Articles and thoughts by Steve Green.
As the New Year rolled in, people around the world offered one another a traditional greeting, each in their own language. Though the usual celebrations were overshadowed by the tragic devastation of the tsunami, there remained a universal desire that the New Year would bring fulfillment, contentment and joy. Regardless of the differences in culture, the customary greetings have something to do with a wish for personal happiness and prosperity. We say, “Happy New Year.” In Latin America the hope is for ” un prospero A ño Nuevo.”
One of the passages in my Bible reading plan for January 1 st is Psalm 1. The first word in the Psalm grabbed my attention. The word is “blessed”. Most everyone seeks blessedness. Who doesn’t want to be well-off, prosperous and happy? Ad campaigns are designed to tap into the shared human yearning, promising that a particular beverage, car, house, color of teeth, investment portfolio or kind of food will lead to greater fulfillment. Even in religious circles, some preachers play upon the desire for prosperity and personal happiness, using the same tactics as marketing hustlers but disguise their offer in spiritual language. The techniques and twisted Biblical principles they offer usually involve sending your donation to them so you can receive a material blessing from the Lord.
Let’s not forget that God is the “blessed” God (1Tim. 1:11 ), the author of all true blessedness and that because we are made in His image we are also designed for pleasure. Why else would the Psalmist say, “You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” The key however is that in the Bible, blessedness comes as a God-given gift, not a prize to be snatched by schemers. Deut. 33:29 (ESV) “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord.”
In God’s prescription for true blessedness He begins with a warning, detailing the slippery slide to the most dangerous condition. Do you see the pattern? The Palmist speaks of one who walks, stands, and sits. He talks about the counsel, way and the seat. Then, there are those described as wicked, sinners and scoffers.
Blessed is the man who.
. walks not in the counsel of the wicked. Ideas have consequences. Theology matters. At every point where Biblical truth is corrupted by human philosophy, grievous and disastrous errors occur. Where we get our information is crucial. Who we listen to is vital. Where those we listen to get their information is equally important. The apostle Paul told Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” Who are the ones who counsel our culture? Is it Oprah, Dr. Phil, script writers, musicians, intellectuals and educators? All of them operate from a particular worldview. To “walk in the counsel of the ungodly” is to be conversant with and go along with the ideas, thoughts and values of those who have cast off the fear of God and live by their own rule.
. nor stands in the way of sinners. This speaks of one who has gone from listening to the advice and ideas of the ungodly to imitating them and following their example. Taking the advice of the ungodly over time leads to decisions based upon that worldview. Walking becomes standing and standing means to be established or settled in a way of thinking, acting and behaving. There is also a progression from the ungodly to the sinners. The ungodly have ceased to acknowledge God and become the sinners who are determined in their practice of sin. Wrong thinking leads to wrong living.
. nor sits in the seat of the scoffers . If we would avoid dwelling in the assembly of those who make a loud mockery of all things holy and sacred we must first guard against listening to the counsel of those who have thrown off restraints and live according to their own passions and desires. This final step of digression indicates the one who becomes an ambassador for the scornful, helping to spread their poison and infecting others with the same disease.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD and on his law he meditates day and night.
What place does God’s Word have with us? Are our minds being washed and renewed by a regular submission to all which God has spoken? Does the majority of our counsel come from the pabulum of vain philosophers or are we eagerly seeking the life-giving truth of God’s Word? The stakes are high and the consequences are great. It is still not too late to start a plan to read through the Bible this year. You may even want to purchase the Bible on CD or MP3 and listen throughout the day. Together let’s seek God’s blessedness and ask for hearts that delight in and treasure His Word.
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