- The Washington Times - Monday, January 7, 2002

The following is an excerpt from a sermon preached yesterday by the Rev. Paul Titus of Fair Oaks Alliance Bible Church:
I want to read to you a chapter of the Bible that talks about people who make a difference in the world. It also talks about people who don't make a difference in the world. It's found right at the beginning of the book of Psalms, the very first one, Psalm 1. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers. Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish."
Psalm 1 is actually a very unusual type of psalm. There are not a lot of them like this. Only three or four in the whole collection. We call this a teaching psalm or a didactic psalm. Most psalms are in the form of a prayer, someone is crying out to God or praising the Lord. This one is not in the form of a prayer. It reads more like the book of Proverbs might read. It's meant to teach us. It's meant to give us wisdom from God.
As we read through this psalm, you probably saw a number of truths very clearly. There is a very sharp contrast between two ways, the way of God and the way of sinners or the wicked, the way of the world. The Psalm says that there are some people's lives and accomplishments like "chaff" that is blown away by the wind. I don't know how many of you have ever harvested wheat, but there's a process involved called "winnowing." What you do is take a winnowing fork and throw the wheat kernels in the air on a windy day, and the wheat would fall to the ground so you could gather it up and store it. The other stuff, the little pieces of husk and other useless items that had gotten mixed in with the crop, would just blow away. If you're like me, and you don't know a whole lot about harvesting wheat, you still know the world "chaff," because it's become a term to describe anything that is useless, insignificant and meaningless. It's just chaff. It doesn't matter. God says in the psalm that the wicked are like chaff that the wind blows away. It's pretty harsh to hear this, but fortunately there's another option.
There's a way of life that people can choose to follow, a way which is very productive. A person becomes stable. A person becomes dependable. A person becomes like a strong tree by a flowing stream. He is solid. All his needs are met. He's fruitful. What comes out of his life is useful. He is productive. This is the person who makes a difference in the world, not for evil, but for good and for God.
Listen to some words from the New Testament from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 3 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
Those are interesting words. The way to be wheat and not chaff apparently is to receive the Holy Spirit from Jesus, in other words to be saved, to become a new person, as John 3 would say, to be "born again." The Bible is very clear. The beginning of a productive life for God is when you put your trust in Jesus Christ and receive salvation. That's how it starts.
The Bible says that Jesus, who was both God and man, has died for you on the cross to pay the price for your sin and mine, our rebellion against God. He did that for free. As we choose to place our trust in Him and in Him alone, not in ourselves, we receive forgiveness and eternal life as a free gift of God.
Just as Jesus rose from the dead, so we rise spiritually to live a new life.

Next week: A sermon from Love Foundation Christian Center in Greenbelt.

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