Blessed in the man. Psalm 1:1
Psalm 1 is the gateway to all the Psalms. In six verses, it gives us all we need to move into the new year. The first word is Blessed. God wants to bless you in the coming year.
In verse 1, you are blessed by your separation—the things you don’t do and people you avoid (“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel in the ungodly”). In verse 2, you’re blessed by your meditation (“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates…”). In verse 3, you’re blessed by your maturation as God develops you (“like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit”). And in verses 4-6, you are blessed in your destination (“The Lord knows the way of the righteous”).
The coming year will be full of blessings for those who turn away from harmful habits, rededicate themselves to studying and meditating on God’s Word, envision themselves as trees by channels of water, and look forward to God’s leading every step of the way.
By God’s grace, that’s you! So have a blessed New Year!
Blessed, O Lord, the opening year, / to each soul assembled here: / Clothe Thy Word with power divine, / Make us willing to be Thine. John Newton
Applying Psalm 1 to Life by Paul Washer
The seed is the word of God. Luke 8:11
“Kids should be able to throw a seed anywhere they want [in the garden] and see what pops up,” suggests Rebecca Lemos-Otero, founder of City Blossoms. While this is not a model for careful gardening, it reflects the reality that each seed has the potential to burst forth with life. Since 2004, City Blossoms has created gardens for schools and neighborhoods in low-income areas. The kids are learning about nutrition and gaining job skills through gardening. Rebecca says, “Having a lively green space in an urban area . . . creates a way for kids to be outside doing something productive and beautiful.”
Jesus told a story about the scattering of seed that had the potential of producing “a hundred times more than was sown” (Luke 8:8). That seed was God’s good news planted on “good soil,” which He explained is “honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest” (v. 15 nlt).
The only way we can be fruitful, Jesus said, is to stay connected to Him (John 15:4). As we’re taught by Christ and cling to Him, the Spirit produces in us His fruit of “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22–23). He uses the fruit He produces in us to touch the lives of others, who are then changed and grow fruit from their own lives. This makes for a beautiful life.
Reflect & Pray
How are you staying connected to Jesus? What fruit do you want Him to produce in you?
I want a beautiful life, Father. Please produce Your fruit in me that I might live a life that points others to You.
Each Sunday countless people congregate in church buildings to worship God. But for many of them, going to church is merely an item on their checklist—an activity that fulfills their “spiritual duty.” Although they may be moved by the music and sermon, they quickly lose the feeling and return to a life in which God seems distant, and the world’s pleasures begin to look more attractive.
Isaiah’s time apparently wasn’t so different from ours. Listen to God’s assessment: “These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught” (Isa. 29:13 NIV).
What is the solution when God’s people begin to take Him for granted? Isaiah’s encounter with the Lord in today’s reading provides a good example. When he saw God’s awesome holiness, Isaiah was filled with fear and profound awareness of his own sin. In distress, he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined!” (Isa. 6:5). After being cleansed from his sin, his one desire was to serve the Lord as His prophet, and he said, “Here am I. Send me!” (Isa. 6:8).
Although it’s unlikely we will experience a vision like this, every time we open God’s Word, we have an opportunity to see “the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5) as Isaiah did. What’s even more amazing is that this majestic, holy God invites us into an intimate relationship with Him through His Son.
If your spiritual life has become too mechanical, it’s time to approach your time with God differently. Pray for a heart that is open to a true encounter with Him, and wait patiently for His provision.
“And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.” (Acts 1:7)
Just before Christ ascended into heaven, His disciples asked Him, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” (v. 6). Christ refrained from answering their question as they had hoped, but in His wisdom He used the occasion to teach them that some information is for God alone, including the “times and the seasons.” In our finiteness, we are unable to handle too much information, and should we know even a small part of the “knowledge [which] is too wonderful for me” (Psalm 139:6), we would use it improperly.
Isaiah taught the same lesson many years before: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8-9). God has graciously revealed enough that we know He has a wonderful plan, but the details are known by Him alone. They are under His “own power,” or authority. Certainly He knows the future, but more than that, He controls it.
And why not? He created time (Genesis 1:1); surely He can exercise authority over it. Surely the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13) can control the destinies of individuals and nations. “Power” to work out His good pleasure rests solely with “the only wise God our Saviour . . . now and ever” (Jude 1:25).
Even though this “power” is His alone, His promise to the disciples that “ye shall receive power [a different word than that in verse 7, here meaning strength]” (Acts 1:8) has been fulfilled in the person of the Holy Spirit. We have what we need to be “witnesses” of that which we know of Him to “the uttermost part of the earth.” JDM
LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
Yet I do not advise that we end the year on a somber note. The march, not the dirge, has ever been the music of Christianity. If we are good students in the school of life, there is much that the years have to teach us. But the Christian is more than a student, more than a philosopher. He is a believer, and the object of his faith makes the difference, the mighty difference.
Of all persons the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men must face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation. WOS148
Thank You, Father, for all You’ve taught me this past year. Thank You for the stretching experiences. Thank You for Tozer’s wise counsel. Thank You for the privilege of serving You. Thank You for Your love and grace. Amen.
Then bear a joy where joy is not, Go, speak a kindly word in love, Less bitter make some loveless lot, Now earth is linked to heaven above.
Frederick G. Lee.
Do what you can—give what you have. Only stop not with feelings; carry your charity into deeds; do and give what costs you something.
J. H. Thom.
“Up and be doing” is the word that comes from God for each of us. Leave some “good work” behind you that shall not be wholly lost when you have passed away. Do something worth living for, worth dying for. Is there no want, no suffering, no sorrow that you can relieve? Is there no act of tardy justice, no deed of cheerful kindness, no long-forgotten duty that you can perform? Is there no reconciliation of some ancient quarrel, no payment of some long-outstanding debt, no courtesy, or love, or honor to be rendered to those to whom it has long been due; no charitable, humble, kind, useful deed by which you can promote the glory of God, or good will among men, or peace upon earth? If there be any such deed, in God’s name, in Christ’s name, go and do it.
Arthur P. Stanley.
“Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.” Ps. 73:24
From day to day and from year to year my faith believes in the wisdom and love of God, and I know that I shall not believe in vain. No good word of His has ever failed, and I am sure that none shall ever fall to the ground.
I put myself into His hand for guidance. I know not the way that I should choose: the Lord shall choose mine inheritance for me. I need counsel and advice; for my duties are intricate, and my condition is involved. I seek to the Lord, as the High Priest of old looked to his Urim and Thummim. The counsel of the infallible God I seek in preference to my own judgment or the advice of friends. Glorious Jehovah, thou shalt guide me!
Soon the end will come: a few more years, and I must depart out of this world unto the Father. My Lord will be near my bed. He will meet me at Heaven’s gate: He will welcome me to the glory land. I shall not be a stranger in Heaven: my own God and Father will receive me to its endless bliss.
Glory be to Him Who will guide me here, and receive me hereafter. Amen.
Hanukkah and Christmas: Two Separate Things
Hanukkah or Chanukah, will be a popular question asked in the coming weeks. While the word is spelled differently, it has the same meaning. Hanukkah, or Chanukah, is a Jewish celebration that is held for eight days in December. Many people confuse Hanukkah with Christmas; often it is called the Jewish Christmas which is technically wrong. Jewish people do not celebrate Christmas, and many find it offensive when people call their celebration the Jewish Christmas.
Chanukah is a festival of light, the celebration dates back in history to a time when the Jewish people fought for their freedom and beliefs against the Greek. Christmas is celebrated by Christians and is more a religious celebration, while Hanukkah or Chanukah is a historical celebration. Some suggest that the belief in the light of their lives and faith is also part meaning of Hanukkah.
For many of us with children that celebrate Hanukkah or Chanukah it can be a difficult time of year. Those with children may find it difficult to explain the difference between Christmas and Hanukkah. While there are some similarities, both holidays celebrate with prayer, feasts, and gifts. The concept is very different. Those that celebrate Christmas receive gifts on December 25th, while those that celebrate Hanukkah give and receive gifts for eight days. It is important when you are teaching young children to explain the significance of Hanukkah, and how it differs from Christmas. They will no doubt be asked by their peers why they do not celebrate Christmas. Some children may be ignorant to the fact; this is a great time for your children to educate their friends.
No matter which holiday you celebrate, both are a time for recollection. Hanukkah is a time for reflection and spending time with loved ones to remember. It is an excellent time to donate time or money to the less fortunate. The Jewish people cal this tzedakah which is the word for charity. Often people will donate money to the less fortunate.
Hanukkah or Chanukah is a beautiful time and an excellent way to teach your children some life skills. They will no doubt be faced with some harsh treatment from others; if you provide them with the necessary tools they will be more prepared and will better understand the difference between Hanukkah and Christmas.
Hanukkah and Christmas: Two Separate Things
No Hanukkah No Christmas Know Hanukkah Know Christmas – (Dec 28, 2019)
As human beings, we often have a difficult time perceiving what the Lord is doing in our life. We are limited by the passage of time, the confusion of present circumstances, and a lack of understanding regarding God’s goals and His means of accomplishing them. That’s why studying the lives of men and women in Scripture helps us see how the Lord worked in previous generations. God’s relationships with the faithful in earlier times are helpful examples for us today.
When we face uncertainty, we can look to Moses’ example. His life was unpredictable and full of hardship, yet he “endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:27). In Greek, the root word for “endurance” refers to the capacity to bear up under difficulty. Moses successfully persevered under pressure by keeping his focus on God rather than on the events surrounding him.
From Moses’ example, we learn that this is what the Lord desires for us as well. Although we may want out of a difficult situation as soon as possible, this may not be God’s aim. It is not His goal to make us as comfortable as can be but, rather, to transform us into the image of His Son. And endurance helps us get there.
If God calls us to endure pain, hardship, or uncertainty, we can find encouragement in knowing we’re never alone. Part of “seeing Him who is unseen” is realizing that God’s grace and comfort carry us through every situation. The Lord doesn’t want us to simply grit our teeth and bear hardship; He desires that we trust Him and bring glory to His name through our dependence.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34)
In context, this wonderful promise may apply specifically to those living believers recognized as “sheep” by Christ when He returns to judge the nations (or “Gentiles”) at the end of the age. For them He has prepared a wonderful kingdom in which they can fully serve their great King here on Earth. The “goats,” on the other hand, will be sent away into “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
But we remember also that the Lord Jesus Christ has also prepared a mansion in heaven for His faithful disciples. “In my Father’s house are many mansions . . . I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
He is, even now, preparing for us that glorious place. One day, it will be fully prepared, and we shall see it when He brings it down from heaven, as John did in his great vision. “And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (Revelation 21:2).
It will, indeed, be a wonderful place of “many mansions,” and John describes some of its beauties in the Bible’s last two chapters. But that is not all. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). Therefore, we can say with Paul: “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). He has indeed prepared a great eternal future for His redeemed children. HMM