How has God been good to you today? This year? Ever?
Perhaps you recall specific blessings. Maybe no particular evidences of goodness come immediately to mind. Or perhaps you feel distracted by the cares of this life.
Today’s passage from Psalm 103 answers the questions:
Why should I praise God? Has He given me any reason to do so?
David repeatedly calls on and reminds himself to praise God. How often we have to encourage ourselves to praise God from the deepest place in our heart and soul, not out of mere ritual! Today we look at two important places to turn as sources of praise.
Thanksgiving isn’t “What are you thankful for?” but “Who are you thankful to?” Actually, thanksgiving is worship. And, if there is a deficiency in our praise and thanksgiving to God, the problem doesn’t lie in Him, but in us.
Psalm 103 is 22 verses, and while we won’t re-post the entire passage, the first five verses read:
1. Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2. Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3. who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4. who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5. who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.
(Read the full passage here.)
1. Praise God for what He has done.
“All His benefits” (v. 2) begin with the forgiveness of sins (v. 3). This is the foundation of God’s goodness to us. How can He bestow any blessing on us apart from His forgiveness?
“Heals all your diseases” (v. 3). Because of sin in this world, our bodies and hearts and minds are afflicted with diseases, fears, disabilities and shortcomings. No disease exists that God can’t heal, and one day, He will bring that work to completion.
Verse 4 turns to an image of coronation. We were condemned traitors headed for punishment, but the King has extended pardon and bestowed on us His very love and compassion. As our kind Father, He provides and sustains that we might be strengthened and satisfied in our hearts.
What does it say about God when we complain? That we are forgetting His benefits! One of the reasons we gather as a church is to stir one another up to remember what God has done and praise Him in response.
2. Praise God for who He is.
Praise God for His gracious love (vv. 6-10).
God chose the foolish, weak and despised things of this world to be His (1 Cor. 1:18-31). Just look at the history of Israel and the history of the church. Even when His people were unfaithful, God fulfilled every promise He ever made.
We have a hard time believing this love sometimes — either because we think God won’t forgive us this time, or that we have somehow earned His favor. If you are in Christ, neither is true. Though we deserve His eternal wrath, He turned it away. Be thankful that the three-in-one God is slow to anger, but abounding in love and mercy. How graciously God deals with us even now!
Praise God for His boundless love (vv. 11-13).
These aren’t abstract descriptions of God’s love. No, these are specific examples of the love God demonstrates to those who are His.
Consider the vastness of the universe God has created. Neither science nor the human mind has been able to grasp it. As vast and numerous as our sins once were, God has removed them completely — in Christ alone.
God delights in you! He’s the perfect Father who never disappoints and whose love knows no limit.
Understanding this love and its implications is no small task. Join Paul in praying that we will “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ” (Eph. 3:18). This will guard you against temptation. After all, doubting God’s love was our first parents’ sin.
Praise God for His everlasting love (vv. 14-18).
The above descriptions of God’s love would lose meaning if they had an end point. But these verses highlight the reality that no such end point exists. This world will go on when we are gone just as it did before we ever got here.
But, even in our frailty, God is mindful of us. He’ll never be apathetic toward our existence. How foolish it is to treat this world as our home when it will forget us — while God will remember!
Praise God for His reign of love (vv. 19-22).
All those who enter this Kingdom and embrace the authority of this King will be eternally blessed. This is the Kingdom announced by Jesus Christ more than 2,000 years ago. It is the Kingdom to which all believers belong already. In the next world, we’ll experience in full what we know now in part. The saving reign of Christ has begun and will soon be brought to completion.
God is calling everyone to lay down their arms of rebellion and embrace Him as Creator, Savior and Lord. But first, we must humble ourselves, repent and believe the Gospel – accepting the love of a kind, gracious and loving King.
We have rich cause to praise God.
A blessed Thanksgiving to all! May we fight against all the distractions that would turn us away from a Christ-centered Thanksgiving.