“Bless the Lord”
Pastor Mike’s message from the FCC Thanksgiving Service
November 24, 2015
Text: Psalm 103: 1-5
Introduction: Turn in your Bibles to Psalm 103. It’s hard to believe its Thanksgiving season, but here we are and I think we really need it. There is so much angst and worry these days, that it’s time to stop and say thanks. You may have had a good year; you may have had a bad year; either way it’s time to stop and say thanks.
C.S. Lewis – “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.”
So, let’s pause to give thanks to the Lord and let’s focus on a well-loved Psalm. Let’s read the first five verses together:
Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
True thanksgiving is an act of worship. Holman Commentary – Worship is not about keeping up an outward façade of rituals, rules, or religion. It is about an inward reality of a living relationship with God through his Son, Jesus Christ. Worship is the soul’s encounter with the supreme majesty of God and the risen Christ on high. Worship is experiencing God in one’s innermost being—all that I am responding to all that he is. This is every believer’s glorious occupation.
This is the heartbeat of Psalm 103. It is a hymn of praise to God that overflows from a heart supremely devoted to the Lord. In this psalm, David surveyed the love and compassion of God toward his people. In every line of this masterful work, he encouraged his soul to join him in praising God. Here David speaks for us all. By speaking to his own soul, he actually speaks to each one of us, inviting us to lift our hearts and voices to God in worship. Some psalms are addressed to God; others are addressed to other people. But this psalm is addressed primarily to the psalmist himself. He calls upon himself to praise God.
Spurgeon says of Psalm 103 – “there was too much in this Psalm for a thousand pens to write. It’s one of those all-comprehending Scriptures, which is a Bible unto itself, and it alone might almost suffice for the hymnbook of the church.”
David exhorts himself and in turn us to Bless the Lord. This is to speak well of Him for His abundant generosity. It is to praise Him. To give Him glory and honor.
How do we “Bless the Lord?”
- All that is within me – note the sincerity and all-effort to bless the Lord. He is inviting his soul to join him in praising the Lord! He’s holding nothing back, the Psalmists wholeheartedly says, “Bless the Lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!”
- Forget not His benefits – We bless the Lord when we remember all that He has done. He reminds himself, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not His benefits.” And really, this is the essence of Thanksgiving. Remembering all that God has done. Thinking…and then thanking Him for His benefits.
Deuteronomy 4: 9 “Only take care, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your children’s children—“
Psalm 63: 6 “On my bed I remember You; I think of You through the watches of the night.”
So we come this thanksgiving, blessing the Lord whole heartedly from the depths of our soul and remembering His benefits. We dare not miss the opportunity to “Bless the Lord.” Matthew Henry – “Be not afraid of saying too much in the praises of God; all the danger is of saying too little.”
We could study the entire Psalm tonight but let’s just take a few moments and look at the next few moments. David, wrote this particular psalm and lists some benefits of the Lord, some reasons to bless him. We are told to Bless the Lord, who…
1.Forgives (v. 3a) who forgives all your iniquity. David knew that he was a sinner. In fact, David is a notorious sinner, who modeled for us true repentance.
Psalm 51: 3-4 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment.
Psalm 51: 7-12 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.
We have to acknowledge our sin, but as believers this Thanksgiving, we bless the Lord because He forgives!!
Holman – Above all, God should be praised because he forgives all your sins. As great as the psalmist’s sin is against God, God’s pardon is even greater.
Psalm 118: 1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.
We bless the Lord who forgives and secondly who…
2.Heals (v. 3b) who heals all your diseases. God not only forgives, but he heals the effect of sin. He heals all our diseases.
This past year many have struggled with diseases of various kinds. Sometimes we see healing in this life through doctors, nurses and medicine. When that happens, we say thank you to the doctors and nurses but we bless the Lord as he has gifted them with knowledge and skills for the sick. Sometimes God answers with an unexplainable miracle…for which we bless the Lord!
I think that the “all” here is talking about the scope of God’s restoration. Holman – “God heals (Israel) physically (emotionally), and spiritually, yet we should not associate all physical distress with sin. The Lord heals both body and spirit through forgiveness, providing a sense of wholeness.”
Other times, God takes our loved ones home. He ends their suffering and provides the ultimate healing by taking them to heaven, where there is no more sickness.
Psalm 147: 3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
David Palmer – This image is not that God heals every single thing that goes wrong with me physically, but that God is the great healer of my soul; that God is the one who breaks the power of canceled sin in my life; that He is the one who reveals by His grace and power that the effects of sin are reversed in my experience; that coming to Christ for salvation means my sins are washed away and I am restored.
You may not be fully healed from your grief, from your sickness, or from your emotional scars, but today let’s stop to bless the Lord for the healing He has done and that He cares for you.
We bless the Lord for He forgives, heals, and thirdly…
3.Redeems (v. 4a) who redeems your life from the pit. If God were to count our sins against us we would be destined for the pit of Hell. But Jesus has redeemed all of us who have called upon the name of the Lord from Hell.
Keith Green wrote a song entitled, “There is a redeemer.” The lyrics go like this:
There is a redeemer, Jesus, God’s own Son; Precious Lamb of God, Messiah, Holy One
Jesus my redeemer name above all names; Precious Lamb of God, Messiah oh, for sinners slain; Thank You oh my Father for giving us Your Son; And leaving Your Spirit ’til the work on Earth is done.
Psalm 40: 1-3 I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.
We bless the Lord for He forgives, heals, redeems and fourthly…
4. Crowns (v. 4b) who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy. This blows my mind. Listen to David. O my soul, bless the Lord for He not only forgives, but He crowns.
Holman Commentary – The mercy of God crowns the psalmist as though he were a part of the royal family. This is not a literal crown of diamonds but one far more valuable—a crown of divine love and compassion.
Hastings writes – God puts honour upon the brow of a forgiven man. He does not merely forgive, and that in a formal way, but, when He forgives, He crowns. He crowns me with the title of “son,” and He places the coronet of heirship upon my head, for “if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.” Sweet picture this. Observe that it is not a crown of merit, for “He crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” This is the only crown that I can consent to wear.
Bless the Lord oh my soul for He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns and lastly…
5. Satisfies (v. 5) who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. No one satisfies like our Jesus.
Isaiah 55: 1 (NIV) “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.
Isaiah 40: 28-31 Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
Bless the Lord oh my soul, for He forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, and satisfies.
Conclusion: Let’s finish tonight by reading the rest of Psalm 103, picking up with verse 5.
The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments. The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Holman – God, enable me by your grace to praise you in every situation of life. Rivet my attention upon you. Deepen my heart for you so I may rise up to praise you with all my being. Forgive me for what is, all too often, the shallowness of my worship. In Jesus’ name. Amen.