Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the thoughts and words of this reading that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
Thanksgiving for God’s Goodness
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good as long as you live[a]
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always accuse,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far he removes our transgressions from us.
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Psalm 103 is a beautiful psalm of praise, describing the grace-filled nature of God. Just look at the verbs that describe God’s activity: God forgives, heals, redeems, crowns, satisfies, works vindication and justice, and makes known the divine ways. Just look at the description of God’s nature: holy, merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, in fact “as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.” What does God do? “As far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.”
In this psalm we have the beautiful, poetic, timeless wisdom about the nature of God that enables us to leave the past in the past and move forward into the future. It is a beautiful expression of the love and grace of God, the forgiveness of God and new beginnings. The psalmist is full of thanksgiving because of the nature of God:
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always accuse, 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 the heavens are high 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 he removes our transgressions from us.
Are you carrying around extra baggage that is weighing you down? Guilt? Shame? Painful memories? Destructive habits? Negative attitudes? Is it time in this new year to let go and receive the grace of God?
Our God is not just a God of the past, but of the future. Our God is One who says again and again, “Behold, I am doing a new thing.” (Isaiah 43:19) “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” (2 Corinthians 5:17) I am sure of this: whatever is hurting you, whatever is holding you back, whatever is keeping you from the fullest possible experience of life, God wants to gather it up and remove it “as far as the east is from the west.”
God is not in the condemnation business, God is in the redemption business. God looks at our past not to find ways to condemn us, but to discover what’s holding us back, so that God can take it away and free us for life in the future. That’s what God is interested in, not the past, but the future!
There is a lot of theology woven into hymns. To enhance today’s reading, I recommend listening to “I’ll Praise My Maker While I’ve Breath”. I hope you will take a few moments to let the words of this message and the emotion that always connects us to music connect with your soul. I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster