Tall, Strong Trees With Deep Wet Roots!
1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.
Are most people happy?
Dennis Wholey, author of Are You Happy? reports that according to expert opinion, perhaps only 20 percent of Americans are happy.
Six weeks before he died, a reporter asked Elvis Presley, “Elvis, when you first started playing music, you said you wanted to be rich, famous and happy. Are you happy?”
“I’m lonely as hell,” he replied.
Most people spend the majority of their lives seeking the moving target called happiness.
Kingdoms are won, kingdoms are lost, and generation after generation, civilization after civilization rises, climaxes and declines, and yet men never truly find happiness in power, prestige money or position. The quest for happiness is the quest of the ages!
As Christians, we know the answer! The answer is Jesus Christ who fills the “God shaped vacuum” that exists within the soul of every man. There is an inner longing that only Christ can fill.
The question arises, however: “why are there so many unhappy CHRISTIANS?”
Demos Shakarian, the founder of the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International and a pioneer of the modern charismatic movement coined the slogan “The Happiest People on Earth” to describe the men of the FGBMI.
Shouldn’t this be true of God’s people by definition? We who have been delivered from darkness, we who have been redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, saved by Grace, sealed by and Baptized in the Holy Spirit…we who are citizens of Heaven…
shouldn’t we TRULY be the “happiest people on earth”?
So why aren’t we? Something is wrong, something is very wrong!
In another great book of Biblical wisdom, King Solomon, one of the richest, and wisest men who has lived upon the face of the earth, a man who truly knew and worshiped Jehovah had this to say about the quest for happiness.
10 I denied myself nothing my eyes desired;
I refused my heart no pleasure.
My heart took delight in all my work,
and this was the reward for all my labor.
11 Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.
Was Solomon a “happy” man?
This great man, who built the Temple of God in Jerusalem, was undone by his fleshly quest for happiness. His abuse of his power as a king, and his intermarriage with pagans led to ruin in his own life and in the life of Israel.
Is there a common thread that runs between King Solomon and The King of Rock and Roll?
Is there a common thread between King Solomon, Elvis and me?
The Word of God holds the principles to the Christians’ happiness, and they may be found in Psalm 1! Friends, there IS a way for the Christian to be consistently happy!
Tonight, I would like to speak to you not about depression, not about stress or similar things. Seasonal and other types of depression are very real, and dear soul, if you are hurting in this way tonight, your spiritual family reaches out to embrace you and lift you up to the Father for comfort and healing.
We are speaking to the Unhappy Christian, much as David did in the opening Psalm. A man who is unhappy because his soul is in a state of internal war! A man or woman who
has of their own volition, walked down a treacherous and unknown path.
Christian Friend…if this is you, God says to you tonight “C’mon Get Happy!”
Overview of the Psalm
David uses the very common scriptural metaphor of a plant to describe the life of the believer. Jesus used the agricultural/botanical metaphor often in describing spiritual life…branches and vines, fig trees, thorns and thistles, orchards and vineyards are all used to describe the full spectrum of a believer’s growth; from unproductive dead branches which were to be “cut off” to lush healthy branches bending from the weight of plump juicy fruit.
Oh, How Happy!
The First Psalm opens up with the phrase translated BLESSED is the man. The Hebrew word is esher. It is often translated as an interjection, yielding “Happy is the man!” It could be stated like this “OH how happy is the man!”
This is a holy moment, preserved in the eternal counsels of God. David seems to be overwhelmed with joy as he shouts this great truth in song. Take heed, it is clear that King David is talking not to the pagan, but to the one who KNOWS God.
The Psalmist gets our attention from the start… “OH how happy is the man!” What is to follow is divine wisdom! Psalm 1 is God’s answer for the unhappy Christian. And it’s free for the taking!
What follows is essentially a recipe for the happiness of a Christian!
The Psalm first gives us the “negatives”, what “not to do”, and then gives us the good news, what “to do”.
Following the agricultural metaphor, lets look at it in terms we can understand. When we plant our spring flower and vegetable gardens, we use certain products. I would like to borrow those to apply to the spiritual garden which is our lives, tonight!
The Spiritual herbicide: “Round Up”
How to start the process of killing the spiritual garden
The world system (the battle for the mind)
The man who is “OH so happy” walks not in the counsel of the ungodly
Friend, the devil was defeated for eternity at the Cross of Calvary. Jesus Christ holds the keys, and death has been swallowed in sweet victory. The ONLY weapon the devil has against you is the ability to deceive…but
How much more does he need? The battle is for your MIND!
Let’s look closely at the word “counsel”. The Hebrew word etsah is rendered “counsel”. It refers not only to individual counsel or “good company”, but it refers to a worldview, a system of thought, a plan or orientation.
Friends, there are two different worlds that surround us. There are two different kingdoms. To walk in one is to turn your back on the other. To attempt to walk in both leads to destruction from within!
Jesus said the key to every provision that we need is to be found in
Matthew 6:33 “seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and ALL these things shall be added unto you.”
This is the first time this concept is introduced in the Gospels…this “Kingdom of God”
Jesus introduced it, and continually spoke of the good news of the Kingdom of God! Luke was inspired to use the phrase in Acts, and Paul uses it often in his epistles.
Some ninety-one times this concept of “The Kingdom of God” is repeated from Matthew to Revelation, most often from the lips of Jesus himself. In the final great consummation of the ages, the Apostle John tells us that
The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever.
Until that time, we are in a war, waged between the two Kingdoms…the Kingdom of
God and The Kingdoms of This World. You and I are caught in the crossfire.
The Two Worlds…they are polarized, they are mirror images one of the other.
In the Kingdom of God…
you receive by giving things away
You lose in order to win
You become great by being a servant of all
You decrease so that Jesus may increase
The Kingdoms of this world, or the world system (Gr. Kosmos) refers to “the present state of human affairs, in alienation and opposition to God.” (eg. John 7:7 John 8:23 I Cor 2:12, Gal 4:3, et.al)
The “Kingdoms of This World” are exactly what David was referring to when he utters these eternal words of life! Wherever darkness and light meet, there is warfare. The very presence of Jesus and His Kingdom creates a major crisis for the Kingdoms of this World!
The Word of God tells us:
15Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
I Peter 2:11
11Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul.
I Corinthians 10:3-5
3For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
When a believer begins the walk in the “counsel of the ungodly” and begins to ACCOMMODATE the world system in any way, the war moves from the proper battlefield…on the enemy’s turf, into the very soul of the believer!
Walking in the “counsel of the ungodly” creates war in the soul! And a soul at war is a dying soul…one that is miserably unhappy and in the process of drying and dying.
Round-Up is the first step!
James tells us that “ a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways”. When we “buy into” the world system, we bring the crisis away from the Kingdom of Darkness, and into our own soul. The result is despair, pain, and bitter unhappiness!
The enemy can neutralize a Christian if he can influence his thinking towards the world system! The resulting “soul crisis” renders a Christian ineffective, unfit for service.
What kingdom are you living in, Christian? Where is the war that your life is creating?
Have we, the very children of God bought into the lies of the world? Are we focused on temporal pleasures, fulfilling “my needs”, living for ourselves and for the moment? Or are our affections centered squarely upon pleasing our Savior, and serving His Body?
Are we convinced as to the truth of God’s Word, and its infallibility, and do we hold it as our sole authority for faith and practice? Believe it or not, there are so-called Christians all over who do not hold to this most basic belief! They may have once, but the spirit of this age has watered down their faith, in the name of “tolerance”.
Jesus leaves no room for subjectivity when He declares “I am the WAY the TRUTH and the LIFE, no man comes to the Father BUT BY ME!”
And folks, I’m looking at the man in the mirror. I have truly “been there”. I remember a time in my youth, when I was convinced that as a truly born-again Christian, one who had actually led others to Christ and who knew more scripture than most preachers, I could accommodate the philosophies of this world, and create my own little “cafeteria style religion”. I wanted to create a religion which could accommodate sin. I wanted a religion that could accommodate the philosophies espoused by both the Bible and Rolling Stone Magazine. Friends, it produced a war in my soul that I will never, ever forget.
One morning I woke up and said “this ain’t working!” Many of you have been there!
Is your heart in the Kingdom of God, while your feet are in the Kingdom of this world? Which Kingdom are you seeking?
If you’re accommodating the world system of thought, the enemy has just soaked you with spiritual Round-Up!
He does not stand in the way of sinners
When we accommodated the world system in our minds, in our world-view, the death process started, the herbicide Round Up has been sprayed on the garden.
Roundup is not picky. If it’s green, it dies! You begin to die just like everything around you when the Spiritual Roundup is applied.
The next step in the walk of death is “turning yellow”. Standing in the way of sinners takes it one step further…to
As sinners do.
If “walking in the counsel of the ungodly” demonstrates buying into the philosophies and the mindset and worldview of the Kingdoms of This World, standing in the way of sinners is speaking of the practical, nuts and bolts side.
Not only does this progression make for beautiful poetry, I believe there is a progression in the spiritual truth. We have a cause-effect relationship here.
What we believe will determine the way we behave. The way we behave will in turn feed back into our belief system, our “world view”. One reinforces the other!
Do you see a powerful principle here? I see a continuously revolving, very circular system. If the center of the system is right…then there will be a continuous building up of the individual. A Christ-Centered world-view will cause an individual to make correct choices in life, and will be the very ballast that keeps his “ship” centered and upright, ready for any storm. “Blessedness “ and happiness will result as a natural by-product.
In turn, an individual’s lifestyle, the practical day to day walk, will move him through this life, growing and discovering new territory in Christ, claiming new victories, seeing His faithfulness in every facet of life, claiming more ground…and it will in turn reinforce and expand his Christ-Centered world view at the very heart of his soul.
The first step is buying into the world system, beginning to accommodate it mentally by “walking in the counsel of the ungodly.” The second step is beginning to behave as the ungodly!
To “Stand in the pathway of sinners” means to closely associate with them in their sinful behavior. Sin is first accommodated in the mind, sometimes long before it is acted out in daily life!
That’s tough preaching! Friends it convicts me more than anyone in this room, guaranteed! How often in my life have I strayed down that nefarious path, fully aware of what the Word of God says, yet bent upon justifying some worldly principle or concept!
He does not sit in the seat of the scornful
The spiritual Round-Up has taken its toll. Repeated sprayings have choked the plant, and it now is brown and dead, like the rest of the patch. The final step is
To The World’s Surroundings
The final step, “sitting in the seat of the scornful” is the third step in the progression towards bitter unhappiness in the life of a believer. The one who “sits” with the scornful, or the sinner has become acclimated to the world system on some level. He is “comfortable” and able to “hang out” with the ungodly, turning a deaf ear to those who scoff at the things of God.
Are you comfortable in the constant company of sinners?
I’m not talking about building relationships and bridges to the lost. I believe God would have us love people and allow Him to show us keys to their hearts. We must be soul-winners, we must love the lost and call them to repentance. That often will entail building relationships. We must, however always remain in the “drivers’ seat” of these relationships, and never ever allow ourselves to become acclimated to the constant company of the ungodly.
I ask you tonight, who are your best friends? Who are the ones you visit regularly with, the ones you eat with, the ones you take advice and counsel from?
Further, I would ask you…who is the strong one in your relationships? Who are you following and who are you leading?
Christian you are “seated with Christ Jesus in the heavenly realms” according to Ephesians 2:4. Further, Peter tells us
II Peter 1:3-4
3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.
1What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Christian, have you headed down that path towards total rejection of the things of God? Have you become comfortable and ASSIMILATED to the world of sinners?
24And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. 26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin.
This verse is so often used as a “everybody ought to go to church” verse. While that is true, and very pertinent here, this is a DIRE warning from the Apostle to the Hebrews. The first step is assimilating to the world. Spiritual Round-Up has killed the life of the individual to the point where they no longer assemble with other believers, building each other up in love. They have died spiritually to the point where they are perfectly comfortable accommodating, acting out, and assimilating with sinners.
Friends, spiritual happiness and wellness has NOTHING whatsoever to do with status, money or the worlds’ definition of happiness. It has everything to do with who’s ideas you are listening to, who you are imitating, and who you are surrounded by.
Are you being “Rounded Up” or are you being “fertilized up”?
Tonight, you may feel spiritually dead, but the One with Resurrection Power is here to restore you tonight!
Spiritual Vigoro-Lifegiving Fertilizer to the Tall Strong Tree
Now let’s look at the positive side: David Gives us "Do’s"...the way to encourage growth, with happiness following, in the garden of the Christian’s Heart!
The "blessed" man who is "Oh so happy"...is a man of
He takes his DELIGHT in the Law of the Lord..,it is a constant source of encouragement and peace, of wisdom and instruction,
Strange statement? How in the world can anyone take delight in the Law of the Lord? Aren’t laws about rules and regulations? Aren’t laws repressive and punitive? The Law of the Lord is about judgement and fear, and living right, or else! No? How can anyone REJOICE over rules and regulations? Do I rejoice over the IRS Code? Do I rejoice over the property tax laws of Oconee County?
The "Law of the Lord" in David’s day referred to the whole counsel of scripture which was had been delivered by God at that time, primarily the Pentateuch, the law of Moses.
The Psalmist tells us that in the scriptures, he receives a completely different view of life than in the world. He receives the very mind of God, the counsel of the holy. This view of life is diametrically opposed to the counsel of the ungodly, they way of sinners and the seat of the scornful!
Not only does God’s Word give the man the truth about his life, it gives him the power to live in the counsel of God. It shows him that he is powerless, and that the power to live is available to him in the Holy Spirit! The "law of the Lord" is freedom! The Law of the Lord, the Counsel of the Holy is the path to life...
and it is like spiritual fertilizer to the garden of his soul! Spiritual 10-10-10! I would ask you tonight, where is your delight?
Do we understand the Power of God’s Word in our lives? I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface of what treasure we hold in our grasps. Do we understand the power that lies in its pages?
It is the very Word of the Living God, and it is active in our lives
II Timothy 3:16-17 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: "That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
It is precise and cuts like a surgeon’s knife through hearts of stone, it is alive and can actually judge our hearts
Hebrews 4:12 2For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.
It will keep you from sin and its consequences
Psalm 119:10-11 ’O With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee
It will explain the mysteries of Christ and the Gospel, the very essence of eternal life
Ephesians 3:4-5 4In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the, mystery of Christ, 5which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the, Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets.
It will impart saving faith
Romans 10:17 "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
He meditates on it day and night
I’ve never met anyone who reads the Bible constantly, twenty-four by seven! I’ve never met anyone who wears headphones all day long listening to scripture readings!
I have met a few very happy and ultra-successful people who have learned that the Power of God is available to them any time. They have made the Word of God an absolute priority in their lives, because they realize their complete and utter dependence upon it. Jesus said:
"man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God. "
God’s Word is as important and life-giving to the Christian as food and water, according to Jesus Christ!
How we neglect it! Let’s see the benefits of the Word in our lives tonight and purpose to make it central, to commit it to heart and to mind, and to speak it, use it, filter everything that comes our way through it.
Standing Tall and Strong
This happy, blessed man who loves and meditates on God’s Word is likened unto a tall, strong tree "planted by the rivers of water."
A very interesting point is made here. The Hebrew word for rivers of water peleg mayim masterfully crafted channels that divide a garden for irrigation purposes. This was a common method of irrigation for the arid gardens of the east in ancient times. Wonderfully strong olive trees could be grown in the midst of a wasteland desert, because the Master Gardener had provided for direct irrigation. We see a powerful spiritual principle here!.
The tall strong tree is not wild, it did not spring up voluntarily, and somehow manage to sink a tap root into the river as a matter of happenstance.
Friends, this tree has been Planted!
This soil has been Prepared
This soil has been Plowed
This growth has been Provided for!
There is nothing random about it! God is a master gardener, and He has given you
everything you need for life and godliness! YOU are a tall strong tree with Deep Wet Roots!
The Irrigation System is from the very throne of God!
When Jesus was at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, he proclaimed
"On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, asO the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. The Holy Spirit is likened unto water by Jesus!
The irrigation of our souls...the rivers of irrigation that provide life-giving nutrients and water to the root system of the growing Christian is the blessed Holy Spirit!
The Holy Spirit will bring to fruition that “good work that He began in you.” The nutrient rich irrigation system will come in uninterrupted supply, and will produce in your life, in due season:
Big Luscious Fruit
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
We will bear fruit at the appropriate time. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. He is the life-giver, the nutrient bearer...the one who will see to it that we bear fruit. All we must do is remain in Him. There we will be watered and cultivated. Christian, don’t give up! Take heart! The One who began that work in you, He is faithful to complete it! Keep your eyes on him, and far away from this present world of darkness!
Lush Green Leaves
Green is the sign of life. Lush green leaves are the result of the Master’s
cultivation, care and commitment.
The growing Christian is the happy Christian.
There is no such thing as a static plant. Even when a tree is dormant during the frost and snow of winter, the root system is taking in nutrients, the buds are intact and are being fed rich minerals and preparing their lushes blooms and leaves for the spring.
We have a Heavenly Father who dresses the garden of our hearts. He is here
tonight to meet every need that we have.
Christian:YOU ARE A TALL STRONG TREE WITH DEEP WET ROOTS. Your success has been masterfully crafted and provided for…and you are DESTINED TO WIN!