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In Psalm 1, we have a delightful description of the godly person's life. He 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" (v.3). In contrast, "the wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away" (v.4). In this psalm, which was very likely intended to introduce the entire Book of Psalms, we should be impressed with the fact that the path of righteousness and the path of wickedness lead to very different consequences. The choice of our path is a very important decision.
As Psalm 1 teaches, along with many other texts throughout the Bible, God blesses those whose hearts are turned toward Him. Having given us a will that is free to accept Him or reject Him, God will not make our choice for us. The decision is ours. But what great things hinge on our decision! If we say yes to God, we open ourselves up to His blessings, both in this life and in eternity, but if we say no, we cut ourselves off from those very same blessings.
The other side of God's goodness toward the obedient is His severity toward those who persist in rebellion. Those who refuse His offer of fellowship will not only suffer the deprivation of certain blessings in the here and now, but they will face eternal condemnation at the judgment. "Therefore the wicked will 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 wicked will perish" (vv.5,6).
It is foolish for us to suppose that God is too gracious to punish sin or that His love is ultimately going to save everybody. No, God's grace toward the penitent is matched by His condemnation of the impenitent, those who reject the terms of God's pardon. We need to strive for a comprehensive and balanced concept of God in our minds, never minimizing the seriousness of what is going to happen if we don't respond faithfully to His goodness.
This week, let's think about the importance of life's greatest decision: will we submit to God or reject Him? Let's be warned by the picture of the wicked in Psalm 1, but in that same passage, let's be encouraged by the blessing and happiness of the one whose "delight is in the law of the Lord."
Monday: Romans 11:22
Key Idea: God's character contains within it both "goodness" and "severity."
Questions for Family Growth: What is the meaning of God's "goodness" (NKJV)? How would we define His "severity"? What determines which aspect of God's character we see in our personal relationship with Him? What did Paul teach in Rom. 2:4,5?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 26:1.
Tuesday: Romans 2:4-8
Key Idea: Our hearts respond to God with either reverent obedience or rebellious self-will.
Questions for Family Growth: In regard to God's will, what are the only two choices we can make? Is our choice determined for us by God or did God give us the freedom to choose for ourselves? In vv.6-8, what are the eternal consequences of our choice?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 26:2.
Wednesday: Psalm 1:1-6
Key Idea: We will have lives of blessedness or emptiness, depending on our decision about God.
Questions for Family Growth: In this text, what kind of life does the "blessed" man have? What choices has he made in regard to God? Do the blessings of godliness only have to do with this life or do they also have to do with eternity? What does Paul say in Gal. 6:7-9?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 26:3-12.
Thursday: 2 Corinthians 5:10
Key Idea: In the end, we will be judged by God and receive a destiny consistent with our decision.
Questions for Family Growth: Whom did Paul say must appear before the judgment seat of Christ? At that time, what is it that will be judged: our intentions or our actual deeds? What did Paul mean when he said that each one will receive "what is due"?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 26:13-16.
Friday: Deuteronomy 30:19,20
Key Idea: As we make life's great decision, God urges us to choose the way of life and not death.
Questions for Family Growth: In this text, who was speaking and who was the audience? What was the occasion? Judging from vv.19,20, does it make any difference to God whether we say yes or no to Him? What did Jesus urge His hearers to do in Mt. 7:13,14?
Wisdom for the Day: Proverbs 26:17.