Tuesday, January 02, 2018

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me bless his holy name, Bless the Lord O my soul and do not forget all his benefits—who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 103:1-5 (NRSV). 

Brothers and Sisters, this psalm reminds us in a special way about God’s abundant goodness and our need to be thankful. Indeed! we should be thankful to God for bringing us into another New Year.

There are of course some people who believe that there is no need to thank God. For some, their success was all due to their own hard work and efforts. For others, they focus on the negative things in their lives and in the world, and blame God for it. Why does God not do something to help them and this world with all its struggles and challenges?

Yet, if you are one of those people who struggle to thank God, be assured that in your quiet moments, many, many reasons can come to you as to why you should give thanks to God.

David the one who wrote this psalm is listing some of the reasons why he gives God many thanks in his psalm. He begins by encouraging his “soul”, that is himself, to remember and appreciate all the many good things in his life, which he knows are gifts from a good God, who loves and cares for him.

What about you? – If you have not done so already, take some time this New Year 2018, and think! Remember! Appreciate! Say the psalm like David, and be thankful!

Let us recall all the good things we have benefitted from in our lives, Let us remember to look beyond the gifts we have received from God, who is the real giver of all that is good in our lives. Let us remember what he has done for us and will continue to do for us in this New Year and be thankful. Indeed! it is with all our being, -- our mind, our heart, our spirit that we must engage in thanking God. Every good thing we have is from God, and from him alone.  There is nothing in our lives that we have gained on our own, it is all a gift from him. Let us remember God’s greatest gift of all this New Year, for God has shown us how much he loves us when he gave us the gift of Jesus, his own son, so that Jesus would give his life, to save us.  Let us remember that it is God who defines our present and future outcomes. Present circumstances and environments must not stop us from thanking God; events of nations today and no matter the difficulties we face, must not stop us thanking God. This New Year, let us respect the vulnerable and the needy. Let us do something productive to help the Country. We can all work together to make a brighter future for others. We too, like God, must love each other and help each other. Let us pray for The Gambia and give God thanks for all who live and work here.

The psalmist continues to bless and praise the Lord because he heals all our diseases! This does not mean that we never become sick, but it does mean that God is always with us in our time of need, and whenever we are healed, it is he who has done the healing, whether through human medicine or through his miraculous healing power.

And there are more reasons to be thankful! The psalmist continues, “Bless, the Lord…, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy!” (Ps.103:4)  What the psalmist talks about here is God’s salvation of our soul, of our spiritual life. What the psalmist talks about is forgiveness and mercy, about redeeming us from the judgment of God against sin, about redeeming us from hell. Yes, so often God has delivered us from physical harm and danger. These include crimes, deception, lies and manipulation. We therefore can find and experience God’s deliverance and goodness in these circumstances. But the most special act of redemption is that through Jesus, God gives us the gift of eternal life.

Nonetheless, God also wants to bless us with happiness and a long life here and now. He wants to crown us with his loving kindness and tender mercies here and now. He wants to bless us, so that we bless him with all our being. He wants to bless us, so that we, while we are still alive in this world, express our love and gratitude to him though generous acts of love and kindness to one another.

As God has supplied all of our own needs, as we have been receiving so much from him, our gratitude towards him compels us and encourages us to be generous and loving and caring towards others. As we celebrate God’s goodness to us this New Year, let us in turn be good to others. Only a life of generous love can give true satisfaction and success. As we give to others, God continues to give to us. Again, as the psalmist puts it, “our youth is renewed like the eagle’s!” God, by his grace and through the comfort of his Holy Spirit, recovers, fills and renews our energy and resources with new life, new joy, and new hope.  He will give us what we need for a happy life in the New Year 2018, for ourselves, our families and for all around us as we contribute to the common good of all in our society and the world as a whole.

Let us pray for God’s blessings on all those who hold responsibility in government and the National Assembly and in all public offices. Let us also pray for businesses, especially new start-ups and for those who work to improve the infrastructure of the country.  Let us pray for the young people in the country that they may find meaning, strength and hope in their lives.

May God grant all of us good health, prosperity, long life and peace.

On behalf of the Methodist Church The Gambia, I wish you a Happy and blessed New Year 2018.  Amen.