James 1:26, 3:5–8
If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. [...] So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things.
How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!
And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. For every kind of beast and bird, of reptile and sea creature, can be tamed and has been tamed by mankind,
but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.
SILENT MEDITATION -- or MUSICAL MEDITATION (listen to this meditation from Psalm 120)
John 17:6, 11b [ESV]
I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. [...] Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
SING: Gloria Patri
Glory be to the Father
And to the Son and to the Holy Ghost
As it was in the beginning
Is now and ever shall be world without end
Read: Psalm 1.
2nd Reading: John 15:1-11
“Blessed is the man [whose]… delight is in the law of the Lord… He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields it fruits in its season. The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff that the wind drives away.”
The first psalm in the psalter (the book of 150 Psalm in the OT) sets the stage for what is to follow. The psalms depicts a way of life that is aligned with God. This way is blessed and fruitful. But it is contrasted with the way of life that is alienated from God. This second way is not blessed. The comparison used in this psalm is one of a fruitful tree and a dry bush. The first is rooted and flourishing. The second is blown away on the wind like sagebrush.
What is the key factor that determines whether one is rooted and fruitful? What is the difference between "alienation" and "alignment"? Connection to God through is word. The man who is blessed “delights in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night (vs.2.)” Immediately, we are struck with themes related to worship. There is life that flows from God’s word, which leads to fruitfulness. One of the great principles of the psalter is that the words of these psalms can form prayers and songs which guide our interaction with God. Our goal in this reading program is to spend time focusing on God. This will include meditating on God’s word, in particular the psalms themselves. Our desire is spiritual connection and fruitfulness like a tree planted by water.
But, a second thought must surely follow the first. Honesty requires reflection and self-awareness. Is it true that we always avoid walking in the counsel of the wicked, standing with sinners or sitting with scoffers (v.1)? I don’t think that this is about physical proximity (after all Jesus sat down to dinner with sinners), but rather it is concerned with whether we enter into the lifestyle of those around us. Do we get enveloped by worldliness? Sometimes?
This necessarily leads us to the second great lesson from the psalms. The psalms are bound up with God’s revelation in Jesus. Jesus not only prayed the psalms, but the NT authors understood the deepest meaning of the psalms to be bound up with Christ. The psalms are fulfilled in Jesus (Luke 24:44-47.) In many cases, the NT authors show that the psalms are about Jesus. We will explore this much more in coming weeks, but for the purpose of psalm 1, let us remember that Jesus is the blessed man of the psalms. He dwelt among sinners but never entered into their sin. He never condoned their behavior, or adopted it… even while loving and serving them. He is the tree planted by streams of water, and by faith we are connected in him. As we read God’s word through this Christological lens, we are “abiding in Jesus.” His life gives us life. Like a branch connected to the true vine, we bear fruit in our union with him. (See John 15:1-11.)
SING | Psalm 120
LECTIO DIVINA | Psalm 120
We memorize things we value. The brain has an incredible ability to remove information that we don’t need. As we make an effort to memorize the Psalms, the beginning of each week seeks to establish the value of God's Word in our hearts before we view it as information to be remembered. Read more about the Lectio Divina HERE.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your Name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever,
As you go into your calling and vocation, take special care to observe the ways you are tempted to join in words of war from those you live with.
City Reformed Presbyterian Church
The 90 Days project is a collaborative effort of many church leaders. Matt Koerber and Daniel Snoke have taken lead roles, with others helping to write daily devotionals.