Grace For The Journey
We are looking at Psalm 103 and learning the wonderful truths about what God really thinks about us. Yesterday we looked at three principles that powerfully teach us about how wonderful God is. If you have ever wondered what God thinks about you, join us on our journey through Psalm 103 and discover the liberating truths about God’s heart.
In yesterday’s blog, we saw
- God Loves to Help the Needy – Verses 6-7.
- He Shows Mercy to Those Who Don’t Deserve It – Verse 8.
- He Tempers His Wrath – Verses 9-10.
I want to use today’s blog to look at four more of the powerful principles that Psalm 103 teaches us about God.
- He Forgives All Our Sins.
Verses 11-12 says, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Consider the greatness of God’s love. Astronomers tell us that the farthest known light source from the earth is ten billion light years away. That means that light starting from that source (a quasar) would take ten billion years traveling at the speed to light to arrive at the earth. By contrast the nearest star is “only” four light years away from us. That’s four years traveling at the speed of light, which is 186,000 miles per second. Light from the sun reaches the earth in a little over eight minutes. So even the nearest star is a vast distance from the earth. And using ion drive propulsion, you could reach the nearest star in a modern spaceship in “only” 81,000 years. You can turn it around any way you like and we are left with two inescapable realities. First, we live in a tiny corner of the universe, and second, the universe is vast beyond our comprehension. But God’s love is greater, vaster, larger, deeper, longer, broader, and bigger in all dimensions than the universe itself. Get in a rocket equipped with any sort of sci-fi system you can imagine. Fly at warp speed if you like. Go as far as you can go, to the end of the known universe and beyond. And when you have gone as far as you can go, look up and smile because God’s love is still going. You will never reach the end of it.
Consider the magnitude of God’s love. Let’s suppose you want to go east until you finally reach the west. You take off from Baltimore in a hot air balloon. When you land in Lisbon, you get in a Honda Civic and drive across Europe until you come to Varna, Bulgaria. There you hop on a freighter that takes you through the Black Sea, the Aegean Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal, the Red Sea, and on to the Gulf of Aden, and on into the Indian Ocean where you finally put ashore in Colombo, Sri Lanka. From there you catch a flight to Singapore and then down south to Perth, Australia. There you hitchhike across the Outback, eventually arriving in Sydney where you join a passenger ship heading for Easter Island. You then fly to Santiago, Chile where you rent a Jeep and start driving north. It’s a long way but you eventually make it all the way to Nome, Alaska where you hire a dogsled team so that you can run the Iditarod Race in reverse, ending up in Anchorage where you hop on a cruise ship to Vancouver, BC, where you take the Trans-Canada Railway, ending up in Halifax, Nova Scotia. And there you buy a high-end road bike and ride through New Brunswick, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Delaware. Finally, you make it back to Baltimore. Besides having circumnavigated the globe, what have you proved? Among other things, you have proved that no matter how far east you go, you will never find the west.
If we have accepted God’s forgiveness through Jesus.
Our sins can never come back to haunt us again.
Never the twain shall meet.
The farther east you go,
The farther you are from the west.
That’s the magnitude of God’s love.
Here is great good news for all the sinners of the world.
When God forgives, he removes our sins,
He lifts them up, He takes them away,
And He puts them so far away from us
That we could never find them
If we searched for them for a thousand years.
They are gone forever.
My sins can never come back to haunt me again.
Even Satan can’t bring them back.
In his sermon on these verses Jim Nicodem says that God has . . .
A long fuse – “slow to anger” (verse 8),
A short memory – “does not harbor His anger forever” (verse 9),
A thick skin – “does not treat us as our sins deserve” (verse 10), and
A great heart – “so great is His love, so far has He removed our sins” (verses 11-12).
I’m glad we have a God like that because that exactly the kind of God we need.
- He Understands Our Weakness.
“As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him” (verse 13).
I never understood that verse until I had children. When our girls were very young and sometimes they would have trouble going to sleep, and when Kay was tired and needed to sleep herself, I would carry the girls in my arms. Sometimes I would sing to them, sometimes (often) I would make up a song. I remember when Cathy was very young, I would sing Scripture verses to her such as “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised. In the city of our God, in the mountain of His holiness; Beautiful situation, the joy of the whole earth; Is Mount Zion on the sides of the noth, the city of the great King.” (Psalm 48:1-2)
I would sing it over and over again until she finally fell asleep in my arms.
Earthly fathers – however imperfect – point us upward to our Heavenly Father. Someone has said, “When an earthly father has done his job well, he makes it easy for his children to believe in their Heavenly Father.” Our children learn that we do not worship a god of stone, or an empty idol, or a remote deity, or an impersonal machine in the sky. We serve a Father God who knows our weakness and loves us anyway.
When I was a young child, I developed a persistent ear infection that would not go away. A fter trying antibiotics for a time, our family physician told us we needed to see a specialist so he referred us to one. After examining me carefully, he announced that I needed to have tubes put in my ears to prevent further scarring from the infection. Even though the operation is quick and fairly simple, the doctor could see that I was scared. So he picked me up and carried me piggy-back to surgery. That was the last image we saw – the great physician carrying our son on his back so he wouldn’t be afraid. So, it is with our Heavenly Father. The Great Physician knows our weakness and understands our fears. And when we can’t go on, He carries us on His back.
6. He Remembers That We Are Dust.
“For He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more” (Verses 14-16).
Here is a truth we all understand . . .
Yesterday’s green leaves soon turn brown.
Why do the leaves lose their green? There is a scientific explanation having to do with the loss of green chlorophyll, but that simply means the leaves are slowly dying.
Their beauty comes from their death.
Who remembers each leaf? Not the tree. One by one the leaves fall to the ground where they disintegrate and return to the soil from which they came. No one names them or numbers them or even thinks about them. It is the way God has arranged the changing of the seasons.
If that’s all there is, if we are here today and gone tomorrow, if that’s the end of the story, then there isn’t much hope.
But let me share something with you.
If you don’t have anything else
To be thankful for this year,
Here’s something you can hang your hat on.
Our hope is not in man or in anything man can do.
Our hope is in the everlasting God!
7. He Links Us With Eternity By Linking Us With Himself.
“But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear Him, and His righteousness with their children’s children – with those who keep His covenant and remember to obey His precepts” (verses 17-18).
Our hope is in the everlasting God!
There is nothing we can do about our frailty. We come from the hand of our Creator stamped, “Fragile: Handle with care.” We are like the dust devils that blow across the desert. We make a big scene and then suddenly we disappear. Try as we might . . .
We can’t cancel our humanity.
Nothing can change what we are.
Vitamins and exercise and clean living may slow down the process. Positive thinking may improve our mood. But for all of us, the end is the same: Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust.
Psalm 103 offers us . . .
One strong ground of comfort
That lifts us up above
The transitory nature of this life.
It is the “but” of verse 17, the blessed “but” that changes everything. That one word offers an eternal contrast between . . .
The fading flower and the everlasting God,
Our mortality and God’s eternity.
That one word -that little “but” – stands at the demarcation between this life and the next.
Here is our real hope of life
That never ends.
God’s tender mercy.
His unfailing love.
His abounding grace.
Someone has said that, “Life without Christ is a hopeless end, but life with Christ is an endless hope. And this endless hope is not only to us but to our children’s children. What will we leave our children? A vast estate? A large inheritance? A huge life insurance policy? Whatever we may say about earthly possessions, they pale next to the privilege of passing down a godly heritage, a tapestry of truth, and a pattern of believing that our children and grandchildren can claim as their own.
We are richer than we think,
We are more blessed than we know,
We have more than we realize.
In a transient and passing world where everything fades away, we have the promise that we are linked to the future even after we are gone by the faithfulness of God to our children to our children’s children. This, too, is the mercy of God.
What is Psalm 103 telling us?
We frail, mortal sinners
Are rich in the mercy of God.
And we have found that mercy
– Or rather, that mercy has found us
– In the cross of Jesus Christ.
During one of his sermons Billy Graham told the story of a patrolman on night duty in a town in northern England. As he walked the streets, he heard a quivering sob. Shining his flashlight into the darkness, he saw a little boy in the shadows sitting on a doorstep and tears were running down his cheek. The child said, “I’m lost. Please take me home.” And the policeman began naming street after street, trying to help the boy remember where he lived. He named the shops and the hotels in the area but the little boy could give him no clue. Then he remembered that at the center of the town there was a church with a large white cross that towered above the rest of the city. The policeman pointed to the cross and said, “Do you live anywhere near that place?” The little boy’s face immediately brightened up. He said, “Yes, sir. Take me to the cross and I can find my way home.”
Go to the cross
You will find
Your way home to God.
All that we believe, all that we have, all that we hope for is found in the cross of Christ.
Are you weak? So am I.
Are you needy? So am I.
Are you guilty? So am I.
Are you frail? So am I.
Are you like dust? So am I.
And God says to us, his weak, needy, guilty, frail, children of dust, “I know you through and through, and I love you anyway. Come to me. Rest in me. Make me your Rock.” God’s mercy in Christ is more than enough for all of us!
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”