All the Benefits of Believing (ATBOB) #11
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
Psalm 103:1 (ESV)
Read the entirety of this Psalm here.
This is the concluding part of our “All the Benefits of Believing” series, and I really hope you have enjoyed it and learned something.
Last week we reached the end of the psalm, and in this post I just want to summarise some of the things we’ve covered along the way.
Beginning and End
David launched into his song of praise by instructing himself to “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” Praise is not always automatic, and sometimes we need to encourage ourselves to bless God. We are human and subject to many trials, and this can sometimes mean we just don’t feel like it. We must go beyond our feelings however, not only because God deserves our worship, but because it is better for us.
Likewise, David concludes his psalm with the very same phrase – “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” These phrases act as bookends, always bringing us back to our created purpose of worshipping God. We would do well to pray in like manner, beginning and ending with words of praise and thanksgiving.
But what comes in between? David’s list of reasons to worship the Lord – the benefits of believing.
- Crowning with love
- Steadfast love
And the list goes on and on!
There is no shortage of things to thank and praise God for here, and I encourage you to spend some time going over the list and the psalm, and truly worshipping God. Even if you just pick one item a day and spend that day giving thanks, I’m sure you will be uplifted.
What might your list look like?
While David’s list here is extensive, your own personal list may be somewhat different. That is ok, and again, I encourage you to write one of your own. What are you especially thankful for? Perhaps a particular relationship? Perhaps your church?
What characteristics of God do you see displayed in the life of Jesus? Are there particular ones which you are especially grateful for? Read through the Gospels and find a few, then let them be opportunities to bless the Lord this week.
All the Benefits of Believing
The word “all” appears nine times in this one psalm (ESV). To me, it’s an important biblical word and not one to skim over lightly. Often we read the word, but exclude ourselves from the promise. All usually means all, which includes you. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not suggesting you force every Scripture into a promise or command for yourself, but equally don’t automatically disqualify yourself.
We do that when we feel unworthy of one of the promises of God. As I stated in this series more than once, you are qualified not because of your behaviour, but because of Christ.
It is interesting to me that David, who wrote this psalm, was not born again and could only look ahead to the promise of Christ. Yet his words of praise are so amazing. We, who live and abide in Jesus, should not only be able to enjoy David’s words, but lift up our own words of thanks.
David could only look forward to Jesus; we can know Him personally.
I’m conscious of those of you who may be reading this and thinking, “That’s all well and good for you Andy, but look what’s happening to me!” I hear you. These are wonderful things, but for some of us, they seem like a distant hope and not for the here and now.
For things such as forgiveness or being crowned with love, it is hard to prove these in our lives. What does forgiveness look like? The crown of love isn’t a physical one, so how do we know it is there? The simple answer (but not easy one) is faith. We believe these things because they are true, irrespective of how we feel about them.
Other benefits such as being satisfied with good things may require some adjustment on our part. You may be looking at a pile of bills covered in red and thinking, “so much for being satisfied with good things…” As I said in an earlier post, we have to choose between two opposing views. Do we believe God’s Word, or our circumstances?
It is the same choice that Adam and Eve faced; do they believe what God said, or do they believe the serpent?
When we encounter a promise in the Bible that is seemingly unfulfilled in our lives, there could be a number of reasons for this. Firstly, check the promise is for you. The context will help here. Is it a promise made to the church, or to a specific person, or to the nation of Israel? Is it applicable to you?
Secondly, if it is for you, then we need to ensure we have understood it correctly. In our example above, being satisfied with good things is not necessarily a promise that you will have everything you want whenever you want it. Similarly, it may have nothing to do with your circumstances, but rather your attitude. Are you dissatisfied because you are in lack, or because you covet things that others have?
Thirdly, is the promise for now, or for the future? Some things spoken of in the Bible are not for the here and now, but for heaven perhaps or another time.
Finally, if we have properly established the promise is for us, that it is for the here and now, and that we have not misinterpreted it, the only thing left to consider is ourselves. God always keeps His promises. He will always uphold His end of the bargain. If we are not receiving, then the problem is always with us and not with the promise, and certainly not with God.
The real benefit of believing
I want to conclude the series by repeating something I’ve said more than once – but it bears saying again.
All of the benefits we have examined over the last few months are truly wonderful. There are many things to thank and praise God for, but they pale in comparison to the real benefit of believing.
The real benefit of believing is Jesus Christ Himself.
I don’t think I can say it any better than Paul did when he said:
Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Philippians 3:8 (ESV)
All the benefits of believing are benefits of believing in Christ. If you are without Him, then you are without any and all of these blessings.
I encourage you not just to thank God for all of these wonderful things, but to thank God for the One Who made it all possible – Jesus Christ Himself.
Jesus embodies these benefits. His made the way for our forgiveness, He is the One who redeems us, and through Him ours sins are removed.
Praise the Lord, O my soul, for all the benefits of believing in Him. Bless the Lord, O my soul, for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord! Amen!