I want you to turn with me this morning to Psalm 103, and I want to bring to you a word from the Lord just from one verse of this Psalm - but I think we would need to read it all.
The title of my message is "Never Forget What God Remembers", beginning to read at Psalm 103 verse 1: "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's. The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed. He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more. But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all. Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word. Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul".
Let's come before the Lord in a word of prayer, just before we meditate upon His word - and I would ask you, please, to pray. Pray for me, that I will be able to deliver what the Lord has put into my heart; but pray for yourself, and pray for those around you, that the Lord might speak very definitely. I hope that you've come to be with God's people to hear from heaven. So often we go through the motions of Sunday morning Christianity - I hope that you've come to hear from God. Are you expecting to have a message from the Almighty? Well, if you haven't done already, why not come before the Lord and say: 'Lord, I'm opening my heart now, and I want to hear Your voice, I want to receive a message from You'? Maybe you're here with a very pertinent need, maybe you're here with a burden or a heartache, or some other challenge or trial that you're facing. Well, why not just invite the Lord now, and tune your ear to Him, and your heart, to hear what He has to say to you from His holy Word?
Father, we thank You for these wonderful words. We thank You, Lord, for the sentiments that they express as they reveal to us Your great character in being the loving, long-suffering, compassionate Almighty God of Heaven. Lord, we see in this Psalm, the Psalmist drawn out in worship and praise to bless Your holy name, because he really got a true glimpse, and he touched and connected with what it was to know this God in all of His greatness. Lord, we pray this morning that each of us, as we come to this Psalm, may hear, Lord, we may hear Your voice, we may hear You speaking to us. Lord, I pray for each head bowed, and I ask now that You might minister to those gathered in this place today, whatever their needs might be. We pray in Jesus' name, the Lord Jesus Christ - and You have promised to provide all our needs, according to Your riches in glory in Christ Jesus. So in His name we pray now that, by the Holy Spirit, that You will minister to us. In Jesus' name, and for His glory alone, we pray. Amen.
They say that confession is good for the soul, and many preachers have been told not to confess too much - but I have to confess to you that I had quite a busy weekend of ministry last weekend, after which I was tired (and preachers do get tired!), a little bit dejected. Of course, mixed with that was the busyness of family life, and some of the strains and stresses of things that were going on in the home and the wider family circle. I have to be honest with you, on Tuesday and Wednesday I didn't feel that I had much energy to do anything, let alone to pray and to read or study the word of God. Do you ever feel like that? No? You never feel like that? Well, I felt like that, and when you feel like that - here's a bit of advice - you just have to force yourself to pray and to read the word of God. But you often find that when you do force yourself, the Lord quickly rewards you. That happened to me just on Wednesday of this week, from verse 14 of Psalm 103. I lay up as comfortable as I could get, and looked at my daily readings to see what it was for the day, and I often choose the Psalm first because they are the most palatable and encouraging to our hearts - and this was the verse that just leapt out to me, verse 14 of Psalm 103: "For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust". Boy, did that encourage me! When I felt tired, when I felt dejected, not much energy, to know that the Lord knows! He knows my frame, He remembers that I am dust.
I just want to share with you the meditation that I had on this verse on Wednesday past. Basically the summary of what I'm going to say here this morning is this: our God remembers what we so often forget. He knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust. Sometimes we forget that God wants us to remember, and because we forget these important truths we often get ourselves into all sorts of trouble. Now, you've heard the expression - it can be heard in different contexts, maybe a young fellow going onto the football pitch, and his coach shouts: 'Show them what you're made of!'; or maybe a child is going into an exam, and an encouraging father or mother pats them on the back and says: 'Now you go and show them what you're made of!'. What verse 14 is talking to us about is that we would do well to remember what we are made of. The Lord knows our frame, and He remembers that we are dust.
If you go right back to the beginning, the book of beginnings, Genesis chapter 2 and verse 7, you read there that: 'the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul', a living being. We need to remember that we are dust, and we were dust originally. God made us, if you like, from the dirt of the ground. Now, of course, having breathed His 'ruach', His Spirit, into that clay, He made us in His image. So, though we are made of the dust, we still have the divine mark, the image of God upon us. Yet our substance, essentially, at least in our flesh, is dust.
You may not know that science has recently discovered that there are the same essential elements found in the human body, and indeed the flesh of animals, as there is in soil: nitrogen, oxygen, calcium, etc. We are basically made up of earth, and of course that reflects the revelation of Scripture and the truth of it, that originally we were dust. Will you remember that? Remember something else: remember, ultimately, from dust we came, and to dust we shall go again. In Genesis 3 and verse 19, still at the beginning, God said after the fall into sin: 'In the sweat of your face', your brow, 'you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground; for out of it you were taken: for dust you are, and to dust you shall return'. In Ecclesiastes 12 verse 7 we read that monumental verse: 'Then dust shall return to the earth as it was: and the spirit will return to God who gave it'. We are originally dust, and ultimately we will return to dust.
Whenever we think of dust, what do we think of? We think of something that is common, something that is ordinary - it's something that we find lying on the ground. I imagine, if I went home to a few of your houses just now, I would find it as well on the mantelpiece, on the dining room table, in all sorts of places. It speaks of something common, something ordinary - but what God is communicating to us, I believe, through His word, is: dust speaks of our weakness and our frailty. When God says He knows our frame, He remembers we are dust, He knows what we're really made of!
But dust also, I believe, speaks of the tremendous potential that we have even as humans in our weakness - because when God, in the beginning, made us from the dust, He wants us to know that we are weak in and of ourselves but we are strong in Him. He wants us to remember that He took the common, ordinary dust of the ground and made it into clay, and He took that clay and He breathed into it and He made man in His image. So from something common, something ordinary, with His breath in it He can do great things. There is great potential in dust and clay. You see, when you're in God's hands, who is the Potter, He can mould you and make you after His will.
So God remembers we are dust originally, He remembers that we are dust and will become dust ultimately, but it also says in verse 14: 'He knows our frame'. I want to apply that personally to all of us here today: do you know that God knows your frame? Let me remind you of Psalm 139, if you care to turn to it with me, just a few pages over, Psalm 139 verse 13 expresses how God knows us personally. Verse 13 of 139: 'For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them'. Some translations translate this as: 'You knew my frame in my mother's womb'. At conception, God knew your frame, and He has known it and remembered it every day since - isn't that remarkable?
In fact, the Lord Jesus Himself gives us a glimpse into the true extent of this knowledge of us in Matthew 10 and verse 30, when He said: 'The very hairs of your head are all numbered'. Now I want to stress that the statistics I'm about to share with you are average statistics, they couldn't be applied to some here in the meeting this morning! But there are apparently upwards of 100,000 hairs on the average head, between 100,000 to 200,000, and I'm told that we can lose between 50 to 100 hairs daily. Yet Jesus wants us to know that He knows, and God our Father knows our frame - the very hairs of our head are numbered. From our mother's womb, the point of conception, He understood everything in our constitution, our frame.
Can I just pause here for a moment, because many people in our world - and it has to be said that this applies to Christians as well - have a problem accepting who they are. You're either too short or you're too tall, you're too fat, you're too thin, you're not fair enough, or you're not tall, dark and handsome, or whatever - maybe it's the problem with the old hairs that have been going out at some rate over 50 to 100 a day, and you're left almost with nothing! I don't know what it is, maybe it's a personality thing, or an achievement thing, that you're not educated or intellectual enough, that you're not successful enough in your career. If ever there was a reason why we should accept ourselves the way God has made us, it is this: He knows our frame, and He has known everything about us from our conception.
Now I'm not saying that we ought not to grow as human beings and as believers in Christ, or we should never change - but what I am saying is this: some of us should stop trying to be someone or something that we are not! Is that a message from God for some soul here this morning? Do you need to hear that God made you you? He made you the way you are, and it is the wonder of God's spectrum of creation that there is such a myriad of variety. You can't get two snowflakes the same, equally you will never get two human souls, two human beings the same. You are unique! Think about that for a moment. The wonder of the New Testament Gospel, and all the truth of the Spirit-filled life, is that if you really surrender yourself, your personality and your body, and give it all over as a living sacrifice, wholly to God, and He fills and possesses you, He will make a mark with your life that He cannot nor will not ever do with anyone else! There'll never be another C.H. Spurgeon, so there's no sense you trying to be him, or John Wesley, or whoever else you might worship the ground that they walk on. God made you you for a purpose, for a reason, and He knows you, and He understands you.
The New King James Version, in the margin of verse 14, reads like this, renders 'knows our frame' like this: 'He understands our constitution'. I like that. What is the human constitution? Well, we'll not go into all the details this morning, but basically we are material and immaterial, we are physical and we are spiritual. What the word of God is saying here is: God understands our complete human constitution. He knows your body, He knows everything about it. Maybe you're going through tests at the moment, and they're poking and prodding you, and x-raying you, and there's parts of you you never knew existed that you have seen. God knows everything about your body. He knows the secrets that physicians don't know, isn't that marvellous? He knows your weaknesses, He knows your tiredness, He knows your fatigue, He knows the things that wear you down - He knows it all!
Then when we go to the immaterial part of us, the soul, which of course we could categorise as being made up of the mind, the intellect: He knows your mind, He knows how your mind ticks. So many people have mental problems in their thought processes, morally, and with anxiety and all sorts of phobias and fears - God knows! Now don't think I'm saying that God condones everything that's going on in your mind, but I want you to understand: God knows the struggles that you have. There is the mind, and then there's the emotions. Some of us are wrecked emotionally and nervously - God knows. God knows what's going on in your heart. You're all dickied-up this morning, and you look wonderful, and you look well, and some of you look happy, but God knows what's going on deep down in your heart!
Not only is there the mind, and there's the emotion, the heart, there is the will that makes us up - our volition, the choices that we make. God knows how strong-willed or how weak-willed we might be. I love that verse, 1 Corinthians chapter 10 verse 13: 'No temptation has taken you', no test or trial has taken you, 'but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you', will not suffer you, 'to be tempted beyond what you are able, but will also with the temptation make a way of escape, that you might be able to bear it'. In other words, God knows what your will is like, so He's not going to allow anything to come across your pathway that you can't handle. Although the devil whispers in your ear and says: 'You're not going to be able to handle this', God's word says that He won't allow you to be tested above what you're able, because He knows your will. He understands our constitution.
Here's the whole point of this verse 14, which is just my message to you today: He knows what we can take, because He remembers that we are dust. He knows that we are fragile. Look at verses 15 and 16, as he illustrates this again: 'As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more' - or you could translate that, 'the place thereof shall remember it no more'. Like grass that is blown away and remembered no more by its environment, we can be like that because we are dust - and you know what wind does to dust - but, you see, God remembers. So often we are blown about like dust in the wind of turmoil and trial and tribulation, but God is not fragile the way we are. This is the point of this Psalm, verse 17: 'But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them'. God, who remembers we are dust and fragile, He is not fragile. He is from everlasting to everlasting.
The irony is: He remembers, yet we forget. What do we forget? What do we forget that He remembers? Let me share three short things with you this morning that we forget, yet He remembers. One: we forget our limitations - does that apply to anyone here in the gathering? Do you need to have a revelation from God today that you are not superhuman? Did you really believe you were? Did you believe that you can achieve perfection in your education, in your career, in your family life, in your ministry? Are you a health freak, and you think that you have discovered the elixir of eternal youth? You're not going to live healthy forever, you're not going to have success all the time, you're not going to pass every exam, achieve every promotion. You're not going to always live in victory, you're not going to see every prayer answered. Are there folk in the gathering here today - and I think this is quite common - who are focusing on themselves too much? I mean by that: you're focusing on your failures. You wish you could be more spiritual, but you're always falling short of the mark. Or, perhaps you're the other end of the extreme: you're focusing on your successes, your perceived successes, and how well you're doing in spiritual things or secular things? Well, can I tell you, there is something in common with both those people - the failures and successes - and it's this: they are both miserable! Did you know that? Because eventually the successes will let themselves down, or be let down with a big bump from a high height. The failures never get high enough to have the great fall - but both of them are miserable simply because they are looking to themselves, and when you look to yourself, do you know what happens? You despair. Or they are looking to the circumstances, how they waft them on the crest of the wind, just like dust - but it's only for a moment, and when their circumstances turn, or the wind changes, they become disappointed.
If you look to yourself you will despair. If you look to your circumstances you will be disappointed. What the Psalmist wants us to do is get our eyes on God, and understand - like Henry Francis Lyte - that:
'Change and decay in all around I see.
O Thou that changest not, abide with me!'.
You see, Paul the apostle had this capacity. Listen to what he says in Philippians 4 and verses 11 to 13: 'Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, therewith to be content' - isn't that amazing? This is the man that was behind prison bars, this is the man who was flogged and beaten, this is the man who was in shipwreck. He said: 'I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me' - do you understand where his focus was? His focus wasn't on himself, because he would despair. His focus wasn't on his circumstances, because they would disappoint him. His focus was on the unchanging God who is not fragile - are you with me? Often we forget our limitations. Is that what you're doing? You have to realise today, you're not superhuman, and you ain't super-spiritual either, and you're not able to achieve perfection, and you're not able to live healthily and have success in business or academia or career the rest of your days.
God remembers, yet we forget our limitations. Two, another thing: He remembers, but we forget our weaknesses. Now when I speak of weaknesses, there can be two types of weaknesses. We forget often our besetting sins, the moral weaknesses in our lives - or, that could also apply to what the Bible calls 'infirmities', actual weaknesses, whether in our body, or our mind, or our heart; the things that trip us up from time to time that are not necessarily our own fault, but we have inherited them, the lot, the hand that we have been dealt. Now listen carefully to what I'm going to say: we often get into trouble as dust because we forget our weaknesses; but the truly strong Christian is the Christian who knows his or her weaknesses, but admits them and deals with them by the grace of God. Do you understand what I'm saying? Our Achilles heel is often our perceived strengths, the things that we think we're strong in, or the sins that we feel that we have conquered and overcome. These perceived strengths can often become our weaknesses, our Achilles heel.
Do you know where that phrase comes from, 'Achilles heel'? Well, in Greek mythology, Achilles was a baby, and it was foretold that he would die in battle from an arrow in his foot. In order to prevent his death, his mother, Thetis, took Achilles to the River Styx, which was supposed to offer powers of invincibility. She dipped his body into the water, but Thetis failed to notice that she was holding him by the heel. She dipped every part of him in the water, that magical river, except his heel. Achilles grew up to be a man of war who survived many great battles, but one day a poisonous arrow shot at him and was lodged in his heel - killing him shortly after. He was strong, but his weakness was ignored. Now listen carefully: God knows your frame, God knows your frame, He knows what your weakness is. He knows what your physical, your mental, your emotional, and your spiritual weakness is - and it's about time you knew and wakened up to it!
Beware of your Achilles heel, beware of pride. C.S. Lewis said: 'Pride is the sin that made the devil the devil'. It's often our pride that causes us to fall, is it not? God's order is to acknowledge our weaknesses, whatever they may be. You see, this is God's economy: that it is actually and ironically through remembering our dust constitution, originality, our ultimate dustiness, that God's eternal strength - everlasting, almighty, omnipotent power - will be revealed! Again, the apostle Paul discovered this. If you turn with me to 2 Corinthians chapter 12 you can read it for yourself, verse 5, he's speaking about a revelatory experience he had, being caught up to the third heaven. Then he explains in verse 5: 'Of such a one I will glory; yet of myself I will not glory, but in my infirmities', weaknesses, 'For though I would desire to glory I will not be a fool; for I will say the truth. But now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness'.
God gave Paul this revelation, that God's strength is made perfect not in human strength, or perceived strength or ability, but in us not forgetting, remembering, that we are dust and God knows our frame, He knows our limitations, He knows our weaknesses. This is his conclusion in verse 9 at the end: 'Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me'. Let me ask you: what do you glory in? What do you delight in? Is it not your strength? Paul gloried in his weaknesses, not in his failures, but in the knowledge of his weakness, so that he could admit and confess his weakness to God and receive the strength.
This really leads on to a moral sphere, because the irony is that God remembers what we forget in our limitations, in our weaknesses, and also, thirdly, in our depravity, our wickedness. Now I'm going to make a statement here that may well be disputed by some who have got a problem with spiritual pride - and I have witnessed this. Here's the statement: we, as fallen human beings, are capable of any sin in the book. Every single one of us here is capable of any sin in our depravity. I used to hear men in prayer meetings praying, 'O God, we watch the news and we saw that awful thing reported, and O we wonder how men could do such things', and I'm sitting there thinking: 'Well, if it wasn't for the grace of God in my life, if it wasn't for the restraining power of the Holy Spirit in my walk with God, I don't know that I wouldn't be capable of such a thing'. If you don't think like that, you don't really know your heart, you've never seen it the way God knows it. Out of the heart proceeds all these things, Jesus said. Here's a warning from the apostle Paul again in the same chapter that we read earlier, 1 Corinthians 10:12: 'Therefore let him who thinks he stand take heed lest he fall'!
Now, let me come to the nub of the problem: often people who have this twofold predicament - what I mean by that is one: they are constantly living in failure and miserable; or two: they are puffed up with pride because of their achievement, but they are still miserable because they are not perfect - the common denominator between those two people is not just the fact that they are miserable, but this: the fact that they are living before God according to law. They are living before God according to a set of rules. It may be the Ten Commandments, it might be their own set that they have added to the Ten Commandments, like the Pharisees in Jesus' day. But the problem that they have is: if they are a constant failure they're not achieving the benchmark of their law; or if they're the more successful scholar, like the lawyers in Jesus' time, like the rich young ruler, you're living blameless 99.9% of the time, but there's always that little problem that you have - his was covetousness and greed. So both are miserable, because when you live by law, you've only got the option to strive for perfection - and none of us can have perfection, and anyone who thinks that they can does not know their frame, and forgets that they are dust.
You see, we are compromised. We're like those... what was it? The Toyotas, that all went out and they had to be recalled. We've got a problem, we're compromised, and Romans put it like this: 'What the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh', that's what our problem is, why we can't keep the law. Not that there's anything wrong with God's law, God's law is perfect and reflects His heart, the problem is: we are predisposed to break it. You see, the law demands perfection, and perfectionism is the fruit of legalism. So if you're living to some kind of list of rules and regulations, whether they're biblical ones, or whether they're your own man-made ones, or that of someone else, you've got to waken up to the fact that you're always going to be miserable, you're always going to be a failure. No matter how good you are, you're never going to achieve the standard. Now someone has said, and I believe this is true: Jesus was perfect, but He was not a perfectionist.
You say: 'Ah, but hold on a moment, did the Lord Jesus not say in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapter 5, 'Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect'?'. Yes, He did say that, but if you think for one moment that Jesus was inviting wicked sinners to pull their socks up, to step up to the mark, you're very wrong. What the Lord Jesus, all through His life's ministry, and indeed what the law of Moses was purposed to do, was to show us that we cannot attain perfection - it is unattainable without the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and indeed without us following Him to Calvary and taking up the cross, and dying to ourselves, and living in the Spirit the life of Christ, which is the only perfect life. Have you ever made that discovery? Maybe this Christian life, for you, has been one of peaks and troughs - it's like a rollercoaster experience, like the Grand Old Duke of York, when you're up you're up, and when you're down you're down, and half the time you're neither halfway up nor down. You wonder what's wrong, and perhaps what is wrong is: you've forgotten that you're dust, you don't know your frame, you don't understand that you cannot live the Christian life. Do you know that the Christian life is impossible to live? It can only be lived by the power of God living in and through you! And so you have got to die, and Christ has got to live in you.
So it seems to me that we can either think too much of ourselves in our successes, or we can think to low of ourselves in our failure - and that's actually inverted pride: 'O, I'm not good enough, I should be better'. Do you know the problem with both of those? Both of those see ourselves as having to achieve to be acceptable with God and ourselves, and we don't understand grace - for grace is that we are acceptable, and all we must do is die and abide in Christ. The problem is that we forget what God remembers. We forget our limitations. We forget our weaknesses. We forget our depravity. The answer to that problem is found in Psalm 103, strike the balance here, here it is, listen carefully: start forgetting what you always remember - what's that? Your perceived strengths, forget them! Or perhaps your besetting sins, or your failures, forget how you've failed God up to now and start remembering what God doesn't forget! What does God not forget? That you are not all that! That you aren't perfect, that your frame is weak. Start remembering what God remembers, and that is this: because you are dust, you need the everlasting power and strength of God.
Do I need to explain this more? Well, let me ask you: do you derive strength from any perceived strength of your own? Or are you discouraged because of a weakness in your life? Well, I want you to come to God with the knowledge now that He knows your frame, He knows your weaknesses! Come and admit them! Christian, come and admit your weaknesses to God, admit your limitations to God, admit your depravity and your struggle with temptation to God! Come to Him, and trust Him for His inexhaustible strength.
What did we say that dust meant at the very beginning? It's something common, something ordinary, but the wonderful thing about dust is the potential that it has in the Potter's hand, to be made clay and to be breathed into. If you can come to the place of acknowledging, like God, your frame and your weakness, God will do a wonderful thing with you! He will take you and mould you, and breathe into you - and, as Paul says, you will have the treasure of the very life of God in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us, so that we cannot walk around being spiritual peacocks because we know ourselves as God knows us - but because we know ourselves God flows through us!
Now, in the moments that remain, practically, how can we go about this? How can we go about this? I always like to give people something to do. Tell me what to do to achieve this more in my life. Well, here's the thing, verses 1 and 2, bless the Lord: 'Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits'. You see, blessing Him for His mercy does something very wonderful. When you start to praise God, praise is a great way of remembering - because in order to praise you must appraise. In order to praise you must appraise, in other words: you engage in a mental activity of thinking about the goodness of God, and when you think about the goodness of God you start to praise God, and when you praise God you're remembering that without Him you would be lost and you'd be hopeless.
It's interesting that there is no petition in this Psalm at all, it's all praise. It's reminding us of our ultimate dependence on the Almighty. Look at the verse: 'forget not all his benefits'. Do you want to know your frame? Do you want to remember that you're dust, in order to be clay in His hands, to be breathed into and to be used of God? Well then, don't forget His benefits, and praise Him for them, and remember how dependent you are upon Him.
Now I don't have time to go into this, but look at the list here. Remember His forgiveness, verse 3: 'Who forgiveth all thine iniquities', His forgiveness - that's something He doesn't remember, our sins. Jeremiah 31: 'Your sins and your iniquities I will remember no more'. We have it here: 'As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions'. Romans 8, what was a problem with the law, in that it was weak through the flesh, God has now done, sending His Son to be made a sin sacrifice on our behalf - forgiveness! There is discipline as well, and it's hard to thank Him for that, in verse 8 - He doesn't always chide - through to verse 12: 'He has not dealt with us after our sins'. In Hebrews 12 we read that if we are truly sons and daughters of God, He does chastise, He does discipline us, but we ought to rejoice in that - that means that we are sons and daughters of His! Bless Him for it!
The benefit of forgiveness, the benefit of healing, verse 3: 'who healeth all thy diseases'. Now, that could be miraculous healing, if God has touched you; it could be medical healing, through the NHS; it could be natural healing, or mental, or emotional healing - but let me ask you a question: how many times has the Lord spared us? How many times? Ought we not to bless the Lord that, though we were dust, He didn't blow upon us and finish us? Forgiveness, healing, verse 4, deliverance: 'Who redeemeth thy life from destruction' - that could be deliverance from the devil, it could be the deliverance from accidents, from harm. Oh, if we could see the many things that could have happened to us, or the way things might have been if it had not been for the long-suffering, merciful, providential hand of God.
Four, spiritual blessings, verse 4 at the end: 'who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies'. Ephesians says we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. Five, verse 5, food: 'Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things'. Did not Jesus say in Matthew 6: 'Look at the birds of the air: for they neither sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?'. Then health, verse 5, we could go on, but let's finish on this one, verse 5: 'so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's'. If ever you realised you were dust, it's when you contemplate that the very breath that your mouth is breathing is in the hands of Almighty God.
You see, if you're going to move away from this legal thing to relying completely on God, dead to self and alive to God, you're going to have to count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done. Then you will truly fear Him, verse 13, verse 17; you will obey Him, verse 18, verse 20, verse 21 - because God resists the proud, but He gives grace to who? The humble - or, to put it another way: God resists the proud, but He can't resist the humble.
Never forget what God remembers.
Father, we pray that the Holy Spirit will remind us of what we so often forget, and let us be done with self, let flesh retire. Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire; O still, small voice of calm, and remind us what we truly are - but what we can be in the hollow of Your hand, if You take us and breathe into us. Help us to remember what this cost You, as we remember our Lord in His death, till He comes. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at Lurgan Baptist Church in Northern Ireland, by David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording titled "Never Forget What God Remembers" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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