Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In the Midst of Darkness - Bless the Lord

     When the wind of trouble blows our way and it seems that the evil prosper, we are called to do something totally counterintuitive to our human nature.  We are called to bless the Lord and praise His name as David did so frequently in the Psalms.  Perhaps this is why I have always loved these beautiful songs of the Bible.  David found comfort and strength when he poured out his soul before God and we can too.
     Psalm 103 (one of my all time favorites) calls us to praise the Lord.  It begins with:  "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name" (vs. 1).  This call to worship asks us to put our whole heart into lifting up God's name.  As we lift Him up, He, also, will lift us up out of the darkness that can so easily envelope our minds.  It is hard to be depressed at the same time we are blessing God.  Then, David goes on and tells us to bless the Lord and not forget His many benefits to us not the least of which is the forgiveness of our sins (vs. 2-3) as well as healing our bodies.  God is, indeed, good.
     When we stop to consider the forgiveness of our sins, we read these words:  " far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us" (vs. 12).  Meditating for a moment on that thought should bring us great peace.  God forgives and remembers our sin no more through the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Even in physical bondage whether by sickness or man's doing, we are still free in our spirit.  We have favor with God and are heirs with Jesus Christ.  This is the greatest reason for blessing the Lord.  However it does not end there.
Jesus is the light in our darkness.
     In verses 4 through 6, David lists more reasons to bless the Lord:  He redeems our life from the pit; He satisfies us with good so we are renewed with strength like an eagle; and the Lord works righteousness and justice for the oppressed.  What a mighty God we serve!  Looking at the word "oppressed" we can see a multitude of situations that God provides relief for us.  We may be oppressed with negative thoughts over situations we cannot control.  We may be oppressed financially and cannot find a job, or we may be oppressed for being a Christian (especially in other nations of this world but already coming our way here in this country).  For all these situations, God works righteousness and justice.
      God's character alone gives us great reason to bless His name.  He is slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and does not deal with us according to our sins.  However, the Psalm does tell us that He will not keep His anger forever (vs.9).  There will be a final day of accounting.  The first time comes when we die and the second comes at the Great White Throne judgement (Rev. 20:11-15).  All we need to do is look back to the days of Noah and the great flood to see how God deals with unrepentant wickedness.  Therefore, we have all the more reason to live for His glory, obeying His commands and loving one another.
      Because of our relationship with God through Christ, we know that He looks upon us with compassion as a father looks upon His child.  He knows we are weak, and that our walk upon this earth is just for a short while.  Yet, God's steadfast love goes on forever towards those who love and live in awe of Him even to our children's children.  I love that promise!  I desire for my children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to love and serve the Lord all their days.
      Finally, David summarizes the Psalm by calling upon the angels, hosts and ministers to bless the Lord.  He calls upon the works of God and all creation to bless the Lord and concludes with:  "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" (vs.23).  Just meditating on all that God is and has done for us should lift us up even in our darkest hours and most difficult times.  There is power in praise for it drives the darkness away.  The Lord knows we need this for our nation, for our churches and our families.
       May we be a people who bless the Lord rather than curse the darkness for He is the light of the world.  All the powers of evil shall not prevail against God's church or His people for we are free by the power of Jesus Christ.  Selah!

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