Forget Not All His Goodness

Pastor Beny of the Indonesian church brought a great message at our joint New Year’s Eve service.  The message was taken from Psalm 103, which you probably know (even if you don’t know you know).  The first verse of Psalm 103 says this:

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Again, you probably know verse.  I think it is the basis for this song:

The second verse of Psalm 103 says this:

Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—

That’s what it says in the NIV, anyway.  That’s the version I knew.  And I always questioned it.  I always questioned that word benefits.  To me, benefit refers to a financial kind of arrangement, to something you get for doing something you don’t want to do.  It reminds me of something an HR lady said at one of the part-time jobs I worked during Bible college.  She said, “This job isn’t great, but before you quit, remember the benefits!”  You see that financial give-and-take idea right there: the job is not great, but you keep it because you want the benefits.  It also reminds me of the climatic line of the song from the movie Music and Lyrics:

(Come on; you know that this is about; you saw it with your wife the same as I did.)

That’s what benefits always said to me.  We were negotiating for things we wanted.  God wasn’t that great but we stuck around because He dropped us a bone every once in awhile.

What Pastor Beny said, though, was that in the Indonesian version it is translated “forget not all His goodness“.  I don’t know if this is a viable translation or not; I don’t know the Hebrew here.  But I do see similar ideas in some English translations.

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Notice the NLT.  There were a few translations lower down which translated the phrase the same way.

And I think that is what the psalmist was telling us here.  He was not telling us we get benefits from God.  He was telling us God is good to us.  He was (and still is) telling us God is good to us.  And that is something to remember.  That is something to never forget.  That is something that will change your life.

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My Lord’s Gonna Come In The Morning

It’s been a tough week for me.  The first week of the new year is always tough.  Everything I love (fall, football, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Halloween, the Scottish Games, etc.) comes in the last third of the year, so all January means to me is that I’m not going to have any fun for eight months.

It has been even tougher this year, though.  My wife, who is not at full health, has had to work extra hours; she just got home from Ohio and twelve hours later she was working a twelve hour day.  It has been dark, rainy, and cold here.  This always makes me feel trapped.  A guy who doesn’t like me showed me hatred in public in front of my friends; he refused to shake my hand and tossed out some insult at me (I didn’t really understand what he said, but it was clearly an insult).  Church attendance and participation has been down.  I somehow got sick even though I was sick just three weeks ago.  So, yeah, it’s been a tough week.

And I walked into the church sanctuary today intending to speak with the Lord about this.  On Fridays I allow myself to pray about whatever I feel like praying about; Monday-Thursday I have a set schedule of prayer topics, but Fridays I leave open.  That means I usually speak to God about what is troubling me on Fridays.  Okay, it actually means I usually whine to God about what is troubling me on Fridays.  And I was fully intending to do that today.

As I entered the sanctuary, though, I saw sunlight streaming through the church windows.  The church windows face south, not east, but the sunlight was still coming through them in discernible beams.  And the sunlight was early morning sunlight, not afternoon or evening sunlight (there is a difference; I can’t describe that difference exactly, but I just feel like early morning sunlight, the sunlight of the rising sun, is somehow more optimistic).  Seeing that, I was suddenly encouraged.  I remembered who my God is, what my God has done in the past, and what He has promised to do in the future.

Actually, I remembered a song we sang in eight grade choir.  I wasn’t much of a musical kid, but I had to have a music credit during my last year of middle school, so I took choir.  Our choir leader was a wonderful woman.  I can’t remember her name but I remember her face.  She was a great teacher and a joy to be around.  I also think she was a woman of faith.  Even if she wasn’t, she taught us this song.  It’s called “My Lord’s Gonna Come In The Morning”.  I don’t know where this song comes from; I had never heard it outside of choir class and can’t seem to find any professional recordings of it.  But I’ve never forgotten it.  I’ve particularly never forgotten the chorus, which you can hear in this video:

And that is true.  That is one of the great truths of The Faith.  Our Lord is going to come in the morning to deliver us.  He allows us to go through dark times (I guess; some of my mentors have different ideas about why dark times happen, but I think God at least allows them to happen), but He will always eventually show up to pierce that darkness with His light.  I think the daylight I saw coming through the church windows was a little taste of that (is it too crazy to think God sent that to me as an encouragement?).   And I believe there are greater tastes to come.