Well, it’s New Year’s Eve! Tomorrow, we step into 2024. Are you ready?
Many folks are asking this question, whether they want to or not.
Lots of people will start tomorrow off with some form of resolution…
If not tomorrow, for sure after the College Football National Championship!
A recent survey from Forbes Health estimates 63% of Americans felt pressured
to set a New Year’s resolution.
Here are the Top resolutions:
- Improve fitness.
- Improve financial health.
- Improve Mental health.
- Improve their diet.
These are worthy goals or hopes, but they’re not a “foundational hope.”
They are what Terry has referred to in the past as “furniture hopes.”
They’re good to have but change over time and in different circumstances.
The foundational hope for life is the gospel:
Hebrews 6:19: “We have this hope (gospel) as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”
If we’re not careful, the problem we can run into during this time of year is to lose sight of the gospel.
Today, I want us to do something different—I want us to remember!
Rather than focus on some new resolution, I want us to focus on resolutely remembering God’s faithful love—his steadfast love—towards us over the past year as we enter 2024.
It’s right that we do this because the act of remembering is a leading theme we find
throughout God’s Word. This idea of remembering God’s hand in our lives works as an act of renewal—drawing us closer to him.
We are called to remember for three reasons:
- Remembering God’s past works leads us to adore and worship God.
- We honor God when we remember Him.
- Remembering God and all he has done—His acts and mighty deeds—affect our behavior and actions.
Psalm 103—a Psalm of David—is a psalm that calls us to remember…
A psalm that models for us what it looks like to Remember.
This morning, I want us to take just a few minutes to walk through this psalm and see what it says. As we walk through the psalm, I hope you’ll see David reflecting on—remembering—the love and compassion of God toward his people.
As we read through the psalm, I want you to notice how David starts by first talking to himself and speaking to his soul. He’s telling himself to praise God! But I also want you to notice that he’s also speaking to each of us, He invites us to lift our hearts and voices to God in worship.
As David remembers all that God has done, you’ll see at the end of the psalm,
He burst out with a call for all creation to praise the LORD! It’s a powerful Psalm.
Psalm 103 opens with…
My soul, bless the Lord,
and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 My soul, bless the Lord,
and do not forget all his benefits.
These first couple of verses are a call to Praise the Lord, and I want you to notice two things…
- Notice how David is telling himself “what to do.”
From the moment we wake up, our minds are filled with thoughts. Aren’t they?
And who is it that’s talking to us? Where are those thoughts coming from?
They come from within us! Often, the talk going on in our minds is not very helpful. Is it?
I’m convinced David understood how wrong this kind of thinking could be if it were to go unchecked.
It’s common to find David talking to himself—speaking truth to himself—especially in times of difficulty.
Now, I don’t know what was going on in David’s life when he wrote this psalm, but I do know that there were times when he was in difficult and confusing times, and rather than just letting his mind ramble on with things that weren’t true, he would stop and intentionally speak words of truth to himself.
I love this! He’s preaching to himself. It’s that “gospel self-talk” we find in various psalms.
For example, in Psalm 43, he says, “5 Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! ”
These Psalms and many others teach how to talk to ourselves rightly—how to rebuke the soul-sucking discouragement that tends to torpedo our emotions. (Dane Ortlund)
David’s answer for discouragement is this: Remember who God is! Tell your heart to praise God so you “don’t forget all his benefits.” It’s that Gospel self-talk!
- The second thing I want you to notice is the word bless. Bless is an interesting word…. It can mean both receiving something and praising something.
The old hymn, Count Your Blessings, written in 1897, calls us to remember all the things, temporal or spiritual, that God has done for us. And why does the writer want us to do this?
Because we leak perspective! It is often easy to take a negative view of life, but when we remember the things God has given us, we can’t deny that we are blessed!
The refrain goes like this… (I’m not going to sing it for you, haha!)
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, and see what God has done.
This hymn is doing the same thing David is doing. He’s remembering all God has done.
God has blessed us tremendously. There is no doubt about that!
And it’s God who has done the blessing.
But notice that in this psalm, David tells himself to “bless the Lord.”
We know all the ways we’ve been blessed by the Lord, but have you thought about what it means for us to bless the Lord? It’s such a simple instruction with profound implications for our lives.
Dane Ortlund writes on this idea of “blessing the Lord.” He says it’s a fundamental posture and joy that every believer should possess. Dane says that to bless the Lord is to lift one’s eyes to heaven, look to God, celebrate who he is, count on him for all things, and acknowledge life as a gift from him.
At its base level, it’s to notice him. To see him and to rejoice in him while doing so.
I was recently at my grandson’s Basketball game. He was so happy to have his family there watching.
Now, here’s the crazy part. He would get a rebound, take a shot, do a good job guarding someone, and run down the court, stop, and throw his arms up in the air… no matter what it was he was doing, he would stop and look over to us with this big grin on his face!
Oh, I loved it! He just wanted us to notice him. And I’d smile back at him and wave at him and say, “Pay attention to the game!”
As I watched Emery play, I couldn’t help but think of what Dane had written. What a blessing it was to watch my grandson look back at me—I was so blessed. And I imagine God feels this same way when his children notice him!
We bless the Lord when we look up to him and remember all the ways he has blessed us by looking down at us. (Dane Ortlund) And this is what David is doing by remembering and telling himself, “Not to forget all his [God’s] benefits.”
There is a shift in verses 3-19; Here, David gets busy remembering the reasons he has to praise God.
We’ll have to go quickly because it’s a long passage, but I want you to get the gist of it…
And I want you to note this: As we work through the psalm, notice his remembering isn’t just personal; it’s communal. He’s not just reminding himself; he’s reminding everyone who God is and what God has done.
It’s like David is saying, “If you can’t think of a reason to praise God,
I’ll give you a few—let’s start with the benefits.”
3 He forgives all your iniquity;
he heals all your diseases.
4 He redeems your life from the Pit;
he crowns you with faithful love and compassion.
5 He satisfies you with good things;
your youth is renewed like the eagle.
There is a lot packed in these opening verses! David starts by remembering how we’ve been forgiven, healed, redeemed, crowned, and satisfied!
When I think of my own sins—my iniquity, I can’t help but shudder… sometimes I even wince!
Because I know how dark my heart was, is, and can be.
Yet, because of God’s loving-kindness towards me, I’ve been forgiven…
And not because of anything I’ve done. It is a free gift from God!
“16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,
that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Through my faith—trust—in Jesus, I’ve been made new, born again, and washed in the blood of Jesus. My past, present, and future sins have been forgiven!
And not only that, but He also heals my brokenness. He has promised that one day, all who trust in Jesus will be healed of every disease in the new heavens and new earth.
Some here in this room (even in the past year) had a foretaste of what that healing will be like because God has physically touched you in his already/not yet kingdom, and you’ve had your health restored.
Listen, out of his grace and mercy, he saved us from the pit! Had God not moved in my life,
who knows where I would be now?
I probably wouldn’t have Patty, my children, my grandchildren… All these blessings over the last 30 years would be gone! I have these blessings only because of his loving kindness and mercy towards me. It’s like he’s wrapped me in his eternal goodness. I can’t forget this!
So, when David says his youth is restored like that of an Eagle, honestly, I can say the same thing because of the joy I’ve been given through Christ.
Not only does David reflect on the benefits of walking with God, but he remembers the Lord’s character.
6 The Lord executes acts of righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He revealed his ways to Moses,
his deeds to the people of Israel.
There will be difficulties on this side of heaven. It’s part of living in a fallen world. But you can know with certainty that God is at work in your situation. He hasn’t forgotten about you, and amid whatever trial you find yourself in, you can be confident that he is Just.
How do we know this? Because the biblical stories found throughout the scriptures demonstrate and remind us of God’s compassion and mercy.
Moses is one of the stories where we see God bring victory and sustain his people as Moses led them out of captivity. And I want you to know this: God has done the same for you.
Think of where you were without him in your life and where you are now. Remember?
Your story of God’s salvation, redemption, rescue, and blessing is just as powerful.
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in faithful love.
9 He will not always accuse us or be angry forever.
10 He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our iniquities.
Oh my, aren’t you grateful for that! I am. I know all the ways I fall short… and believe me, there are many. He’s not a grudge-holder.
I know people who would just as soon write you off for the slightest wrong. Twenty years later, they still bring it up! It’s exasperating. Who wants to be around someone like that?
Early on in my walk with Jesus, I was messed up in my thinking. I thought I was either in or out with God, depending on how well I did each week. If I messed up, I was out. The problem is, most of the time, I was out because I messed up so much!
It’s a maddening way to live—you’ll never be good enough. But thank God that he doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve! He’s not a grudge-holder.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his faithful love toward those who fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him.
Because of Jesus’ atonement, our sins have been removed—they’re moved so far away from God that they will never be held against us or even remembered. That’s humbling.
14 For he knows what we are made of,
remembering that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass—he blooms like a flower of the field;
16 when the wind passes over it, it vanishes, and its place is no longer known.,
17 But from eternity to eternity the Lord’s faithful love is toward those who fear him,
and his righteousness toward the grandchildren 18 of those who keep his covenant,
who remember to observe his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.
David has gone from remembering the character of God to remembering who we are.
We are finite beings. We aren’t even a blink of an eye in the light of eternity.
I’m humbled when I think about how much control I have over my life. Oh, I can plan to get out and head across town, take care of business, meet someone for lunch, and then head out to Kansas City. I can do all that, but how much do I really control? Not much!
Were frail. David remembers just how frail we really are. We’re limited. David wants us to remember who we are because he wants us to have a broader vision of God. We need to remember that God is king overall!
Our God endures. His love is permanent! Remember, he will not let you down. He won’t betray you. We’re to remember and marvel at the breadth of his rule.
He rules over all because he is King. He deserves wholehearted worship and total alliance.
And because he rules over all, we can rest peacefully in him. We need to remember this.
20 Bless the Lord,
all his angels of great strength,
who do his word,
obedient to his command.
21 Bless the Lord, all his armies,
his servants who do his will.
22 Bless the Lord, all his works
in all the places where he rules.
My soul, bless the Lord! 
David ends where he began by once again calling on his soul and his whole being to bless the Lord and remember all his benefits. And as he does, he invites all of us, together with all of creation, to join him in doing the same!
Application: Tomorrow starts a new year. The year will be filled with many things we didn’t know would happen. It will be filled with all sorts of unknowns.
But amid all these unknowns, we know one thing: We have the Gospel as our foundational Hope to stand on. “We have this hope (the gospel) as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” A foundation we place all lesser hopes on.
So, as we prepare to step off into the new year tomorrow, rather than giving all our attention to some new resolution, let’s first resolutely remember God’s faithful love—his steadfast love that has endured forever towards you over this past year and will follow into eternity.
Let this act of remembrance deepen your adoration and worship of God—Honor God as you reflect on his goodness towards you, and let your reflections affect your behavior and actions as you enter 2024 determined to stand firmly planted on the gospels foundational hope.