Summary: I have this little quotation on my bulletin board in my office. It is entitled, “Life – But No Living”. It reads: First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying
SERMONIC / WORSHIP THEME
Opening Statement: I have this little quotation on my bulletin board in my office. It is entitled, “Life – But No Living”. It reads:
First I was dying to finish high school and start college. And then I was dying to finish college and start working. And then I was dying to marry and have children. And then I was dying for my children to grow old enough for school so I could return to work. And then I was dying to retire. And now, I am dying…and suddenly I realize I forgot to live. – Anonymous
Transition: So often, we push ahead to the next big goal or event in life and we fail to live today. Today, I want to tell you “You’re blessed.” God has given you some wonderful benefits to enjoy for life and living today. Let’s slow down a bit in order to learn and recognize what these are.
Text: Psalm 103:1-5
Background: This Psalm is all about giving God the praise that he deserves and about seeing the benefits that He has provided and appreciating and enjoying them.
Key Word: God has blessed us with BENEFITS or BLESSINGS that the Psalmist notes for the reader. The core BENEFITS are found in the first five verses and the other verses build on these thoughts.
To begin, the Psalmist talks to himself. Someone said it’s OK to talk to yourself; just don’t answer back. He talks to his soul. That’s the way the Psalm begins--David prodding himself and prompting and urging himself and stirring himself up to bless the Lord. Maybe he was in a season of complaining! Perhaps he was numb to God’s blessings or apathetic and unable to recognize how blessed he really was. To bless means to say good things about the Lord in a spirit of admiration and gratitude and wonder. David seems to have been successful motivating himself, because by the time he reaches the end of the Psalm, he’s inviting angels and creation to join him! There’s something about worship and gratitude that is expansive and inclusive. From the tiny little chicken gathering her yellow chicks under her wings to the complexity of the human body to the beauty of an autumn hillside, we begin to see God’s glory and it causes us to want to say good things about Him! Consequently, the Psalmist never made one petition in this Psalm.
Transition: So David prods himself…
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
The First Benefit is Forgiveness. If you know the joy of forgiveness, you are extremely blessed!
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Does this really mean what it says? If you’re not sure, read…
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
God isn’t fair…
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.
Explanation: I love David’s imagery here. God freely forgives those who fear him and ask and David uses “distance imagery” to reinforce that in our thinking. But not only this, he used “family imagery” to indicate that God comes close to us as a Father.
Illustration: One of Levi’s favorite things to do is snuggle-time. We hug on him and tickle him and listen to him. We establish closeness to him.
Amplification: This is what God does; he draws close to us. Not only does he pardon us from the judges’ bench, though guilty as charged. But He turns around and invites us to His family room where he gets close to us. I’ve been before a few judges but not one of them invited me over after my court appearance for some “face time.” It’s called forgiveness. God doesn’t hold grudges. He doesn’t nag us constantly about our sin. He doesn’t give us what we deserve! For those who believe in Him, He simply and repeatedly forgives. The Psalmist is not calling us to presume on God’s mercy but to simply enjoy it.
Illustration: Johnny was a young boy who made a slingshot, and went through the farmyard shooting at the different animals but the boy missed the dog, the cat (unfortunately); and when he went into the field, he shot at a rabbit and a bird. He missed everything. Coming back into the farmyard, the boy shot at his grandmother’s favorite duck. He hit the duck in the head, and killed it dead. Johnny was terrified because he loved his grandmother, and yet he killed her favorite duck. He ran to the tool shed, got a shovel, and buried it in back of the barn; thinking no one saw it, but Mary Lou did.