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January 1, 2019
Psalm 1:1-6

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

 Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

New International Version (NIV)
“Happy are the . . .”   Fill in the blank.  What would you say?  Happy are the rich?  Happy are the smart?  Happy are the beautiful?  In the scriptures the word “blessed” comes close to what we mean when we say happy.  Matthew had at least eight answers to this question:  “Happy are the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers and the persecuted.”   Elizabeth said to Mary, the mother of Jesus, “Blessed are you who have believed . . .”

Who are the happiest people you know?  My friend Calvin Miller described someone as a “blithe soul.”  Who in your circle lives with authentic joy?   For several decades I have started this day with the Psalmist’s beatitude.   This Psalm operates as a sentry standing at the start of the Psalms and the new year asking, “Who goes there?”  What kind of person are you who opens this book to read?  Are you righteous or wicked?  God knows.  We know.  More importantly, “Who do we want to be?”

Blessed is . . .  His answer may surprise us.   Are those who have become happy with their sin really happy?  It might seem so.  Appearances can be deceiving.  The Psalmist  says the happy people do not become comfortable with sin.  We watch with whom we walk, stand and sit.  Positively, the happy delight in the law of the Lord and meditate in it day and night.  The result is productivity, longevity and prosperity.   As I look across a meadow in Hershey Park today I see a row of trees which still stand, despite the hurricanes and the floods.  They are still alive, still thriving, still growing.  I want to be like them.  Do you?

Who is really happy?  The Psalmist answers:  “Happy are the holy.”  We used to sing, “Take time to be holy . . . “  The words do not mislead.  It takes time to be holy.  This time is well-spent.  At the start of 2019 let us consecrate ourselves again to take great delight in God’s words to us in scripture.  Let us live in God’s word until God’s word lives in us.  We have provided a reading plan from the Bible Project website.  You can look it up online at thebibleproject.com or download the app at readscripture.org.  The reading for today is Psalm 1 and Genesis 1-3.  We will read through the Psalms nearly two and a half times, and the rest of the scriptures once.  The important part is not that we get through it, but that somehow it gets through to us.  For so many years, this commitment to read through the scriptures has formed my soul and made me happy.  Welcome all who desire to become like Christ.

Pray with me:  
Father, make the book live to us in 2019.  Show us ourselves in your word.  Show us our sin in your word.  Show us our Savior in your word.  And make the book live to us.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen. 
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