Sunday 16th April – Psalm 1
1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither –
whatever they do prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.
The psalms were the Hebrews hymn book, poetry, and worship framework. As Christians meet to worship on Sundays we will look at a Psalm every Sunday as a way to start the week. We begin with the first one which sets the pattern for all of them as it gives directions for the way to live. It sets the compass for everyone to heed and follow.
If you want to memorise scripture – and there can be no better way of getting to grips with it – this Psalm is all set for acting out with your body. It is about walking, standing, sitting and thinking and you can memorise the opening verses as you walk around your room saying them.
The person who does these things, the Psalmist says, will be like a tree planted by streams of water – stand like a tree with your hands the fruit. Got the idea? This is about the steadfastness of the person who gives heed to God in contrast to the wicked who like chaff – wave your hands about – will be blown away and never be around when God gathers his people together at the close of the ages.
It’s a good message for the start of any week. Keep walking, stand firm and don’t sit down with what you know isn’t right. This is the way of blessing, inner peace and a fruitful life. May it belong to all of us.
A Prayer: Father, Show me how to drink in your Word and stand fast in faith.
READINGS FOR THE WEEK AHEAD
If you don’t have a bible at home you can find the readings on a website such as www.biblegateway.com or an app such as YouVersion
Monday: Mark 1:1-13
Mark doesn’t waste any time in his gospel; he wants to get his message out and Chapter 1 gives us a good illustration of that. He starts by telling of a prophet in the past – Isaiah – then about a prophet in the present – John the Baptist – and finally about the one the prophets were pointing to – Jesus.
Someone once said that a Christian is someone who points to Jesus which is not a bad description . I found out as a minister that people often wanted to talk about the Church or about religion or about people who were supposed to be Christians but had blotted their copy book. Sometimes they also wanted to argue about things we believed but generally the subject of Jesus was not talked about or argued about. Yet, as Mark tells us, his book is about Jesus – “the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God”
The baptism of Jesus was the starting point of his public ministry and Mark’s insistence that he wasn’t voted on, he didn’t decide to take this roll on himself but it was the intention of God that his life was to do what He, the Father wanted. It may seem strange that this was going to involve pain as the episode in the wilderness tells us but Mark will unveil why in the course of his book.
Tuesday: Mark 1:14-20
The “good news about Jesus” starts with a declaration by him and a summons to those who would hear. “Repent and believe the Good News” he says. Repent is about change. I remember driving along in France with my son-in-law beside me and seeing signs along the road that said “Rappel”. “What does that mean?” I asked, “I don’t know” he said “do you not know either?” Nether of us knew. There are a lot of gospel words in the Bible that, if truth were to be told, many go speeding through life ignorant of what they mean.
Repentance means to change one’s mind and behaviour from the ways that come naturally to us to God’s way. There used to be little wrist bands that were worn with the letters WWJD standing for “What would Jesus do?” and the answer to that question gives the pattern of what repentance would mean in all the areas of life. Believe the good news is about the goodness of God who forgives us our past as we set out on the new and regular path of repentance. The first people who heard Jesus call and followed him were four fishermen. The training began after they said “Yes” to his call and that’s when it starts for us all. I used to sing a chorus from early days as a boy that started, “Have you ever said yes, have you ever said yes, have you ever said yes to Jesus?” A good question for everyone.
Wednesday: Mark 1:21-34
The good news about Jesus was that he went about doing good. Peter said as much when in Acts 10: he told the Roman soldier Cornelius about him, “He went everywhere, doing good and healing all who were under the power of the Devil, for God was with him”.
If we are aware of the truth about ourselves we know that the ability to do what we should escapes us and the next few verses tell us of people who knew this predicament. If the call of the gospel was just a summons to be up and doing it would hardly be called good news but the thing about it is that it comes from a man who not only calls but heals and restores. Another old chorus I used to know was “Got any rivers you think are uncrossable, got any mountains you can’t tunnel through, God specializes in things thought impossible, He does the things no-one else can do”. Mark wants to tell us of people who found this out at the hands of Jesus.
Thursday: Mark 1:35-45
What Jesus did – His work on the Earth – he did under the commission of his Father and he regularly sought fellowship with Him in prayer. A good example for us all. Another chorus from my youth was this, “Read your Bible, pray every day, pray every day, pray every day, read your Bible pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow”. That’s how we fertilize our spiritual life.
What do you make of the man with the leprosy? I’ll leave you to come to your own conclusions about him but Mark wanted you to know everything about his life and his dealing with Jesus
Friday: Mark 2:1-17
Another chorus from my early years had this line in it, “What He did for others He can do for you” Four friends felt that Jesus could do something for their paralyzed friend and so they brought him to Jesus, lowering him through the roof. Peter Marshall who was born in Coatbridge and worked in mines to begin with, through a gift of a friend, went to America to train as a minister. He became a well known minister and eventually was chaplain to the US Senate. A book of his sermons and prayers was entitled “Mr Jones, meet the Master” showing that Marshall’s intent was to be an introducer of people not to himself but to Jesus. There could be no better example for Christian folk of any age because it is not ourselves or our Churches that we want to introduce people to but Jesus.
Some people however that we meet in these verses were not so keen to meet Jesus unless he was prepared to butter them up with praise to show that they were a cut above others. They were the teachers of the law and the pharisees. Jesus told them he wasn’t coming for them. That’s always a bit of a shock to those who feel they are fine.
Saturday: Mark 2: 18-28
These verses tell us again about the people who were not so keen on Jesus but they also introduce us to the Jesus who was quite different. He speaks of himself as a bridegroom and that introduces us to the idea that relationship is at the heart of Jesus person and life.
A bridegroom needs a bride – you can’t have one without the other – and the wine of the new life would be poured into him and his bride for they would become one. Christ and his people would be sewn into a new thing and be filled with the Spirit of God. The passage also introduces us to the new wine in the story of the disciples and the grain picking on the Sabbath. The new marriage is not going to be filled with the old wine of the law but it will be fermented into a new thing for the world and Christ will be the master vintner. To know about this we have to follow him.