I was recently conversing with a gentleman that I meet with every Tuesday. We were discussing his spiritual growth and everything God has done in his life recently. He mentioned that he want’s more of God and that he was unsure what the next step was. My heart leaped a bit as he discussed his thoughts on this. It occurred to me that what we discussed about this is something that church goers and Christians have missed as of late.
We have a preoccupation with music and singing being worship. They defiantly are but the preoccupation by this is the problem not the worship itself. I often, in corporate worship feel, that the worship I am partaking in is genuine and truly to God’s glory. Yet when I see outside of the church so many with their radios on 24/7 but nerry a crack in the spine of their Bible I weep a bit.
Recently I have been meditating on the words found in Philippians 4:4-9 – Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanks giving present your requests to God. Then the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally brothers, whatever is is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything be excellent or praise worthy think upon such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me or seen in me, put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
There is a whole lot to unpack in that verse and trust me I could write for days on the possibility of putting every ounce of it into practice. The part that I am speaking of now is Rejoice in the Lord always and again I say, Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. …. I have had the privilage of working in some pretty tough situations. Not physically dangerous but socially and high pressure, high stress type jobs. I also have had seasons where pessimism made its way around the office like the flu.
Pessimism is a funny thing. It tends to make people call themselves realists. I think back to that time when Jesus was asleep on the boat and everyone was like “WE ARE GOING TO DIE!” The Jesus woke up and calmed the storm. I believe he asked them “where is your faith?” I think there are many examples of this. Peter and Jesus walking on the water, Lazarus and his sisters, feeding the 5000, or the death and resurrection of Christ.
All of these situations had a reality, there was a storm, Peter was standing on a rough sea, Lazarus was dead, there was 5000 hungry people and Jesus was crucified. In every situation pessimism reared its ugly head, but then Jesus. In every situation faith was required to see it in a different light. James talks about this in the first chapter of his book. Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds for the testing of your faith develops perseverance…
I want to draw this into a solid truth about faith, worship, and reality. Today new agers will tell you to stay positive, speak out what you want and it will come to you. Your words and thoughts have power. This is the skin of the truth with the innards of a lie or it’s the beautiful apple rotten to the core. The truth is we are instructed to have a positive attitude to think about good things (Phillippians 4:4-9). We are also instructed to cast all our anxiety on the Lord. Remember, consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds. For the testing of your faith develops perseverance.
There is a very real balance. James and Paul do not encourage us to see reality and then succumb to it. Rather they both say Rejoice or consider it pure joy. You will have trials, there will be storms, there will be things to be anxious about, the situation will seem very dire. But! You can see God move, you can worship and you can strengthen your faith. Do the will of the Lord always with praise and worship in your heart and actions despite the outcome. Let God sort that.
For the Visual