Reagan encourages Christians to memorize, meditate on, and pray Psalm 103:1-5 daily as a way to remember God's spiritual blessings, remain focused on living righteously, and develop an attitude of gratitude. He explains the meaning of each verse and how applying them can help Christians seek forgiveness, pray for healing, feel secure in salvation, show lovingkindness, find contentment, and renew spiritual strength. The preacher concludes by zooming out to show how God blesses all creation eternally, not just us today, so we should bless His name.
Well, good afternoon. If you have your Bible with you, would you take it out, please, and turn to Psalm 1. The first psalm is where we will be here in just a moment. And, there are a couple of gentlemen who are going around passing out some bookmarks that look like this. That's gonna come in handy for you as we go through the lesson tonight.
So turn in your Bible to the first psalm, Psalm 1. We'll read that psalm in its entirety here in just a moment. Uh, and then if you'll be looking for one of those bookmarks, there should be enough for everybody to have a bookmark to take home with them, uh, for tonight's lesson. Uh, there's a golf tournament I, I play in every year called the GPGA, the Gospel Preachers Golf Association, and there's a corny joke, that's corny enough, right?
Gospel Preachers Golf Association. Uh, but there's a corny joke that, that's always told, you know, for years and years it was divided into two. Uh, divisions. There were, there was the preacher's division. You had to be a preacher in order to play in that. And we jokingly called the other division the Christian division.
So there's the preachers and the Christians. Well, I'm a preacher, right? But I'm, I'm almost, I'm also a Christian. Um, and in fact, I'm a Christian before I'm a preacher. And though my life is different in some ways because of the decision that I've made to, to preach the gospel full time and, and to serve God in that capacity, the reality is I'm still fighting the same fights that every other Christian is fighting.
And along with those fights... There are things that I've figured out along the way that I think have been helpful to me. And I love getting the opportunity from time to time to share something that has worked for me, not as a preacher, but as a Christian. That I hope and pray will work for you as a Christian as well.
And so the lesson tonight is going to be pretty simple. I want to share a strategy with you. We worked a lot on the heart this morning. I wanted to have a heart like Jesus and be humble and see His glory. I want to give you something tonight that I hope will be really practical for you this week. To maybe help you be more who God has called you to be in the things that you do.
Um, simple lesson. I'm not promising short, but we can all hope that it's going to be a short lesson too. Uh, as we think about these things from a very practical sort of standpoint. If you're there in Psalm 1, there's a word that I want us to see as we read through this psalm. I'm not going to tell you what it is until we read the whole psalm together, but let's read Psalm 1 together.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in his law he meditates day and night. That word meditates is what I want us to think about for just a few moments. But let's continue and read the rest of the psalm.
What is this man who meditates day and night? On the law of the Lord, what does his life look like? He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also does not wither, and whatever he shall do shall prosper. So we're talking about rooted and grounded in order to bear fruit this quarter.
Well, the person who meditates day and night on the law of the Lord, he bears fruit. And he's grounded. And his leaves don't wither even in times of difficulty. You see the imagery there of someone who is faithful in his service, faithful in his production for what the Lord has called him to be. The ungodly are not so, verse 4, but they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish. What is the way of the righteous? Well, it is the one who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. And maybe you're thinking to yourself, Okay, that sounded a lot like a preacher.
Isn't that what you're supposed to be doing? You know, you're studying, and you come up with your lessons, and you're thinking about these things day and night, and certainly that's true. But may I suggest this is not describing a preacher, this is describing a Christian. That all of us should be meditating on the law of the Lord, meditating on the word of God day and night.
And maybe it's a distinction without a difference, but we, according to this psalm, we don't meditate on His law. We meditate in His law. Did you catch that? And in His law, He meditates day and night. And I think what that implies is we're deep into the law of the Lord. This isn't some sort of... Casual sort of thing, and we're talking about meditating on his law.
It is something that is constant and intense. We want to know. We want to know what God's will and way is, so that we can walk in it. We think about meditation, and I think a lot of times, uh, in our society, we have a very Eastern idea of that. And I've done a whole lesson on that in times past. But Eastern religions, if you're going to meditate, what do you do?
Well, you... I don't guess I'll sit down Indian style here, with my legs crossed. Uh, but you, you empty your mind. Uh, sometimes we call that mindfulness in today's society. So it's not a religious thing, it's just a thinking thing, you know. And, and so you empty your mind of all things. Maybe you focus on your breathing, that sort of thing.
And there's nothing wrong with that, in a non religious sort of standpoint, you know. That I'm gonna, I'm gonna be centered, sometimes is a word that's used. And, and I'm gonna be calm, and all those sorts of things are good. But when the Bible talks about meditation, it's not talking about emptying your mind.
It's talking about filling your mind. Filling your mind with the will and word of God. And that is, primarily, what we call Bible study. Primarily, that's what the Bible talks about when it talks about studying our Bible. It's talking about meditating, thinking on... The things that you have read, the things that you've studied.
Uh, the example that I've, I've always thought of in my own mind when I think about somebody who meditates on the law of the Lord day and night. Um, my grandfather on my mother's side, um, was a farmer. He had a little study just off, uh, the bedroom that he shared with my grandmother. And, uh, it was once a closet, but he had all of these books, these bookshelves in there.
And, and though my granddad was a farmer and a rancher, he did quite a bit of preaching through the years. Uh, and, and he would go in there early in the morning and he would study for just, just a little while. Just, uh, a few minutes, you know, 10, 15, 20 minutes, something like that, before the work day began.
But you know what he did the rest of the day? He meditated. He meditated on what he read and what he studied. And as he's on the tractor going back and forth, back and forth, Mike and I talked about the tractors with GPS and all these sorts of things now that drive themselves. Well, you know, he didn't have that.
But as he's driving the tractor back and forth, he's meditating and thinking on the law of the Lord. As he's working the cows, he's meditating and thinking on the law of the Lord. On the drive to the cell barn and back, he's meditating and thinking on the law of the Lord. And I understand that some of us have different kinds of jobs that require more, uh, mental activity than that.
But all of us should be having time in our day that we spend meditating on the law of the Lord. And along with that, um, I want to suggest that's where memorization can be helpful to us. My dad, um, has something that he has said that I've heard him say since I was a kid. Uh, I don't remember a time that he didn't say it, I don't guess.
He says every Christian should come in contact with the Word of God every single day. And by that, we might not formally sit down and open our Bible and read and study, but we need to have some contact with the Word of God every day. And it might be, at the end of the day, we're laying in bed, and we say, I haven't read my Bible today.
And instead of getting up, turning the light on, and reading our Bible, We call to mind scriptures that are in our mind, in our heart, that we've thought about and meditated on before, and make application to those things in our life. Um, not to embarrass anybody, but who in here has ever done that? You got to the end of the day and you said, I've not read the Word of God today.
Well, may I suggest that if you have some scriptures memorized, then you can come in contact with the Word of God wherever you are, whenever it is. As long as you're awake, you can come in contact with the Word of God. When I was in my, when I was a kid, in my teens as a new Christian, I did a lot of memorization work.
When I got into my 20s, I didn't do as much, because something called an iPhone came out, and I'm like, I'm carrying the Word of God with me in my pocket all the time. But now, in my 30s, in my late 30s, um, I've started over the last five or six years or so doing a lot more memorization work, uh, because having that in my mind, having that in my heart, allows me to meditate on it at any time.
And I can't escape. I can't escape God. I can't escape Christ, or the Holy Spirit, or God's Word, because they're in me and with me all the time. The voice inside my head... Uh, at least in terms of the good things that I think about has become God's voice. And I don't mean that in some sort of charismatic sort of way.
I just mean that I've studied my Bible to where when I think about the things that I should be thinking about, so often there are scriptures that come to mind that go along with that. And sometimes that's random. Sometimes it's just things that pop up that I've studied over the course of my life. But there are certain scriptures that have been especially helpful to me.
in trying to be the kind of Christian that God has called me to be. And one of those scriptures that I'd like to share with you for a few minutes tonight is Psalm 103. Would you turn over there? Psalm 103. I'm gonna be a little vulnerable tonight. I'm gonna share with you something that I do myself as a Christian trying to be who God has called me to be.
And I'm gonna challenge you this week to just try it. To try the same thing and see if it is not helpful to you. As you strive to be the Christian that God has called you to be. Psalm 103, uh, was the first textual talk I ever gave as an 18 year old. The first, uh, sermonette that I ever gave was out of Psalm 103 and the first five verses.
Read that with me. 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 forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed.
I memorized those verses many years ago. Uh, and that grandfather that I talked about on the tractor, this was one of his favorite psalms. I actually read it at his funeral when he passed away. And this psalm has become the way, uh, a lot of times that I pray at night. It has become something that I use to count my blessings.
And so I want to share that with you as we think about, don't forget God's benefits. That's the point of the first five verses of the psalm, this psalm. And that's the point of what I want to use this psalm for. I want to bless the Lord, O my soul. From deep within me, I want to bless the Lord. And I want to forget not all His benefits, all of the things that God has done for me because He's my Lord, because I'm a Christian.
And so tonight, I want to just walk through these verses together, as I suggest to you this week, memorizing, meditating, and praying Psalm 103, 1 through 5. So this week, your challenge from me. It's a voluntary religion. You do what you want, but this is my challenge. Memorize Psalm 103, 1 through 5. Meditate on the meaning of this psalm, the meaning of this psalm in your life, whatever age you are.
And then use this psalm in your evening prayers. That's when I do it. Maybe it's the morning prayer for you. Use this psalm as a template for Here's what I mean by this. Uh, we see six things here that we're not supposed to forget that God is doing for us. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.
Number one, who forgives all sins. Your iniquities. Maybe your translation says who forgives all your sins. This is the first thing not to forget. It's the first thing on this list. And it's the first thing that I pray for in the evenings as well. I pray that I will not forget this because it's perhaps the most important.
That I need forgiveness from the Lord. And I always, at the end of every day, I try to reconcile my life with my Lord. And if there's something that I've done that I ought not to have done, if I've not asked for forgiveness for that, and sometimes if I already have over the course of the day, I go back to the Lord again and ask for forgiveness.
Knowing... That He is capable, and that He is willing, and that He is faithful to forgive me of all sin, all unrighteousness, all my iniquities, all my trespasses, if I am willing to repent and confess those things. And so I begin. I begin by asking for that forgiveness, making my life right with God. And sometimes, there's not a whole lot to say.
Sometimes I've done my very best, and I feel pretty good about how I've done. Sometimes, sometimes I haven't. Um, and what this allows me to do in not forgetting the forgiveness that I need from the Lord, it, it has so many times, um, stifled my anger. It is thrown cold water on it to where I know I need to be forgiving of others because I am remembering God's forgiveness of me.
And so, having this passage memorized, I forget not his benefits, he forgives all my iniquities, all my sins. And a lot of times I have 1 John chapter 1 in my heart. As I'm thinking about those things. Number two. Who heals all your diseases? Maybe your translation says, Who heals all your sicknesses? And the question that is appropriate to be asked is, Is this talking about physical sickness or spiritual sickness?
And my answer is yes. Turn if you would to James chapter 5. Marking your spot there in Psalm 103. Turn to James chapter 5.
Begin reading in verse 13. James chapter 5. 5 and verse 13.
Is anyone among you suffering? Maybe there's someone among us who is. Let him pray. Is anyone among you cheerful? Let him sing psalms. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil. In the name of the Lord. Notice verse 15. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.
And, if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another and pray for one another that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. And Elijah is the example that is given there. Um, we know, of course, that the Lord primarily is concerned with spiritual sickness, with forgiving all of our iniquities, all of our sins.
But if anyone is going to be healed physically, it is because the Lord, the great physician, allows that healing to take place. And my prayer, and your prayers, have an influence on, on that reality. Do we believe that? Do we believe that our prayers can influence the God of the universe in regard to the physical health and well being?
I pray that we do. Now, there's no guarantee in that. We don't need to misunderstand that. But absolutely, the prayer of faith can certainly help those who are sick. And God, in His power, is able to save the sick. If you turn over to Isaiah chapter 53, again we see this concept of physical and spiritual sickness.
Isaiah 53. As it is talking about this suffering servant, who we know is Jesus,
notice in verse 4, Isaiah 53 and verse 4, Surely He has borne our griefs. Maybe you have a footnote, maybe your translation says He has borne our sicknesses. And carried our sorrows, yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. Well, this verse is actually quoted in Matthew chapter 8. If you turn over there, Matthew chapter 8.
And in the context of Isaiah 53, I think certainly we understand that there's spiritual healing that's taking place because of This suffering servant sacrificed on our behalf. But notice what we find in Matthew chapter 8 and verse 16. When evening had come, they brought to him many who were demon possessed.
And he cast out the spirits with the word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying, he himself took our infirmities and bore our... Jesus purpose in coming to the earth was to heal us from the sickness of sin. But while he was here, he had compassion on those who were physically ill and healed many.
And here we find Matthew making application to that passage from Isaiah. about the healing that Jesus gave to those who were physically ill. So what does that mean for me? Well, I remember, I remember that God has many times, has many times healed sicknesses. And that there have been times in my life with those that I love where He has healed those who were sick or given them more time.
Beyond what they should have had. And so, after praying for my own forgiveness, and thinking about remembering that forgiveness, as I should be forgiving toward others, I then move on to those who are sick. Those who are physically sick, and praying on their behalf. Those who I know personally who are spiritually sick, and praying on their behalf.
Because God is the one who has the power to heal. Forget not his benefits who heals all your diseases or sicknesses. Number three, who redeems your life from destruction. Um, literally that is the pit. Uh, he redeems your life from the destruction of the pit. And physically we think of, uh, the pit of the grave that he can save our life.
And spiritually we think about the pit. Uh, the bottomless pit of hell, as it is described in the book of Revelation. And God, again, is the one who can redeem our life from this kind of destruction. A lot of times what I do here is I think backwards. I think back in my life and how many times God has spared me.
Uh, I think of those times where death, uh, perhaps should have been the outcome because of, uh, my stupidity or the stupidity of others, perhaps. And yet God carried me safe through. And I think about the reality that I have no fear of hell. I have no fear of death leading to hell. Death to me, though not something that I am, uh, uh, running toward by any means, death to me means that I get to go and be in paradise.
And I know that the Lord will redeem me from destruction. Redeem me from the pit. And I forget not that benefit. That I don't live in this kind of perpetual fear, as so many do, of their mortality and the day of their death. That is not something that I have to concern myself with, because my life has been redeemed.
And I am grateful for that. It is a benefit that is only found in the Lord. Number four, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies. Those things should, uh, adorn our lives. So, uh, uh, many of you came to our big party we had yesterday. You noticed we adorned a lot of things, right? We, we put stuff up.
We put decorations up. And so you see these things that we put up. They're visible. They're there for all to see. And so when we think about our lives, I think we should think about this idea of crowning us, adorning us with loving kindness and tender mercies. We need to think about that in terms of both what God has given to us, that He has been loving and kind, that He has given us tender mercies as God is described, but also we're crowned with that in such a way that that's what adorns our life as well.
And so, it's a moment of self reflection to me. I want to be this kind of person. That when people see me, what they see is loving kindness and tender mercies. That that's the kind of adornment, crown, that is on my life. That that's what people see in me. And so, I have to look back and look forward again. I look back and say, have I lived that way this day?
Is that the kind of person that I've been? I have to look forward and say, what do I need to do tomorrow to make sure I'm that kind of person? And when people see me, the first thing they see is this kind of loving kindness and tender mercies. Uh, anybody in here ever seen royalty? Anybody? Oh, we got, we got a couple of hands.
I've never seen royalty in person. But I don't think they wear crowns all the time, right? You know, you see the tabloid magazines, they're not wearing crowns all the time. But when they do, when they do, what's the first thing you see? You see the crown. You see, this is somebody important. This is something, something's going on right here.
Do people see that, first of all, in us? I pray that they do. And I pray that I forget not the benefit that I know what that looks like. I know what that looks like because that's what God has shown to me. And so I am able to show that to others as well. Number five, who satisfies your mouth with good things.
Again, we can think about this both physically and spiritually. With these physical things, with our daily bread, with that we can be content. I can be satisfied. Satisfaction and contentment are very similar things, similar concepts. And so this is where I do some self reflection about my attitude toward my physical possessions.
Am I satisfied with the good things that God has given me? Or, uh, do I have a materialistic mindset? Am I, uh, discontent despite the many blessings that I have in my life? God has satisfied my mouth with so many good things beyond what I deserve. beyond what so many have. Am I satisfied and content with those things?
And then of course we know that ultimately we're satisfied with the bread of life. Uh, am I satisfied just with doing what it is God has called me to be? Do I, uh, am I willing to color within the lines of God's Word and be satisfied with the good things that He has, that He has given me in my life?
Number six, so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. Your youth is renewed like the eagles. Uh, there are a number of passages that come to mind. Probably Isaiah 40 comes to your mind as you think about mounting up with wings like eagles and how God is this inexhaustible source of strength. What I usually do in ending my prayer, um, is I ask God to give me the energy that I need.
The energy that I need to do His will, to be who He has called me to be. And as I go to sleep, uh, safe in the arms of Jesus, I am resting so that I can get up in the morning and have the energy to do His will. Um, all of us, all of us have been through those times where we're just tired. We're just beat physically, emotionally, spiritually.
But what a benefit to know that through the Lord we can find the energy that He gives for us to be who He has called us to be. I think Paul's a great example of this. Turn to Philippians chapter 4. Philippians chapter 4,
excuse me, Philippians chapter 3 in verse 12.
Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected, but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended. I haven't laid hold of it yet. The one thing I do for getting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. That's what remembering Psalm 103, 1 through 5 does for me. I can forget those things which are behind. I can make right whatever wrongs are in my life with God. And I can reach forward to those things which are ahead and pray for the things that, that I desire Him to bless me in, in the days to come.
And notice what he says in verse 15. Therefore, let us, as many as are mature, have this mind, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind. This mind is the mind of maturity, that I can make right those things that are behind and forget them.
Even the successes, though they encourage me, I can lay those things aside. And I can reach forward to those things which are ahead. And so I pray, 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 forgives all your iniquities.
Who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with loving kindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles. Does everybody understand the assignment? Uh, memorize these verses, meditate on these verses, and I encourage you to just try it this week to pray through these verses as well.
But go back to Psalm 103 one more time. Psalm 103. Of course, that's not where the psalm ends. In remembering these benefits that God has for the psalmist, in this case, David, he doesn't stop there. He continues. Now let's read the rest of this psalm together. The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. Notice what He does. He reminds Himself of who God is and what God has done. He will not strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins nor punished us according to our iniquities.
That just confirms that God is merciful and gracious and slow to anger and abounding in mercy. Can't we all look back and realize that reality? For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him. For He knows our frame, and remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass. As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children's children, to such as keep His covenant, and to those who remember His commandments to do them.
The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and His kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure. Bless the Lord, all His works, and all places of His dominion.
Bless the Lord. You know, one of the things that I love about this psalm, is that Psalm 103, 1 through 5, I mean, it is such a microscope on me, and my life, and where I need to be. But what David does is exactly what we should do as well. Here are some practical things that I need to be doing to forget not the benefits of the Lord, and yet as he zooms out further and further, it is not just about this day, and it's not even just about me.
This life is just a vapor, it's grass, and it's over before we know it. But there is... everlasting to everlasting to be considered with the Lord. And not just those who fear him on earth, not just those who are alive today, but the angels and the heavenly host who have also received his blessing and praise his name.
And so from little old me, from Reagan, trying to take five verses to be more of what God has called me to be, I can zoom out and see the panorama of God's works and the entirety of his creation. And know that God has blessed them, blessed all, who fear Him and meditate on His law day and night. And at the end of the psalm, he comes back and zooms in once more, Bless the Lord, O my soul.
As I said, this was one of my grandfather's favorite psalms, and I read it at his funeral. And it is a psalm that brings comfort to us, or should, on all occasions, but I think especially in times of loss like that. That the same Lord that showers us with spiritual blessings, Forgiveness and redemption in this short, frail life remembers us and knows us in the next life.
And if we establish and keep a covenant relationship with Him, His mercy and grace is everlasting. And He will prepare a dwelling place for us in heaven. And of all the benefits that I want to remember and not forget, perhaps that one. is the greatest one of all. So what has the Lord done for you? Have you prayed to Him in Thanksgiving?
Have you remembered His benefits? Well, no! If you're not yet a Christian, many of the benefits of the Lord are only found in that right covenant relationship with Him. And to truly pray this prayer and receive what it is that is promised by the psalmist as he was inspired by the Holy Spirit, you must be in that relationship with His Son, Jesus Christ.
by coming in humble submission to put off the sins that were previously committed, to confess that Jesus is the Christ, to be baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins. To rise, to walk in newness of life, being one of those people who forget not his benefits, and know what it is that he will do for you both now and eternally.
And if you're already a Christian and you realize that you need help along that path, your brothers and sisters in Christ are here to help you in whatever way we can. Let's meditate on these words, let's remember them, and let's live by them. And if we can help you with that even this evening, come now, while together we stand and while we sing.