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Author:Rev. Jeremy Segstro
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Congregation:Cloverdale Canadian Reformed Church
 Surrey, BC
 cloverdalecanrc.org
 
Title:Bless the LORD
Text:Psalms 103:1-5 (View)
Occasion:Lord's Supper
Topic:Praise
 
Added:2022-01-25
Updated:2022-08-01
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

Reading: Matthew 5:1-12

Text: Psalm 103: 1-5

 

BLESS THE LORD

  1. With Everything You Are

  2. For Everything You Have Received

 

Psalm 115: 1, 5, 6

Psalm 38: 1, 7, 8, 10

Psalm 103: 1, 2

Hymn 1

Hymn 60:1-6

Table 1: Psalm 103:4

Table 2: Psalm 103: 7

Table 3: Psalm 103:9

Psalm 34: 1, 2, 4, 7, 8

 

Words to listen for: Distracted, somber, Badge

 

Questions for Understanding:

  1. What does it mean to “Bless the LORD”

  2. What are the three options for what we should do when we feel spiritually dead?  Which is the right one?

  3. Should we praise God for who He is, or what He has done?

  4. Who should come to the table?

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


Beloved in our Lord Jesus Christ,

Today we celebrate the Lord’s Supper.  We have already heard that earlier in the service.  We heard it announced last week too.  Typically more members will show up this a Lord’s Supper service than to a so-called “regular” worship service.  And there is a danger that we overemphasize the importance of the sacrament.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Lord’s Supper is a wonderful blessing.  It has been given to us (along with baptism) as a way in which the gospel of Jesus Christ is visibly pictured to us.  The sacraments have been given to us as an accommodation to our human weaknesses.  And we should praise the Lord for these blessings.

But they are blessings for a purpose.  Blessings for a reason.  The sacraments are here to strengthen us for our Christian lives, spent serving the Lord - just like the preaching is meant to do each and every Sunday.

So this morning, as we eat at the table of the Lord, as we, former enemies, eat at the table of the King, like Mephibosheth did at David’s table, let us reflect on the purpose of the sacrament.

And boys and girls, young people, guests, if you are not at the point where you sit up front at the table with us, do not tune out.  This sermon is for you, because the gospel is for you.  The sacrament is for you too - because when you see the bread broken, when you see the wine poured out, when you hear the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, you are also participating with us, as we meditate on the Lord’s blessings, and bless Him in return.

That is what we will focus on today in the sermon:

BLESS THE LORD

  1. With Everything You Are

  2. For Everything You Have Received

Psalm 103 begins with the words Bless the LORD.  Now, already, with these three words, we need a little bit of explanation.

What does it mean for someone, for a HUMAN BEING, to bless the Almighty God?  We all understand how blessings flow the other way.  We heard that in our reading from Matthew 5.  The Beatitudes, literally “the blessings.”   We read of 9 groups of people that are promised blessings from God.  We are those who are needy, and God is the One who is good.  He is pleased to bless us, pleased to give us good gifts.  That is fairly easy to understand.  But the other way?  How can WE bless God?

When we bless God, we are doing something different for Him than He does for us.  For what could we give Him that He truly needs?  Does He truly need our money in the offering?  No, for all the riches of this world already belong to Him.  And we could go on with more examples.

But the way that we bless God means essentially the same thing as PRAISING God.  In Psalm 34, David says - I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.  There is obviously a very close connection between blessing God and praising Him.

Bless the LORD 

O my soul

David, in the beginning of this psalm, is not calling out to others to bless the LORD.  At the end of the psalm he does, but here, David is speaking to his own soul.  You could even say that he is preaching to his own soul.

And that is something that we need to do as well, congregation.  Because there are days when my soul does not want to bless the LORD.  It’s a scary thing to recognize, it’s a scary thing to admit in front of all of you.  But there are days when my soul does not want to bless the LORD.

And there are two options that we typically think of when this happens.  Two solutions when we feel spiritually dead inside.  Or spiritually distracted.  Or spiritually dull.

Option 1: If you aren’t feeling it, then don’t bless the LORD.  Don’t bless Him today.  Wait around until your soul feels it again.  That’s option 1.

Option 2: Fake it til you make it.  Even if you don’t feel it, put a smile on your face, sing to God.  If you are saying all the right words, He won’t know the difference...right?  That’s option 2.

Now, I hope you are following along with me here...because option 1 isn’t good.  It’s not.  And option 2 is arguably even worse.

So what are we to do?

It's secret option 3!  We are to preach to our own soul!  We are to take a page out of David’s book.

For there are certain truths that you know deep down.  Deep deep down in your heart.  Truths like:

-God is worthy to be praised

-My job as creature is to praise Him every day of my life

Even if you don’t feel like it, you know that you should be doing it.

And David is clutching at these deep deep truths, and bringing them out

Bless he says.

Bless - who is to be doing this?

Bless - my soul - Bless the LORD.  Bless Yahweh.

And why the soul?  The soul is the first thing addressed by David.

Simply put, David preaches to his soul because it has been created for this very purpose.  The mind was created to think.  The lungs were created to breathe, but the soul was created with only one purpose - to PRAISE.  One commentator says - Praise is work perfectly suited to the soul.

So David is saying...Soul!  This is your only job.  Wake up and do it!

And when the soul gets on board, all the other parts need to join in.  The mind, created to think, must be thinking about praiseworthy things.  The lungs, created to breathe, are to sing and speak and declare God’s praise.

David STARTS with the soul but is not content to STOP there.  No faculty of any created being should be still or silent in blessing God.

But WHY should we bless God?  While for some it may be easier to see the reasons than others.  For some among us here, going to meet together with the church is an honor and a joy.  You can barely wait for Sunday morning.  But for others, it is a real struggle to enter through that door.  And we have to be sensitive to these people.  And David knows that his own soul needs reminding, and so he gives the reason for this blessing.  This praising of God.  Our second point.

You may have heard it said before that we should love God for WHO HE IS, not WHAT HE HAS DONE.  But the Biblical reality is that we do not have to choose.  In verses 3-5 of our text, we can see David list the wonderful blessings of God.

We bless out of the blessings we have received

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits

Who forgives all your iniquity

The first blessing we have received from God is forgiveness.

In a few minutes, when we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, this should be first on your mind.  The forgiveness we have received from God.

It is a forgiveness that was won for us at the highest cost - Jesus’ broken body and shed blood.  And as a result of the cost, there may be some of us who sit at the table with somber faces.  And it is important for us to realize the cost of our forgiveness...but just as the soul was created to praise, so too was the cost paid so that we can celebrate.

That is what our form calls it - The CELEBRATION of the Lord’s Supper.  And that is what we should do!  Not casually, disrespectfully laughing and joking at the table, but the joy that we have received from our forgiveness should express itself.  When we eat and drink at the table, we are to look in 3 directions.  We are to look back - to look back at our sins, to look back at Jesus’ sacrifice.  But we can’t stop at looking back.  We also have to look around.  Look around at your reality now.

You are people who are loved by the Lord!

You are people who, in turn, love the Lord!

It is truly truly wonderful and praiseworthy that our sins are forgiven by our Lord and Saviour.

Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits

Who heals all your diseases

Jesus Christ is our God, and He is still healer.  This does not mean that each and every illness we suffer with now will be healed immediately.

Jesus’ ministry on earth was not a ministry - primarily - of healing.  The healings always served a greater purpose - the Kingdom of Heaven.

And that is why we should look in a third direction.  Let’s review the first two again

1- We look back at our sins and Jesus sacrifice

2 - We look around at our reality now

And then the third direction - looking ahead to the Kingdom of  Heaven, when it comes in its fullness.

And it is in this Kingdom where we will find our true and eternal healing.

It is this kingdom that we receive a foretaste of at the table.

For all those Jesus healed on earth would get sick again.

Those he raised from the dead would die again.

But the healing that David sings about in Psalm 103, and the healing that we can expect from our God is far greater.

Bless the LORD O my soul, and forget not all His benefits

Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy who satisfies you with good

Redeeming our life from the pit.  This is powerful imagery.  And we can think of David during his time in the desert, fleeing from Saul, and the LORD has redeemed him.  But just as with the healing of diseases, there is a deeper meaning here.  David was redeemed from the pit in the same way that we were.

Though David was born a covenant child, raised in a family that loved and served the Lord (we can see that they honored the prophet Samuel when he came to sacrifice), David confesses the truth of where he once was, in Psalm 51.  He was conceived and born in sin.  This was the true pit from where David was redeemed.  This is the true pit from where we are redeemed too.

And not only have we been redeemed, but we have been blessed.  And why does our God do this for us?

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

You are blessed so that your youth is renewed.  Your strength is renewed.

As we come to the table in a few moments, you are not coming in your own strength.  We heard this earlier in the beginning of the form.  We do not come to this supper to declare that we are perfect and righteous in ourselves.  We come to this supper to be renewed.  To be strengthened.

Coming to the table is not a badge of honour for the winners.  For those who won against their sin this last week.

But rather, coming to the table is a blessing for sinners. Not a crown for winners, but a blessing for sinners.

So, who should come to the table?

  • The poor in spirit - those who feel spiritually weak and fragile.  Come to the table and be strengthened.

  • Those who mourn - those who mourn over their sins.  Those who mourn over this world not being the way it should be.  Come to the table and receive the promise that you will one day feast at Jesus’ table in paradise

  • Those who are meek - those who know they do not deserve grace, but quietly wait with open hands. Come to the table, trusting that God will fill you with good things.

  • Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness - longing for the day when they will truly be like Jesus Christ.  Come to the table and receive a foretaste.

  • Those who are merciful - knowing that they have received mercy from God.  Come to the table and taste the goodness of His mercy.

  • Those who are pure in heart - not those who are perfect in heart, but those whose heart is fixed on the one aim of serving God.  Come to the table and serve Him in the way He has commanded.

  • Those who are peacemakers - not causing fights and disagreements, but calmly bringing people together.  Come to the table, knowing that your efforts are seen by God, and one day, there will be everlasting peace.

  • Those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake - in Canada, we are not obviously persecuted, but there is still subtle persecution.  Come to the table, knowing that you belong in God’s house, where evil will be no more.

So come to the table, congregation of Jesus Christ.  If you are anxious, or feel that your sins are too much for the table, preach to your soul.  Remind yourself that your strength is found somewhere else.  Your strength is found in SOMEONE else.  Your strength is found in the love and faithfulness of God.

AMEN




* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Jeremy Segstro, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright, Rev. Jeremy Segstro

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