I was looking around for faith-based podcasts the other day, hoping to find at least a couple that were created by laypeople, and which were not institutional church-oriented.
I found none.
More than once in the past twenty years, I’ve heard that if you want a particular thing, and no one else is providing it and you have the skills and opportunity to do so, God might be calling you to fill the gap. I can’t say for sure that God is calling me to what I’ve decided to do, but it’s something that will not only edify myself, but other people.
I’m going to meditate on one to several Bible verses per day and write my thoughts up in a blog post. Once I get to somewhere between one and two thousand words worth of thoughts, I’m going to make a video out of it. (Or not, she added a few days later, still trying to decide because she was going to be jumping into a new novel in a few weeks.)
This post is my first in what may end up being a long-lasting Bible study series. Today’s exhortation is based on the first verse of Psalm 1.
How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers!
I’ve heard that the word “happy” here would be better translated as “blessed.” Blessings come from God, and while they can lead to us feeling happy, the state of being blessed goes much deeper. Someone who is blessed lives under the sense that they are taken care of, that they are loved, that their lives matter.
But how many believers are actually living in that state of blessing today? Many, if not most, of them do at least one of the three “does nots” in this verse on a regular basis, though not necessarily intentionally. However, much of the behavior and many of the beliefs that society accepts as normal, even appropriate, are not seen as such by God.
…follow the advice of the wicked…
Instead of seeking wisdom via prayer or counsel from a fellow believer who walks the walk, we go online to seek answers. That’s not always a bad thing; in fact, the Lord may lead you to find an answer that way. The trouble comes when we go about seeking advice that will tickle our eardrums and make us feel good, rather than the advice we really need.
“The advice of the wicked” doesn’t just mean advice that comes from ungodly sources. Perhaps even more, it refers to advice that is easy to follow, that seems like it will make us more comfortable, that won’t force us to make hard decisions or difficult changes.
That’s not to say that godly advice will always cause you to struggle, be painful, or make life more inconvenient. But it often will. And we shouldn’t shun it, because one of the best ways to grow as a person as well as to discover God’s best path for us is to get out of our comfort zones.
…take the path of sinners…
How many people do you know who claim Yeshua to be their Savior, yet they spread gossip, make snarky comments, steal small items from their workplace, have sexual fantasies about celebrities or attractive colleagues, continually seek after more and more money, or lie, justifying it all with the belief that they’re not really hurting anybody?
How many Christian women (and men) read secular romance novels with sex scenes and justify it by thinking it will help them please their spouse more? How many believers play video games with occult elements (spells and potions and magical helpers, for example), and/or that are filled with violence, claiming that they’re “just games” which aren’t doing anything to pull their soul away from God?
I’m going to stick my neck out and bring up abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, pre-marital sex, and remarriage while the ex-spouse is still alive (these are all related to lust, which is a topic for its own article).
Yes, there is grace, and our Father does forgive when we ask for it. Yes, He accepts us the way we are, with all of our failings. Yes, God usually deals with our issues one by one and doesn’t expect us to become perfect overnight.
The issue isn’t our issues. The issue is how we allow ourselves to be blinded by our fleshly desires, laziness, and complacency.
When we persist in doing things the world’s way, justifying them in our hearts because “I was born that way” or “I’m just a sinner saved by grace” or “the Bible is irrelevant to today’s culture,” we are taking the paths of sinners.
…join a group of mockers.
How do believers join groups of mockers? How about getting on social media and taking a side? The issue doesn’t matter. You pick a side, and with your posts and tweets and stories constantly try to belittle those who have chosen the other side.
I’m not saying you can’t try to gently and civilly persuade other people that you have good reason to believe what you believe. But I think we can agree that most people on social media who have taken a side to a particular issue are being neither gentle nor civil.
Then there are people who actually mock other groups of people. Back when I was single, I attended a charismatic church where the “pastor” semi-regularly made of fun of Baptists. Many Baptist preachers, in their turn, call Catholicism a cult. And so on.
I know it’s going to be a long time before Yeshua returns. Know how?
The members of the Body of Christ still mock each other.
And He is returning for a pure Bride. From where I’m standing, the Bride has a long way to go before she’s clean enough for her Bridegroom.
Your next step
Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, confess your sin, and repent. That doesn’t mean you become perfect overnight. That means you continually seek the Father for the strength and wisdom to not be a mocker, not walk with sinners, and not follow ungodly advice. That means you give the Holy Spirit permission to convict you every time you make the slightest wrong move.
And that means you have a heart that will joyfully accept correction, and desire above all else to follow God and to love your neighbor as you love yourself.
And so will you be mightily blessed.
Click here for my thoughts on verse two, which will highly encourage you if you believe verse one expects too much of a mere mortal!