Giving Thanks

November 19, 2017

Bible Text: Psalms 103:1-5 |

 

Importance of Giving Thanks to the Lord

(Psalms 103:1-5)

“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 iniquities, who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”

Although we are supposed to be thankful at all times, I am thankful that we have a special Thanksgiving Day when we are reminded to be thankful to God and to express to Him our thanks. It’s important because it’s easy to forget all of the Lord’s goodness to us and instead of focusing on what He’s done and who He is to us, we can find ourselves focusing on what we don’t have, comparing ourselves with others and, if not careful, being ungrateful instead of being thankful.

The Psalmist reminds us that the key to be thankful is to think of His benefits, or, like verse 1 puts it, forget not His benefits.

It’s important to note who the Psalmist is speaking to – his own soul. There are in some occasions the Psalmist addresses people in general (117:1), other times he’s addressing angels (103:20), other times the saints (30:4), other times Israel (115:9), other times everything that has breath (150:6), etc. However, in this particular psalm, he’s addressing his own soul and commanding it to bless the Lord. We might like to borrow a leaf from David and start speaking to our own souls to bless the Lord.

Although David might not have had a degree in Psychology, he knew by revelation the complex tripartite nature of man – spirit, soul, and body, intricately woven together so much that sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between these different parts of our being. David knew by revelation that we have a soul which comprises of our intellect, will and emotions, and that sometimes the soul, which is yet to be redeemed, renewed and transformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 12:2) doesn’t want to tow the line of God’s will set by the spirit, which is already redeemed. That’s why we need to command or speak to it to tow the line in agreeing with the spirit regarding God’s will.

David goes ahead and summarizes the five areas that we need to bless the Lord for:

First, The Forgiveness of our sins (1a).

He begins with what is the most important: the forgiveness of sins. This is important because it affects all the other areas of our lives.

The Lord forgives all of our sins. At the cross Jesus paid it all. When he cried, “It is finished,” a term (tetelestai) in Greek that means “Paid in Full,” Jesus not only just paid our debt of sin but paid in full. He didn’t pay a deposit, or a quarter or half but He paid in full. Did you notice the time Jesus uttered those words? It was all the way at the end of his suffering, when he was just about to give up His spirit. We read in John 19:30, “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” He completed the suffering and then shouted in victory that it’s PAID IN FULL. Hallelujah!

We normally have a hard time believing this or rather receiving this. We easily agree with the scriptures that say Christ has paid for all of our sins but we put a footnote on the bottom of the page of our hearts that says. “except this or that.” It’s important to believe that all my sins have been paid for in full, otherwise I will end up to pay for them myself. And do you know the payment? Death or eternal separation from God. But that’s not the case because Jesus Christ has already done that for me. Bless His holy name!

There are other times that we live in the New Testament grace era but walk in Old Testament principles. We import from the OT principles that failed to work into grace platform. What do I mean by that? I mean we live trying to please God by our performance, our obedience to the law and think that if we obey God we somehow earn His grace. This attitude will always make us miserable because we can never “perform” well enough to please God, leave alone pleasing ourselves. We are always falling short and feeling miserable. Our performance is Christ who is our holiness, righteousness and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30).

It’s important to understand that Christ has forgiven ALL of our sins and all that we need to do is to receive His forgiveness. Yes, Christ has already paid for our sins in full and all that we need to do is to receive by faith, evidenced by repentance, the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 26:18).

Second, Healing (1b)

The second benefit is healing. Now, remember he’s speaking to his soul. So, to be true to the context, he’s talking about the soul’s diseases. What are soul’s diseases? The soul’s diseases or state of unhealthiness is like depression, fear, perplexity, distress, etc. In one of the Psalm (42:5,11), David actually speaks to his soul and asks it, “Why are you downcast within me, O my soul?” And he goes ahead and commands it to trust in the Lord.

Does that mean the Lord is only concerned about the soul only and not the body? Does the Lord also heal us of our physical diseases? I believe scripture teaches us that He does (Psalms 107:20). Whether through medication or meditation, all healing is from God. There is NO healing without Him. Physicians can treat, but it’s the Lord who heals. Whether it’s a minor illness like a cold or severe one, it’s the Lord who heals us of all of our diseases.

Third, Deliverance from Death (3a).

This might sound far-fetched because it’s easy to think, “I’ve never been close to death, how has the Lord delivered me from the pit?” Well, the answer is, many times than we think. There are those times that we know and the times that we don’t know or are aware of. The scripture talks about the Lord protecting us from the “terror of the night, from the arrow that flies by day and the pestilence that walks in the darkness . . .” (Psalm 91:5-6). Notice the two groups of attacks or dangers – those that happen at night or in darkness and those that take place during the day. We are usually not aware of the night attacks, the ones that happen in darkness because we don’t see them. Nonetheless, the Lord protects us from them all.

In the book of Job, Satan expressed his frustration with God for putting a hedge around Job. The implication is that Satan had attempted many times prior to this time to attack Job but every time he tried there was a divine protection around Job, his family, and his property such that the devil could not succeed in attacking him. If it were not for this divine hedge of protection, Job would have been roasted by Satan.

That hedge protects all the children of God even today. Psalm 34:7 says that, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.”

It’s the Lord who delivers us from the pit or death and keeps us alive. David said in Psalm 4:8, “I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O Lord, sustains me.” Sleep comes from the Lord, He gives His beloved sleep (Ps. 127:2). The Psalmist says that it’s the Lord who makes me sleep and also makes me wake up. He sustains me when I am asleep and wakes me up. We don’t wake up because it’s time to wake up or because the alarm clock wakes us up. If there was no life in us the alarm clock would not wake us up. Some people have slept never to wake up again, and no alarm clock, no matter how loud it is could have woken them up. My friend, if you are still alive, bless the name of Lord.

In Acts 17:25, Paul reminds the Athenians that God gives us “life, breath, and all things.”

Notice the order of importance: life, breath, and all things. Life is more important that breath, and breath more important that everything else. You don’t need breath if you don’t have life and you don’t need all these things that we think are important if we are struggling to breath. Someone on life-support, in desperate need of oxygen, doesn’t care about anything else like his car, job, clothes, etc. Their greatest need is to breath, and yet how we take this for granted. Paul reminds us we don’t breathe just because we have lungs but because God gives us breath, life and all things. Someone said God doesn’t need to “kill” you, He just needs to not give you life and you are gone. Bless the Lord if you have breath! Indeed, let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Fourth, Loving-kindness and tender mercies coronation (4b).

You might not see it but every saint has a crown on their heads written, “Loving-kindness and Tender Mercies.” You have that crown on you if you are a child of God. You better believe it and live believing it. That’s how God deals with you. That’s how God sees you. Lamentations 3:22-23 says, “through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” His compassions, His loving-kindness never fail. They are fresh every morning, and God is faithful to His word. Next time someone asks you, “What’s new?” tell him or her, “the mercies of God.” They are new every morning.

David was so much conscious of this crown of tender mercies and unending loving-kindness that he wrote in another psalm, Psalm 23, “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life… and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Goodness and mercy shall follow me not just some days but all the days of my life, he said. That means Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, 24/7. Praise His holy name!

There is a difference between justice, mercy, and grace or loving-kindness. It’s been said that justice is getting what we deserve (and really, what we deserve from God is death, and nothing else), while mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace or loving-kindness on the other hand is getting what we don’t deserve (life and blessings) through Christ or at the expense of Christ. Someone gave the acronym GRACE as God’s Riches Available at Christ’s Expense. It’s been paid for in Christ. Paul said in 2 Cor. 8:9, For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”

When we don’t tap on His grace and favor but on justice, on our own capability, our performance, we operate only on our limited potential of failure, frustration and death. And the worst thing is, we leave untapped resources that God has for us in Christ – His riches in glory in Christ Jesus! They are already deposited into our accounts but we don’t use them because we feel unworthy. Listen, we please God when we walk standing on His grace, mercy, and favor. You are God’s favorite if you didn’t know. It’s important to walk expecting God to deal with us mercifully, to expect not justice but mercy and favor from God every day of our lives, in every matter in life. And that’s not too much for God to do, for He is pleased by faith. Actually, it’s impossible to please God without faith (Heb. 11:6).

Psalm 106:3-4, puts it very well, Blessed are those who keep justice, and he who does righteousness at all times!

Remember me, O Lord, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation.”

Verse 3 tells us the importance of doing what is right and being just. We are told that if we do justly and righteously we’ll be happy, or blessed. That’s our obligation, living a righteous life. However, when it comes to what to expect from God, we should not expect justice but favor, grace, salvation. Notice what he says in verse 4, “Remember me, O Lord, with your favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation.” Then in 2 Cor. 6:2b Paul says, “Now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.”  When is it time for God’s favor and salvation? Now. And do you know that any given time I will ever live will always be ‘now?’ In other words, I should always expect favor from God at any time of my life.

What does that mean? It means that from my side, I’ll strive to live righteously, but my expectation from God is not for God to deal with me according to justice or what I’ve done but according to grace, according to favor, for the sake of Christ. And I expect that daily, every day of my life. This is important because we receive according to our faith.

 

Fifth, Satisfaction – with His goodness (5a)

 

I’ll finish with this last benefit: God’s satisfaction. The Lord satisfies. We are not satisfied by having “stuff” but by the Lord’s goodness. Someone said that we can be ‘satiated’ with things but only the Lord can satisfy us. Psalms 91:16 says, “With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Who is talking? God. To whom is he promising this? To the one who dwells in the secret place of the Most High God, who abides under the shadow of the Almighty God (v. 1).

God is the only one who can satisfy us and He’s committed to do so, if we abide in Him. The opposite of satisfaction is dissatisfaction, regret. You cannot abide, walk with the Lord, and regret or live a life of dissatisfaction.  

There is a wonderful picture painted by David in Psalms 23 when he says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures…” Can you imagine a sheep laying down in green pastures? Sheep eat grass, but this sheep of Psalm 23 is not eating but laying down in green pastures. Is it laying down because it’s sick and has lost appetite? No. It’s lying down because it’s full. It’s so fulfilled that it’s laying down in the midst of green pastures.

It’s important to be reminded that we can never be satisfied, we can never be fulfilled outside of God. Someone observed that Good minus God equals Zero or Nothing. (Good – God = 0). There is no good without God. God gives us good things because He’s good. If there is anything He has withheld from us it means it’s not good. “For the Lord God is a sun and shield: the Lord will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11).

The Psalmist finishes the verse by saying that the result of satisfying us with good things is so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s (5b). That’s both physically and spiritually. However, although God does renew our physical strength and vitality, the greatest and most important renewal is spiritual. No matter how our physical vitality is renewed, it will still come to an end at some point in time. However, spiritual renewal is lasting and enduring, and has a reward. That was the focus of Paul in 2 Cor. 4:16-18 when he wrote, “though our outward man is wasting away, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

The inward man is not seen but he’s very important, he’s eternal. That’s a great benefit from the Lord: daily renewal of our inward man.

The Lord satisfies us at the core of our being and renews us daily. Praise be to His holy name!

In conclusion, we can say with the psalmist in another psalm, “Blessed be the Lord who daily loads us with benefits” (Psalms 67:19). We have the benefit of forgiveness of all our sins, healing of all our diseases, deliverance from death, mercy and compassions coronation, and last but not the least, satisfaction by His goodness. Bless the Lord, O my soul!

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