- Sermon Notes
The Keys to a Blessed Life
December 26-27, 2020
1. With a sermon title like “The Keys to a Blessed Life” it would be easy to assume that this message will be something similar to what you would hear at a “self-help” seminar.
2. But let me assure you that this is not a “self-help” seminar.
3. That said, it is important to recognize that there is a deep desire within all of us to be blessed, to lead a blessed life.
4. Now, our world offers many suggestions for what brings true blessing.
5. Unfortunately, there has been confusion even in the church about what it means to have a blessed life.
6. Sadly, it can be difficult to discern the difference between some Sunday morning sermons and a Madison Avenue advertising pitch.
7. So, during our time together we will look to God’s Word to discover The Keys to a Blessed Life.
Transition – The first Psalm rightly sets the tone for the Psalms that follow. In fact, the first verse of the first Psalm reveals the first Key to a Blessed Life. . .
I. Be in the World, Not of the World (1)
• Throughout the Bible the Christian will discover distinctions, comparisons and contrasts.
• For instance, the Bible distinguishes between light and darkness, life and death, righteousness and wickedness, and blessings and curses.
• Verse one reveals an important contrast, we are to be in the world but not of the world.
Transition – To be in the world but not of the world is the most blessed life, the happiest life of all.
A. A blessed life is a happy life
1. Literally, the beginning of the first verse reads, “Oh how very, very happy is the man. . .”
2. The word “blessed” comes from a word which means “to go straight, to go forward, to set right, to advance in the way of understanding.”
3. The word “blessed” is also plural and pictures a person who is blessed in many ways because their relationship with God blesses them on multiple levels; it is not one-dimensional.
4. Finally, this “happy” person is aware and thankful that their heavenly Father is always near, has their best interests in mind, and will be faithful to meet their every need every moment of every day.
Psalm 73:25-26, 28, Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. . . But as for me, the nearness of my God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.
APPL – This first key to happiness begins with asking Jesus Christ to forgive our sin, to be the Savior of our souls.
Psalm 32:1, How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
APPL – You might be wondering, “Why Jesus only?”
• “That sounds too exclusive.”
• “I thought all paths lead to God, right?”
• Those are fair questions.
• So it is important for us to understand what the Bible has to say in response.
• In one sense, all paths do lead to God because all will stand before God someday.
Hebrews 9:27, And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment
• The question is “What is your standing before God when you stand in front of God?”
• What I am asking is, “Has your sin been forgiven because you have asked Jesus to be your Savior?”
• If so, then you will stand before God forgiven and ready to enjoy heaven with God forever.
• If not, then you will stand before God unforgiven because Jesus Christ is the only way for our sins to be forgiven.
• This is why Jesus said. . .
John 14:6, I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.
• God wants a relationship with us but our sin has created a barrier between us and God.
• So, God has provided one way for that barrier to be removed, for that chasm to be bridged, and it is through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Acts 4:12, And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
• Therefore, the first key to happiness is to receive the forgiveness that God offers through His Son, Jesus Christ, for the salvation of our souls.
Transition – This means the blessed life begins with Jesus Christ and all of our future choices flow from our decision to receive Him as our Savior.
B. A blessed life is a holy life
1. He does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.
a. “Does not” means it is a decisive choice; it is a resolution of one’s will.
b. To “walk” means “to go along with, to follow a way of life.” If one makes the wrong choice it will be their first step towards compromise.
c. The word “counsel” means “to purpose, plan, a way of thinking.” It refers to an attitude, a state of mind, or a viewpoint which determines the decisions a person makes.
d. “Wicked” refers to someone who is guided or controlled by their fleshly desires, emotions, or impulses.
→ This person is unstable and morally loose; not necessarily as evil as they could be.
→But they are superficial in their view of life and unconcerned about the consequences of their choices.
ILLUS – Esau sold his birthright for a taste of red stew.
APPL – In today’s terms, what does this counsel look like?
• “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!”
• “You can look, just don’t touch!”
• The Apostle Peter gives us better counsel. . .
1 Peter 3:15, 18, sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. . . For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God
2. He does not stand in the path of the sinners.
a. “Stand” means “to stop, to be firm.” From merely walking in their counsel, one becomes more confirmed, involved, and influenced by their counsel.
b. “Path” means “a way, journey, a course of action.”
→It refers to one’s conduct, patterns, habits, and responses.
→So, one moves from thinking like the world to acting like the world.
c. The word “sinners” is an archery term which means “to fall short, miss the mark, to aim at the wrong target.”
Matthew 15:14, if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit.
3. He does not sit in the seat of scoffers.
a. Again, notice the progression from walking to standing to sitting which signifies that one has become settled or at home in this bad way of life.
b. “Seat” is a place of assembly where counsel is given, where decisions or deals are made.
c. “Scoffers” are those who “mock, deride, ridicule, scoff.” It refers to one who is actively engaged in putting down the things of God and His Word.
APPL – In today’s terms, what does a scoffer sound like?
Quote: It sounds like New Atheist, Richard Dawkins, who wrote in his book, The God Delusion, “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Psalm 14:1, The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
2 Peter 3:3-4, Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
ILLUS – When I reflect on the progression in Psalm 1, I am reminded of Lot and his choice to live in Sodom and Gomorrah.
• Genesis 13 (Separated from Abraham),
• Genesis 14 (Saved by Abraham),
• Genesis 19 (Saved by Angels)
APPL – Our lives are progressing towards a target.
• But the wicked, the sinners, and the scoffers are all aiming at the wrong target (4-6).
• The question is, “What target are we aiming at?”
Warren Wiersbe, “We must have contact with the world but not be contaminated by it.”
Transition – How do we do this? God wants us to know, He does not leave us in the dark. . .
II. Live in God’s Word (2-3)
A. Delight in the counsel from God’s Word
1. “Delight” means “to be mindful of, attentive to,” and so it came to mean, “to keep, or protect.” When something delights us, we desire to protect it or guard it.
2. Reading God’s Word brings joy because it reveals God and His plan for our lives.
Psalm 119:14-16, I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches. I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word.
APPL – What do you delight in? The answer is revealed by what has captured your heart.
Psalm 37:4, Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Transition – What we delight in is reflected in the way we spend our time. . .
B. Meditate on the counsel from God’s Word
1. Biblical meditation is not “eastern meditation” where one empties their mind to become one with the cosmic universe.
2. Biblical meditation is the filling of the mind with the precepts, principles, and promises of God’s Word, the Bible.
Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you
3. “Day and night”
a. This is not referring to morning and evening study, though there is nothing wrong with doing so.
b. Rather, it is a reference to a life that is continually and consistently in God’s Word.
c. This is a comprehensive term for the study and application of God’s Word to one’s life.
d. It involves thinking about what the Bible means and how to apply it to our lives.
Psalm 119:97-99, O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day. Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever mine. I have more insight than all my teachers, for Your testimonies are my meditation.
APPL – What are some practical ways for increasing the impact of God’s Word in our lives?
• Read the Bible from Genesis to Revelation
• Memorize Scripture verses
• Repetitive reading
ILLUS – Jim Rutledge, Founder of Next Step Ministries
APPL – If you are new to the Christian faith, I recommend beginning with the Gospel of John. After you have read it, then read 1 John.
APPL – How should we approach studying the Bible?
• Prayerfully – Ask God to open your eyes.
• Expectantly – Ask God to meet your needs.
• Humbly – Submit yourself to God’s authority.
• Contemplatively – Digest God’s Word.
C. God will blesses us through His Word
1. A tree portrays stability and the capacity to withstand the storms of life.
a. It is a picture of mental, emotional, and spiritual stability in every season of life.
b. It is also a picture growth over time.
2. The word “planted” means “to transplant, to cause to take root, to become firmly established for the purpose of stability, nutrition, growth, and eventually production.”
Matthew 7:24-25, Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
3. “By streams of water” is symbolic of the life that is continually refreshed by the Holy Spirit.
ILLUS – The counsel Dr. Lanier Burns received from his wife after a long semester at DTS.
4. “Yields it fruit in its season” meaning the fruit is ripe.
a. Fruit takes time to grow and mature.
b. Fruit can only grow from a branch that abides in the vine.
John 15:4-5, Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in 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.
5. “Its leaf does not wither” is a picture of vitality.
APPL – Personally, the older I get the more appealing and comforting I find these verses.
• We may be getting older, but there is a radiance that shines through a life that is filled with the Holy Spirit and maturing in Christ.
• In Christ we are going from glory to glory.
2 Corinthians 4:16, Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
6. “In whatever he does, he prospers.”
a. Because he has renounced worldly things.
b. He has delighted himself in the Word.
c. Therefore, God will bless what he does in accordance with the Word.
Joshua 1:8, This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.
ILLUS – God’s answer to my prayer.
Psalm 119:11, 105, Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You. . . Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.
1 Blessed is the person who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the [a]path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the Law of the Lord,
And on His Law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree planted by [b]streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season,
And its [c]leaf does not wither;
And [d]in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord [e]knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.