Silence for 2-5 minutes:
If your mind wanders, silently pray a simple prayer again and again, such as, "I surrender to your love" or "Jesus, son of David, have mercy on me" until the Holy Spirit gives you a sense of peace and focus.
Psalm 1 (This morning we use the The Message)
1 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.
2-3 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.
4-5 You're not at all like the wicked, who are mere windblown dust— Without defense in court, unfit company for innocent people.
6 God charts the road you take. The road they take is Skid Row.
Who do I listen to for instruction in life? I may have the illusion that I am a free agent, receiving only the counsel of my independent thoughts or direct spiritual revelation from God alone, but deep down, I know this to be untrue.
The Psalmist gives us a stark choice, counsel from the ungodly or from the word of God. The author seems to be saying that if I want to avoid the avalanche of sinful counsel that is going to come my way, then the only counterbalance will be to meditate upon scripture. The word of God alone will then be a "lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path." (Psalm 119:105)
The Psalm implies a need for Godly counsel. Wise, seasoned saints are priceless gifts to us all and should be heard. These saints are often mild-mannered and unobtrusive but possess quiet wisdom that we desperately needed in our day.
Ungodly counsel need not come from an individual and often does not. Manipulative, ungodly systems that the New Testament simply labels "the world" are ubiquitous and mold our thinking.
Advertising can become a primary source of ungodly counsel. The average American is bombarded with 4,000-10,000 digital advertisements each day. We are urged to spend recklessly on items we don't need. Our identity can easily be that of a consumer, rather than a child of God, or follower of Jesus Christ.
The temptation for churches is to follow the same patterns as successful retailers. We may go to church to consume religious goods provided by clergy and staff and then compare those services rendered with competing churches down the street. When one conveyor of religious goods fails us, we go looking for another. Churches are routinely seeking to establish their own, unique “brand.”
Recently, a pastor whose church was not growing numerically was told by a church growth expert, that he should make his church more like the Home Depot. Consumers love the Home Depot and are very familiar with the store's layout and excellent customer service. Why not employ those familiar and pleasant amenities to enhance church attendance?
The Greeks stated that the unexamined life was not worth living. Paul writes, "Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don't drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it." (2 Corinthians 5-6, The Message)
If I fail to examine what informs and guides my life, then I might just find myself a graduate of “Smart-Mouth College” and attend a church that looks more like the Home Depot than the body of Christ.
Questions/Actions to Take:
How often do I examine my life to see what influences are directing my steps and whether or not my faith is genuine? Who do I receive counsel from regarding money, sexuality, happiness, etc. Do I see Jesus as the master teacher of life and take His counsel above all others?
Lord, when I look at my life and my attitudes I often see more of the world than of you. Help me to meditate upon your word today so that it alone is the lamp unto my feet and the light unto my path. Jesus be both my Savior and the counselor for my life. Amen.