“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”
Psalm 95: 6-7
Psalm 95 (& Exodus 17: 1-7)
This Psalm is a call to worship that harbours a sincere warning. As you read the first verses you can almost hear the church bells calling God’s people to worship on a beautiful Sunday morning. Verses that lift the soul! It is a Psalm that appears to be attributed to David (Hebrews 4: 7).
The call to worship focuses the people on who God is and what He has done (3-5). This reality means the people can come to Him with genuine joy and thankfulness, desiring to truly praise Him (1-2). This because of the beautiful relationship they have with their God who is like a shepherd to the sheep, caring and providing for His people (6-7).
As such the people need to humbly bow before God (6), heed His voice (7a) and walk in His way (10b); their hearts must belong to God. Here is where the warning comes in. The people are reminded about their ancestors who quarreled, grumbled against God and tested Him. The Psalm links back to Exodus 17: 1-7. The people had been miraculously saved from slavery in Egypt by God. They had just left the appropriately named Desert of Sin and promptly fell into sin when they ran out of water. Their hearts wandered away and they were ready to stone Moses their leader. In grace, God provided water from the rock for them. The people however did not enter God’s rest nor, that generation, the Promised Land.
God provides liberation from sin and entry into His Kingdom with a new life for us. He has brought living waters (the Holy Spirit) from the Rock of Jesus Christ. We need to give our hearts to God in faith to enter this covenantal relationship with the Good Shepherd where we can receive His care and provision.
Here is where the choice of bikes come in! There are potentially two cycles of behaviour at play here; the cycle of bitterness or the cycle of blessing. In the first our hearts wander from God, this lack of faith leads to grumbling and quarrelling. We test God and do not enter into His rest; this can become a cycle of bitterness in our lives, one where joy is absent. On the second bike we give our hearts to God and put our faith in Him. We praise Him for who He is and what He has done. This causes us to humble ourselves before Him, worship Him and walk in His ways. This is the cycle of blessing that brings us into His rest – real peace of mind heart and soul, a life with genuine joy.
The Questions of Application
These last two years have really challenged us. It is easy for us to lose our joy and thankfulness, grumble and fall into a cycle of bitterness. If however we keep our eyes on God and stand in faith on the rock we can genuinely know God’s blessing and rest. Which bike are you on at the moment?
Almighty God, creator of all, we give you thanks for a world full of wonder, but above all because you have called us into a holy fellowship with you and with each other. Guide us in the ways of this your new creation, rooted and grounded in Jesus Christ the Rock and through Him we ask for living waters to keep us in your rest and enable us in this new life. Lord we give you our hearts, care for them and keep them from wandering. Amen
Rock of ages cleft for me by Chris Rice
Lead me to the Rock by David Baloche
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In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.