Word from Scotland
by Sandy Shaw
Psalm 95 begins with the Invitation - "Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord."
Here we have an invitation to come into the presence of the Lord God Almighty, the King of Kings - the risen and living and ascended Lord Jesus Christ.
There are certain invitations we receive which are pleasant to receive. We can even feel we have 'arrived' when invited to the certain occasions and be in the presence of particular people - and shake their hand and meet them.
The Psalmist says - Come let us sing for joy to the Lord – and, the singing is to the Lord - it is not for personal enjoyment - or to say, "We had a good time of worship today."
What does God think of it? What did He receive from our gathering together?
Come into the presence of the Living God - and sing and shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. This is such expressive imagery - the rock of shelter - support - safety - supply - all in a few simple words.
We are presented with the picture of thousands of visitors to Jerusalem on the hills surrounding the area where the people of God worshipped and sacrificed - and shouting aloud their worship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
v.2 . Let us come before Him with thanksgiving - extol Him with music and song.
The Psalmist almost cannot get all the words and thoughts and avenues of praise out quick enough. They just seem to tumble out and gush from him, as he encourages the People of God to worship.
Sing with holy enthusiasm - with reverent earnestness - and with abundant joy.
We can sing with gravity and exultation - with fervency and sobriety - with humility and confidence. God encourages us to express freely our praises and thanksgiving - and there is a spiritual release when we come before Him.
v.3 . The Lord is a great God. There are times when we need to be reminded of the greatness of our God. He is the Creator - Saviour - Comforter - the One Who calls and chooses and raises up men and women to serve Him and be His witnesses in the world.
He is the great King - above all gods. Our God is no limited local deity. Idolaters had many gods - the surrounding nations must have thought Israel strange to have only one God.
v.4 . In His hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to Him. If we are in the depths - or upon the spiritual heights - the Holy Spirit is there with us, ministering to us.
v.5 . The sea is His - for He made it. His hands formed the dry land. Our God is a Creator God. And the day He made water and the seas He was so generous.
v.6 . Come - let us bow down and worship - let us kneel before the Lord. Praise and thanksgiving lead on to worship. Worship is something quite different from Praise and Prayer and Thanksgiving. These occasions when we do enter into worship are precious.
In worship - every part of our being is involved - every area of our life - and our mind doesn't wander. We focus upon God and everything else pales in significance for a season.
To come into the throne room of the King of the Universe is indeed an honoured privilege - and through the Blood of Jesus we have that access and open door at any hour of the day or night.
There is a pathway here - where Praise and Thanksgiving lead us on into Worship and stillness. There is a sense of humble adoration here - where noise gives way to quietness as we bow before Him in the beauty of holiness.
He is our Maker - He is our God - we are the people of His pasture - and the flock under His care. Now - this refers specifically to Israel - but through Jesus, this arena of care, extends to include those who believe in Jesus Christ and who belong to Jesus Christ. When He is our God - we become the people of His pasture, where there is nourishing feeding and refreshing water.
Psalm 95 is quoted in Hebrews 3verse 7,4verse 7 - where it is said that God is speaking - so it is very much a Psalm for believers. In his mind he is thinking - the rock which Moses hit, and water poured forth - the Red Sea - the Tabernacle - and the mountains of Sinai.
v.8 . It is when we are worshipping and feeding upon the Word of God and receiving from the Holy Spirit, that something can happen. We can hear His voice. "If you hear His Voice - do not harden your hearts - as you did at Meribah - which means 'quarrelling' - as you did as Massah in the desert, which means 'testing' - where your fathers tested and tried Me - though they had seen what I did."
Quarrelling and Testing - they had seen what God had done - rescuing and delivering them out of bondage and slavery in Egypt- under the leadership of Moses.
The Psalmist has to warn the people of God against being wilfully, wantonly, repeatedly, obstinately rebellious. Even in the midst of this theme of worship the writer reminds us of what we can be like.
These are the dangers we face - we see Jesus at work - and then, we quarrel - or, we are tested and we resist and rebel and cause bother to our God.
"IF" - what an "IF" - we cannot repent too soon - because we never know how soon it will be too late. Life is short and uncertain - and there are dangers when we delay - the dangers of indifference - unbelief - just not bothering to pay attention - apathy - presuming all is well.
v.10 . For forty years I was angry with that generation - I said - "They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known My ways." There are times when God speaks about us - about His people - He looks at us - not unbelievers, but His called chosen ones who have seen Him in action - performing miracles - sending plagues and removing them - leadership provided - waters parted - enemies drowned - wicked ones destroyed - but within three days they found it hard to trust and rely upon Him to set them free.
v.11 . God became angry - it wasn't the unbelievers who caused Him to become angry - but His chosen ones who were right in the middle of an outpouring of His Mercy and Grace and Power.
God said they would not enter the Promised Land - and they didn't.
God always has a special time for us - and it is TODAY. Let the example of that unhappy generation who had experienced so much - be a warning to all of us.
Consider Israel's terrifying experiment of tempting God - the painful consequences - and the unlearned lesson. Some 40 years after Jesus died and rose and ascended - this people were cut off again - as Rome overran and conquered Jerusalem.
It is possible for believers in Jesus to react in similar ways. We can be so slow to learn and we are good at repeating former mistakes.
If we continue to Praise - as we continue in Thanksgiving and Worship - making an effort at times to do so - that will go a long way in protecting us from quarrelling and grumbling - which is displeasing to God.
It was a new generation who crossed the Jordan led by Joshua - and the other man who left Egypt and crossed the Jordan was Caleb.
There can be no rest to the unbelieving heart - and manna and miracles do not always result in service and obedience and discipleship.
The invitation to Worship is to us - just as the warning is to us - and Worship is the highest activity of which any human being is capable. Worship is something more than just what the individual does. It is an expression of the people of God - when worship can be so uplifting - strengthening - encouraging - releasing - as well as pleasing to God.
Worship is an attitude of the body - the whole inner being - with palms turned upward. "Thank you" in Hebrew is TUDAH - and is directly related to the hand.
Hebrew is a very physical language - hands outstretched with palms upward to say "Thank You" - and also to receive what HE may have to impart to you.
It is as we worship that a door can be opened whereby we might hear the voice of God - and receive encouragement - guidance - warning - direction.
“Almighty God – give us that desire – that longing – to worship You – lifting our hearts and hands and voices to praise and adore Your Holy Name. Father, we have so much to learn – teach us. So many new fresh experiences of Your grace and power – help us to enter in. Speak to us – draw us closer – invite us to come nearer. In Jesus’ name, we bow and praise and worship.” Amen.
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Alexander 'Sandy' Shaw is pastor of Nairn Christian Fellowship in Nairn, Scotland. Nairn is 17 miles east of Inverness - on the Moray Firth Coast - not far from the Loch Ness Monster!
Gifted as a Biblical teacher, Sandy is firmly committed to making sure that his teachings are firmly grounded in the Word.
Sandy has a weekly radio talk which can be heard via the Internet on Saturday at 11:40am, New Orleans time, at wsho.com.
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