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Sunday, April 18, 2010

One single blessing

Psalm 103:1-2  (The Message) "O my soul, bless GOD. From head to toe, I’ll bless his holy name! O my soul, bless GOD, don’t forget a single blessing! He forgives your sins – every one. He heals your diseases – every one. He redeems you from hell – saves your life! He crowns you with love and mercy – a paradise crown. He wraps you in goodness – beauty eternal. He renews your youth – you’re always young in his presence."

Blessing #1: He forgives our sins – every one.

David is recounting the blessings of God in his life and he starts with the pardon of God. He excuses the offense by releasing us from the penalties of that offense. Our offenses are great, but God’s pardon is even greater. God gives up his claim to requital – no longer demands payment or restitution for the offense. The payment or restitution was already made in his Son’s death, burial, and resurrection. All we need to do is to walk in that forgiveness. Complete forgiveness is granted. We have been given an official decree of release, allowing us to pass into his presence without any fear of punishment. God is not just tolerating us, but welcoming us as his redeemed creation into the very throne room of his presence.

Blessing #2: He heals your diseases – every one.

Healing is one of the miracles of salvation that we should marvel about. He is making us sound or whole in body, soul and spirit – every part of our being affected by the touch of God. He restores us to our original purity and integrity (in Christ), no longer subject to the limitations of our sinful nature. God is in the business of doing much more than a “patch up” job – it is a total make-over of our character. It is complete healing of all our diseases – more than just illness or frailty of physical body. It is health for all manner of trouble we face – counteracting everything that works to impair our performance or harm our development as his children.

Blessing #3: He redeems you from hell – saves your life!

God is in the business of purchasing - buying us back from our sinful condition, from our slavery to the prince of this world. He frees us from all that brings distress and harm in our lives. He frees us from every manner of captivity in our daily lives - freed completely, not in part. This freedom is from the consequences of sin – those things that tear us down, make us undesirable in his presence, or keep us in slavery to the desires of our sinful nature. We are converted into something of value once again - made to stand worthwhile in his presence. It is interesting to note that in times past, a coin could have been referred to as a “worth”. The significance of the coin was its weight - the “worth” of the coin was its original weight. As the coin circulated, the “worth” decreased. It became “worth-less” as it circulated more and more, wearing away at its weight or value. Our “worth” or our significance is worn away by what we are circulated through and through in the course of our daily lives. Our “worth” is restored in the redemptive work of Christ – giving us back our full value, merit, or excellence.

Blessing #4: He crowns you with love and mercy – a paradise crown.

A crown is a reward of victory and a mark of honor for the one who is adorned with it. It imparts splendor and honor to the one who is adorned with it – there is an investment of dignity and power. Let us see that we are adorned with no ordinary crown – it is the paradise crown. It is a crown of love and mercy – we are doubly crowned. Love – making us an object of his supreme desire. Love – positioning us as the focus of his devotion. Love – encompassing us with his unselfish concern and care. Mercy – making us no longer subject to the punishment we deserve. Mercy – bestowing on us favor we did not earn; position not gained by any merit of our own. Mercy – promotion we are not capable of achieving on our own. This is no ordinary crown – it is the paradise crown. One crowned or adorned in such a manner is surely a very honored member of his court.

Blessing #5: He wraps you in goodness – beauty eternal.

Which one of us would not jump at the opportunity for lasting beauty? It is a much sought after state in today’s society. Thousands seek it in cosmetic appeal, more seek it in physical exercise, while still more seek it in surgical intervention to change what they view as uncomely in their physical appearance – yet all seem to recognize the inward condition of their soul that affects so deeply the outward condition of our appearance. We are wrapped – embraced by, surrounded by, or enveloped by God’s goodness. Goodness – all that is worthy of praise and is beneficial to our well-being – and it lasts! This is not a fleeting beauty – but one that is certain to last – because it brings to our inner man all that is profitable and pleasant. Providing us every manner of virtue – making us “just” or “commendable” in his sight. It gives to us permanent “worth” – no decay or diminishing value, even when circumstances would seem to try our character.

Blessing #6: He renews your youth – you’re always young in his presence.

The thought of renewal is one of being made new. God renews – makes us new spiritually, allows us to begin again, making extensive changes in us that afford the opportunity for rebuilding / restoration. We are made young again - subject again to the first stages of growth or freshness of growth in our inner man. This is a work of making us tender in spirit, moldable in character, open to newness of life. We are brought before him, opened in his presence, and there, we lay our will at his feet. There, in his presence, we learn to lean heavily on his experience and abandon ours for the freshness of blessing that is provided. In his presence, the rebuilding process opens us afresh to the vigor of youth.

God makes everything come out right; he puts victims back on their feet. He showed Moses how he went about his work; opened up his plans to all Israel. God is sheer mercy and grace; not easily angered, he’s rich in love. He doesn’t endlessly nag or scold, nor hold grudges forever. He doesn’t treat us as or sins deserve, nor pay us back in full for our wrongs. Psalm 103:6-10

Bless God – what a promise for those who believe him! He makes everything come out right – placing us back on our feet, opening for us the plans of heaven. God is not a nagging God – he is a nudging God. David exalts God because he knows the keeping power of his creator. The psalm starts with the words “bless God” - give him praise – exuberant, heartfelt, joyous praise. Glorify him – lifting him high - speak graciously of him – not just of his deeds, but of his character. David is challenging us to protect and preserve his name and his reputation among the nations. There is untapped potential in praise – it rights the soul and challenges the spirit.

“O my soul” - every part of my being that animates me from within; every active and essential part of who and what I am; all that arouses emotion, sentiment, and fervor within me – this is what is to be used in exalting the name of God. David says that we are to praise God from head to toe – with every part of our being. Never forgetting one single blessing - it is good to take inventory of what God has done, what he provides, what he creates.

David describes the creation embraced by the Creator – in turn, embracing him with all we’ve got. We are challenged to never forget – memory is a powerful tool against the enemy of our soul. It is a weapon he wields to keep us in captivity – it can be a weapon we use to recount the blessings of God that stand in complete opposition to the bondage of his captivity. David is speaking of more than just the loss of a memory – he is speaking of that which comes in us that causes us to cease movement - to cease from doing what he made us to do. Memory is an active process – not forgetting God’s blessings is a participative process.

It is our lack of involvement – being inattentive or overlooking what is right in front of us; that intentional disregard for the things of God – that present to us the opportunity to modify our focus, alter our perspective. No longer noticing the blessings of God in our lives is risky business. This can come through neglect – neglecting the presence of God, his Word, his worship, or his people. What we have once known, those things we have once been affected by, can become things of our past – distant memories – if we do not recount them.

David does not challenge us to review the long laundry lists of blessings that God has done in our lives – although this is not a bad idea. He challenges us to focus on one single blessing. Some blessings stand alone, seemingly insignificant in the larger scheme of things that affect us each day. While others could never escape our notice – breaking upon us with such significant impact that there is no escaping their reality or effect. The littlest blessings can often prove to be the most rewarding. Count your blessings – they ALL add up to great things in God.