Living Blessed [Psalm 1, part 1]

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The book of Psalms in the Old Testament is a collection of prayers and songs that show us what it looks like to live a life with God. The psalms were used in the worship of the people of Israel, both in the Temple and later in the synagogues. The Christian church continues to utilize the Psalms as avenues of prayer and worship to God.

This week, I want to walk through some reflections on Psalm 1. This psalm sets the tone for the entire book of Psalms by contrasting two different ways of life: the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. Or, to put it more plainly, the way of growing life with God or the way of atrophy apart from God. Let’s look at the first verse:

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.

Psalm 1 begins with an important biblical word: blessed. The word ‘blessed,’ as one Bible teachers says, basically “means ‘happy’ in the rich, full sense of happiness rooted in moral and mental and physical wellbeing.”

Being ‘blessed’ is to have the fullness of God’s joy brought into our lives.

Throughout the psalms this idea of being blessed shows up in relation to the way a person lives their lives:

  • “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.” (Psalm 32:1)
  • “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud.” (Psalm 40:4)
  • “Blessed is the one you discipline, LORD, the one you teach from your law.” (Psalm 94:12)

Throughout the psalms, both in these other places and in Psalm 1, the concept of being blessed is a gift from God. On the one hand it is a direct gift from God of His goodness into our lives, while on the other hand it is the indirect result of God’s guidance when we live life in a way that reflects God’s truth. Either way, whether directly or indirectly, blessing is a gift from God.

In Psalm 1, the emphasis found in the contrast calls us to a recognition of a powerful idea: there is a way of living that actually brings us into God’s greatest generosity and goodness to us. As we continue with Psalm 1, we will receive an even more full picture of the blessed life.

[This is the first in a series of posts on Psalm 1.]

Re-speaking God’s Good Words

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If blessing means “to speak good words over something or someone,” what a powerful message of blessing comes to us from Paul’s words in Ephesians 1:3-14. He tells us that God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (1:3). Every spiritual blessing. Just that one word sets the tone of this entire letter. God has not held anything back but pours out the full extent of all His blessings upon believers. So, God speaks good words to the full extent possible upon us. Paul enumerates those blessings one after another:

  • chosen before creation
  • predestined to adoption to sonship
  • redeemed through Christ’s blood
  • forgiveness of sins
  • lavished with God’s grace
  • knowledge of God’s will
  • sealed with the Holy Spirit

It seems not that Paul has run out of blessings to mention, but rather that he has run out of room in the sentence he is writing to contain any more blessings. God speaks all these good realities into us through Christ.

If God speaks so many good words – so many blessings – over our lives, why is it that we speak so many bad words over our lives and the lives of others? Why is it that we fill our moths, our ears, and our lives with all so many negative messages? Why do we erode the abundance of God’s blessings through the poisonous waters of human cursing and negativity?

If God speaks so many good words over our lives, what might it mean to know those good words and to echo them into our lives by recounting them and speaking them forth daily? The old hymns says, “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” Counting our blessings first of all means knowing those blessings, some of which Paul listed for us in Ephesians 1. We need to know the content and significance of the good words that God has spoken over our lives. Secondly, it means speaking those good words over our lives again and again. Maybe today we just pick up those words of blessing and say, “I have been lavished with God’s grace. I’ve been forgiven. I’ve been redeemed in Christ.” When we re-speak God’s good words over our lives it keeps us centered in what is true. Thirdly, counting our blessings means giving God praise with our mouths for the blessings He has given to us. God blesses us and we bless Him back. God speaks good words over us and we speak good words over Him in return.

When we not only hear the blessings of God but re-speak them over our lives, our outlook changes. We are not limited by our circumstances but are transformed through the truth of God’s blessings. Even if many things do not change, we know who we are and whose we are in God through Christ.

Praise: concluding the Psalms of Ascent

We concluded our journey with the Psalms of Ascent in our series Ascend by looking at Psalm 134 this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. I walked slowly through this three-verse text before focusing on two tools for spiritual growth that this psalm directs our attention toward.

Below you can view the video and sermon outline of this final message of the Ascend series, “Praise.” You can follow the entire series at our web-site, through the Eastbrook app, or through our audio podcast. We also have a reading plan for this series, which you can access here.

 

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Chaff

Rooted sermon slideI concluded our series, “Rooted,” from Psalm 1 this weekend at Eastbrook Church. My message, “Chaff,” looked at the final three verses:

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.

You can listen to my message, “Chaff,” at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow the RSS feed for Eastbrook sermons or follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter or Facebook. My message outline is included below:

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Roots

Rooted sermon slideI launched us into a new series, “Rooted,” this weekend at Eastbrook Church. The entire series comes from Psalm 1, and my message this morning looked at the first two verses:

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.

You can listen to my message, “Roots,” at the Eastbrook web-site here. You can also follow the RSS feed for Eastbrook sermons or follow Eastbrook Church on Twitter or Facebook. My message outline is included below:

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