How do you Honor God the Father in Worship?
One little boy's definition of Father's Day went like this, "Well, it's just like Mother's Day only you don't spend so much." Well we fathers can concede that. Someone said, "A father is someone who carries pictures where his money used to be." And the phone company tells us that calls on Father's Day are not as high in number as calls on Mother's Day and most of them are collect. (execerpted from MacArthur, John)
Many of us have been blessed by godly, loving earthly fathers. Some of us have had imperfect fathers, and some of us had no earthly father for reasons beyond our control. But regardless of the circumstances of your earthly family, each of have something in common, a deeper connection to one another, we have a Heavenly Father who loves us profoundly…so much so that he sent His only begotten son, Jesus, to die in our place of punishment for the forgiveness of sins against His Holy Being and His Holy Word. And so it seems fitting on this Father’s Day that we would Honor him in this worship service.
And to do this, to truly honor The Father, we must look to these scriptures to guide us and instruct us. Do you recall the word of Jesus in John 4:23 (ESV) — 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
The greatest way to honor God the Father, is to worship Him rightly, in Spirit and in Truth!
So please turn with me to Psalm 103, Psalm 103 - A Psalm of David. Say Word when you get there!
Did you know Psalm 103 is part of duet of Psalms, the second being Psalm 104. Together they form a pair of praise psalms. As one writer put it, “In the galaxy of the Psalter these are twin stars of the first magnitude.”3 (Derek Kidner)
Another Said, Psalm 103 is “one of the finest blossoms on the tree of biblical faith” (A. Weiser)
For you and me, this Psalm is “key” to unlocking the right attitudes and right actions of worship. My prayer for you today is that this passage will renew your mind and kindle afresh intimate worship with your Heavenly Father.
So the question before us today and the title of this sermon is “How do you Honor the Father in Worship”?
From Psalm 103, David provides us 5 critical steps in building a foundation to honor rather than dishonor God the Father in our worship. They are as follows:
1)Commence Worship by Blessing the Father (Psalm 103:1) Personal praise
2)Cease from Forgetting the Father’s Benefits (Psalm 103:2-5) Personal Praise
3)Comprehend the Limits of the Father’s Anger (Psalm 103:6-12) National Praise
4)Consider the Father’s Compassion (Psalm 103:13-18) National Praise
5)Continue in Worship by Obeying the Father’s Word (Psalm 103:19-22) Universal Praise
Let’s begin by looking with me at verse one:
I.Commence Worship by Blessing the Father (Psalm 103:1)
Psalm 103:1 (ESV) — 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!
This psalm begins with a most amazing word Bless. Circle or underline this word! It is used 7 times in this psalm. Verse 1, Verse 2, Verse 20, Verse 21, Verse 22. Every use but one is a command. And since it is a command, it is an act of our will. Therefore worship cannot begin until you and I, by the act of our will, take action to worship. It is not passive, but active! But what does it mean to bless? After a thorough study of this word bless in the Old Testament, there are three meanings wrapped into one word:
First, it means to praise, to acknowledge His Word, His Character, His Deeds, for example
Second, it means to adore, being affectionate, to love, do you recall
Third, it means to exalt, to yield in submission to Him
This is how we bless our God – by praising, adoring, and exalting!
Not only is worship an act of our will, but it engages our complete being. David writes, “O my soul, and all that is within me”
Your soul is your true person, it is your spirit, and all that is within me is not referring merely to your organs, but referring to your complete material being. I think Deuteronomy 6:5 expresses this best:
5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
God Honoring Worship therefore cannot be compartmentalized. We cannot come to worship knowing there are areas of our life not in submission to Him. We should not dare to enter worship without being full engaged with Him, undistracted. We have to rightly align our thinking and our lives to honor God in worship because He is Worthy. And that’s why the Psalmist directs us to Bless is Holy Name
HOLY! This word encapsulates all His glorious attributes: Of all the words in the Bible used to describe God, none is repeated like the word Holy!
In the Old Testament - Isaiah 6:3 (ESV) — 3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!”
In the New Testament - Revelation 4:8 (ESV) — 8 And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!”
His Holy Name captures the idea that God is awesomely different from anything or anyone else;
So do you have this vision like this Psalmist!
For there is no greater act and no greater expression when we, believers, commence Worship by blessing the Father! For the Psalmist, His only object of Worship is God!
A point of personal application: Did you notice the Psalmist is not mentioning his wants and his needs first? Therefore, if your prayer time begins by asking God to bless you, let’s turn that ship around, and begin by you blessing God!
So how do we bless God? Look with me at verse 2, and examine our second point “Cease from forgetting the Father’s Benefits”
II.Cease from Forgetting the Father’s Benefits (inward life) (Psalm 103:2-5)
Read with me verse 2-5
Psalm 103:2–5 (ESV) — 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.
Wouldn’t you agree with me, that in the “busy”-ness of life, in the many blessings of life it is so easy to forget God’s kindness toward us? All of us fall into seasons of forgetfulness. Do you remember Hezekiah who was so sick, he was going to die. And then Hezekiah wept and prayed to God. God answered his prayer, gave 15 years of life, and protected him from his enemies and what did Hezekiah do with those blessings…
2 Chronicles 32:25 (ESV) — 25 But Hezekiah did not make return according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and Judah and Jerusalem.
We have to remind each other to count our blessings just as Moses reminded Israel in Deuteronomy 6:12 (ESV) — 12 … take care lest you forget the LORD, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
Did Israel later forget their God! Indeed they did, and judgment and heartache followed.
And that’s why verse 2 is here, so we would not forget. David moves us to bless the Lord, Bless His holy Name and Blessing Him for His Benefits, for His Great and Amazing Accomplishments!
I don’t know about you but when I think of the benefits of God it is too easy get caught up and focus on the material blessings in our life. No other time in history, especially in this country, are there so many material distractions! But the Psalmist directs us from that which is temporary and fading, to that which is eternal, permanent, significant, and unfading. From the works of our hands, to the works of His hands! This is crucial for you and I to honor the Father in Worship. There are five benefits that should never be forgotten!
So look at verses 3 through 5 and underline the word “who”! God is the one “who” provides these benefits!
Let’s look at these benefits. These are the content, the words of our blessings.
The first benefit is found verse 3 “WHO FORGIVES ALL YOUR INIQUITY”
Do you understand that your iniquity, your sin, your transgressions are so great, and unless there is intercession and forgiveness, you will be crushed, for God’s judgment is sure and it will be swift. For who can escape the all knowing, all seeing, ever present Holy Sovereign Father and Judge?
So when the Psalmist recalls God’s forgiveness, it is no mere whisper of a fading memory of forgiveness, but it is a shout of the soul “I AM FORGIVEN” and it is fitting to be the first benefit he recalls! Because forgiveness changed the relationship from being an enemy hating God to a child loving God!
Because he is forgiven, he blesses, because he is forgiven, he Worships!
So how do you keep afresh the reality of God’s great forgiveness?
Hate that sin in your life!
Confess that sin and Repent!
Receive His forgiveness.
And Pursue Righteousness!
Now the second benefit, “WHO HEALS ALL YOUR DISEASES” at first blush, does not reflect the reality of this world! We don’t have to travel beyond the walls of this church to see that that in this body at Brainerd Baptist church there are believers that suffer from sickness and disease. How I wish being born again gave us permanent health and healing, but only in the future, in our glorified bodies will we experience this benefit to its fullest. And if anyone tells you otherwise they are a double-tongued, snake-oil, salesmen.
So what in the world is Psalmist talking about?
Well with a little word study of this Hebrew word for “diseases” do you discover that these diseases are a punishment by God and connected to the rebellion and rejection of His Covenant with Israel!
This exact word is mentioned in Deuteronomy 29:22 (ESV) — 22 And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses/diseases with which the LORD has made it sick—
David, our Psalmist, is an Israelite, and he is reflecting on the history of his people and the promises of God in regards to the covenant. The diseases I believe he is referring to are the consequences for failing to obey the covenant. For example, after the cursings on Mt Ebal and the Blessing on Mt. Gerizim we read in Deuteronomy 28
Deuteronomy 28:58–61 (ESV) — 58 “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God, 59 then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. 60 And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. 61 Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law, the LORD will bring upon you, until you are destroyed.
Therefore these diseases, in this passage are not a reference to colds, flu, and cancers that are so prevalent in this fallen world. They are diseases caused by God to punish Israel for breaking His covenant.
This can be for the nation’s sins and for an individual’s sin.
2 Chronicles 21:12–15 (ESV) — 12 And a letter came to him from Elijah the prophet, saying, “Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father, or in the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel and have enticed Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem into whoredom, as the house of Ahab led Israel into whoredom, and also you have killed your brothers, of your father’s house, who were better than yourself, 14 behold, the LORD will bring a great plague on your people, your children, your wives, and all your possessions, 15 and you yourself will have a severe sickness with a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the disease, day by day.’ ”
Do you remember David’s adulterous sin with Basheeba and how in Psalm 38 David talks about his sickness and how there is no soundness in his flesh because of God’s anger; there is no health in his bones because of his sin.
But later he repented and was healed. In that case, his disease was a punishment for his sin, for breaking the covenant.
I also believe this “healing of diseases” was partially fulfilled in Israel during the ministry of Christ as a foreshadow of His coming kingdom.
So how should we today respond to diseases on this side of the cross?
Know that some disease can be a punishment for our sin and some diseases, like Job, can be no fault of our own.
Some diseases are a result of living in a fallen world.
Therefore, know that God is a healer.
Know that we should continue to pray to him and ask for healing.
We also should take advantage of honorable doctors, true medicines, and effective surgical procedures that God has raised up to ease the effects of this cursed world.
And for those who are currently suffering and have yet to be healed. Keep praying, keep persevering and never forget the truths of the resurrection:
1 Corinthians 15:53–58 (ESV) 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Let your trial of affliction serve the Glory of God and may it point others to faith in Christ.
So please be careful with this verse.
Now the third benefit, verse 4, WHO REDEEMS YOUR LIFE FROM THE PIT (Death)
As the saying go, "'In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."
The pit is a reference to the reality that this body will one day be laid in the grave. But for the believer this is not our end. As we were reminded by Pastor Robby a few weeks ago, we see a picture of death and life in Baptism:
Romans 6:4 (ESV) — 4 We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
How great is our God! He who forgives Sin, He who heals Diseases, and he who redeems your life from Death! What amazing benefits!
And we have a taste of that now, when were given a new life in Christ when we are born again. And yet, there awaits another life, when we die and go to be with the Lord, forever.
Oh Church we could stop here, end the service and go home! But there is more! The Lord’s benefits continue!
The fourth, “WHO CROWNS YOU WITH STEADFAST LOVE(loving-kindness) AND MERCY(Compassion)”
The word Crown is a word picture that means to surround completely. He surrounds us completely with His steadfast love and mercy! Wow!
Steadfast love is used hundreds of times to describe the way God loves. For his steadfast love is an actionable, unfading, never tiring, an always constant love that continues to pursue with affection from eternity past to eternity future. It cannot and will not fail!
It is best described in 1 Corinthians 13:4 (ESV) — 4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant …you know the passage.
Take time this week to review Psalm 136…there you will find a whole psalm, 26 verses devoted to his steadfast love.
And his mercy is not a mere emotion, but an actionable compassion that takes into account our weaker condition, and treats us with tenderness. This word is relational. It is tied to His covenant and His salvation.
May I be so bold to say, I know of no other so called god of any religion that compares to our God! Never forget!
Our fifth, verse 5, “WHO SATISFIES YOU WITH GOOD”
I find it interesting that the last benefit in this remarkable interlinking chain speaks about satisfaction. This is another mark of a true believer rightly worshipping. We can be entertained by many things in this world, we can play with so many “toys” made by man, and they can so easily distract us but they never truly satisfy.
The mark of true worship is focus on and satisfaction in God himself and the good that comes from His Hand.
This is the “good” David is referring to. It is the gift of God himself but it also the Father’s provision, such as food, help, and His Creation.
This is the simplicity and wonder of worship!
Longing and emptiness is replaced by True Satisfaction.
Now David ends these amazing benefits by telling of the effect, the impact it should have on us:
Psalm 103:5 (ESV) so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
This is a strange analogy isn’t it? I have read in many, many commentaries one fanciful interpretation after another. I will not confuse you with the nonsense I read.
But to unlock its meaning, you need Isaiah 40:31 (ESV) — 31 but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.
To understand this word picture, youth is a picture of strength and the eagle is a symbol of soaring strength. So as believers we should be characterized by a youthful hope, an energy and vibrant spirit regardless of the years upon this earth. In a sense, David is saying that the one who worships God enjoys a continuous revival within, and finds strength to rise and live no matter how difficult the circumstances, like the eagle soaring from one height to the next.
Paul describes this in another way:
2 Corinthians 4:8–10 (ESV) — 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.
Therefore, no matter how great the storm, tragedy, and pain in your life, never cease from forgetting the Father’s Benefits. And though we do taste and see a portion of these benefits in this life, we will fully experience these benefits in glory, face to face with our God.
Wow! This list is amazing. Can I be so bold to say, how any man dare to tread upon the name, the character of our God of the scriptures! This is our God! And this is who we worship! These benefits cannot be earned nor can they be found in any other religion. These come from God the Father alone!
Do you remember how the Persian king in Esther, when he could not sleep, read the chronicles of his empire, and discovered that mordecai had saved his life and mordecai had never been rewarded? Do you remember how quickly and lavishly the king honored him?
The Lord has saved our eternal lives with a greater salvation, shall we render nothing in return?
One writer said this about this Psalm 103 and these benefits “The name “ingrate”, that is, one who does not show nor feels gratitude is one of the most shameful names a man can wear. Therefore, let us awake then, and with intense enthusiasm bless Yahweh our God.
This is grace! So We Commence Worship by Blessing the Father (Psalm 103:1) and we must cease from Forgetting the Father’s Benefits (inward life) (Psalm 103:2-5), and thirdly, we need
III.Comprehend the Limits of the Father’s Anger (Psalm 103:6-12)
Psalm 103:6–12 (ESV) — 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.
David looks again to Israel’s past and highlights two works of the Lord:
His Righteousness and Justice. Notice it’s connection to “all who are oppressed”. David is remembering the event when Israel was delivered out of 400 years of slavery and oppression in Egypt through Moses by the hand of the Lord.
Now you might be asking, why bring attention to righteousness and justice? These are critical in understanding the character of God and His anger! And David shows how these two words can cut both ways. What do I mean by “cutting both ways”.
Let’s not forget the sins of the Egyptians, they were cruel slave masters, idolaters and murderers of babies.
So on the one hand, the Egyptians were oppressive, and the Father’s Righteousness and Justice resulted in their destruction. On the other hand, Moses and the Israelites were the oppressed, and the Father’s Righteousness and Justice resulted in their deliverance. God’s Righteousness and Justice cuts both ways.
To rightly worship is to remember God our Father is righteous and just, and is angry over our sin, and if we remain in it we will be punished. For us Proverbs 3:12 (ESV) can guide us — 12 for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. But David also reveals as great as God’s wrath is, greater is His forgiveness.
The words of verse 8 are nearly identical to words spoken to Moses in the cleft of the rock, after the 10 commandments were made a second time. After the golden calf incident…
Psalm 103:8 (ESV) — 8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
As we continue to read we see the limits of the Father’s anger toward his own, toward those that repent and believe:
Psalm 103:9 (ESV) — 9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
Psalm 103:10 (ESV) — 10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
Church, how was God’s anger and wrath satisfied! That’s right Jesus Christ and the cross.
1 Thessalonians 5:9 (ESV) — 9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
And in verse 11 we read an almost incomprehensible truth!
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.
Two distances are described here: heavens above the earth & East from the west. For David could look into the night sky and see its vastness and understand this comparison to the steadfast love of God.
Today you and I, not only can look into the same sky, but let me show you a picture from the Hubble telescope. This image is a small slice of the sky, in fact one thirteen-millionth of the sky and it contains an estimated 10,000 galaxies. How far you ask are the heavens above the earth! How far is east from the west…it is a distance no man can ever traverse! And this is the forgiveness we receive through repentance and faith in Christ!
So as we comprehend the limits of the Father’s anger, this should leads us to consider the Father’s Compassion
IV.Consider the Father’s Compassion (Psalm 103:13-18)
Psalm 103:13–17 (ESV) — 13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. 14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. 15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. 17 But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, 18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
David gives us a picture of a Godly home, as a god-fearing father shows compassion to his children so the LORD shows compassion to believers, His children. When we worship we can see his amazing tenderness in light of our weakness. We are dirt, dust. We are short-lived like grass. We have fading accomplishments like a flower. And this flower is not one you would see in a garden, but of the field, wild. And the winds of time will pass over this flower, which is a symbol of our earthly life, and this wind will erase everything we leave behind including the memories others have of us. We should not despair over this reality, because that would be vanity as Solomon has revealed in Ecclesiastes.
We need to contrast the temporariness of man and his work with the eternality of God and his work!
Can I briefly address the word “fear”. This word fear combines two ideas. First, it does mean fear like terror.
Do remember how Isaiah and the apostle John both saw a vision of the Lord, they both fell down as if dead! Second, this word fear also means respect. As believers in Christ, we can draw near our God with confidence but let us not ever approach without Reverence and a Sense of His Holiness, Power, and Authority!
These truths are to remind us to worship in humility. These truths are for us to find value and worth in God alone and not in anything we accomplish. These truths call attention to the magnificent reality that through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ we have a personal relationship with God of the Universe.
So consider the Father’s Compassion, Comprehend the Father’s Anger, Cease from forgetting the Father’s benefits, and commence worship by blessing the Father and lastly…
V.Continue in Worship by Obeying the Father’s Word (Psalm 103:19-22)
Psalm 103:19–22 (ESV) — 19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. 20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! 21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! 22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
David takes us high up, to the Heavenly Realm, to the very throne room of God. And from this vantage point he looks down. We see (1) God’s Angels (2) God’s Hosts and (3) God’s Works
David reveals that worship in word only is no worship at all. But he does this in a most peculiar way, instead of commanding us to obey, he directs our thoughts and words to the throne and rule of the Lord.
You see, when you acknowledge the sovereignty of God, you acknowledge His rule and authority over you. By claiming to be a believer, you swear allegiance to Him. By being his subject, in His Kingdom, you will be ruled by Him. And as a citizen of His Holy kingdom you will live in the world as a light to that kingdom. Then in verse 20 and 21 we get a glimpse into the heavenly realm. David commands the obedient angels to bless the Lord for they do his word. David commands the hosts to bless the Lord for they minister on behalf of the Lord, doing His will!
And in verse 22, David looks to the rest of creation, that which is animate like birds and animals and that which is inanimate, like the rocks, the mountains, and the seas – they too are to bless the Lord
Like Psalm 19:1 (ESV) — 1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalm 104:24 (ESV) — 24 O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.
Psalm 104:25 (ESV) — 25 Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great.
Therefore, to worship the Lord rightly, we must behold this vision of His throne; behold His obedient Angels and Hosts, and behold His Creation.
And let us join in this chorus of obedience! Let us worship from within, and let us worship in word and in deed. Let us abide in Him and bear much fruit!
Let us Honor the Father in Worship!
In closing, this Psalm is a picture of gratitude. Did you notice that David never asked for anything! This is an important aspect of worship. There should be a time in the scope of our worship where we don’t ask, but simply bless.
And in doing so, we will not dishonor but honor the Father in our worship.
Many of you know the story of John Newton and the song he penned “Amazing Grace”. You know of his conversion to Christ and how he left the slave trade. He went on to pastor for 40 years. What you may not know that even at 82 years of age, he never ceased to marvel at the grace of God that transformed him so completely. Shortly before his death he is quoted as proclaiming with a loud voice during a message, “My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things: That I am a great sinner and that Christ is a great Savior!” What amazing grace! May we worship like this to our last breath!
Let us Pray!
God we bless you! For your steadfast love and mercy, for your righteousness and justice! May the earthly fathers in this service and those who hear this message, reflect your character and your service in their homes before their wives, before their kids and grandkids, to their neighbors and in their workplaces and even to the stranger. May God help us to honor you for the sake of the Gospel and Jude 24–25 (ESV) — 24 Now to God our Father who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever.