For Those Turning Over A New Leaf In The New Year
Psalm 1:1 “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.”
Psalm 1:2 “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.”
Psalm 1:3 “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
Hello readers, and hello 2023! New year! The last one whizzed by, and this one probably will too. It’s amazing how the whole year we kind of work towards and build up to the end of year only to be immediately plunged into a new year with it all before us again. We just keep chasing and never truly obtaining.
I had this thought about new leaves withering a while ago, but I don’t think I’ve ever written about it. But I thought about Psalm 1 this morning, and read it, and a few things jumped out to me.
At the start of the new year often you hear about “new year’s resolutions”. With the turning of the year comes a “fresh start”, or so we tell ourselves. With the start of a new year, often we resolve to change things up, to maybe eat better, or get fitter, or try to be more this and that in the year going forward.
Maybe you’ve resolved to try and be a better Christian. But as we get into this year, you’re likely to realize quickly that it might be a new year, but the same old story.
If you’re a new leaf Christian, you need to realize that Biblical salvation is not a new leaf. It’s not a religious patch job. It’s not resolving to do better. It’s not recommitting and rededicateing to God. And here in Psalm 1 and verse 3 we read about a man who’s “leaf also shall not wither”. So where new leaves wither, in this chapter is a man who’s leaf never withers. It doesn’t dry up and die like so much of our Christian efforts often do. So you interested?
Maybe you’ve heard of the saying “turn over a new leaf”, it’s a pretty common saying which means “to change your behaviour in a positive way” “to begin a new and improved course of behaviour” “to reform” “to begin anew” “to change one’s ways”… and this sounds like an awful lot of us doesn’t it. There’s an awful lot of self directed change, and fleshly efforts to be more spiritual… but the leaves of self reformation seem to wither up quicker than we can put them out. And we run out of energy to keep putting out new leaves when they seem to keep dying.
I’ve turned over many new leaves, probably more without realizing consciously doing it than anything, and they all in turn withered away. So this verse is of interested to me. And I read about a man who’s leaf does not wither, and how does that happen?
Well the main thing I noticed is that his leaf does not wither because of where he’s been planted. And when something is planted, location is pretty vital. You plant a fruit tree and you want a nice sunny spot with good access to water. If you plant in good soil with access to consistent and regular and reliable moisture… that tree is liable to get it’s roots down good and deep… and that’s why it’s leaf does not wither because it’s always going moisture in it… life flowing in it, to sustain it in tough times and seasons.
The reason why new leaves fail so bad is because they’re so superficial and external. Turning over a new leaf does not change you inside, nor come from inside. And because your change doesn’t flow from internal reality, but is rather a superficial behavioural alteration… the new leaf is not sustainable, and it withers away.
When I thought about this blessed man in Psalm 1, obviously Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of this chapter, because what man is there like this, I mean, really! Even more crazy, the thought struck me that this guy would be called a legalist by other Christians!
Just look at him! He doesn’t do this, he doesn’t do that, he doesn’t company with these people and those people… stop being so self righteous and legalistic huh!? But actually this man is a man of grace, just we’ve twisted grace so hard our definition flies in the face of what the Bible teaches about the grace of God.
He does and doesn’t do things not because he’s turned over a new leaf, but because of who he is and where he’s been planted. He’s in the law of God, he’s in the Bible, and as a Christian, he’s in Jesus Christ, and that life of Christ in him produces certain behaviours that flow from within. It is impossible to plant yourself in the Bible and it not affect your life.
A funny thing happens every day with most Christians these days. What is it? *Whisper* they hate the Bible. Far out, their eyes roll if you quote scripture. They look frustrated if the Bible gets brought up in arguments or discourse. But this blessed man doesn’t just quote Bible, his life is Bible, he’s day and night meditation is in the Bible, it’s always in his mind and on his heart. And that’s what Jesus Christ was. God’s word was on his heart from a very child “Wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?”
How about me? How about you? Do you delight in the law of the Lord? That’s not many of us is it though. But Psalm 119:97 “O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” What about Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.” That sounds like Jesus Christ, and it sounds like him, because it is him, it is how he lived, it is what was in his heart, he was that blessed man of Psalm 1.
The only way you realize this chapter in the Bible is in Christ. He fulfilled his chapter, and you will only fulfill this chapter in Christ. This man in Psalm 1 is a godly man. Obviously Jesus Christ is a godly man, because he is the Son of God, so there is none more godly. But if you get saved, believing on Jesus Christ, and he dwells in your heart by faith… this is the kind of person that is birthed inside you. A person who hungers and thirsts after righteousness like when the disciples remembered that Psalm regarding Jesus Christ which said “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” Could the same be said about me and you?
Psalm 1 begins with a portrait of the saved child of God, planted by God, who’s root is Christ. And if you are rooted and built up in him, then those leaves on the branches, that profession and that life that you live and that everyone else sees, it’s not going to wither away. You’re not going to fade out. You’re not going to burn out. If you truly want to turn over a new leaf that is anything beyond a vain and futile new year’s style resolution, you need the new birth “ye must be born again”. How can a new birth fade out?
Would you like to not wither, no matter the time and season? Notice, it’s where you are planted. And where you have you been planted? In God’s word? Because if you’re not planted by the rivers of water… there’s going to be no fruit and withered up leaves and a tree in real trouble of dying. And when the tree has no fruit and no leaves… what good does it do anyone else? Noone can find shade under it, no one can eat from it, why cumbereth it the ground? You’re not meant to be a dead tree.
I remember when Jesus healed a man’s blindness and the first time he touched him Jesus asked him what he saw, and the man said “I see men as trees, walking”. Jesus didn’t make a mistake or get the healing wrong the first time, but like that man, the first thing you’ve got to see men is as trees. Recognize the tree. Everyone is a tree, it’s just a matter of what kind of tree, planted by what seed, and producing what kind of fruit. For many, there is no fruit, or there’s fruit that withers up, or it’s just bad fruit… like naughty figs in Jeremiah.
But the real take home message from Psalm 1 on this first day of the year really is the necessity of trusting in Jesus Christ, and being planted there. Abide in me is what Jesus Christ said. Fair to say, that tree when planted there, abides there. It’s always in that same spot. Do people find you in the same spot, year after year? That same spot of faith and trust and hope in Jesus Christ>
How about we get in the Bible and plant ourselves there for this year? Plant your flag there. Plant your decision making there. Plant your hope there. Plant your life in the word of God. It’s good water, it’s consistently flowing, it gives life to this tree. It’s a real good place to send your roots down. It’s fertile well watered soil in there. And it means your leaves won’t be withered up, people will see someone with real salvation, real hope, and a true profession and testimony. Bam. Hope you’ve got more than new leaf withering up Christianity.
And there are examples of new leaves in the Bible. A guy called Ahab in the Bible turned over a new leaf. 1 Kings 21:27 “And it came to pass, when Ahab heard those words, that he rent his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his flesh, and fasted, and lay in sackcloth, and went softly.” That’s a new leaf right there. Read the context for yourself, but basically put, Ahab sinned and sinned, he got caught out in a particularly bad one, and the man of God met him and pronounced God’s fearful judgment on here… and so Ahab changed his ways a bit. He “settled down” a bit. He “grew up” a bit. He put those wild days behind him, finding some balance in his life. But he wasn’t saved.
But see what his new leaves looked like. They looked pretty good. He looked pretty contrite and apologetic for what he’d done. He became serious, sober, thoughtful, and looked like he was really mindful of God. It was a real religious new leaf! He was careful in what he did and didn’t do and how he behaved. Ahab became Ahab 2.0! And there was some benefit too it, just like you may benefit from sinning less… but it still doesn’t make you saved, change who you really are, or atone for what you’ve done.
So please, to start 2023, don’t just turn over a new leaf that withers up after a week or a month or a few months. Remember, the leaf is not the root. I’ve seen trees die before, when something is wrong with the tree and all the tree over the course of a few days goes from green to yellow to dry and falling off. You surely don’t want that sort of Christianity, that dies on the vine. And we are all prone to new leaf style Christianity, resolving to be better and do better, but it’s not real, and it doesn’t remain… because it is without the planting and root in where, who and what we need to be… in God’s word, in Jesus Christ and a true, sincere, Holy Spirit led salvation.
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Hi, my name is Joseph Zadow. I am a 32 y/o Bible Blogger. I was new to blogging once! God’s word is the best thing that we can be given, and once we have it and know it for ourselves it is both a privilege and responsibility to bring it to others! We are blessed to be a blessing! I am a sinner (for sure!) saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ and I am a Lord Jesus Christ follower. He is faithful even though I rarely am to him. I believe the Bible is the word of God, and stake my life on it. My destination is heaven. As they say, I’m just a passin’ through this world… although most of the time it’s more like hangin’ by a thread in Jericho! I love playing sports – particularly cricket… I currently work on an orchard and a side hobby business of mine is growing vegetables etc – they are good for you! I love writing. Always happy to talk, so feel free to leave a comment. You can read more about me and my blog here – kjvbibletruth.com/about :)
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