“Old World Style” was a slogan of a product that graced the table of countless homes for decades. The Ragú brand of spaghetti sauce was first sold in 1937 and in 2014 was the bestselling U.S. brand of pasta sauce. The Ragú pasta sauce line consists of smooth Old World Style sauces, Chunky sauces, bold Robusto! sauces, as well as organic and light pasta sauces. While most well-known for selling jar packaged pasta sauce, Ragú also purveys a pizza sauce and an Alfredo sauce.
In its first several decades, Ragú advertising and sales broadened the appeal of Italian-American food in the United States, with slogans like “That’s Italian!” and “Ragú brings the Italian out in you!” Americanized Italian cuisine is now the most common “ethnic” cuisine served in U.S. households, followed by variations of Americanized Mexican cuisine. Current advertising highlights the natural ingredients and “full serving of veggies” found in the sauce.
My love for good pasta sauce was birthed by my mom’s Ragu. Yes, we were one of the American homes that used jar pasta sauce. For a very long time, that was the only sauce I would partake in. Then in the 1980s, a friend of mine changed my focus. She lovingly shared her authentic recipe for “Sunday gravy”, or as we like to call it “Homemade Spaghetti Sauce.” I was changed. My internal attitude changed. I thought for many, many years that I already knew what was good.
Focus is all about what has our attention or, what we give our attention to. All of us develop hypotheses about everything, all the time. Whether we realize we’re doing it or not. We then look for evidence to support our hypotheses and ignore evidence to the contrary. Now, this blog is not going to be a debate on spaghetti sauce. But, I had to make this point, if you decide that you don’t like something or someone, you will notice everything that is wrong with the thing or person. We see what we are looking for.
This hypotheses can be applied to our relationship with God and our time we spend in Worship. There are things we do when we look at our focus. That includes Worship. Worship begins with a Pre-Decision. A worshipper makes a pre-decision to look for something to praise God about even in the direst of circumstances. The focus of a worshipper should be on Worship and not on external circumstances or what the immediate situation seems to look like.
We find this happening in the Book of Acts, Chapter 16. If you have ever had a bad day, you need to read Acts Chapter 16. Paul and Silas are in a prison cell in Philippi. Paul casts a demon out of a fortune-teller. Her master doesn’t like it because she loses the ability to predict the future so he has Paul and Silas arrested. They are thrown into prison. Now if this was me, that would be the epitome of a bad day. Acts Chapter 16 and verse 25 (NLT) says, “Around midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.” Singing praises to God! Their focus was not on what they saw, but rather on Worshipping God. They had made a pre-decision regarding the calling on their lives and the work of God that they were called to do. Worship takes our eyes off of our external circumstances by focusing on God. One of the most pure forms of worship is praising God even when you don’t feel like it because it shows God that your worship is not based on the circumstance, but rather it’s based on God’s character.
God makes His promise to never leave us or forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5-8) God has a proven track record. The heroes of faith found in Hebrews Chapter 11 are proof of that. Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If God did it for Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah, he will do it for you. “And all of these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.” (Hebrews 11:13 NIV)
Friends, I still make my “Sunday gravy” the same way that I was taught to make it from my friend. It tastes exactly the same each time. I have even passed the recipe on to my wife, Nancy and her sauce tastes the same as mine. My focus was on packaged pasta sauce. It was changed by a friend. Don’t let your focus remain on packaged, world made merchandise or beliefs. Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full in His wonderful face. And the things of Earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.
If you would like to listen to a powerful and challenging message from Pastor Aaron Taylor on “The Focus on Worship” click on this podcast link: http://www.painesvilleag.com/painesville-ag-messages/?enmse=1&enmse_sid=16
This week, I pray that as you focus your worship on Almighty God, you begin to understand there’s no better place than in God’s Glorious presence… that you will experience the richness found in the depths of Worship!
God bless you. If you want the recipe for my “Sunday gravy”, you can ask me and we’ll talk.