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Pastor Steven Fogarty this morning. Well, thanks again for having us here with you and I want to read to you from Psalm one. So, if you have your Bible there, open it up in Psalm one. Here we go. Blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the council of the wicked? Who doesn’t stand in the way of sinners. He doesn’t sit in the seat of scoffers. Blessed is the man who doesn’t do those things. But his delight is in the law of the Lord. On His law, he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water. Its leaf does not wither. All that he does prospers. Whatever he does prospers. The wicked are not like that. They’re like a chaffed. The wind blows away. They won’t stand. They won’t be in the assembly of the righteous. But the Lord knows the way of the righteous. Blessed is the man who meditates on God’s word. He will prosper. He’ll be like a tree. Producing fruit in season. Whose leaf does not wither. The Lord will look after that man who does that.

Father I pray as we look at your word specifically Psalm one today. That you’ll speak to us. I pray that more than me talking and us reading we will encounter you. Father, reveal yourself to us through your word I pray. In Jesus powerful name, amen.

It’s a pretty bold promise, isn’t it? If you will delight in the Lord of Lords, if you will avoid these other nefarious influences, if you’ll do this, you’ll prosper. You’ll be blessed. The Lord will look after you. In everything you do. It’s a very bold, straight statement. And we believe it’s true, don’t we? Yeah, we do. We do. This is what we normally expect to be the experience of someone who worships and follow living God. That he will be looked after by God. God will order your steps. God will protect you. God will cause you to prosper.

Now, we’re not naive and the Bible’s not naive either. We understand that bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people. We see that in the Bible. Psalm seventy-three’s classic case. It starts off just the same as Psalm one. It says, oh God really blesses those who love him. But as for me, I nearly fell over. As for me, nearly lost my footing. He nearly stumbled Psalm seventy-three.

Why? Because the wicked were doing really well. Because the loud, boastful, aggressive, anti-god people were doing really well. And the guys who are faithfully serving God were not doing so well. But read Psalm 73 carefully. He says, yeah, they’re doing well now but it won’t last. And in the light of eternity, it means nothing. God looks after his people. In fact, the book of Psalms is really interesting. It’s got a shape to it.

It starts here in Psalm one. It says, look, if you’ll obey God, you’ll do great. So, obey God so you’ll do great. But when you get to Psalm 150 it says to worship God. And don’t expect anything in return. Just worship God. Because that’s what God deserves. Just worship God because you’ve caught a glimpse of God’s glory and majesty and wonder and grace and all you can do is like we’ve just done. Worship God. The book of Psalms sort of takes us from serving God because we want to get something in return to worshipping God because God is God and deserves our worship and deserves everything that we have offered up to him in praise and worship and obedience.

There’s the big picture but let’s come back to Psalm one. Psalm one says, that god will prosper us. As we follow him and it links our prosperity to three choices, I reckon. The first two are obvious, the second one’s a bit more, the third one is a bit more subtle but look at the first choice.

Choose who, influences you. Yeah, don’t hang out with the wicked guys. The guys are always trying to get you to do something you know you shouldn’t do. The guy’s always trying to draw you over into an edgy spot. The guys are always trying to make it look clever to be stupid. Don’t be influenced by the wicked guys. Don’t be influenced by the sinners. Sinners literally have missed the mark. They are failures. Don’t be influenced by these guys and don’t be influenced by the scoffers. You know the guys who’ve always got an opinion. The guys who get a keyboard and express your opinion. Have a go at everything that’s going on in the world. Just keep away from those people. Cuz they’re not going to help you at all.

Does anyone remember the Muppets? Yeah, I do. Some of you do. Some of you as old as me and and one of the regular skits in the Muppets is Fozzy the Bear. Remember Fozzy? And what does Fozzy do? He gets up here on the stage and he sings a song or he tells a joke or he does a little dance. And he’s not real good at anything to be honest. But he’s having a go. He’s up on the stage having a go. He’s doing something. And whenever you saw Fozzy the bear. Who else did you see? Some guys up on a balcony. Remember them?

Two guys. up on the balcony dressed in tuxedos. Two old guys in tuxedos. Their names were Waldorf and Statler. Yep. Two five-star hotels in New York. So the rich guys were always having a go at the poor guys down on the stage. And what were they doing? They’re criticising Fozzy aren’t they? They’re making fun of him. Yeah idiot. You can’t do that. But they’re not doing anything. They’re just sitting up there criticising this guy down here. Well that’s where wicked and the sinners and the scoffers are. They’re not doing anything. They’re not performing anything. They’re not in the game. They’re not producing anything. But boy do they have an opinion on everything. And invariably it’s a negative opinion. Dodge those people. Get out of the balcony and get on the stage. Not now. Just leave it to me. But later on get on the stage and do something. Yeah. And perform and follow.

Be influenced by the righteous. Who are the righteous in someone? The righteous are the ones who hear God’s word and obey God’s word. The righteous are the ones who are on the stage doing something. Having a go trying to make a difference. Whatever that might be in your life or my life, They’re doing it. and if you’re doing it, you’re not criticising it. And if you’re criticizing it you’re not doing it. Get on the stage. And avoid those people in the balcony.

I had a aha moment about 22 years ago. I’ve had many aha moments. I hope you have as well but this one was to do with my health. And as you look at me today I’m just under 80 kilos. Which is sinful because I should be seventy-five. But I’m just under 80 kilos at the moment. But 22 years ago I was over 100 kilos. So there was 20% more of me. Ah back then I was a lot bigger. And this aha moment was that my son’s football training.

My son played Aussie Rules football in Sydney. And Aussie footballers are all quite tall and quite slim and quite fast, quite athletic. And I’m watching all the kids out there running around the oval and they just look fabulous. They look so fit. They look like they don’t even care in the world. They look so skillful. You just wish that you were them. And I’m sitting here watching them and I look back over on my side of the fence. And over here there’s all the dads. And they got a beer in one hand and a pie in the other hand. And they’re all 20 kilos overweight. Or 30. Well, 40 kilos overweight.

So, all the dads are over here and all the sons are over here and I just had this moment and I said, you know, I’m on the wrong side of the fence. So, I decided next time I take him to training, I’ll do a lap around the oval, 400 meters. I nearly died. but the next time I did two laps and then three laps. and over time, start to work for me. You know, I did a race in Sydney called the City to Surf. I do this because it’s a very hilly race from Sydney down to Bondi. And I did it and took me a long long time. I was very slow. But I enjoyed it. And I’ll go back and do that again. So I’ve done the city to surf for 21 years in a row now. Every year.

I’m actually quicker now than I was in. I’m much older. But then I thought well if I can do the City to Surf I can do a half marathon. So I started running half marathons. And then after a while I thought if I could do a half marathon, I can do a full marathon. And so it’s just a stupid thought. Don’t even entertain that thought. Don’t go there. Don’t consider it because you can’t. But I did. And I just started doing those things and I around my 21st marathon this year. I’m going to run one when I’m 75 and I’m going to die skinny. There’s the goal. That’s where we’re going.

But what I did is I got on the other side of the fence. I got off over here with beer and a meat pie. And I got over here. We’re going to run and do something and produce something and have a go and in doing that, I changed my life and someone’s calling you and I to do exactly the same thing. Get off the balcony, get out of the bar, put down your beer, put down your meat pie, put on your trainers, and get out there and do something for Jesus. That’s what a righteous person does. They do something for Jesus. Choose who influences you. Choose the people who are doing something for Jesus.

The apostle Paul in trying to win over the Corinthian Church which is full of quite troublesome people. Keyboard warriors day. People with opinions on everything. And the apostle Paul writes ten chapters of one Corinthians trying to convince these guys that they’re not seeing it right. And this is how it should be done. And then he sits back in his chair and he scratches his head and he how can I win over these troublesome troublesome people? And in there he plays his trump card. He says well if you don’t believe everything I’ve said just follow me as I follow Christ.

Just imitate me as I imitate Christ. Now that’s what you’re for. Someone who’s following Christ. Someone who’s imitating Christ. Follow that person. Imitate that person. Dodge the edgy ones. They’re failures. Dodge the smart alec ones. They’re mediocre. Dodge that crew. And find someone who’s having a go for Jesus. And get in there and run with them. And work with them. And make a difference. Hey, you want to be blessed? You want to prosper. You want to know God’s grace in your life. Choose influences you.

And the second choice of course is choose what influences you. And he talks about the word of God. He says he meditates upon the word of God. Day and night. The law of the Lord. Torah. Scripture. The word of God. The Bible as we have it today on your phone. The sixty-six books. God’s word to us. There’s no substitute for God’s word. Christian testimony books are no substitute for God’s word. Christian testimonies are no substitute for God’s word. Christian podcast substitute for God’s word. Christian preachers on TV are no substitute for God’s word. Christian preachers on the stage are no substitute for God’s word.

Hopefully, they’re faithful but in the end, you and I have got to find a way to meditate on God’s word. To make it a fundamental part of our life. I was talking this morning in the break about how easy that was 50 years ago or before there was TV. Certainly, before there was all the media that we have. Now, we’re so distracted. Our minds are all over the place. He tinks on God’s word day and night. The Bible is God’s word to us but it’s not just a book of information. It’s not just a book with some history and some moral lessons and a few thoughts about this and that. It is that.

But the Bible is that which connects us to God. It’s our vehicle to God. The Bible reveals Jesus Christ to us. God who spoke to our fathers in past days through the prophets has now spoken to us in a most definitive way through his son, Jesus Christ, the exact representation of his being, the perfect communication of his intent. Jesus Christ comes to us through scripture. In fact, that’s what the New Testament is. It’s just a bunch of books that help us to understand what God is, was doing for us in Jesus Christ. It helps us see how he lived, how he died, how he rose again from the dead, and the implications of that for you and I. The Bible, the New Testament takes to Jesus in the Old Testament helps us understand the need for Jesus.

The Bible connects us to Jesus Christ and when we read the Bible, when we meditate on scripture, when we find space in our life to avoid all the distraction and just for it to be you and God’s word, we encounter God in that space. We encounter God. It’s not information. It’s revelation. It’s not information. It’s genuine encounter with the living God and you’re not going to encounter the living God. It is trustworthy, trustworthy manner through any other medium but directly through his word, through scripture. He meditates on scripture. Choose what influences you because there are so many things out there to influence you, aren’t there?

At times, I just stop reading the media. It just depresses and noise makes me just get away from it. At times, you have to stop this and stop that because there are so many things trying to somehow shape me. I don’t know why they want to shape me. What needs to shape me is God’s word. You know, to be a Christian, just have your eyes on Jesus Christ. The apostle says that, doesn’t he? He uses a metaphor in the book of Hebrews. He says, whichever apostle that was, he says, we keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.

The apostle Paul says that you and I who believe in Jesus are being transformed from glory to glory into His image by the Spirit and we encounter God and we encounter the mediation of the Spirit as we meditate upon, as we memorize, as we invest our lives into God’s word. Choose what influences you. Here’s a great story in Exodus thirty-three. It’s the story of Moses and Moses is a pastor with a big congregation and no permanent building. So, he’s nowhere near as lucky as you are. Nowhere near as privileged and he’s got a grumbling congregation.

Wherever he goes, they grumble. You can pick when the people of Israel are coming because there’s a noise, a great grumbling as they move around and he’s pulling his hair out. He’s been driven spare by these people and they’re a very he comes up with he gets from God. But there’s one moment where he says God these people are too much for me. Please give me an insight into you. Please give me a moment of encounter with you. Please let me see your glory. And God’s answer is well no you can’t really do that Moses. God always exists beyond our ability to comprehend. God always exists outside of our capacity to grasp God.

But God says Moses. We’ll just stand here in this in this cave, in this cleft of the rock. And I will sort of come past. And I will sort of give you an insight, a glimpse, just a momentary glimpse into who I am. And Moses does and God does. And it gives Moses enough strength to deal with his troubles and congregation for a little bit longer. Moses encounters God in a lonely place. In a solitary place, in a cleft, in the rock, and you and I encounter God in a solitary place with his word and if you don’t have that, you can’t sustain. If you don’t have that, you won’t make it. Choose what influences you. God’s word. Meditate on it. Read it. Read it daily please. Meditate on it. Study it. Come to college and learn about it. Whatever. Do whatever you can to get God’s word into your heart and your mind and to encounter God. Through his word.

Here’s the third choice there. I think it’s a choice. As to how you will influence others. I’m thinking about that tree in the middle of the Psalm there. A tree planted by a stream of water. Which yields it fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. This is a tree that you go to for shade. This is a tree that you go to. Ah maybe for fruit. I don’t know. This is a tree that blesses those around and about it. Be that person. Be that person who blesses others. It’s called a righteous person in Psalm one. Be that person who blesses others. Be that person whose impact upon others. Is to inspire them and to encourage them. To draw them into faith in Jesus Christ.

About 40 years ago, Sandra and I were pioneering a church on the other side of Australia, the southern suburbs of Perth on the beach and there were two ladies in our church at that stage who were quite different. They were friends, sort of associates, and one was named Pat. One was named Pam. Pat and Pam was a person who drained you of every ounce of energy and enthusiasm and inspiration that you had. She just drained you in about five minutes you were destroyed. And you needed counselling and help. It took me a week to get again for next Sunday whenever Pam came and talked to me. And she was sharp. She had sharp criticisms of everyone. And she was ambitious. She thought she should be up here and she was contentious. Whenever there was a kerfuffle down the back, I knew who was there. She kept coming to church and we kept letting her come to church. Not sure why but we did.

Eventually, she found a husband and got married and moved to a town 100 kilometers further south and that was god’s grace for us. It just helped us to survive but she come up every six months with a word from the Lord for us. Pat her friend was exactly opposite. Graceful, quietly spoken, a charming, absolutely dedicated. And she ran our children’s church. And we had the most fabulous children’s church in town. By a million miles. In fact, our church grew quite significantly during that period of time. And I reckon it was all to do with our children’s church. Parents wanted to bring their kids to a place where they thought they’d be looked after and taught. And it was a children’s church in a day when most people sort of had Sunday school.

She ran worship services and altar calls and the kids live worship and prayed for one another. She was this most fabulous woman. She’s she’s still alive today. Her son is actually pastoring a church in London. In the UK. And if I was to get my three kids up here to talk to you about significant influences in their life. I reckon every one of them would name Pat as one of those significant influences. Pat replenished you. She built you up. She made you feel like you were a better person and there was hope and there was a future and there are possibilities here. she was Christ-centered. She would always connect you to Christ and she was a prayer. She would pray for you really quickly and now, I’m sure that you’re all Pats and there’s not a Pam in the room.

But if you’re a Pam, it’s time to become a pat. choose how you will influence other people. You know, we believe that god, the spirit, uses the word of god to make us more like Jesus Christ and when god the spirit, when the Holy Spirit is having an influence in you, on you, through you. Do you know what we’re going to encounter? Are we going to encounter love? Yeah. And joy, and peace, and patience, and goodness, and kindness, and gentleness, even control. We can recount. These things through you as God the Spirit influences you in the way that you influence us Be a spirit-inspired influencer of us.

You know, when you are filled, when you are influenced, when you are impacted by the Holy Spirit, we hear you talking about the goodness of god. We hear you talking to us in Psalms, in hymns, and spiritual songs about the goodness. God, we hear you testifying to God’s goodness. When god the spirit is influencing you to be the influencer. You should be, then, we see you worshiping God in a way that inspires us to worship God. We see you giving thanks for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We see optimism and faith and positivity. We see a belief that God can do anything. Whatever’s going on in anyone’s life. Through you. And we see you serving us. We know that you know how to submit to us for our sake. You know how to help us get on the journey towards being more like Jesus Christ. Pat and Pam. Spirit and who knows what that is over there. Choose how you influence others.

Now, the Psalm is really straight. It’s really strong and it’s not unique in scripture. It says, that God blesses those who respond to his word. It says, they’re blessed. It says, they prosper. It says, God looks after them. Those who choose not to unlike chaff. The wind blows it away. It’s not there when there’s pressure. It disappears. They won’t be here. Standing in the assembly of the righteous. they’re not solid They’re temporary. But God promises you a solid life. A life of fruitfulness. A life of significance. A life of influence. A life of impact upon others. And upon his church and upon the world as you meditate upon his word. As you make his word your primary influence. As you choose to associate with people who are chasing after Jesus Christ as you choose to follow them as they follow Christ. And as you choose to be a Pat rather than a Pam. As you choose to influence people towards Jesus Christ.

It’s a big promise. prosperity. Which means a life of fundamental dependence upon God. Which results in a life of fruitfulness. Yeah. To prosper is to be dependent upon God and to be fruitful. And God promises that to each one of us. The promise comes on the basis of us responding to our choices. The choice is to choose the influence to God grants us. The choice is for God’s word. In the end the choice is for commitment to Jesus Christ.

Guest Ps Steve Fogharty

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