How To Be Blessed…

Psalm 1:1-2 (NIV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law, day and night.

Our Verse of the Day affords us some advice on how to experience a blessed life. The state of blessedness or contentment in life is centered on delighting ourselves in our Creator … God the Father … and the reality of His being and nature. God is Spirit. God is Light. God is Love. Yes, God IS (I AM). And He has lovingly revealed Himself to His creation through creation itself … through the presence of His Spirit … and through His Word.  So, I want us to examine the full context of Psalm 1:

Psalm 1:1-6 (NIV)

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on His law, day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do 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 leads to destruction.

BLESSED IS

I think we should understand this concept of being or feeling blessed. The definition here connotates the idea of happiness; bringing pleasure or contentment; well-being. We could render the text: HAPPY IS; CONTENT IS; FORTUNATE IS.  But BLESSED also signifies something or someone being made holy; sacred; consecrated; or sanctified. There is an idea of receiving God’s favor in response to faithfulness – a resolve to follow His commandments, laws, and statutes as an act of love and worship. You can compare the use here with those declarations Jesus made in His “Sermon on the Mount” (Cf. Matthew 5-7)

BLESSED IS the person who does not walk in the counsel of the ungodly…

Happy, content, and consecrated is the person who does not live according to the world culture or its system. This draws attention to whom we associate … our peer group … our friends. Do we allow ourselves to blend into the “progressive” culture and to be morally influenced by it? “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight.” (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:18-20) And, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Cf. Romans 12:2) Above all, we should seek the counsel of the LORD. (Cf. Job 12:13; Psalm 16:7; Psalm 32:8; Psalm 73:24; Psalm 119:24; Isaiah 11:2)

BLESSED IS the person who does not stand in the way of sinners…

Happy, content, and consecrated is the person who is not enticed with the lifestyle of sinners. The path of sinners leads them to destruction … and there are many who travel along this broad road. (Cf. Matthew 7:13) Those who follow Christ Jesus are called to live holy and godly lives – especially in light of His imminent return. (Cf. 2 Peter 3:11-12) As Paul affirmed, “The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” (Cf. Galatians 5:16-21)

BLESSED IS the person who does not sit in the seat of the scornful…

Someone who is scornful shows contempt, disdain, or derision toward another person. They openly express dislike, disrespect, or mockery – often filled with derision or indignation. Such people are known as “scoffers” and represent much of the irreverent, disrespectful, contemptuous behavior we witness within the “progressive” culture. And I believe much of the contempt and vitriol we witness is directed at people of faith, and in particular, those with Christian values. While we know that Jesus warned us persecution would be experienced by believers (Cf. John 15:20); I believe it will not be long before we will be voicing what even the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 119:86: “All your commands are trustworthy; help me, for I am being persecuted without cause.”

Before we look at the resolve believers will need to not be deceived by the world or its demonic influences, I would like to point out the downward moral decline we can see unfolding in this passage. The downward path away from God begins with walking (being shaped and influenced by) or joining ourselves with ungodly people. Hanging out with the wrong crowd and trying to “belong” can set a person on course of trouble and self-destruction. As Paul warned, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.” (Cf. 2 Corinthians 6:14) And then standing (being still and stationary) with that same crowd and participating in their unrighteous lifestyle can take hold of that person; and they begin lose a moral conscience about their conduct or behavior. As Paul warned, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Cf. Romans 1:21) Finally, the descent into sin will culminate in a defiant, rebellious, unrepentant attitude. The person found sitting (committed and engaged) in the crowd of scoffers will become openly hostile and against God or anyone who expresses faith in Him. I think we see this demise of the culture happening right now and all across the world. As Paul warned: “Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” (Cf. Romans 1:32)

And Paul warned, “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” (Cf. 1 Timothy 4:1) Further, Paul affirmed: “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.” (Cf. 2 Timothy 3:1-5) This looks like a prophetic description of what we are witnessing within a culture that is embracing those who walk, stand, and then sit in the depravity of sinful human nature….

BLESSED IS the person who makes their delight in the law of the Lord (Word of God) … who meditates on it day and night.

What can a person do to avoid the broad road that leads to destruction? The Psalmist indicates that we should delight” ourselves in the law of the Lord and “meditate” upon His Word daily. This is the key to the happiness and contentment of a life consecrated to God. As King David affirmed: “Praise the Lord. Blessed are those who fear the Lord, who find great delight in His commands.” (Cf. Psalm 112:1) Yes, what we find in the Word of God is wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, strength, and reverence for His Holiness. We find the path to receive the fullness of His grace and favor … the blessings of reconciliation, salvation, and peace. Indeed, His Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. (Cf. Psalm 119:105)

And so, I pray that this Verse of the Day will continue to inspire us to read the Scriptures and the whole counsel of His Word. I pray that we will deeply ponder what the Word of God imparts and reveals to us about our sanctification; and I pray it will encourage us to walk by the Spirit so that we will not gratify the desires of our sinful human nature. Indeed, what a comfort and blessing it is to know that our Sovereign God … Father and Creator … wants to bless us and to have intimacy with us through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He watches over the way of the righteous … He is the One who sustains us! Let us give Him all the praise and thanksgiving … glory and honor.  In Jesus Name, I pray. Amen. 

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!

Verse of the Day – 01/25/19

Philippians 4:8

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

It has been busy for me the past several days, but I have not forgotten about our Verse of the Day.  It was interesting because when I read them each morning, I was surprised to see verses we had already covered in the commentaries on temptation and holiness earlier in the week . So I thought that it would be redundant to the send them on….  For your reference:

Verse of the Day                    January 23, 2019

James 1:5       If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

Verse of the Day                    January 24, 2019

Galatian 6:1   Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

This brings us to our current verse – which to me is related to our continuing theme of personal consecration, but moves us to another “strategy” in the pursuit of holiness.  Up to this point we had looked to prayer and spiritual empowerment … and taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ. (cf. 2 Corinthians 10:4-5) But here Paul encourages us to take a proactive approach with our thought life – the wellspring which drives our behavior. He says: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink about such things.  What thoughts in this list do we need to take captive to make it obedient to Christ?

True:              Conformable to an essential reality.                                       Sanctify them by the Truth; Your Word is Truth. (John 17:17)

Noble:             Having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.  A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. (Proverbs 31:29)

Right:             Being in accordance with what is just, good, or proper.             If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” (Genesis 4:7)

Pure:              Unmixed with any other matter; spotless; absolute.              Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Psalm 51:10)

Lovely:           Delightful for beauty, harmony, or grace; attractive.             How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord Almighty! (Psalm 84:1)

Admirable:    Deserving the highest esteem; praiseworthy; excellent. I will make known the Lord’s faithful love and the Lord’s praiseworthy acts, because of all the Lord has done for us— even the many good things He has done for the house of Israel, which He did for them based on His compassion and the abundance of His faithful love.

Paul asserts that we are to meditate on these types of thoughts.  Meditate on what is true; moral; good; pure; attractive; and praiseworthy.  But we all have to remember that our thoughts come from our inner being … our hearts … yes, our souls.

Genesis 6:5 (NIV)
The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 

Matthew 15:18-20 (NIV)
But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20 These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.”

And therein lies the challenge for us to think about the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable .  The attributes of these thoughts have to come from our hearts as well.  So it is imperative that our hearts are changed.  Yet only God can change a person’s heart.  And here is how God does it:

Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.

Interesting!  The Word of God has been declared by Christ Jesus as the Truth!  And it is the Word of God (Truth) that changes the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts!  Jesus, who is the Word of God, said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) If you want the Truth to fill your life … to transform you and renew your mind … then you need Jesus!  He is everything that is true; He is noble and exemplifies the highest moral principles; He is righteous and His judgements are true; He is pure, holy and sinless; He is altogether lovely, full of compassion and grace; and He is admirable, praiseworthy, and the most excellent of men!  If you need something; or rather, someone to adjust your thinking … to reset your mindset … just look to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith (cf. Hebrews 12:2) Let Jesus captivate your thoughts and meditate on Him!  Then you will discover the “way out” God promise:s to you and me to endure temptation….)

When our faithful God promised to not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear, He provided us a way out so that we could endure it.  That WAY is Jesus!  Meditating on Jesus (His character, attributes, and teachings) enables us to transcend and endure temptation WHEN it comes.  The closer we draw to Him … the more we submit ourselves to Him.  The more we submit ourselves to Him … the more we are empowered to resist the devil so that he will flee from us. (cf. James 4:7-8) Can you imagine that scene?  Satan running away from us?  That roaring lion seeking someone to devour in retreat?  All we have to do is meditate on Jesus. As Paul urged us: “Just think on these things” and let them drive your behavior.  My friend, I pray you will know that the God of peace is with you, and His peace will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (cf. Philippians 4:7) Yes, God has assured us victory in the midst of temptation.  We can endure it, and Jesus is the Way!  Amen.

So Now You Know…

Have a Blessed Day!