Don’t Put Thoughts of the World Out of Your Mind During Worship – Please!

I often hear people say to the people in the church, or in prayers, that we should put the thoughts of the world out of our minds and concentrate on Christ.

There’s a problem with this.

Worship isn’t just for Sunday. It isn’t just for remembering Christ, although that is a big part of it. Worship is to bring glory to God, and for encouraging others in their faith, as well as building up our faith.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing.  I Thessalonians 5:1

…not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:25

During communion recently, I was overcome with emotion thinking of something recently that had happened. I thought of how Jesus took this thing that was overwhelming me, and he had bore it on the cross:

Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. Isaiah 53:4

If you put things of the world out of your mind during communion, it will take away its power. Remembering Christ’s death also remembers that what he did then makes a difference now.

So, don’t worry if you can’t put away a problem you are worrying about away during communion. Instead, think of how Christ’s death took on that problem. He conquered death and sin, and he overcame. He rose from the death. He is a conqueror.

You, too, can think of how what is overwhelming you has been carried already by Christ. Thinking of how he carried all of those overwhelming problems, pains, and sicknesses will help you to see why he was sweating so profusely in the garden that his blood vessels were breaking.

The problems he carried were greater than we will ever know or fathom. And, for that, our gratitude will be as overwhelming as our problems, pains, and sicknesses.

Think about it. It’s OK.

Each Day’s Trouble

Jesus said:

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Holman Christian Standard Bible – Matthew 6:34)

This statement is very true.

Some days it feels more like it than others, though.

When things are going well, or you are in a deep routine and life seems to go on and on the same way, it may not seem that each day has enough trouble of its own.

Then you get hit with something that is overwhelming.

One song that has given me great comfort in a recent family crisis is the one by Casting Crowns:

Just Be Held by Casting Crowns

Words to songs with deep meaning can help you through a difficult time.

Another thing I have found so very helpful during this time is just talking with friends. Seek out friends who have been through what you have been through.

Also, if you have been through something, reach out to someone who is going through what you have been through. It helps to know when you are going through a crisis that someone else has gone through it and made it to the other side. Or even if the result wasn’t so great to know that someone else understands.

When life is difficult, it is often not the big things that help as much as the ones that may seem little.

Listening to someone is one of the greatest gifts you can give them.

Perhaps that’s why Paul often talked about how he thanked God for people he wrote to:

I Corinthians 1:4

I Thessalonians 1:2

Romans 1:8

Ephesians 1:16

Colossians 1:3

Philemon 1:4

Don’t think that just being there and listening isn’t important to your friend in a crisis. It’s the best gift you can give.

Three Reasons People Stop Following Christ

Jesus told a parable, a story, about a person who went out and sowed seed. He used it to explain four types of people.

I’m going to talk about three of the types of people he spoke about, and what he said about people who stop following God.

They Don’t Understand the Bible

The first type of person who stops following God is a person who doesn’t understand what is taught in the Bible. Jesus said this is like seed (the Word of God) that is sewn (spread) on the path.

There may be people who hear the Word of God preached. They may read the Bible, but they don’t understand what is being said.

Jesus said that seed is carried away by Satan.

Trouble Comes, and They Go

The second type of person hears the Word of God. They accept the word joyfully. They get excited about their faith.

But, then, they get stress or abuse because of their faith. So, they leave. They didn’t have a deep enough faith to withstand the difficulties.

These people, Jesus says, are like seed that is sewn on rocky ground. They don’t have roots. So, when the sun rises and it gets “hot,” they wither and die.

Worries & Wealth Lead Them Astray

The third type of person gets sidetracked by worries of life. Worries gets them down, and they give up. Or perhaps they want to get wealthy. They leave their first love for God and chase wealth. They may not plan to leave God, but Jesus said:

No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money.  –Matthew 6:24 (HCEB)

She started out well, but like the seed sewn among thorns, worries and wealth choke out the good results she could have had.

There are solutions to each of the above things that lead a person astray.

  • If you don’t understand the Word of God, there are people who can help you grow deeper in your understanding. I’d suggest World English Institute or World Bible School. The first teaches English grammar, reading and writing as well as the Bible. The second one focuses just on the Bible.
  • Grow your faith. Be prepared for the trouble. A great way to do this is to get immersed in learning God’s Word by memory. For that I would suggest Scripture Typer. It’s a great place to work on your memory verses and you can practice your typing as well. It gives you the speed of your typing.
  • If you are having a lot of worries, learning verses about giving your cares to God will be helpful, and this will help with the pursuit of wealth as well. God will help you have the things you need if you seek first his kingdom. Don’t let money get in the way of your faith, and be careful. Moving away can creep up slowly.

Note: None of the above links are affiliate links, but I am a volunteer teacher for World English Institute, and I have taught with World Bible School in the past. I use Scripture Typer and it has helped a lot with learning more Bible verses.

 

No Easy Answers, and Don’t Tell Me You Know

There are some things in life that can’t be explained. I mean explained from the deep depths of the soul where you struggle with faith.

There have been tons of things written about pain and suffering. I wrote a book about it, too:  Joy & Trouble

The struggle you go through to work through things in life are part of what takes your faith from a shallow, wading-type of faith into the deep waters, to the type that will get you out of the boat and walking on the roaring sea toward Jesus.

Peter is used a lot to talk about how he looked at the waves instead of Jesus and then began to sink.

What some may have forgotten is, he’s the only one who got out to try it! Me, I’m not so sure. Maybe I’d stay in the boat.

But then, again, perhaps the safest place to be in a terrible storm is out on the deep sea walking towards Jesus. At least when you start to sink because of doubt, he will be there to reach down and lift you up.

After all, Jesus could have let Peter sink.

He didn’t though.

So, when you are struggling with pain and suffering: either yours, someone you love, or even just overwhelming events you see on the news, don’t feel bad for struggling. Just reach up your hand to Jesus and say:

Lord, save me! Save me from my doubts. Save me from my sadness.

And if anyone has a pat answer for pain and suffering for you, perhaps that’s the only way they can handle it. They may not have enough energy to go through the struggle right now.

That’s OK, too.

Pain and struggles won’t go away, and they’ll get another chance to work through it.

 

Joseph’s Story: Riches to Rags, Rags to Riches, Rinse and Repeat

Joseph’s story was not the typical rags to riches story.

Joseph’s story in the Bible tells of a young man who went from being the favorite son, to being a slave, rising again to become the person in charge of his master’s entire estate, to being thrown into prison, and then being removed from prison to become second in command in the country where he had arrived as a slave.

It is the ultimate riches to rags, to riches, to rags, to riches story. (Is that confusing or what?)

It seems to follow along with an old joke, that has been told multiple ways, of a person who goes through events in his life which seem at one point to be good, then turn out to be bad, then turn out to be good….

Joseph’s life was like that.

Joseph summed up his life later to tell his brothers (those who began the process by selling him into slavery) that what they intended for bad, God used for good.

Joseph’s life story was not just his story. He was part of something bigger, a lot bigger! God used his pain to bring about the salvation of his entire family during a famine. This family became a nation from which a savior would come.

You may be going through something really tough right now. It may not make any sense at all why you are having these problems.

It might be something you did, and you are getting the results of bad decisions (Galatians 6:7; Hosea 8:7).

It could be something that someone has done to you, and you are having to live with the consequences (Proverbs 13:23).

However these things have come, God can use them to work for good in your life and the lives of others:

We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 CEB)

Sometimes, like Joseph, it may take some time before we can see where the events in our life are leading for the good; but if we love God, God promises to use all things for good – not that all things will be good.

You can read about Joseph in Genesis 37 and the following chapters.