All the Benefits of Believing (ATBOB) #1
Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Psalm 103:1 (NIV)
This is a fantastic Psalm, and there is a great deal for us to both enjoy and consider. I’ve called this series “All the benefits of believing,” and throughout I’ll be pointing out the many wonderful benefits of following Jesus.
Before I start sharing the benefits listed by this Psalm, I want to focus on this first verse for a while. “Praise the Lord!” is a common phrase in the Psalms and the Bible as a whole, yet I wonder sometimes if we Christians fall short in this area.
Life can be tough at times, and often our prayer lives reflect this. We come to God, seeking help in time of need, and Hebrews 4:16 tells us we’ll find “grace and love” when we come to His throne. This is a fabulous promise, and one I don’t want to understate in any way.
However, when I consider my own prayer life and relationship with God, I’m acutely aware of how often I seek His help more than I seek Him.
We should never seek God’s blessings more than we seek God Himself.
Of course, we’re all guilty at times of seeking God’s “presents” rather than His “presence”, but we were created to worship Him. As we progress through this Psalm, let’s please bear this in mind. God is worthy, more than worthy, of our total devotion and praise – irrespective of the benefits a relationship with Him offers.
So, Psalm 103 begins by telling us to praise God, and uses the phrase “my soul;” The phrase “my soul” here is nephesh in the original language and it means “soul,” “self,” or “living being.” Clearly the psalmist is stirring himself up to praise the Lord. While praise and worship should be the most natural – even automatic – thing for us, often it does take effort and exertion on our part. Why is that? It’s because we have a “flesh” or “carnal nature” which is opposed to the things of God. Our spirits are willing, but our flesh is weak.
The Psalm goes on to say “all my inmost being, praise His Holy Name.” This series is all the benefits of believing, and you might be surprised how often this little word – all – pops up in this one Psalm. Yet Psalm 103’s first use of “all” is about us. We are to praise God with all of ourselves.
We will go on to read about the many wonderful benefits of knowing God. Sadly though, many Christians don’t see or experience these benefits and can’t understand why. Of course, I don’t want to generalise here, but I do want to point out at least one possible reason why this is so often the case.
We sometimes seek the benefits of following God, without the corresponding commitment to Him.
When a couple are “dating,” they have no right to each other’s assets, money or name. It’s only when they marry (commit fully) that they are then entitled to the other’s possessions, assets, name and any other associated benefits. In a similar way, the Church as the bride of Christ, has no right to claim the benefits of “marriage” without the corresponding commitment.
Likewise, when someone starts a new job, they cannot claim the full salary without fulfilling all aspects of the role. If I called my boss and said, “I’m not crazy about starting early, so I’ll come in when I roll out of bed.” or, “I like my monthly pay cheque, but to be honest, I’m not that keen on writing reports so I’ll just skip doing them.” It won’t be long before I’ll be looking for a new job.
As Christians, we cannot claim “all” the benefits with only a half-hearted commitment to Jesus. We must go all in if we want to realise the potential of our inheritance.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting that we must earn our place with God or only be blessed by “performing”. That would be legalism and works of the flesh. Every blessing and every benefit of following Jesus is given to us by His grace; the finished work of Christ at the cross.
Let me give an example to explain my meaning. My daughter is still very young, but one day will want to learn to drive a car. I could buy her a car right now, but would be reckless indeed to hand over the keys. Instead, I need to wait not only until she is old enough, but also until she can demonstrate that she is responsible and trustworthy to handle the vehicle. The “blessing” of the car could be sat in my garage, just waiting to be claimed. It’s bought and paid for, but until she reaches maturity, she cannot handle it safely.
How is your relationship with God right now? Before we dig further into this spectacular Psalm, I’d encourage you to examine your heart. Do you praise God with “all” your inmost being? Do you spend more time asking for things, or praising His Holy Name? Do you need to talk to your “soul” and stir it up a little? There’s no better time to start than now.