RSS Feed

Tag Archives: worshiping God

Waiting for the Right Time and Place

Timing in life can be extremely important. If you try to force something unnaturally like Sarah’s advice to Abraham to try to have a child through her maid servant Hagar, the consequences can last a lifetime or longer, Genesis 16:1-16. Meanwhile, King Solomon suggests that there is a time and place for everything, Ecclesiastes 3:1-10. This is followed up by the statement that God makes everything beautiful in His time, Ecclesiastes 3:11.

Again Jesus went into a synagogue, and a man was there who had one withered hand [[a]as the result of accident or disease]. And [the Pharisees] kept watching Jesus [closely] to see whether He would cure him on the Sabbath, so that they might get a charge to bring against Him [[b]formally], Mark 1:1-2.

From a Jewish tradition perspective, the Sabbath was designed for worshiping God and resting. Yet, when the Son of God was sent to earth to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10, Jesus’ time on earth was limited to 33 years. Therefore, when Jesus saw an opportunity to heal or help a needy person, it didn’t matter to Him what day it was. During a worship service in a synagogue, Jesus notices a man with a withered hand. This creates a dilemma for Jesus: to heal or not to heal on the Sabbath?

And He said to the man who had the withered hand, Get up [and stand here] in the midst. And He said to them, Is it lawful and right on the Sabbath to do good or to do evil, to save life or to take it? But they kept silence. And He glanced around at them with vexation and anger, grieved at the hardening of their hearts, and said to the man, Hold out your hand. He held it out, and his hand was [completely] restored, Mark 1:3-5.

If this was a Sunday through Friday, Jesus would have immediately reached out to this man. Yet, to show respect to his elders, Jesus enters into a theological discussion with the Pharisees that were present. When these religious leaders failed to answer his question, the timing wasn’t ideal. Nonetheless, Jesus wasn’t willing to wait another day to heal this man. To fail to act would have been a sin of omission. Subsequently, Jesus chose good over evil, a lesson he taught his earthly brother in James 4:17. Waiting for the right time and place may relate to certain things in life, but serving the Lord should never be put on hold.

by Jay Mankus

God’s Dress Code for Life

I spent a decade as a teacher trying to force teenagers to comply with our private school’s dress code. On chapel days boys were forced to wear a dress shirt and tie while girls were required to put on a modest dress. Since this worship service immediately followed homeroom, male and female teachers quickly tried to address rule breakers before walking over to the sanctuary. The unpleasant experience of disciplining students distracted me from worshiping God.

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper], Colossians 3:12.

In a letter to the Church at Colosse, the apostle Paul refers to a different kind of dress code. Instead of putting on a specific attire daily, Paul opens minds to putting on spiritual clothing. These articles are like layers of clothing human beings put on as the weather changes each winter. However, God’s dress code involves biblical qualities that coincide with the character and nature of Jesus Christ.

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. 14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony], Colossians 3:13-14.

The context of chapter 3 begins by putting on the mind of Christ. This is a starting point that requires new Christians to put to death their old self. If you can imagine this process as a form of meditation, believers need to reprogram their minds by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to commence this transformation. Unfortunately, this change can take a lifetime. While following God’s dress code may be a drag for many, the sooner you comply, your chances to improve open the door for you to experience ideal harmony.

by Jay Mankus

A Stranger in the House of God

Unless individuals were attending a local synagogue in the first century, church goers met inside a home or outside at a local park. While thousands of people regularly gathered to hear Jesus speak and teach, worshiping God with strangers can be awkward. If the person standing next to you is extremely jubilant or you’ve never heard the song that everyone else is singing, you may feel a little out of place.

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to dine with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the town who was an especially wicked sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment (perfume), Luke 7:36-37.

This is how one woman felt while Jesus dined with a group of Pharisees. As these men were reclining at a dining room table following their meal, an adulterous woman approached Jesus. It’s unclear if this woman came to confess the sins of her past, but she was suddenly overwhelmed by emotions. Perhaps, the Spirit of God prompted her to wash Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume that she was able to purchase due to her unwholesome occupation.

And standing behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with [her] tears; and she wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet [affectionately] and anointed them with the ointment (perfume). 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw it, he said to himself, If this Man were a prophet, He would surely know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him—for she is a notorious sinner (a social outcast, devoted to sin), Luke 7:38-39.

Despite being a stranger in a house of God, all this woman wanted was to be with Jesus. It didn’t matter what all these men thought or that she was throwing away this valuable ointment. Whether you’re on vacation or simply visiting a new church, when you come to worship God it’s all about Jesus. The next time you feel like a stranger in the house of God, remember the act of this woman so that you will develop the right mindset to worship God.

by Jay Mankus

When the World Changes Too Fast

The brothers Grimm and Charles Perrault introduced the tale of a Sleeping Beauty, a princess who was cursed, driven into a deep sleep meant to last for 100 years. Meanwhile, Washington Irving details the events of Rip Van Winkle who went missing for 20 years after refusing to do his daily chores. Although these two stories are fairy tales, anyone who is suffering from amnesia in 2020 probably won’t recognize their surrounding once their memory has been restored. While amnesia is a partial or total loss of memory, the Coronavirus has erased years of close contact communication.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:2.

This year has introduced new practices such as a self quarantine and social distancing as well as reinforcing the importance of washing your hands. Anyone who traveled abroad at the beginning of 2020, would struggle to catch up with the world that is changing so fast. The idea of singing and worshiping God in a church seems strange now. While some states have closed churches completely, others have banned singing in public spaces. Until a cure has been discovered, corporate worship will likely be limited in the months to come.

It is a reason for pride and exultation to which our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world [generally] and especially toward you, with devout and pure motives and godly sincerity, not in fleshly wisdom but by the grace of God (the unmerited favor and merciful kindness by which God, exerting His holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, and keeps, strengthens, and increases them in Christian virtues), 2 Corinthians 1:12.

The apostle Paul comments on how the world influenced first century Christians. In a letter to leaders in Rome, Paul encourages believers to renew their minds daily by studying the Bible. The more you are able to drown out the world, the clearer your calling on earth will become. Meanwhile, a letter to the Church at Corinth pleads readers to embrace the grace of God. It’s easy to beat yourself up by focusing on imperfections, the negative and your weaknesses. However, as the world quickly changes, the Word of God remains the same. This inspired a disciple to proclaim “God has given us everything we need in life,” 2 Peter 1:3-4. Test everything and cling to that which is good.

by Jay Mankus

Draw Near

In the Old Testament, God’s presence is limited to a few select individuals.  After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden at the end of Genesis 3, intimacy with God was severed.  Thus, God revealed himself to the forefathers of Israel, prophets and some leaders to guide and direct their paths.  However, due to continued disobedience throughout several centuries, God decides go silent for 400 years serving as a transition for the New Testament.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Before Jesus arrived on to the scene, priests were used as a mediator between God and mankind.  To atone for sin, priests performed animals sacrifices with the shedding of blood to cleanse individuals, families and cities from their transgressions.  Without practicing this biblical principle, forgiveness is not obtained.  Therefore, drawing near to God can not occur unless repentance and contrition has been completed.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The new covenant introduced to his disciples during the Last Supper, Jesus eliminated the need for the Old Testament practice mentioned above.  Described as the Lamb of God, a perfect sacrifice without blemish, Jesus laid down his own life so that in Him, we too might have life.  While worshiping God at a building, home or a temple is still a vital aspect of faith, you can draw near to God anywhere and anytime.  As you draw near, God’s grace is a free gift available to all approach the Lord with a sincere heart, eager to forgive sinners as far as the East is from the West.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: