Sermon delivered February 26, 2000 by Pastor Kent Crutcher

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version
A number of years ago, I was pastor of a church that did not have a copy machine. You'd be surprised how much a church uses a copy machine. Well, in order to get the bulletins run off I had to take them to a print shop to use their copier. Or else I had to take them to the local public library which also had a copier. I usually preferred the library because there was always a line and there was something to read while I waited. On this particular Friday, as I was taking the bulletins to be run off, I picked up a magazine, I believe it was Road and Track. I was reading a magazine about cars I could not afford. I finally got to a section where the cars were a little bit more reasonable. The article was describing new cars that were on the market and I was in the market so I started reading about them. I don't remember the name of the car I was reading about because it was so bland. There was really just nothing to it. It was just basic transportation. I'm more of a "Mustang person". myself. I could not afford such. So I was looking at the little mundane vehicles. "I might as well read about them to see it there is anything I can accept." The article was verifying what I thought. A rather bland vehicle. But then I came to a line that almost made me drop the magazine. It made me so upset that I remember this line over s decade later: "This car is as hard to spot in a crowd as is a born-again Christian." I thought, "What?!" I read it again, "This car is as hard to spot in a crowd as is a born-again Christian." Now, is that good or bad? I had to work that out a minute. Should a Christian stand out in a crowd, or blend in with the world so much as to be indistinguishable from the world? What does God want us to do? Does He want us to stand out for Him? Or does He want us to blend in with them? What type of person will God bless?

Turn to Psalm 1. Psalm 1:1 Blessed is the man (That's what we're looking for. What kind of man does He bless?) Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. Okay, now we know what kind of a man God does not bless. "Blessed is the man that does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers."

Did you notice the natural progression to sin there? Look at verse 1 again.

Blessed is the man who does not listen to, associate with, or become a sinner. This is the natural path that many take. "It won't hurt lo listen to their tales. It won't hurt to hang out with a crowd that does things that I know God does not approve of. Whoops, I am one of them." It happens that quickly.

Dr. Wilbur Chapman once stated his rule for Christian living: "Anything that dims my vision of Christ, or takes away my taste for Bible study, or cramps my prayer life, or makes Christian work difficult, is wrong for me, and I must, as a Christian, turn away from it."

Let's go back to Psalm 1 again, verse 2. But his (the man that doesn't do these things) but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

This verse is often greatly misunderstood by the modern reader. A person reading it during Old Testament times would read it and say "Hallelujah!" A person reading during New Testament times might say "Woe is me!" Things had changed. In the Old Testament times, the Law was equal to Torah, the message of God, the way OF salvation. In New Testament times, the Law was rules (according to the Pharisees) and was the way TO salvation. Did you catch the difference? The way OF salvation as opposed to the way TO salvation. This is the difference between righteousness by faith and legalism. Righteousness by faith is the keeping of God's law because we are saved. Legalism is keeping God's law in order to become saved. The Bible, both in the Old and New testaments, repeat the words over and over: "If you love me, keep my commandments." (John 14:15) There's a prerequisite there, isn't there. "If you love me keep my commandments." It doesn't way "Keep my commandments so I'll love you." But many of us try to do just that. "Oh, I need to do this and this so God will love me a little bit more and I'll have a greater chance to be saved." What happened to that verse. I think it's rather obscure. John 3:16 maybe? What happened to John 3:16? For God so loved the world that He gave His Son! How much more can God love you than that? Or have we forgotten Romans 5:8 While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Can He love us more than that? And if we are trying to get God to love us more than that by doing some specific rules and laws, we're being ridiculous. But keeping the law because we love Him is beautiful.

Notice: the law is not done away with, but is enforced by love. There's a big difference there. A legalist is a minimalist. Have you noticed that? A legalist looks at the set of rules and thinks, "if I do this, this and this I'll be okay and won't have to do any more. Where a person that is following God out of love is continually looking, "How can I serve Him better? Is there more that I can do for you, Lord. I love you so much." So the person that follows God's law because of love for God is obeying the spirit of the law as well. It is the way of salvation. That is why the Psalmist can claim to meditate on the law day and night. "I love it so much." It is the way of salvation. It is out of gratitude. During Old Testament times, it was gratitude for what God was going to do, as described in the Torah, as described in the Sanctuary service. Today, it is out of gratitude for what God has already done, as described in the Gospels, as described on the Cross. Whereas those of us that live in modern times can serve God out of a love for what He has already done! We can see how it was described in the gospels, we can see how it was described on the cross. And it makes the law a thing of beauty. "Lord I serve you because I love you, not trying to get you to love me a little bit more."

Let's look at Psalm 1:3 He (the kind of man the Lord can bless) 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.

A Christian is Prominent. I think that answers the first question. Should a Christian stand out. This verse says he's Like a tree. How many of you have been to Cade's Cove in the Smokey Mountains? What a beautiful place! There is a beautiful pasture there that slopes gently to the forest which slopes up the side of the mountain. But that is not what catches the eye. In the middle of this pasture is a huge cedar tree, all by itself. As beautiful as the whole scene is, the tree is what draws the eye. It's prominent. It stands out from all the rest! It's the way a Christian should be.

A missionary to India, Gordon Maxwell, asked a Hindu scholar to teach him the language. The Hindu replied: "No Sahib, I will not teach you my language. You would make me a Christian." Gordon Maxwell replied, "You misunderstand me. I am simply asking you to teach me your language." Again the Hindu responded, "No, Sahib, I will not teach you. No man can live with you and not become a Christian himself." Are we that obvious? Are we that prominent?

A Christian need not only be prominent, he needs to be Permanent. When I plant a tree, I mean for it to stay. I don't just say, "I'll pant a tree and cut it down next week." I mean for it to live and survive whatever may come. So I prepare a place for it. The hole is the right size. The soil is mixed just right. It's roots are placed carefully. I want it to stay. I want it to be able to withstand whatever comes.

A wealthy man purchased at high cost a famous painting of Jesus. He sought, with difficulty, an appropriate place for it on the walls of his home. But there was no wall that was suitable for this picture of Jesus. At last he called in an architect who, after carefully examining the house and the picture, said: "Man, you cannot fit this picture into your home! You must make a home to fit it!" Our hearts need to be prepared as a permanent place for Jesus. We can't do it ourselves. As David once wrote: "Create in me a clean heart..." (Psalm 51:10) A place for Him to reside permanently, not as a visitor but as family.

A Christian not only needs to be permanent, he also needs to be in the right Position. Like this tree that is "planted by streams of water...", that's no accident. We need to be in a position where there is a constant flow of the Holy Spirit through our lives. A place where we will receive continual nourishment from the Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is constantly in our lives, we will be consistently doing God's will. Not like some Christians.

Well, we not only need to be in the right position, Christians are to be Productive. Because this verse said, this tree is not only planted by the waters, it yields fruit. Our verse says that it yields fruit! It doesn't just sit there and do nothing. If we are watered by the Spirit, we will produce the Fruits of the Spirit. Not for our own enjoyment, but for others. When did you see a tree eat its own apple? It can't do it. The apples are there for the passersby to get. The Spiritual gifts that God gives us are not for our own pleasure, but for those who are near us to be drawn to Jesus.

A man visited a Quaker meeting and was wondering when the meeting would start. He leaned over and asked the Quaker sitting next to him, "When does the service begin?" To which the Quaker replied, "Service begins just after the meeting ends." Service begins when the meeting ends? Whatever nourishment that you receive this morning is not to be consumed upon ourselves but be used to serve those that you meet this week.

Christians are not only to be productive, but also Proper, for our verse says that this tree that bears fruit doesn't just bear it whenever it wants, it bears its fruit in season. The tree does not decide when it will bear fruit. It comes naturally to the tree. A Christian does not decide when he will witness. It comes naturally. The proper time to serve the Lord is anytime, all the time, every time. It's something that you don't have to think, "Well, am I going to witness today?" It comes naturally. It is our lives.

A Christian is not only productive and proper, he is also Perpetual. Our verse says that this tree's "Leaf does not wither." A Christian never lays his Christianity aside. Do you want to know if you're a Christian? Think an impossible thought with me. What if you could be somewhere where nobody knew you and God could not see you. Like I said, it's impossible. But if that were possible, what would you do? Are there little secret things? Nobody would know. I could get away with it and God wouldn't even see it. I would do this, this and this. Would you be Christ-like in that situation? The Christian does not lay his Christianity aside. He continually receives fresh nourishment from the Word.

St. Francis of Assisi one day said to several of his followers, "Let us go to the village over the way and preach." As they went, they met a humble pedestrian who was greatly burdened. Francis was in no hurry and listened carefully to his tale of woe.

When the village was reached, Francis talked with the shopkeepers, spent time with the farmers at their fruit and vegetable stalls, and played with the children in the streets. On the way back they met a farmer with a load of hay, and Francis spent time helping him. The morning was gone, the group reached the monastery from which they had set out in the early morning.

One of the followers, who was greatly disappointed, said to Francis, "Brother Francis, you said you were going to preach. The morning is spent and no sermon has been given."

To which Francis replied, "But we have been preaching all the way." Is your life a sermon pointing to Jesus Christ?

A Christian is not only perpetual, but also Prosperous. Verse three says, "Whatever he does prospers." A person was asked, "How can you find time to lead out in Sabbath School? You have two jobs, do volunteer work, and so many other things. With all your work, how can you possibly have the time and energy to lead the children's Sabbath School?" This person replied, "Sabbath School is my work. Everything else is just to give me the means to do that work." It kind of goes with what the Bible says, "Seek ye first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you as well."

It seems though, you may say, that non-Christians are more prosperous. Look at Verse 4. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away.

The wicked have no roots. What they consider prosperity is merely window dressing on an empty heart. My children have a National Geographic video about animals. One of their favorite scenes (mine too) is of a chameleon who is caught in a sandstorm and he seeks shelter. He finds what looks like a fine bush and he climbs up into that bush and latches on with all of his fingers and toes and holds on to survive the sand storm. What he does not realize is that the bush has no roots. It is a tumbleweed! When the wind blew, the chameleon took the ride of his life, holding on for all he was worth! Where there are no roots, there is no security, no prosperity. And many Christians are clinging to things that have no roots, and they will be blown away like chaff. It looks secure and solid, "Oh, if I only.." What a statement we make. That goes against one of those commandments, doesn't it. "You shall not covet..." (Exodus 20:17). The reason it says "You shall not covet" is not so that we won't want nice things, because that's an insult to God. You're saying to God "You have not done enough for me." But what we desire is often ruthless. The people that we worship as idols are often ruthless. There's no security in their lives, and no true prosperity.

Let's read verses 5 and 6. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

How? How can a person be and do all these things? The answer lies in the very first word of the first verse of the first chapter of the book of Psalms: "Blessed."

A person can be blessed by making Jesus Christ Lord of his life. A Song that is found in our Youth song book fits this text beautifully.

Jesus is my Savior, I shall not be moved; 
     In His love and favor, I shall not be moved; 
     Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, Lord, 
          I shall not be moved.
     In my Christ abiding, I shall not be moved; 
     In His love I'm hiding, I shall not be moved; 
     Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, Lord, 
          I shall not be moved.
     On His Word I'm feeding, I shall not be moved; 
     He's the One that's leading, I shall not be moved; 
     Just like a tree that's planted by the waters, Lord, 
          I shall not be moved.

That's the answer. That is how. Accepting Jesus as your Savior, abiding in Him, feeding on His Word. May Jesus live out His life within you.

Hymn of Praise: #27, Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart
Scripture: Psalm 1:1-3
Hymn of Response: #316, Live Out Thy Life Within Me

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