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A Stranger in the House of God

Unless individuals were attending a local synagogue in the first century, church goers met inside a home or outside at a local park. While thousands of people regularly gathered to hear Jesus speak and teach, worshiping God with strangers can be awkward. If the person standing next to you is extremely jubilant or you’ve never heard the song that everyone else is singing, you may feel a little out of place.

One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to dine with him, and He went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. 37 And behold, a woman of the town who was an especially wicked sinner, when she learned that He was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment (perfume), Luke 7:36-37.

This is how one woman felt while Jesus dined with a group of Pharisees. As these men were reclining at a dining room table following their meal, an adulterous woman approached Jesus. It’s unclear if this woman came to confess the sins of her past, but she was suddenly overwhelmed by emotions. Perhaps, the Spirit of God prompted her to wash Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume that she was able to purchase due to her unwholesome occupation.

And standing behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with [her] tears; and she wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed His feet [affectionately] and anointed them with the ointment (perfume). 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw it, he said to himself, If this Man were a prophet, He would surely know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him—for she is a notorious sinner (a social outcast, devoted to sin), Luke 7:38-39.

Despite being a stranger in a house of God, all this woman wanted was to be with Jesus. It didn’t matter what all these men thought or that she was throwing away this valuable ointment. Whether you’re on vacation or simply visiting a new church, when you come to worship God it’s all about Jesus. The next time you feel like a stranger in the house of God, remember the act of this woman so that you will develop the right mindset to worship God.

by Jay Mankus

A Deep and Clear Knowledge of God’s Will

The only thing on earth comparable to uncovering a deep and clear knowledge of God’s will is preparing your body for a triathlon. As a former runner and swimmer, I spent two winters in high school pushing my body to it’s limits. Since my practice schedule rotated with the girl’s team, every other day I would run before swimming. As it got colder, my hair would freeze when I ran after my two hour swim practice. Meanwhile, each summer I would take my boys on long bike trip, somewhere between 10-15 miles. Trying to walk after getting off your bike is hard enough, but finishing a triathlon with a long run takes everything you have just to finish.

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.

In a letter to the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul suggests that discovering God’s will for your life is attainable. However, you must develop the right mindset to make this a reality. Whenever I get lost in the world, filled with countless temporary pleasures, God’s will is put on hold. As a prodigal returns back home to the Lord, rededicating your life back to the Lord isn’t easy, especially when temptations begin to bombard you. Paul compares this with rigid daily disciplines as individuals offer their bodies as a living sacrifice to God. Yet, this is just the initially step before God’s will becomes clear and visible.

For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make [special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things—Colossians 1:9.

While writing to the members of the Church at Colosse, Paul shares a brief outline of his prayers. Paul doesn’t want this church to wonder in the wilderness for 40 years like Israel waiting to enter God’s Promised Land. Rather, Paul wants these leaders to begin to ascertain their spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-11, so that these talents can be put into action, 2 Timothy 1:6. As these God given abilities are brought to light, a glimpse of God’s will for your life comes into focus. Yet, this process often takes years, decades and a lifetime to uncover. If you want to adopt Paul’s prayer for your own life, start this journey today so that a deep and clear knowledge of God’s will is unveiled to you soon.

by Jay Mankus

Striking It Rich

The advent of reality television has spawned a different kind of gold rush as contestants, individuals and a select few are willing to risk everything, even their reputation to strike it rich.  According to the Writers Guild of America in an article written by Charles Slocum, Allen Funt can be credited as the founder of reality television through his 1948 series Candid Camera.  One year prior, Funt’s radio project entitled Candid Microphone has inspired the recent rage in reality programing featured on nearly every cable channel.  Whether this new fad fizzles out soon is unclear, yet one thing is certain, people will continue to endure embarrassment as long as a pot of gold exists at the end of the rainbow.

The Bible provides an alternative perspective on striking it rich.  Prior to his death, the apostle Paul shares words of wisdom to a young pastor in a chapter to Timothy.  Paul’s first advice is to develop the right mindset, 1 Timothy 6:6, focusing on what you have rather than allow envy to steer your attention toward what others have acquired.  Next, Paul urges this teenager to listen to the right voice, 1 Timothy 6:9.  The Greek word used for desire means to have an unshakable thirst for more; thus Paul recommends the message he shared to believers in Rome, Romans 8:5-13.  Finally, if you are blessed with money in this life, maintain the proper attitude described in 1 Timothy 6:17.  By doing this, you can strike it rich spiritually.

Unfortunately, applying these words takes sacrifices, time and a world of adjustment.  While some may be called to a life of poverty like Mother Teresa, others have squandered their wealth like the prodigal son, Luke 15:13-17.  Meanwhile, many have simply buried their talents, afraid of disappointment, failure or rejection, Matthew 25:24-28.  The words of Moses still ring true today, a guide for those hoping to strike it rich, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.  If beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, then riches dwell in the hearts of those who store up treasures for the after life, Matthew 6:19-21.  Begin your pursuit today!

by Jay Mankus

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