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No Walking, Standing, or Sitting

June 26th, 2008

Focus Text: Psalm 1: 1 (NKJV)

1 Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;

Stop Here and Reflect Before Reading Ahead

I used to be a public school teacher.  I taught high school and middle school, but I spent most of my teaching career in middle school.  Ah, the joys of our young generation!  Once when I was absent and had a substitute “watching” the class, I returned the next day to find dozens of pencils stuck in the ceiling tiles, obscene words written about me on the back wall, and all of the cables to my classroom computers purposefully severed with a pair of scissors.  And all this with an adult in the room!

Truth be told, these are mild stories compared to many I could tell.  I’m reminded of the time that a young man spent ten minutes trying to convince me that he had forgotten his homework because both of his parents had Alzheimers and had forgotten to remind him (a complete falsehood, by the way.)  Or the time that a group of seventh graders decided to grab every pill they could find in each of their parents’ medicine cabinets and randomly pop them at school, completely and deliberately unaware of what they were ingesting.  After turning a nice shade of blue in a parent-student assembly and being rushed by ambulance to the hospital, I think they might have begun to question their decision that day.  I will probably never know.

One thing was certain about my students, though: they were each on a mission to determine the boundaries of their instructor.  They wanted to see how far their new teacher could be pushed before he would explode into flames.  Every year on the first day of school, I knew that the maiden mutiny was impending and that some little smart-aleck kid would go toe-to-toe with me and see what my limits were.  Rest assured, I never lost and the kid would usually never try again.

Sounds kind of mean, doesn’t it?  Maybe so, but like it or not, boundaries are a crucial part of life.

Unfortunately, some of us never lose this adolescent instinct, even concerning the things of God.  We are constantly searching for God’s boundaries in our lives, wondering what we can get away with without too serious of a consequence.  I see it when a question like “how long do I have to pray?”  is asked.  Or in the context of dating, “how far is too far before I’m sinning?”  Like the eighth graders in my classroom, we’re tossing our pencils into the ceiling just to see what God might do in retaliation.

If God is our teacher, then consider the first chapter of Psalms as our first day of class.  This passage reveals the progression that we often follow when we are searching for boundaries.  And as much as we don’t like to hear the words “don’t do  . . .”, that’s exactly what God is showing us in this verse.  Just think of them as the classroom guidelines (gulp) for life  . . . here goes.  As an aside, I deliberately used the New King James Version with this verse because I like the way it puts these directives.

Guideline #1: “Don’t walk in the counsel of the ungodly.”

It starts with walking.  This verse refers to someone who is deliberately and willfully walking the wrong way.  “Counsel” here means “advice” or “direction.”  In other words, don’t follow the direction of someone who doesn’t know where they’re going; or better yet, is going the wrong way.  This one cracks me up!  As a veteran youth pastor, I’ve seen this phenomenon over and over again throughout the years.  A Christian student is struggling with a major issue or decision in life and needs wisdom.  So, who do they go to?  A pastor?  A parent?  The Bible?  Nope!  They find another student exactly their same age who is struggling with exactly the same thing.  Then, they walk according to the “wisdom” of this person who doesn’t know where they’re going and has never been to the destination.

Walking is where we start when God first impacts our lives.  A person who had met God and now wants to follow Him must first stop walking the wrong way.  It’s an awesome place to start, but it’s not the finish line.  The progression continues.

Guideline #2: “Don’t stand in the path of sinners.”

Oooh, this one makes me shiver like the hyenas in Lion King when they hear “Mufassa!  Mufassa!”  This passage, at first glance, sounds so churchy . . . so judgmental.  But when you stop and think about it, it actually makes perfect sense.  Look, you’ve stopped walking the wrong way, but that’s not enough.  When we’re searching for our boundaries, we’re asking God how much of our old life we are allowed to keep.  In other words, “I’m not walking that way any more, but can I at least still stand here where I used to walk?  Come on, God!  I’m doing better!”

When God changes you, He changes everything.  When my new daughter, Sadie, is born in about three weeks, there will be no comparison between her life inside the womb and outside.  Once she’s experienced birth, she can’t ever go back to being unborn.  In the same way, once you’ve been “reborn”, you can’t ever go back to the way you used to be.  There’s no use loitering around your old lifestyle, seeing how close you can get to it without actually returning to it.  If you were standing the the ledge of a huge cliff, would your goal be to see how close you can walk to the edge without falling to your death below?  Of course not, you would want to stay a safe distance away and leave no doubt about your survival.

Guidelines #3: “Don’t even sit in the seat of the scornful.”

Walking . . . standing . . . sitting.  See how each part of the progression leads you further away from the way you used to be?  Now that you’ve stopped walking and even standing in your old ways, you must change the attitude you have in your new seat.  “Scornful” means “to mock” or “to be critical.”  In other words, just stopping the wrong actions in your life aren’t enough– God wants everything!  He wants your mindset and your life’s outlook, as well.  We always sing, “From the Inside Out,” but God also works “from the outside in.”  The progression continues.

So, a heart that pleases God doesn’t ask, “How far away can I get from Him without being punished?”  A heart that pleases God asks, “How close can I get to Him to leave no doubt that I’m changed.”  See the difference?

The best part of the verse is the first word, “blessed.”  This word just means “happy.”  Those who aren’t looking for the boundaries of God’s anger will be happier than those who constantly search for the edge of  rebellion’s cliff.  Now that will change the way you walk, stand, and sit.

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Ben MIller
June 26th, 2008 at 12:55 pm

The way God is like a school teacher is very true. We always are looking for ways of retaliation just to see what can possibly “tick” God off. This verse almost sums up the way our walk with Him should stand to be.
Walk:Giving yourself to Him and leaving your old ways
Stand:Get of old lifestyle and stand away from the “cliff” of sin
Sit:Jump into the new life God plans and will show you.

It’s like a little reminder of how we can walk in through him.

June 26th, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Wow, you jacked me up(spirituality). i read the verse and i got this: Blessings and happiness come to the ones who turn their backs to the vain and secular, and surround themselves with the divine fruits of god. now i read the three steps and i get this from each one-A BIG PUNCH IN THE FACE. then i also come to this by reading in the second paragraph of the second guideline. when we are born in to a life, we are given a chance to change. we possible do what many would call a one eighty but unless we truly walk away from all things that burnden us all we did was a three sixty(which is catching a glimps of God and what he wants for us and walking away from Him). so in my conclusion all i can do is restate my previous statment, WOW!

Kennah Mathews
June 26th, 2008 at 4:17 pm

This is a big problem of mine. I look for the closetst things I can do before its actually considered “wrong.” I like how you’ve put it though, just don’t look for those boundaries. It’s that simple, we get what we seek. If I am seeking something wrong, then I will find it. When I expect to find a boundary, I will find it. We are born sinful therefore have a sinful nature, and that can totally show if I’m looking for something to barely get by without “sinning.” When we turn from our ways, we cannot go back. This also is a good time to think about some one who can help you be accountable if you struggle with this. I want to be one of the few “blessed are those…”. God please help me to walk with you, and to not get slowed down by the things I let enter my life.

chelsey crawford
June 26th, 2008 at 9:35 pm

wow. this makes so much sense. To me this is encouragement to keep getting closer to God and not turn away. i honestly will tell you that i did not read the last three, but everyday i thought about it and felt a stronger need for God than usually. Most of the time i feel like its something i have to do, but now that my relationship is growing im wanting to seek HIm more.

June 26th, 2008 at 10:35 pm

This one is right up my alley, bro!..Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about this exact issue. The way I see it, we are asking the wrong question- We ask, “How close can I get to sin and not lose my relationship with God?”, when the real question should be,
” What would my life be like if I completely sold out to God?”…..Good stuff, man!

Janet Henry
June 27th, 2008 at 2:02 am

Oh, if I could just tell as many people as possible that some of life’s experiences are better left untouched. I have heard so many times that “I just have to learn things for myself.” Well my reply to that statement is, be prepared for the consequeces. It is OK to run…. run… run as fast as you can and FLEE from sin. Don’t ever fall pray to thinking that in order to live life you must experience certain things. That is a huge lie from Satan. The Lord promises that he will never allow us to be tempted with more then we can handle, LOOK for the way out, better yet… don’t put yourself in a position where you are tempted with more then you can bear. God wants HIS best for you. I agree with Kenna… an accountability partner is good for all of us!

1st Cor. 10:13- And God is FAITHFUL; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide A WAY OUT so that you can stand up under it.

briley henderson
June 27th, 2008 at 5:28 am

WOW these things are really long its like the longest thing i have read since like 4th grade.but anyways This is a problem to me. I look for the closetst things I can do before its actually considered “wrong. but when you said ,once youve been reborn you cant ever go back to the way you use to be.well that made me think since God has changed me i cant go back to how i was… but really since camp i have already fallin a couple of times. its not really completley how i use to because now when i do the things i feel the guilt the hurt and it lets me know that God is really here for me even when i have fallin or when i am falling. Its like he is talking to me in a way its almost hurtful but he doesnt mean for it to be that way but is trying to say to me saying DONT GO BACK TO YOURSELF… and really what i got out of this is just i need to keep my walk with christ tight and let all the relationships with boys and my friendships come later when im ready for them and dont let myself fall back to who i was. the other night i was tempted into doing somethings i couldnt bear i knew i shouldnt have done.. before i went to camp i wouldnt have thought twice to do the stuff but now since im more involed with my relaionship with God and the people involved in God with me it just makes me think harder if i should do stuff or not and that right there lets me know that i have changed and if i just keep goin God will make it easier on me and the enemy will be defeated


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