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Tag Archives: Worship

Tuck in Your Shirt

I spent a decade of my life teaching the Bible at a large Christian Academy. On chapel days boys were required to wear a dress shirt and tie while girls had to wear a dress or skirt. Just before this worship service, teachers were expected to do a quick check for any dress code violations. Homeroom teachers were encouraged to remind boys to tuck in their shirt prior to walking over to the sanctuary or else face the risk of receiving a demerit.

We have renounced disgraceful ways (secret thoughts, feelings, desires and underhandedness, the methods and arts that men hide through shame); we refuse to deal craftily (to practice trickery and cunning) or to adulterate or handle dishonestly the Word of God, but we state the truth openly (clearly and candidly). And so we commend ourselves in the sight and presence of God to every man’s conscience, 2 Corinthians 4:2.

The apostle Paul introduced the concept of the belt of truth in the first century. In a letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul urges readers to fastened the belt of truth, Ephesians 6:14. As a Roman Soldier prepared for battle, securing this belt was crucial for maximizing their mobility so they do they won’t get caught on anything. Yet, when you tell a teenage boy tuck in your shirt, most don’t know why it’s necessary or simply don’t care.

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false, John 8:44.

Paul equates this belt with truth. When individuals allow exaggerations, half-truths, lies and ungodly beliefs to enter their mind, gray areas begin to develop and expand. The Bible is designed to bring clarity and light to confusing or difficult concepts to grasp. However, when Christians go days, weeks and months without opening this book, rules like tuck in your shirt are quickly dismissed. If anyone becomes disconnected from God’s Word, John 15:1-5, you will be susceptible to the father of lies who can deceive you from what is true. May God’s Word open your eyes to help to see the big picture for tucking in your shirt.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Aerobics

Aerobics is a vigorous exercise designed to strengthen the heart and lungs. Besides running, swimming and walking which most of you can do by yourself at home or in your neighborhood, there are an unlimited supply of videos on aerobics. Whether you follow along to a workout video or you tube, there are numerous ways to get back into and stay in shape. However, if you keep putting this off day after day, you’ll lose all motivation for physical exercise.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. 25 Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. 26 Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit], 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

The apostle Paul introduces readers to the concept of spiritual aerobics. Using the host city of the Isthmian Games as a backdrop, a prestigious track and field event held during the off years of the Olympics, Paul references the strict training of these athletes. Spiritual aerobics is designed to strengthen your heart, soul and mind. Whether you’re reading the Bible, praying or participating in a worship service, these exercises energize your spiritual life.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-12.

The author of Hebrews takes spiritual aerobics to the next level, comparing this to running a marathon. I once ran 15 miles in an afternoon training for my senior year of cross country in high school. While one of my teammates easily cruised through the final few miles, I struggled to finish as my legs got heavier and heavier with each stride. The key to spiritual aerobics is unloading and throwing off anything that is holding you back or slowing you down. Instead of dreading the race called life, keep your head up and fix your eyes on Jesus so you will find the strength to make it to the finish line.

by Jay Mankus

An Unknown Melody

An English poet and Anglican clergyman named John Newton wrote the words to Amazing Grace in 1772. Seven years later this Christian hymn was published. In the 2006 film Amazing Grace, British politician Wilber Wilberforce and Newton cross paths. In the attached clip above, Newton had lost his sight by this time in his life. However, Newton is a passionate supporter, urging Wilberforce to do whatever it takes to end the slave trade.

Let the word [spoken by] Christ (the Messiah) have its home [in your hearts and minds] and dwell in you in [all its] richness, as you teach and admonish and train one another in all insight and intelligence and wisdom [in spiritual things, and as you sing] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, making melody to God with [His] grace in your hearts, Colossians 3:16.

When you examine the credits of any song, there is usually two categories. While the gifted have the ability to craft the lyrics and melody, most songs have an author who writes the lyrics and musician to develop the cords. Yet, when I looked up the credits to Amazing Grace, after John Newton the melody is similar to a poem marked anonymous. After listening to a sermon yesterday, some attribute the melody to a ship full of slaves humming as they pass the time.

Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, 20 At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father, Ephesians 5:19-20.

In the first century, the apostle Paul encouraged Christians to sing songs of praise. If you look back to an experience in Philippi, Paul and Silas began a worship service at midnight after being imprisoned, Acts 16:25. Paul practiced what he preached, moved by the Holy Spirit as he poured out his heart and soul in song. While we may never know the origin of Amazing Grace’s melody, it’s never too late to make your own melody of thanks to God.

by Jay Mankus

Worn Out Before the Worship Begins

The Coronavirus has taken a toll on families, lives and souls in 2020. According to a recent report, over 100,000 small businesses have closed this year. Meanwhile, if further lock downs or restrictions are enacted in the weeks and months to come, more the 85% of restaurants could be forced to go out of business for good. Although the thought of Christmas may serve as a healthy distraction for some, many Americans are worn out before Christmas worship services begin, me included.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker! – Psalm 95:6

The book definition of worship is the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. While talking to a Samaritan woman in the middle of a hot summer day, Jesus refers to a physical thirst for living water. True worship is valuing the treasures of God, not temporary pleasures that quickly fade away. The inner essence of worship is designed to pour out your heart to the Lord. This occurs by responding to acquired knowledge of the Bible within your mind, as longings within your heart begin to ooze out. However, if you are emotionally spent, how do you regain a vigor for worship this Christmas?

God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth,” John 4:24.

One thing Jesus doesn’t want is a counterfeit, a phony Christian faking worship. When anxieties, burdens, and concerns overwhelm your soul, Jesus serves as a weighing station, Matthew 11:28-30. Prayer is a way you can unload all of your spiritual trash, sucking any joy remaining in your life. Once this removal is compete, true worship can begin. Therefore, if you are still trying to pick up the pieces shattered by Covid-19, meet with Jesus now so that you’ll be ready to worship God on Christmas Day.

by Jay Mankus

A P.O.W.

The earliest recorded usage of “prisoner of war” dates back to 1610. Belligerents held prisoners of war in custody, often isolating them from enemy combatants still in the field. In primitive times, the captured were considered the personal property of the captor and were forced into slave labor. However, these practices continued during the Vietnam War as officers were taken and held in remote locations.

The crowd [also] joined in the attack upon them, and the rulers tore the clothes off of them and commanded that they be beaten with rods. 23 And when they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely. 24 He, having received [so strict a] charge, put them into the inner prison (the dungeon) and fastened their feet in the stocks, Acts 16:22-24.

During a visit to Philippi, the apostle Paul finds himself behind bars. However, Paul isn’t escorted to the dungeon as a prisoner of war. Rather, Paul casts a demon out of a fortune teller whose owners realized that their cash cow was now gone. Instead of becoming bitter for this religious persecution, Paul turns to the Holy Spirit to become a Person of Worship. At midnight, Paul and Silas start singing hymns that triggers an earthquake.

But about midnight, as Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the [other] prisoners were listening to them, 26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the very foundations of the prison were shaken; and at once all the doors were opened and everyone’s shackles were unfastened. 27 When the jailer, startled out of his sleep, saw that the prison doors were open, he drew his sword and was on the point of killing himself, because he supposed that the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, Do not harm yourself, for we are all here! – Acts 16:25-28

Afraid that prisoners were going to escape, the head jailer was about to take his own life. This would have been his fate if just one of the inmates under his control escaped. Yet, before falling on his sword, Paul cries out to inform the jailer that everyone is here and there are no plans to flee. Perhaps, the worship service awoke Paul’s spiritual senses, using this unique opportunity to lead the jailer and family to faith in Christ. This is what can happen when a person becomes a Person of Worship.

by Jay Mankus

The Pilgrimage Known as Going to Church

Korah is one of the individuals who rebelled against Moses following the Exodus out of Egypt. According to Number 16:31-32, the earth swallowed up all of Korah’s household and possessions. While some of Korah’s descendants survived the wrath of God, they were barred from entering the tabernacle for 7 generations. Based upon the passage below, the sons of Korah were finally able to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to worship at God’s temple.

How lovely are Your tabernacles, O Lord of hosts! My soul yearns, yes, even pines and is homesick for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh cry out and sing for joy to the living God. Yes, the sparrow has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young—even Your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) are those who dwell in Your house and Your presence; they will be singing Your praises all the day long. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is the man whose strength is in You, in whose heart are the highways to Zion. Passing through the Valley of Weeping (Baca), they make it a place of springs; the early rain also fills [the pools] with blessings. They go from strength to strength [increasing in victorious power]; each of them appears before God in Zion, Psalm 84:1-7.

Depending upon where you live in the United States, going to church in 2020 is much more complicated than it use to be. If you don’t call ahead, register or sign up on line, you probably won’t be able to attend due to limited numbers. Since the Coronavirus outbreak struck in the middle of March, churches have either gone virtual, transitioned to outdoor services or limited their attendance due to new state guidelines. Until a cure is discovered, weekly pilgrimages to church might have to be altered.

Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, Fair and beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth—[a]Mount Zion [the City of David], to the northern side [Mount Moriah and the temple], the [whole] city of the Great King! God has made Himself known in her palaces as a Refuge (a High Tower and a Stronghold), Psalm 48:1-3.

The concern for future generations is that teenagers will grow up without worship being part of their lives. While most congregations limits services to one day a week, accountability groups, Bible studies, fellowship and Sunday school classes play a key role in developing faith. Although some youth groups have used Zoom Chats to stay in touch, nothing can replace face to face interactions. Thus, as certain governors have enacted emergency orders to ban in person worship services, people of faith need to be creative. The goal is to do whatever it takes to make the pilgrimage to a local church possible once again.

by Jay Mankus

Progressively Acquainted with Christ

The Progressive Corporation was founded in 1937 and has grown to one of the largest providers of car insurance in the United States. Whether it’s all the commercials using Flo as its’ spokesperson or the new sign guy, television advertisements have increased business national wide. The term progressive refers to developing gradually, proceeding step by step. Progressivism in the United States is a political philosophy and reform movement designed to alter the Constitution to keep up with the times.

Now as you abound and excel and are at the front in everything—in faith, in expressing yourselves, in knowledge, in all zeal, and in your love for us—[see to it that you come to the front now and] abound and excel in this gracious work [of almsgiving] also. I give this not as an order [to dictate to you], but to prove, by [pointing out] the zeal of others, the sincerity of your [own] love also, 2 Corinthians 8:7-8.

In a letter to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul uses progressive in the context of a personal relationship with God. As individuals begin to open the Bible, learn how to pray and open their hearts to worship, this acquaintance grows. As concepts like grace begin to be introduced, a bond is formed with an invisible being, As crazy as this might seem to the un-churched, Christians seek a progressive acquaintance with God.

For you are becoming progressively acquainted with and recognizing more strongly and clearly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favor and spiritual blessing), [in] that though He was [so very] rich, yet for your sakes He became [so very] poor, in order that by His poverty you might become enriched (abundantly supplied), 2 Corinthians 8:9.

If you follow the example of Jesus detailed in Mark 1:35, the Lord should be your first priority. Proceeding step by step in faith, a progressive acquaintance is formed. Instead of a casual, on today off tomorrow relationship, a permanent meaningful tie develops. As prayers are answered and miracles seen, a fire ignites within souls to want more and more. Thus, don’t let the Coronavirus sever your connection with God. Instead find time in your schedule daily so that you are progressively acquainted with Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Sound of Worship

Worship is the expression of reverence and adoration for God. This celebration is usually held inside a building. However, in this age of the Coronavirus, places of worship have been forced to be creative. In those states where lock downs still exist, worship services have been moved outside. Although most properties don’t have the luxury of a natural amphitheater, some worship teams have taken to the streets.

Not only that, but can anyone understand the spreadings of the clouds or the thunderings of His pavilion? – Job 36:29

In the passage above, Job compares the sound of worship to a storm growing in the distance. As clouds darken, filled with thunder and lightning, spectators watch from a distance, amazed by this brewing sight of nature. While rain in the New Testament is symbolic of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament uses rain as a way to achieve truth. As voices cry out in public today, the sound of worship touches hearts.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the heavens of His power! Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to the abundance of His greatness! Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and [single or group] dance; praise Him with stringed and wind instruments or flutes! Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) – Psalm 150:1-6

The last Psalm in the Bible highlights the sound of worship. As a worship leader sets the tone, praise can spread like a wildfire, from one soul to another. Meanwhile, as the Spirit of God moves, enthusiasm to raise the volume intensifies. When you add instruments to this equation, souls awaken to clap, dance and shake their bodies to exalt the Great I Am. This is what can happen as souls hear the sound of worship.

by Jay Mankus

Awaken Your Soul with Praise

California worship leader Sean Feucht received a special calling from the Lord during the Coronavirus lockdown earlier this year. The Holy Spirit called Sean to host outdoor worship services all over the United States of America. However, God didn’t call Sean to reach out to comfortable places. Rather, Sean hosted 45 different worship services in cities ravaged by civil unrest, looting and rioting.

O clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph and songs of joy! – Psalm 47:1

Feucht’s extensive missionary background includes founding Hold the Line, an activist movement aimed at engaging the church and Millennials. These outdoor worship events were designed to “change the atmosphere over cities” through worship and prayer. Using spontaneous worship on an elevated stage in the middle of these metropolitan cities, Sean inspired participants to sing, laugh, cry, dance and pray.

God has ascended amid shouting, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet. Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! – Psalm 47:5-6

Sean’s 45th and last service was recently held in Washington DC. Feucht reached out to pastor Jentezen Franklin to bring a short message to culminate these outdoor worship services. Franklin referenced Job 36:29 where the sound of worship is compared to a storm cloud about to unleash rain upon the land. Rain is symbolic of cleansing souls and with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Thus, as you participate in worship in your own community, may your soul be awakened to act out in faith.

by Jay Mankus

Let Light Shine Out of Darkness

The term light appears 272 times in the Bible. Meanwhile, there are 433 instances where light is eluded to as being “a lamp unto our feet,” Psalm 119:105. Beyond the physical element of light, the Bible uses light as a spiritual illumination of the truth. Thus, when the apostle Paul writes about letting light shine out of darkness, truth stands out in a dark and fallen world.

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 2 Corinthians 4:6.

The expression to beam forth suggests that this light has supernatural powers. Instead of illuminating darkness so that human eyes can see, God’s light shines straight into our hearts, Romans 10:9-10. Similar to Jesus’ analogy in his Sermon on the Mount, spiritual light is designed to shine within your house and throughout your city, Matthew 5:14-16. According to Jesus, shining light via actions are more persuasive than words.

However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves, 2 Corinthians 4:7.

Jesus foretold of a time when you could worship God face to face, not just in a temple on the Sabbath. The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the Church at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20. Paul compares human bodies to a spiritual temple. While there are always glimpses of darkness within every soul, Matthew 6:23, eyes are the lamp of bodies. If your eyes remain stay focused on God, light can still shine out of darkness.

by Jay Mankus

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