Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, or sinners in the assembly of the righteous. (Psalm 1:4-5)
Sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I look at the nonbelievers around me, and I envy their “freedom.”
Sometimes I’m a little short-sighted.
I forget their destiny. I forget that, without Christ, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Ever wonder why chaff blows away, while the wheat (that would be you) remains? It’s because chaff has no substance, no weight. There is nothing solid to it, nothing to keep it from drifting away on the breeze.
So it does.
What I sometimes confuse for freedom is the aimless drifting of an empty soul.
One day they, like we, will stand before the Father. They will not be clothed in the righteousness of Christ—they will be naked in their sin. They will not stand firm in the armor of God—they will be crushed under the weight of their own earned guilt. They will not rejoice in the fellowship of the saints—they will be ever, forever alone.
Sometimes I forget. But when I remember, I praise God for his grace, and I remember never to envy the lost, but ever to pity them, to pray for them, to reason and wrestle and reach for them.
I’m telling you—I’d rather be a tree.
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. (Psalm 1:3)
OK, I really appreciate the tree image. On a day like today, when I’m running crazy, the idea of solid, deep stillness is delicious. On a day like today, when so little that I do seems to be of real value, the thought of being useful, of fulfilling my purpose, is profoundly satisfying. On a day like today, when my back aches and the gray is spreading, the hope of not withering invigorates me.
I’ll admit, I struggle with the rest of the verse. I’m trying to be a Psalm 1 kinda guy, but I can’t honestly say that whatever I do prospers. Maybe I’m not Psalm 1ish enough. Maybe I sit in the seat of mockers more often than I like to admit. Maybe my meditation isn’t up to snuff.
Maybe I don’t have a good enough grip on what it means to “prosper.” Maybe God is prospering me in ways I can’t see, can’t even imagine.
I like that “Maybe” better.
For all that I don’t know—which is plenty—there is one thing I do know.
I wanna be a tree.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2).
Do you delight in God’s word?
No guilt here—it’s an honest question.
Actually, I ask the same question of myself. I mean, I read his word, I study his word, on occasion I even commit his word to memory…but do I delight in it? Do I meditate on it?
Do I even really know what that looks like?
I know I’d like to.
I know that biblical meditation is different from what they’ll teach you at yoga class—and what are you doing at yoga class, anyway? They’ll teach you to empty your mind, and allow the void to be filled by narcissism and demons. OK, they probably won’t say it that way, but that’s what it amounts to. Biblical meditation is about filling your mind with Scripture, sort of letting a particular verse roll around in your head. You pray that God would illuminate the passage for you, and help you to see what he wants you to see in it.
Let’s experiment today. Pick a passage of Scripture—it could be this passage, or yesterday’s, or just your favorite verse—and ask God to help you meditate on it. Ask him to help you delight in it. Let it roll around your head today, and see what he has to show you. Then come back and share the experience with us.
C’mon, trust me—it’ll be fun.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the council of the wicked, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers. (Psalm 1:1)
Who do you listen to? Not on Sunday, but on Monday, Tuesday, and the rest.
I like to listen to talk radio. I enjoy the news analysis and commentary, but I have to keep one thing in mind—these are not Christian shows. The hosts are not coming from a Christian perspective. Even though we may agree on many issues, we are fundamentally at odds.
Again I ask: who do you listen to? Are you following the teaching of the Word, or of the world? Are you seeking to imitate Jesus, or celebrities? Are you fellowshipping with Godly believers, or the lost?
The people who surround you, the communion you immerse yourself in, will have a profound impact upon your thought life. So step back today and take a look at who that is. If you need to make some changes, do so.
Mondays are a great time for fresh starts.
The end of the world came last week. Again.
It was a disappointment. Again.
Not as disappointing as, say, the Mayan Calendar thing. Not nearly as unsatisfying as Y2K. Nowhere near the level of the promised Zombie Apocalypse that just never seems to arrive.
Still, I’m left feeling a certain sense of betrayal. Continue reading
…and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. (Ephesians 6:17b)
You know the power of words. You’ve felt it. Words can bruise, they can cut, they can crush, they can soothe, they can comfort, they can heal.
And those are just human words.
The word of God is infinitely more powerful. It goes far beyond emotional impact; it reaches deep into the spiritual realms. So it shouldn’t be surprising that the Word is our primary weapon against the enemy. After all, what did Jesus use to defend himself from Satan’s temptations? Did he blast Satan to powder? No.
But wouldn’t that have been cool?
Jesus used Scripture to defeat his enemy. Why? Perhaps because that is a weapon we can use as well. You probably can’t command the powers of Heaven and Earth the way the Son of God can—in fact, I’m pretty sure of it—but you can use Scripture. Maybe you don’t have the advantage of having written it, but you can still read it, and learn it, and memorize it, and use it to back your enemy off when he attacks.
How good is your sword arm? How much drill have you put in this week?
Maybe it’s time to practice.
The battle awaits.
Take the helmet of salvation… (Ephesians 6:17a)
When I was a kid, you didn’t have to wear a helmet. Bicycle, motorcycle, pogo stick—you were free to ride with the wind in your hair and the bugs in your teeth. It was wild and free and deadly.
To ride without a helmet is to ask for brain damage.
Paul speaks of the helmet of salvation. He’s talking about the knowledge of who you are in Christ, and the price that has been paid for you. That knowledge can protect you in the heat of battle. You see, that enemy of yours likes to mess with your head. He likes to get into your thought life and plant false ideas about who you are and what your value is. He’ll tell you that you’re not good enough, not strong enough, not worthy of a life in Christ.
All of which is true.
The helmet doesn’t block those ideas, but it filters them through the knowledge of your salvation. You can answer, “You aren’t worthy,” with, “Of course not…but Jesus is.” You can answer, “Look at all you owe,” with, “Look at what He paid.”
To walk this world without the helmet is to ask for soul damage.
Strap it on, cinch it tight, and go face your Thursday.
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (Ephesians 6:16)
I don’t want to be struck with a flaming arrow.
No, not even one.
So I will trust in the Lord, placing my faith completely in him. I will lean not on my own understanding, but will do as he asks to the best of my abilities—even when what he asks doesn’t make sense to my little brain. I will soak the shield of my faith in the water of his word, and I will listen to the thunk and sizzle of the arrows that he stops for me.
Let this be my prayer.
Let this be your prayer.
…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:15c).
You know how you get when you’re on your feet all day. Tired, sore, cranky—if you don’t have decent shoes, it’s even worse.
Huh, this sounds more like a commercial than a devotion.
A soldier’s gear was designed to protect him while he was on his feet. If he fell, that soldier became vulnerable and ineffective. On the battlefield, a sharp stone, a tangle of debris, even a random arrow could spell disaster.
God wants you in the battle today. He doesn’t want the stones, the debris, the random shots of life to take you down and make you ineffective. God’s truth—the peace in your heart bought by Christ—protects your foundation. It is not only the firm ground upon which you stand, it is the protection you need to keep you standing.
Lace ‘em up tight and stand firm today.
…with the breastplate of righteousness in place, (Eph. 6:14b)
The breastplate is essential protective gear. Cops wear a Kevlar vest. Baseball catchers wear a chest protector. Even Batman has anatomically correct upper body armor. Why is it so important to protect the chest?
Because your heart is there.
In a very literal sense, you can’t live without your heart—so eat right and get plenty of exercise. In the metaphoric sense, the heart is the center of our being, the part of us that makes us…us. As you go out into a sinful, broken, fallen world, how do you protect this essential part of your being?
The righteousness of Christ. The right relationship with God that is yours through Christ, and which gives you a right understanding of who you are and how much you are loved. This, and this alone, will protect your heart from the blows of this twisted world.
Remember, I’m not talking about your own righteousness…the place with God you might think you’ve earned by your good behavior. Count on that to protect your heart, and you might as well try to stop an arrow with a wet paper towel.
How can this mighty piece of armor fit your spindly little self?
It’s a mystery…just go with it.