Posted by: lepages | August 1, 2011

How to be blessed!

These are the notes from the first of a series of preaches I’ve done from the Psalms. If you’d prefer to listen to the preach you can do so from the Sermon’s Download page on the Rutland Road Church website

How to be blessed….
Psalm 1

Introduction
We all like to be blessed!! It’s common in British culture if someone sneezes, to say ‘Bless you.’ And often people reply, ‘Thank you’ – usually between snivels and catching their breath!!

What we often fail to realise is that ‘Bless you’ is short for ‘God bless you’

What is also falling out of recognition is that the whole concept of blessing is that it is something which comes from God. Now we talk about something or someone being a blessing without realising what lies behind the whole concept, so we’ll say ‘Oh, that was a blessing!’ Or ‘So and so is such a blessing’.

Wikipedia defines blessing as ‘blessing is the infusion of something with holiness, divine will, or one’s hope or approval.’

The online dictionary, Dictionary.com hints at the divine origins of blessing, defining blessing as:-

the act or words of a person who blesses.
a special favour, mercy, or benefit
a favour or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.

The final part of that definition hints on to another dimension of the word blessed – the blessing of God brings happiness to our beings.

A number of translations replace the word ‘Blessed’ with the word ‘happy’ – Good News Bible does this, as does New Century Version. Holman Christian Standard Bible starts the psalm:-

‘How happy is the man…’

And herein is the truth, being blessed by God, living under his favour, brings pleasure, delight, joy, happiness to our lives.

The Amplified Bible in its normal inimitable way puts in an expansion of the word ‘blessed’ to give us an idea of the breadth and depth of it’s meaning:-

Blessed (Happy, fortunate, prosperous and enviable) is the man….

Psalm 1 sets out a clear contrast.

Do you want your life to be blessed, to know happiness, then live this way!
On the other hand if you choose to go your own way and fall into the wrong track, then this is what happens…..

There’s a wonderful 2 track parody going on in this psalm.
On the one hand there are the incredible blessings which cause a person to be seen as happy, fortunate, prosperous, enviable, as the Amplified Bible puts it.
On the other hand for those who choose not to walk in the way of God’s blessing, there is the portrayal of negative results.
So, if you want to be blessed by God, what does this psalm tell us you need to do??

Well actually, it speaks more about what you need not to do, than what you need to do!

The reality is that God loves to bless his people – we can’t do anything to earn his blessing
but we can live our lives in such a way that we live outside of his blessing!

And that’s what the psalm writer addresses first – and he picks up three strands.
The NET Bible puts the first strand well:-
‘How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked…’

Why would be blessed by not following the advice of the wicked?

If we look to others for advice, maybe we fail to hear the one from whom the best advice can come. Maybe the advice we receive is tainted as a result of different values.

It’s a big issue isn’t it.
You’re facing tough decisions about your life.
Do you take the advice of your peer group at work, at college, at school, or do you seek God for his wisdom?

NET Bible puts second strand like this:-
‘…or stand in the pathway with sinners…’

There’s a real struggle and tension here. The danger is we swing from one end of the pendulum swing to the other.

In the church I grew up in we were taught that we should be in the world, but not of the world – based on Jesus’ teaching in his prayer in John 17. This was interpreted as meaning we should not do anything ‘worldly’, which pretty much meant anything that fell outside of the cultural experience of the leaders of the church. We were encouraged to live a separatist sort of lifestyle…..

BUT…. the difficulty is Jesus didn’t do that!!

He was known as a friend of sinners and tax collectors. He hung out with prostitutes, outcasts from society, drunkards, gluttons.

The danger of the pendulum swing in response to what I grew up with is that we end up not only ‘in’ the world, but also ‘of’ the world -our values, our habits are the same as those around us.
We have the same materialistic aims in life. We are seekers after pleasure and find that pleasure fulfilled in the wrong places.

I think this phrase ‘standing in the pathway with sinners’ is really helpful.
It implies that we are going with them; will I head with them along their track.
So when I go out with some mates, do I drink to excess along with them?
Do I enter into conversation, or worse, that goes below the belt?
Do I share in the illicit substances that are passed around?

But why would these things limit our ability to be blessed by God?
Jesus spoke about two roads – a broad road, which many walk down which leads ultimately to destruction and a narrow way which leads to life, which only a few find.
If you’re looking down the wrong path, you’ll not find the blessings which are there on the right path.
There’s a progression that runs through this verse – from walking, to standing, to sitting.

Sitting implies being in a relaxed state; feeling ‘at home’.

If we are ‘at home’ in an environment where God’s values are mocked, where the world’s view of things is the way we see things, where our counsel is rooted in values that aren’t of God, then we will miss out on the blessings which are there for us to receive from God.

Jesus contrasted these values when he said ‘You cannot serve both God and Money’ (Luke 16:13)

The writer of the psalm, interestingly contrasts the life of someone who lives under God’s blessing with the life of someone who doesn’t – comparing them to the struggles of our natural world.

I love walking along by the river, especially in Bedford’s hidden beauty spot in Queens Park.
The trees are often so beautiful.
Why?
Because they are blessed with a plentiful supply of water as they are close to the river.
They seem to stay green even in a hot, dry summer – as we seem to be having in relative terms.
Where some would struggle for water and wither these trees don’t because they’re close to a water supply.
The result, is that they are able to bear fruit (except that most of the trees aren’t fruit bearing trees.

Contrast that with the long grasses that grow further from the river and how the wind just blows them away.

One of our number does a great job supplying folk with lovely tomato plants.
I foolishly planted mine out on a windy day.
Later that day I found one of them snapped off.

That’s what happens when we live outside of God’s blessing – when the wind, the tough times in life come along, we can just get blown away!

In September, in our church day away, we’re going to think about what it means to be grounded and rooted in God, in his Word, in his love and in his Spirit.

And its being grounded and rooted in him which will make us able to stand up in the tough times.

This is what the psalm writer says – the product of living near the river, of continually having the flow of God’s blessing in our lives is that we prosper. We are happy, fortunate, prosperous and enviable, as the Amplified Bible puts it.

So how can we be like a tree planted by streams of water?
The psalm writer makes it clear.
He says the things we need to avoid – firstly not walking in, following the counsel of the wicked; secondly not standing in the way of sinners; and thirdly not sitting in a place which mocks our faith in God through its actions, words, thoughts, behaviour.

And then the contrast – the place to be!

V2 ‘his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night…’

If you want a steady stream of water to bless your life, to make you grow, to enable you to bear fruit, to make you prosper in your life, to enable you to be happy, fortunate, prosperous and enviable, then your roots need to go down into God’s word and you need to feed on it, to get sustenance from it, to let it fill every part of your being.

It will guide you in the way to live.
It will make you aware of the blessings God wants you to receive.
It will renew your mind so that you no longer think all the time in corrupted ways which hold you back from the blessing God has for your life.

Jesus said, when facing temptation to live in the world’s ways, looking to self and our needs first, ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ (Matthew 4:4)

We need to feed on the word of God consistently, regularly – dipping in to it on a Sunday and at cell group is like fasting for 5 days of the week and then trying to gorge ourselves.

To be fit and to be healthy we need to eat and drink regularly every day.

To be in a place where we can be blessed by God, so that we are like a tree planted by streams of water, bearing fruit, prospering in whatever we do, because we do it in God’s way rather than our own way, because we are looking to him, rather than to the values of the world, we need to drink and feed from his word each day.

If you need help doing that there are all sorts of aids to help you with that.
There are apps which will link into your phone, there are email and text messaging services, there are online reading plans….. and you can even get paper copy ones too. E-100 which some of us are using is an excellent resource to help feed our spirits and pour the blessing of God out into our lives.

If you need any help getting into God’s Word, I’d be only too glad to help you. Please speak to me.

Prayer

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