RSS Feed

Tag Archives: blessings from God

All Those Who Were Listening

While Billy Joel refers to honesty as such a lonely word in his 1979 song, teachers often feel the same way about listening.  As a former high school teacher who spent a decade standing in front of teenagers, rarely did I grab the attention of an entire class.  This became apparent during each chapter review prior to the next text as only a handful of students were prepared.  At some point during my lectures, these informed students were attentive, able to concentrate or kept an open ear to what I was presenting.  While uniformed students may cram their way toward a good grade, all those who are consistently listening receive blessings from God.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the message [confirming God’s acceptance of Gentiles]. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, Acts 10:44-45.

While interviewing Peter about an encounter with Gentiles, Luke narrows in on the power of listening.  Based upon Peter’s recollection of this day, not everyone in the audience was listening to his sermon.  This became obvious when those talking in the back or whispering on the side did not receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Whether the words above are a direct quote from Peter or an observation made by Luke the author, “the Holy Spirit only fell on those who were listening.”  While not mentioned, the rest of the crowd sat around dumbfounded, likely disappointed that they missed this blessing from God.

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied up until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is [the fulfillment of] Elijah [as the messenger] who was to come [before the kingdom]. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words, Matthew 11:13-15.

When John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, a delegation of John’s disciples was sent to Jesus to make sense of his earthly ministry.  John’s disciples wanted to know if Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.  Thus, as these men approached Jesus, they hung on every spoken word.  Following a tribute to John the Baptist, Jesus ends his comments with a plea to listen.  Based upon the quote above, there are two types of listening: casual and responsive.  Jesus doesn’t want people to nod in agreement.  Rather, God desires followers of Christ to become doers of the Word by putting Jesus’ advice into action.  Blessings will bestowed upon all those who are attentively listening.

by Jay Mankus

Dropping Anchor to Pray

During a trip to Rome, the apostle Paul’s ship got caught in a northeaster, sending violent waves that crashed against his boat for three days.  Fearful of nearby rocks, the crew dropped anchor upon the sandbar beneath them.  As 276 people waited in the dark, each began to pray for daylight to come quickly.  In the end, this decision to drop anchor kept everyone on board safe.

Fearing that we would be dashed against the rocks, they dropped four anchors from the stern and prayed for daylight, Acts 27:29.

Its uncanny how people tend to wait until the last second to pray.  Instead of thanking God for the little things in life, God has become like Monopoly’s Get out of Jail Free Card.  Subsequently, the Master of the Universe is a crutch people only use when they are in trouble.  When the good times roll, complacency makes the average person think its there doing, not a blessing from God.  Thus, this cycle continues today, using prayer as a last resort.

Pray without ceasing, 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

Perhaps, the apostle Paul also became fed up with this mentality during his life.  In his first of two letters to the church of Thessalonica, Paul urges believers to pray without ceasing.  Whether you are sitting, traveling or walking, prayer is a powerful weapon if relied upon.  Dropping anchor to pray shouldn’t be saved for emergencies.  Rather, prayer provides a covering, a hedge of protection against demonic attacks.  Therefore, in good, bad or indifferent times in life, don’t forget to drop anchor to pray.

by Jay Mankus

 

Back Seat Drivers Afraid to Take the Wheel

In the earliest models of automobiles, the speedometer was located in the back seat. In this environment, the driver could not see exactly how fast they were traveling. Therefore, whenever someone in back sensed a degree of carelessness or recklessness, commands to slow down were conceived. Thus, the phrase back seat drivers was born.

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” – Luke 17:5

A century later, this term has evolved into various forms. In sports, these individuals are called Monday morning quarterbacks, second guessing what coaches, players and stars could have done which to turn a loss into a victory. In the lyrics of their song Back Seat Drivers, the Fold refer to a different concept. This analogy concentrates on people who tell you have to live, but are afraid to take the wheel.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

This is where faith enters the equation, trusting that the Holy Spirit will lead you in the right direction. Sure, there will be critics, especially when you make the wrong decision, missing out on blessings from God. Yet, sometimes you have to learn from previous failures so you know where to turn. Therefore, don’t be afraid to let Jesus take the wheel as those who have begun this journey often experience the ride of their life. May the Lord give you the courage to let go and let God lead the way.

by Jay Mankus

Green Pastures of Prayer

Psalm 23:2 implies several things about the relationship between a sheep and his shepherd.  The expression “makes me lie down” suggests a sheep has submitted to his master.  This commitment yields an individual’s power of control over to their shepherd, acknowledging total surrender.  Like an act of faith, this decision essentially communicates that you have embraced God’s ways, a sign you have turned over a new lease on life to the Lord of heaven and earth.  In return, Jesus promises a future which contains green pastures.

Mark 1:35-39 is a real life example of Psalm 23.  Jesus models an ideal prayer life, early in the morning, in solitude, without the distractions of the world to interrupt your connection with God the Father.  Although some may claim there know exactly what they want to do and where they expect to go on a specific day, the Shepherd knows best.  While praying, the Holy Spirit showed Jesus where to go and what to do, Mark 1:38.  As a result, the disciples experienced the green pastures of prayer during their 3 years with Jesus before his death, resurrection and ascension.  The only question remaining is, can modern followers of Jesus find similar blessings?

Although opinions vary, I believe beyond the walls of doubt exists a lush oasis, waiting for your arrival.  However, daily obstacles often keep you from day dreaming of such a place.  Nonetheless, once you wade through the stresses of life, a shepherd stands guard at a gate.  This entrance to a promised land, illuminates the truth of the Word of God.  Accessible by prayer, may you see for yourself the green pastures awaiting for God’s children.  When prayer inspires tithing, the floodgates to heaven on earth will open, Malachi 3:10-12.  Come now will the grass is still green…

by Jay Mankus

Quiet Waters

Words like silent, tranquil and undisturbed seem so far away from reality.  While America was sleeping, peace has been replaced by violence, slipped into minds full of mush through video games.  Those who are too busy to care, indulge or play, find their amusement is movies, pop culture and the latest car chase on television.  A life full of distractions, interruptions and noise drowns out the serenity of God’s quiet waters.

This promise of Psalm 23:2 may be a flashback from the image portrayed in Psalm 1:1-3.  Those blessed souls who are able to outran the wicked, flee from the presence of careless sinners and avoid joining a crowd full of mockers find their way through the jungle of life.  Beyond the temptations, lies a bubbling brook, full of love, joy and peace.  This living water offered by Jesus in John 4:10 produces conifers, trees that stay green 365 days a year.  Prosperity is like the morning dew, a subtle reminder of God’s presence in this sacred place.

Once you experience this hidden spring, its hard to find enjoyment in the ways of the world.  Sure, temporary pleasures abound, yet nothing satisfies, quickly losing its allure.  The old Southwest Airlines’ commercials have it partially right.  Yes, you’ve got to get away.  However, where you need to arrive is upon the shores of God’s quiet waters.  Like Kokomo, its a mythical destination that only a few find, Matthew 7:13-14.  May the spirit of God, guide you, step by step, until you reach the healing pool, John 5:1-7.  It doesn’t matter why you came or what state you’re in, as long as you believe entering quiet waters will leave you transformed, once and for all.  Get fulfilled today, Matthew 5:6.

by Jay Mankus

The History of Abortion

Ancient Egyptians first practiced abortion while the cities of Pithom and Rameses were being built by Hebrew slaves, 1,400 years before Christ’s birth.  When the Jewish population exploded following governor Joseph’s death, Pharaoh issued a decree to Hebrew midwives.  According to Exodus 1:15-16, the king of Egypt told Shiphrah and Pauh to kill every boy born by Jewish mothers, allowing the girls to live.  Caught in a crisis of faith, the fear of God persuaded these 2 woman to follow their hearts, eventually blessed by God with their own family, Exodus 1:17-21.

320 × 240 – asianews.it

Today, nations like China have instituted a similar practice to reduce their population, limiting families to one child per household.  As a result, China leads the world in abortions per year according to an October 2012 report published by the International Herald Tribune.  In 2011, over 13 million babies were aborted in China alone, 6 million by woman under the age of 25.  Meanwhile, during the same year, India allowed 3.5 million unborn children die with the United States adding another 1.2 million to this list.

 

The sad thing about these abortion facts is that schools teach students not to bully, cheat, fight or steal every year.  Yet, before 18 million future students in 3 nations had a chance to breathe their first breath 2 years ago, each was executed in cold blood.  I’m sure the money is good for those doctors and nurses who daily perform these procedures, but the burden and conscience must weigh heavy on their hearts.  Although Pandora’s Box has already been open, made legal by the United States in 1973, think twice before caving into abortion.  Since my mother experienced a miscarriage during her third pregnancy, if I was born 4 years later, I might have been another statistic, a casualty of the history of abortion.

By Jay Mankus

Inspector Clueso

After my wife and I had our first child in 1998, it was time to begin the search for our first home.  Novices in this area, I called upon my mother, a successful realtor for more than a decade, leaning on her expertise and knowledge to start this process.  Similar to Goldilocks and the 3 Little Bears, it took several visits to a half dozen homes before God led us to the right one.  The last step before giving an offer was the home inspection, a thorough examination by an expert to access the exterior, interior and every little nook and cranny to expose any flaws.

King Solomon talks about a different kind of home inspection within one of his Psalms.  “Unless the Lord builds the home, its builders labor in vain,” Psalm 127:1a.  Based upon a dream from 1 Kings 3:5-9, God blessed Solomon with a heavenly wisdom.  Thus, a home must be built upon a solid foundation to endure the storms in life.  However, structures must also be inspired by the Lord, built for the right meaning and purpose.

The apostle Paul used a similar method for home inspections in his day.  According to 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, each body is compared with a living temple.  Filled with many temporary things in life, believers are reminded that this is where the Holy Spirit was designed to reside.  Upon reading these passages, I am shocked at what I have found living in my own temple.  While painful, internal home inspections are a necessary evil, helping individuals measure their degree of commitment to the Lord.  Don’t put this inspection off another day.  Rather, use Galatians 5:19-23 as a check list to make sure every stone is uncovered.  In his search for the Pink Panther, Inspector Clueso never gave up!  While he was unsuccessful, all the Lord deserves of you is that you honor Him with your body!

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: