"Remember to be Thankful"

Journey to the Cross  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:02
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As we prepare for Easter and take time to remember the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus that gives us hope in this life and the one to come, we need to take time to truly be thankful. The reason why I say that, is because it has become so easy these days for us as Christians to complain about things around us instead of giving thanks. Our tendency is to complain because of our selfishness and sin. When we take our eyes off of the Lord and begin to think about all the negative stuff happening in the world or in our lives complaining and being negative starts to pile up.
Gratitude is a wonderful weapon against our complaining attitudes. In fact, the more time we spend counting our blessings, the less time we will have to think about all of our complaints.
(Sign that hangs in our house. “What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?” What would we have?)
When we begin to complain about the things in our life or the things that are happening in our world we can have a distorted view or a faulty view of what is really going on. Here is what I mean by that. Because we are God’s children and the Lord has truly changed our lives we really don’t have anything too grumble or complain about! Why? Because God has stepped in and intervened, showing us His generous blessings and amazing grace. God’s grace brings into our lives blessings that are too many to number. No matter what difficulties that you may be facing today, you need to know that they are outweighed by the huge storehouse of blessings that are available to us in Christ Jesus. What might those be you ask? Well let’s run to Psalm 103 this morning to look at just a few.
Here is the question that I want to challenge you with this morning. Why should we take time to be thankful?
Psalm 103:1–2 ESV
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,
Take time to be thankful:

1. Because of God’s wonderful benefits.

These earthly gifts can include many things such as forgiveness of sins, recovery from sickness, deliverance from death, abundant love and mercy, and food to sustain us in this life. When God does choose to heal people from diseases or sickness this is a wonderful thing, and even considered a miracle. But, there is something we need to keep in mind. God’s healing is not always promised and does not always happen. Even when we as believers earnestly seek the Lord in prayer and fasting God does not always choose to heal. This is what happened to King David as he prayed and fasted for God to spare his son. (2 Samuel 12:16)
In verse 2 we see the purpose of praise. We see why we need to take time to be thankful. We remember God’s past acts and all of the things that He has done for us. “Do not forget all His benefits!!!!” When we fail to give praise to the Lord our God and begin to grumble and complain, what we are doing is forgetting the Lord’s gracious benefits. Bless the Lord here actually carries the sense of declaring God to be the source of blessing, and so a better translation is to praise or worship the Lord. I think this is super helpful because this is exactly what we are doing today corporately as the body of Christ. Today we come and worship God by giving Him our praise and honor. In Scripture the Israelites sang a song of praise to God when he helped them cross the Red Sea and delivered them from the pursuing Egyptians. Let me ask you this morning, do you stop to see God and notice the things he is doing in your life? Have you taken time lately just to praise Him?
The character of God is described here by a series of 5 relative clauses in verses 3-5.
Psalm 103:3–6 ESV
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. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
Here are some more reasons that we can be thankful and praise God.
1. God is one who forgives. The Lord is the one who forgives all of our sins. I want you to stop and notice that the author here explains to us that God forgives all of our sins. How many times have we forgotten this? We hold onto certain things in our past that have been really bad or messed up and have wondered can God really forgive me of this one thing? Yes, He can, if you will run to him and confess that, he will forgive ALL of your sin. Not just some or a little bit, or the small things, but even the worst of it.
2. God is one who heals. God is the only one who can heal us of diseases and sicknesses in our world. This could be physical illnesses, weaknesses, pain, famine, and disease. The word diseases here is a related term for illness or weakness. Because we are born into a broken creation, we are frail and finite people. We are sinful, broken people who fall short every day of God’s will. Because of this our bodies are subject to disease and pain, knowing that at any time death could come. I know that may sound morbid but it is reality. But the important thing I want us to see here church is that God gives us a wonderful promise here. The promise is that God can forgive all of our sins and heal all diseases. We have seen this throughout Scripture with Elijah and the widow’s son to Jairus’s daughter, to blind Bartimaeus, and even Lazarus.
3. God is one who redeems. The word redeem here is also anther important word but often misunderstood. This refers to an act of a family member who fulfills a family obligation to a relative in need. The type of obligation fulfilled would have changed based on the need. This could be a property issue, a vengeance issue, a kinsman redeemer issue and so on. But here in this particular verse the description of the Lord is the one who redeems our life from the pit. What this shows us is that God is able to save one’s life, no matter what the threat or crisis may be.
4. God is one who crowns us with His love and mercy. God crowns us with good things. The word crown here points to royalty. In other words, the royal like responsibilities that the Lord gives to us as human beings. God shows us his steadfast love and His new mercies every day. Here is how Peter explains this to us in the New Testament.
1 Peter 2:9–10 ESV
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
5. God is the one who truly satisfies us. Do you believe that? The Psalmist helps us to see here that the Lord’s blessings pile up so much that the psalmist is full. There is nothing else that they are hungry for. God does not gives us everything we want or desire, however He alone completely satisfies us. God knows just what we need for this life.
A bonus benefit in Verse 6. God works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. This verse shows us that the Lord will accomplish his vindication and justice for those who are oppressed. It may not feel that way or seem that way in the here and now but someday the Lord will return and take care of the wrongs and injustices of this world.
Psalm 103:7–8 ESV
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.
These 2 verses are a short bridging text. We see here that the Lord is merciful, gracious and slow to anger, but abounding in hesed (the steadfast love of God). God’s steadfast love shows us about his character and the way He chooses to act toward us. The psalmist here is drawing on their own personal experiences and confession and Israel’s experiences and confession.
Psalm 103:9–14 ESV
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.
Take time to be thankful. Why?

2. God doesn’t handle us harshly.

In verse 10 we see several important words that we need to take notice of and that is the words with us and our. In verse 12 we see this again with our transgressions from us. In verse 14 he knows our frame and that we are dust. So this section here is speaking about the people as a nation. In verses 9-10 we see 2 primary things about what God will not do.
1. God doesn’t keep His anger. One of the things that we know and understand about God’s people is that their sin was for real, because both judgement and the sentence from God were just, but the time for mercy either had come or was coming. Many scholars believe that this is referring to Israel returning from exile. Over and over again throughout the Old Testament God’s people would wonder away from him. We see that sin and then forgiveness was a part of their long history. So, my point is this. God’s anger and punishment are for a moment or a short season, but his favor is for a lifetime.
2. God doesn’t repay us. God does not continually think about all the wrong things His people have done. He does not continue to nurse his grievances. The idea here behind verse 10 is that God does not end the relationship with Israel just because they have sinned. God remains faithful. What an awesome thing that is for us to remember even today. Many of us live with a thinking that God is going to repay us for how we have lived. Yes, God wants us to stop living in sin and turn to him but he never repays us or gets back at us for our sin. That’s not how God works.
The next 4 verses here help us to see the reason that God does not always accuse and does not end the relationship with Israel.
Take time to be thankful:

3. God removes our sin.

God’s faithful love toward Israel is as high as the heavens are above the earth. How high is that? It’s crazy high up there. So, the result here is that God takes away the people’s sins, making the distance between people and sin as far as the rising east is from the setting west. It’s hard to comprehend, and yet it gives us something to truly be thankful for, in knowing that God can remove our sin. Wow!!!
Take time to be thankful:

4. God shows us compassion.

The second metaphor here that we see has to do with that of a parent and birth. The Lord loves us with a parental love of a merciful father to his children. Now I understand that not all earthly fathers have loved their children the way that they are intended to do, but the point is Our Heavenly Father does have a kind and tender heart for His Children. The Lord God knows how we are formed because we know from the creation account He was the one who designed and made us. He made man (Adam) from the dust of the ground. Then he took a rib from Adam and made woman or (Eve). The Lord remembers that we are dust. This is how we started and how we will end. So, the confession here is that because Israel’s Lord is also the Heavenly Father who has created humanity and knows our human frailty, he shows us wonderful mercy of a loving parent toward imperfect children.
All of these benefits church are for those who fear him. These benefits can never come to those who don’t know the Lord or who continue to live selfish Independant lives from God. But, the benefits are for those who are aware of their own inability to save themselves seek the lordship and guidance of a good and wise Father. Yahweh.
Psalm 103:15–16 ESV
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.
The point of these two verses show us just how quickly this life truly is. Our days are like grass and like a flower in the field. Once the wind comes and blows we are gone. Life is like a vapor or a mist. (James 4:14) The author wants us to see here that we are all mortal beings. When this life is over we will spend eternity with God or we will spend eternity in hell. Why not give your life to God and follow His good plans throughout your life. As believers, we come to a realization that we can praise God because someday we will be with Him for all of eternity. How do we know that, well let’s keep reading.
Psalm 103:17–19 ESV
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.
The last several verses seem a bit tough because it addresses our mortal condition. But here in verses 17-19 we see God’s universal reign. God’s kingdom rules over all. The steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him. In verse 17 we see the same thing that is mentioned to us back in verses 11 and 13. The Lord’s faithfulness is promised to those who fear him. My point here is one that we each must ask ourselves. Are we God fearing people? Proverbs 1:7
Proverbs 1:7 ESV
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
God wants us to fear him, not that we can’t approach him or come to him, but that because we fear him we will live in obedience to his good will for our lives. We fear God because we desire to please him and live in a way that brings glory and honor to Him.
Psalm 103:20–22 ESV
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!
It is only fitting here that this last line of Psalm 103 was the first line of Psalm 103 back in verse 1. This is a universal call to praise the Lord. The angels and mighty ones are called to also join with the psalmist voice. The important thing to remember here is that the call to praise our God is not an end to this Psalm but it brings this Psalm to it’s highest point because the Psalm never really ends. We as believers not only will praise the Lord but we will continue to Praise God even into eternity. Someday we will form one great big choir in heaven and we will shout with all our might, “Praise the Lord, O my soul.” So, why not begin now to take time to be thankful and praise God.
Closing: I want to challenge you today to take time throughout your day, even if it is for just a few moments, and count your blessings. You may want to go out and buy a journal or just find something to write down the blessings in your life. Take time to list from the smallest of blessings to the biggest or life changing ones. Ask the Lord through prayer to help you fight the battle of complaining by choosing to have a habit of gratitude. When we begin to count our blessings one by one, watch how this practice will begin to alter the way we look at life. You will be not only be more positive, but also more thankful for the Lord and His work in you life. Church, no one is more worthy of our praise than our wonderful, loving, and faithful Savior Jesus Christ.
(Pray and Lead into Communion)
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