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.]
Here are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Deep – Wide – Multiplied,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This was our ministry kick-off weekend as a church.
- What are you looking forward to most in your life as you move from Summer into Fall?
- This weekend we are focusing our attention on starting well with God as we kick-off our ministry year together at Eastbrook. We are anchoring ourselves in Psalm 1. Before starting this study, ask God to clearly speak to you in meaningful ways. Then, whether you are alone or with others, read Psalm 1 aloud.
- Psalm 1 describes the life that is “blessed.” From what you read here, or what you know about other parts of the Bible, what other words might you use to describe what it means to be blessed?
- Identify at least five specific ways – maybe more! – in which you have experienced the blessing of God in your life these days.
- Pastor Matt focused us in on three main words this weekend: deep – wide – multiplied. Let’s focus on the first of those words: deep. From Psalm 1:1-2, what would you say are some key aspects of going deep with God?
- How are you growing deep now? What is one way that you want to grow deeper with God individually or with other during these next twelve months?
- The second word, “wide,” conveys the sense of God’s blessing moving out from our lives into the lives of others. Read Abraham’s call from God in Genesis 12:1-3. What does this passage remind us about the intention of God’s goodness and joy in our lives?
- One area of focus for us this year is actively sharing our faith with others. Who is one person with whom or what is one sphere of your life where you sense God calling you to boldly enter conversations with others who are far from God?
- The seeds of the fruit remind us that the good and happy life God gives to us should be multiplied into the lives of others. What do you think it looks like for you to help develop others around you into fruitful, life-giving trees of God?
- What is one way God is speaking to you about your life with Him in the coming year? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about these things together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.
This past weekend at Eastbrook Church we kicked-off our ministry year with a vision sermon entitled “Deep – Wide – Multiplied.” This message aimed to focus us in for the year here at Eastbrook around three key movements of the good and happy life with God seen in Psalm 1.
You can connect with us further at Eastbrook Church on Vimeo, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or listen to the message via our audio podcast here.
Since most people I know do not live a rural, agrarian societies, I thought I’d share this video clip about chaff that helped me have a visual picture for my message, this past weekend, “Chaff,” from Psalm 1:4-6:
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.
This past weekend during my message from Psalm 1:4-6, “Chaff,” I spent some time talking about the importance of Bible memorization for our growth as followers of Jesus Christ.
One of the priorities we are working on together at Eastbrook Church is “to grow as a disciple-making church.” If we truly want to be disciples – followers – of Jesus Christ, not just church attenders or religious cheerleaders on the sidelines, then we need to take seriously the call to order our lives around the life and teaching of Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Scripture memorization helps us to do this by taking mere reading of Scripture and turning it into a tool for further reflection toward a God-focused life. (Click here for some aids for Scripture memorization.)
I said I would be happy to share a list of my top Bible verses to memorize. While I think the entire Bible is important and would encourage everyone to read through all of the Bible, I recommend these 15 Scripture passages as good places to start in committing God’s truth into our memory:
- John 3:16-17 – these two short verses provide a helpful summary of the gospel
- Romans 3:23 & 6:23 – Paul outlines the power of sin and the power of the gospel in Jesus Christ in a powerful way in these two key verses
- 1 John 1:9 – a simple description of the power of forgiveness found in Jesus Christ
- Mark 12:29-31 – ‘The Great Commandment’ – Jesus answers a question about what the greatest of all God’s commandments is by bringing together love for God with love for othersRead More »