RSS Feed

Tag Archives: angels

So Be It

Charles Spurgeon preached about John’s first doxology on September 2nd, 1883. A doxology is a liturgical formula of praise to God. The disciple whom Jesus loved writes his first doxology which can be found in Revelation 1:5-6. Meanwhile, the word Amen comes from ancient Hebrew which when translated into English means so be it. Perhaps, this is a way to express that no matter what happens, God is in control.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it), Romans 11:36.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter in his letter to the Church at Rome to a doxology. If you have ever attended a traditional Roman Catholic Church, the above passage is spoken by the priest during a traditional mass. One of the churches I attended in Maine, the priest sang these words at the end of each service. While modern worship is more emotionally based, Paul’s doxology confirms what Christians believe.

Amen! (So be it!) they cried. Blessing and glory and majesty and splendor and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and might [be ascribed] to our God to the ages and ages (forever and ever, throughout the eternities of the eternities)! Amen! (So be it!) – Revelation 7:12

Another one of John’s doxologies is listed above. The context of this doxology is based upon angels who are overwhelmed by the holiness of God. All those present fell prostate before the Lord, moved by the Holy Spirit to honor the God of eternity. When you have an opportunity to experience the presence of God on earth, somebody say Amen, so be it.

by Jay Mankus

Get Out of Here

When I was in grade school, you would hear someone yell “get out of here” in the lunchroom weekly. As students gathered around a table to talk about what’s going in life, students would exaggerate or say something outrageous. This would trigger one or more students to exclaim, “get out of here.” As times have changed, get out of here is now used as a warning to leave as a means as escaping quickly.

Then the seven angels who had the seven trumpets prepared to sound them, Revelation 8:6.

Meanwhile, the sounding of a trumpet in the Bible is often symbolic of considerable consequences. This may be to signify an alarm of war, a call to assemble, or a command to march. During a series of visions in the Book of Revelation, John sees 7 angels who each have a trumpet. In the passage above, lips are puckered, ready and prepared to sound their trumpet.

The first angel blew [his] trumpet, and there was a storm of hail and fire mingled with blood cast upon the earth. And a third part of the earth was burned up and a third of the trees was burned up and all the green grass was burned up, Revelation 8:7.

As someone who has experienced a number of hailstorms over the years, “get out of here” is a call to seek shelter immediately. While playing hide and go seek on summer vacation in Maine, everyone made a beeline to a our cabin, holding our hands over our hands as hail fell from heaven. Whenever the skies above reveal a future storm on the horizon, get out of there (outside) and into the safety of God’s shelter.

by Jay Mankus

Does Your Church Have an Angel?

When I think of angels, I usually imagine guardian angels who watch over an individual’s life. Yet, according to John, one of his visions that makes up the book of Revelation, there were 7 specific churches in Asia Minor who possessed an angel. Based upon the passage below, John compares these angels with spiritual messengers who guided the leaders of these 7 churches.

As to the hidden meaning (the mystery) of the seven stars which you saw on My right hand and the seven lampstands of gold: the seven stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven assemblies (churches) and the seven lampstands are the seven churches, Revelation 1:20.

As someone who has attended various churches throughout the United States, there are certain places where you sense the power of the Holy Spirit as you enter. Meanwhile, other church buildings seem strange, often giving me an uneasy feeling as I sit down. Is the difference between these churches the presence of an angel or the power of the faith within the members of a congregation?

For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service], Psalm 91:11.

One of the Psalmists writes about an angels ability to accompany Christians. Yet, God uses angels to defend and preserve the faith of those who believe. However, if Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels were kicked out of heaven, whether or not freewill is exercised will dictate the spiritual climate of a church. If angels are like modern day spiritual guides, the more church leaders keep in step with the Holy Spirit will set the culture and spiritual tone of modern day houses of worship.

by Jay Mankus

Who Deserves the Credit?

Depending upon who your reliable source may be in life, credit and praise is assigned to various individuals and or forces. The superstitious tend to lean to luck for someone’s good fortune. Scientists may point others to random selection to explain earthly blessings. As an aspiring screen writer, Hollywood refers to the Universe falling right into place to account for unexpected gifts. Yet, the earthly brother of Jesus points first century Christians toward who really deserves the credit.

Every good gift and every perfect ([d]free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse]m James 1:17.

When I was in high school, one of my close golfing friend Chris always seemed to get good breaks while on the golf course. Whether it was skipping his golf ball over the water, going through a tree or receiving a friendly bounce off the cart path, his string of luck never seemed to end. One of our teammates, Steve, attributed this to the luck of the Irish. Since Chris’ family was Irish Catholic, it made sense to me at the time. This belief continued until I began to read the Bible in college.

And it was of His own [free] will that He gave us birth [as sons] by [His] Word of Truth, so that we should be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures [a sample of what He created to be consecrated to Himself], James 1:18.

One New Testament author refers to daily encounters with angels that go unnoticed, Hebrews 13:2. A Psalmist points to guardian angels who guide and protect human beings every day, Psalm 91:11. The apostle Paul writes about an invisible force that you can actually keep in step with, Galatians 5:25. Meanwhile, Moses speaks of blessings and curses that will come upon you based upon your degree of obedience, Deuteronomy 28. When you put this all together with the passages above, God deserves the credit for being the giver of all good things in life.

by Jay Mankus

What Made the Angels Sing?

“Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” first appeared in 1739 as part of a collection of Hymns and Sacred Poems. This compilation features lyrical contributions from Charles Wesley and George Whitefield. Charles Wesley wrote “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” and later went on to found the Methodist Church. Meanwhile, Whitefield became a famous evangelist speaking at Big Tent Revivals on the east coast.

For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from the [latter] time forth, even forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this, Isaiah 9:6-7.

Sometime after reading Luke 2:14 which tells of an angelic chorus singing praises to God, Wesley was inspired to begin writing this Christmas carol. Later on music to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” was adapted from “Vaterland, in deinen Gauen” by Felix Mendelssohn. Going back to the story in the Bible, the birth of Jesus suddenly brought a great company of heavenly hosts to appear before shepherds.

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people. 11 For to you is born this day in the town of David a Savior, Who is Christ (the Messiah) the Lord! – Luke 2:9-11

The anticipation of the Bible’s first prophecy in Genesis 3:15 was within moments of being fulfilled. Jesus was about to become a second Adam to restore what was lost in the Garden of Eden, Luke 19:10. Just as children are anxious to pour out the contents inside of their stockings and rip open their presents, the realization of God with us, Emmanuel, inspired the angels to sing.

by Jay Mankus

What Happened to the Fallen Angels?

According to Revelation 12:9, the former archangel Lucifer and a third of the angels in heaven were thrown down to earth. The apostle Paul reveals that Lucifer now serves as the Ruler of the Air in Ephesus 2:2. While there is no direct mention of this, it is assumed that fallen angels now serve the Devil, aka Satan in the spiritual dimension, creating havoc for all human beings behind the scenes, Ephesians 6:12.

And angels who did not keep (care for, guard, and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place—these He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of utter darkness until the judgment and doom of the great day. [The wicked are sentenced to suffer] just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns—which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity—are laid out [in plain sight] as an exhibit of perpetual punishment [to warn] of everlasting fire, Jude 1:6-7.

One section of the Bible known as the Catholic Letters, (universal letters to Christians scattered throughout the world following the persecution of Nero), provides a glimpse of what happened to fallen angels. Jude eludes to their eternal fate as followers of Lucifer. Comparing the judgment these angels will face to something worse than what occurred to Sodom and Gomorrah in the Old Testament.

For God did not [even] spare angels that sinned, but cast them into hell, delivering them to be kept there in pits of gloom till the judgment and their doom. And He spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven other persons, when He brought a flood upon the world of ungodly [people]. And He condemned to ruin and extinction the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, reducing them to ashes [and thus] set them forth as an example to those who would be ungodly; 2 Peter 2:4-6.

At some point prior to their expulsion, these angels abandoned their proper dwelling place. By exercising free will, these angels stopped caring for, guarding, holding on to and keeping the responsibilities assigned to them by their heavenly Father. When you examine the words of the Devil in Matthew 4:1-9, these once heavenly beings wanted recognition and praise. Subsequently, self gratification similar to the process illustrated in James 1:14-15 reveals what happened to these fallen angels.

by Jay Mankus

Assisting God Behind the Scenes

An assist in basketball is a pass to a teammate that directly leads to a basket or field goal. While the exact origin of an assist in this sport is unknown, the most common assumption is that it came from earlier times when pay phones were available across the US. Giving a stranger a dime to complete their call derived the term assist. From a spiritual perspective, angels regularly assist God behind the scenes. Sometimes in the form of a guardian angel or nudge you in the right direction.

Because you have made the Lord your refuge, and the Most High your dwelling place, 10 There shall no evil befall you, nor any plague or calamity come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service]. 12 They shall bear you up on their hands, lest you dash your foot against a stone, Psalm 91:9-12.

The Psalmist makes it clear about the role angels play in life. As Christians learn to draw near to God, it’s like going on a camping trip. If you are the kind of person who enjoys making a fire, as your relationship with God strengthens, the presence of the Holy Spirit is sensed daily. Meanwhile, behind the scenes the Lord sends angels to accompany, defend and preserve you as your walk with Jesus. This is the kind of assistance that angels provide.

Are not the angels all ministering spirits (servants) sent out in the service [of God for the assistance] of those who are to inherit salvation? – Hebrews 1:14

In the New Testament, one author devotes an entire chapter to the relationship between angels and Jesus. At the conclusion of this section, the purpose of angels is revealed. Angels are ministering spirits, servants sent out to assist God. The ultimate goal of angels is to lead human heart toward eternity in heaven. One of Jesus’ parables illustrate the celebration that goes on in heaven when a lost sheep that has been lost is found and brought home, Luke 15:1-7.

Where Presence and Practice Intersect

As a former athlete in multiple sports, practicing in the off-season is key to reaching your full potential. Before the days of travel teams and countless weekend competitions, sports junkies like me would hone their skills in local neighborhoods. Spontaneous pick up games would occur every summer day playing 500, steal the bases, interception, and whiffle ball. On rainy days, boards games, cards, and video games passed the time until the weather cooperated. The more I competed and practiced, the presence of improvement began to shine through.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul encourages members to practice their faith. While God does show up unannounced from time to time in the form of angels, answered prayers and signs, this doesn’t happen by chance. Peace doesn’t occur simultaneously as soon as you verbalize this word. Rather, peace arrives at the intersection of practice and presence. This develops as faith is exercised through reflection, prayer and thanksgiving. Practicing what you believe gives individuals the opportunity to fail and learn what you need to work on spiritually.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. Practice what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and model your way of living on it, and the God of peace (of untroubled, undisturbed well-being) will be with you, Philippians 4:8-9.

According to the apostle Paul, focusing on the positive is a key step toward progressing. As your mind begins to dwell and focus on true and wholesome aspects of life, attitudes and behaviors tend to change for the better. However, Paul doesn’t want Christians to stop here. In addition, keep moving forward by practicing what you have learned from the Bible. The closer you draw near to the Lord, the greater your chances will be to experience the presence of God. Therefore, carry on by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit so that God’s presence appears when faith is practiced.

by Jay Mankus

The Spiritual Dimension

There are 30 passages in the Bible that refer to a spiritual dimension. The most famous occurs in Ephesians 6:12 where the apostle Paul unveils what is out of sight to human eyes. This dimension is transcendence toward something more than what is apparent in the experiences of other dimensions. According to Paul, what lies beneath the surface is an ongoing spiritual battle between powers, rulers and spiritual forces.

Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face, Job 1:6-11.

Although it’s not the first, Job was the first completed book in the Bible. Since chapter 1 references living in the land of dinosaurs, Job likely lived prior to the biblical flood mentioned in Genesis 7. Following a brief introduction, Job is made aware of what lurks out of sight. Whether through prayer or a one on one conversation with God, Job’s spiritual enemy is brought to life. Lucifer is described as a diligent traveler of the earth, seeking to steal, kill and destroy human souls, John 10:10.

But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:18-19

In the middle of the first century, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about demons. Based upon Christian historians, James did not come to faith until after Jesus rose from the dead. While there is no mention of a private conversation with his big brother before ascending into heaven in Acts 1, James was aware of demons. Despite their tricks, demons know the fate that await them, Jude 1:6. While you’re current struggle may not be obvious to you, don’t be surprised if there is a spiritual element to what’s going on in the world today.

by Jay Mankus

The Most Holy Emotions

The term emotions appears 6 times in the Bible with 3 different translations. Genesis 45:1 uses the expression Qara’ to describe Joseph’s emotional outburst after being reunited with his brothers. This comes from the Hebrew word Qal: to utter a loud sound in the form of calling out or crying. Meanwhile, Job 15:12 refers to his heart being overwhelmed by emotions. Lamentations 1:20 uses the expression “my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me.” The final mention occurs in a letter to the church of Corinth where Paul refers to the most holy of emotions.

For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. 3 And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you, 1 Corinthians 2:2-3.

The context of this passage is based upon Paul’s motives for visiting Corinth. Trying to say, “I didn’t come like I was checking off a spiritual to do list. Rather, I resolved to share the gospel, the message of a living Messiah who was crucified, but rose from the grave.” Apparently, this initial visit didn’t start off too well, leaving Paul filled with dread, fear and stress. Perhaps, the most holy emotions flow out of overcoming obstacles, conceived when a lost soul comes to faith in Christ. Just as angels rejoice in heaven, Luke 15:7, when a sinner repents, holy emotions may explain celebrations of faith.

And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them], 1 Corinthians 2:4.

As I reflect upon my 35 years as a Christian, the joy of answered prayers has stirred my soul on numerous occasions. The most memorable moments in my life have occurred after hearing that friends had come to faith in Christ. While in college I remember two phone calls where I jumped up and threw my hands into the air like an end zone celebration. Perhaps, this is the type of holy emotion Paul is writing about. However, holy emotions can include death like Jesus weeping for Lazarus. Whatever emotions that you endure, be sure you give thanks in all circumstances, Philippians 4:4-8.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: