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Divine Visitations

According to a 2020 survey, 77 percent of Americans believe in the concept of a guardian angel. Meanwhile, a number of celebrities have recently opened up about their own divine visitation. Jurassic Park star Chris Pratt told Esquire Magazine about a man from Hawaii who brought him a message from God while he was homeless. Denzel Washington saw an angel as child and met a woman a few days later who shared a prophecy about his future fame. Samantha Fey goes into further details about these accounts in an article entitled True Stories of Heavenly Encounters with Angels.

And behold, that very day two of [the disciples] were going to a village called Emmaus, [which is] about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 And they were talking with each other about all these things that had occurred. 15 And while they were conversing and discussing together, Jesus Himself caught up with them and was already accompanying them. 16 But their eyes were held, so that they did not recognize Him, Luke 24:13-16.

When a first century doctor writes about another divine visitation, it’s worth examining his story. According to Luke, 2 of Jesus’ disciples had planned a trip to the village of Emmaus on Resurrection Sunday. This 7 mile walk gave those traveling ample time to talk. Apparently, the resurrected Jesus blended into the crowd, asking a series of questions. Based upon the words of Luke, Jesus is curious about what these men remembered. The other members of this group can’t believe these are being asked. Nonetheless, Jesus’ personality goes unrecognized for the entire day until they broke bread together. As soon of their eyes were opened, Jesus vanished, likely into the setting sun.

Then they drew near the village to which they were going, and He acted as if He would go further. 29 But they urged and insisted, saying to Him, Remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. So He went in to stay with them. 30 And it occurred that as He reclined at table with them, He took [a loaf of] bread and praised [God] and gave thanks and asked a blessing, and then broke it and was giving it to them 31 When their eyes were [instantly] opened and they [clearly] recognized Him, and He vanished (departed invisibly), Luke 24:28-31.

Whether you’re talking about biblical events or modern day encounters, why does this happen? Why is it necessary for God to send a messenger to human beings? Perhaps a busy schedule has distracted individuals from what they were meant to do? Maybe Christians have lost their way, lost their confidence or broken dreams have caused people like me to stop and pick up the pieces? These brief visits serve as a spark to reignite your joy for life. While some may provide promises that never come to fruition, divine visitations are necessary to help the lost get found, the broken healed and the wayward back on track. May this blog give you the boost that you need to carry on with the rest of your life in 2021.

by Jay Mankus

Staying Connected to the Right Things

When you add together all the live audiences, radio and television, Billy Graham proclaimed the good news about Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23, to 2.2 billion people during his 99 years on earth.  However, someone had to introduce Billy to Jesus.  Without this individual’s efforts, the spread of Christianity may not be what it is today.  Mordecai Ham was an evangelist who visited Charlotte, North Carolina while Billy was in high school.  Moved by Mordecai’s message one evening, Billy invited Jesus into his heart, Romans 10:9-10, as a teenager.  When people stay connected to the right things, spiritual fruits blossom.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment, He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly, Acts 10:1-2.

During the first century, the apostle Paul traveled throughout the Middle East on four different missionary journeys.  I guess you can say Paul from Tarsus was the Billy Graham of his day.  Yet, if it wasn’t for a man named Cornelius, Paul may have never become a Christian.  This military leader developed a stout reputation in his community.  This devout believer was grounded, fearing God, a faithful giver and dedicated to prayer.  These spiritual disciplines led to a vision from God that set the stage for Paul’s conversion to Christ.  Staying connected to the right things opened the door for an angelic encounter, as Cornelius immediately responded by faith.

One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.  The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God, Acts 10:3-4.

Before writing the Book of Acts, Luke traveled with Paul on several of his mission trips.  In this case, it appears Luke interviewed Cornelius, recounting his recollection in the passage above.  Based upon this event, God has the ability to commemorate prayers and offerings from your past.  Thus, if you stay connected to the right things, blessings are bound to come.  Sure, nearly 2000 years later the apostle Paul receives most of the credit for fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:7-8.  Nonetheless, God is searching for the next Cornelius and Mordecai Ham who are willing to stay connected to the right things.  While you may never get the attention of a Billy Graham or apostle Paul, those who stay connected to the vine, John 15:1-4, will receive honor and praise from God the Father.

by Jay Mankus

Nearing Danger

In the 1960’s science fiction television series Lost in Space which ran for 3 seasons, the dangers of outer space was a regular theme of each episode.  Whenever Will Robinson, the youngest child, approached a precarious situation, his robot would intervene.  Like a modern day drama queen, each time Will was nearing danger, the robot erupted, “Danger Will Robinson, Danger; no Will Robinson danger!”

As Saul neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him, Acts 9:3.

Since most people don’t have a robot, God gave each human being on the planet earth a conscience.  During the innocence of youth, the radar senses of this invisible force is strong.  Unfortunately, over time the conscience can become corrupted, polluted and unplugged by bad choices, thoughtless decisions and swayed by negative influences.  I guess my parents were right when they said, “if you play with fire enough, sooner or later you will be burned.”

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

For the defiant, ignorant and stubborn, sometimes God intervenes directly.  History reveals angelic encounters, events that defy science and voices from heaven that made bystanders speechless.  Yet, when you become an adult, divine intervention is rare.  Perhaps God expects individuals to mature.  This may explain the apostle Paul’s words to the church of Corinth about becoming a man.  Therefore, whether you are young, old or somewhere in between, as you near danger, learn to become self-sufficient.  By doing this you will serve as an example for those struggling to survive, Matthew 9:12.

by Jay Mankus

 

Earning Your Way on Board

Every day provides a golden opportunity to meet, interact with and make an impact on strangers.  Unfortunately, less and less people view life in this manner.  Thus, as many are simply trying to survive, most stay in their little comfort zone, coasting through life.

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked, Acts 8:30.

The apostle Philip was called to extend the gospel beyond the Jewish community, into Samaria, Judea and into the ends of the earth.  Fueled by an angelic encounter, Philip is steered toward a man from Ethiopia.  However, Philip recognized he needed to find some sort of common ground before trust could be formed.  When the opportunity arose, Philip earned his way on board.

“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him, Acts 8:31.

Seizing the moment, Philip fulfilled the great commission left behind by Jesus for his disciples.  According to this event, the Ethiopian Eunuch returns home as a new believer.  Although its unclear whether this man founded churches in Africa, Philip earned his way on board a chariot, planting a seed of faith which transformed this man’s life.  While this isn’t easy, God is waiting for his children to earn their way on board to revive dying souls.

by Jay Mankus

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