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Tag Archives: encourage

A Consequence for Failing to Listen

For three years, Jesus poured his heart, soul and mind into twelve men. Whether eating, drinking, lodging or traveling together, Jesus trained these disciples on what it means to be a Christian. While the phrase “let him who have ears listen” is not widely recorded in the New Testament, this expression was likely repeated daily. Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when Jesus talks everyone should listen.

And other seed fell into good soil, and as the plants grew and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundred times [as much as had been sown].” And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words,” Mark 4:8-9.

Unfortunately, busyness, distractions and timing influence your degree of listening. When I’m tense, tired or interruptions occur, my mind wanders. Thus, even when motivational speakers convict, encourage or inspire you to act, listening is a two step process. First, you must clearly hear what has been instructed. Second, heeding the words of Jesus requires a special attention to details, noticing the big picture. Without these two elements working together, the good news about Jesus Christ falls upon deaf ears.

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your countrymen; you shall listen to Him and obey everything He tells you. 23 And it will be that every person that does not listen to and heed that Prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people,’ Acts 3:22-23.

During a sermon given by Peter, a passage from the Old Testament is quoted. Peter is trying to connect with his mainly Jewish audience by revealing a prophecy made by Moses. Without beating around the bush, Peter uses a message of fear to get the attention of this crowd. In this day of political correctness, suggesting that heaven isn’t for everyone results in outrage and persecution. Yet, Peter states that not hearing and taking heed of Jesus’ teaching will result in spiritual destruction. May this warning prompt hearts to develop a keen sense of listening.

by Jay Mankus

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Speed Trap

Back in 1986, I was introduced to the need for speed. The film Top Gun coincided with the year I received my driver’s license. Thus, when Maverick and Goose approach their fighter jet, played by Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards, I understood their conversation, “I feel the need, the need for speed.”

Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; James 1:19.

I was naïve back then, unaware of the speed traps lurking around each corner. Nine months after I got my license I received my first speeding ticket, flying down the St. George’s Bridge, oblivious to the cop at the bottom of the hill. This past Monday, I spent the day in traffic court for my son Daniel who received a ticket Christmas Eve, driving to my parents house after work. Hopefully, he too learned a valuable listen.

For the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us], James 1:20.

The Bible has an interesting perspective on speed traps. Instead of focusing on driving, the context above refers to speeding up and slowing down. The earthly brother of Jesus encourages first century Christians to be quick to listen. Apparently, the need for speed is centered around becoming a better listener. Meanwhile, you must fight the urge to become angry, slowing down as a form of discipline to tame your tongue. Therefore, the next time you get behind the wheel, dial in your ears toward heaven so that you avoid any urge for a lead foot or road rage.

by Jay Mankus

Powerful in Deed and Word

The reality show Undercover Boss premiered in February of 2010. Business owners, CEO’s and presidents go undercover to interact with employees. While disguises vary, the employee’s impression will prove to the boss how important their job is to them. During a seven mile trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Jesus performs a similar act on a couple of his disciples. Jesus plays coy, pretending not to know what happened three days earlier. According to Luke 24:16, no one recognized Jesus, playing the part of an undercover boss.

He asked, “What things?” And they replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, Luke 24:19.

Near the end of this discussion, one disciple makes an interesting observation. While reflecting upon his life, this man compares Jesus to a prophet whose deeds and words are powerful. Jesus wasn’t all talk, no action. Rather, compassion led to miracles, day after day, helping those who came to Jesus as a last resort. Despite the compliments given to Jesus, these men lacked hope, faith and joy, acting like modern defeated Christians.

For indeed you already do practice it toward all the believers throughout Macedonia [by actively displaying your love and concern for them]. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, that you excel [in this matter] more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands, just as we directed you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders [exhibiting good character, personal integrity, and moral courage worthy of the respect of the outside world], and be dependent on no one and in need of nothing [be self-supporting], 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12.

The apostle Paul encourages the congregation of Thessalonica to practice displaying the love of God. Instead of speaking too much, Paul urges believers to live out their faith quietly. Unless you earn the respect of outsiders, you won’t be able to expand the gospel. Thus, while some people find it easy to talk to strangers, living out your faith is more important. When the timing is right, doors will open to further God’s kingdom. Until then, may your deeds be just as powerful as your words.

by Jay Mankus

Restoring God’s Prophecy Over Your Life

A prophecy is compared to a miracle of knowledge. This supernatural declaration is spoken by a man or woman of God who has earned the reputation for disclosing prophetic messages that come true. Many Old Testament prophets had a success rate of over 90% with some not fulfilled by the end of their life. Unfortunately, modern prophets have a much lower rate of accuracy, leaving behind a wave of doubt that discredits anyone who possesses the gift of discernment today. One of the most famous prophecies in the Bible is Jesus’ words to Simon Peter about becoming the rock upon which first century churches were built.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of the living God.” 17 Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favored by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ]. 19 I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth [gwill have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven,” Matthew 16:15-19.

At some point in Peter’s life, this personal prophecy went to his head. On numerous occasions Jesus’ disciples debated who was the greatest among them. While not verbalized in scripture, I am sure Peter quoted Jesus, “I am the rock, what are you?” Thus, on the Eve of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus tries to warn Peter and the others, “the Spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Falling asleep while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane serves as a foreshadowing, a precursor to Peter denying knowing Jesus in public three times. In the passage below, Jesus restores Peter’s confidence about God’s prophecy over his life. However, not without pain as Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times, just like his public denial. After this conversation Peter became a new man, able to fulfill Jesus’ final prophecy in John 21:18, crucified upside down on a cross.

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 Again He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you [really] love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep, John 21:15-17.

Depending upon your own relationships through out life, you may not have encountered a prophet. For those who haven’t been blessed by an individual, the Bible is filled with rhemas. A rhema is a Greek term that refers to an utterance or thing said. Anytime anyone opens the Bible, the Holy Spirit is able to convict, encourage, inspire or uplift souls through the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12. Some of these passages refer to the future Christians. For example, the apostle Paul writes about the good works God has prepared in advance for a congregation in Ephesus, Ephesians 2:10. Therefore, even if you have yet to have an individual prophecize over your life, God has something special in store for you. As the Bible prompts hearts, restores minds and fans into flame spiritual gifts and talents, it won’t be long until the Holy Spirit fulfills God’s prophecy over your own life.

by Jay Mankus

God Only Knows

Since the United States government shut down in late December 2018, there has been ongoing debates about border security.  Democratic leaders have suggested that building a wall to keep refuges out is immoral.  Meanwhile, Republican supporters claim that a nation without defined borders will not survive.  While this war of words goes back and forth, one voice has been ignored.  Every day, the broken, depressed and hopeless build invisible walls to hide the pain deep within their hearts.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

When individuals begin to see their dreams, goals and hope for success slip away, staying optimistic seems impossible.  Although some may muster up the strength to fake how you feel, most people withdraw from society.  If you don’t have anyone to lean on or share your anguish, walls begin to be erected.  Desperate souls may risk becoming vulnerable, pouring out their heart and soul, but if you reveal this information to the wrong person your situation may get worse.  Thus, where do you go when no one seems to care?

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

In 1954, the Philadelphia doo wop group the Capris released the song God Only Knows.  Written by Ruben Wright, this single had a dramatic impact on Motown singer Marvin Gaye.  Perhaps, this original piece inspired the 2018 version from For King & Country.  God Only Knows can be found on the newly released Burn the Ships album.  The chorus of this song reflects upon daily struggles that human being endure.  “God only knows what you’ve been through; God only knows what they say about you.  God only knows that it’s killing you but there’s a kind of love that God only knows.”  May the lyrics of this attached song encourage you to draw near to God as you experience disappointment and heartache in life.

by Jay Mankus

From Heaven or Earth?

When my father was forced to transfer to Cleveland, Ohio to keep his job, I was introduced to cocktail parties.  If you want to move from the middle to upper class, I learned that these social events were a necessary evil.  These house parties enabled my parents to make new friends.  This group called New Clevelanders encouraged parents to bring their own college children to these functions as a way to network as families started over in a new town.  I quickly realized that colleges, degrees and majors provided surface level discussions.  If you wanted to fit in, going clubbing, drinking and partying were code names into this elite club.  I went along with the crowd for a while until conviction made it clear that I was living a lie.

Jesus replied, “I will also ask you a question. You tell Me: The baptism of John [the Baptist]—was it from heaven [that is, ordained by God] or from men?” – Luke 20:3-4

During the first century, Jesus began to debate religious scholars.  Raised in elite and wealthy families, these men were schooled by the best and brightest minds.  Meanwhile, Jesus who spent most of his life as a carpenter, void of any formal educational, drew much larger crowds.  Thus, resentment manifested in the hearts of these men, jealous of Jesus’ popularity.  This culminated in the passage above as Jesus uses John the Baptist to illustrate that authority can come from heaven, not just through earthly institutions.  Certain aspects, knowledge and qualities can only be explained as ordained by God despite what earthly wisdom may suggest.

They discussed and debated it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are firmly convinced that John was a prophet,” Luke 20:5-6.

During a breakfast I had with a friend in December, he marveled at my ability to come up with thousands of ideas for my blogs.  From an earthly point of view, my only credentials for writing involve teaching poetry at a boarding school.  This tangible experience ignited a passion for writing.  Nothing in my past pointed to a career in writing.  My English grades, grammar and vocabulary were average at best.  Yet, just as John the Baptist received a special anointing from God, the Lord has given me the gift of writing in the Spirit.  The more in tune with God I become, the deeper my blogs tend to be.  However, on occasion, I become unplugged, relying on earthly knowledge, struggling to come up with material for a week.  These phases are natural, a by product of human nature.  Nonetheless, while earthly credentials do lead to successful writers, I credit my heavenly father for Express Yourself 4Him.

by Jay Mankus

 

Form Without Function

Function is the basis for an act, serving as the bridge to your ultimate purpose.  Unfortunately, if you find yourself overwhelmed by a hectic schedule, many carry on with their daily routines without any meaningful reflection.  Anyone who allows the busyness of life to consume their soul, you may end up as a prime example of form without function.

What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works, James 2:14.

At some point following his brother’s death, James began to re-evaluate his belief system.  The life, death and resurrection of Jesus challenged his tradition view of Judaism.  The concept of a Messiah was believed to be part of the end times.  Yet, Jesus taught James that faith must be accompanied by good works inspired by love.  Without any external change by displaying fruits of the Spirit, you are merely form without function.

If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do? 17 So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective], James 2:15-17.

While observing religious practices for most of his life, it appears James was simply going through the motions, without a relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10.  Jesus’ lifestyle slowly convicted James’ heart, making him realize that his faith was dead, inoperative.  Following the commandments, praying and worshipping God is merely a to do list, a spiritual checklist.  Seeing the error of his way, James writes to first century Christians to encourage believers to activate their faith.  The love of Jesus is the form in which faith is meant to function.  May this lesson revive and rejuvenate your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

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