Pastor Prince R. Rivers: Living with Real Gratitude

Hallelujah with the Lord’s help got one more sermon in the series
keep it real

today we come from Psalm 103

103 verses 1-5

trying to get the tears out of my eyes so I can

Psalm 103 starting at verse 1 praise the
Lord my soul all my inmost being praise His holy
name praise the Lord my soul and forget not all his benefits

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases who redeems your life from the pit and
crowns you with love and compassion who satisfies your desires
with good things so that your youth is renewed like the
eagles let us pray God we do thank and praise you today we thank you for being in this
place we pray now that you’d take your service and hide him behind the cross that the people might see less of him
and more of you for you alone oh God are our Rock and Our Redeemer this is our
prayer in Jesus’s name we pray amen

as we look ahead to the holidays of
this week I want to talk about living with real
gratitude living with real gratitude maybe you have noticed
something uh that I’ve noticed recently uh maybe not recently but I I
think there may be a connection between the amount of bad news we
consume and how much we complain the more gloom and doom that we watch on a daily basis the more likely it is that we Grumble about how bad things are and how they’ll never get any better if we’re not careful we’ll become cynical and lose touch with the good things in life and this is not to suggest that there aren’t real problems around us and even maybe with us there really are there there’s a war in Ukraine there’s a war in Gaza there’s a war even in Sudan that doesn’t make the headlines there there are unhoused women and men and children living in our streets we we don’t want to ignore these kinds of issues and think they will go away but if the only information we take in day after day is bad news bad news and more bad news sooner or later we will not be able to resist the temptation to Grumble and complain have I got a witness today psychologists tell us that we are more likely to complain when we feel helpless or powerless to do something about whatever the issue is the more helpless we feel the more likely we are to complain because we don’t feel like our actions will make a difference example when gas prices go up we we we can complain about that we can’t do anything about it but we can complain about it when the weather weather is not what we want it to be we we know that’s above our pay grade to change so uh we can’t do anything but we can complain about it when our team loses and loses and loses and loses some more we we’re not we’re not going to put
on a uniform amen somebody those days are pass but we can we will and we do complain now let me let me just say this uh as as I pass through this point that all complaining is not bad when we take a complaint to the right place and the right person and present them in the right way we can see things change as the saying goes a closed mouth doesn’t get fed but if we are honest sometimes we complain so much about the ordinary
nuisances of uh of in life that we lose our grip on the power of
gratitude we forget to appreciate the little things we fail to celebrate the small wins on the way to the a big victory and if that ever happens uh to you keep in mind that it is God’s will for us to give thanks 1 Thessalonians 5:116 says Rejoice always pray continually give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus 1 Thessalonians 5:116 in case you want to go look it up later the command to give thanks means that gratitude is More Than A Feeling but gratitude is what we call a
spiritual practice it’s like prayer it’s like worship it’s something we do because it’s who we are we choose to be grateful because it’s part of who of what makes us who God has called us to be and who God has created us to be
which means church family that if we’re going to keep it real with God uh if we’re going to have authentic Christianity for everyday life sooner or later we’ve got to show some real gratitude one reason that people may not be grateful is that they don’t recognize that uh there there’s a price that may
have been paid for what they have I often say to people who uh uh
want to you know trash talk to church and and say the church is nothing and never going to be anything I I I try to remind them you do know that most of the reason you are not living the way your parents and your grandparents live lived is because of what people in the church did for you and you weren’t even born yet maybe they think that everything they have is a result of their uh effort alone their intellect alone their abilities alone they don’t appreciate that the scripture says every good and perfect gift comes from above they don’t understand Psalm 24 that says the Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof the world and those that dwell therein and that’s just a fancy way of saying that none of this Belongs To Us the land belongs to God the mountains belong to God the trees belong to God the air belongs to God the rivers belong to God the oceans belong to God and if we are alive everything we have belongs to God therefore we ought to give thanks to the one from whom all blessings flow and and we might be tempted to think of gratitude as just the simple Act of being polite most of us have been taught uh from an early age to say please and thank you uh and that’s good manners and that’s good uh but gratitude is more than Southern Hospitality no being grateful is a way of showing up in life being thankful is a mindset that influences everything that we do being grateful doesn’t just change what we say it affects how we feel the way we think and even the way we act I I’ve had uh from the uh uh vantage point of pastoral Ministry the privilege of interacting with people who are going through some of the most difficult times in their life and the amazement of seeing that they can still be filled with gratitude it is always surprising and yet encouraging to see they are on their way to the hospital for surgery and yet they are grateful they they are taking treatments for uh of chemotherapy and yet they are still full of gratitude uh they are recovering from from hurt harm and danger of one kind or another and yet they are still filled with gratitude uh we’ve all had different experiences in life and some have to work a little harder at being grateful than others but anybody can be thankful and I Pray by the end of this message you’ll have a few reasons of your own of why you ought to give thanks to the Lord and that brings us to the text in Psalm Psalm 103 is a prayer or maybe a praise you can take it however you want uh but but the case the fact of the matter is it is dripping with gratitude and Thanksgiving we don’t know when it
was composed or under what circumstances but history tells us that uh David is the author of Psalm 103 and David is a good person to teach us about real
gratitude his personal life had many ups and many Downs he was anointed king of Israel that wasn’t up uh but he once lived for seven years as an outlaw that was a down uh people celebrated his military achievements that was an up and then a prophet had to rebuke David for his sinful behavior that was a down and I would like to think that David wrote Psalm 103 in his mature years after he had a chance to look back on his life and see how God had been working in his life and that’s what made him say praise the Lord my soul praise the Lord and forget not all of his benefits I want to bless His holy name you see if we learn to live with gratitude we can start uh if we want to learn to live with gratitude we can start by reading Psalm 103 and when we do that we’ll see that one of the keys to having real gratitude is to take time to notice and appreciate the goodness of God you have to look for it sometimes you have to uh be attentive to it sometimes but but God is good not just in general but to you and me personally and individually that’s what David did that’s what David uh found out that’s what made him erupt in verse one praise the Lord uh my soul and forget not all his benefits David has a list of things he wanted to thank God for he’s L literally welling up uh with gratitude because he is intentionally remembering the benefits that have come to him from his God and he tells us do not forget get maybe maybe that’s why we fail to be grateful sometimes we we just forget we forget about the doors that God opened we forget about the ways that God has made we forget about the obstacles that God has brought us over we forget about the tears that God has wiped away but we don’t want to forget how good God has been some J Christians even keep journals to write down uh uh their memories about the goodness of God they don’t ever want to forget how good the
Lord has been to them so Psalm 103 urges us not to ignore not to forget not to uh uh stop caring about the benefits of God in other words take the time to notice and appreciate uh the goodness of God in your life when you are driving in your car and you notice uh and you’re at a stoplight you can just take a few minutes just to think about the goodness
of God uh when when you are dealing with uh the UNF fairness is of life you can pause in the middle of your thinking about it and give thanks for the goodness of God David points out uh there are many reasons and ways that God has been good to us and so we don’t want to ever forget that especially as we go into the week of Thanksgiving first of
all I’ll give you several first of all from the text David says who forgives your sins oh that ought to be enough to fill us with a lifetime of gratitude unless we have mastered the art of living a sinless life and if so I don’t know why you are listening to me then we can give God thanks for a God who forgives all our sins go down to verse 12 Psalm 103 says as far as the East is from the West so far has God removed our sins from us God put our sins so far away from us that right now they’re on the other side of the world I know that as disciples we are called to serve we’re called to give uh
we’re called to surrender but to be thankful let’s not forget that we have some benefits there are some things that God has given to us a benefit is something that you receive and forgiveness if you ask me is a mighty
good benefit that means I don’t have to carry the burden of guilt and shame because God forgives sins I don’t have to pray in fear because God forgives sins I don’t have to think that God has abandoned me because God forgives sins 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins God is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness Romans 8:1 says therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus that is a mighty mighty good benefit in fact David was so confident and So Satisfied with what he had received from God David nowhere in Psalm 103 asked God for anything he simply wants to say God I thank you for what you’ve done for me when was the last time we were so completely uh filled with gratitude that
all we could do is just be thankful for what we have received from God well I
suspect for some of you that was just a few hours ago when you woke up in the morning that’s when you started thinking about the goodness of God that God opened your eyes on this side of Eternity that was a benefit God gave you the strength to make it through another week that was a benefit somebody cares about you that was a benefit God gave
you another chance that was a benefit God provided an angel to watch over you all night long and woke you up this morning that was a benefit God opened some doors for you that was a benefit God kept you one more day that was a benefit that you receive from the goodness of our God and all we can saying response is bless the Lord oh my soul and forget not all his benefits but we don’t have to stop with forgiveness Church there’s more David had a whole list of benefits in his mind God forgives us all our sins
and heals all our diseases now immediately our modern Minds uh uh sort
of back up when we hear this claim we’ve got a major medical center right down the street that proves that everybody’s physical diseases are not cured in this lifetime we do know that God is the great physician and yet not all healing happens on Earth but remember David is talking about the benefits to his soul and Hebrew writers often use a technique uh called parallelism parallelism that uh you remember from math class that uh when you have two lines that are parallel they they run side by side in the same direction they never cross they just keep on going for ever in the same direction well in the Old Testament sometimes you’ll find a single thought expressed in two ways in the same verse or in back tack Verses that and they call that a parallelism that he’s simply repeating himself by saying the same thing in different ways and maybe that’s what’s happening in verses three and four David is repeating himself God forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases both statements have to do with the way God restores the inner being or our soul they’re not two different ideas
but a single idea expressed in two parallel ways and I say that because
David himself would have known that not every physical problem is worked out on in this lifetime you remember David had
a son uh by bath Sheba and the first child did not live David prayed and he
fasted and fasted and prayed and that child did not live and when David realized the child was not going to to
live he got himself together got himself dressed and then celebrated the goodness of God but David over the course of his
life realized that God had been working on the inside and he healed him of his
pride and healed him of his jealousy healed him of his covetousness and aren’t you glad that God does not leave
us the way that we are God can take our weaknesses and heal them with his strength God can take our sins and cover
them with his grace and mercy God can take our minds and transform
them by the renewing of our minds and so we give thanks for a God That Forgives and heals and puts us back together again but verse four names a second benefit and that is that God redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion that’s another big reason for gratitude we’ve got a God who can recycle the rubbish in our lives so that when we end up in a pit God can redeem us we don’t think about redeeming and Redemption a lot these days but back in the day as my 18-year-old son would say back in the day we used to buy those thick coupon books you remember those entertainment books boy I would run when I saw somebody coming with one of those books Someone’s Child was always selling an Entertainment Book for a fundraiser I know bought a few over the years but rarely did I ever tear a coupon out and use it at the store I don’t know why but I just read the other day that the company’s no longer printing the book
anymore now you can get a $20 subscription and get your entertainment coupons online so coupons that’s one way you redeem something you exchange one thing for another you give the store the coupon and they give you back the merchandise at a discounted price but there’s another way to think about Redemption and that is the dictionary says to gain or regain possession of something that was lost and I like that one because it’s something like what David had in mind when he says God redeems our life from the pit and crowns us with love and compassion today we can be grateful for a God that sees us in the pits of life and does not stand around watching and waiting for somebody else to do something no God steps in and God redeems us because God is always going to regain or gain possession of whatever belongs to God we can fall in a pit of misery and God will reach in and bring us out we can fall in our pits of pain and God will reach in and bring us out we can be in a pit of sorrow and God will redeem us and bring us out we can be in a pit of failure we can be in a pit of confusion and God will reach in redeem us and bring us out because whatever the pity is God has redeeming power God always reclaims what belongs to God and if God has ever redeemed you from anything and if we are and if we are keeping it real we know God has then surely we ought to rejoice and give thanks to the Lord Our God and what I love about God’s Redemption is that God doesn’t redeem us bring us back and then put us in the corner and make us wear the hat of Shame no God redeems us and David said he crowns us with love and compassion it’s kind of like when the prodigal son finally came back home and he said I’ll be a servant in my father’s house and as soon as he got on the front porch daddy came rushing out to meet him he put a ring on his finger sandals on his feet a
robe on his back killed the fatten Cal and kissed his cheek to symbolize that
that boy was not home as a servant but he was back where he was before because
that was a redeeming father that crowned him with love and compassion aren’t you
glad that God put a crown of Love on your head that God put a crown of compassion on your head that God thinks
so much of you that God uh saw you as worthy of wearing a crown of love that’s
bejweled with compassion uh and the idea of crowning has to do uh with God
surrounding us and circling us that God uh gives us his steadfast love his uh
what the Hebrews call the hessed which is a covenantal love it’s a love that
cannot be broken and that’s the kind of God that we have but but let me tell you
this um you you know it’s good to know the kind of God we have because if you aren’t careful you you you may misund
understand who God is that the the Greeks the ancient Greeks had a God for everything they they had Aries as the
God of War they had Aphrodite as the goddess of love and beauty they had Apollo as the god of archery Hermes was
a god of protection Poseidon the god of the storms and the sea but isn’t it good to know you only need one God and our
God is a god of love and compassion what is compassion compassion
is when somebody steps into your hurt with you so you don’t have to hurt all
by yourself that God sees our trouble and and and
God gets into the trouble with us so we don’t have to go through the trouble all
by ourselves Matthew says that that God stepped down through 40 and2 generations
and was born of a woman named very uh of a woman named Mary so that God could be
like us God enter the world a as Emmanuel God With Us God was so
compassionate that God didn’t want to leave us walking around this broken world all by ourselves and that’s why we
sing that song and he walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me that I am his own because I’m a witness that God is a loving God and a compassionate God in so many ways how how many ways Pastor well you’re experiencing the benefit of God’s compassion when you are going through something and a friend stays on the phone with you until You’
said everything you have to say and no matter how long it takes for you to say what you’ve got to say that’s what
compassion is you are experiencing God’s compassion when you’re at the point of your weakness and you feel some strength
that is not your strength rising up inside of you to give you the strength that you need that is God’s compassion
you are experiencing God’s compassion when you come into worship weighed down by questions and burdened down by life
and you leave feel filled up with the hope of God uh God entered your experience to give you exactly what you
needed when you needed it that’s God’s compassion I don’t know about you but I’m grateful this morning I’m grateful
for all the benefits that we receive from God that God forgives all of our sins God redeems our life from the pit
and God crowns us with love and compassion but I’m pleased to report
there is yet another benefit that belongs to us when we we belong to God
David says that God satisfies you with good things so that your youth is
renewed like the eagles I tell you as human beings we all have needs we all have deficiencies deficiencies we all
have a lack in some area or or another but David says you’ve got a God that
will satisfy your desires with some good things that makes me think of what Jesus
said in Matthew 7:9 he’s asked the question which of you if your son asks
for bread will give him a stone or if he ask for fish will give him a snake and then he says if you then
though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children how much more will your heavenly father give G
good gifts to those that ask him that is we give gifts to one another all the
time but God knows how to give good gifts that uh gifts that truly satisfy
and I wonder David must have thought about all the times that he was in need in his life and how God not only
provided for his needs but God satisfied him so much in his life uh Pro uh so
much in this life promises to satisfy us but when we finally get it uh uh in our
possession it always falls short I I tell you a quick story I tried a popular restaurant in the city for the first
time a couple of weeks ago and I won’t name names because I don’t want to hurt them them I don’t I I want them to do
well but uh the place is always on the list of best places to eat in Durham now
the waight times on the weekend are absolutely ridiculous and that day I decided uh to
wait an hour and 15 minutes to get a table on a Sunday after church at a time
when I’m really really hungry I’m just going to tell
you if you tell me a number over 45 minutes I’m going to another restaurant or I’m going home that day I I said I’ll
wait and uh and I got a table we got a table I ordered the food and as soon as
the food came to the table I knew I was going to be
disappointed I I I knew I wasn’t going to be satisfied the presentation was not my cup of tea so that meant I waited too
long spent too much money you know that’s my
oh and I still wasn’t satisfied but that’s how it is when we
expect things in this life to satisfy that can not truly satisfy us clothes
can cover us but it cannot satisfy us money can entertain us but it cannot
satisfy us accolades encourage us and that’s good but they aren’t designed to
satisfy us David had to give thanks to God because God is a God that truly
satisfies God sees all of our desires God sees all of our needs God sees all
of our hopes and sees all of our thoughts and says I know exactly what my child needs I’ll send them this because
that’s the gift that will truly satisfy them I tell you when God gives God doesn’t hurt us God will satisfy us when
God provides es God will not taunt us God will satisfy us when God blesses us
God will not fool us God will satisfy us and when David thought about how God had
satisfied him all he could do was say bless the Lord oh my soul and all that
is within me and I want to say it right along with David bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me for I’ve
got a God That Forgives me so I’ll say thank you Lord I’ve got a God that redeems me so I’ll say thank you Lord
I’ve got a God that satisfies me so I’ll say thank you Lord we don’t even have
time to name all the benefits because according to Psalm 103 you’ve got even more benefits than the three I named
verse eight says the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in love somebody
ought to say thank you God verse n says he will not always accuse nor will his
anger Harbor forever we thank you for that oh God verse 11 says for as high as the heavens are above the Earth so great is his love toward those that fear Him oh we ought to give thanks for his love maybe that’s the reason Philippians 2 ver14 says do everything without grumbling or complaining and I know that many would say that life for me hadn’t been no Crystal stair brother Pastor you don’t know what I’ve been through and yet the fact remains that as we stand and sit here this morning we can all say that God is good the enemy wants us to complain but instead we ought to say bless the Lord oh my soul the enemy only wants to steal kill and destroy but don’t let him steal your gratitude and
don’t let him take your joy

you ought to just throw your head back and say bless the Lord


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