Where Do I Belong?

Psalm 100

Each year in October and November polar bears walk through the town of Churchill on their annual migration path. Polar bears live in the polar area of the North. They’re designed to live in the cold. 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 the polar bear can. In the news recently there was a picture of a polar bear in the Berlin zoo during the heat wave when it was 36 °C. Zoo keepers gave him a block of ice to keep cool but he looked uncomfortable and out of place. Polar bears belong where it’s cold, in the polar regions.

Across the ocean in Southern and central China is where you can find panda bears living. They 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 to belong 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 don’t feel they belong anywhere. Many people long for a place to belong. Many people are restless and will travel and search for a place to belong.

On a recent trip, I met a young man travelling across the country. He was tired of the crowded area where he lived and didn’t feel he belonged there anymore. He was moving across the country to another place. When asked if he knew anyone there, he said, “No.” When asked if he had a job, he said “No.” When asked if he had a place to stay, he said “No.” He was willing to leave the familiar and put up with uncertainty to find a place where he could belong.

And there are many voices out there in the world calling us to belong in different places. 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. It’s a material world, get what you can. Up grade. Keep up. Is this really what it’s all about? Is this where I belong?

Another says “Come on over and have fun.” “C’mon on down to the Mardi Gras.” Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday” in French. The day before a holiday when some people give up things, get what you can. Come on, have fun. Come on and be entertained. Come online and see things you shouldn’t see. Come on offshore and gamble. Take a chance. Live a little. Is this really where I belong?

Other voices call out and say, “Come on in and join our group.” Be part of this community or that. Do what we do. Be part of our special interest. Is this where we belong? There are many voices in the world, calling, shouting for our attention.

There is another voice, a calm and assuring voice that says to us, “Come before Him.” “Come before Him.” It’s right there in Psalm 100:2. “Come before Him.” Come before His presence.”

Who is He? Verse one says He’s the LORD. He’s 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, 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 verse three. Know “that the LORD Himself, YHWH Himself is GOD.” He is God of Gods, Lord of Lords, Creator of heaven and earth and all that is in them. He is not like other gods. He is not like the small voices of the world that call. The world shouts, Satan shouts, wanting our attention, our lives. Claiming to give us a place to belong. Well, God can shout too. Joel 3:16 and Amos 1:2 say “The LORD roars from Zion.” He wants our attention too. Though God roars He often speaks to us in a whisper. Sometimes in silence. Sometimes in a calm and confident voice through His Spirit in the writers of Scripture.

The calm and confident voice says, “Come and know what He is like.” In verse four 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.” Peter tells us that we are part of His royal household, a chosen race, a people for His possession (1 Peter 2:9). Your Heavenly Father owns the universe, the earth, and everything in it (Psalm 24:1). Don’t we belong to Him, with Him?

Come and know that “We are the sheep of His pasture.” Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11). Peter says that Jesus is the Chief Shepherd and Guardian of our souls. He wants to lead us into fellowship with our Father. 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 wants to lead us to “Come before Him.”

What does it look like when God’s people, the sheep of His pasture “come before Him”? Step back from the heart of this Psalm and see and hear what worship in His presence looks and sounds like through the wonderful voice of Psalm 100:

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.
Could it be that this is where we belong, before Him, worshipping Him? Could it be 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 area of land. His gates into His kingdom are a meeting place where we gather with each other to share what matters in life. His courts are where God’s people gather before him to worship. He calls us to serve, 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 purpose. 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 you are with Him, your whole life is an act of worship. 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 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. Can you hear Yahweh calling you in this Psalm? Do you think he might be saying, “Come. You’re mine. You belong with me?”

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Invitation: Peter says that Christians “were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He came to lead us to Our Father in Heaven. GOD is good, His steadfast love is everlasting. His faithfulness to all generations. He is here for you.

Jesus has prepared a place for you in heaven. To take away any imperfections in His lambs, in our fleece and hearts, He died for us. He told us to repent and come back to our Shepherd. He told us be baptized, to be immersed into Him. He will forgive us our sins and give us His Holy Spirit

Psalm 100 can also be called a Psalm of thank offering. Our lives are a thank offering. If you want to belong fully to God and give Him your life as a thank offering, a living sacrifice, we invite you to come forward to stand before Him now as we sing our song of invitation or please contact at a time convenient for you.

Paul Birston

July 2006©

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