Elders and Deacons Part 3

The office of deacon is one of the most misunderstood and under utilized offices in the Church today. In many congregational churches the deacon functions as an elder and there is no deacon. In most Protestant churches where there are deacons they are in charge of the church picnic, or lawn care, or the finances. But are these things within the proper function of the deacon office? Let’s take a look at the creation of the office in Acts 6: 1-7 and let it be a guide to us in forming our understanding of this important leader in the New Testament Church.

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists[a] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brothers,[b] pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

A problem arose in the early Church. Widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. This causes us to pause and ask, “Is the church suppose to take care of its widows?” The answer is yes. This is not something that is common only to the Church in Jerusalem or Judea. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, gives Timothy, in his first letter to him, the requirements a widow must meet in order for her to be added to the number of widows under the Church’s care. Timothy is in Ephesus, and Ephesus is the most important church in Asia Minor. Timothy was strategically placed there by Paul to establish the work and to properly organize it according to the Apostolic model. There are some who will say that the book of Acts is descriptive in nature but not prescriptive in order that they may wiggle out of the Church’s responsibility to care for widows. To this we answer, if that was the case why would Paul say this to his young protege’ left in the Ephesus.

Honor widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Let a widow be enrolled if she is not less than sixty years of age, having been the wife of one husband,[a] 10 and having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work.

Paul is prescribing the function of the New Testament Church and the providing the specific requirements for enrollment of widows into the care of the Church. What does this have to do with deacons? Everything, as you can see from Acts 6:1-7, the purpose of the creation of the Deacon office was to administrate, under the Apostles, the care of the widows in the Church. These persons were not to set up chairs at church picnics, children and teenagers can do those good and necessary works. Deacons are to carry out the incarnational ministry (serve tables Acts 6:2) of the church to the legitimate poor. The legitimate poor are defined as widows, orphans, and strangers (refugees). These family-less, property-less, disconnected persons are referred to in countless Old Testament passages as being in need of inclusion and care in the wider community of believers. Below is a list of important passages that the reader can review. They demonstrate, beyond all doubt, that God’s desire is that His people care for the legitimate poor, widows, orphans, and refugees, in their midst.

In our next blog we will further explore the ramifications of rediscovering the proper role of the Deacon in the modern church.

Deuteronomy 10:18 God’s attitude toward the legitimate poor

Deuteronomy 14:22-29 Tithe Feast

Deuteronomy 15:7-11 Sabbatical Year

Deuteronomy 16:9-12 Feast of Weeks

Deuteronomy 24:19-22 Harvest Practices

Deuteronomy 26:1-15 First Fruits (Free Will Offering) & Tithe (Obligatory Offering)

Deuteronomy 27:19 Curse upon those who pervert justice for the legitimate poor in the believing community

As well as the following Old and New Testament passages

Psalm 68:5 Psalm 82:3 Psalm 146:9 Isaiah 1:16-19 Matthew 25:31-46  James 1:27

 

 

 

 

 

Elders and Deacons Part 2 Elders

Teaching and Ruling Elders

1 Timothy 5:17

The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching.

As Solomon’s Porch elects our second elder, it is important that we all understand that there is one “office of elder” with two distinct functions. There are those who, as a principle function of their office, “direct the affairs of the church.” This type of elder is commonly referred to as a “ruling elder.” Then there are those who, as a principle function of their office are described as those “whose work is preaching and teaching.” This type of elder is commonly referred to as a “teaching elder.” One office of elder, with two distinct functions.

Does this mean that a “ruling elder” does not need to be able to preach and teach? No, if  you refer back to my last blog on this subject, all elders should be able to both teach privately (give counsel) and to preach and teach publicly. Does this mean that a “teaching elder” is not to “direct the affairs of the church?” No, a teaching elder is part of the overall body of elders that directs the affairs of the church. What we mean by making the distinction between the ruling elder and teaching elder is this. Though both govern and teach, the ruling elder’s primary function in the local body is to direct her affairs, and the teaching elders primary function in the local body is to teach and preach.

Teaching elders usually carry out their vocation within the church. Meaning, they are most often paid church staff members. I say “most often”, so as not to exclude the ruling elder as a possible paid staff member. When the Scripture tells us to count those who carry out their office well as, “worthy of double honor, it is not saying to give them two pats on the back. It means honor them well in the form of financial payment. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:3-12

This is my defense to those who sit in judgment on me. Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. 11 If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you? 12 If others have this right of support from you, shouldn’t we have it all the more?

We should count both ruling and teaching elders who carry out their respective functions well as worthy of “double honor.” The church may find herself in need of an elder who directs the affairs of the body as a vocation, while another teaches and preaches as a vocation. And so we should not think just in terms of teaching elders as paid vocational ministers.

When we say we may need someone to direct the affairs of the church, we are not talking about ministry organization. We are talking about shepherding souls. We have to remember that the main function of elders, both ruling and teaching, is to pray, study, and oversee the lives of the people. And we need them to stay in their lane. Pastor and elder are synonymous terms. A ruling elder is a shepherd of the people the same as the teaching elder. A ruling elder does not primarily labor in public preaching and teaching, but he still labors among the people in regards to the care of souls. He is a shepherd, and shepherds are concerned with the care of sheep, not the maintenance of farming equipment. The machinery of organizing the service of the poor and distributing the necessary funds lies under the auspices of another office, that of deacon or deaconess, which we will survey in our next blog. But we need to understand upfront, that the church has a limited sphere of operation. She is to be concerned with the preaching of the Gospel, of which the care of souls is a part, and meeting the material needs of the legitimate poor (within the body first, without the body secondarily). This is her domain, and the extent of her authority. She has been authorized by Scripture with two offices, elder and deacon, to carry out her mission of making disciples of all nations. There are no offices outside of these two, nor is their legitimate “ministry” in Christ’s Church beyond the care of souls and meeting the material needs of the poor.

Solomon’s Porch believes, as a founding principle, that the sphere of the Church’s ministry is limited, and that she needs to remain focused on the two types of ministry that God has equipped her through her two offices to accomplish.   For clarity’s sake they are,

  • The Elder: The preaching of the Gospel which includes the care of souls, and
  • The Deacon: Ministering to the needs of the legitimate poor within the body first, with the over-flow of funds and energy being directed to the outside

 

Elders and Deacons Part 1

1 Timothy 3:1-7

The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach,not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money.He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil.Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

The election or appointment of officers in the local church is important to the ordinary life and the long term health of God’s visible people. The Apostle Paul placed two men, Timothy and Titus, in key places in the ancient world for two reasons. First, to provide models of what true shepherding should look like for those disciples to see. Second, after establishing the pattern of shepherding, they were to find, train, and ordain other men to take up the mantle of leadership in the local churches.

“and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”  – 2 Timothy 2:2 –

They were not managers, they were shepherds. We have a hard time distinguishing between the two in the modern era. The church has become in many ways the domain of managers. As she has become increasingly program driven, and as she has become generally larger in number, she has become increasingly managed. Efficiency and smoothness of function are valued. Lead pastors often build well oiled machines with a series of departmental pastors beneath them. Churches of thousands of people are established through management techniques with hardly a soul known by any of the shepherds. Many names are known, of course, but how many souls? This is not the pastoral pattern established by the Apostle Paul, but rather a leadership pattern established and defined by American ideas of success. So what does a leader in the Pauline pattern look like?

The first thing he lists is someone who is “above reproach.” Someone with a high longterm pattern of integrity. This person does not have a line of people ready to publicly question his character. Even those who may not like him would not accuse him because of his widely established good character.

Second, he is a man who has kept his word in fidelity to his wife. Ordination generally is seen to involve the taking of vows. It is one of the few places in a man’s life that a vow maybe required of him. But how can one be trusted to take a ministerial vow if he has not kept his first vow inviolate. A man cannot be expected to remain faithful to a people for the longterm,  if he has not already remained faithful to his wife, which is the closest earthly picture we have of the relationship between Christ and his church. Marriage covenants must have remained intact and previous vows kept among the shepherds of Christ’s church.

Third, he must be sober-minded. A shepherd in Christ’s church takes the life that God has given him seriously. This leads him to take command of his bodily appetites and desires. In other words, he becomes a man known for his self-control.

Due to his sober-mindedness and his self control the believers of the congregation come to respect him, and desire to spend time with him in his home. He is hospitable and enjoys opening his home to others. He is able to teach in private situations (give counsel), and he can be called on to teach or preach the Word of God in a worship assembly if needed, though this may or may not turn out to be something he does for a vocation. He is not dominated by substance abuse (not given to wine), nor is he dominated by his emotions, like anger which may lead one to become violent. He sees the purpose of truth as being pastoral and seeks to lead others to that truth through a gentle spirit, avoiding prolonged heated debates (quarrelsome). His life is not steered by money (not a lover of money). He is impartial in monetary matters, seeing money more as a necessary evil in the church, rather than a primary driver of the decision-making processes in the church.

An overseer must be one that has first already overseen his private life well. Whether single or married, his life should be in order. He must be one who has kept his own first responsibilities well to parents and family. If his wife and children do not honor him, how can others be expected to do so? The church is an institution based on voluntaryism. There is no coercion used. People must willingly surrender to the leadership of the local body of Christ. Therefore only men of high honor can come to the position of elder. If respect for the leadership of the church is lost, then those people who have voluntarily placed themselves under their leadership have every right to move their place of worship to a new body where fidelity to biblical shepherding is modeled and valued.

Finally, the position of elder should only be occupied by someone, (1) who is of sufficient age, and (2) not a recent convert. Longterm faithfulness needs to be exhibited before one can truly lead in the church. There is more to know than doctrinal definitions and technical rules of governance. The deep work of the Spirit of God where one comes to know their own soul generally only occurs over a long period of time. How can we remove splinters from the eyes of others without having first dealt with the logs in our own. Before one can lead they must learn to follow. Their metal needs to be sufficiently tested in submission to others. Their are some flaws of character that can only be repaired, and some lessons in life that can only be learned, through the slow work of waiting in humility.

As you nominate an elder in the coming weeks, look for men who match such characteristics.

 

 

Knowing God Part 1

“Father I want to obey you, but I struggle to find the power to obey”, or some variation of this prayer, has been prayed at one time or another by every single authentic follower of Christ. Some of us have been Christians for most of our lives, yet the process of spiritual transformation remians a mystery to us. I hope the series of articles that follow will help others discover the richness of the intimate Knowledge of God, as well as how Scripture teaches us to pursue it.

 

My conversion to Christianity was sudden and miraculous. I went from smoking pot and drinking all night to reading the Scriptures and praying all night. I basically became a monk for the first year. I worked, I ate, I slept, but mostly I pursued God with everything I could muster. I changed all my playmates and all my playgrounds. I forsook the world and found in the body of Christ new friends, a new family, and a new home. But, and I hate adding this but, but, I became a jerk for Jesus. I gained more doctrinal knowledge in a short period of time than most people gain in a lifetime. I loved theology. I read good theologians and godly men. I seemed to have a gift to understand it. But I became swollen in pride, because “knowledge puffs up.” My knowledge about God had outpaced my intimate knowledge of Him as person. One evening, as I was praying a very pharisaical prayer over somebody else, God pulled back the veil of my heart and gave me just a glimpse of the pride and darkness that dwelt there. I was devastated. I could not believe I was so unlike Jesus, and that there had been so little actual transformation. But that night began the real journey for me. From that night on I rarely ever (I wish I could say never) saw myself as a man who knows, but I became one that is in pursuit of the intimate knowledge of God. For He is so boundless that after an eternity to pursue Him, there will always be more to discover, for He is infinite.

 

“There is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end. ‘Shoreless ocean, who can sound Thee? Thine own eternity is round Thee, Majesty divine’”

A. W. Tozer

boundlessocean

Advent of Love

Reading for the Week of December 21, 2014
Advent Theme: Love

Sunday              December 21        Luke 1:26-38
Monday             December 22        Luke 1:39-56
Tuesday             December 23        Luke 1:57-80
Wednesday        December 24        Matthew 1:18-25
Thursday           December 25        John 1:1-18
Friday               December 26        Titus 2:11-14
Saturday           December 2          Psalm 98

Christmas Eve    Luke 2:1-20

Devotional Thought from Charles Spurgeon
John 3:16, 17
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Whence came that love? Not from anything outside of God himself. God’s love springs from himself. He loves because it is his nature to do so. “God is love.” As I have said already, nothing upon the face of the earth could have merited his love, though there was much to merit his displeasure. This stream of love flows from its own secret source in the eternal Deity, and it owes nothing to any earth-born rain or rivulet; it springs from beneath the everlasting throne, and fills itself full from the springs of the infinite. God loved because he would love. When we enquire why the Lord loved this man or that, we have to come back to our Saviour’s answer to the question, “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in thy sight.” God has such love in his nature that he must needs let it flow forth to a world perishing by its own wilful sin; and when it flowed forth it was so deep, so wide, so strong, that even inspiration could not compute its measure, and therefore the Holy Spirit gave us that great little word SO, and left us to attempt the measurement, according as we perceive more and more of love divine.

The Magnificat sung by Mary in Luke 1:46-55
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

 

Carols for this Week

Hark the Herald Angels Sing sung by Kings College Choir in Cambridge

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vq83HcBEaW4Scripture

 

The First Noel sung by Kings College Choir in Cambridge

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1mItWsC8RtM] Readings for the

 

Soli Deo Gloria

The Advent of Joy

Advent-Candles“The root of joy for the Christian, is the truth of joy in the Son.”

 

“The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one to save;  He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.” (

                            ~ Zephaniah 3:17 ~  

When we think of might we think of physical strength.  It is easy to see how the Israelites missed the coming of their Savior, they were looking for the wrong kind of might. They were looking for a ruler in the might of men to come and deliver them from Roman tyrants.  God sent them a baby, born in a barn, who slept his first night in someone else’s clothes, at the bottom of an animal food trough.  He then spent the majority of His human life in quiet obscurity as a carpenters son.  Finally, when He was revealed to His people as the Son of God and King of Israel, it was not at a grand coronation in a King’s court, but in a garden outside His own tomb, before a few women who had come to visit His grave. Listen to Paul in his letter to the Romans,

“the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord”
                            ~ Romans 1:1-4 ~

This is not how we would have done it.  But it is marvelous in our eyes.  To know that now Christ Jesus is not only seated at the Father’s right hand, but that He rejoices over us.  He is not seated on the Throne with a stern look upon His face, but He is exulting over us with loud singing.  This incredible scene of love does bring a quiet over my soul.  I get quiet so I can listen to the joy of my Savior.  The root of joy for the Christian, is the truth of joy in the Son.
Soli Deo Gloria

Scripture Readings for the Week of December 14, 2014
Advent Theme: Joy

Sunday              December 14        Luke 3:7-18
Monday             December 15        Isaiah 12:1-6
Tuesday            December 16        Isaiah 52:1-12
Wednesday      December 17        Psalm 126
Thursday          December 18       Zechariah 9:9-17
Friday               December 19        Zephaniah 3:14-20
Saturday          December 20        Philippians 4:4-9

Joy to the World by George Fox University Orchestra

O Come All Ye Faithful by Kings College Choir

 

The Advent of Peace

Advent-Candles

Devotional Thought from Ezekiel 34:11-31
Peace can be an illusive thing in this life. Conflict seems to be inscribed on our DNA. In fact, the Bible says that it is.     What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? “Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?(James 4:1)” Our sin nature, what the Apostle Paul calls, “the flesh” causes conflict, quarrels, and war. It is important for us to realize however, that our primary war is not with other men. Our primary war, the one raging in all human hearts, is against God. The Apostle Paul, again, describes the human condition

“And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”

                            ~ Romans 1:28-32 ~

Yet God, after all our actions to the contrary, says in Ezekiel 34:25 that He is going to establish with us a “covenant of peace”. God ended the conflict. God resolved His justice. God initiated an end to the war. He did not send a general to conquer and destroy us, but he sent his only begotten son to save us. God became man, the incarnation, was the end of the war. Listen closely to the angels in Luke 2, and celebrate that there is now a “covenant of peace” between God and man, made by the God-man, Immanuel, Jesus Christ our Lord.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
                                    Luke 2:8-14  

Soli Deo Gloria

 

Readings for the Week of December 7th

Sunday         December 7        Isaiah 2:1-5
Monday        December 8        Isaiah 11:1-9
Tuesday        December 9        Isaiah 54:11-17
Wednesday   December 10       Ezekiel 34:11-31
Thursday      December 11       Zechariah 8:9-17
Friday           December 12       Psalm 85
Saturday       December 13       1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

 

Carols for this week

O Little Town of Bethlehem performed by the St Louis Boys Choir

Silent Night performed by the American Boys Choir

 

 

 

The Advent of Hope

Advent-CandlesA Devotional Thought based on Isaiah 40:1-11

We are fragile beings. Jesus will say our life is like a vapor or a mist, here right now and then gone in a flash, blown away by nothing more than a gentle breeze. To a child, 70 years seems a long time. To a 70 year old person, it was just yesterday that they were a child. Life is fragile, and life is short. It is easy to lose hope and to begin to wonder, “How can I stand before God?”.  Isaiah 40 gives us a word picture to describe the especially fragile condition of our soul before God’s Holy Word, when he says,

“A voice says, Cry!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All flesh is grass, and all its beauty is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades when the breath of the LORD blows on it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”    
                                ~ Isaiah 40:6-8 ~

But then the prophet gets a vision of the GOOD NEWS! He is told to get up on the top of Mount of Zion (the Temple Mount) and shout and tell everyone that the Lord is coming with power and an outstretched arm. That He is bringing with Him a reward (eternal life) for His people. The Lord is coming to them, and they should be on the look out for Him. But instead of looking for a mighty military general to throw off the empires of the world, they are told to look for a shepherd. Because that’s what we need, a Great Shepherd for our souls. “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; He will gather the lambs in his arms; He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:11). We have a Shepherd who has overcome sin and death, and who WILL reward His people with eternal life. A shepherd that knows their fragile human condition, because He would come and bear it. That’s the Incarnation. That’s not a maybe hope, that is a sure hope.

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased. I will put my Spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.”
            
                                ~ Matthew 12:18-21~

Soli Deo Gloria

Devotion from Psalm 149

cross mosaicPsalm 149:1-5

[1] Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! [2] Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! [3] Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! [4] For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. [5] Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds.

 

One of the reasons why I choose a solitary quiet place for prayer is, when I sing, I really don’t want any one to hear me but the Lord. It’s awful. I truly make a joyful noise, but it’s more noise than anything. I love to sing however. I especially love to sing the older hymns. As far as I’m concerned there is no better song than Nearer My God to Thee. If you don’t know it, or have never heard it, then your church is robbing you of not just of a good song, but they are disinheriting you of the rich Christian tradition that is rightfully yours . Uh, oh, I said the T word didn’t I. Tradition is not a bad word at all. Sure it can lead to some bad things. But don’t blame tradition for that, it is ungodly men in the present that disturb the church with either an unhealthy love for or hatred of what they perceive as tradition. Interesting that I would bring up tradition when the Psalm plainly says, “Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song”. It does not mean to write a new song, it means sing to God with a renewed heart. The song may be old, or new, the age of the song does not matter. It is the state of the singer that is being addressed here. The Psalmist draws our attention to why we should be singing in verse 4, “For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Consider that phrase. Let it roll around in your mind for a minute. THE LORD TAKES PLEASURE IN HIS PEOPLE! God takes pleasure in you. When He thinks you, He sings over you. When you sing you are harmonizing not just with Angels in the worship of God, but there is a song of love that is being sung over you as well. So, when you go to the Lord, go with joy. When nobody is looking, dance. If you play an instrument, play a song and sing to the Lord. Let the first thought you have in the morning be, “the LORD takes pleasure in his people”. Let your last thought at night be, “he adorns the humble with salvation.”

Devotions from Psalm 1

Psalm 1
[1] Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits 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 is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. [4] The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. [5] Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; [6] for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

 

Who is the man that is blessed? The answer to that question is not the one typically given by the American Christian. The answer is not “the guy with the most stuff”, or “the guy with the most friends”. The answer is, “The man who doesn’t listen to, or surround himself with, or receive honor from the men of the world.” He has no desire for the woold pathrld’s vanity fair. He is in the world, but he is not of it. The blessed man desires above all to hear from the Lord, to be surrounded by the presence of the Lord, to be honored by the Lord. So he grows in patience and stability. He is willing to wait. He puts down deep roots next to the stream that flows from the Throne of God. He fills his mind with God’s Word. Patience has its perfect work in his life. The blessed man grows into a substantial person, one not blown about by every wind of doctrine. He bears fruit in season. When he is a young father with small children, he blossoms into a man concerned with their early needs. When his children are grown or nearly so, he becomes a mentor to young men, those without his wisdom, either those who themselves are now young fathers, or those that are young men who never had the benefit of a father. When he gets a little snow on the roof (or the roof falls out), his counsel matures even further as the many years of interaction with the holy Word and the Holy Spirit substantially change him. His words are fewer, but they are full. While the men of the world grow lighter, and more afraid of the future as their bodies weaken and their strength fades. The father in the faith grows in glory, in eternal weight, as he reflects the glory of His heavenly Father. He knows God and is known by God. He is a man with unexplainable peace. He is sure of his future with the Lord. He is occasionally afflicted with doubt, we all are from time to time. But those periods of spiritual disturbance grow shorter and shorter. He is a blessed man, and the Lord’s blessing does not end in this life. It is just a foretaste of the joy to come.

Application

1.    Seek the honor that comes from the Father alone. Abandon all attempts to impress or to find validation from the men on the world.

2.    Put down deep roots into the waters of God. Spend daily time with Him in His Word. Let your mind be filled with the Truth of God.

3.    Don’t look for instant gratification. You will bear fruit in season. Let patience have its perfect work in you. Much of the spiritual life happens by increments. You are a tree, not a weed.

4.    Surround yourself with other men who desire to be “blessed” men as well