June 15

Blessed by the Book

Bible Reading: Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17:5-8

Jeremiah 17:7-8, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

Famous for its fishing and white-water rafting, the Deschutes River lies not too far to the west of here.  Its headwaters lie far south at Little Lava Lake in the Cascade Mountains.  From there, it flows 250 miles north to its confluence with the Columbia River.  Whereas its upper reaches are set against the beautiful backdrop of tree-covered mountains, the lower half makes its course through an arid high desert landscape.  I’ve fished in the lower portion of the river on many occasions.  It has a beauty all its own, the blue of the river and green ribbon of bank-side vegetation, set against the backdrop of the barren golden hills that rise up on either side.

Trees and green vegetation line the riverbank because that’s the only place where they can find sufficient hydration.  Long after the sweltering summer heat has worked to vanquish the green and life from the surrounding hills, the trees along the river live on.  Year after year.  Season after season.  Rain or no rain.  Not only are they happy trees, they are happy trees despite their placement in a harsh environment.  The one who trusts in the Lord is like one of those trees.  The term blessed “connotes the state of ‘prosperity’ or ‘happiness’ that comes when a superior bestows his favor (blessing) on one” (Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words).  Note this from our two passages: true happiness in life is not found in pursuing happiness, true happiness is found in pursuing God.  He bestows it on those who meet His conditions.  What are his conditions?  Trust in Him.  What does that look like?  Psalm 1:1-3 explains…

To trust in the Lord is to turn away from worldly wisdom and worldly ways (Psalm 1:1-2).  The blessed man deliberately forsakes unbelief, ungodly ways, and ungodly counsel.  It’s not that he’s unexposed to such things, but that he’s adopted a mind-set in which he measures all he hears and sees according to what the Scriptures say (Acts 17:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:21).  He knows ‌trusting God equates in practical terms with knowing and doing what God says.

“His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).  Meditation here has been analogized to a cow chewing its cud.  Though not a pretty picture, it is a helpful illustration.  A cow first chews its food just enough to soften it, before sending it to one part of its stomach.  The food is subsequently sent back to the cow’s mouth, where it is re-chewed repeatedly before going back into its stomach to be fully digested.  The purpose is so that the maximum possible nutrition can be gained from the food.  

The blessed man, the one who trusts in the Lord, approaches Scripture like that.  He thinks about it all the time.  He thinks about its meaning.  By what it says, he measures everything. He thinks about how it relates to his life. He does this repeatedly until the truth takes root and is planted deep in his heart.  The process is in keeping with what Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”  It all starts with the sowing of a thought.  And there’s no better seed to sow than the truths we find in Scripture.  By delighting in God’s word, you can be like a happy tree planted by streams of water!  Set against the backdrop of troubled times in which we live, there’s much beauty in that!  

True Happiness is not found in the pursuit of happiness, but in the pursuit of the One in which it is found.

Jerry Conklin

COME TO THE DEEP, CLEAR RIVER

Come to the deep, clear river,
Come where the pastures call,
Give to the great, good Giver
The trust that is thy all;
From want eternal fleeing,
Come to an endless store;
Bring thy whole famished being,
For he wants nothing more.

If thoughts of thine appall thee,
Oh, lean on him and live;
To sacrifice they call thee,
While he is here to give;
Accept thy Father’s measure,
Of need that he can see;
The heart to do his pleasure
Is in his love for thee.

He will not now refuse thee,
Weak hands and vision dim,
For some things he will use thee,
But first they wanted him.
The spirit worn with straying
Will find his judgment best;
Oh, hear what he is saying,
And yield thyself to rest.

For one transporting minute,
The beck’ning word obey;
There is a pow’r within it
To bear thee on thy way;
That voice of mercy speaking,
Is God the Savior’s might,
And all thy heart is seeking,
Lies safely into light.

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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