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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading |Psalm 103

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
   and do not forget all his benefits--
who forgives all your iniquity,
   who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works vindication
   and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known his ways to Moses,
   his acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
   slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always accuse,
   nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
   nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
   so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
   so far he removes our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion for his children,
   so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
For he knows how we were made;
   he remembers that we are dust.

As for mortals, their days are like grass;
   they flourish like a flower of the field;
for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
   and its place knows it no more.
But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
   on those who fear him,
   and his righteousness to children’s children,
to those who keep his covenant
   and remember to do his commandments.

The Lord has established his throne in the heavens,
   and his kingdom rules over all.
Bless the Lord, O you his angels,
   you mighty ones who do his bidding,
   obedient to his spoken word.
Bless the Lord, all his hosts,
   his ministers that do his will.
Bless the Lord, all his works,
   in all places of his dominion.
Bless the Lord, O my soul. (NRSV)

Have you ever talked yourself out of bed? You know, like a Monday morning pep talk? The alarm sounds and you say to yourself, “OK, Monday. You can do it.” Or do you rally yourself before you go into a big meeting? Maybe you whisper to yourself, “You’ve got this. You’ll do great.” 

The psalms reveal a very human response to our experience in this life. The psalmist leads us in hymns of lament and songs of praise. The psalmist reminds us that despite the heartache and pain we experience, our God never leaves us. The psalms are full of “holy pep talks.”

Every so often, however, praising God can sometimes be a lot like trying to get out of bed on a Monday morning. We wake to multiple breaking news stories about violence in our city, natural disasters, or political unrest. We greet the day knowing we may encounter those very raw human realities of sickness, heartache, loss, or fear. Sometimes instead of waking with praise on my lips, I pull the covers over my head and ignore it all. 

Truth be told, sometimes we do need to talk ourselves into worship. The same was true for the psalmist. In today’s psalm we encounter the writer giving a word of encouragement to the psalmist’s very soul: Bless the Lord, O my soul. Remember everything God has done for you! Let’s do it, O my soul, and bless the Lord!

Reading the psalms can remind us of God’s promise of love and care. They are guides for our praise when it’s near impossible to summon our hearts to gratitude. So when morning comes and with it the alarm sounds human ills and shortcomings, try turning to the psalms. Then face the day with praise, reminded of God’s presence and promise.

O God,
you are worthy of praise without ceasing;
let all that has life and breath within me adore you. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Ministerial Associate for Worship

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