Third Sunday after Epiphany           26 January 2020 A.D.

Third Sunday after Epiphany     26 January 2020 A.D.     Morning Prayer

Psalm 103          First lesson. Isaiah 54:1-8                    Second lesson. Romans 14:1-15:3

                                          Almighty and everlasting God, mercifully look upon
                                           our infirmities, and in all our dangers and necessities
                                          stretch forth thy right hand to help and defend us;
                                          through Jesus Christ our Lord.             Amen.

                                          O God, who by the leading of a star didst manifest thy
                                          Only-begotten Son to the Gentiles; Mercifully grant
                                          that we, who know thee now by faith, may after this life
                                          have the fruition of thy glorious Godhead; through the
                                          same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.             Amen.

  In these twenty-two verses that make up Psalm 103 the reader journeys through the whole plan of the Lord for His creation {imago dei}.  We travel from words of praise, songs of praise, a soul in praise to the listing of blessings and benefits of those who call upon the Lord.  In this journey we pass everything that can affect a believer, everything that can burden one who calls the Lord their own, and yet, in spite of all of that, the psalmist calls out in absolute certainty of this one promise. That in no way will any sin or transgression will be held against us, because the Lord has removed that damaging element from us, so much so that His mercy shall be afforded us. “11For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us”. 
 This seems like such strange behavior towards someone who has transgressed the very holiness of God.  Why would such a holy God give us such benefits?  
 Because He knows who we are. “Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him.”    Really?  Our creator treats us as His children?   Why is that such a stretch?  

Every aspect of God the Father is about loving His creation, created in His image.  

 1. So first the Lord redeems us. He calls us to Him. He heals us. “Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The LORD executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed.”

2. Then He reveals Himself to us by various means, nature and by angelic messengers in the past and now by the very Word that He gave us, the Bible; He reveals His plan for us.   
  Down through history God has made His ways known to man. It has been made abundantly clear over the years.  “He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel.  The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” 
  Think of the wonder of what the Lord has done for His creation, mankind. He has a covenant with us that thankfully He keeps, not us, for we do not have the moral fiber to maintain something so sacred. And after that covenant is kept, He continues the same forever. Everlasting to everlasting, in the very real sense that Jesus promised His disciples (and us), that He was going to prepare a place for us to be, that “where I am you will be”.  That is written in the present/future tense, in other words FOREVER. 

“ But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children's children; To such as keep his covenant, and to those that remember his commandments to do them. The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
Bless the LORD, ye his angels, that excel in strength, that do his commandments, hearkening unto the voice of his word.”

 He knows that we are weak, but dust, physically having no fortitude to last for long, and yet He reaches down through the ages and saves us.  We have an advocate, one who is there in our place, to redeem and keep us forever.  “For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more.”

3. So in conclusion of this study of the 103rd psalm we can find rest and assurance in the following few verses: “Bless ye the LORD, all ye his hosts; ye ministers of his, that do his pleasure. Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion: bless the LORD, O my soul.”  
  We can use the very first verse to close the study: “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.”
We should always bless the Lord for He is our Rock and Redeemer.   As we daily feed upon the very Word of the Lord let us praise God for all that He is to us, for all that He has done for us, for His saving grace, blessing unbounded, His creation, the very earth that we live upon.

 Let us pray:

O LORD Jesus Christ, who didst say to thine Apostles, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; Regard not our sins, but the faith of thy Church, and grant it that peace and unity which is agreeable to thy will; who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

O ALMIGHTY God, look mercifully upon the world, redeemed by the blood of thy dear Son, and send forth many more to do the work of the ministry, that perishing souls may be rescued, and thy glorious triumph may be hastened by the perfecting of thine elect through the same thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE Lord bless us, and keep us: the Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us: the Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, both now and for evermore. Amen.