Where Do We Belong?

(Psalm 100)

Polar bears live in the polar regions of the North. They're designed to live in the cold. Apparently their fur insulates so well they overheat above 10 C. Psalm 147:17 says that God "casts forth His ice as fragments" and asks "Who can stand before His cold?" Certainly polar bears can.

Across the ocean in Southern central China panda bears live in a warmer climate than their polar bear cousins. They eat different food, like bamboo shoots, and they look different. They don't belong in the polar regions, they belong in China.

Above you on a clear night, you can see another bear, "The Great Bear" constellation, Ursa Major ("ursa" is bear in Latin). This bear belongs in the sky. Job 9:9 says that God "is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south." He gave the stars their own places. The "Big Dipper" is part of the "The Great Bear." It is always there where it should be. It belongs in the sky.

God gave all His creatures their own places in Creation. Everything belongs somewhere. Sea shells belong at the sea. Meadow Larks have a place in meadows. Mountain lions belong in mountains. But people? Many people feel they don't belong anywhere. Many people long for a place to belong. Many people are restless and will travel far to search for a place to belong.

I once met a young man travelling. He was tired of the crowds where he lived and was moving across the country to another place. I asked if he knew anyone in the new place. He said, "No." Did he have a job? "No." Did he have a place to stay? "No." He was willing to leave the familiar and put up with uncertainty to find a place where he thought he could belong.

There are many voices out there in the world calling us to belong . We often hear the "C'mon on down" voice. "C'mon down to our blow-out sale." "C'mon on down and buy what you want." "Up grade." "Keep up in a world of materialism." Is this really where we belong?

Another voice says "Come on over and have fun." "C'mon on down to the Mardi Gras" ("Fat Tuesday" in French). The day before "Lent," a holiday when some people give up things, comes a call to indulge. Voices call to have fun and be entertained. "Come online and see things you shouldn't." "Come offshore and gamble." "Take a chance." "Live a little." Is this really where we belong?

Many other voices call out to us. They call for our attention, time and energy. But where do we ultimately belong?

There is another voice, a calm and assuring voice, that says to us, "Come before Him" (Psalm 100:2). Come before His presence.

Who is He? Psalm 100:1 says He's the LORD. He is Yahweh. He is the Existing One. He is the One who has always been. He is the maker of heaven and earth. He made the constellations, the Great Bear, Orion and Pleiades. Could He have made a place for us? Could this be where we belong, before Him?

This strong and confident voice says "Come" and "Know" in Psalm 100:3. Know "that the LORD Himself is God." He is God of Gods, Lord of Lords, Creator of heaven and earth. He is unlike other gods. He is not like the small voices of the world or Satan who shouts, wanting our attention and our lives. God can shout too. Joel 3:16 and Amos 1:2 say "The LORD roars from Zion." Now He deserves our attention. Though God can roar, He speaks to us most often through the calm and confident voice of His Spirit through the words of Scripture.

This calm and confident voice says, "Come and know what He is like." In verse five He says "the LORD is good, His lovingkindness is everlasting, His faithfulness to all generations." God is good. His gracious steadfast love seeks and gives what is good for us. Can we entrust ourselves to belong to someone like this?

The voice says "Come" and know that "It is He who made us and not we ourselves!" "We are His," "We are His people" (100:2). Peter tells us that we are part of His royal household, a chosen race, a people for His possession (1 Peter 2:9). Our Heavenly Father owns the universe, the earth, and everything in it (Psalm 24:1). Don't we belong to Him and with Him?

Come and know that "We are the sheep of His pasture" (100:3). Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Chief Shepherd and Guardian of our souls ( 2 Peter 2:25). He laid down His life for us on the cross for our forgiveness, to cleanse His lambs. He wants us to repent so He may lead us into fellowship with our Father. When we are baptized, immersed, into Him we receive the Spirit of our Shepherd. Shepherds lead, sheep follow. Cattle are herded but sheep learn the voice of their shepherd and follow. Sheep flock together for protection and follow their shepherd in a group. Jesus leads us to "Come before Him."

What does it look like when God's people, the sheep of His pasture "come before Him"? Psalm 100 is a beautiful picture of joyful worship and service in His presence:

1 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Serve the LORD with gladness;
    Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 Know that the LORD Himself is God;
    It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
    We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
    And His courts with praise.
    Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the LORD is good;
    His lovingkindness is everlasting,
    And His faithfulness to all generations.

Is this not where we belong, before Him, worshipping Him? Our place in the universe that Yahweh made for us is with Him, worshipping Him. Notice that He is calling all nations. We can worship Him anywhere in the world, our place is not limited to one land. In evangelism, telling the good news, we encourage others to "come before Him." The gates into His kingdom are a meeting place where we gather with each other as His church to share what matters in life. His courts are where God's people gather before him to worship.

The voice calls us to "serve the LORD with gladness," not just in formal worship but with our whole lives. In Acts 9:39 we learn how Dorcas served by making coats and garments for others. Lending to the poor serves God's purposes. Proverbs 19:17 says, "One who is gracious to a poor man lends to the LORD, And He will repay him for his good deed." James says that pure religion is to visit orphans and widows (James 1:27). Wherever we are: together in worship, in the market place, at recreation, with people we meet at work or play we are with Him, our whole lives are acts of worship to Him.

The calm and strong voice in this Psalm calls us to shout, to serve, to come, to know, to enter, to give thanks. It is also a Psalm of thanksgiving. We have a lot to be thankful for. We are thankful for our place in His presence. We have a place to belong. We belong with him. God has made us and called us his own. God has prepared a place for us. He sent Jesus to bring us back before him. He is coming again to claim us. In Psalm 100 we can hear Yahweh calling us to come to Him. We are His. We belong with Him.

Paul Birston

July 2007©

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