One Living Hope

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How to be truly blessed (Ps. 1:1-6)

Intro

Happy New Year EFC! We are now well underway into a new year. I am excited to be in the Word with you for another year. Guess what? We are one year closer to seeing Jesus. I said that last time. I look at Abbie and am just amazed at how much she has grown in one year. But my prayer is for God, my Heavenly Father, to look at me next January (according to His will) and say the same thing. Don’t you? So I want to grow another inch in Him this year.

This month I am going to take some time and look at some of my favorite Psalms. After that we are going to start a new series called Encounters, which will be taking a look at encounters that people have had with Jesus in the Gospels. I’m excited about that, so stay tuned!

So this series for this month is called, “Pastor Robin’s Favorite Psalms” Series. I picked three. Today we are going to look at Psalm 1.

I want to be blessed. I don’t think anyone here does not want that. We all want that. But if you’ve been a Christian long enough, you know that your definition of blessing and God’s definition of blessing are not the same right? I want God’s definition of it, because that is really what matters.

So what is God’s definition of blessing you ask? Good question! We are going to dig into Psalm 1 to find the answer.

Let’s start with this thought:

I.   The truly blessed person delights in the Word and is not directed by the world (Ps. 1:1-2)

Psalm 1 is a wisdom psalm whose author is unknown. It might be a Psalm of David. Nevertheless, this Psalm highlights two people who choose two paths. There is the wide road, the highway, where everyone is taking or there is the road less traveled, the road of the believer.

Here the Psalmist starts off with “Blessed,” a plural word which means literally, “Oh the blessednesses!” or “Oh the happinesses!” The word for “man” is general word for both “man” and “woman.” The Psalmist is saying that there is an abundance of blessing of the person who has met the conditions. What are the conditions?

First it is by what he does not do. Three expressions are given here. Notice the verbs—walk, stand and sit. He is not moving in the way the world is moving. Dead fish swim with the stream, but living fish swim against the stream. The truly blessed man, being alive, moves against the stream. Which way is the stream of the world going?

The Psalmist says, “downward.” Jesus had said that we should be in the world, but not of the world (John 17:11-17). It is one thing to have your boat on the water and another thing to have water in your boat.

Here this seems to more than a synonymous parallelism, but developmental parallelism. Unbelievers go from bad to worse. C.H. Spurgeon says, “When men are living in sin they go from bad to worse. At first they merely walk in the counsel of the careless and ungodly, who forget God—the evil is rather practical than habitual—but after that, they become habituated to evil, and they stand in the way of open sinners who willfully violate God’s commandments; and if let alone, they go one step further, and become themselves pestilent teachers and tempters of others, and thus they sit in the seat of the scornful. They have taken their degree in vice, and as true Doctors of Damnation they are installed.”[1] Warren Wiersbe says, “If you follow the wrong counsel, then you will stand with the wrong companions and finally sit with the wrong crowd.” [2]

Look at what the blessed one does do in Ps. 1:2. See, the Christian life is not a list of things we do not do. “I don’t drink, smoke or chew or go with girls who do” are some people’s motto. It is not just disassociation, but association with something else. There is no middle ground. We either fill our lives with the Lord or we fill it with something else.

Notice that he connects delighting and meditating on God’s Word together. This is because whatever we enjoy, we think about and pursue. The Psalmist says that the truly blessed man finds joy in the “law of the Lord.” This is referring to the Torah, which are the first five books of the Old Testament. For us it would be all 66 books of the Bible. It is not talking about the joy he finds in having the Word, but in obeying it. So it not like the Psalmist is picking up the scroll, smells it and is like, “I love the Word!” No, it means when he is in the Word and is obeying it, he finds true joy.

He is delighting and meditating on the Word. We might think of meditation as sitting in a corner with our legs crossed and holds our hand out with two fingers pinched and saying, “hum.” No, that is eastern meditation. With this kind of meditation, there is an attempt to empty the mind.

In Hebrew, the word “meditate” means to “to mutter, to read in an undertone,” for orthodox Jews speak as they read the Scriptures, meditate and pray. God’s Word is in their mouth (Josh. 1:8).” [3] The tense here means “he keeps on meditating.” It is his way of life. We know Jesus called out those who are muttering endless words without any meaning (Matt.  6:5-6). God would want us to let His Word guide us in every situation. We bring in God’s Word to help us figure out what to do.

Who pilots your life? Is it God’s Word or is it the ways of the world. If you are not in God’s Word all week and spent hours on the internet or watching tv, guess who is shaping your thoughts, desires and goals in life? You are getting brainwashed. I want God’s Word to wash my brain and everywhere in between!

Illus: I was convicted of this point as I thought about the time when I was first got saved. I used to bring God’s Word into everything I was doing. If there was a time I needed that comfort and I found in God’s Word, I would write the date and the letters, “T.P.” next to it. No, that does not mean “toilet paper” but “tested and proved.” I remember next to Eph. 3:20 I had so many “T.P.”s I didn’t have room anymore! It reads, “Now to him who is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we could ever ask or think.”

I was telling the guys during one of our Bible studies that the verses I have tried to memorize have never stayed with me. But the verses I had brought into my life situations and have written “T.P.” next to, have always stayed with me. Now I write the date next to the passage if I preached it. It’s become more about my accomplishments than God’s power and presence in my life.

I remember going to church at Harvest Bible Chapel one morning and somebody had put up on the screen a verse from Heb. 6:10. It reads, “God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints as you still do.” I noticed it, read it, but did not think twice about it. Later that evening, I was leading a Bible study and had one guy in there that was really making it difficult for me. I left there so discouraged and inadequate. I was just sitting in my car and all of a sudden that morning’s verse came to my mind as though God opened up the powerpoint program: Heb. 6:10. He came a tender Father to me.

I thought to myself, if that was with one verse, what would God do if I exposed myself to His Word more? It is like sunbathing. You expose yourself to the heat of God’s Word, you will be different! I want more of God’s Word in me and I have a project I want us to do together, which I will explain at the end of the message.

You want to be truly blessed this year? Expose yourself to God’s Word and let it direct you as you move through life. Secondly,

II.  The truly blessed person is flourishing not fading (Ps. 1:3-4).

The Psalmist uses an image to help us see what he is talking about. He uses the image of a tree near a stream. The idea is that it is alive. It is thriving. It is productive and fruitful. It is growing. It can be translated, “They are like trees that grow well because they are well watered.”[4]

Notice several things about this “tree.” How does it become so fruitful? First of all, it is not a wild tree that sprouted out of nowhere. It is planted. God has planted us. God has planted all of us in different places. Write this as a prayer for 2009: “Lord, help me to bloom wherever you plant me.”

Secondly, it is rooted. It absorbs its moisture from a constant source of supply. Its life comes not from itself. There is an outside source of nourishment. Paul says in Colossians that just as we received the Lord, to be “rooted in Him” (Col. 2:6). Later he says, “Let the Word dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16).

Our life comes from His life infused into us. It is hidden. We cannot muster up our own spiritual vitality. It happens as we are rooted in Him and drawing strength for Him. I need to dig deeper to draw His power to serve Him, to be a good husband and father. Jesus said, “Apart from Him we can do nothing” (John 15:5). We might not be bearing fruit because we have no roots.

What is the purpose of us being a tree being planted by the stream? The constant source and supply results in fruit and leaves.  In other words, it is the natural by-product of being planted and rooted and well-watered.

Notice it is “fruit in its season.” Bob Deffinbaugh writes, “Just as water does not produce instantaneous growth or fruit in a tree, so the Word of God does not immediately bring us to maturity and fruitfulness. God has ordained that this is a process which takes time, indeed, a different time for each individual. I have several peach trees in my yard and none of them have fruit which matures at the same time. So too, each Christian has his own timetable for growth and productivity. Let us not expect to prosper in some spectacular way which avoids the normal processes and the passing of time. The measure of my prosperity is not necessarily determined by what I am doing at this very moment (although my present status is important).[5] When God ripens an apple, He seems to do it without any noise or spectacular flashes. He takes His time and does it quietly. This was encouraging for me. I just want to stay rooted in Him. God is the Great Gardener. He is pulling some rocks out at times. He is watering me at times. He is pruning some branches other times. Sometimes its soothing and sometimes  it hurts.

In seasons of waiting, the fruit of perseverance and faith. In seasons of prosperity, joy and gratitude. The fruit is not a reward, but the natural result. I like the fact that fruit is mentioned before leaves. Do we have fruit to show or are we just taking up space? Have you ever noticed that certain trees which have no fruit have the branches pointing upward? Trees with fruit have the branches hanging low.

Sometimes I feel I can be all showy with leaves and high pointing branches. I can preach or sing or have a seminary degree. However, sometimes I meet believers who have such a pure love for Jesus Christ. They aren’t flashy or would have anything that would draw you to them. However, they look like Jesus.

The truly blessed man is blessed to be a blessing. We are called not to be reservoirs, but channels. I am encouraged to see some of you sharing what God is teaching you throughout the week and seeking to grow as a result. I have some friends who just love forwarding emails. It seems to be a favorite item of interest for some of my relatives overseas. But I know some people who are so passionate about passing on a verse or a passage or a thought to encourage others. When is the last time you have shared something God is teaching you with someone else?

The Psalmist says that “in all that he does he prospers” (Ps. 1:3). Some have taken this to say, “See, God promises success. This includes that Cadillac and Concorde Jet I want.” I do not think that Scripture promises that for believers. We are promised God will meet our need, not our greed. Instead, I think the Psalmist is referring to the presence and power of God in the life of the believer who has found his delight in the Word of God. It is always good and prosperous for us, for it will glorify Him.

The Psalmist contrasts the firmly planted strong tree to unbelievers who are like chaff. Wiersbe notes, “In contrast to the righteous, who are like trees, the ungodly are dead, rootless, blown about, and destined for the fire. Chaff is worth nothing. When the grain is winnowed, the wind blows the chaff away, and what chaff remains is thrown into the fire.”[6] Trees have life; chaff is dead. Trees are valuable; chaff worth nothing. Trees have stable; chaff is blown away. The day is coming when the Righteous Judge will separate the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the tares and the trees from the chaff.

So the truly blessed person is delighting in the Word and not directed by the world and is flourishing not fading. Lastly,

III.  The truly blessed person is kept by God and not cast out (Ps. 1:5-6)

The scene now shifts to a courtroom. He says the downward spiral of the unbeliever ends up in the garbage heap. So they are not going to “stand” in the judgment because they will be cast away. There is synonymous parallelism here in Ps. 1:5.

Look at the promise for believers in Ps. 1:6. The word know means “to choose, to enter into covenant relationship with, to be personally acquainted with.”[7] One translation giv6 as “For the Lord cherishes the way of the righteous.” At the last judgment, Jesus says to the wicked, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23, nkjv).[8] The issue with the Lord at the end is if we knew Him or not. The Psalm starts with a blessing, but has a grim reality for what happens to those who refuse the blessing….they will perish.

Because we are kept by God and He is acquainted with all my ways. I am not spinning out of control. As I relinquish control of my life, I find Him taking the steering wheel. I find I am continually relinquishing control. I cannot live this life on my own. I need Him to fill me with life and purpose.

Conclusion

As we wrap up here, if you are like me, New Year’s resolutions are really hard to keep. I have tried to read through the Bible in a year several times, but have always stopped because I have fallen behind. I know up to the story of Noah and the Ark really well, because that is where I stop every year! Then we resort to Psalms. Otherwise, we struggle the whole year trying to figure what to read.  I have always wondered though what would happen if I did persevere and exposed myself to God’s Word like that for an entire year. Sometimes we don’t do it because we feel either we don’t get anything out of it, we are bored by it, too busy for it, don’t understand it or don’t think it is important. Satan would want us to wait for us to have the purest of motives before taking on such a task. However, with that kind of thinking it will never happen.

But what if the reason we failed is because we are doing it alone? Now with technology and the way technology really helps us communicate, I want to introduce the EFC Two Year Community Bible Reading Plan. Steve will help me demonstrate this. With the magic of Google documents, we can now create a Bible reading spreadsheet. I will be emailing everyone giving you the link and the access to this spreadsheet. We created a two year reading plan. One year plans have seemed to be too much reading and three years too little, so two seemed ideal. The goal is read the Bible together for 2 years. Once you get access, you can insert your name in one of the columns. You can see which portion is to be read according to the date. Once you read your portion (this should not take you long at all), you make an “x” in the appropriate box. This has been a blessing already for me. I am putting myself on here for accountability. Some readings are good, others are okay, but I am going to keep reading regardless of what I feel. Who is going to join me?
—-

[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms. Originally published: Grand Rapids, Mich. :

Baker Books, c1994-c1998. (Pbk. ed.) (16). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker

Books.

[2] Wiersbe, 12.

[3] Wiersbe, 13.

[4]Bratcher, R. G., & Reyburn, W. D. (1991). A Translator’s Handbook on the

Book of Psalms. Helps for translators (19). New York: United Bible Societies.

[5] http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=514 accessed 9 January 2009.

[6] Wiersbe, 15.

[7] See Gen. 18:19Ex. 33:122 Sam. 7:20 and 2 Tim. 2:19 for other examples  of this meaning of the word “know.”

[8] Wiersbe, 15.

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