(This devotion is day seven of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read Psalm 103
Sometimes we forget how good we have it. We believe the “grass is greener somewhere else” lie. Or like children bored with their toys, apathy for God’s blessings sets in.
This could be true of material or spiritual things. Gratitude for answered prayer fades. Spiritual lessons learned through God’s curriculum of truth and trials must be learned again. The gifts we have through Christ, the adoption as sons and daughters of the Father, and the power or comfort through the Holy Spirit become old news. “Forgetfulness and ingratitude go hand in hand.”
Forgetfulness happens unless we intentionally keep memories fresh. David seeks to do this by taking a spiritual inventory for Israel. A retail-store employee might walk through each aisle, noting what’s on the shelf. In Psalm 103, David begins a series of Psalms taking stock of God’s love and faithfulness by strolling through Israel’s history. He reminds them what God has done for them and all they have in Him.
You and I need spiritual reminders. If we’re not careful, familiarity with biblical truths can lead to a calloused heart. The shine of God’s gifts wear out if we’re not regularly polishing them through refreshing our memories.
For hearts that grow cold because they’re not warming themselves over the fires of gratitude, Psalm 103 supplies the oxygen to stoke the flames. Consider again who God is, what He’s done for you, and all that you have in Him. “Forget not all his benefits” (Psalm 103:2).
This psalm of praise bookends with the plea, “Bless the Lord, O my soul!” We can’t recount everything in between, so I encourage you to pray through it on your own. Read a phrase or verse, consider where you’ve experienced this truth of God, and tell Him thank you.
Here are a few prompts to get us started.
Praise God for His holiness (103:1). A person’s name captures who they are. God’s “holy name” tells us holiness defines Him to His core. He is perfect and pure. There isn’t the slightest impurity in Him. There’s nothing in God but goodness, righteousness, justice, and the full perfection of all His attributes. As God, He is separate from us; above and beyond us. He is the high and exalted one, and with the angels we fall on our face and cry “Holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 4:8).
God forgives all your iniquities or sins (103:3). If you’re not a believer in Christ, you can be forgiven. If you are a believer in Christ, you have been forgiven. You are forgiven, not just for some things but fully and forever. Jesus took your sin on himself at the cross (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24). There is no sin too big or too dark that his perfect blood can’t wash away. It might sound like one of those too good to be true infomercials, but God has promised it to be true.
Today, because you are forgiven and accepted through Christ’s righteousness, God is for you. There is no condemnation for us (Romans 8:1). We should feel no guilt or shame—despite our enemy trying to heap it on us—because Jesus erased our guilt and shame. He didn’t sweep it under the rug but carried them on his two shoulders.
Even death itself loses its ultimate sting. We will live with Jesus forever because he dealt with our sin and its penalty. Jesus removes our chains and unlocks our prison-cell so we can live in the freedom he purchased.
A few verses later, David writes, “He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:10–12). Forgiveness of sin rises to the top of the list of benefits not to forget. Thank God for planning, purchasing, and providing such a gift.
God also “heals all your diseases” (103:3). This can include physical healing (see Matthew 8:14–17), something many Christians experience. But throughout the Bible, this phrase also refers to God restoring or healing something in our life. We are like Mr. or Mrs. Potato Head, always falling apart and broken in some way. God makes us whole and puts us back together, little by little.
This phrase likely connects to the first half of the verse and the mention of our iniquities, or sins (see Isaiah 53:5). Though our sin corrupts, wounds, and hurts us, God by His wonderful grace restores and heals us. “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3)
The Bible gives us the mental picture of God being a good Shepherd, who carries His sheep safely to a place He can fix them up. “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak” (Ezekiel 34:15–16; see also Jeremiah 3:22; Hosea 14:4).
Where have you experienced God’s healing or restoration in your life? What wounds has He lovingly cared for? What work has He done in you?
Don’t forget these benefits. Give thanks.
That’s only the first three verses, but I hope it provides a model of how we might meditate on it with gratitude. Read through this Psalm and respond in prayers of praise and thanksgiving.
 Nancy Leigh DeMoss, Choosing Gratitude (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2009), 54 on kindle.