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Tag Archives: discern

A Blank Page

As a former athlete, there is nothing like the beginning of a new season.  Every team and each player starts with a clean slate, a blank page waiting to be filled.  While coaches may have certain expectations, only God knows what the final outcome will be.  Thus, as a new school year commences, determination, focus and hard work will dictate how these blank pages will be filled.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

The apostle Paul provides advice for how to approach blank pages.  The key is your mindset, how will you be influenced by worldly temptations?  To avoid a nightmare or poor start, the Bible urges believers to renew your mind by mediating on biblical principles.  As you do, the Holy Spirit will provide discernment to help guide you toward understanding God’s will for your life.

For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people, 1 Peter 2:15.

As a former high teacher, I understand that immature teenagers don’t take certain classes seriously.  Thus, when progress reports go out early in the fall, some parents will be surprised by low grades.  If the ignorance of foolish behavior continues, grade point averages will plummet.  However, for those who press on to overcome a slow start, when blank pages are completed good deeds inspired by faith will overshadow mistakes from the past.

by Jay Mankus

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A Church That is Right When the World is Wrong

Fulton J. Sheen was born in 1895.  Before his death in 1979, Sheen became an outspoken bishop in the Catholic Church.  Sheen’s popularity began as a preacher on radio and television programs.  One of his famous quotes would have offended many if announced today.  Yet, Sheen’s goal was to establish a church that is right when the world around it is wrong.  While logical on the surface, a changing world is often offended by those who cling to absolute truths.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

Fulton was merely practicing the teaching of the apostle Paul.  During the height of the Roman Empire, emperors used their influence to ban, persecute and on some occasions put Christians to death.  Like a bully trying to control those around them, the apostle Paul urged first century believers to win the battle of the mind.  Unless you protect your mind through a daily dose of Bible Study, prayer and worship, conformity to the world will occur at some point.  When this happens to church leaders, the power of the Bible is lost as doctrines become watered down.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

The Bible uses several analogies to explain the ongoing schemes of Satan.  Jesus refers to this fallen angel as the father of all lies.  One of Satan’s objectives is to convince Christians to bend, overlook or stretch the truth.  When weak minded leaders take over a church, worldly beliefs are slowly blended into biblical teaching.  The theological term for this process is known as syncretism.  Unfortunately, when this dangerous practice begins to spread, there isn’t much difference between the church and the rest of society.  When the light of Christ fades and the saltiness of faith disappears Fulton’s goal becomes impossible.  May the Fulton’s quote many years ago inspire believers today to develop a church that is right when the world is wrong.

by Jay Mankus

What You Say Isn’t Always What God Wants Others to Hear

As someone who works at Amazon, I come across thousands of products weekly.  Some of these units I have to examine, investigate or test.  Due to the bizarre nature of some or unusual name of others, I am tempted by sarcasm.  Without any type of a filter, I may blurt out something comical, funny or witty.  Despite how humorous my comments may be from time to time, what I say isn’t always what God wants others to hear.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

I can’t speak for other people, but I tend to go through various stages of conviction.  When I am in tune with God, my spiritual antennas are heightened.  This usually results in obeying God.  The rest of the year I experience weeks when I am numb, aimlessly wondering through life like Israel in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land.  This stage produces periods of coarse joking and sarcasm, as I lose my direction and vision for life.  If I allow apathy to reign, this is where I lose control of my vocabulary, letting loose words slip.

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

As I have fallen into bad habits, the Lord reminded me of this verse above.  Frustrated by my current state, I tried to apply taking my thoughts captive.  What I learned is that what was funny to me last week, isn’t funny to God.  Thus, as I performed my daily responsibilities, keeping my mouth shut was tough, much harder than I thought.  Although I blurted out a few sarcastic responses, taking every thought captive requires extreme discipline.  While I don’t have the ability to be perfect, in my own weakness to do and say the right thing, Jesus can be strong.  Therefore, I press on forgetting my past to focus on the future so that God’s sanctifying grace will make me whole.  In the meantime, make sure the words you utter reflect the compassion, grace and love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Hand Behind the Plan

The origin of the hand of God likely began during the reign of King Belshazzar.  Following the Babylonian’s conquest of Israel and subsequent exile, the hand of God arrived on the scene.  This event could not be explained by modern enchanters, astrologers and diviners.  Thus, Daniel was recommended to interpret the hand behind these words.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote, Daniel 5:5.

In the years that have followed, there is just as much confusion now as then.  Few people today have the spiritual insight like Daniel possessed.  Whether its an anointing, keen awareness or special training, recognizing the hand of God in any aspect of life is difficult.  Those who knew Daniel referred to his ability as having the spirit of the gods within him.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 1 Peter 5:6.

Today, many false prophets exist, claiming to know the hand behind God’s plan.  However, if you read their books, follow their teaching and test these predictions, inconsistencies abound.  In view of this dilemma, its better to follow the words of the apostle Paul above.  The Old Testament is filled with examples of God humbling the proud and lifting up the meek.  Thus, whether you are able to discern the hand of God or not, remember to stay humble and God’s favor will fall upon you.

by Jay Mankus

Gulping Down Evil

Prior to 1955, a bottle of Coca Cola was 6.5 ounces.  If you pour 5 of these into a big gulp cup, the final one will spill out over the top.  Realizing the need for expansion, Coca Cola experimented with a 32 ounce cup supplied to 7 Eleven chains in Southern California.  By 1976, despite public pressure concerning obesity, the Big Gulp was conceived.

A corrupt witness mocks at justice, and the mouth of the wicked gulps down evil, Proverbs 19:28.

Although 7 Eleven stores did not exist during the Old Testament, there were some individuals who developed reputations as heavy drinkers.  Since Jewish weddings could last up to a week, guests who traveled from out of town were wined and dined.  Participating in these festivities likely influenced the words King Solomon chose in the passage above.  Comparing drinking to corruption, there are some people who gulp down evil.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Almost 20 years ago, my friend and I both contradicted Lyme Disease in the same summer.  While my symptoms were caught early, his went overlooked for several months.  Unfortunately, he lost his sense of taste, unable to distinguish between that which is sweet or bitter.  The same can be said about individuals who can’t discern between good from evil.  Subsequently, its possible for a wayward soul to reach a place where one begins to gulp evil.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Stop Being Part of the Problem

As a parent trying to become a good father, the words you choose can either ease tensions within your home or you can be part of the problem.  In my earlier years as a dad, I was often quick to respond, sometimes scaring my children with harsh words.  Instead of trying to resolve an issue, I was actually making the situation worse.

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

During the first century, parents had a similar problem.  One translation in the Bible uses the expression, “fathers do not exasperate your children.”  Timing, tone and words will either console or enrage young people.  Thus, when you do address a concern, interject an opinion or correct an improper behavior, be cautious that you don’t become part of the problem.

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:6.

There’s a saying, “you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”  American evangelist Lorenzo Dow used this in his teachings on the theology of election in the early 1800’s.  Depending upon his audience, Dow found himself in a catch 22 situation, appeasing some while offending others.  The same applies today to parents.  Though its vital to train children to discern right from wrong, the method you choose influences the final outcome.  Therefore, be wise in your spoken words or else you will remain part of the problem.

by Jay Mankus

Do You Not Recognize This Voice?

To detect, notice, observe and spot are all words associated with discern.  Yet, when you don’t have your A game, get distracted or are tired, its easy to miss the obvious.  If you neglect your mind, you just might fail to recognize the advice and direction your conscience want you to take.

Does not wisdom call out? Does not understanding raise her voice? – Proverbs 8:1

King Solomon writes many of his proverbs to sons struggling to make sound decisions.  When you are young, discernment hasn’t been fully developed.  This sense takes time to acquire, often learned through the school of hard knocks.  Therefore, sometimes you need a Eli to come along your side to point you in the right direction.

A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.  So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place, 1 Samuel 3:8-9.

In modern days, Jesus left the Holy Spirit as a voice of reason.  According to the apostle Paul, as soon as you begin to keep in step with God’s Spirit, you can avoid the urge to indulge the sinful nature, Galatians 5:25.  By developing a keen awareness, souls can keep their feet on the straight and narrow.  If you reach a moment of indecision or come across an unrecognizable voice, test it with the 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 principle.  May you find your wisdom along the way in this journey called life.

by Jay Mankus

 

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