred to worship our Saviour with our whole heart.
When you don’t feel like worshipping the Lord, that’s the time when you most need to come and join the people of God as they offer their thanksgiving to the Lord.
- Come to Church when you want to because you want to.
- Come to Church when you don’t want to, because you need to.
When you don’t feel like worshipping the Lord, you will find all kinds of excuses for yourself.
When I was married, the minister said that both prosperity and adversity can lead to marital breakdown.
In times of adversity, a man may forget his wife. He may say, “I can’t afford to keep a wife.”
In times of prosperity, a man may forget about his wife. as he becomes more prosperous, he may become fed-up with the wife he loved when he wasn’t so well-off.
Prosperity and adversity can lead a man away from his God.
Prosperity may make a man say, “I have no need of God.”
Adversity may make a man say, “It’s all God’s fault.”
Prosperity and adversity provide us with tests which can either make us or break us.
The man whose real interest is Christ will grow into a deeper sense of heartfelt gratitude to his Saviour. The man whose interests centre on other things will, perhaps gradually yet nonetheless definitely, forget about his Saviour.
The contrast between religion as an tedious burden and Christ as a source of joy is brought out well in Psalm 1.
In the first Psalm, we learn about happiness. We learn about the way to find happiness. The basic message is this: the man who finds happiness is the man who loves the Lord. The man for whom religion is a tedious burden will know nothing of true happiness. He hasn’t found true happiness because he hasn’t learned to trust and obey.
This is the lesson we must learn: “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.”
A striking contrast is drawn between the happy man and the unspiritual man who doesn’t take God seriously.
When the Psalmist draws this contrast, there’s no suggestion of a “holier-than-thou” attitude. We’re not to look down on other people. We’re not to consider ourselves superior. Such religious arrogance has no places has no place in the hearts of those who have tasted the goodness of the Lord. We are sinners. We have been saved by God’s grace. What right have we to despise others? The Good News of Christ’s love has brought great blessing into our hearts and lives. we dare not keep this blessing to ourselves. We are called to live a holy life – but we must never forget that our holiness comes from the Lord. It comes from His love. This is the love which is always reaching out to others, inviting them to receive God’s forgiveness and calling them to walk in the pathway of holiness.
In Psalm 1, we learn about (a) the habits of the man of God (vs. 1-2); (b) the stability of the man of God (vs. 3-4); and (c) the future of the man of God (vs. 5-6). At each point, a contrast is drawn between the man of God and the worldly man.
The aim of the first Psalm is to press for a decision. The Psalmist doesn’t say, “Here’s an interesting contrast between two different ways of thinking about life.” He wants his readers to stop walking in the world’s way and start walking in the Lord’s way. He wants us to say, “From now on, I will walk in the way of the Lord.”
(a) the habits of the man of God (vs. 1-2)
The Psalmist emphasizes the importance of right conduct.
In verse 1, he does this negatively – “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly … “
In verse 2, he does this positively – “his delight is in the law of the Lord … “
The way of disobedience is a way that gets progressively worse (v. 1).
First, there is “walking in the counsel of the wicked”, which means letting oneself be guided by the advice of the evildoers.
Next, there is “standing in the way of sinners”, which means conforming to the example of sinners.
Thirdly, there “sitting in the seat of the scoffers”, which means actively participating in the mocking of sacred things.
The way of obedience is directly related to the revealed will of God in the Word of God – Hear, Read, Study, Memorize, Meditate (v.2).
(b) the stability of the man of God and the instability of the worldly man(vs. 3-4)
Which describes your life?

Here, the Psalmist uses the language of biology (v. 3). He shares with us the fundamental law of the divine biology- A good tree cannot bear bad fruit. A bad tree cannot bear good fruit. He uses the language of the harvest to show us that the life that is lived apart from God is empty, meaningless and worthless. This is so different from the meaningful and valuable life of faith.
(c) the future (vs. 5-6)
The Psalmist states quite categorically that those whose lives haven’t been built on Christ will not stand in the judgment. The godless man’s meaningless existence will be seen in its complete futility. On that Day, the things that really matter will be seen as the ultimate meaning of life. These things are faith and obedience.
Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny.
We’ve only one life to live. Only what’s done for Jesus will last.
Where do you stand in relation to all that Psalm 1 says to us?
May God grant that you will stand with Christ – to trust Him, to obey Him, to serve Him, to love Him and to live for Him. May this be the desire of your heart, the conviction of your mind, the resolve of your will, the words of your mouth and the actions of your life.

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