Torchbearers for Christ
Saturday, December 15, 2018
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Count Your Blessings

 
Psalm 103 would probably be one of the best loved of all the Psalms. Among other things, it contains the joyful praise of the redeemed child of God, beginning and ending with the words, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”. It was the basis of the popular hymn “Praise my soul the King of Heaven.....” The psalmist calls upon himself to thank and praise God wholeheartedly for His many blessings. He lists some of the benefits he has received from the Lord and also tells us something of God’s generous character. Psalm 103 encourages us to have a spirit of thankfulness to God for His countless blessings. It is interesting to note that, in the book of Psalms, there are 21 references to giving thanks to the Lord. Let us think of some of these expressions of gratitude.
 
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations” (Psalm 100: 4-5).
 
“It is good to give thanks unto the Lord and to sing praises unto your name, O Most High. To proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night; for you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord” (Psalm 92 1-4).
 
“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.....O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” (Psalm 30:12).
 
In recalling God’s many mercies to him in Psalm 103, David reminds himself first of all that God has forgiven all his sins, removing them as far as the east is from the west (vs.3 and vs.12). This is always a good place to start when we are reminding ourselves of how kind God has been to us. The message of the Cross of Christ should always be central in the Christian’s thinking, for unless God had intervened in our lives we would surely have been lost (Romans 6:23).
 
On one occasion when the seventy disciples had returned joyfully from a successful preaching mission, they told the Lord Jesus how the devils had been subject to them through His name, but the Lord gave them a word of correction, saying that they should not rejoice in the fact that devils had been subject to them, but that they should “rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20). It is certainly a great honour to serve the Lord and to see Him perform miracles in people’s lives, but the privilege of being a child of God and having one’s name written in the Lamb’s book of life is surely a cause for our greatest joy and gratitude. In 2 Corinthians 9:15, Paul seems almost at a loss for words to describe his gratitude to God for sending His Son into the world to save sinners. He exclaims, “Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift”.
 
It is sad to read that in the last days there will be a widespread departure from God, and among the sins listed is the spirit of ingratitude (2 Timothy 3:2). To be unthankful can at times be hurtful for the one who has blessed us. We remember the story recorded in Luke 17:11-19. The Lord Jesus was met by ten leprous men. Their condition meant that they were totally ostracised by society. When these men saw the Lord Jesus, they cried to Him for mercy. Jesus answered their prayer and the ten men were completely healed. One would have thought that such an amazing answer to their cry would have brought immediate deep gratitude and worship, but the sad result was that, as the ten men went away healed, only one “turned back and with a loud voice glorified God, falling down on his face before Jesus, giving Him thanks”. The Lord asked a question and we may well believe that it was with some sadness that He enquired, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God save this stranger” (Luke 17:15-18).
 
May the Lord preserve us all from ingratitude and make us grateful for the fact that “His compassions are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and that He “daily loads us with benefits” (Psalm 68:19). In verses 20-22 of Psalm 103, the psalmist calls on all of God’s creation to praise Him and concludes as he began with the personal exhortation, “Bless the Lord, O my soul”. Amen.
 
This article was written by Pastor Geoffrey Davies. He is a frequent contributor to this column. He lives in Melbourne, Australia, where he pastored a church for over twenty-five years.  For many years, he has travelled widely, continuing his ministry of encouragement and Bible teaching.