Today we begin an ambitious project! For the next nine months, you and I will get the opportunity to read through, and more importantly, pray through the Psalms together.
Each Sunday on all of the major podcast platforms there will be five new RichlySpeaking Podcast episodes that you can download for the week ahead. Or you can find them here each day, Monday through Friday. The audio file below is the entire episode for today. The text below is today’s prayer. I’m reading the Contemporary English Version of the Text, copyright 1995, by the American Bible Society.
My prayer for all of us as we make time daily for the Word to speak to our hearts is echoed in Paul’s encouragement to the church at Colossae, in today’s Turkey: “Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.” (Colossians 3:16, NLT).
I’m thankful for you and look forward to refreshed souls and new insights into the heart of the Father.
God. Abba. Father.
Thank you that you bless those people who refuse to follow evil advice or be trapped into following sinners or those who mock your holy name. Thank you for filling us with your Holy Spirit so that we may embrace your word, your truths… and that by doing so we are happy and blessed… We find delight in meditating on your Word day and night… We find joy in thinking about ways to honor you and follow you. Thank you that we might be like a tree planted along a stream… a tree that never fails to bear fruit… Thank you that your ways lead to success!
Protect us from those who are evil… we don’t want to be known as someone who is blown like the wind… Thank you for your grace so that we won’t have an excuse on the day of judgement, that we will be received with others who call on your name. Thank you that you protect everyone who follows you. And Lord, we pray today for those who do not follow you, whose choices lead to ruin. May your Holy Spirit call them to you. May they bow their knees to you and your overwhelming grace.
We love you God and offer this prayer in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Ever feel like you’re on the cusp of something big? Like you are “this close” to a receiving a blessing of some sort? A really big blessing?
The Bible is full of “blessing” stories. The first is a promise from God to Abram.
The Lord said to Abram:
Leave your country, your family, and your relatives and go to the land that I will show you. I will bless you and make your descendants into a great nation. You will become famous and be a blessing to others. I will bless anyone who blesses you, but I will put a curse on anyone who puts a curse on you. Everyone on earth will be blessed because of you. Genesis 12:1-3 (CEV)
This is the promise to Abram, which means “Father” … who later became Abraham… “the Father of Many.”
Abram had no children. Yet because of his faithfulness to God, he became the father of Isaac, who became the father of Jacob, who’s name was later changed to Israel. He had twelve sons, the heads of the Twelve Tribes of Israel, God’s chosen people, who crossed the Jordan River at Jericho and inherited the Promised Land.
This idea of Abram’s blessing is the picture of a conduit. We are blessed with the express purpose of being a blessing to others. There is a continual motion with our hands of receiving and giving… receiving and giving… receiving and giving. Can you see yourself as both a receptacle and dispenser of God’s grace and joy and blessing?
Let’s jump a couple of thousand years to David, Psalm 1:
God blesses those people who refuse evil advice and won’t follow sinners or join in sneering at God.
Instead, the Law of the Lord makes them happy, and they think about it day and night.
They are like trees growing beside a stream, trees that produce fruit in season and always have leaves.
Those people succeed in everything they do.
Psalm 1:1-3 (CEV)
The Psalms are mostly David’s journal, his intimate thoughts with God. These prayers detail his struggles, his joys, his defeats and his victories. He gets the concept of blessing through the Word of God. The idea of “thinking about the law” — or other translations suggest the phrase is “meditating on the Scripture” — is the picture of a dog, chewing on a bone. Or more precisely a lion growling over his prey, followed by licking and chewing it up. Taking his time. Enjoying the blessings of his spoils. Usually in solitude.
So, it is THAT person, who is like a tree growing beside a stream. Its roots are long and deep. Have you ever seen a tree growing on the bank of a river and its roots run long down the bank until they are touching the water? That’s the kind of tree we are to be, someone with long and deep roots. And that tree? It produces fruit!
These are trees that do not worry. They are blessed.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)
And just like trees “those people succeed in everything they do.” They are blessed.
Proverbs says “the roots of the righteous give life, and more life.” Proverbs 12:12 (MSG)
Blessing happens when we enjoy our times with God. Please hear that the only way we produce fruit, or more accurately when God produces fruit in us and through us, is when we enjoy, when we relish, when we love quiet times of digging into and digesting His word, lingering over it, often; when our heart is connected to His heart.
One more Bible story about blessing:
When Jesus taught His first sermon, what’s the key word He used? At the Sermon on the Mount, He affirms eight additional Blessings.
God blesses those people who depend only on him. They belong to the kingdom of heaven!
God blesses those people who grieve. They will find comfort!
God blesses those people who are humble. The earth will belong to them!
God blesses those people who want to obey him more than to eat or drink. They will be given what they want!
God blesses those people who are merciful. They will be treated with mercy!
God blesses those people whose hearts are pure. They will see him!
God blesses those people who make peace. They will be called his children!
God blesses those people who are treated badly for doing right. They belong to the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5:1-10 (CEV)
One thing each of these Blessings have in common? These Blessings are given to those who are active, not passive.
You’ve heard “God helps those who help themselves.” That’s not in the Bible. That’s a quote most often ascribed to Benjamin Franklin. That’s not what I’m saying. Indeed, God’s grace is offered to all, because we really cannot help ourselves, right?
Here’s the true statement. Again from Proverbs: The one who blesses others is abundantly blessed. Those who help others are helped. Proverbs 11:25 (MSG)
Jesus is describing actions taken. Who receives blessings? Those who are depending and grieving. Those who are humble, obedient, mercy givers. Those who have a pure heart and who make peace and who do right.
Proverbs has two additional blessing promises:
God blesses everyone who trusts him. Proverbs 16:20 (CEV)
And then there’s this one:
When God blesses his people, their city prospers, but deceitful liars can destroy a city. Proverbs 11:11 (CEV)
I believe God wants to bless your city, your state, our county. But I don’t believe we are called to sit around and wait for it. I believe He will continue to bless this Land through each person who trusts in Him.
Jesus had an encounter with a dad who was hoping that the Messiah might heal his son. The boy’s father says: “Please have pity and help us if you can!” Jesus replied, “Why do you say “if you can”? Anything is possible for someone who has faith!” Right away the boy’s father shouted, “I do have faith! Please help me to have even more.” Mark 9:23-25 (CEV)
Maybe that’s our prayer too? “God, please give me more faith.”
That takes us full circle back around to Abraham. It was his faith that allowed him to see and believe that he’d have as many descendants as the stars in the heavens. It will be our faith, and our taking action steps — not passively sitting around waiting — to receive God’s blessings. And then its up to us to be obedient to pass them on… to our family, our neighbors, our city, and our country. And through our passing them along, we are blessed!