THE WORSHIP OF GOD AS GRATITUDE

Psalm 103

Dear Dayspring Family,

About six weeks ago we began looking at what worship is in our adult Sunday School class.  It has been a very good study.  The series is based on lectures on worship done by R. C. Sproul a number of years ago, and if you have not had a chance to be a part of it, I would encourage you to join us.

Worship is certainly important for the Christian.  In fact, according to Jesus in John 4, what God is seeking among the people of this world is worshipers.  And so, as we begin this new year, I would like to ask a basic question: “Just what is worship?”

To some, it is a type of music.  When someone asks what kind of worship they have at their church, they say, “Traditional - or contemporary - or blended”.  Yet that answer often only has to do with the style or type of music a church uses.  It does not really define what worship is - and it isn’t a necessary part of worship.  One can actually worship without any music.

To others, worship is a spiritual or emotional experience.  They went to church or a revival meeting and came out feeling really good.  They had some kind of special unexplained feeling - maybe a kind of excitement - which picked up their spirits.  Yet that is not really what worship entails, for worship is not something we receive, but something we give.  It is something we give to God - specifically, praise.

We worship when we speak highly of God’s power, holiness, and other attributes - like omniscience, and so forth.  We worship when we bow to God’s authority - when we declare Jesus to be LORD.  And we worship when we listen attentively to God’s Word.  That is reverence and that is worship.

But worship is also GRATITUDE. It is praising God with thankfulness for all that He has done for us.  And as we move into a new year, it is especially important that we worship God in this way.  Psalm 103 provides a great example of this kind of worship. 

David begins this Psalm by saying that he wants to bless God with everything in him.  In fact, seven times David declares “Bless the Lord”.  That may strike us as being odd.  After all, we usually think of God blessing His people, not as His people blessing God.  Yet that is what David says.  And the reason for this is that “bless” is a word for gratitude.  That is why the prayer before meals is sometimes called “the blessing”.  We are showing gratitude to God for what He has done.  And so, when David says, “Bless the Lord”, he wants to show gratitude to God in worship.  That is why he says, “Forget not all His Benefits”.  It is easy to complain.  It is easy to forget the benefits we have from God.  But God’s people must not forget what God has done.

And that is WORSHIP.  Not forgetting but thanking God for what He has done for us.  So, what does David want to thank God for?

First, He heals our diseases (verses 3-4).  And isn’t it true that God continues to do this.  No, He does not heal all diseases all the time, but all of us have experienced the real healing of God in our lives at some points.

Second, He satisfies us with good things (verse 5).  This is NOT what the world gives.  Whatever it offers does NOT satisfy.   For example, the desire to have the best stuff is never satisfied, is it?  How many commercials have you heard lately that say, “Relax, you have everything you need.  You don’t need to buy anything”? Drugs and alcohol certainly do not satisfy.  Addiction is never satisfied.   Pornography does not.  People who have gotten into this will tell you that it only gives them an insatiable desire for more.  Neither does any entertainment, for that matter, satisfy.  But God gives us things that satisfy.  He promises we will never hunger and thirst again if we come to him. So, if we want freedom from sin and its consequences (judgement), God promises that He will satisfy that desire, if we turn wholly to Him in repentance and faith.  And everyone would like eternal life.  God can satisfy that desire as well - and only He can.

Thirdly, He gives us justice (verse 6).  No, it is not always right when we want it.  Thus, the saints sometimes ask, “Lord, how long?”.  Sometimes God gives His people justice in this life (which is what the Psalmist is apparently thanking God for), yet God promises that justice ultimately will be done. 

Fourthly, He gives us His word (verse 7: He “makes known His ways and acts”).  That is what the Word does.  It reveals God to us.  The LORD does not leave us to guess what will be the right way to please Him - or how to do what is morally right - or how to be reconciled to Him after sin - or how to have a marriage that honors God.  He makes these known to us in His Word.

Fifthly, He deals with our sins mercifully (verses 8-13).  Not only is He slow to anger, but He completely removes our sin from us when we repent of it.  The Psalmist uses two great metaphors to show us this.  God’s love for us is higher than the heaven is above the earth.  And God removes our sins as far as the east is from the west - which is, of course, an infinite distance.  And so much love does God show for His people that David pictures Him as a father who continually shows compassion to His own children.

Sixthly, God understands our weaknesses and acts accordingly (Verses 14-16).  I cannot tell you how many times these verses have brought comfort to my mind and heart in my life - - when my sins have frustrated me and constant struggle with particular temptations has discouraged me.  No, this does not mean that God condones our sin because we are human.  But it does mean that He understands how weak we are, and so helps us with our struggles.  In fact, if He did not give us the help we must have, we would fall to all temptation.

Finally, He loves his covenant people forever (verses 17-19).  When God chooses a people for Himself, which He has in His church, and makes a promise to be faithful to them, He will never fail to do so.  This is why Paul declares in 2 Timothy 2:13 that even “if we are not faithful, He remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

May Gratitude to God for all He has done be a part of our worship in this New Year!

Pastor Dave

 

 

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Dayspring Presbyterian Church
1045 Highway 41 South
Forsyth, Georgia 31029
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