Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

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18 Telling Him Thanks – Part 2

Psalms 95:1-95:11

1 Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. 3 For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. 4 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. 5 The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. 6 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, 7 for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today! 8 The Lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. 9 For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with them, and I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ 11 So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

Not only is Psalm 95 an invitation to rejoice but it is also a call to:

  • Reverence

Verse 6 and the first part of verse 7 are a call to reverence: “Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, 7 for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.” Here there is a deliberate change in tone, from enthusiastic, exuberant songs of joy to awe-inspired reverence before the Redeemer. We are called to move from praise to prostration. From worshippers standing in God’s presence, shouting forth our praise in verses 1 and 2, to worshippers falling face down or on bended knee before Him, in verse 6. Worship involves both an outward and animated rejoicing as well as inward and speechless reverence. Not only does the mood of the Psalm change, but so does its focus, from God our Creator to God our Savior and Shepherd. We are the people of His pasture, the Fathers flock, under His constant and compassionate care. He is our loving shepherd who knows the sheep personally and keeps them secure. As the sheep acknowledge His leadership they should submit to the shepherd. Bowing and kneeling gets us low before Him, which is really the essence of worship. It’s is the example set by the three kings as they sought the Savior in Mathew 2:11 “They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him” We must accept our place before Him while we acknowledging His place before us. It is interesting that the call for rejoicing is based upon God’s sovereignty as Creator, while the call for reverence is based upon relationship. You would think that this would be the other way around, that we would rejoice over our relationship and stand in awe because of His mighty deeds of creation. Yet the deeper our relationship goes with God, the more profound our sense of awe and reverence should be. This correlation between shepherd and submission is clearly seen in the lives of the disciples. In Luke 5:8 after Jesus had performed a miracle, providing more fish than the fisherman knew what to do with, it says, “Peter fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “…Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” Experiencing the shepherds caring hand should result in greater submission and reverence. Those with little reverence for God most likely have little intimacy with Him. Knowing Him involves fearing Him, not being afraid, but a reverent fear; intimacy should create an authentic fear not flippancy toward the Father. Does your worship involve both expressive rejoicing and contemplative reverence? Does it involve both praise and prostration, shouts and silence, happiness and holiness, rejoicing and reverence? Along with a call to rejoice, and revere there is also a call to:

  • Respond

The last part of verse 7 says, “If only you would listen to his voice today” Here we see the invitation to respond. I love how the Message states this:  “Drop everything and listen, listen as He speaks and don’t turn a deaf ear.” Here we see another change in the Psalm, this time in the one who is speaking, we go from the call and challenge of the Psalmist, to the command of God. It is here that God reminds us of our response to worship. Worship involves more than just saying that we love Him, it involves listening to His voice. Worship is more than just octaves it involves obedience. True worship is more than just singing, it’s living out what we hear. In verses 8 through 11 God warns us of the dangers of a hard heart using several illustrations from Israel’s history. In verse 8 the Lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness.” Massah and Meribah are more than just geographical names; they depict the sinful attitudes that characterized the conduct of God’s people, people with hardened hearts. Massah is a Hebrew word for test where Meribah comes from the word for strife, and means arguing. In Exodus 17 we see the first instance of Massah and Meribah, God had just set His people free from the bondage of Egypt through 10 plagues and the parting the Red Sea. They responded in chapter 15 by rejoicing and praising Him for His provision, singing about their salvation. But shortly afterward, when the Israelites began to thirst in the desert they started to grumble, it is here at Marah that God sweetened their water and gave them both manna and meat to eat. Not long later in chapter 17 the people became angry with Moses and grumbled once again because they were out of water to drink. How quickly they forgot about God’s power to provide, and when Moses reminded them that their grumbling was really against God they threatened to stone him to death. As Moses cried out, God instructed him to strike the rock with his rod, and as he obeyed, water gushed forth to fill the people. This place was named Massah and Meribah because the people had grumbled and tested God. The next account is found in Numbers 20 where only the term Meribah is used. While this event seems very similar to the one in Exodus, it happens almost 40 years later, as the people are about to enter into the Promised Land. Again we find God’s people grumbling and complaining because there is no water. Again they resort to rebellion, instead of remembering the power and provision of their God. Again Moses seeks the face of God, and again God gives clear instruction, this time telling Moses to speak to the rock so that water will come out. Instead of obeying God, in his anger Moses scolds the people and strikes the rock with his staff, instead of speak to it. While water still flows forth from the rock, God indicts Moses in verse 12 for his disobedience: “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.” The result of Moses rebellion was a loss of leadership. In Exodus 17, it was the people who sinned while in Numbers 20, it was both the people and their leaders. These two accounts reveal a common problem that every generation faces; we are all prone to grumble at God. There is a difference between depending on God and demanding of God. Are you calling on Him to meet your needs or trying to coerce Him into satisfying your wants? When things don’t go your way is grumbling your go to? A thankful heart trusts His heart and doesn’t turn to grumbling and complaining. Our thankful worship is seen both by our rejoicing and by our reverence. It is based on both His sovereignty as our Creator and His sufficiency as our Shepherd. Verses 7-11 remind us that wholehearted obedience is the evidence of true worship. If we worship God as our Shepherd then we must submit and follow Him as the sheep of His pasture. Worship without obedience is worthless. Is your thankfulness resulting in rejoicing, reverence, and a response of obedience?