The Upper Room devotional reflection for Saturday, November 21, 2020 comes to us from Tom Johnson of Nevada
Psalm 103:1-13 1 Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits— 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
Psalm 103;10, 12 (NRSV) [The Lord] does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities … as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
I’ve said and done many things I’m not proud of in my life. When I consider these transgressions, I wish I could go back in time and skip committing them in the first place. But I cannot retract my hurtful words or actions, and I cannot reasonably anticipate forgiveness from those I have offended. However, I can make a commitment to do better going forward.
When I read Psalm 103, I imagine David isolated, living with the consequences of his own quite serious transgressions, for which he offers no excuses. The words of the psalm make me believe that David regretted his misbehavior but took solace in knowing that God removes and casts our sins away from us “as far as the east is from the west.” I like this perspective: that from God’s viewpoint our sins are out of sight.
So when we have misgivings over our past iniquities, we don’t have to dwell on them. Instead of living in fear of retribution, we can focus on God’s loving mercy and kindness.
Prayer Focus: Those Regretting Past Offenses
Prayer: Loving God, thank you for your infinite patience and forgiveness. Help us to extend the same forgiveness to others that you have extended to us. Amen.
Thought for the Day: No matter my past, God’s loving mercy is for me.
— Tom Johnson
Tom Johnson faithfully focuses on David as a classic example of God’s all forgiving love for each and for all of us without exceptions, no matter the circumstances. Similarly, Paul, author of a large part of the New Testament, is fully restored to God’s service through Christ, after persecuting many followers of Christ, even condoning murder.
Thus, we are reminded that God is all-forgiving, and restores our souls, no matter what our transgressions. Having been forgiven, we can forgive, and return to service in God’s world.