1 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless his holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness
and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses,
his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Our Real. Present. God.
It’s been a while since 25,000 youth gathered together in US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Perhaps you were there. Perhaps you remember the electricity in the air. Perhaps you remember the passion in your heart. Perhaps you remember how Real and Present God was in that place.
The trouble with the human heart and mind is that, even when we have momentous occasions like the LCMS Youth Gathering, we are quick to forget. We need to be reminded over and over again that God is Real, and God is Present, and God is God. He is just as much a Real. Present. God. today as he was months ago. He does not change with the seasons (Numbers 23:19, James 1:17). He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
I love psalms like this one, because it makes me pause and remember. Psalm 103 is such a clear reminder to me of how Real and Present our God is.
He is Real.
God is involved in the nitty-gritty stuff of life. He knows all my sins, and He forgives me (as far as the east is from the west!), because of Jesus. He sees me in the pits of life, and He meets me there and pulls me out. He has every reason to be angry with me, but He chooses to treat me with love and compassion. He made himself known to the people of Israel, and He has also revealed Himself to me through His Word and Spirit.
He is Present.
Just look at all these present-tense verbs! Forgives. Heals. Redeems. Crowns. Satisfies. Works. Is. Does. He was not just a God who was active 2,000 years ago. He was not just a God who was active for a week in Minneapolis in 2019. He is active now! Today! He is present, and He is doing amazing things today.
He is God.
Bless Him! Praise Him! There is no one or nothing like Him in all the earth or heavens. No one and nothing else even comes close to deserving all our heart’s devotion and praise.
Take out your journal or a piece of paper. Make three columns and title each one “Real,” “Present,” and “God.” Then write down examples from the past week where you have witnessed God being Real, Present and God. Check back with some of the examples from Psalm 103 if you get stuck. When you’re done, take a moment and “bless the Lord!” for all of His goodness toward you.
Holy God, I’m sorry for my forgetfulness. Thank you for your grace and mercy to me. Thank you for the reminder today of who you are. Help me praise you with all that I am! Amen.