“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous…”
In November 1975, 75 convicts started digging a secret tunnel designed to bring them up at the other side of the wall of Saltillo Prison in northern Mexico. They dug for months and covered each other while they worked. They figured out how to get the tools they needed, how rid of the dirt, and scheduled they digging in such a way that they wouldn’t get caught. On April 18, 1976, they were successful in breaking through. Here’s the problem; they tunneled up into the nearby courtroom in which many of them had been sentenced. The surprised judges returned all 75 to jail to finish their sentences with time added for the attempted breakout.
Great plans but…didn’t you have to ask yourself: Didn’t anybody check to see where they were going? Doesn’t anybody out of 75 know how to plan and make this thing happen the right way? What do you think? Here’s where I think it takes us: We do the same thing. I do things and think It’s going to be great and I mess it up, head the wrong direction, end up in the wrong place, etc.
If you are able, please stand as we read God’s Word from Psalm 1:
Read Passage – Psalm 1
Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. 3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do 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 leads to destruction.
Functional or Intentional
We have been on a journey to Emotionally Healthy Spirituality and discovering what it takes to be in emotional health and how that drives us to a deeper relationship with God. One of the struggles that comes in Christianity is how to take our relationship with God to a deeper level. In fact, it could be said that many Christians are not intentional about their relationship with God but they are more functional. Let me explain and challenge you on this.
Functional is the idea of being useful but it isn’t necessarily moving forward.
Useful is that you are functioning but not necessarily thriving. Functioning is going through the motions, the same routines, the same schedules, filling our lives with a lot of things that keep us busy but don’t necessarily do much for us.
It’s the idea that we get up each day, go through our morning routine of coffee, breakfast, commute and then get through the day at work and come home and take care of a few things and though we got through the day, we might not necessarily feel that much was accomplished. We even get that way with our relationship with God. For example, I read my bible, said prays before each meal, maybe tried to memorize a verse, etc.
The challenge for us might be to be more intentional about our life. Intentional is the idea of having a conscious plan and having a direction.
Intentional takes it to a deeper level. It’s the idea of having a plan and working toward something and doing things that help you achieve that plan. It’s having direction in life and having direction when it comes to my relationship with God. It’s taking active steps to purposely grow in your walk with God and seeing his plan unfold before you and know that you are in His will.
I think we get intentional living when it comes to our careers, our family, and a few other things. Many of us have a plan and a course set out for us to achieve certain things in our careers and we work with everything we have to achieve that. The same is true for our family but that is a bit more of a challenge at times. But here is the challenge: Are we progressing in our relationship with God or are we just getting by, just going through the motions without any real direction or goal? That’s a hard question.
The Need for Revival
One of the things that brought this to mind was some reading I was doing and the author put this idea out there: We all need revival. I know my eyebrows raised when I read that. Sure some do but everyone? When I think of revival I think of a church movement or maybe even something that “those” people need. Whoever “those” people are. But the author challenged me and I want to challenge you with it as well because he convicted me.
Revival – an intensification of the normal operations of the Spirit. This includes conviction of sin, renewal, assurance of grace, and growing closer in our relationship with God.
When I read that, I realized I needed revival; everyday! I don’t want to be a Christian going through the motions, functioning but not having direction when it comes to my life with God. I would even go so far as to say that we all need revival, every day! Sin is constantly robbing me of my intimacy with God and the only way to get it back is revival. Confessing my sin, realizing how much I am loved by God, and his assurance of his joy, peace, and grace in my life and my true heart’s desire to walk more closely with God.
Living Intentionally for God: Consider…
Through Psalm 1 we see what it is to live intentionally for God. In fact, David touches on 4 things for us to consider about how we live our life and how it helps us deepen our relationship with God.
- Who You Hang Around
The first consideration comes in the first verse where he challenges us to consider “who we hang around.” He says in verse 1:
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers…” vs. 1
The challenge is to consider who we hang around with because we tend to be like those we hang around. We tend to mimic those we hang around and do the things they do, say the things they say and act the way they act. This actually comes pretty naturally to us.
Ex. My brother, grew up together, same family, same everything, now that he lives in Texas, he says things like “y’all” and “howdy”.
We have to ask ourselves what we look for in those we hang out with? We have to acknowledge how easily we are led astray and that our tendencies are to imitate and mimic. Paul says in 1 Cor. 15:33:
“Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’” 1 Cor. 15:33
Now let me be really clear here, this isn’t saying we should not associate with non-Christians. We need to go to the character of people and their heart. There are many non-Christians who have good character and are good people and we can benefit greatly from their friendship. This is telling us to look for people with good character, good hearts, and people who build up and encourage, people who challenge us in a good way, and people who have our best interest in mind. Solomon wrote in Prov. 27:17:
“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Prov. 27:17
We need people who can sharpen us and sometimes that means they challenge us and push us but always with our best interest in mind. We need people who challenge our beliefs and thoughts and are willing to walk and work with us.
Ex. Draymond Green Golden State Warrior Forward – Since his early childhood had a love affair with Michigan State University and basketball. His goal to play for them. In his freshman year of high school he was influenced by friends to cheat on a Science. Caught. Mom kept him out of basketball that summer. Coaches, parents, everyone tried to talk her out of it. She wouldn’t budge. Green kept waiting for her to cave in and she didn’t. He got the point. Green grew up that summer, grew up into a man who would be more than another player on a lengthy all-time roster at Michigan State. “I never got less than a 3.2 [GPA] after that,” he said. “That summer, it really made me look at things. If it wasn’t for that, if my mom didn’t do what she did, I wouldn’t be here. I wouldn’t be playing at Michigan State because I wouldn’t have had the grades.”
- What You Think About
The second consideration is to consider what we think about, what we are basing our beliefs and philosophies of life on. Verse 2 says:
“…but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.” vs. 2
You might want to circle “Delight in the law of the Lord.” There ae a lot of teachings out there and a lot of good things that we can learn. But I will caution you with this: What does the Bible says? God gave us his word to be our guide and to help us through this life. We need to be wise and discerning when it comes to how we live our life and we need to put thought into our actions and beliefs. Now God has given us a brain as well and there are a lot of things that we have decision making on.
Ex. Food, clothes, sometimes jobs, relationships etc.
But God gave us his word as a guide and a rule for living. He wants to live a life that is filled with his joy and peace and love. A good example of what to thinka bout and consider comes in Phil. 4:8:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Phil. 4:8
I think the problem is we haven’t committed to living by God’s way because we aren’t taking the time to think about them.
-You can’t know God’s ways if you’re not reading His Word
-You can’t know God’s ways if you’re not talking to him (prayer)
-You can’t know God’s ways if you are being led astray by false teaching
- Where You Get Fed
The third consideration is where you get fed. David uses imagery for us to grasp this point. He says in verse 3:
“That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season…” vs. 3
One of the things I love about God’s Word is that it gives us some word pictures that I know help me “get it.” So think about this for a second. Where do you see the most growth in nature? Yes, near water. Why? Because water brings the nutrients and sustenance that we need to get through life.
Ex. The lawns at the church during the drought
The things that grow in Black Diamond Mines and Park – Notice things grow near the ponds, the water areas, etc. the places where the roots can get down and deep and find the water necessary to grow and thrive.
Paul states in Col. 2:6-7:
“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Col. 2:6-7
Circle the word “rooted.” Roots get down in the ground and they pull the nutrients into the plant and send them to the right place so that the plant becomes strong and healthy.
What we put into ourselves, what we feed ourselves, has a lot to do with our health. We have to think about his in our physical diet. Some us have to be careful how much salt we take in, how much sugar, how much fat, etc. If we want our body to be strong we need certain vitamins and foods that help build us up.
Ex. Athletes in training.
Some things to consider about your spiritual nutrition:
-What you read (books, etc.)
-What you watch (TV, Movies, etc.)
-What you listen to (music, lectures, sermons, etc.)
-What you view on the internet
- How Dedicated You Are
And finally, the fourth thing to consider is how dedicated you really are to being a fully devoted follower of God and truly wanting to live in a way that reflects your commitment to him and your love for him. If we are not dedicated we are told what will happen to us, verse 4:
“Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.” vs.4
Again I think there is a great word picture here. He talks about the chaff from grain plants. The chaff is the hard outside casing that protects the seed and when the seed is ready for harvest you can throw it up in the air and the chaff blows away while the good seed falls to the ground and is ready for use. Interestingly enough if you look up chaff in the dictionary one of the definitions is refuse or waste.
The real issue is the connectedness to the plant. The chaff isn’t really that connected. It’s just there until it’s blown away. We have to be sold out to being dedicated to developing a deeper and more intimate relationship with God. Another picture the Bible gives us of this is the vine and the branches. Jesus calls us to be a branch that is connected to the vine. A branch cannot grow, thrive and bear fruit unless it is connected to the vine. Jesus talks about this concept in John 15:4 where he says:
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you.” John 15:4
Remain means to stay, keep on being connected.
Follow Jesus’ Example
To wrap this up, getting to Emotional Healthy Spirituality takes being intentional about how you live life and a commitment to living in a deeper relationship with God.
So we choose carefully who we hang around with by surrounding ourselves with people that encourage us, build us up and challenge us to be better. We consider what we think about by being committed to God’s ways by knowing his word and using it as a rule for our life, by purposefully choosing the things we put into our lives so that we are growing and nurtured by being properly fed, and by staying connected to God and walking deeper with him.
It takes focus, it takes commitment, and its takes intention.