Summary: Like David, we can bless the Lord when we acknowledge the greatness and goodness of God and allow God to give our lives the grace and significance only He can.
Blessing the Lord Psalm 103
In just a few short days we will celebrate Thanksgiving 2009. Now I believe it is good that we have a day set aside each year to give thanks to God as a nation, even though on that day football and feasting seem to take precedence over blessing the Lord for most Americans. As followers of Christ, we need to do everything we can to preserve Thanksgiving as a holiday set aside to recognize the blessings of God in our nation as well as in our life. We ought not assume that Thanksgiving will always be observed in a way that honors God. Think about how Thanksgiving has already been marginalized in our society as a national holiday.
I was shopping in Wal-Mart earlier this week and observed very little that would indicate Thanksgiving is just a few days away. But signs of Christmas were everywhere I cared to look. Christmas, because of its great commercial power, is already being pushed in our stores. But noticeably absent are the paper pilgrims, pumpkins and cornucopias that used to decorate our stores not that many years ago. It seems like today as soon as the big push to buy Halloween costumes and candy is over, out come the Christmas decorations. Because retailers have not found many ways to commercialize Thanksgiving beyond specials on turkeys and pumpkin pies we cannot expect much help from them in keeping the true spirit of Thanksgiving alive.
That is why it is important that we as Christians work hard to keep the true significance of Thanksgiving alive because Thanksgiving may actually be the closest thing we have to a pure religious holiday in this country. Hear me out. Christmas has become so commercialized that a growing number of children do not even know it is supposed to be about Jesus’ birth. Santa has trumped the Savior in most households. And the true meaning of Easter is even more veiled. Even fewer children growing up in this so-called Christian nation can make the leap from chocolate bunnies to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead on Easter Sunday.
Because Thanksgiving is harder to pollute with meaningless mascots and commercial frenzy, this holiday gives us as God’s people the unique opportunity to remind others what we all have to be thankful for and why so much of what we have to be thankful for points back to the benevolent blessings of God.
As God’s people, it is fitting that we do what we can to focus the thoughts of our nation upon the goodness of God to America as well s our families by offering our personal gratitude to Him for who He is and for all He has done for us. Thus, today and next Sunday Morning we will be focusing on this theme of Blessing the Lord. If you have your Bibles turn to Psalm 103, the passage we read responsively earlier in the service. Keep your Bibles open to this passage as we will reference several verses this morning.
But right now I would like to read Psalm 103 for you from the Contemporary English Version, a more modern day translation. While it does not possess the beauty or poetic rhythm of the King James Version, I think it puts this Psalm in terms that everyone can understand.
"With all my heart I praise the Lord, and with all that I am I praise His holy name! With all my heart I will praise the Lord! I will never forget how kind he has been. The Lord forgives our sins, heals us when we are sick, and protects us from death. His kindness and love are a crown on our heads. Each day that we live, he provides for our needs and gives us strength of a young eagle.
For all who are mistreated, the Lord brings justice. He taught his law to Moses and showed all Israel what he could do. The Lord is merciful! He is kind and patient and his love never fails. The Lord won’t always be angry and point out our sins; he doesn’t punish us as our sins deserve.
How great is God’s love for all who worship him? Greater than the distance between heaven and earth! How far has the Lord taken our sins from us? Farther than the distance from east to west! Just as parents are kind to their children, the Lord is kind to all who worship him, because he knows we are made of dust.
We humans are like grass or wild flowers that quickly bloom. But a scorching wind blows and they quickly wither to be forever forgotten. The Lord is always kind to those who worship him, and he keeps his promises to their descendants who faithfully obey him. God has set up his kingdom in heaven, and he rules the whole creation. All of you mighty angels, who obey God’s commands, come and praise your Lord! All of you thousands who serve and obey God, come and praise your Lord! All of God’s creation and all that he rules, come and praise your Lord. With all my heart I praise the Lord!"