Who God Is and How You Should Respond

Partial transcript of a talk by Thabiti Anyabwile at Creating Options Together™ 2016 — 4 January 2017

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Look with me at Psalm 103 – it’s a psalm of David. I want to hang our thoughts on 3 remembrances.

Let Us Remember What God Does

The first thing we want to observe in Psalm 103:1-5 – is what God does.

That text has two basic commands: “Bless the Lord” and “forget not all His benefits.”

We are habitual forgetters. We hear of His benefits on Sunday morning, and by Wednesday we can’t remember. We turn on the news and are tempted to forget all His benefits. Notice the word – ALL. It runs through the psalm. And so He says: Don’t forget any single one of the things that God has done for you – ”who forgives all your iniquity.” That’s what God does. He forgives all of our sins, transgressions, rebellion and iniquities. And those of the sinners we are trying to reach.

The psalmist says, He “redeems your life from the pit.” It’s the pit of despondency, despair and death. In the pit, where darkness is a garment and hopelessness a habit. There we sat in that darkness. Into that darkness broke light on the face of Christ.

God tells us we are not so far off that He cannot reach us, not so fallen that He cannot lift us, not so broken that He cannot heal us. We serve a God who reaches into the pit. He not only redeems your life from the pit, He “crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” None of us deserve crowns.

Don’t forget you are loved by God. Don’t forget God is merciful to you. Don’t forget nothing will separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.

“Who satisfies you with good.” There are other forms of satisfaction, beloved. Satisfied with videogames. I’m confessing my faults. Satisfied with X-Box, and satisfied with a good book, and satisfied with long naps. I’m an introvert. I’m satisfied when I’m by myself. And satisfied with worse things. And the text promises that God satisfies us with good. He gives us things that we can enjoy with no shame.

It’s easy to be dissatisfied. You hate the brokenness that’s around you. But you have to remember you serve a God that satisfies you with good. Even when you see the brokenness, even when you experience the injustice, God satisfies you with good.

At the end of verse 5, the secret to the renewal is not forgetting the benefits. There is something about meditating on what God does that gives you strength. There is something about knowing God is with you. Do not forget all His benefits as the days get long and the events get wearisome and your wisdom and your love fail.

Let Us Remember What God is Like

Second, Psalm 103:6-19 tells us what God is like. The writer goes from God’s benefits to His justice. God rules to work righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. He rules in justice – His kingdom is a just kingdom. His people are like Him.

For you who are working for righteousness and justice, do you think you do that alone? Christ goes to work with you, in you and through you to work righteousness and justice for all of the oppressed. He is just (verse 6).

Yet, He does not repay us according to our sins. He’s merciful. That’s a God worth loving (v. 10). He’s gracious. He’s slow to anger. He’s just. He’s not winking at sin, but He’s being patient with sinners.

God is not like us. He’s forgiving (v. 12). How far is the east from the west? When Christ is stretching out His arms on the cross, He is stretching our sins as far as the east is from the west. He’s compassionate (v. 13). He knows our frame is like dust (v. 14). We forget it. He doesn’t. We think we are solid and permanent. This life is transitory (vv. 15,16). We have the sense that this world is real and the world to come is an illusion. But beloved, it is precisely the opposite. This is the shadow world. The real things are to come with God.

And look at the contrast the psalmist gives us in verse 17: “The steadfast love of the Lord is everlasting to everlasting for those who fear Him.” Our lives are temporary. His love permanent. Our lives are a vapor. His love is everlasting. He is just and He is loving.

Our final thought: What does God deserve?

Let Us Remember What God Deserves

Notice the audiences in Psalm 103:20-22  The angels (v. 20). The hosts (v. 21). His works (v. 22).

Heaven, the redeemed and the Creation were meant and made for the praise of God. All God has made is meant to give Him honor, glory, majesty, and dominion, and ascribe to Him power, and worth and beauty and glory. He deserves praise.

We don’t see all of the world blessing the Lord. We don’t yet see all the world honoring His dominion. We don’t yet see all the world acknowledging Christ as they should. So He sent us into all the world to proclaim the good news of a loving God who gave His perfect Son to be crucified in the place of sinners and raised Him on the third day for sinners’ justification. One day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus Christ is Lord.

Remember what God does – forget not one of His benefits. Remember what God is like – just, loving and forgiving. And remember what God deserves – your total praise.

Thabiti Anyabwile is one of the pastors at Anacostia River Church. He has served as an elder and pastor in churches in North Carolina, Washington, D.C., and the Cayman Islands. After a few years as a practicing Muslim, Thabiti came to Christ. He and his wife, Kristie, have three children. Thabiti is the author of several books including The Life of God in the Soul of the Church.

This article is based on Pastor Anyabwile’s “Final Charge” talk at Creating Options Together 2016, a training event for Cru’s inner-city ministry. You can listen to his whole message here and enjoy further media content from the Creating Options Together Conference here.

Want to learn more about Cru's inner-city ministry? Click here.

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