“Our lord and heavenly father, we would like to thank you for this day and for the great works that you did through Jesus on the cross, we would like to thank you for the blessing of your word and we ask you now to bless the reading and the preaching of it as I preach in this service today. We thank you for all your blessings and ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.”Good morning, the passage that I will be preaching on today is Psalm 103. And while I was thinking of a title for the sermon this morning, I was overwhelmed by how much this passage talks about God’s steadfast love that with me being a Led Zeppelin fan, I could only think, “What a whole lotta love” and so that is what I titled this sermon, “What a whole lotta love”, Will you please turn there with me to Psalm 103 and we will read through the passage together as a whole before we start.(Read Psalm 103)Body:At the beginning of our text, we can see that this is a psalm of David, And what I am going to try to display for you this morning is that we can see that David is trying to convince himself and instruct himself to praise God in verses 1-2. His use of “bless the Lord, Oh my soul” can be seen as a praise, but also as an instruction to himself.David is almost trying to say, “Come on soul, where are you lately? I know that I should be worshiping God, but I am just not feeling it right now.” So we can see David asking this question. But we could even ask ourselves: “Why is a man like David… one who was “after God’s own heart” as we know from Acts 13…, why is he having to convince himself to worship God. Why is this not coming naturally to him? And so ultimately this seems a little odd that such a zealous man for God in this position. I think we can say here that David is trying to remember something about God. Something which by not remembering, has now caused him to fall into this spiritual rut. I say this because of a use of repetition. We know that if you want to remember something… what do you do? You repeat to yourself what you want to remember, don’t you?If there is something that you know that you just have to remember… You remind yourself constantly so that whatever it is gets well and truly drilled into your head.But what is David trying to remember? Well today we would like to focus our attention on one thing that David is trying to remember which we can see in verse 4 and in verse 8. Verse 4 says: “who redeems your life from the pit,who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy” And in verse 8: “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”Here again we can see some attributes of God’s personality. We can see here that he is merciful, he is gracious, he is slow to anger and he abounds in “Steadfast love”. In a way we can see these characteristics in a contrast to man’s nature. Do you remember when last you met someone who was completely merciful? Maybe someone who was slow to anger, or their love was everlasting? If so, I don’t know what friends you have, but I would like those friends.The point that David is making here, is that your emotions can change. Our emotions change day in and day out. And David says here that man can forget about or even deliberately not give praise to God. But David writes that through this, one thing remains: God’s steadfast love never changes and it never fails. We can ask then “What does this love then mean to us?” …. God’s love means that he does not treat us like our sins deserve….. God’s love means that he does not treat us like our sins deserve…. Now don’t you think that that is a great reason already to praise God?David goes on to make a whole list of the benefits for us of God’s love and forgiveness. David writes that God forgives us of our iniquities, …He heals us of our spiritual sickness and he heals us of our diseases, …… verse 3.In verse 4 he says, “He redeems life from the “pit”, in the original Hebrew meaning “the hole for the dead” in other words, “the grave”….. God, out of his steadfast love, pulls us out of a place that there should be no escape from. Once again in here we can see this common theme of us receiving that which we don’t deserve from God.Out of his steadfast love, God forgives us of our Sins,….and therefore we are healed of our spiritual sickness. And we are redeemed from death itself. The difference here is that we,… who were sinners, who follow him are not punished for our sins. But rather, this means that now there is a way back from death.We see that His steadfast love does not give up on the saint. But it also does not give up on the sick or the spiritually dead. At this point we can see that David has reached a realisation, ….. he realises “You cannot out-sin God’s steadfast love.” ….. There is nothing that you can do in your entire life which is too much for God’s love to forgive!Maybe there is someone here today who is struggling with this, someone who thinks that they are unforgivable. … But let me tell you that God’s word says that you are forgivable if you confess your sins and put your faith in Christ.In Ephesians 2:5 Paul writes, “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved.” Here we can see a parallel to our psalm where the sickness of sin is shown to lead to death. But in Ephesians 2 we are shown that God, rich in his mercy has made us alive in Christ.Moving on in our psalm, in verses 6-10. David uses another strategy of remembering to infuse in himself the truth, …. that God will not reject him. This time he makes a parallel from Exodus, we know the story of the Golden calf at Sanai! In Exodus 34:6-7, we find that strait after God had led Israel out of Egypt, and Israel had rejected God and had asked Aaron to make for them a Golden Idol in the shape of a calf, God remained faithful to Israel even when they were in their lowest hour. Which was rejecting Him. I have thought that we should compare these two passages, so if you will all remain at psalm 103 and I will read from Exodus 34:6-7. And while I do so, follow in verses 6-10 in the psalm. Ex 34:6-7 “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin.”So we can see that David is taking the story that he knows of Israel and the Calf…. And he is using that historical account… and God’s reaction as seen after that, as a, assurance of God’s loyalty to his people. We can see God’s steadfast love, telling David that He did not tread Israel how their sins deserved, therefore He will not treat David like his sins deserve, and then for us, that he will not treat us like our sins deserve. However, this should mean more to us now that it had meant to David way back then. For David, he looked back on the golden calf incident, and from that he could remember God’s love. But for us, we are able to look back on an even greater story. When we do this we should look back at the “Cross of Jesus Christ” and not only see the Israelites lowest point, but see Humanities lowest point as both the Jews and the Gentiles rejected the creator and crucified him on a cross.Not only that but at that time there was Pilot giving Jesus over to the phrases’, the phrases’ accusing him and his own disciples abandoned him. They fled and even Peter denied him three times…. But guess what… at the cross, sinners got forgiven. And because of this we are not treated as our sins deserve.Moving on in verses 11-13, David uses three comparisons on an immense scale to try to show us exactly how much God’s love is. In verse 11 he writes “For as high as the heavens are above the earth,so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him”,Verse 12, “as far as the east is from the west,so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” And then in verse 13 “As much as a father shows compassion to his children,so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.”As far as, as high as and as much as. These three things he uses to try to describe God’s love. In verse 11 he says that God’s love will go to an unimaginable distance for those who fear him, In Verse 12, He will remove our transgressions from us fully. And there will be no possible way that their affect can return to us. And lastly, David says that as much as a father has compassion for his children, so will God show compassion to us….. How much compassion does a Godly father have for his family? I think it is immeasurable. I cannot wait for those years to become mine. But that is how much David here says that God loves us. In verses 14-16, David reminds himself of his mortality. He says here that we are dust! We are like the grass or like a flower in a field. All it takes is the wind to blow over it and it dies. Our lives are like that fragile flower. Only tomorrow we could have our lives taken away from us, and we will be wiped from existence, and not even the ground we stand on will remember us.Thanks to Andrew here, a while ago I started watching a short series called “Chernobyl”. He mentioned it in a sermon of his. And in this series, and as we know that on the 26th of April 1986, the Nuclear power plant in Chernobyl exploded! …And the explosion left 200,000 people dead from radiation sickness.Did you know that it takes from two to fourteen days from the time of exposure until the death of those people, …and they died from a sickness that they could not even see? This is what Sin is like for us, a sickness that most people cannot even see but it leads to death. ….Verses 14-16 are in fact the most used verses at funerals, did you know that?It sounds terrible to have to be told how weak and fickle you are at a funeral. But, someone has recently given me a new appreciation for these verses.A better way to see it is that we shouldn’t look to these verses for comfort ,….. if you do you might go away disappointed, but we should use them to reflect on our mortality. Because as long as you overestimate yourself, as long as you see yourself as independent from God… you will not see a “need” for God’s love and then you won’t be grateful for it.So we should regularly then remind ourselves how little we are in order to have an appreciation of God’s love. And then we will “want” to praise him for giving his love to us freely. Maybe, if you like, you should start you day by looking in the mirror and tell yourself “you are dust”…… Please don’t do that by the way but the point is that there is no way to live spiritually without God’s love, so don’t underestimate it.Finally, David comes to a point in verses 17-18 and in 20-22 where he restates the prime benefits for us of God’s love and he responds to God’s love and in so doing he shows us how to respond in the same way. In verses 17-18, David notes that God’s love is everlasting….. (From the beginning to the end) and that his righteousness is with us. So because of this salvation that we have through God’s love, we can have eternal life, ….and this promise cannot be taken from us,…. there is no way to lose it because there is no one who’s sin is too much for God’s love.Isn’t this a good reason to praise God and worship him this morning? Isn’t this a good reason for us to praise God every morning?Conclusion:So how should we respond to this? What does this mean to us in this church this morning? Well we can see that God’s steadfast love was great enough to “not” give Israel what they deserved, it was also great enough to “not” give David what his sins deserved,….. let me tell you that God’s steadfast love is also great enough to spare us from what our sins deserve.I don’t know if there is anyone here today who is looking for this hope in their lives or if you are just in need of a reminder this morning…. If you are,… I think this is it.To the rest of us, we can see in the final verses here an invite to everyone, everywhere to join in the song of praise to God if we fear him, obey him and do his will.God gives his love to all mankind, to the sinner and the saint. But his steadfast, fatherly love he gives to his people who fear him, love him and who do his will.In verse 20, David shows us that the angels already do this, so then why don’t we? If the angels do His will and they didn’t even get the gift of salvation… what is our excuse?Is God’s steadfast love still just an idea to you this morning? Or is it real?If His love is just an idea to you today, then why don’t you change that today, take the step and give up that resistance between you and God. And then….Why don’t you submit yourself to his love and invite others to come and join you in this song of praise. The world is full of people looking for love and forgiveness, and they are looking for the steadfast love of God. It forgives us of our sins and it gives us what we do not deserve.So in closing when you look at these verses 13-18, can you take these three points away? God’s love for his people is steadfast, there is nobody that does not need it ….and there is a required response to praise Him for it.
Intro:Good morning, let us open this time in a word of prayer: