06 November 2007

"Blessed Be"--Eliminate and Meditate (part 1)

There are at least 50 times in the Bible where it says, “Blessed be” or “Blessed is.” Psalm 128:1 says, Blessed is the man who fears the LORD. In Matthew 11:6 Jesus says, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” 2nd Corinthians 11:31 says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And Revelation 20:6 says, Blessed and holy is he who has a part in the first resurrection, that is the resurrection of believers. We saw last time that the name of the LORD is to be blessed above all other names.

When referring to God, the word “blessed” means “glorified, revered.” When referring to a person, that word “blessed” can also be defined as one who is “happy,” or “To be congratulated.” Today, we’re going to look at what type of person is truly “blessed,” and is deserving of “congratulations.” We’re going to look at the first three verses in Psalm 1, and then look a little deeper at what the psalmist is saying here. If we want to be blessed in this life—and especially in the life to come—there are some things we need to avoid.

Some people just don’t get that. They think that true joy and happiness come from the things we do and the things we get right now, here in this life. But when things don’t quite work out the way they expected them to, and their lives start crumbling around them, they wonder how it happened, and how they can fix it. And many times, when we tell them that if they would just stop doing things the way they're doing them, and trust God, and follow His ways—well, some people don’t want to hear that. They want to hear about how they can keep doing the same thing they’ve been doing, the same way they’ve been doing it—even if it’s the wrong thing to do, and the wrong way to do it. They want to keep doing it, but get a different result--instead of turning to the LORD.

When we turn to God for answers—He may not FIX our problems, but He will give us the strength and the patience we need to endure until those storms pass. Philippians 4:6-7 says Don’t worry about stuff! Worship the Lord, be humble and thankful, let your request be made known to God and the peace of God, which is far above what we foolish humans can even imagine, will guide your thoughts and feelings through Christ Jesus our Lord. That’s kinda my own personal translation, but that’s pretty much what it says. So, how does one find true blessedness? We need to ELIMINATE THE WAYS OF THE WORLD, and then MEDITATE ON THE LAW OF THE LORD.

Psalm 1:1
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful...

What we see here is a progression. When we get caught up in sin, it isn't always because we charge right into it. We don’t wake up one day and say, “It looks so nice outside. I think I'll get hooked on meth today!” Many times—especially for believers—it’s very gradual, and very subtle. In fact, many times we don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s happening. And many times we fall into a sin that we are so absolutely sure we would never get caught up in. But Proverbs 16:18 says that “Pride goeth before destruction, and a boastful spirit before a fall.” In other words, we should not think that we are so strong that we can’t be overtaken by some sin, no matter how much we think we can avoid it.

Many times, the road begins when we STROLL WITH SCOUNDRELS, then we STAND WITH SINNERS, and finally we get so comfortable that we SIT WITH THE SCORNFUL.

Psalm 1:1a.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly...

We need to be really careful about who we look to for advice. There are many psychologists and psychiatrists, and therapists. Many of them are honest, caring people. But, by the same token, you have some that don’t know a thing about how to help you get through your problems. Other than, “Here, take this pill.” (Don't get me wrong. There are many who do truly have a chemical imbalance that do need medication.) But many times our problems—whether they are physical, or emotional, or psychological—most of the time, the root of that problem is spiritual. We may be looking at our problem through our own eyes, and the problem looks impossible. And it may very well seem impossible—to us. But nothing is impossible with God? Or, we are living in such a way that God is trying to correct us, and He will give us an illness, or put us in a situation where He can get us alone with Him, to listen to His voice, and let Him do the correcting.

It also means this: we may have some well-meaning friends. We find out that our best friend’s been sneaking around with our girl. Or somebody we know has been doggin’ us out. And we pour our heart out to these friends of ours. What do they tell us? “Oh no she din’t!” Or if we’re guys, we’re supposed to go settle the score—even things up. Everybody wants revenge. Gotta get back at people that do us wrong. Know what Jesus said to do about it? Let it slide. I’m sure after He got done giving His Sermon on the Mount; He had folks running up to Him saying, “You don’t know what Naomi said about me!” Let it slide. “But Joseph’s been cheating with my girlfriend!” Let it slide! Because I guarantee that what you're fixin to do to that person is a whole lot worse than what they did to you. That’s what that whole “Turn the other cheek” means. When somebody talks about you, turn that other cheek and walk away. But don’t walk in the counsel of someone who says you need to “get even” with the one who offended you.

We also have an example in the prophet Jonah. How did he wind up in the belly of that whale? He wasn’t just running a trout line, and all of a sudden "AHHH! A whale!!" He was running from God, and he wound up on a ship with a bunch of pagans! Jonah 1:5…the mariners were afraid; and every man cried out to his god There were probably 25 men crying out to 25 different gods. But Jonah knew what was going on. That’s why he told them, “Toss me overboard.” And in verse 15, it says, …they picked up Jonah and threw him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging. There are many people today who would have told Jonah, “Well, now, you don’t have to do that. Just visualize that there is no storm. Come on, close your eyes. Let's chant!”

Walk down the street. You can't swing a cat without hitting people that “walk in the counsel of the ungodly.” Don’t let anyone tell you that hip-hop and rap and R&B and heavy metal is “just music. It doesn’t influence people.” How many young men are walking around wearing t-shirts with Tupac, or Scarface, or 50 Cent, or TI, or Snoop Dogg, or Marilyn Manson, or Slipknot—and don’t even get me started on Kanye West. And they want so bad to be like these guys. How many young kids have died in terrible car crashes because they wanted to be like Vin Diesel in “The Fast and the Furious?” I am so tempted, every time I see a bumper sticker on a car, and it says, “Drive it like ya stole it.” I just want to yank them out of the car and tell them, “Yeah, tell that to these parents that just buried their son!” Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly.

Psalm 1:1b.
...nor stands in the path of sinners...

How many of y’all remember what high school was like? Not every school is the same, but in most, you’ve got your jocks over here, your cheerleaders over here, your science geeks over here, then you’ve got a group made up of kids who aren’t in a group. So, they made their own group. You could tell what type of person somebody was by what group they hung out with. The same is true when it comes to us, and which group we belong to—whether we stand with saints or whether we stand with sinners.

There’s no in-between. Don’t let anybody tell you that somebody is “walking with one foot in the world, and one foot in the kingdom.” There’s no such thing. Matthew 6:24“No man can serve two masters…” James 4:4 (ESV)—…the friendship of the world is hostility with God. So which path do we stand in? Are we friends with the world, or friends with God? Now, don’t misunderstand me here. It’s not like we can't have friends who aren’t Christians. In fact, we are encouraged to have non-Christian friends rather than have friends who claim to be Christians, but are immoral. 1st Corinthians 5:9-11--I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortionernot even to eat with such a person.

What is Paul talking about? I'll give you one example. I found a video a couple weeks ago from a ministry in LA. A woman from this ministry was talking to a couple of young men outside the BET awards. They wanted to see "Fiddy", and TI. When the lady asked, they said, “Yeah, we’re Christians.” They tried saying that these rappers were—and I quote—“God-fearing men.” No, they're not! Because God-fearing men don’t rap about going into clubs, and having multiple sexual partners, and doing drugs, and being in gangs, and they don’t encourage kids to “get rich or die tryin’” These are not God-fearing men, and we should not be standing in the same path with them!

Someone from this same ministry was talking to a group of young ladies about a guy named “Pretty Ricky.” I hadn't heard of him until I saw this. But these young ladies—teenagers, and also supposedly Christian—thought that it was OK to listen to a guy sing about sex and partying. When one girl was asked what she thought Jesus would say about this guy’s music if He came back today, she said, “Frankly, I don’t care.” What does the Bible says about fans like this? Titus 1:15-16 (KJV)--Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

Know what that word “reprobate” means? “Worthless.” Those who claim to know God—who claim to be saved, and who claim to love the LORD—but live a life that is filled with things that He finds detestable, and abominable—He calls them “worthless.” I’ve heard people—I've even heard Christians—say, “Well, God doesn’t care what music I listen to.” I'm not a betting man. But if I were, I’d take that bet. Wanna lay odds that God doesn’t care what you listen to? Wanna put up a spread on whether He cares about what we listen to, who we hang out with, the kinds of activities we approve of?

  • Psalm 101:3—I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; it shall not cling to me.
  • Philippians 4:8—Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
In a few minutes we’re gonna see another passage that talks about this very thing. We can have friends who are not Christians—and we should, so that we can let our light shine before them, and they can glorify our Father in Heaven—but that doesn’t mean we should be lightin’ it up with them. Don’t stroll with scoundrels. Don’t stand with sinners.

Psalm 1:1c.
...nor sits in the seat of the scornful...

This is the most dangerous of all. Because if you are walking or standing, you can look around and eventually you may see that, “Hey, something ain't right. I need to get out of here.” But when you sit at someone’s table, you are making yourself comfortable with what they are offering you. When you see a friend—or a brother—committing something you know is sinful, and not only do you say nothing to him, but you take part in it, you are “sitting in the seat of the scornful.” Proverbs 23:6-8—“Do not eat the bread of [the greedy], nor desire his delicacies; for as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, but his heart is not with you. The morsel you have eaten, you will vomit up, and waste your pleasant words.” In other words, don’t partake of another’s evil, because they may act like they're your friend, but when it’s all said and done they don’t give a rat’s eyelash about you, and you're going to be in worse shape than you were before.

Don’t get comfortable with the deeds of sinful people. Think about how Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons go about their work. Do they hand out tracts? Do they preach out in the open? No. What do they do? They knock on your door. And people invite them in. And have them to sit down. But from looking at what Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons believe, who else is coming through that door? And who else are people showing themselves to be comfortable with having in their home? That’s why 2nd John 9-11 says, “He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. But blessed is the man—or woman—who does not sit with scorners. Check out what King David wrote in Psalm 26.

When we sit in the seat of the scornful, we’re not just walking along with them, and then we say, “OK, see ya later.” We don’t just dabble in something for a spell and walk away. We’re not simply standing idly by while someone lights up a blunt. It means that we feel right at home, and we even partake in their evil deeds. It means that we are doing nothing less than dwelling in the house of Satan. I can't say that clearly enough. And I still feel like I'm sugar-coating it.

When we know the truth, and reject it, we are what the apostle Paul talks about in Romans chapter 1—if you know someone who claims to be a Christian, and they are waist-deep in sin, tell them to read this chapter, and to repent immediately. Not many chapters in the Bible deal more forcefully with those who know the truth, but practice evil. In fact, this whole chapter talks about how God eventually tells them, “Fine. If that’s what you want, have at it.” Romans 1:28-32--And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.


Part 2 tomorrow.

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