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Tag Archives: baptized

Wisdom, Virtue and Faith

After graduating college, I was fortunate enough to travel through out the mid-west.  During this time, I visited a couple of mega churches that still exist today.  I spent time at Parkside Church in Cleveland pastored by Alistair Begg, the voice of the Truth for Life radio ministry.  I attended Community Church on Wednesday nights, listening to John Ortberg at Willow Creek Community Church west of Chicago.  While participating in a youth ministry trade school called Tentmakers, I visited the Church of the Open Door just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota.  As I reflect upon these three places of worship, my time there reminds me of the passage below.

So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.

According to Luke, following Saul’s conversation, the first century church enjoyed a period of peace without persecution.  Churches in Judea, Galilee and Samaria shared three common traits: wisdom, virtue and faith.  Like any spiritual awakening, the presence of the Holy Spirit comes forth in unique ways.  Luke highlights two aspects of this spiritual growth as believers walked in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit.  As wisdom, virtue and faith continued to be built up, people entered into personal relationships with Jesus daily, baptized and becoming active members of these church communities.

But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature together with its passions and appetites.  25 If we [claim to] live by the [Holy] Spirit, we must also walk by the Spirit [with personal integrity, godly character, and moral courage—our conduct empowered by the Holy Spirit]. 26 We must not become conceited, challenging or provoking one another, envying one another, Galatians 5:22-26.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul provide a blue print for modern believers to follow.  Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.  Virtue involves adopting behavior which results in high moral standards.  Meanwhile, faith is complete trust or confidence in God.  When you join these three qualities together, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is achievable.  As a disclaimer for perfectionist who read this, no one will be able to hear, listen and obey God’s Spirit every time.  Yet, the more you keep in step with God, the easiest it will become to do so in the future.  Wherever you may be in your faith journey, emulating the first century church will place you one step closer to keeping in step with the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

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Setting the Stage for Healing

Whenever you study history, there are certain elements that tend to get overlooked.  If don’t have the full context of an event, you might miss an important detail.  Context refers to the circumstances that form the setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed.  As I read the book of Acts today, one miniscule verse in the Bible sets the stage for healing.

As he traveled he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him [displaying the glory and majesty of Christ]; and he fell to the ground and heard a voice [from heaven] saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting and oppressing Me?” And Saul said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He answered, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting, now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men who were traveling with him [were terrified and] stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul got up from the ground, but though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And he was unable to see for three days, and he neither ate nor drank, Acts 9:3-9.

Previous sermons that I have heard about the healing of Saul who becomes Paul ignored Acts 9:9.  After being blinded from some sort of bright light from heaven, Saul loses his appetite.  From a Hebrew mode of computation, Saul went about 48 hours without food or drink.  As an author and doctor, Luke does not describe Saul’s decision as a fast.  According to one Bible commentary, such a period of entire abstinence from food, in that state of mental absorption and revolution into which he had been so suddenly thrown, is in perfect harmony with known laws and numerous facts.  By falling back upon his Jewish upbringing, Saul’s decision to fast and pray sets the stage for healing.

So Ananias left and entered the house, and he laid his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came [to Damascus], has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit [in order to proclaim Christ to both Jews and Gentiles].” 18 Immediately something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he got up and was baptized; 19 and he took some food and was strengthened, Acts 9:17-19.

Based upon his response to being able to see again, Saul gives God the full credit.  Moved by this miracle, Saul asks Ananias to baptize him immediately.  Although Luke doesn’t specify how Saul broke his fast, regaining his vision revigorated this man who previously persecuted the first century church.  Whenever you endure a life altering event, fasting is the most prudent spiritual response to any trial.  Saul’s healing provides hope to readers of the Bible of God’s potential power.  While permanent healing may not be part of God’s will for you, those who wrestle with God in prayer are often surprised by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, if you want to set the stage of healing, don’t forget to fast and pray to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Reaching a State of Expectation

From time to time, I make the mistake of trying to make changes to my life without asking or seeking God’s help.  While determination, discipline and focus can be effective tools to alter bad habits, spiritual ruts and unhealthy patterns, human effort will only take you so far.  I guess this is human nature’s way of learning the hard way.  Whenever I reach a point of frustration, unsatisfied with the current state of my faith, responding to a convicted heart is the best place to start.

Even now the axe [of God’s judgment] is swinging toward the root of the trees; so every tree that does not produce good fruit is being cut down and thrown into the fire,” Luke 3:9.

In the first century, God sent a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of His son Jesus.  Known as John the Baptist, this prophet used the Old Testament practice of purging to pierce the hearts of his audience.  As individuals began to reflect upon their vast imperfections, many came forward to be baptized by John.  Uncertain of what to do next, soldiers and tax collectors consulted John on the proper acts of penitence to pursue.  This advice provided vision for these newly baptized souls, reaching a state of expectation, looking for opportunities to serve God each and every day..

The crowds asked him, “Then what are we to do?” 11 And John replied, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do the same.” 12 Even some tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked, “Teacher, what are we to do?” 13 And he told them, “Collect no more than the fixed amount you have been ordered to [collect].” 14 Some soldiers asked him, “And what about us, what are we to do?” And he replied to them, “Do not extort money from anyone or harass or blackmail anyone, and be satisfied with your wages,” Luke 3:10-14.

Belief without trust, faith without action and hypocritical words are some of the reasons Christian churches aren’t flourishing like the first century.  One of the main culprits for this spiritual stagnancy are believers void of any fruit, Galatians 5:22-23.  If Christians are suppose to be the light of the world but lack integrity no one will take them serious.  Meanwhile, if the church is suppose to be the salt of the earth but lose their saltiness, there is no flavor left to incite any kind of spiritual hunger.  Therefore, if you want to reverse this trend, let the words of John the Baptist inspire you to reach a state of expectation influenced by the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

The Threat of Faith

According to the scientific community life evolves.  As environments or habitats change, creatures and human beings are forced to adapt if they want to survive.  The same can be said about worldviews.  When truth is conveyed, realized or revealed, belief systems are put to the test.  This is the threat of faith.

For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us, Acts 6:14.

People will always go through periods of change.  Whether its puberty, relationships or unforeseen trials, each day provides a series of surprises.  Through the good and bad, hearts rejoice and grieve, while emotions rise and fall.  Yet, when what you have always known is challenged, faith and doubt collide.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

Through the years, time can take a toll on wounded souls.  In the case of the Jews, religious leaders thought the Jesus movement would destroy Judaism.  Thus, this threat elevated tensions, fueling resentment against Christianity.  As more and more individuals believed and were baptized, faith became a threat.  Nonetheless, when souls hear or read the words of the Bible, faith becomes a friend in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

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