Jack Graham - A Blessed Life
So we begin today with one of my favorites, perhaps one of your personal favorites as well. I believe outside the 23rd Psalm, Psalm number one is one of the most well known and one of the most beloved of all the Psalms. It is short, it is simple, and yet it is profound and directive. It begins with the words: "Blessed is the man (Most literally, blessed is the person, blessed are you) who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of God, the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish".
I want to talk to you today about "The Blessed Life". How to be blessed in your life. It's a word that we throw around quite a bit, this word blessed, but it actually means that we are favored by God. Blessed in the sense that in our physical life, our spiritual life, our psychological life we have completeness and wholeness. Sometimes the word blessed is described as happy is the one. And if you want to know genuine happiness in your life and real success in your life so that life is truly abundant and overflowing, then be blessed as only God can bless you. Interesting, this word blessed here in the very first verse is in the plural in the language of the Old Testament which literally it means blessed and blessed and blessed and blessed again. Oh the blessedness's, if you can make that word. Oh the happiness's! In other words, God doesn't just singularly give us blessings but He pours them out in plural again and again and again we have been blessed!
So in Psalm 1 we have a contrast. We have a contrast between the godly life and the ungodly life. And you could easily take this short passage of Scripture and outline it with two points. The first three verses, verses 1 through 3 speaks of the person that God commends, or blesses. The last three verses, 4 through 6 speak of the ungodly, that is, the persons that God condemns. You have a contrast between the righteous and the unrighteous: not only the direction of their lives, but the destiny of their lives. And so we begin with the person that God blesses, the life of the godly. And in order to see the life of the godly, the righteous life, the blessed life, there's both a negative and a positive. He begins with the negative to contrast the way that we live as compared to the way the world is living, or to show us how we are to walk. Look at verse one, it says: "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked".
That is, listening to the counsel of those who do not know our God. And what we are about to see in verse 1 is the downward progression of a life apart from God. This can even happen in a believer's life, this downward spiral; sometimes imperceptivity; sometimes invisibly, underneath. We don't even know that it could be happening. It's like a slow erosion spiritually that can be taking place in our lives, and it happens a step at a time. It begins by walking in the counsel of the wicked or the ungodly, listening to the world rather than the Word. It starts by paying attention and literally the idea of walking here is kind of walking by and taking a casual look of what the world is saying, what the world is doing. But then it moves on to standing or lingering in the way of sinners, standing or lingering in the way of sinners. In this erosion, this slow erosion of the soul it happens that we stop and we look; we think, "That sounds good; tell me more".
We start hanging out with those who blaspheme our Lord. And typically those who walk in the counsel of the wicked, who start walking in the counsel of the wicked in the world end up sitting in the seat of the scornful. It's not an explosive event but a slow, imperceptible drift or downward pull in a person's life, to the degree that you look up and you find yourself seated, accepting, and even laughing with those who mock God. Three words, "listening to the counsel of the ungodly", a blessed person does not do that; "standing or lingering" in the way of sinners; While we're not to live in isolation, we are to live in separation from those who do not know our God. Jesus was the friend of sinners, but He had no partnership or life-flow with those who did not know Him. And while we have friends and ought to seek friends with which to share our faith outside the family of faith, the associations that we keep must not defile us or destroy who we are or what we believe.
Again, this can happen so in perceptively. It happened to Lot. Remember Lot was the nephew of Abraham, walking with God, a saved man. And yet there came a day when a separation of the land was going to take place and Lot who had seen the glitter and the glamour of a place called Sodom and Gomorrah. Finally he listened to what the ungodly were saying, ultimately he saw with his own eyes, he stayed there a while and ultimately he settled there according to the Scriptures. He began to live in Sodom and Gomorrah to the end that his entire family was almost destroyed because he listened to the counsel of the ungodly, he lingered there and ultimately he was settled at the gate, he was sitting at the gate of Sodom and Gomorrah, a part of the culture, a part of the world. God is saying if you want to be blessed, don't walk like this, don't live like this! But in contrast to that, on the positive side, here is what we are to do. Look at verse two: "but his delight (the delight of the one who is blessed) is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night". He meditates upon God's Word day and night; separated from the world and saturated with the Word of God.
This is a great passage describing our relationship with God through His Word. And in a very practical way I want to show you how you can make the second verse of Psalm 1 live in your own life. I want to challenge you as a believer who wants to be blessed to spend at least 30 minutes before 9:00 o'clock every day doing what I'm about to tell you from God's Word. We're going to use the letter "r" so you may want to write these down. It all has to do with delighting in the law of God. So it begins with "rejoicing" in the Scriptures. "His delight is in the law of God". In other words, it is not drudgery for the blessed individual, it is not a mere human duty or a religious duty; it is the delight of our souls to dig into the Word of God! Rejoicing in the Scripture!
Jeremiah put it this way in Jeremiah 15 and verse 16: he said, "I ate the Scriptures". He literally ingested, He said I digested the Scriptures and they were to me the rejoicing of my soul. Jesus said, "Abide in Me and let My word abide in you, and your joy will remain". We begin by loving the Word of God! Do you love God? Do you love His Word? If you do, there will be a hunger for the Scripture. And so that leads to "receiving", that's the second thing, receiving the Word of God. By believing it, "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God". God wants to speak to you! God has chosen to communicate His word, His wisdom, His will to your life! And the way that He has chosen to do that by His Spirit is in the Scripture, the Bible. And so we are to be receiving the Word of God. This includes hearing God's Word as you are listening today.
Did you have a desire and hunger when you came to church this morning to open the Scriptures? To hear God's Word and to be challenged and encouraged and blessed and strengthened by the Word of God? This is all about receiving the Word of God. Receiving the Word: How? Reading the Word. And when I say reading, I mean systematically and strategically. There are many Bible reading plans today. You can find them online, you can find them in Study Bibles. But consistently reading through the Scripture. Many of us, if not most of us spend more time watching television, playing video games, hanging out, doing nothing than we do reading the Word of God, and then we wonder why we don't know what we don't know. We wonder why we are susceptible to the false doctrines and teachings of the world, to the lies of Satan. We wonder why. Because we are not prepared! Therefore, we are not studying the Word of God.
Second Timothy 2:15 says: "Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth (that is, cutting it straight) rightly dividing". Study to show yourself approved unto God! Personally commit to Bible study. Next, "reflecting". Take time, again, at least 30 minutes before 9:00 o'clock every day to reflect upon the Word of God. And look again at verse 2. It says here: "Delight is in the law of God and on his law he meditates day and night". The law speaks, of course, of the commandments of God, the divine directives of God, the law of the Lord, which is His word. Spend time reflecting it. Not just rushing through to get it done, but taking time to think, "What is God saying to me? How is God speaking to me"? Typically when I'm reading my Bible I have a pen in hand and a highlighter. You will find my Bibles read like journals of where I am spiritually.
You say, "Well that will tear up my Bible". Well, that's okay. You can get a new one. The Bible that's falling apart generally belongs to someone who's life isn't. Mark your Bibles. Make it a spiritual walk through the Word, reflecting, letting... Here's what I'm saying: Allowing God's breath, which is His Word, to penetrate the inner recesses of your mind and your soul. Proverbs 23:7, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he". As you are thinking the Scripture and contemplating, meditating on it. The word meditate means to ingest or to digest. You ever get a tune in your head, you couldn't get it out? I mean, some crazy song and just over and over and over again. It's the idea of musing upon the Scripture and reflecting upon God's Word.
This is life-changing, my friends! This what it will do for you: It will quiet your heart when you're restless, when you're struggling, when you're hurting. It will develop your mind. You're not fully educated if you don't know your Bible. You may have more degrees than the thermometer on the wall, but if you don't know your Bible, you are not completely educated. It develops the mind. I tell you something else the Bible will do as you meditate upon it; it will strengthen your body. We now know the divine connection between the body and the soul. The Bible says, "I pray that you would prosper and be in health even as your soul prospers" - Third John 1:2.
And so as you get the Word of God in you, your body is healed. There's healing power in God's Word; strengthening power in God's Word. It will strengthen your body! I'll tell you something else the Word of God will do when you meditate upon it; it will fortify your will against the attacks of the enemy. As we put on the armor of God the assailants and the accusers come against us, our wills are fortified when temptation rolls in. This is what Jesus did when He was tempted of the devil in the wilderness, He responded to each temptation, "It is written. It is written. It is written"! and quoted the Word of God. He fortified, He steeled His soul, His will with the Word of God! The Word of God will energize your spirit. Ultimately the Word of God is to sanctify your soul and energize your spirit so that you may live abundantly for Christ.
Here's what else I want you to do before 9:00 o'clock, alright? "Remembering" the Scripture, remembering it. I'm talking about memorizing the Bible. I can't tell you how many times the Word of God that I have memorized over the years has surfaced just when I needed a word from Him the most. Scripture that I thought were long forgotten just when I needed to know them. Some of those Scriptures that I've memorized, I quote today to help and encourage others. When my father passed away my pastor called me with the words of Psalm 57:1. I memorized them in King James like he gave it to me, so I'll give it you just like that. "Be merciful unto me, O God, be merciful unto me: for my soul trusts in thee; and in the shadows of thy wings will I take my refuge, till these calamities be overpast".
It comforted me then; it comforts me now, and with that comfort I comfort others. The Word of God! When I am tempted, when I have come to temptations corner and I find myself in a decision of right and wrong, I can't tell you how many times I have defended myself with the Scriptures that I've memorized! Called upon the name of the Lord and His Word, remembering the Scripture. You're in Psalm 1, but take a second and go back to Joshua chapter one. "The Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success".
Just as God said to Joshua, digest, ingest, fill your life, ponder the Word of God and you will find success in My provision, My promises; you will find a shelter in times of storm. You will discover that I am all you need in life for every challenge, when the Word of God is in you! Remembering the Word! Find a Bible memory system, if it's just simply writing it on your date book or on a small card and carrying it in your pocket, but memorize the Bible! There's less emphasis on Scripture memory than in my lifetime, I think, and I'm challenging you to know the Word of God!
You say, "Well I don't remember things like I used to. I can't memorize like I used to. I've drunk so much diet coke over the years I just don't". I've said it before; I'll say it again: If I gave you fifty dollars for every scripture you memorized you would be a memory machine, I guarantee you! It's all about your motivation! I want to motivate you! May God help us to recall and repeat the Word of God. And then there's "remaining" in the Word of God. Jesus said in John 15:7, "Abide in Me and My word in you". That's remaining in it which is obeying it and living it out.
You say, "That's a lot to do, pastor, before 9 o'clock every day". But it's worth it. Meditate upon it morning and night, night and day, day and night. And you know what this is going to do for you? It says in verse 3 "He is like a tree (the blessed individual) is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither and all that he does prospers". Four things, four characteristics of the blessed life. If you will stay away from the downward spiral of the world, if you will stay in the upward spiral of the Word, these four characteristics will show up in your life: "You will be planted".
See that there? Planted like this massive tree. We've got a huge Bois d'Arc tree in our back yard. I don't know how long that trees been there but it is like cement. In fact those trees are called cement trees. And winds blow but it just gets stronger. Why? Because it's planted there. It's fortified and its root system is deep and it's strong and it's stable. And the Scripture says the man, the woman of God will be planted, rooted so that when the winds blow we don't blow over. As a matter of fact the roots grow deeper when the winds are the strongest! We are planted strong and stable and beautiful. "We are productive".
Notice it says: that it yields fruit in its season. This is the fruit, the luscious fruit of the Spirit in my view. Galatians 5:22 and 23: "The fruit of the Spirit is love and joy and peace and patience and kindness and goodness and gentleness, self control, faithfulness". This is what the Word of God produces in us. Fruitfulness. We are prosperous. Everything that we do, He says, In all that he does, he prospers, which means to be blessed, to be successful, to be favored by God. This means that God will prosper your family life, and God will prosper your business life, and God will prosper your personal life. All that you do will be blessed when you, as a blessed person, turn from the downward progression of the world and trust in the upward progression of The Word in your life.