The blessed life is a life with roots and one that bears fruit. When we fix ourselves on God's words, we can withstand the storms, and bear the unique fruit He has made for us.
Alright, great to be able to share this moment with all of you .If you’re joining us for the first time. Uh, I’m Pastor Terry. I’m the Lead Pastor here at Cornerstone Church in San Francisco. So to all my friends near and far, all of you, my brothers and sisters, I’m looking forward to sharing in this time, as we study and learn from God’s word together, um, you know, our series, The Way of Blessing over the past few weeks, we’ve been sitting with a Psalm 1 and sharing around how it describes for us the way of blessing.
This is the way of blessing. And so, you know, even now, Lord, I just, I just pray your blessing over each one who is hearing these words. We truly welcome Your presence, Your goodness, Your mercy and Your love. We need it. We need it in these crazy times of ours. Lord bring healing and life flow in Your name.
We ask it Jesus’ name. Amen. You know, I want to start by reading from Psalm 1. Again, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly nor stands in the way the sinner nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord. We’re told, and in that live meditates day and night, it’s going to be like a tree, like a tree that’s planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season.
This leaf also shall not wither, you know, the ungodly we are told are not. So, but then like the, the chaff that the wind drives away and therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous for the Lord knows the way of the righteous.. But the way of the ungodly shall perish.
And, you know, as I pondered the Psalmist description of the way of blessing, I was reminded of how Jesus really Jesus, in John 14, actually in John 14, Jesus talks about His father’s house and how He was going to get there and you know, where He was going. And, and there’s this wonderful exchange. I mean, I love the 14th chapter of John.
It’s got all kinds of layers in it, but Thomas and Lord bless, you know, uh, he’s an, he’s an honest man. And he said, what the rest of them were thinking Lord. Where are You going? We don’t know where You are going. You said, You know where we’re going. We, we, we don’t know where You’re going yet alone the way to get there.
And of course that gave rise to, to the astonishing declaration of Jesus when He declared. I
am the way, the truth and the life. And no one comes to the father, except through me, that was an exclusive claim, right? I am the way. I am the path that must be taken. The road you must travel on if you want to get to God. He didn’t say one of the ways. He didn’t say one of the paths.
He didn’t say one of the roads. He says, I am the way, I’m the truth, not an aspect of truth, the truth. And I am the life. The one who can give you life in its fullest now. And in terms of what is yet to come. You know, Jesus, said he was the way I was, I was thinking about a statement that was made by, you know, Albert Einstein concerning the Jesus of scripture, that Psalm 1 reminds us to delight in.
You know, cause the Bible says, you know, Psalm 1 says, you know, the one who delights in the Lord and Einstein was reflecting on the Jesus of the scriptures. And he said, I’m enthralled, I love this, by the luminous figure of the Nazarene, no one can read the gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus.
And then Einstein said this, His presence pulsates in every word. Now in my mind, the Gospel, isn’t I don’t want to assume everybody knows what the Gospels are, but the four books, the, of the scripture that opened up the New Testament and talk about the life of Christ. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you know, they really are the core of the Bible.
It’s the central place of the Bible. It’s the core of the scriptures, the nexus of the old and really the new it is. If you think about it, like the cross itself. It’s the center point. It’s the center of the Christian message. And for any student, serious student of Jesus it’s essential that we continually review and sit with them, that we delight ourselves in them, that we make them a familiar friend.
There’s nothing quite like the life of Christ for each of the Gospels describes that life in ministry from a unique angle of approach. The four, the four Gospels each have an accent point, not unlike a four panel picture, right? 1, 2, 3, and 4. In fact, the early Christian Church represented the four Gospels in art and symbol as a lion, as a ox, as a man and as an Eagle, the gospel of Matthew, the first gospel, uh, presents Jesus.
For example, as the promised Messiah. It’s very Jewish in its message. The historic symbol of the gospel of Matthew is the lion representing the lion of the tribe of Judah. The promised king of Israel. Then there’s the gospel of Mark. Mark represents Jesus as a tireless servant. The historic symbol of the Gospel of Mark is the ox, kind of that beast of burden that, that represents not just the burden of sin that Jesus took upon himself.
The suffering servant of Isaiah 53, but also Jesus, who is the worker, the tireless worker, who in His humanity spent Himself on our behalf doing the will of the Father. And that’s described there as a part of the Gospel’s unique way of approaching and representing Jesus. And then the Gospel of Luke. Luke represents Jesus as the son of man.
It’s a messianic title from the prophecy of Daniel. And, uh, that’s Daniel 7:13, specifically. Luke focuses on Jesus’s humanity and beautifully details the light, like none of the other Gospels do the, you know, incarnation, the announcement of, of His birth and that first and second chapter of Luke. And, you know, it’s the only Gospel that also that gives us a little glimpse of Jesus’s early years. And the symbol of the Gospel of Luke is man representing Jesus as the sinless and perfect, great expression of humanity.
And then fourthly the Gospel that sometimes people encourage seekers to look at first, um, the gospel of John considered the most majestic of all the gospel. So the four John represents Jesus as the son of God and he emphasizes Jesus’s divinity. Right? John 1:1 in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.
And the Word was God. And, you know, later on in that same chapter, it’ll say, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. So when we delight ourselves in God’s Words, as we’re told in Psalm 1, really, we are being invited then into Jesus, who is the Word of God in flesh. But the symbol of John is an Eagle and it represents majesty.
And more of a soaring above the earth and how, how different Jesus is. Though He was man, yet He was God. Um, but I would say this as well is also essential. So I think Einstein is absolutely correct. You know, there’s something about when we look at Jesus that will stir our soul in a particular unique way of delight and, you know, delighting ourselves in the law of the Lord.
There’s no better place I think, than to sit with Jesus. And yet it’s also true that. Anyone who’s really wanting to sincerely follow the Lord and experience the flourishing life in God, uh, is going to be need to become a student of the scripture in its entirety. And I think, for example, the book of Acts. The fifth, sometimes called the fifth gospel,
if you will, the book of Acts the work of the Holy Spirit in the first Christian community, and then the Epistles specifically the letters of the apostle Paul, they remind us also of what maturity in Christ looks like. Don’t they? They, they remind us of what it means to, to be a devoted follower of the Lord in a complicated culture in society.
It talks about how we can live lovingly and courageously in community, and even in a culture that we stand at times in opposition to not, not in an arrogant angry way, but that we’re just not conforming ourselves to what the Bible calls this world or the ways of this world or the values of this world.
That, um, we’re a part of, but yet can pull us away from, from what guys has its true life. And so if we don’t know what we believe in we’ll, we’ll fall for anything. The culture is always preaching at us. You know, the culture preaches a gospel as well, but it’s, it’s not the gospel of good news, right. But it’s, it’s their version of it.
And I, and I, and I’m part of that, you know, that’s my world too. I’m not trying to set myself apart of, I’m just simply saying that if we want to follow Jesus and we really want to be a, uh, a Christian who has deep roots, like a tree planted by the rivers of water, then we’re going to need to apply ourselves to the study of God’s word in a way that goes beyond just a surface familiarity.
And of course, then there’s the Old Testament, right? Which points to Jesus. It does. The Old Testament has value in and of itself in its own right. As a way of watching how God, you know, starts with humanity, then moves in the life of a man, Abraham. And then out of that, man comes a nation out of that people, that nation comes a Savior, right?
So everything about it along the way, there’s all kinds of examples, there’s types and shadows, and there’s a huge value in learning the Older Testament. Um, but the greatest value of all is that it, it points us to Jesus. And so many of the examples, uh, and teachings essentially are the fabric of which the New Testament it stands upon or is built on or was made made from.
I mean, uh, the old anticipates the new and the new is built on the old. It literally grows out of it. Uh, so, you know, and Jesus is the golden strand running through them both, the tie that binds them together. You know, and I, and I, I realized I just gave you, I just gave you a broad stroke of, you know, delighting ourselves in God’s word and why it’s important for us to have a familiarity with a comprehensive, um, you know, sense of God’s word.
Um, there’s an Older Testament and there’s a Newer Testament, but they together are the Bible that we study. And we, we can benefit from having a large and deepening and growing, uh, understanding. Like we want to be like that tree flourishing. Right? And so, you know, uh, when we build our life in such a way, we’re told that, you know, on God’s words, as I mentioned here, that we’re going to be, what does this almost say, like a tree planted by the rivers of water.
I love that image, uh, as we fix ourselves on His words, we will experience what previous generations called fixity. Now that’s a word we don’t use too much these days “fixity”, but it speaks of stability and staying capacity and a kind of permanence. When something is fixed, it’s secure, it can ride out storms.
It can endure, it can endure hardship, even loss. Yes. And, and deep disappointment, even sometimes crushing disappointment. It can write out hard times, anxious times, conflicting times, angry times, and it can prevail. Why? Because it has roots. The blessed life loved ones is a rooted life. You know, I was reading an article by a man named Frank Roland and he was sharing about roots and the Christian life.
And he said, uh, He, he, he shared this about a tree and he was trying to make a connection here. He says a great part of the tree is underground. And he mentioned how there are two primary reasons for this. He says one is to hold the tree in its place. So the root system, you know, is, is connecting to the soil.
It’s intertwined in the rocks. It, it creates a tremendous base. So it’s not just the tree itself and the roots is all the things that are connected to those roots. So this is a tremendously stable. If you’ve ever seen a massive tree that falls, and I’ve seen a few of them when I’ve been out in the wilderness, uh, some, some that are just incredibly massive and you realize how much of that massive, massive tree is actually underneath the earth.
And the cavern that is created when is pulled it, when it is pulled out of the earth is it’s astonishing and you realize how much power is in it because it’s connected. The root system has wrapped itself around soil and rock and even other trees, trees, roots, and plants and such. And so it just has this, you know, ability to, to, you know, hold itself in place.
But the other, you know, value of course of the root system is that, and why it’s underground is such, it can nourished and, you know, to use the Biblical analogy, the roots give us access to the nourishment that we need to survive and to flourish so that we can do what so that we can bear fruit. That’s, so, that’s what, that’s what we’re talking about.
Right? And you know, so they’re not only what allows us to be held up in storms and keep us from falling. There also, it allows us to stay in a, in a good place in a healthy place and in a place that allows us to be fruitful and to be protected from invasive things, you know, uh, when, when plants are, well-watered, they’re more likely to be resistant to attacks of, you know, disease and, um, pests.
And so one of the things that, you know, Gardner will tell you is that it’s important for a plant to be watered. And it does as well for a tree. That’s why it is a tree planted by the rivers of water. But I was thinking about rootedness and spiritual stability. And if I can just present something to you, um, cause I was reading it again.
I mentioned that article by Frank Roland talked about how there are in his mind, three, three things that, that aid, that rootedness and spiritual stability, he talked about, um, one of the power of good habits, right? So, um, for me, I see that as having a healthy devotional life. Now we can create those habits, uh, in any way that, that we feel is most helpful to us and works best with the rhythms of our life.
And there might be times that we need to make adjustments, but it’s important for us to establish good habits. I mean, we, we, we can so easily fall into bad habits that I can do easy. Right? But to establish a good habit actually requires intention, effort, recalibration. Uh sticktuitiveness but again, it’s one of the keys to staying spiritually stable and rooted, rooted into the, into the ground so that we’re strong and healthy and capable of bearing fruit.
You talked about good habits. Number one, number two, he said, good companions. Very important. So if good habits has to do with a healthy devotional life, we’re reading, God’s word. We’re thinking, um, long thoughts about the Lord, and we’re looking at our lives to the scriptures and the lens of God’s word.
And we’re looking at the example of Jesus. And we’re, you know, praying and, and we’re honoring God in the basics of our Christian life. I talk about the, the daily, uh, give us this day, our daily bread. I talk about the one in seven, the value of having one day a week, that we’d really devote to an intentional gathering as a follower of Jesus, where we’re worshiping and listening for his word.
We’re following in the pattern of Jesus as, as He modeled for us. The one in 10, which I think is also, uh, a part of a healthy, stable Christian life. We’re talking about the giving of the tithes and how we honor God with our resources and how when we walk in that comprehensive way and we develop those good habits, what we’re going to end up having is a kind of vibrant, resilient life.
And we’re going to be that tree planted by the rivers of water. So there’s good habits, then Roland mentioned good companions. So if one has to do with a healthy devotional life, the other one has to do with a healthy relational life. We’re talking about friendships and it’s important for us to have life-giving friendships that, uh, you know, we can have a different kinds of friendships, but we need to have friendships that are built centered in Christ that there, that we’re sharing a common love for Jesus, a common commitment to Him.
So I’m talking about a very particular kind of friendship. I’m not disregarding other friends. I’m just saying it’s absolutely essential that we have friendships that in which we are going to be challenged in the best way, held accountable in the best way, where we can pray for one another and be healed.
We can talk freely about Christ. We can wrestle with things and not feel like somehow we have to walk on eggshells or be afraid that we’re going to say it the wrong way or offend somebody like it’s so important to be able to strengthen one another in the faith, because we’re not always going to be at the top of our game.
We are going to need others in this life. I can tell you right now that part of what is allowed my life to grow and flourish in Christ, imperfect yes, has been though in part my, my critical relationships that are built with the commonality of Jesus in them. Uh, my wife, my, my closest friends, the small groups that I’m involved in, these are very important parts of a, of a healthy life with Jesus, so good habits, good companions.
And another one that Roland mentioned as good books. That one was interesting to me. So a healthy devotional life, a healthy relational life, and a healthy intellectual life. Healthy input that works our mind in a good direction. We might include podcasts or audio books or, what I like, you know, I love documentaries, so good documentaries. But reading a book, you know, is different.
It’s kind of different from a podcast and a documentary or watching something or listening to a book. It connects us in a more tactile way, whether it’s on a device or on paper, you know, but when we’re reading good books and I’m not– listening to good things, we’re, we’re going to find out that our mind is going to be strengthened in, in a, in a positive way.
And I really would encourage us to, to regulate the intake of reading and listening and watching that doesn’t draw us towards the Lord. So I’m not saying eliminate it obviously, cause that’s senseless. But I am saying that it’s really important that the dominant inputs into our life intellectually are, are built on the foundation of, of God’s word and, and it’s, it’s supplemental and it’s life giving and, and we can see a connection at least that it’s not going to undermine and diminish our walk with the Lord.
That’s to me just as important, right? But I was reading an article a few months back in actually the Wall Street Journal in which the writer talked about the benefit and challenge of reading. And, uh, it gave some practical tips. One of which was, they said, when you’re, if you really want to get the maximum benefit of reading, you know, put away the phone, put away the phone and find a reading space and give yourself some time.
Then I think that’s really wise advice. So healthy reading in a healthy environment, reading that will encourage our soul increase our learning, expanding our thinking, but not under, not undermine our faith, either through the content, uh, you know, being sort of that, which would, would undermine our love for God or create unhealthiness in us.
Like, I, I really think we need to regulate what we put into our mind again, as a man thinketh, so he is. But we all have a unique assignment, you know, and that, and this is another thing about the Psalm. You’ll be like a tree planted — by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season.
What does that remind us of, you know, the idea of bearing fruit in its season? You know, the blessed life is a fruitful life, bearing fruit in its season, like a tree that brings forth its fruit in its season. We all have a unique contribution to make. We all have a unique assignment and purpose that we’ve been given to honor God with.
And if we do it will, we’ll be blessed. I mean, we will be happier and make more of a difference for what God says really matters. Every tree brings forth his own fruit. So as best not to compare, don’t compare. That is a path to despair. Don’t compare that only leads to despair, right? Happiness is, is the blessed way that settles on its own fruit and work.
You know, I was reading an older commentary. I think it wasn’t the Expositer’s Bible. I can’t remember. So I’m kind of paraphrasing some of it, but it said it went like this, Christian activity takes many forms and a man or a woman will do most good and do it best, who is no survile imitator of another, but who works in their own groove and in a way, most natural to who he or she is.
And there is a beauty and a gratefulness gracefulness, right. About work done after this manner that always adds to its value. You know, spiritually speaking, let’s find our groove. Right, right? Let’s find our own unique groove in the Lord. Let’s not waste time comparing or lamenting. Uh, no, uh, Robert Schuller, uh, wrote.
And he was an optimist of the highest kind. He says, always look at what you have left. Never look at what you have lost. That’s that’s, that’s really good advice. Oh, and there, you know, you can sit back and look at, oh, you know, this is what I used to have, or I I’ve lost this, or you can be thankful for what we have and cultivate that in gratitude.
And one more thing, oh, it is this that it is every season has its own fruit. Right? And that to me speaks in its time, right? That speaks of timing and opportunity to everything, there’s a time. You know, the seasons are different for different fruits. Some are early and some are late. So what fruit is, God wanting us to bear in this season of our life.
I think that’s a great question for us. What fruit, loved one is God wanting us to bear in this season of our life, because that is a clue to where the flourishing life is to be found. That is the clue to where true happiness, the way of the blessing, this is the way will be found. You know, and I have, I really have found that it, it, it is better to focus on opportunity more than on adversity.
Not denying, not pretending. You hear me say this all the time. Not saying this is good when it’s not good. It’s okay. We can say this isn’t great, or this is really bad, but we also want to bring the Lord into this and say, where is the opportunity that God has for me? I mentioned Robert Schuller earlier.
He went on to say in difficult times, People too often lose the ability to face the future optimistically. Remember I told you he was an optimist. They begin to think about their tomorrows negatively. They forget that the tough times will pass. They concentrate on the problems of today rather than on the opportunities of tomorrow and in, so doing, they not only lose the potential of today.
They also throw away the beauty of tomorrow. There’s such great wisdom there. You know how the Lord really does want us to focus, not on the yesterdays, especially if they’re negative, uh, or to get stuck, but rather to be focused on the, the goodness of God and the promises He’s given to us. And, and then we, what we gain, what we gain is we gain today, right?
We gain the potential of today and we are not giving away the beauty of tomorrow. I love, that’s good. That’s good. Can we, by being grateful, by being optimistic, by choosing to allow the Lord to work in our lives, to be that tree planted by the rivers of water, we are gaining the potential of today. Every day is an opportunity and we are, we are not squandering and corrupting the beauty of tomorrow, which may or may not come up.
But one thing we do know that if we, if we approach it in faith in love and an optimism, our heart is getting better and not bitter, right. Then we’re going to have a lot greater likelihood of a beautiful tomorrow. And that’s my prayer for all of us, you know that. So I get to do a couple of things right now.
I’ve got something to share a little bit later here, but I do, I do get the privilege of being able to remind all of us about our time of giving till forget as a church. And this is for our community, wherever you are. We can, we can give, you can send it in these days. You can give online directly or to the app, which is what I do.
Of course, I’ve mentioned this all the time. Um, but I do, and it’s a blessing to me to do so, but I was also thinking about our closing song, the song that we’re about to finish with that, I’m going to come back around after it. The song is actually a lighthearted reminder, uh, to press forward and to never quit and to stay optimistic and that how these things are such a crucial part of
the Christian life that we were being invited into the flourishing life that Psalm 1 describes, but it’s also connected to our attitude and our willingness to stay optimistic and to trust God with our tomorrows, no matter, no matter where we find ourselves, we can be that tree planted by the rivers of water, bringing forth fruit in its season.
And sometimes I’ve found some of the most beautiful fruit that emerges is in the season of difficulty. And that’s when I’m most astonished by the grace of God. So don’t quit. Don’t give up a couple more things share after we share this song together, talking about, yeah, going forward up, up, up, up, here we go.