Jump Start # 3508
Psalms 35:18 “I will give You thanks in the great congregation; I will praise You among a mighty throng.”
Throughout our Bibles, we read of great crowds assembled. The scene from Daniel 3, where Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego refuse to bow, appears to be a massive crowd. Governors, treasurers, judges, counselors are all gathered there. The scene from Acts 25, when Paul makes his defense, King Agrippa, commanders, prominent citizens are gathered in great pomp. In Acts 13, while in Antioch, the text tells us that “nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of God.” Acts 2 shows a gathering of thousands, as Peter and the apostles are preaching.
I will give You thanks in the great congregation, our verse tells us today. It’s great to be among so many believers. The singing is incredible. The energy, encouragement and enthusiasm lifts our spirits and hearts. The smiles. The hugs. The wonderful conversations. Nothing like it. This is one of the great upside benefits to Sunday worship. We get to, as our verse states, “praise You among a mighty throng.”
But the worship services end. Eventually, all the conversations conclude. Everyone makes it to their cars and we leave. Praising God in a crowd is a blessing. But living for Jesus, when I am alone, is just as important. For many, like the air escaping from a balloon, their faith shrivels and collapses until the next time they are with others. It is important to learn to keep your faith going strong when you are alone.
Here are some thoughts:
First, my faith is in the Lord and not in the mighty throng of others. In a crowd, at work, at the ballgame, in a movie theatre, sitting alone at home, my faith needs to be strong and consistent. It’s the ups and downs of faith that often get us in trouble. In the crowd on Sunday, it’s up. But alone, at home, it’s down. And, when our spirits and faith are down, we are easily discouraged, doubting, worrying and fearful.
One shouldn’t rely on a crowd to manifest a strong faith in the Lord. Our faith needs to be independent of the crowd. Our faith is in the life, works and words of our Savior. Paul’s charge to the Corinthians was to be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” Steady. Consistent. Strong.
Building that independent faith in the Lord comes through regular spiritual habits. Praying daily. Diving deeply into God’s word. Finding good to do. Being thankful. These all are not only necessary, but they also do not require me being in a crowd to do them. Driving home from work in my car, I can listen to music, talk radio, or I can be thankful I have a job and blessed that I have a place to call home.
Second, there are things alone that can bring you much closer to the Lord than when in a crowd. Alone, your prayers can include names. Alone, you can confess sins to the Lord. Alone, you can ask the Lord for specific needs and help that in a crowd you can’t do. Jesus understood this. He got away to pray. He told His disciples to go into the inner room and shut the door when they prayed. Just you and God. No distractions to interrupt your focus. No one to try to impress. No one. Just you and God.
Third, focusing upon our faith when alone, keeps us true to the Lord. The two faced person is one way in a crowd and a different way when alone. Some seem so spiritual in the church house and so worldly when at home. Your faith when alone will keep that from happening. You’ll study what is needful for you in your private time. You’ll build a faith that is uniquely you. You’ll discover how to fight your giants in your life. Some call such moments as “quiet time.” Others, refer to this as “personal devotions.” Many of our Jump Start readers have told me that they begin the morning by reading these posts and then spending a few moments reflecting and praying. So much good can come from these daily spiritual habits.
I love being in large crowds that have gathered to praise the name of God. But, our alone times are just as important, if not more important.
Anywhere and everywhere I am a disciple who loves the Lord!