Summer in the Psalms: Psalm 1
“Origin of Joy”
This sermon marks the first in a stream of messages with their origins in the Psalms. The incredible word pictures painted by the writers of the Psalms will serve as a backdrop for 6 of the sermons I’ll be preaching this summer.
Today the universally popular Social Media Phenomena Facebook has taken our world by storm. How popular is it? Gordon Donnelly, an SEO (Search Engine Optimization specialist) and Content Marketer provides us with some actual statistics about Facebook.
Facebook! What an influence! Friends – are they really your friends? Or are they simply people of influence in your lives? One of the most interesting statistics that Mr. Donnelly shares is: The average Facebook user has 155 friends but would only trust 4 of them in a crisis.
Psalm 1 (NLT): Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
Psalm 1 has much to say about a human being’s “Origin of Joy!”
Obviously, in the very first verse, we have the formula! I love what Eugene Peterson does to modernize the language!
Psalm 1 (The Message)
How well God must like you--
- you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon
- you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
- you don’t go to Smart-Mouth College.
Instead you thrill to God’s Word, you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden, bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.
You’re not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust--
Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.
God charts the road you take. The road they take is Skid Row.
Psalm 1 gives solid instruction regarding how we should live and think. And long before Facebook and other Social Media influencers, the words in Psalm 1 gives important contrasts affecting our life and spiritual formation.
Psalm 1 also does something else very effectively. They contrast the single biggest obstacle toward living a godly life – other human beings! Other people can have significant influences on your behavior, your thought processes, your belief system, your self-esteem and even your whole life. In fact many things that affect your “Joy” quotient are related to whom you associate with. Such as Facebook. Let me illustrate:
According to the Pew Research Center, There are nearly 4.5 billion likes generated daily on Facebook, with half of all users liking at least one post every day. And as most people who ever posted a photo on Facebook can attest, getting likes feels good while being ignored by all your online friends can be potentially depressing.
Now a new study sheds more light on how all these likes make us feel, finding that those with a sense of purpose are less likely to be affected.
"We found that having a sense of purpose allowed people to navigate virtual feedback with more rigidity and persistence. With a sense of purpose, they're not so malleable to the number of likes they receive," explained Cornell University professor Anthony Burrow, the study's co-author. "Purposeful people noticed the positive feedback, but did not rely on it to feel good about themselves."
What is a "sense of purpose"? To Burrow and his team, it was people who agreed with such statements as "To me, all the things I do are worth-while" and "I have lots of reasons for living." Basically, goal-oriented people with internal motivation.
Professor Professor Burrow elaborated: "Otherwise, on days when you receive few likes, you'll feel worse. Your self-esteem would be contingent on what other people say and think. Over time that's not healthy, that's not adaptive. You want to show up with rigidity: 'I know who I am and I feel good about that.'"
This study and these conclusions actually come in line with what we know about living for God. Again, let me re-state the importance of these wise words from Psalm 1. Where is your “Origin of Joy?”
Let’s look at how God’s Word sets us up to be individuals who can weather the influence of those who don’t care about our spiritual well-being.
It begins with our foundation. Where are you grounded? Is the foundation of your life where you can build without worry or fear of anyone else’s approval? Is the foundation of your life set where you find joy by definitions not understood or comprehended by the world?
I Corinthians 3:11-15 - For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. 12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.
So, build your life on the foundation of Jesus Christ.
What does that look like?
1. Accept Christ’s gift of salvation.
2. Build your life on principles from God’s Word. We must remember that we alone have the power to choose where we go, what we do, and what we choose to think about. The Bible tells us to have joy at all times, but it is clear that following the ways of the world will not produce that kind of joy.
3. Be very wise in your associations with others. We are in the world – we cannot take ourselves out of it. The world is all about selfishness and greed. We must bring the Light of Christ to the world. When you hang out with those who do not live in the Light of Christ, what happens to you? Let’s unpack possible scenarios.
a. You bring light to everyplace you go, everything you do and who you hang out with - no matter what.
Romans 12:2a – “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”
b. You know Christ, but occasionally your light is dimmed by where you go, what you do and who you hang out with. You think you’re not being affected but you are. You are fooled by the enemy who says – how can you be the Light to others if you don’t hang out with those who don’t know Christ? You know Christ hung out with sinners all the time, shouldn’t you? (Remember – Christ was never “influenced,” but was always the “influencer.”
c. You know Christ, you know you should walk in His light, but you simply want the perceived joy you get from going places you shouldn’t go, doing things you shouldn’t do, and hanging out with people that don’t have any interest in walking in the light, but only in what makes them happy. Actually if we were honest with ourselves, we are attracted to the fun that seems to exist in abundance where the things of Christ are absent, maybe even sin is there… and we don’t want to walk away. We simply want to find our Origin of Joy by the world’s standards. We are then accepted, and we fit in.
Once you are honest with yourself and determine where you are:
1. Make a decision to stand with God. Don’t hang out at “Sin Saloon,” don’t walk along “Dead-End Road,” don’t allow yourself to be an enrollee of “Smart-Mouth College!”
2. Determine your Origin of Joy will be walking with God and learning to live by His Word, not determined by how many “likes” you get on Facebook or whether you are “in” with the cool crowd that seem to have all the fun.
Why should I be concerned about my Origin of Joy? Here is Jesus Himself with some action steps for you!
Matthew 6:19-33 - 19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. 22 “Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! 24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money. 25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? 28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? 31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
This is the plain truth from Psalm 1: For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.
Let the Origin of Joy be from a heart that has been cleansed by God and constantly renewed by His Spirit that lives within you. And… Always be ready to share with others your “Origin of Joy!”
I Peter 3:8-17 - 8 Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. 9 Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will grant you his blessing. 10 For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. 11 Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. 12 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.” 13 Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? 14 But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. 15 Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. 16 But do this in a gentle and respectful way.[c] Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
17 Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!