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Living the Blessed Life

Today, I want to look at the first three verses of Psalm 1.  What a powerful Psalm.  It is the first of 150 Psalms that give us a look into “How Do the Righteous Worship.”  Listen to the words:

              "1Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, not sits in the seat of the scornful.  2But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law does he meditate day and night.   3And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper…" Psalm 1:1-3

This is describing the righteous man, the righteous woman.  He is describing the godly person in contrast to the ungodly person.  The ungodly are described in verses 4-6 while the godly are portrayed in verses 1-3.  He says that the righteous man, the godly man is the blessed man!

Did you know that when you became a born-again Christian you immediately fell into this category?  Wow!  I am blessed!  Ephesians chapter one tells us that we are blessed.  It says that we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus in heavenly places.  One can only truly be blessed when they are IN CHRIST JESUS.  What does blessed mean in Psalm 1?

It can be translated as happy.  Happy is the man…  It comes from a primitive Hebrew word meaning to be straight.  To walk straight.  The New Testament tells us that "straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leads to life."  The straight walk is a narrow walk.  Straight carries the idea of limits, or boundaries.  Notice in Psalm one it says, "Blessed is the man who walks NOT, stands NOT, sits NOT."  Do you see limitation?  Do you see boundaries?  He is a man who is careful who He walks with, stands with and sits with.  That calls for discretion and choices and boundaries.  He is a man who has set limits on his behavior and the company he keeps.  This does not mean that we must exit the public arena and live in a cave.  We don't become monks or hermits.  No.  But we must remember that while we are IN this world we are not OF this world.  So, the blessed man/woman is known not only by what he/she DOES, but by what he/she does NOT.  The blessed man is happy and lives a life of meaning and purpose.  Let's go a bit further.

Why is the blessed man happy?  Well, it makes sense that he or she would be happy simply because they are living a life of meaning and purpose!  Before you were saved, life was mere existence.  No purpose, no meaning, no joy, no real fulfillment.  Think of this.  Have you ever played a game of basketball with some friends or even on an organized team?  What makes the game meaningful?  What gives it order, and purpose?  What makes it a fun game to play?  I remember in High School we played basketball in Gym class with the guys.  The teacher would say: "Today, we are going to play without rules!"  He called it "Cowboy Basketball".  Anything goes!  NO rules!  This was not to my liking.  Why?  Because everybody did what they wanted to do!  They would scratch, claw, jab, ride on your back, knock you down, and carry the ball instead of dribbling the ball. There was no "out of bounds".   It reminds me of the verse in the book of Judges the last chapter the last verse where it says: "There was no King in Israel and every man did that which was right in his own eyes".  There was no right or wrong.  Each person was a law unto himself.  Well, this is what happens when there are no rules.  But when there are guidelines and a referee to call the game it becomes meaningful.  The rules of the game bring purpose and meaning to the game and it is a joy to be a part.  When a child has no limits, or no boundaries they can become self-centered, manipulative and disrespectful of authority not to mention just plain unhappy.  I have experienced also that children brought up with boundaries and rules in accordance with love are better adjusted and happy.  I know, for I was one of those children.  I didn't like my parent's rules at times, but one thing I knew; they loved me.  When I was a youth pastor many years ago, teens would come into my office crying in shame for the life they were living.  They often told me they had no boundaries.  They could come home anytime they wanted, and their parents had no regard for their arriving late or not at all.  They felt their parents didn't love them.  I asked them if they wished they had limits, or boundaries.  The answer was yes.  The same is true with a Christian.  As we live within the boundaries of His Word, we experience freedom, joy, true blessing and happiness.  Listen to the what the scripture says:

"Where there is no vision, the people perish, but He that keeps the law, happy is he."  Proverbs 29:18

This is a most powerful verse of scripture to help us see the importance of the Word of God in our lives as Christians.  Let's look at this word VISION.  In the Hebrew text this word vision means "word".  In I Samuel chapter 3 verse 1 it says:

              "The word of the Lord was precious (rare) in those days, there was no open vision."  

There it is.  Vision.  The word of the Lord was a rare commodity back then. There was no open word.  Let's quote Proverbs again substituting "word" for "vision".

              "Where there is no word the people perish…"

Now, let's take the word "perish".  What is the meaning of this word?  Perish in the Hebrew means to cast off restraint.  It means to dissolve.  It means to lose that which holds something together.  One could say to come unglued.  So, we have:

              "Where there is no word from God, the people cast off restraint."

Wow!  How cool is this?  So, what restrains us?  What keeps us from coming unglued?  Yes, you are right!  The Word of God.  Listen to the scripture:

              "Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee."  Psalm 119:11

I can see that His Word keeps us in bounds.  It is His Word that helps keep us from sin.  His Word will let us know when we are out of bounds.  Now, let's remind ourselves of the whole verse in Proverbs 29:18

              "Where there is no word from God, the people cast off restraint, but He that keeps the law (word) HAPPY IS HE!"  (emphasis mine)

Can you see blessing? Can you see happiness?  The blessed life is the life that is lived within the boundaries of His Word.  Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.  By contrast, a life lived in rebellion to His Word always ends up meaningless, empty, unhappy and yes, without God and without hope.  I know I keep saying this, but it is something that cannot be overemphasized.  I am the happiest when I am living within the boundaries of His will for my life as I know it to be in His Word.  So, what are the conditions for this happy, blessed life that we are to live?  They fall into two categories.  One is negative and the other positive.  The first one is stated in the first verse.

"Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful."

Some just do not like the negative.  However, it is sometimes very necessary to know what something is NOT in order to get a better understanding of what something IS.

So, the blessed man is someone who does NOT walk, stand or sit with certain types of individuals.  

  • The man who walks is moving.  He is going in a certain direction.  In this case, he is walking in the counsel of the ungodly.  Let's call it, OTHER'S COUNSEL.
  • The man who is standing has stopped moving.  He is pondering and listening.  In this case, he is standing in the way of sinners.  Let's call this, OTHER'S CONDUCT.
  • The man who is sitting has stopped walking and standing, and has now taken a more permanent, fixed position of disdain.  Let's call this, OTHER'S CONTEMPT.

Can you see a downward motion in their behavior?  It begins with walking in the counsel of those who do not take God into account.  Counsel here is purpose, will, desire, or resolve.  We are not to walk in the purpose, or plan or desires of the ungodly.  If continued in, there will be a time when we cease to walk and begin to stand in the way of sinners.  This is a further step downward.  It has gone from counsel to conduct.  Refuse to go in the direction of the ungodly and refuse also to go from thoughts to practice.  Sin starts in the mind.   As this progression continues, having gone from counsel to conduct, the person then takes the third downward step.  He or she sits in the seat of the scornful. From counsel to conduct to contempt.  Whoa!  This has gone from bad to worse!  Scorn is to mock, deride, make sport, and to treat with disinterest.  He or she now smiles at the things that used to convict him.  The faith of his mother is now something he looks at as just an over zealousness; being out of touch with the real world.  There was a time when they used to commend their mother's faith, but now, they just pour contempt upon it.

Lord, thank you for opening my spiritual eyes to see the greatness of your love and forgiving power through the blood of Jesus!

Ah, but now, the positive condition of the blessed man.  What is it?  Look at verse two of Psalm one.

    "But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law does he meditate day and night."         

This condition is twofold.  The first is that he or she delights in the law of the Lord.  The second is that he or she meditates in that law day and night.  What is delighting in the Word of the Lord?  Good question.  One dictionary says, to be soft, pliable.  Another from a Hebrew dictionary explains it this way. "The primary meaning seems to be, to bend; to bend towards; and applied to the will, it implies entire and full inclination towards an object or person; to will anything, is to purpose that in the doing of which he shall find pleasure."  Whoa!  How cool is this?  To bend toward.  In the bending we find a distinct joy and pleasure for we are bending to His will and not ours!  Listen to it: "But his delight is in the law of the Lord…"  His bending is towards the law of the Lord.  Lord, may we prefer this Book over other books for in our bending towards you, we find the greatest pleasure and delight.  Christian, the best way to be shaped and conformed into His image is to have the right attitude towards His Word.  Let it form your convictions and boundaries for your life.  Lean in towards His Word and allow it to adjust you, shape you and then the initiative for your actions in life will change.  He will take the initiative, not you.  When that happens, you don't get ahead of God and do something foolish like Abraham did.  What did Abraham do?  He was told he was going to have a son in his old age with Sarah, his wife.  When it didn't happen, he took matters into his own hands.  Have you ever done that?   The result was the birth of Ishmael.  Abraham got ahead of God and acted on his own initiative.
Listen to these verses about delighting.

  • Psalm 112:1 "Blessed is the man who delights greatly in His commandments."
  • Psalm 119:35  "Make me walk in thy commands, for in them, I delight."
  • Psalm 37:4 "Delight thyself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."

Something to think about.  Maybe our desires would be more in tune with the Lord's if we were more flexible, and bendable to His Word and His will.   Maybe this is a reason why our desires are not being granted or fulfilled.  When was the last time you complained that the Lord never gives you what you wanted, or desired?  Perhaps it's not God at all who is to blame.  Maybe it's me.  Ever thought of that?  Maybe I haven’t been as "delighting" in His law as I should.  If I'm not bending to His will, why is it a surprise that joy, pleasure, true delight and the desires of my heart are evading me?  It's my attitude towards God that is hindering the guiding hand of God!  My pastor shared the following words with me over 30 years ago and I never forgot them.  He said, "The attitude of your heart towards God establishes the basis of guidance from God."  What powerful words.  What has been your attitude towards God?  Do you delight in His Word, or do you grumble at His Word?  I used to grumble at it.  Really.  I still have issues sometimes.  But my heart's desire is to bend.  My heart's cry is, Lord, create in me a clean heart.  He knows our weaknesses.  We must admit them to the Savior.  He sees the attitude of my heart.  Yet, He wants ME to see it, also.  Then, I can go forward.  His guidance will become clearer and clearer day by day.  Be patient with the Lord.  Don't hurry Him.  To hurry Him is find fault with Him.  We all want the Lord to guide us.  We cry out to Him for it.  We say, "Lord, what is your will for my life?"  I hear Him saying to me, "Your delight should be in the law of the Lord."  "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart."  He will GIVE you the desires of your heart.  He will give you desires that blend with His, mesh with His and then your will and His will be on the same page.  Hallelujah!  Don"t start with you and your problems.  Start with God! Ask Him to help you delight in His Word.  Start there.  Watch the transformation.

"And in His law does he meditate day and night." 

Meditate.  What does this mean?  A person who is bending and willing for the Word to impact their life is a person who gives due consideration to this act of meditating on His Word.  Notice I said meditating on HIS WORD.  Meditate means to think.  To muse is another word.  Have you ever gone to an amusement park like Six Flags, or Cedar Point, or Disney World?  They have roller coasters and rides of every sort.  Why are they called "amusement" parks?  Because it's a place where you do not have to think! A-Musement.  The letter "A" makes the word negative.  It means "no-thinking".  It's fun!  You put your mind on hold for the day and have a great time!  I love amusement parks!  But when it's over, I go back to the work a day world.  I must return to the humdrum routine of life.  And my problems are still causing me grief and worry.  I can say, however, that it is much better to "think" on His Word.  To meditate on the scriptures is to roll over and over in my heart and mind what His Word says.  Another word to describe this is "ruminating".  What is ruminating?  It is what a cow does when it eats.  It chews the cud!  Ah, now we're getting somewhere!  When a cow chews the cud it eats, swallows, regurgitates, and then does it again and again.  The cow is continually absorbing or sucking the nutrients out of the grass it is eating time and time again so it can receive as much benefit out of the food as possible.  Wow.  This is great!  THAT'S what you do when you meditate on His Word!  Oh, somebody needs to say, AMEN!  Start now to do this and you will find yourself on the receiving end of this most fantastic experience.

Well, what is that, you ask?  Listen to it.  Here is what you can expect.

              "And he shall be like a tree planted by the river of water, that brings forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."

Can you see it?  Look at it.  He shall be:
  1. A planted tree - Like a tree planted
  2. A stable tree - By the river of water
  3. A useful tree - Brings forth fruit
  4. A consistent tree - Leaf does not wither
  5. A prosperous tree - Whatsoever He does shall prosper

He compares you and me to a tree!  A tree is a living organism.  It grows and develops.  You and I are expected to grow and develop.  When you were born again, you began a journey called eternal life in Jesus.  When a baby is born, they grow!  Right?  A blessed man is a growing man.  A blessed woman is one who is growing in grace and developing into a tree that is stable, useful, consistent, and prosperous.  Ah, prosperous!  This is a most exciting term for a lot of people.  Who doesn't want to prosper?  As we bring this to a conclusion, we will look at the prosperity of this blessed individual.

How does this read in the Hebrew text?  Why is it important to know this?  Because there are many who can get a wrong idea of this prosperity.  They immediately, as would be obvious, think that prosperity means cash, money, things.  Not only that, but when one knows of what the psalmist is intending for us, it opens the floodgates of understanding and causes one to stand up and rejoice!  Really!  You need this!  I need this!  Why?  I am talking to someone who has been questioning God's goodness. Asking why they are in this predicament, or trouble or situation.  You are wondering why; asking how long, and it's causing you to become bitter, impatient and discouraged.  The devil is telling you to quit this whole thing.  It's not worth all the sorrow, the pain and price.  But I'm telling you to hold on!  The psalmist is telling you to keep delighting, keep meditating, keep walking in the straight path.  The psalmist is encouraging you to hang on to your blessing!  Don't allow the enemy to sabotage your salvation and talk you into giving up on the Lord!  The Lord didn't cause this trial in your life, but He is using it for HIS GLORY and YOUR GOOD!  Don't forget that.  Have you ever thought the reason you may be going through this as a believer is because the Devil knows you surrendered your life to Jesus Christ, you are a new creature in Christ, and now there is something about you the Devil is worried about?  Hallelujah!  This is for YOU!

Listen to it: "And whatsoever he doeth, shall prosper."

First, the word prosper means, "to be brought to a good conclusion".  Whoa!  Did you see that?  It means to "make it to the journeys end".  Wow!  Say what?  It carries the idea of arriving at your destination all in one piece.  In the Hebrew text, the phrase is best said this way:

             
"And in whatsoever he does, he himself, will be brought to the journey's end." (a good conclusion, all in one piece)

I can say this is good news!  What do I mean?  Look at what it does NOT say.  It does not say, "And whatsoever he does shall prosper".  That's not always true, is it?  No.  It says, "In whatsoever he does, he himself shall prosper."   This is a totally different thing.  The man who delights in God's Word, who bends to it, meditates on it and walks not, stands not, and sits not is the man who shall be brought to a good conclusion of things and arrive there in one piece!  So, in the end, it's not whether you succeed in the world's eyes or fail; it's the man or the woman you have become in the process!  Your success is not found in what people think of you, but in what God thinks of you.  Your success is not to be found in whether you are rich or have had no troubles or trials in this life.  Success is to be determined by whether you are in His will, being a vessel of honor for His glory.  This gives us a perspective on life that will keep us in perfect peace.  This enables us to have the attitude of whatever happens, good or bad, yes or no, up or down, we will make it to the journey's end and be able to stand before the King of Kings not having my own righteousness, but HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS.  And you will be able to say that in all my journey in this life; with all the troubles and trials I have had to endure; with all the devil has tried to throw at me, I'M STILL HERE!  I'M STILL SERVING THE LORD!  And what the devil meant for evil in my life, God meant for good!  You yourself have prospered.  The providence of God is working in your life.  The providence of God is that act of God whereby He works ALL events to fulfill His purpose.  Good events and not so good.  Amen!  You may not have any money, but that's ok.  You may not look successful, but that's ok.  You have a treasure that goes beyond what money can buy.  II Corinthians 4:7 says:

   "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not of us.  We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted but not forsaken; cast down but not destroyed."    

The pressure on your life will not succeed in crushing you.  Why?  Because you have this treasure in earthen vessels.  The treasure is JESUS!  He is inside of you working all things together for good.  Take the illustration of a machine called a bathysphere.  It is a small submarine used to go down into deep water where the pressure is so great, it would crush a normal submarine like an aluminum pop can!  The small submarine compensates for this pressure using steel plates several inches thick.  When the submarine goes down into the water several hundred feet down, they discover that they are not the only ones down there!  There are FISH in those depths of the ocean.  The fish are swimming with no problem.  They are not being crushed by the pressure!  Why?  They don't have thick steel plates.  So, what is it that enables them to survive the tremendous pressure?  God has created them with a built-in pressure system.  Inside the fish is a pressure equal to the outside pressure pushing against them!  This is what you have!  Christ in you is the treasure in the vessel pushing against the pressures of this world.  You will not go down!  You will not crumble!  You will not be destroyed.  You may be troubled, yes, and on every side, but Paul says, yet not distressed!  You are perplexed, yes, but not in despair!  You may be persecuted, yes, but you are not forsaken!  Why? Because you have a treasure in you that is equal to and greater than the pressure that is coming against you!  So, rejoice!  You are going to make it to the journey's end, to a good conclusion!  Why?  Because "GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN YOU, THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD"!

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