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Your Love

Depending upon the Bible that you read, the word love appears 310 times in the original King James Version. As newer translations have been created, anyone who reads the New International Version, love is mentioned 551 times. If you dig deeper, these passages refer to one of five different types of love. The Hebrew word Ahab and four Greek terms: Agapao, Agape, Phileo, and Eros. Each of these express love from either God’s perspective (unconditional), family oriented (brotherly) or selfish (sensual).

And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment], Philippians 1:9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul refers to love in action. One of the ways Christians demonstrate love is by praying for other people. While writing a letter to a specific church with fond memories, Paul directs his prayer toward their love. Paul’s prayer focuses on a two fold display of love. First, to develop a greater depth of acquaintance, perhaps seeing other people as God sees and loves them. Finally, to deepen one’s comprehension and discernment of God’s unconditional love.

So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble], Philippians 1:10.

As Paul’s letter to Philippi continues, Paul shares his goal for the spiritual growth of these believers. Instead of rambling on and on in prayer, Paul’s mind is laser focused. These expectations set a high bar to follow, but how your love is lived out can change a family, neighborhood or place of work. Following the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, many apostles lived each day as if Jesus was going to return before nightfall. This mindset began to fulfill the Great Commission, Mark 16:15 and transformed the way Christian’s love.

by Jay Mankus

Diakrisis

Pneumatikós is an adjective which is derived from pneúma, the Greek word for spirit. Pneumatikós refers to the spiritual realm,  the invisible sphere in which the Holy Spirit imparts faith. In the passage below, the apostle Paul choses the Greek word πίστις. As individuals begin to listen to and read the Bible, hearts, minds and souls are persuaded by conviction to believe in the risen son of God, Jesus.

But they have not all heeded the Gospel; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed (had faith in) what he has heard from us? 17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself), Romans 10:16-17.

As individuals enter into a personal relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10, a variety of spiritual gifts are imparted. One of these gifts is Diakrisis, the spiritual gift of discernment. Whenever anyone begins to hear voices, logic questions if you are crazy or not? However, as I sought counsel from other spiritual leaders, I wasn’t sure what to do or how to proceed. Several years later, I attended a 2 day conference on discernment. During one workshop, I realized that writing was one of the best ways to utilize Diakrisis.

But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. 16 [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear (unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives], 1 Peter 3:15-16.

A few days after attending this event, I spoke with a woman from my Bible Study. After picking her brain about her own blog, Express Yourself 4Him was conceived. Like anything in life, the initial years was a learning experience, trying to figure out the content, format and overall objective. Using what I learned as a high school Bible teacher, Diakrisis led me to turn my posts into a daily devotional. Although some topics that I chose may not relate to you, I feel called to share my faith through writing about what God is teaching me daily. This is Diakrisis in action.

by Jay Mankus

Special Endowments of Supernatural Energy

Endowments are the establishment of funds via donations for a foundation or institution. This gift serves as a means to finance and subsidize future benefactors such as cancer patients and education for less fortunate children. Conversation talk show host Rush Limbaugh used this concept to coin the phrase “talent on loan from God.” The apostle Paul takes this one step further in the passage below, referring to hidden gifts, personality traits, and talents that you were born with but not yet discovered.

Now about the spiritual gifts (the special endowments of supernatural energy), brethren, I do not want you to be misinformed, 1 Corinthians 12:1.

Some of these spiritual gifts defy science with no rationale explanation. Thus, one translation of the Bible points to supernatural energy in the form of a Holy Ghost. These special gifts include healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues, and working miracles. Between the lines, other unique talents exist, often revealed later on in life. The driving force behind this blog is my ability to write in the Spirit. As long as I keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, concepts, ideas, and thoughts naturally flow out of my heart and mind. As I study the Bible, new revelations are unveiled weekly.

You know that when you were heathen, you were led off after idols that could not speak [habitually] as impulse directed and whenever the occasion might arise. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking under the power and influence of the [Holy] Spirit of God can [ever] say, Jesus be cursed! And no one can [really] say, Jesus is [my] Lord, except by and under the power and influence of the Holy Spirit. Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments (gifts, extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit) and they vary, but the [Holy] Spirit remains the same., 1 Corinthians 12:2-4.

In a letter to the Church at Rome, Paul lists several spiritual endowments, Romans 12:6-8. If you are curious about your own spiritual gifts, there are church growth resources that include spiritual gift tests. Before taking one of these, your scores will vary depending upon your mood. The confident often score high in several categories whereas the humble tend to evaluate themselves with much lower scores. My spiritual gift was confirmed during a two day church conference on discernment. While interacting with other believers, Pastor Bruce opened my eyes to this unique ability to hear and discern God’s still small voice. While writing a teenager pastor, Paul urges Christians to fan into flame their spiritual gifts immediately, 2 Timothy 1:6.

by Jay Mankus

A Rhema or Not?

My initial encounter with the Guinness Book of World Records occurred during an episode of the Brady Bunch. As a means of feeling important, Bobby and Cindy set out to break the world record for swinging on a swing set. According to the show, the record at the time of the original broadcast was 3 days. By midnight, these two energetic kids fell asleep, escorted off to bed by their parents. Despite their failure, Bobby and Cindy made the local paper the following day.

For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure, John 3:34.

When I became a teenager, I went through a Ripley’s Believe or Not phase after visiting a museum down the beach. Instead of breaking a world record, Ripley’s concentrated on strange and unusual feats, similar to a circus freak show. Walking through the exhibits was fascinating, prompting me to discover or realize what special talent God had given to me. While attending a two day seminar on Discernment, the Holy Spirit shined light on my ability to receive rhemas from God.

Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1 Peter 1:23.

Instead of believe it or not, I began to daily ponder, “is this a rhema from God or not?” This mindset gave birth to Express Yourself 4 Him a week later as I reflected upon whispers from God’s still small voice. The term rhema is Greek which translates into English as utterance or thing said. While logos refers to the Word of God, the Bible, a rhema is received when individuals stumble upon a spiritual idea, nugget or truth. The only reason I continue to blog is by grace through faith I am blessed to receive several rhemas each week. The more I read the Bible, rhemas flow as this ancient book comes to life, Hebrews 4:12. May this promise come alive as you too read and study the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Come On Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6x23vYN33s

Every culture has its own unique expressions. Depending upon known awareness, discernment and knowledge, you may be privy to hidden information or oblivious. Thus, you may notice a snide comment or have it go right over your head. In a first century letter written to Christians scattered throughout the Middle East, the earthly brother of Jesus attempts to wake up his audience with the phrase “come now.” This would be equivalent to the modern saying come on man. James is urging his readers to stop doing stupid things as if to suggest, “you know better than that.”

Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit.” 14 [Yet you do not know [the least thing] [about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air], James 4:13-14.

The context of this passage in James 4 has ties to modern inspirational speakers. A modern paraphrase version of this text might say something like “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Apparently, people of faith began to become cavalier, not caring enough about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This mindset lead to a belief that God would take care of these individuals no matter what they did or said. This portion of James’ letter serves as a rebuke, urging Christians to live for today, here and now as tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and we will do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast [vainly] in your pretension and arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:15-17.

Whenever I go a day or two without reading the Bible, strange thoughts begin to enter my mind. Instead of taking my thoughts captive, my mind begins to wander, enticed by the ways of the world. Perhaps, James was aware that people he once respected began to backslide, returning to their former lifestyle prior to becoming a Christian. Thus, James feels the need to write “come on man, what are you doing?” To a certain extent, we all have our senior moments, forgetting the obvious. Yet, if you know what is right and don’t do it, you are just as guilty by committing a sin of omission. May this blog help you realign your life with God’s will by taking life one day at a time.

by Jay Mankus

Fulfilling the Common Good

Good is one of those words that is overused.  As absolutes are becoming replaced by opinions fueled by cable news and talk radio, what is good and what is bad varies.  In the days of the Old Testament, Judges began to do what was right in their own eyes, removing the Bible as a measuring stick.  Similar to modern day humanism, anything that feels natural is deemed good.  On the other hand, anything that results in unpleasant experiences is considered bad.  Those who adopt this mentality place self seeking endeavors above the common good.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

During the first century, there was some confusion due to how God was allocating spiritual gifts among church members.  Apparently, jealousy distracted Christians from accomplishing the common good for society.  People who were blessed with special abilities that demonstrated God’s extraordinary powers were placed in higher esteem that those with more traditional gifts like discernment and hospitality.  This rift within Corinth inspired the apostle Paul to remind believers that without displaying love, spiritual gifts are meaningless, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“Each of us… must rededicate ourselves to serving the common good.  Our individual fates are linked, our futures intertwined.  And if we act in that knowledge and in that spirit, together, as the Bible says, we can move mountains,” President Jimmy Carter 1978.

Jimmy Carter is the last evangelical Christian to hold the presidency of the United States.  Although most Americans would refer to the Carter presidency as a failure, this man has held a higher calling.  Known for his service to Habitat for Humanity, founded in his home state of Georgia, Carter has embraced the concept of providing homes for the homeless.  While most former presidents end up going on book tours, concentrate on speaking engagements or traveling the world, Carter volunteered his time to build homes.  The quote above serves as a great example of what it means to fulfill the common good.  Just as the city of Babel came together with a common purpose to erect a tower, Christian’s united under one spirit can move mountains.

by Jay Mankus

Devoid of Light

A recent eye examine revealed that I am practically blind in my right eye.  The culprit is a large cataract in my eye that is blurring my vision daily.  Subsequently, for the second time in three years I will be having surgery to hopefully improve and repair this condition.  For someone who writes daily and desperately wants to pursue a career as a Hollywood screen writer, the odds are stacked against.  When you find yourself devoid of light, unable to see what you’re reading or about to type, my future seems bleak.

“No one lights a lamp and then puts it in a cellar nor under a basket [hiding the light], but [instead it is put] on the lampstand, so that those who come in may see the light. 34 The eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive, focused on God], your whole body also is full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. But when it is bad [spiritually blind], your body also is full of darkness [devoid of God’s word], Luke 11:33-34.

In the passage above, Jesus compares eyes to the lamp of the human body.  The goal is to place yourself into ideal positions, able to see every angle of what’s happening around you.  Just as fashion designers put lighting to highlight certain aspects of a new home, eyes were created by God to provide spiritual discernment and perception.  The more you focus on God, the clearer things become in life, resulting in good choices.  However, the moment you allow spiritual blindness to enter your life and persist, lives can spin out of control.  Thus, decision making is like being in a fog, devoid of light to lead you out of this darkness.

Be careful, therefore, that the light that is in you is not darkness. 36 So if your whole body is illuminated, with no dark part, it will be entirely bright [with light], as when the lamp gives you light with its bright rays,” Luke 11:35-36.

Beginning in the Old Testament, authors referred to the Bible or Word of God as a source of light.  Amy Grant and Michael Card once sang about this truth in the song Thy Word.  The chorus is straight out of scripture, Psalm 119:105.  God’s Word is like an old oil lamp shinning light into the darkness of night.  Although you may not know where to go initially, wise teachings serve as a light to direct and guide your feet.  While I am anxious about my upcoming eye surgery the last week in November, I do have the promises within the Bible to keep me hopeful.  As I struggle with the possibility of being devoid of human light, seeing, I know my heavenly father has a plan for me to get me through this period of darkness.

by Jay Mankus

Distracted During the Season of Giving

The commercialization of Christmas has influenced how this religious holiday is now celebrated.  Advertisements appeal to humanistic tendencies, often suggesting that bigger is better.  Unfortunately, rarely do commercials address the price of these exotic gifts that few can afford.  Subsequently, in an attempt to impress those whom you love, it’s easy to become distracted during the season of giving.  Instead of getting excited, I dread all I need to do.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn, Luke 2:7.

In modern terms, Jesus was born in a cheap bed and breakfast without a bed, room or special meal for Mary and Joseph.  This humble beginning would make most people ashamed, afraid to talk about the poverty Jesus was born into.  Nonetheless, this child of God altered the Jewish faith and gave hope to Gentiles, those born outside of God’s chosen people.  This child showed adults how to live, how to lead and ultimately, to lay down his life for mankind.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16.

One of the Bible’s most famous verses also details God the Father’s selfless act, sending his son to earth, to live, die and rise again to so others may have eternal life.  While it’s hard to ignore the never ending ads, don’t allow the pressure to out spend others this season ruin your Christmas spirit.  Rather, start each day in prayer, seeking God’s discernment for opportunities to help, serve and reach out to others in need this Christmas season.

by Jay Mankus

Oops I Did It Again

My co-worker and I had an interesting conversation last night.  This discussion centered around whether or not people can actually change.  Trying to be open minded, we disagreed on one’s ability to overcome previous addictions, bad habits and poor character.  While I try to be optimistic, hoping that people reach their full potential, human nature has a way of reverting individuals back to childish ways.  This pattern tends to lead the guilty to confess, “oops I did it again.”

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out, Romans 7:18.

Based upon previous experiences, Harvey tends to believe that people never change.  Although there will be initial signs of transformation, positive steps in the right direction usually do not last.  Sooner or later, bad habits return, ensnaring many in life long addictions.  This reality is supported by the words of the apostle Paul in a letter to the church of Rome.  While it’s unclear what aspect of life this passage is referring to, Paul shares his own internal struggle with fleshly desires.  Since Paul doesn’t declare victory, it’s possible that this apostle fought a losing battle with temptation for years.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My belief in the ability to change lies in the passage above.  I spent many years as a child and teenager saying, “oops I did it again.”  Yet, the apostle Paul provides a blueprint above for anyone feeling defeated.  In order to succeed, you must expect the unexpected.  In this context, temptations are lurking around every corner, luring you to appease your fleshly desire.  However, if you want to resist, be alert, looking for an escape route.  Until you reach this point, any little victories will be short lived.  Therefore, if you want to put your childish ways behind you, 1 Corinthians 13:11, ask God for discernment so that change will occur with one good decision at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Ghostly Encounter

As Halloween approaches each year, I’m always wondering how to respond to this secular holiday.  After reading a passage today about what the disciples appeared to see, this is as good of a time as any to address ghostly encounters of the Bible.  Depending upon which source you reference, a ghost can take the form of an apparition of a dead person.  This manifestation may appear as a glimmer, shadow or spirit.  However, you want to define a ghost, based upon the passage below it’s clear that Jesus’ own disciples believed in ghosts.
But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear, Matthew 14:26.
One of the most famous ghostly encounters in the Bible occurs in the Old Testament.  During the reign of Israel’s first king, Saul’s prophet Samuel and spiritual mentor dies.  When this source of discernment was no longer available, Saul panicked following a rare defeat on the battlefield.  Turning to a medium which he banned from his kingdom, Saul sends servants to find the Witch on Endor.  Despite fear of breaking the law, Saul convinces this witch to perform a séance.  This term is French referring to taking a seat, a session to bring back spirits from the dead.
Then the woman asked, “Whom shall I bring up for you?”  “Bring up Samuel,” he said.  When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out at the top of her voice and said to Saul, “Why have you deceived me? You are Saul!”  The king said to her, “Don’t be afraid. What do you see?”  The woman said, “I see a ghostly figure coming up out of the earth,” 1 Samuel 28:11-13.
Unlike the séance which takes place in the 1990 film Ghost, the spirit of Samuel comes back to give King Saul a message.  Instead of receiving comforting news, the ghost of Samuel communicates the impending doom set to fall upon Saul.  This chapter brings up multiple issues to contemplate.  However, the greatest lesson from this ghostly encounter can be found in who you trust.  While God has allowed certain individuals to communicate with spirits of the past similar to the Sixth Sense, trusting in the Lord alone is essential.  Anything else opens the door for fear which the disciples experienced in Matthew.  Therefore, despite what you might encounter in this life, make sure that you practice the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 so that you are sheltered by the Holy Spirit.
by Jay Mankus
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