We’re nearing the end of our study on blessedness, and it’s been so much more than I anticipated!
The last two weeks we’ve studied esher and makarios blessedness - a state of happiness that is had in spite of circumstances due to an understanding of our divinely favored (blessed) well-being. We’ve learned that this type of blessedness is not had by every person.
Last week we studied in detail what the esher blessed person does not do, so today we’re going to contrast what this person does do. There is so much to uncover this week, so let’s jump right into it!
We’ll start by looking at verse 2 from the passage in Psalm we’ve been studying:
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:2, NIV)
Since the his in the first part of this verse is the blessed man we’ve been talking about, then according to the definition of the word blessed this verse could say,
How happy is the man whose delight is in the law of the LORD…
Let’s start by determining the meaning of the word law here. This is the Hebrew word torah, which in this passage refers to God’s instructions, directions, and customs or manners of living, all of which are found in the Word of God, the Bible.
This blessed person delights in (takes pleasure in and desires) God’s Word, along with all the instructions, directions, and manners of living contained in it. Thus, he continually (day and night) thinks on these things. Once again, just as we discussed last week, this is a mindset!
Blessedness stems from a mind set on the Word of God.
This person is seeking out the principles found in God’s Word, thinking on them, and disciplining his thoughts to line up with them - all with God’s help of course.
Remember the verse we looked at last week in Romans 12:2 that says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
I want you to catch something else in that verse. The verse does not say “transform yourself” by the renewing of your mind. It says be transformed. Just as we’ve discussed over the past few weeks, it is not our responsibility to do the transforming. God will do it - we just have to do our part.
So what is our part?
We talked last week about the fact that we have a real enemy with a real agenda. But we also have real weapons and a God that is far more powerful than our enemy:
The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We tear down arguments, and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, BSB)
We’re in a fight, with a real enemy, and we have to realize it. Our fight is one that starts in our minds, and the battle is fierce. It is our job to recognize the reality of this warfare and not live complacently. We have to live on purpose, and we have to think on purpose!
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8, ESV)
We talked last week about what we are not to set our minds on, and this Scripture gives us a great example of what we are to set our minds on. Let’s put it into practice using one of the scenarios from last week:
We’ve been hurt. We feel like we’ve been punched in the stomach, and each morning the feelings assault us all over again. Throughout the day we replay the incident(s), justifying our offense and mentally writing our case line after line. We don’t realize we’re stuck, trapped in the bondage of our own mind, our state of happy contentment slipping further and further out of reach (and our fruit right along with it).
But God is knocking…waiting for us to take those thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Co. 10:5). He’s waiting for us to open His Word and fill our minds with true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, praiseworthy things.
My God loves me more than my finite mind can comprehend (Ephesians 3:18-19), AND my God loves the person who hurt me more than my finite mind can comprehend.
I will be hurt, AND I will likely hurt another at some point. But my God’s grace is more than enough for me in times of weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), and His forgiveness is extended to all (2 Peter 3:9).
My God can heal my broken heart (Psalm 147:3) and work all things for my good (Romans 8:28).
My God has created me and purposed me for specific things (Ephesians 2:10), and I will not allow anything to steal that purpose from me.
The words of Scripture are God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16). They are alive and active, more effective than any physical weapon, and they penetrate to the soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:12). When we meditate on Scripture, God uses His Word to transform us from the inside out.
There have been seasons of my life (and I’m sure there will be more to come) in which I have had to type out a page full of Bible verses that speak truth into my mind regarding my situation. I would read them out loud every day until they transformed my mind.
Read it and speak it until you believe it - until it transforms you!
And I promise you it will. No, God promises you it will.
Last week we studied the three verbs in Psalm 1:1 (walk, stand, and sit) which describe what the esher blessed person does not do. Now we are going to contrast a couple of verses which use these verbs to describe what an esher blessed person does do.
We’ll start with walk.
How blessed [esher] are the people who know the joyful sound! O LORD, they walk in the light of Your countenance. (Psalm 89:15, NASB)
This verse says that esher blessed people know the joyful sound. So what in the world does that mean?
The word translated know here means “to perceive” or “to acknowledge.” The joyful sound is in reference to the trumpet blast which occurred during Jewish feasts. It is symbolic of praise, worship, celebration, and the acknowledgement that God was present and in their midst.
Those of us who are in Christ are recipients of the promise that God is with us - always (Matthew 28:20). Period. Not only is God with us, but God is in us! (1 John 4:4) However, not all of us perceive and acknowledge that God is with us…and THAT’s what makes all the difference.
Until we perceive the presence of God in our lives, we will not walk in the full blessedness that God has for our lives.
This verse could read, “How happy are the people who acknowledge God’s presence and praise Him because of it!”
It goes on to say these blessed people walk in the light of Your countenance.
Again, what does this mean? What is the light of Your countenance? This phrase is referring to a king who turns his face towards a subject. It denotes an act of favor. So this blessed (happy) person walks in understanding and gratitude of God’s presence and favor. Once again, this is where barak blessedness meets esher blessedness!
Blessed people perceive their blessedness and bless God for it. (Say that three times fast;)
Okay, let’s keep going and look at one more Scripture.
How blessed [esher] are those who dwell in Your house! They are ever praising You. Selah. (Psalm 84:4, NASB)
Once again we see that this blessed person is ever praising God. The word translated dwell in this verse is the same word which was translated sit last week. The phrase in Your house is in reference to the temple and to those who were able to spend much of their time there. BUT, when Jesus came, we became the temple! (1 Corinthians 3:16, 6:19) When we are in Christ, just as we said earlier, the Holy Spirit is within us. So this verse doesn’t mean the blessed person spends all their time in church, it means the blessed person dwells on God’s presence within their own life!
I am overwhelmed with an intense desire for people to know that they can know God. I have a desire for people to know they can dwell in God’s house (in God’s presence) on this side of Heaven - not just within the doors of a church, but within the doors of their hearts!
So here’s the deal. We live on earth. We live in a place of the temporal, the physical, the material. BUT, through knowing Christ we can live in such an intimate awareness of His presence that the spiritual begins to supersede the physical in our lives.
Before you decide I just got crazy and click off this page;), let me explain. Paul says it so well in 2 Corinthians 4:18:
So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
From the time my children were small I have told them that life isn’t about the things we can see with our physical eyes, but it‘s about the things we can’t see. The sports, the activities, the careers, the successes, the money, the homes, the cars, the clothing - all the things which set themselves up on the forefront of our first world priority lists - are only a facade. While necessary and not sinful in themselves, they can be used by the enemy to distract us from seeing God in the place where we’ve been planted (stay tuned for next week:). But when we walk with God and dwell in His presence, He will reveal to us how some of these things can be a conduit to our purpose rather than a roadblock to our potential!
Let’s make it practical again. As parents, we have choices to make every single day that are shaping who our children become. Let’s say our kid is a wonderful athlete, and they have been given the opportunity to be on a highly successful and competitive team within their sport of choice. As a parent, we realize the value this experience can bring to our child’s life, both internally (building character) and externally (college scholarship potential). However, is accepting the position on the team God’s will for our child and our family, or is it something to do because it’s right in front of us and we don’t want our kid to miss out? If it is God’s will to be on the team, then He will show us how to teach our children to prioritize Him even throughout seasons of abnormal schedules. He will show us how to teach our children to find purpose and produce fruit within the place of their gifts and talents.
Maybe you’re not a parent, so let’s put another example out there - career. You have found your niche, and you love it. You’re good at it, even gifted you might say. However, prestige, success, and visibility drive you. God likely has you purposefully positioned where you are, with those specific gifts and talents, because He has people who may never step foot inside the doors of a church waiting for you to show them Who He is. He might be wanting to bless you so you can be a blessing. But if we never acknowledge God’s presence, then we’ll never discover the spiritual opportunity beneath the physical one!
And I can guarantee you this:
spiritual opportunities far out-fulfill physical ones.
In any situation, when we miss God’s presence and approach our lives with only earthly goals in mind, then we miss out on the very things we were created for - to know God and bless others! We miss out on the ultimate experience of fulfillment mankind can have on this side of Heaven!
As I have shared briefly in previous lessons, I co-founded an anti-human trafficking organization in 2012. Over the subsequent five years I was exposed to people and places I had never before been exposed to. Many things during this season of my life shocked me, but one of the most profound things I saw throughout these years was that God makes His presence known with or without people. I heard so many references to God out of the mouths of precious young people who had experienced extreme forms of abuse and trauma. These kids know there is a God because they know there is evil - and they know God is good. They know these things not because they’ve had the privilege of going to church, but because God has placed these truths within their hearts.
The Bible says God has “set eternity in the hearts of men” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Our hearts (our innermost beings) know there is a God. Therefore, we have a place deep inside that cannot be filled with anything other than God. God created us to know He exists (Romans 1:19-20). This is why one of the enemy’s best tactics is distraction. Getting us not to acknowledge God’s presence in our daily lives prevents us from walking in blessedness - which prevents us from producing the fruit of blessedness!
God wants us to dwell in His presence on this side of Heaven. He wants us to spend time thinking of and seeking Him – delighting in and desiring His Word. This is how we grow in relationship with Him. We all know that making time to read the Bible can be hard to do. Sometimes we just have to start with small, reachable goals - even with a single verse!
Life-change happens not from how much we read, but from how deep within us we allow the words to go.
God’s not up there with His arms crossed and a frown on His face because we read one verse instead of one chapter. We don’t want to read the Bible out of obligation or shame. We want to read the Bible out of a heart of desire and delight. Don’t let the enemy speak shame over you if you don’t desire God or His Word like you want to. Ask God to increase your desire for Him and His Word. I do that all the time! Ask God for understanding (Proverbs 2:6, James 1:5), and ask Him to make His Word come alive to you. He’ll do it!
And then the most amazing thing will happen.
As we begin to seek God more, we begin to see God more.
And this fuels our desire to continue seeking! (Jeremiah 29:13, Matthew 7:7-8) As we begin to think on God’s presence, we begin to perceive God’s presence. It’s an amazing cyclical process!
Oh God, I praise You for your presence in my life - that your Spirit lives within me. Help me to perceive Your presence more and more, and show me the spiritual opportunities beneath the physical ones. Increase my desire for You and Your Word, and thank You for Your promise that I will see it come alive in my life!
Is reading the Bible on your daily or weekly priority list?
If your answer is “never” or “rarely,” I want to throw a challenge at you. Start. And start small - with a verse per day or a chapter per week. Don’t read to check off a to-do list, but read to perceive what God wants to speak to you. Think on the verse throughout your day and ask God to make it come alive to you. And then see what happens!
Spend some time this week analyzing your focus, and allow yourself to be honest. Ask yourself these questions:
Am I more focused on physical fulfillment than I am spiritual fulfillment?
Do I look for God’s presence within my daily life, or do I only look for Him to show up when I’m at church or when I’m in a situation in which I need His help? Do I truly understand that God’s presence is within me every single day in every area of my life?