Rooted

As most of the writers are away on retreat this weekend, I’ll share one of the devotionals that was written that those attending the retreat have been meditating on.

Psalm 1

The Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1Blessed is the man

who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,

nor stands in the way of sinners,

nor sits in the seat of scoffers;

2but his delight is in the law of the LORD,

and on his law he meditates day and night.

3He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.

4The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

When we have trouble “cutting through the noise” of this world, it’s easy to become complacent. All of a sudden everything becomes a routine and we find ourselves simply going through the motions of life.

Psalm 1 describes and contrasts two people: one who is rooted in God’s word, and another who searches for wisdom in the world. Where do you find yourself today?

In verse 3 we see that those who delight themselves in the law of Lord are:

planted” – firmly rooted.

Roots don’t just sit above the ground. They are firmly intertwined with the soil. Separating them is no easy chore.

“…by streams of water,” – continually fed and nourished by a pure source.

This is more than a one-time watering.

“…yields its fruit…” – actively producing that which is good.

As a result of being planted by a continually pure source, there is evidence of growth that blesses others.

“…does not wither.” – able to endure tough times.

Not under its own doing, but as a result of where it is planted.

A tree can also be planted beside impure sources. However this tree is like “chaff that the wind drives away” (verse 4). What are the things in life that you allow to influence you? Where have you chosen to root yourself? Quite often we don’t realize what the true influences in our lives until we pause to reflect on them.

Take the opportunity today to choose to plant yourself by “streams of water”. Rest in the promise that, “blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked”.

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Finding that Much Needed Peace in Your Life – How to Be Content

I have been wanting to type out my thoughts and notes from this message that deeply impacted me when I heard it at Redeemer one Sunday. I did not bring a pencil so my notes were roughly from memory as well as some personal commentary. But I would love to share this with anyone willing to read it, because I really find it quite necessary to remind ourselves of these three things.

*Based on Tim Keller’s Sermon on Peace and how to achieve contentment in our lives.

1.) Thinking

2.) Thanking

3.) Loving

Philippians 4:4-12

4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Thanks for Their Gifts

10I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

Thinking:

Often in this world and society, if you want to achieve a feeling of peace and contentment, people advise you to just try to ignore whatever is bothering you and not think about the things that are causing you to worry or stress. They tell you to relax and distract your brain until you feel better. However, Paul tells us to think about what is troubling us. The type of peace the world advertises to us is a shallow kind of peace that uses ignorance as opposed to seeking deeper into the situation and understanding why you should feel content even through suffering. When writing this, Paul was in prison and facing possible torture and death. Yet, he still could find contentment in the wretched circumstance he was in. Having gone through so many tribulations and hardships in life already, Paul must have finally understood God’s way of giving us peace. Paul talks about a “peace that transcends all understanding”. Even through immeasurable pain and suffering in life, God and only God alone can give you a peace that is not understandable to this world.

Thanking:

We always seem to thank God after He answers our many prayers. However, we should be thanking God already during our prayers, before the results appear. For whatever God chooses to have happen in our lives will forevermore always be better than whatever we want to have happen. He knows so much better than us. If only we knew as much as God knew about our lives, then would we fully comprehend and agree with His ultimate plans for us. We only know what is the present, but God knows beyond the present in every aspect of our lives. God is a good Father and He alone knows what is best for us. And therefore, we should trust Him and learn to accept what is to come. The key here is to honor God’s Sovereignty in our lives with the act of trusting in Him, to the point where before anything even happens, we are already thanking Him regardless of the future outcomes. With this mindset, peace will come into our lives.

Loving God:

Instead of loving success or wealth or family, we need to love God with all of our hearts. When you put your life on the shaky foundation of success or even family, there is always going to be that insecure feeling of losing it even when you gain it. Therefore, putting your life hand in hand with these worldly goals will bring instability and constant dissatisfaction in your life. Those things will come and go, but God is constant and will always love you faithfully. It is us who turn away from His loving embrace and we fall in life solely because of ourselves. When you see a big wave crash into some pillars of rock on the side of a beach and completely immerse the rocks underwater, it seems that the rocks have been demolished by the waves. However as the waves subside, the rock is still firmly standing there unscathed. God is like that rock, strong and firm in our lives. We just have to realize our own weaknesses and fragility and LOVE God and turn to Him as the sole refiner of our lives. God loves us so much that He sent His only son, Jesus, down to this earth to painfully die on the cross for us! Who are we to deserve such love and care from one so great and almighty! Think of how Jesus must have felt. He, of no sin and of perfect peace from God in His life dying on the cross for us and so suddenly feeling all the woes of the world and all our insecurities and lack of peace. It must have been pure torture, yet Jesus beared it all just so we could gain that peace and contentment from God. What a sacrifice that is! We are truly so blessed to be God’s children.

And to end…

The Hymn: “It is Well with My Soul”

Horatio G. Spafford wrote this song in 1876. He had a wife and four little daughters. One day his wife and children were on a ship sailing to England. That ship suddenly hit something and began to sink. His wife and children were separated in the waters. His four little daughters did not make it, but his wife fortunately survived and was taken to England. She sent him a message with two words: “Saved Alone”. As he was sailing to England to pick up his wife, he began writing this particular hymn. In the world’s view, the lyrics have no correlation whatsoever to how he must have been feeling. But as Paul stated in Philippians 4, God can give us a “peace that transcends all understanding”. And that is exactly what he gave to this faithful man of God who lost all four of his precious daughters.

So when any of you are feeling discontent in life, think of these things and realize that there is no need to be discontent, for God has filled our lives with already so much of His love and His grace.

Cut Through the Noise

Recently, events going on at my church in San Diego have been testing my Biblical knowledge and understanding of God. I ask myself one question, which leads to another question, which builds onto a different topic with its own set of questions… on and on and on! I am confused out of my mind! Even more frustrating are all the voices around me, with different opinions on doctrine or how to respond to different understandings of doctrine. Each voice scrapes and scuffs me with its intimations of “I’m right!” and “I’m right!”

I don’t know if you have encountered a similar struggle, but I have found that, in circumstances such as these, it is crucial to cut through the noise and listen for God’s voice alone. Prayer and reading God’s word. These are the simple and solid foundations for your faith, for building your relationship with God.

Still, I am encouraged that, although current situations may be unsteady and unsettled, God is unchanging and steadfast. His character, His word, His promises are with us to anchor us through suffering and celebration, through peaks and pitfalls, from generation to generation. And I rejoice all the more knowing that these trials are God ordained and for His glory!

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 NASB).