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The Fervor of Faith

During a discussion with a woman at a well in Samaria, the topic of conversation transitions to worship. The woman refers to her descendants who worshiped on this mountain, pointing toward Mount Gerissim. Apparently, first century Jews were legalistic, belittling Samaritans for not going to temple at Jerusalem to worship God. However, Jesus points to a time in the future, following his death and resurrection, when individuals will be able to worship God in any place or time.

God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality), John 4:24.

In the passage below, the apostle Paul builds upon this concept. Whenever individuals enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, an intimacy develops. As faith increases, man’s relationship with God becomes a daily priority. Thus, faith isn’t something that you put back on the shelf and walk away from like a Bible. Rather, faith becomes part of you, growing into a fervor through a higher calling via the Holy Spirit.

Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength! – 1 Corinthians 16:13

This Samaritan woman mentioned by John, one of Jesus’ disciples, is introduced as a restless individual, searching for answers to life’s questions. This journey led the Samaritan woman to look for love in relationships, leaving one man after another when love disappeared. However, when Jesus talked about living water, a spark was triggered within her soul. Hungry for more, John 4:39 reveals that a fervor for faith was conceived, leading her entire family to faith in Christ. This is the kind of fervor that we all need today.

by Jay Mankus

Having a Foot on Both Sides of the Fence

The term “on the fence” became a popular expression beginning in 1828.  The original context was applied by Carl Schurz, insisting on political independence, rather than appeal to everyone by sitting on both sides of an issue.  Not much has changed in the last 2 centuries as politicians have perfected the art of straddling hot button topics with one foot on either side of an argument.  In an attempt to dodge what individuals really believe, vague comments seek to win the approval of as many voters as possible.

To understand a proverb and a figure [of speech] or an enigma with its interpretation, And the words of the wise and their riddles [that require reflection].  The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline, Proverbs 1:6-7.

From a spiritual perspective, the fence represents biblical principles.  On one side of this divider is the Bible designed to keep evil out by instilling commands, decrees and precepts from God.  This land is based upon a higher calling, to use abilities, gifts and talents to glorify God.  The opposite side consists of assumptions, elementary theories and worldly traditions.  This region encourages self gratification, indulgence and promotion.  These areas are polar opposites unless you want to fit in like a chameleon.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ, Colossians 2:8.

The book of Proverbs is designed to shed light on this issue.  As an earthly father looking back on his life, King Solomon attempts to bestow wisdom upon one of his sons.  Like any worried parent, Solomon sees the evil within the world that gradually bewitches, deceives and poisons the minds of teenagers.  Thus, Solomon wrestles to pen the exact words to keep his children on the right side of this invisible fence.  May the fear of the Lord serve as a guiding light to ensure that your own offspring follows the narrow path detailed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

The Injustice of Righteousness

Righteousness is a guiding virtue, a moral compass which leads individuals to a higher calling.  Although hiccups and slip ups will occur, God’s grace will wipe away the stains of sin.  Unfortunately, when the day of judgment comes, the Bible suggests there will be more souls in hell than heaven.  Subsequently, those standing outside the pearly gates will likely complain about the injustice of righteousness.

Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them, Mark 4:25.

Life on earth is just as unfair as the afterlife.  According to Jesus, the wealthy will continue to have while what little the poor possesses will be taken away.  This is one of those passages of the Bible which leaves more questions than answers.  The outsiders, anyone who does not believe in Jesus, John 14:6, and progressives won’t be pleased by Jesus’ comment.  The modern day Robinhood’s might consider this teaching to be an injustice of righteousness.

He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything, Mark 4:34.

Being left out of anything isn’t a pleasant feeling.  Whether its high school, work or a social network, everyone has experienced being the odd person out.  Denial, exclusion and rejection are forms of trials meant to toughen you up, James 1:2-4.  Nonetheless, you can’t change the facts inside of God’s Word.  In view of these truths, chose life so when your time is up, there will be no one else to blame, Deuteronomy 30:15-18.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Searching for a Reason to Live

Living pay check to check is exhausting, especially when your money disappears before your expenses are fully covered.  Like a high school student bored beyond measure, living for the weekend isn’t any better.  There must be something greater, with meaning and purpose out there.  Thus, my journey has begun to find a reason to live.

Over the weekend I attended a benefit concert for Kay’s Kamp and Ashley’s Orphans.  Kay was one of my former students who died of a rare form of cancer shortly after graduating from Red Lion Christian Academy.  Meanwhile, Ashley’s life was cut short prematurely in a boating accident while she attend the Elementary at Red Lion.  Despite their deaths, their legacies live on by the faith each displayed in their living years.

Lost in my attempt to provide for my family is a higher calling, a vision to make an impact for eternity.  When the Raymond Lee Band donated all of their proceeds from Saturday’s concert to these 2 organizations, my heart was convicted by my selfishness.  Perhaps, we can all learn from this example, sacrificing temporary wants for those around you who are more needy.  May the Holy Spirit, guide each of us to find a higher reason to live, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

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