Hard hearts and ungrateful sheep

I don’t praise God enough. I get so caught up in the busy hustle and bustle of my life that many times I forget how good I’ve got it. And even in the dark times in my life, I’m still blessed. But I lose focus so quickly and I forget Who is responsible for blessing me.

And then I read a passage like today’s–Psalm 95:6-7.

 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!

The rest of this Psalm is pretty amazing too and I’d recommend reading it if you have time.

I’m not much of a kneeled, honestly. I don’t do a lot of bowing. At least, not on the outside. For me personally, I just feel like kneeling or bowing during worship draws too much attention. Now, have I done it? Yes. On a few occasions–more during prayer than worship. And do I mind when other folks do it? Absolutely not. That’s between them and God, and some people express their emotions more physically than others. Me? Not so much. But that’s between me and God. And I can tell you that while I may not be kneeling on the outside, during worship I’m usually on my face on the inside.

Worship has so much to do with humility. If you can step back and seriously look at what God has done for you, you can’t help but be humbled. Realize, the God of the Universe loves you–sacrificed His Son for you–wants to be your friend–wants to help you–wants to spend eternity with you. What? I mean, what good thing did I ever do to deserve that sort of regard? The answer is nothing. I did nothing worthy of God’s love; just as I can’t do anything to lose it.

This Psalm goes so far as to compare us to a flock of sheep. Actually, the Bible compares us to sheep a lot–but then many times God is referred to as a shepherd, especially in the Psalms because that was something David could wrap his head around.

Shepherds in the Eastern world were different from shepherds in the West.  I can tell you sheep story after sheep story. I never understood the concept of why the Bible compared us to sheep until I raised them. They have to be the dumbest animals on the face of the planet. They’re right up there with turkeys.

But one of the major differences between Middle Eastern shepherds and us over here, around here, we chase our sheep (I ruined a good pair of pants during one of those pursuits). But in the East, sheep follow their shepherds. And shepherds will go to extreme lengths to protect their sheep too.

I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to be compared to a sheep, I want to make sure I’m in God’s flock. Because not all shepherds are as careful as He is.

Understanding what God has done for us truly will make you look at your life differently. Whenever I’m feeling sad or depressed or alone or discouraged, all I have to do is start listing the blessings in my life. And in five minutes I can have a paper the length of my arm, filled with all the good things God has given me–filled with things that have become very good when at first I thought they would be bad. Because God has a habit of working things out, especially the things that don’t seem like they’ll have any sort of positive resolution. Has anyone else noticed that?

If only we’d listen to God’s voice today. If only I’d listen to God’s voice today. He’s talking, you know. He never stops. And what He has to say is important because it will help us survive these trying, dangerous times we’re living in.

The thing about Psalm 95 is that it starts out by talking about everything God has done. It talks about why He deserves praise. And then we get to today’s passage, that we need to worship Him. And the Psalm concludes with a haunting reminder–about how the Israelites hardened their hearts against Him. And about how He was angry with them for 40 years.

God made the universe. He made the world. He made me. He formed the continents. He carved out the oceans. He breathed the winds into existence. He has control of everything, and what He allows to happen happens for a reason.

I don’t want to be like the Israelites, who hardened their hearts after they had seen everything God had done for them. I want to listen to God’s voice today and tomorrow and the day after that and every day afterward until He calls me home. I want to give Him the praise He deserves because without Him I would be nothing. I can’t make it through life without Him.