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Tag Archives: a personal relationship with Jesus

The Impact of a Gentle Spirit

Gentleness isn’t considered a manly quality. Meanwhile, the macho tend to view a gentle spirit as a form of weakness. As a former high school teacher, boys would regularly refer to passive individuals as wimps. Subsequently, gentleness is one of those godly qualities that few men possess or pursue. Yet, when a gentle spirit is demonstrated and present within a challenging situation, the impact can be life changing.

Remind people to be submissive to [their] magistrates and authorities, to be obedient, to be prepared and willing to do any upright and honorable work, To slander or abuse or speak evil of no one, to avoid being contentious, to be forbearing (yielding, gentle, and conciliatory), and to show unqualified courtesy toward everybody, Titus 3:1-2.

In a letter to a spiritual son, leading Titus into a personal relationship with Jesus, Paul urges him to be conciliatory, gentile and yielding to the needs of others. While Titus likely had impulses to question authority, a gentle spirit has a way of smoothing over the rough edges that most human beings possess. Instead of being bent out of shape over disagreement, gentle people tend to be honorable and upright.

But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. 16 [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear ([e]unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives], 1 Peter 3:15-16.

One of Jesus’ most vocal disciples isn’t referred to as being gentile. Rather, Peter had a tendency to be brash, speaking without thinking about how his words might affect other people. Based upon the passage above, Jesus or some other spiritual leader confronted Peter about his lack of gentleness. Nobody wants to be looked down upon or treated like child. However, when Christians begin to display a gentle spirit, the world will become a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus

How Can You Love Your Neighbor When You Hate The Person You’ve Become?

Clive Staples Lewis was an atheist and British writer before becoming a lay theologian. C.S. Lewis once contemplated the concept of loving your neighbor. The following quote reveals his thoughts. You are told to love your neighbor as yourself. How do you love yourself? When I look into my own mind, I find that I do not love myself by thinking myself a dear old chap or having affectionate feelings.” This same dilemma exists today as how can you love your neighbor when many people don’t like the person they’ve become.

Teacher, which [e]kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] 37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect), Matthew 22:36-37.

Following a series of parables, Jesus is asked by a religious leader a spiritual question. “What’s the most important commandment?” Instead of de-emphasizing the other 9 from the most essential, Jesus divides the commandments into two parts. The first 4 commandments are based upon loving God with the final 6 focused on loving your neighbor. When Christians began to love God with all their hearts, soul and mind, the practice of religion turns into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. 40 These two commandments [f]sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets, Matthew 22:38-40.

When hearts grow cold, love stops naturally flowing out of human beings. If faith is not revived or resuscitated, this lack of love can slowly turn into self hatred for oneself. When sources for love dry up, there is no positivity that bubbles over on to the people you interact with daily. The longer this subtle decay continues, there is no inspiration to love friends and family. The key to loving your neighbor is to tap into the love of God, John 3:16-17. As individuals begin to feel and sense God’s love, desires to pass this on to others is restored. Unfortunately, healing take time. Just hang in there long enough for restoration to ignite your heart with the love of God.

by Jay Mankus

Mind Games

As a teenage boy, I wasn’t charismatic or eloquent. I struggled to maintain a B average and entered high school at 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. While competing in sports was my first love, attractive females began to get my attention. Unfortunately, I was so small and quiet, that I was invisible when other guys were around. Subsequently, dating was something that I longed for, but was unable find someone that liked me more than a friend.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

What made matters worse was a severe speech impediment. When I opened my mouth, I never knew if I was going to embarrass myself in class or actually spit something out. I could visualize what I wanted to say, but my mind would play tricks on me. The longer this condition persisted, I began to develop an ungodly belief that I would never be able to share what was in my heart and on my mind.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. 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 12:1-2.

After entering into a personal relationship with Jesus as a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to the promises of the Bible. When I learned about my own internal struggles in Galatians 5:16-18, the miracles of Jesus gave me hope. My prayers began to focus on healing my stuttering so that this mind game would end. Twenty years after my condition was first diagnosed, the power of the Holy Spirit finally broke through. While the Devil still tries to remind me of my past, the Bible has steadied my faith as this spiritual mind game continues today.

by Jay Mankus

Filling Up Your Cup to the Brim

In this age of calorie counting and weight watching, favorite drinks vary. Whether it’s alcoholic beverages, energy drinks, specialty coffees or a glass of water, the amount of calories will dictate what you decide and how many you will drink. Depending upon how well your New Year Resolutions are going so far, good choices and self-control will shape your beverage of choice. Yet, the Bible refers to filling up a different kind of cup.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over, Psalm 23:5.

The context of the passage above refers to what David as a shepherd had to do daily to meet the needs of his sheep. Since sheep don’t eat or drink when they are stressed, oil is applied by shepherds to each sheep, serving as a bug repellent. Once sheep feel safe and comfortably, water containers are filled to the brim, overflowing so that their noses don’t get stuck. Like a glass of milk before going to bed, drinking this water was the last thing sheep did before falling asleep for David.

Jesus answered her, All who drink of this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life, John 4:13-14.

In a conversation with a Samaritan woman, Jesus brings up the concept of living water. On a hot summer day, in the middle of a desert, a drink of water is refreshing. However, Jesus is talking about eternal life, a living water that will extend far beyond your life on earth. To individuals who enter a personal relationship with Jesus, John 14:6, reading the Bible is like filling your spiritual cup up to the brim, Psalm 1:3. If you want to experience the abundant life, John 10:10, take time daily to drink God’s Word.

by Jay Mankus

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

Cultivating Spiritual Gifts

A spiritual gift is a God-given capability that becomes available to individuals who enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. This hidden skill is available to Christians upon receipt of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-25.  The purpose of God’s spiritual counselor is for carrying out a believers specific function in the body of Christ, which is the Church, John 16:13. Thus, cultivating this inherited talent through a development process is crucial to maximizing this spiritual ability.

But earnestly desire and zealously cultivate the greatest and best gifts and graces (the higher gifts and the choicest graces). And yet I will show you a still more excellent way [one that is better by far and the highest of them all—love], 1 Corinthians 12:31.

According to the apostle Paul, this begins with an earnest desire to draw closer to God. As this relationship strengthens, a zeal is conceived to ascertain, determine, and uncover God’s will for your life, Romans 12:1-2. As your spiritual gift is unveiled over time, God doesn’t want an average or mediocre attempt. Rather, the Lord is looking for your very best effort to unleash best and greatest spiritual gifts on earth. However, cultivating these talents doesn’t stop here.

I am calling up memories of your sincere and unqualified faith (the) leaning of your entire personality on God in Christ in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), [a faith] that first lived permanently in [the heart of] your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am [fully] persuaded, [dwells] in you also. That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination], 2 Timothy 1:5-6.

In a letter to a teenage pastor, Paul writes about the leaning of your entire personality on God. Instead of holding back certain aspects or parts of your life, make Jesus the Lord of your life by surrendering everything. Since this is a continuous and daily process, spiritual gifts should not remain idle. Rather, fan into flame your God given gift to help your local church and community. King Solomon urges God’s people to rely on like minded people to cultivate and sharpen your gifts, Proverbs 27:17.

by Jay Mankus

Vain and Perilous Resistance

If you have ever experienced what I call a God instance, recalling this account to others often unveils bizarre details. In the passage below, I stumbled upon the most detailed version of Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. While explaining his new allegiance to Jewish leaders and Pharisees, the apostle Paul reveals the words spoken to him from heaven. Instead of listening to conviction from the Holy Spirit, Saul was persistent to hold on to his religious upbringing. Instead of embracing Jesus’ teaching, Saul kept kicking against the goads through a vain and perilous resistance.

And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew tongue saying to me, Saul, Saul, why do you continue to persecute Me [to harass and trouble and molest Me]? It is dangerous and turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goads [to keep offering vain and perilous resistance], Acts 26:14.

When you are raised to adhere to, believe and follow a certain set of values, outside opinions usually fall upon deaf ears. Similar to Paul, I grew up Catholic, raised in a strict Roman Catholic church. While I did learn to fear God at an early age, the love of Jesus in the New Testament was rarely emphasized. Thus, as I began to be introduced to Christians who were actively participating in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10, I didn’t know how to respond. God used nightmares in the form of a reoccurring dream of dying over a two year period which finally brought me to my knees, giving up my own vain and perilous resistance.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:19-20.

Today, we live in an age of resistance. For the past three years, Democrats, Liberals and Progressives have failed to accept the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. Instead of learning from their failed attempt to elect the first female president, Hillary Clinton, a resistance campaign has been executed daily with impeachment as the latest plan to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, when individuals fail to embrace the reality of truth, no substitute will do. No matter how hard you may try fill the void in your heart with earthly hobbies, pastimes and treasures, peace won’t be found until vain and perilous efforts to resist God ends. In the passage above, John has a vision of a special door. Heaven’s side doesn’t have a door handle, only a knocker, trying to get our attention on earth. While God knocks, only you can let the Lord in. May this blog inspire you to end vain and perilous resistance by accepting God’s free gift, Romans 6:23.

by Jay Mankus

When Wolves Attempt To Imitate Sheep

At the end of Acts chapter 4, Luke tells a story about a generous man in a local church. A man named Joseph who earned the reputation as an encourager felt compelled to sell a field that belonged to him. After receiving the payment in full, Joseph whose name is eventually changed to Barnabas places this money at the feet of the apostles. News of this generosity spread throughout the Christianity community.

Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and [secretly] keep back for yourself some of the proceeds [from the sale] of the land? – Acts 5:1-3

Based upon the passages above and below, two wolves attempted to infiltrate the local church. Ananias and Sapphira appear to be regular attenders who wanted to be recognized like Barnabas. Instead of doing something for the right reason, hidden motives are exposed by lying to leaders of the church. Each are given the chance to come clean, to admit their scheme to receive public praise and recognition. Yet, these wolves didn’t possess a personal relationship with Jesus. Thus, this couple was playing the game called church, merely going through the motions.

Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me whether you sold your land for so much?” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” Then Peter said to her, “How could you two have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also,” Acts 5:7-9.

Whether you are talking about a church, family or neighborhood, there is always one person who plays the role of chief gossiper. This individual knows all the details, dirt and latest rumor going around. While not everything may be true, this person revels in being in the know. Unfortunately, God sees right through counterfeit, fake and phony faith. Some put on a good act, fool lots of people and pretend to be part of God’s family. Yet, in the end, unless you possess a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, a wolf in sheep’s clothing will always be exposed.

by Jay Mankus

When God is Near… Fear Disappears

If you have lived long enough, you will see something that you can’t explain.  Whether you experience some sort of spiritual phenomena, are spooked by the presence of darkness or witness an unidentified flying object, fear is a common emotion.  These events result in awe, goosebumps and head scratching thoughts.  When God’s presence seems distant, fear can overwhelm souls.  However, when God seems near, fear disappears.

In the same region there were shepherds staying out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone around them, and they were terribly frightened, Luke 2:8-9.

At the beginning of the first century, a few shepherds had their own encounter with the supernatural.  When the country side began to glow with the presence of heavenly hosts, these men were frightened.  Shepherds are use to sudden attacks by wolves seeking to eat one of their sheep.  Yet, when the evening sky is overwhelmed by the glory of the Lord, it’s not surprising that these shepherds were freaked out.  Recognizing the fear in their eyes, an angel used a conversation to settle their nerves.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. 11 For this day in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (the Messiah). 12 And this will be a sign for you [by which you will recognize Him]: you will find a Baby wrapped in [swaddling] cloths and lying in a manger,” Luke 2:10-12.

The term certainty refers to a fact that is definitely true.  Prior to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus, fear riddled my life.  My lack of direction in life along with the uncertainty of my eternal destination resulted in a reoccurring nightmare.  By the age of ten, I cried myself to sleep on a nightly basis, unaware of the meaning to life.  This state of sadness led me to pursue answers to my questions.  While I still get scared from time to time, the moment God entered my life, fear disappeared.

by Jay Mankus

An Infusion of Enthusiasm

While attending a youth ministry trade school back in 1993, I received a couple of 3 ring binder notebooks.  The training material for Tentmakers Youth Ministry was close to two thousand pages on content, taking seven weeks to complete.  This intense active learning leadership course required my full attention, living out the principles I was being taught at my host family.  Nightly assignments were designed to take you out of your comfort zone, forced to interact with strangers at church, local malls and neighborhoods to finetune your conversational skills.  During this two month stretch, I was infused with enthusiasm, driven and encouraged by like minded classmates.

When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, “Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 But when Jesus heard this, He said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but [only] those who are sick, Matthew 9:11-12.

Today, when enthusiasm fades, joy disappears and my energy to do anything is gone, I retreat to find something meaningful in life.  Recently, I came across a quote from this class.  “The excitement of a group never exceeds that of its leader.”  What this statement suggests is that leaders must learn to be self-sufficient, able to recharge their own excitement level.  Although people within various groups may encourage and spur you on, leaders need a daily infusion of enthusiasm.  Without this spiritual discipline, finding motivation to make it through each day, even leaders will lose their vigor for life.

Go and learn what this [Scripture] means: ‘I desire compassion [for those in distress], and not [animal] sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call [to repentance] the [self-proclaimed] righteous [who see no need to change], but sinners [those who recognize their sin and actively seek forgiveness],” Matthew 9:13.

Jesus addresses this issue during a first century conversation.  Righteous zealots were concerned that Jesus and his disciples were compromising their faith by socializing with sinners.  However, Jesus uses logic to show these Pharisees the error in their thinking.  The healthy, individuals who have entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, have learned to be self-sufficient spiritually through a daily dose of prayer, reflection and worship.  The sick, people who have lost their way, need Christians to leave their comfort zones to expand the body of Christ.  Therefore, the more you experience an infusion of enthusiasm for the lost, God can use you to be a light in a dark world to turn to you for answers.  May this blog inspire you to use your daily time with God, praying and reading the Bible as an infusion of enthusiasm.

by Jay Mankus

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