Plant Yourself in the Bible
Series: Stand-Alone Sermons
The big idea of our passage: plant yourself in the Bible in 2021. As strong as our longing may be to experience the fullness of joy in 2021, we all can use a little motivation to plant ourselves in the Bible this year. Psalm 1 provides that for us. Why should we plant ourselves in the Bible in 2021? Psalm 1 provides three reasons: 1. You’ll be happier. 2. You’ll be more stable. 3. You’ll stand in the judgment.
ESV Study Bible
Referenced Mike Anderson
Happy New year, Citylight! I love this time of year. I know that there is nothing magical about the earth completing one more revolution around the sun, but this time it feels different. 2020 felt like five years and it’s finally behind us, the COVID-19 vaccine is weeks into distribution, the end of the pandemic is in sight, and it really feels like a new year has dawned! One of the reasons many of us love this time of year is that it brings a fresh wind of motivation into our lives. It’s a new year and we want things to be different and new, so we often make goals and resolutions. Even those of us who aren’t into goals and resolutions desire to be even happier in the new year than we were last year. The longing of the goal-setter and the anti-resolutioner are the same: happiness. And I firmly believe that the desire to be happy is from God. In fact, Psalm 1 is a guide to true and lasting happiness. Listen to the way the Psalm begins: Blessed is the man… Renowned Hebrew and Old Testament scholar Alan Ross defines the Hebrew word esher (blessed) this way: the joyful spiritual condition of those who are right with God and the pleasure and satisfaction that is derived from that…The term stresses the fullness of joy Psalm 1 is an invitation to experience the fullness of joy and the depth of contentment in 2021. Who of us doesn’t want that? How do we experience it? Psalm 1:2-3: …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… This brings us to the big idea of our passage: plant yourself in the Bible in 2021. As strong as our longing may be to experience the fullness of joy in 2021, we all can use a little motivation to plant ourselves in the Bible this year. Psalm 1 provides that for us. Why should we plant ourselves in the Bible in 2021? Psalm 1 provides three reasons: 1. You’ll be happier. 2. You’ll be more stable. 3. You’ll stand in the judgment.
YOU’LL BE HAPPIER
Psalm 1 begins by describing what the truly happy person does and does not do. Let’s begin with what he doesn’t do. Verse 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. The truly happy person doesn’t do three things: First, he doesn’t walk, or generally live, by the advice of ungodly people. I prefer “ungodly” to “wicked” simply because this Hebrew term can describe generally kind, decent people who don’t love & follow the Lord. The happy person doesn’t live by the advice of people who don’t know the Lord. You may be able to garner some good principles for life from godly people, but you can’t pattern your life after their advice. For example, I can learn a lot of good communication principles from a marriage book written by a non-Christian, but I can’t pattern my marriage off of its advice because a non-Christian marriage book can’t tell me what a marriage is ultimately for: one mortal life fully shared between a man and a woman, reflecting the relationship between Jesus and his bride the church. That’s what really matters. You can learn good career principles from a non-Christian boss, but you can’t learn how to submit to God in your career or work as worship, which is what really matters. Second, the truly happy person doesn’t stand, or halt to consider the lifestyle of, sinners, those who are ignorantly of or intentionally failing to obey Jesus. The truly happy person doesn’t slow down to gaze at the lives of worldly people and wonder if they’d be better off joining their lifestyle. True misery comes when we compare our lives to people inside or outside the church intentionally disobey God or put him in second place. Third, the content person doesn’t sit, or slow down and listen intently to scoffers, those who ridicule godliness whether subtly or overtly. The truly happy person doesn’t sit down and give a second listen to the person who tries to convince them that godliness is silly or extreme. The truly happy person doesn’t plant their life in or pattern their life after godless people or godless advice, no matter how well meaning. What does the truly happy person do?
Psalm 1:2…But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. The truly happy person delights to plant their life in the Bible; they meditate on the Bible all the time. The word “meditate” describes more than reading. One of my pre-New Year’s resolutions was to reduce from three cups of coffee a day down to one. To help with the resolution, I’ve been drinking more decaf tea. I’ve learned that to really enjoy the tea flavor, the bag has to seep in the hot water for a solid 10-15 minutes. That’s what meditation is like. Meditation is reading the Bible in such a way that it seeps into our souls. To read the Bible in such a way that it seeps into your soul, I recommend that you do three things in 2021. Before I share them with you, I want to give you permission to pull out your smart phone if you have one and go to citylightphilly.com/biblereading. If you don’t have a smart phone, no problem, we’ll show you on the screen what’s on the website. Three things: First, make a plan to read. We have three different daily Bible reading plans. Each will take you through the Bible in one year. You can print the plan, access it on your phone, or have it read to you. The reason why I recommend one of our daily plans is because “the law” of the Lord refers to the whole of God’s word and our plan will take you through the whole Bible. Also, our plan is daily, which is probably what the term “day and night” refers to; all the time. If you need to go slower, simply turn the one-year plan into a two-year plan. Make a plan to plant yourself in the Bible in 2021. Second, do what you can to understand what you read. None of us understands everything we read in the Bible, but the Bible seeps best as we understand what we read. You’ll notice that we have an option at citylightphilly.com/biblereading for you to access supplemental material that will help you understand some of the most challenging passages for the week. I also highly recommend using an ESV Study Bible. Finally, turn one of the passages you read into prayer. Prayer is pouring out our hearts to God in praise, petition, confession of sin and thanksgiving. So, take one of your readings from the day and praise God for what it reveals about his character. Confess any sin in your thoughts or actions that the passage reveals. Thank God for what the passage reveals that he has done or will do for those who are in Christ. And ask God for his will revealed in the passage to be done in your life and in the lives of those around you. Plant yourself in the Bible in 2021 and you’ll be blessed; you’ll be happier.
YOU’LL BE MORE STABLE
Psalm 1:3 describes the result of verse 2. What is the person like who plants themselves in God’s word? They are stable! Psalm 1:3: 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. Andrea and I love to hike. One of our favorite places to hike are the red wood forests in California near where I grew up. Words cannot do justice to the size of the Red Wood trees, but maybe this picture will help Red Wood Trees are stunningly stable. They grow 300 feet tall, the oldest living Red Wood is 2,200 years old, and they are amazingly resistant to insects, rot, wind, and fires. What’s the Red Wood’s secret to stability? Simple: water. Northern California and Southern Oregon, the natural habitat for these trees, receives 50-100 inches of rain annually, including fog. Less than this amount of water and these trees will begin to droop, wilt, lose leaves, and be more susceptible to disease. The nearly supernatural stability of the Red Wood is all about its water source. It’s no different for the person who plants their life in the Bible. In Psalm 1:3, the water is the word of God and the stable tree is the person who is well supplied with the water of God’s word. Plant yourself in the Bible and you’ll be more stable because you’ll always have a fresh supply of stabilizing water; you’ll be more stable. The opposite is so for the person who doesn’t plant themselves in the Bible.
Psalm 1:4: The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. This verse switches from a forest image to wheat harvesting. In the ancient world, when wheat was harvested, worthless husks would have to be separated from the grain. Harvested wheat was crushed with a threshing sledge and then thrown into the air in a breezy location so that the little flakes of chaff could be blown away and the heavier grain would fall to the ground. The person who doesn’t plant themselves in the Bible is like chaff; light and easily blown about by the wind of life. Psalm 1 teaches us that the person not planted in the Bible cannot enjoy true contentment: that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God’s wise and fatherly disposal in every condition (Burroughs). They are blown about by their thought-life, desires, negative emotions, the opinions of others, the ups and downs of life, and every wind of new doctrine. They’re always full, but never satisfied. They’re not stable.
Question: Who do you want to be, the tree or the chaff? Do you want to be stable or easily blown over? You have to decide ahead of time and to not decide is to decide to be chaff. I’ve had enough of being chaff. I want to be a tree, but it doesn’t happen by accident. There are no shortcuts. We have to be well watered every day by the word of God. Doesn’t it sound wonderful?! Plant yourself in the Bible in 2021 and you’ll be more stable.
YOU’LL STAND IN THE JUDGMENT
Psalm 1:5-6: 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. In these final verses of the Psalm, the image shifts from the well-watered tree and the easily blown away chaff to the final judgment. There is a wind that is coming that is far worse than any wind in this life; the judgment. Verse 6 says He knows the way of the righteous, which doesn’t just mean He knows about it, but that He watches over it, while the way of the wicked, like chaff blown in the wind, will perish. He knows our way! But who of us here today, knowing that God sees not only your actions but your thoughts and your desires, can say we’ll stand before God in the judgment? Who can say from their birth that God has been their delight and meditation?
None here today can, and there’s only one who ever could. Jesus Christ walked not in the counsel of the wicked, but lived on every word that came from the mouth of His Father. He stood not in the way of sinners, but did only what He saw His Father doing. His delight was in the law of the LORD, as He said, “my food is to do my Father’s will.” He’s saying, “It’s what I love!” He meditated on it day and night, leaving crowds of people and his disciples early in the morning to meet with His Father. His teaching is filled with direct quotes and allusions to it. And yet He was called a man of sorrows. Rather than prospering, He perished on the cross as the wicked, though He was himself the only truly righteous person who ever lived, so that we who are naturally wicked could stand in the judgment through Him, so that sinners could be made righteous. And because the LORD knows the way of the righteous, the LORD knew His way and rose Him from the dead 3 days later, to the inheritance of everlasting blessedness, of true eternal happiness with Him forever.
The whole Bible is about Him and meant to reveal Him. If you think the Bible is about you and it’s just there to give you your marching orders and tell you what you’re doing wrong, to place greater burdens on you in other words, you won’t delight in it, and you won’t meditate on it. But the Bible is the revelation of Jesus Christ, who loved you and gave himself for you when you didn’t love Him, and that’s the key to growing a love for God, the only thing that can give you a true happiness that your circumstances can’t take away. Make that your meditation. If you want to be a tree planted by streams of water, sink your roots deep down into the Bible this year. Build your life around hearing God’s Word on Sundays, discussing it in community, praying it, reading it, memorizing it, thinking out its implications for all of life, and walk in it. Obey its commands, trust its promises, worship its Christ. Plant yourself in the Bible in 2018.