Blessed Is The Man (Psalm 1)

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” (Psalm 1:1)

Psalm 1 opens the Book of Psalms by plainly stating what it is in life that brings true happiness. The word translated here as blessed may more accurately be rendered as happy, as versions such as the Christian Standard Bible read. We see here in the NASB the word How preceding blessed because the term in the original is emphatic or stressed. “How very happy is the man…” might be a good way to open the verse and the entire Book of Psalms itself.

Ask most people what leads to pure happiness and it is doubtful that many will tell you that joy is found in obedience to the precepts of God. But that is exactly what the Psalmist is saying. Rather than counseling us, as the world does, to “go with the flow”, “make friends and be popular”, or “do your best to fit in”, we are told the opposite. The happy man does none of these things but separates himself from the actions of those who are in rebellion against God. Joy and happiness are not to be found in the noisy, crowded bars and nightclubs or at the parties of the rich and famous, but in quiet meditation upon the Word of God.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.” (Psalm 1:2)

The law of the Lord is not something with which the happy man is burdened, but it is something wherein he delights. Jesus told His followers to take up His yoke, for it is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Those who believe that obeying God is restrictive and that the Bible doesn’t allow Christians to have fun could not be more mistaken. Life and joy can only be truly found through living by the principles of God’s Word.

“And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living.” (Luke 15:13)

The prodigal son of whom Jesus told thought that true happiness was to be found away from his father and by living according to his own desires. He believed that his father’s rules were restrictive and supposed that freedom from the father’s house would bring him joy and pleasure. But it did not. Celebration and rejoicing in our Lord’s parable does not come when the young son heads off to the distant country, but when he returns home (Luke 15:32).

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]

Apart From Me

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Apart from Me you can do nothing. Is there any area in the Christian life where this is not true? Can the Gospel be preached, souls be won, the Bible understood, or prayers be lifted except that the Son of God is abiding in a heart that is abiding in Him? And what about overcoming sin or the pursuit of holiness? Can we suppose as the foolish Galatians did that what was begun within us by the power of Christ may now be completed through our own strength (Gal. 3:3)?

Nothing can be accomplished for the Kingdom of God except by the power of God. God never intended for it to be otherwise.

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]

Jesus Stayed Behind

“Now His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He became twelve, they went up there according to the custom of the Feast; and as they were returning, after spending the full number of days, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. But His parents were unaware of it” (Luke 2:41-43)

Had you asked Mary and Joseph that first day as they departed from Jerusalem for home if Jesus was walking with them, they most certainly would have answered yes. Of course He was with them, why wouldn’t He be? But Jesus had stayed behind, and they were not aware of it.

What a terrible thing it is to have left Jesus behind. Worse still, to be unaware of it. To suppose that the Lord Jesus walks beside us when He does not is a tragedy, but are there not many who do just that? Some have never truly come to faith in the Lord and have never known what it was like to really walk with Him in the first place. Others walked with Him at one time but sin  has crowded in, their love has grown cold, and their steps have taken them in a different direction. And this is worth noticing: Jesus never leaves us behind, it is us who wander away.

Every one who supposes that the Lord walks beside them does well to make sure that He in fact does. And what to do should we discover that we have left Him behind? We will find Him in that very place where we left Him. Did we abandon Him when we began to neglect our prayer life? Then it is in a renewed prayer life that we will find Him. Have we stopped seeking Him through the study of His Word? Then when we dust off our Bibles and look again to the Holy Spirit to reveal the Son to us we will find Him again. Or perhaps it is some sin that we are reluctant to release. If we bring that sin to God, will He not strengthen us to be free from that sin and to walk with Him once again? Jesus can be found “about His Father’s business” (Luke 2:49 KJV), can we?

[Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.]