Notes on Sermon Preached at PCF on 18 March 2012
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Introduction to Series: “Songs in the Key of Life”
When the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture, he did not give us a book, but a library of different books written by a range of authors over many centuries. The books include history, prophecy, legislation, and right in the middle we have a book of songs. Songs are poetry set to music, so we need to remember that the Psalms were meant to be sung before they were meant to be preached. And as with the best songs, they tell of our innermost human experience, whether doubt, fear, anxiety, joy exultation, celebration anger – or a multitude of other experiences. The full range of human situations is expressed here. The book of Psalms is about the life of each Christian. As John Calvin said: “In the Psalms we look into a mirror and see our own heart”.
“The Main Thing” (Psalm 1 )
We now turn to the first song in the five books of Psalms, a song which sets the scene of all 150 Psalms by talking about the “main thing” in your life and mine –will we, in our lives, choose God’s way, or our own way?
1. A Man to Envy
The song starts by talking about a man who is “blessed” – a concept that carries with it much more energy than the simple “God Bless you” that we say to each other. The idea is of a person who carries within him the life of God – and the song goes on to say that “Whatever he does prospers”. This surely is a person whose life we would aspire to – someone who has God at the centre of his life and who constantly lives under the blessing of God. We should remember that we reading a song here – so “whatever he does prospers” is poetic language for the fact that God has His hand on this man’s life all the time. What a wonderful state to be in!
So how do we get to experience this wonderful life for ourselves?
2. A Path to avoid
Shopping centre Managers talk about the importance of “footfall” – that is in getting “punters” off the streets and into their shopping centre. Once they are in their centre , they get them to spend their money.
Our enem operate in exactly the same way. He wants us to enter his “centre” to observe all the “goodies” he has to offer and then he can tempt us to start to indulge. So the right strategy for the believer is to avoid the devil’s shopping centre. So the blessed man avoids walking in “the counsel of the wicked”. We need to ask ourselves – where do we get the counsel to live our lives – is it from God – or from the “wicked” – the soaps the magazines etc?
Next we avoid standing in the way of sinners – you will notice that at this stage the person has stopped moving –now they are standing, ready to start to indulge, and finally they are “shopping”, sitting in the seat of mockers. Completely stuck, and part of the enemy’s system. The song is very clear on what we are to avoid. Now we move onto the positive part…
3. A Road to Travel
Now we have been told what not to do, the song writer shows us what we should do. We delight ourselves in the law of the Lord. In other words, our companion day and night is the Bible, God’s word. We determine from the Bible what is right in every area of our lives, and then we apply it. To meditate has to root meaning of reciting it, or muttering it to ourself. It refers to chewing it over in our minds, and above, all applying it to our lives. The contrast is between a person who s indifferent to God’s word and the person who has determined to apply it to every area of their lives.
4. A Outcome to Choose
Having given us two roads – one to avoid, and one to choose – the songwriter then shows the outcome of each of those roads. The one who chooses God’s word will be like a tree that is well nourished, always green and bearing plenty of fruit. Note that trees always produce fruit for others – not for themselves! Those who vote against God’s way are like chaff – the rubbish that is blown off in the wind during the harvesting process. Which of those two sounds the most attractive? Most of us would want to be like the fruit tree – but it doesn’t happen automatically – we have to make the right choices.
5. A Destination to Accept
The songwriter than goes onto point out the eternal ramifications of the choice we make on earth. One ends in eternal glory and one in eternal shame. Once we have made our choice, we are already accepting the consequence.
6. A Choice to make
For everyone who reads it, sings it or hears it sung there is a response to make. Jesus hjas lived the perfect life on our behalf, and has paid to penalty for our shortcomings. By committing our lives to him we can enjoy the benefits of God’s presence here and for eternity. The fruit of that will be a life that, increasingly, chooses God’s way. As Jim Packer said, “the sign of past conversion is present convertedness”
But this is not only a song about those who are converted and those who are not. Every day as Christians we have choices to make about whether we embrace more and more fully the life that is try life, and follow God’s will, or whether we choose to forfeit some of the blessings of heaven for a fruitless meander into the enemies territory.
The main thing today, tomorrow and every day is that we choose a life to live for God. What choice will you make today?