This morning, I was encouraged by the body, the bride of the One who is to come. Soon, I hope.
As I sit in the pew and look up, I can't help but smile and listen a little more intently. I am humbled. I am blessed. I am humbled to look to my left and to my right and to know I belong somewhere. I am humbled to look up and know that man preaching before this body is the same man that has welcomed me as one of his own. I have always wondered what the man behind the pulpit is really like in various bodies--does his life measure up? How does he treat his wife? How does he handle the stress of life? Today, I was blessed to hear the Word preached from a man whose life is the pursuit of Christ that He might have all the glory--I know He measures up. I am blessed to live under his authority and so proud of him.
We are spending the next month or so in Psalms. Today, K taught on Psalm 1.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Through His words, I realized how much of my time and energy I have invested in allowing the counsel of the wicked to fill me. In this place, I forget His goodness. Life apart from being rooted in Christ is no life at all. My delight has been in many other things--control, feeding my flesh, working to be good enough. I have truly delighted in the counsel of the wicked. But this Truth says the one who delights in the law of the Lord is blessed.
What does it mean to really DELIGHT in the law of the Lord, to not receive the counsel of the wicked?
Kevin said, "Anything that drives us towards independence of Christ is of the world." He told a story of when he was in India several years ago. He was trying to blend in more--to look more the like the nationals they were trying to minister to. The men of these particular tribes wore long skirts and carried axes. K and the men with him decided maybe they could fit in better by matching the dress code of their fellow villagers. Skirts on, minus the ax they made the attempt. It failed, to say the least. They even proceeded to go into a river which even the nationals feared because of its large snake population--they didn't know any better. They were not of this "Indian world." In fact, I imagine they looked even more out of place, white skin and all. We are called to be aliens, strangers, sojourners.
"Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul." 1 Pet. 2:11
Thus, just as K's white skin stood out among the brown, our lives also, must look different from the world we live in. So, how does this apply to me, when I wear the same clothes and speak the same language as everyone around me? How do I look different from this world I live in? I think the only way my life will look different is indeed to abstain from the passions of my flesh--to walk in the victory which His blood already achieved. This means I don't allow my eyes to watch just anything. It means I speak differently and act differently--even when I don't feel like it. It means I put others' lives above my own. It means that I am not a slave to anything in the world--money, appearance, technology, man, lust, approval of man, etc. It means I am honest and respect authority. It means that when the times get hard, when the trials come--I STILL delight in the law of the Lord day and night. It means I am rooted and steadfast upon the unshakable rock and foundation of Christ.
He goes on to talk about the tree being PLANTED by streams of water. The tree wasn't just wondering, it wasn't just laying there, it wasn't useless. The tree was PLANTED. The tree had purpose--but only because it was planted, on purpose, by the Lord. God planted the tree--do you see His sovereignty? His grace? I want to be like the tree--planted wheresoever the Lord chooses because the place He chooses will fulfill His purpose for me in a greater way then anything I could come up with. He planted the tree by water that it might yield fruit, not whither, but prosper.
The text goes on to say that the Lord knows the way of the righteous. This really stood out to me because this means that even in m most desperate attempts to gain control over the circumstances and daily activities of my life that seem so very out of my control, HE ALREADY KNOWS MY WAY!!! What a weight lifted. I really think this is Truth I have never seen quite so clearly before. Since HE knows my way, there is no longer a need for me to seek control. I mean, obviously I have seen time and time again that His ways are always greater and perfect compared to mine. I am blessed, that even in the suffering and temptation, He doesn't give me over. His GRACE.
Job 23:10 says "But He knows the way that I take and when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold."
I have failed the test many times. I pray that I might indeed count it all joy when I face trials of various kinds, that the testing of my faith might produce steadfastness, that steadfastness might make me perfect and complete. That I might come out as gold.
K and M--thank you for modeling what it looks like to delight in the law of the Lord, to meditate on it day and night, even in the hard times, even in the trials.