Thought for the Week - 2nd SeptemberPastor Gareth Watkins
Psalm 95: 1-7
Oh come, let us sing to the Lord!
Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.
Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.
Oh come, let us worship and bow down;
Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.
For He is our God,
And we are the people of His pasture,
And the sheep of His hand.
Today, if you will hear His voice
This Psalm shows our position as Christians, as the people of His pasture. It says that we’re the people of His pasture, and that we are the sheep of His hand. We are the people He watches over. We’re the flock He takes care of. This Psalm describes the provision, protection and blessings that give us an edge of security all about us as Christians.
In our Church on Sunday, we heard people giving testimonies of God looking after their circumstances and giving a Word – His voice – into the circumstance that they were in, at a specific time.
He is our God. We are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. If we look at Luke, we read of Christ being the Good Shepherd. We also read that the sheep know His voice (John 10: 4). They know the voice of the Shepherd and the direction the Shepherd wants them to go. Unfortunately today, there are many Christians who don’t know the voice of God. Many other voices reign in their life.
This Psalm is for those who regard themselves as His sheep and the people of His pasture, and the ones who are fed and nurtured by Him. They listen to God’s voice and go God’s way. They’re not lost people. They are part of this pasture, part of God’s provision, and the sheep of His hand where He in turn looks after Him. The people of the world who are non-sheep, who are lost, are in a much worse place altogether – where they’re not looked after, not fed, and don’t have that voice coming to them protecting them, guiding them, and guarding them, as we get.
This passage is for those people who find God. For the people who know God as the people of God, in His pasture, being fed by God Himself.
What a wonderful passage! God our creator, the maker of heaven and earth, has made a people for Himself. We are those people! We can read it in this Psalm. And we know it in our heart because our testimonies reflect what it says in the scripture, and reflects the intentions of God.
This type of people began with Abraham, the children of Israel, with Jesus, and the nation of Israel. It continues down to our days. Do we agree with that, or is it just a story that may or may not be true? God had those people. He had the faith of Abraham, Samson, David and all the people who went before, and the nation of Israel. It comes over to the times of Christ, and then into the times of us. This passage is for those people and those nations who will kneel before God their maker as this one who is their shepherd. The one who feeds the sheep out of His hand.
Unfortunately, a lot of churches don’t believe in that way anymore. They seem to believe that the bible is not all true. They seem to believe that certain parts of stories in the bible are just myths. This for me is absolute reality. We are the ones who God’s way.
This is a key for spiritual life. If you want to be successful spiritually in life, this sort of passage is one of the keys for successful Christian living. To be successful in Christian living, we have to know God, know His voice, and let Him be the shepherd to His sheep. Where we listen to His voice, where we go where He wants, where we feed from the spiritual food we’re meant to feed from. This passage is for us as His people, who are being spiritually successful. We are spiritually successful and spiritually alive when we put the priorities in place. That God is our God, and we are His people in His pasture, and we’re fed from His hand.
Unfortunately, many churches seem to want to refuse to go the way of the Shepherd. Many people refuse to go the way of God. The bible is full of stories to that effect – the ones who refuse the words of God. Think of Adam and Eve. They refused the word of God not to eat the fruit of the tree. And the consequences became theirs to endure. If they’d listened to the Shepherd, they wouldn’t have eaten from the tree, and the problems that came because of that wouldn’t have come. But they entertained the thought and ate of the tree, and the trouble and sin that came into their lives and the lives of humanity continues to this day.
We are the same. We don’t think enough of the consequences if we refuse the word of God and go our own way. Adam and Eve. Cain and Abel. Samson and Delilah. The Children of Israel. The nation of Israel. All of these people had this point in common – God was there before them, He was their maker, He was the Shepherd of those sheep, but they chose another route. What happened to the children of Israel? They wandered around the desert for forty years. Why? Because they were disobedient to the voice of God. God has His own ways. We can be as disobedient as we like, but God will still be God.
The voice of God is the voice of God. The Saviour, the shepherd all in place. Individuals are accountable and even nations are accountable. God is there over us as individuals, and over the whole nation. The atmosphere changes when the individuals listen to God and when the nations listen to God.
This passage shows that we’re His people, the sheep of His pasture and fed from His hand. Is this important or can we listen to our own voices? We can listen to our own voices and do our own things, but the results will be what the results will be. That’s not the plan for successful Christian living that God has for us.
God has not altered. He provides warnings. For example, in Hosea 4:6 we read “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. That is a warning. Because we don’t know enough about God, the people will perish. People at large are perishing and they don’t know what from. We see poverty and lack in the homes around us. The starting point is the nation being disrespectful and not listening to the voice of God. And then the individuals – the parents, and the parents that have gone before. The town and the society. All disrespecting and not listening to the voice of the Shepherd. And so, the blessing of God is not there in those lives as we find it in our lives.
God has His plans. God has His ways. We can either choose to be part of it or not. It’s going to come out whether we like it or not. If you go to some countries you can feel the atmosphere on the people. Go to the communist bloc countries and you feel the atmosphere of fear and intimidation. The KGB were dreadful. 1 in 3 was an informer to the Stasi. They’d round people up and take them away. It wasn’t so long ago that the Berlin Wall was taken down, but we forget – we’re very comfortable in our comfortable country. In it all, God will be God.
The warning exists – “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” – and perish they will. The nations will perish for lack of knowledge.
In Hebrews 12: 25 we read “See that you do not refuse Him who speaks”. God warns individual’s right down the generations not to ignore these passages. Don’t ignore God who speaks. Be careful and take care that you don’t refuse or shut out God who speaks. And yet that is what people in the world thinks that they can do. The nations of the world as a rule don’t want to hear the things of God. The people in the world as a majority don’t want to listen to the one who speaks. They refuse to go God’s way. The results are in the houses around us, and in the world around us. The world is in chaos with more wars than we can think of. We would think that people would be better to one another now, but we are no better than any other time throughout history. And yet God is God.
We witness the decay of the family. People are working harder and harder, yet are getting poorer and poorer. We witness humanitarian crises everywhere. Locally we see drug addicts, alcoholics and homeless people everywhere. Streets and streets are filled with houses owned by someone else, where people don’t work, where drugs are delivered by bicycle and places where people dare not walk. Why are these things happening?
It comes back to this word. He is our God. We are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. It’s a word for the Christians. It’s also word for everyone else, but they need to listen to that word. They need to listen to the fact that God is there. Even if they don’t want to listen, God still created the heavens and the earth. They are the created being. God is there speaking.
God is speaking to you, me, this area, and this town. It’s up to us to listen to the one who speaks.
We’re the sheep of His pasture. Is God still there for these people? Yes, He very much is! He still for everybody out there? Yes He is! God isn’t just for the Christian people. Whoever comes to God can find Him, and He will speak to them! When God does speak to them, He brings a richness to their life, a protection and a purpose for their life. Yet people still want to go their own way.
Read the stillness and blessing in this Psalm. “Oh come, let us worship and bow down”. There’s a loveliness in worshiping and singing. The people in the world don’t appreciate the loveliness of singing to God, and being joyful. There’s a happiness and a joyfulness found within the house of God. We don’t have to pay to find that happiness. We can come to church, listen to God, sing praises, be joyful and be in the presence of God Himself. The lord is great, He is the King! God can do these things everywhere – He is the God above all gods! He is above the nations, the wars, the famines, and the catastrophes. Our God is over everything!
Have confidence in Him. We’ve seen Him be victorious in so many lives and so many situations. Have confidence that He will see you through all the days of your life. He is God! In the midst of all these things, we – in spite of all these things – need to listen to God. We need to be the people of His pasture. The ones who are fed by His hand.
We hear rhetoric coming from America about troubles and trade wars. Who’s going to guard you through these times? It won’t be Mr Trump. He’ll look after Mr Trump. He’s only interested in himself and his country. God is in control over all the nations and societies, even though they seem to be going out of control. God says He is in the charge of the end from the beginning. Do you believe that?
In Isaiah 46: 9-10 we read:
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
He is God, there is no other. The people can say what they want. The other religions can do what they like. He is God and His word stands. That is what He says. We are able to find God wherever we are – the gods of another country can never get in the way of our God. The life and presence of God will always flow in those places, no matter the laws and persecution.
Remember that He is God. There is none like Him. He declares the beginning from the end. He declares the things that are not yet done. God is still God over all of these things. Remember these things when the voices get quite, the buffeting comes and other voices come. Because in the midst of it all, God is still God.
The Shepherd will protect you and feed you. You will feel the joy and happiness of God in difficult times. You will feel the desire to sing, life your hands, and all the lovely things God brings. Because God Himself is feeding you. If you keep on following after the voice of God, and doing what He says, then you will be safe. The world at large doesn’t know that or want that. But our destiny and our place of belonging isn’t contained by the things of this world. Our destiny and future belonging is this place, where God Himself speaks things into being. It’s incredible!
Our place is to go into that place where God Himself is speaking.
We can trust Him. This physical life will come and go, and might go through difficult times, but He can be trusted. He is like no other God. He declares the old things and the things that are yet to come.
Be encouraged. It’s up to us to listen. When we listen we will go His way and we will be fed unto eternity by Him Himself.