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Tag Archives: angels

Being Phased Out

If you work for a big company, sooner or later you will experience the pain of being phased out.  Sometimes this may be certain positions or an entire department that are eliminated to reduce cost and save money for shareholders.  Industries like coal may be phased out in my lifetime by cleaner, more efficient energy.  Meanwhile, other famous companies file for bankruptcy due to a lack of vision.  Richard Sears began using printed mailers in 1888 to advertise watches and jewelry.  This eventually gave birth to the Sears Catalog in 1943.  However, when Amazon was established in 1995 using the internet as an online catalog, Sears didn’t change their business model in time to save their company and customers.

But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place, Acts 12:16-17.

When Herod Agrippa I gave orders to have James the brother of John executed, Peter became a marked man.  According to Luke, religious leaders encouraged the king of the Jews to arrest and put Peter to death following the Passover celebrations.  While imprisoned, an angel of the Lord led Peter to escape.  However, based upon the passage above, Peter went into hiding, keeping a low profile.  It was during this period that the Lord rose up a godly man who would surprise Peter spiritually.  Saul who changes his name to Paul in Acts 13 is used to phase Peter out.  When the Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria heard the gospel message, Peter was no longer needed as God raised him up to reach a Jewish audience.  A new voice was necessary to introduce the Gentiles to the good news about Jesus.  Thus, Peter is replaced by Paul to start the final phase, taking the Bible to the ends of the earth.

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Acts 1:7-8.

According to the book of Revelation, Jesus will not return until every land, nation and tribe has a chance to either receive or reject Jesus as Savior, Romans 10:9-10.  This final phase is approaching 2,000 years and no one knows how much longer the Great Commission will take to complete.  Sure, there will always be guesses, projections and speculation, but only Jesus knows when this mission will end.  No one likes to be phased out, especially when you are forced to sit on the sidelines as someone else takes your place.  Nonetheless, if you aren’t gathering for God, you are likely scattering by leading others astray.  If this occurs, don’t be surprised if God sends someone else to finish the job that you were assigned.  This might result in being phased out by a believer who is more spiritually prepared than you.  However, failure does not mean the end.  Learn from your past mistakes so that the Holy Spirit will inspire you to be ready the next time God calls.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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The Role of Resolve in Prayer

According to Luke, one of the sons of Zebedee becomes the first of Jesus’ disciples to die a martyr’s death.  Apparently, the spread of Christianity threatened Agrippa I, the new king of the Jews.  It’s unclear why James was targeted, but he was executed in public to send a message.  When this act received praise from Jewish leaders, Agrippa I made plans to do the same thing with Peter.  As news of Peter’s arrest and rumors of another execution reached the church, fear drew believers to fall to their knees to pray.

Now at that time Herod [Agrippa I] the king [of the Jews] arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to harm them. And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword; Acts 12:1-2.

Based upon the passage below, the prayers lifted up to God were fervent and persistent.  Following the Passover, Peter was scheduled to be executed in a similar manner as James.  As this day drew near, prayers of the saints intensified.  Individuals were begging and pleading with God to deal with, fix and resolve this emergency immediately.  Based upon Acts 12:8-10, the Lord sent an angel to save Peter’s life, answering their prayers instantaneously.

When he had seized Peter, he put him in prison, turning him over to four squads of soldiers of four each to guard him [in rotation throughout the night], planning after the Passover to bring him out before the people [for execution]. So Peter was kept in prison, but fervent and persistent prayer for him was being made to God by the church, Acts 12:4-5.

During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, the role of resolve in prayer is mentioned, Matthew 7:7-12.  Step one is obvious, ask God for any requests on your heart or that come to mind.  Step two begins when prayers aren’t answered, seek God to find out why.  Finally, be fervent and persistent by keep knocking on God’s door.  Don’t give up on prayer; resolved to keep praying until the Lord opens a door to reveal answers for your prayers.  This is the role of resolve in prayer.  May your prayer life begin to resemble first century Christians.

by Jay Mankus

When God Has to Repeat Himself

When I was a child, I rarely came to the dinner table the first time my mother called me.  Distracted by what I was doing at the time, I ignored the first warning.  The second call to come to the kitchen was louder, less pleasant and with a threatening tone.  This usually got my attention, but if I was fixated on a game,  I waited for the final warning.  As soon as I heard my full name, I knew I was in trouble, running as fast as I could to avoid future punishment.

This happened three times, and then immediately the object was taken up into heaven.17 Now Peter was still perplexed and completely at a loss as to what his vision could mean when the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions to Simon’s house, arrived at the gate, Acts 10:16-17.

When God seeks to get your attention, the Lord tends to be more patient.  Sometimes God will allow you to day dream about a specific act that He wants you to do.  If overlooked, God may speak to you through a passage in the Bible to further motivate you to act.  If this inspiration fades without any action, angels, visions or visitors may to sent to usher in acts of faith.  In the account above and below, Peter was stubborn, clinging to his former beliefs.  Like watching a rerun for the third time, Peter finally embraces God’s new message.

I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Not at all, Lord; for nothing common (unholy) or [ceremonially] unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, no longer consider common (unholy).’ 10 This happened three times, and everything was drawn up again into heaven, Acts 11:7-10.

The apostle Paul writes about offering your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.  When your heart and mind are fixated on Jesus, you won’t need to have God repeat himself over and over again.  According to Paul, staying in tune with God is like being in a state of worship, staying on key.  As individuals renew their minds through studying the Bible, ascertaining God’s will for your life become an obtainable goal.  Thus, if you’re tired of being left in the dark spiritually, unsure of where to go or what to do, focus on godly values and ethical attitudes to guide your steps.

by Jay Mankus

Day Dreaming, a Trance or a Spiritual Message?

The most common form of altered consciousness is known as day dreaming.  Consciousness is our level of awareness of what’s going on around us and in us at all times. Levels of consciousness are often changing throughout the day, as individuals struggle to concerntrate as brains wander.  As a child, I day dreamed about being a professional athlete.  When my golfing career ended at Qualifying School in 1995, my goals changed toward becoming a good and faithful husband.  Twenty five years later, my dreams have shifted toward becoming a professional screen writer while I enjoy retirement. 

The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, 10 but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance, Acts 10:9-10.

The term “trance” is associated with meditation, magic, energetic flow and prayer.  Trance like states are used by shamans, mystics, and fakirs in healing rituals,  Meanwhile, hypnotherapists, psychiatrists and sports psychologists are among modern therapists who use trances today.  As a former long distance runner, I often blacked out for a period of time while training.  For a quarter mile or more, I slipped into a trance as I listened to music.  The sound of a car horn, the beginning of a favorite song or a new thought snapped me out of this state.  In the passage above, Peter fell into a trance while praying.  The smell of a freshly cooked meal altered his mind, preparing Peter for God’s vision and message.

I will stand at my guard post and station myself on the tower; and I will keep watch to see what He will say to me, and what answer I will give [as His spokesman] when I am reproved. Then the Lord answered me and said,“Write the vision and engrave it plainly on [clay] tablets so that the one who reads it will run, Habakkuk 2:1-2. 

While speaking to his disciples or addressing a large crowd, Jesus chose an interesting expression, “let him who has ears, hear.”  Apparently, human beings have a habit of tuning out when someone else is speaking.  Some may day dream, others fall into trances while many are distracted by their own schedule.  Thus, Jesus is urging his followers to not just listen, but act upon the message God has for your life.  Day dreaming or trance like states distract individuals from becoming doers of God’s Word.  While God uses a plethora of methods (angels, the Bible, dreams, music, prophets and prayer) for communicating to and with those who believe, Jesus yearns for those who hunger and thirst after righteousness.  May the Lord help you overcome the distractions in life to be attentive to God’s next spiritual message.

by Jay Mankus

 

Disguises and Masks

In my early years, I was gullible, often accepting and believing what others told me. This weakness made me an easy prey for practical jokes. After being misled by a group of older boy scouts, my eyes were open to what my peers were capable of. Whenever you get tricked the first time, skepticism will prompt individuals to uncover disguises or masks to avoid getting duped again.

But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons, [misled] by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared as with a branding iron [leaving them incapable of ethical functioning], 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

Based upon descriptions of Lucifer in the Bible, this fallen angel serves as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2. Apparently, one of his disguises comes in the form as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14. Several New Testament writers elude to spirits that masquerade as apostles. Yet, Paul and John urged believers to test everything so that no one is deceived by demonic influences.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world. By this you know and recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ has [actually] come in the flesh [as a man] is from God [God is its source]; 1 John 4:1-2.

There is a healthy balance one must develop between trust and truth. Christians need to be educated by the potential camouflage, shrouds and veils that hide potential harm. Thus, testing spirits based upon scripture will uncover imposters, unmasking evil motives. Meanwhile, relying on the Bible as a source for checks and balances will enable souls to recognize God’s Spirit. While the pulpit may not preach that much about the spiritual realm, Ephesians 6:12, modern Christians must be diligent to avoid disguises and masks the Devil continues to hide behind.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Let Feelings Control Your Theology

Theology is the science of God; the study of beliefs, doctrines and theories based upon the Bible. Meanwhile, feelings are a natural reaction to your emotional state. Under duress, hardship or trials, feelings will clash with your theology. Depending upon your state of mind, words may come out of your mouth that contradict what you actually believe. Thus, when push comes to shove, never let feelings control your theology.

But their report seemed to them like idle talk and nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping [at the small entrance] and looking in, he saw only the linen wrappings; and he went away, wondering about what had happened, Luke 24:11-12.

Three days after Jesus’ death, a group of women are eager to tell the disciples about their encounter with two angels. One of these eye witnesses is Jesus’ mom, insisting that the Lord has risen from the dead. Instead of rejoicing, these men let their feelings control their theology. Subsequently, the disciples accused these women of gossip, hearsay and non-sense. Yet, Peter ran to the tomb hoping that these women were telling the truth.

When Mary came [to the place] where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled, John 11:32-33.

About a year earlier, two sisters found themselves in a similar situation. Their brother had died, succumbing to a fatal illness. However, Martha, reached out to Jesus prior to his death, begging him to come heal Lazarus. When Jesus finally arrived, Mary, the youngest, accused Jesus of not caring and essentially blaming him for Lazarus’ death. While these women let their emotions control their comments, Jesus stayed focused. Jesus gave commands to roll back the tombstone, stood death in the face and brought Lazarus back to life. This is an example of what can happen when belief, conviction and faith never waver.

by Jay Mankus

No Substitute Will Do

As a former teacher, I despised planning for my days off, putting together lesson plans for a substitute.  While this replacement for a class, day or week tries their best to follow the material provided, students will do all they can to battle for a movie day or study hall.  When I returned back to the classroom, I was usually disappointed by the lack of progress that was made.  Although there are several excellent full time subs, some individuals are impossible to replace.

And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed, Acts 14:23.

As an adult, I struggle to focus when I attend a church service and the senior pastor is off or out of town.  Maybe once or twice the guest speaker is just as good, but usually there is a big drop off.  When worship leaders are absent or the A team is away playing for another service, there is usually a noticeable difference.  Whenever superior talent is replaced by an alternate or reserve, these fill ins are put into a no win situation.  If surprisingly good, regulars might feel threatened.  When someone fails miserably, you will likely lose this volunteer, to avoid future embarrassment.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone, Hebrews 2:9.

These illustrations prove that no substitute will do for certain scenarios.  For example, attending church from an off campus sight or virtually on an electronic device is a growing trend.  When pastors or worship teams aren’t available, newly planted churches can participate by watching from a large screen.  If you are not careful, it’s easy to withdraw, staying home to listen to sermons and worship.  I must confess that I have fallen prey to this trap.  I rationalize my actions by listening to two to three sermons each Sunday.  Yet, when it comes to being part of a local congregation, no substitute will do.  God designed the body of Christ around imitate relationships.  Thus. getting involved means going to church, fellowshipping with others and making yourself vulnerable to God.

by Jay Mankus

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