RSS Feed

Tag Archives: encouraged

Strange but True

Talking to yourself may not be natural, but people do think out loud.  When you hear voices or whispers, you may be imagining something that is not there.  However, when God speaks to certain individuals using a still small voice, this may sound strange but it is true.  According to Genesis 2:5-6, God’s initial creation did not include rain as a high water table allowed springs to water the earth.  Thus, when God addressed Noah about building an ark, no one had ever seen rain before.  Building a giant boat is one thing, but doing so without understanding the concept of a flood required a rock solid faith.

God said to Noah, “I intend to make an end of all that lives, for through men the land is filled with violence; and behold, I am about to destroy them together with the land. 14 Make yourself an ark of gopher wood; make in it rooms (stalls, pens, coops, nests, cages, compartments) and coat it inside and out with pitch (bitumen), Genesis 6:13-14.

After the scattering of nations at Babel, God sought out a man named Abram.  The Lord promised Abram a great nation.  However, there was one major problem, Abram’s wife Sarai was barren, nearing the age where having a child is unlikely.  Initially, Abram took matters in his own hands, having Ishmael with a maid servant named Hagar.  As Sarai’s biological clock was nearing an end, the Lord performed a miracle as Isaac was born.  However, Genesis 21 unveils God’s request for Abraham to sacrifice his son.  As this drama unfolds, Abraham reaches a point where the only logical explanation for this offering is that God will resurrection his son.

Now [in Haran] the Lord had said to Abram, “Go away from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; 2  and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you [abundantly], and make your name great (exalted, distinguished); and you shall be a blessing [a source of great good to others]; Genesis 12:1-2.

These are just two examples from history that illustrate God’s ability to communicate with human beings.  Sometimes God uses a burning bush, a dream or sends an angel to supply his next set of directions.  Sometimes these words don’t make sense, but that is where faith comes into play.  Testimonies allow present Christians to tell their story of how God is working in their lives.  While these stories may appear strange as information is revealed, fellow believers will be encouraged by the wonderful ways in which God moves and works.

by Jay Mankus

On the Job Training

As advances in technology changes how businesses are run, on the job training isn’t what it use to be.  When I was younger, new employees would shadow someone for a day or possibly up to a week.  Afterward, you would be given time to ask questions, picking someone’s brain to absorb as much as possible.  Other fields offer an apprenticeship where individuals interested in pursuing a specific occupation are given a month, season or year to decide if they have what it takes to succeed.  Today, people are thrown into the fire with little training, given some sort of wiki page to fall back on if they don’t know what to do.  The end result of this age is high turnover rates as companies no longer invest in people like my father’s generation.

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”  “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”  His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” John 2:3-5.

In the first century, Jesus was instructed by God to select twelve disciples prior to beginning his three year earthly ministry.  However, during an emergency at a friend’s wedding, Mary, the mother of Jesus panics.  With only six disciples part of his team, Jesus wasn’t ready to introduce the world to God’s message of salvation.  Promising to obey his parents following his Bar mitzvah at age twelve, Jesus agrees to save his mother’s friend from social disgrace, running out of vine at a wedding.  This opportunity gave the six disciples present a chance to see Jesus at work.  When you see your own boss perform a miracle, these six individuals were sold, buying into a life of serving God.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” Matthew 28:19-20.

Today, on the job spiritual training often conflicts with businesses, careers or jobs.  As progressive ideas become embraced by political leaders, a wave of political correctness is shaping future policies within companies across America.  While some of these changes are beneficial, others are in direct conflict with biblical principles.  Thus, followers of Christ are asked and encouraged to ignore the Bible so that other views aren’t offended.  While my generation was taught to agree to disagree on certain issues, fulfilling Jesus’ great commission today will rub people the wrong way.  Evangelism can be a thankless calling, experiencing rejection daily.  Yet, if you want to be true to Jesus’ plea in the passage above, on the job training must involve sharing your faith in the area or areas where you are gifted.

by Jay Mankus

Actions Affect Access

Since I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to go confession whenever I made a mistake, messed up or sinned.  Initially, this meant going to a confessional booth.  However, as I got older I meet face to face with a priest.  After bearing my soul, I was usually told to say x amount of Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s, then I would be forgiven.

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! – Isaiah 1:15

Looking back, this practice doesn’t make sense.  Then again, I was also encouraged not to challenge authority so I conformed until college.  Through Bible studies, conferences and retreats, I learned that my actions affect access to God.  While you have to be careful not to fall into an Old Testament view of God, acts of contrition following confession is a essential.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

The prophet Isaiah first informed the Jews that there are conditions when God will not listen to your prayers.  Unconfessed sin is like a barrier that blocks your connection with God.  Without genuine repentance people will experience periods of mundane prayer where the Holy Spirit is absent.  Following the model displayed in James 5:16 can awaken the Spirit of God.  If you want to improve your spiritual Wi-Fi connection with God, think twice before giving into temptation since actions affect access.

by Jay Mankus

So Many Holidays…Few Transformed Hearts

When I was younger, any day out of school was worth celebrating.  The longer the break, the better the holiday placing Christmas and Thanksgiving at the top of my list.  Yet, holidays are meant for reflection, appreciating or thanking those from history who has made a lasting legacy.  If these special days pass without any remembrance, the purpose of holidays are wasted.

“Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land that the Lord your God is giving you,” Deuteronomy 5:16.

In recent times, entire months are devoted to a cause.  Whether its Black History, Breast Cancer Awareness or the next government sponsored movement, the calendar is running out of days.  Perhaps, this over saturation has calloused hearts and numbed minds.  Subsequently, America is left with so many holidays with few transformed hearts.

Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching. For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer deserves his wages,” 1 Timothy 5:17-18.

Maybe its time to downsize days off.  As a former teacher, days off are a welcomed site to most adults.  Yet, why do something just for the sake of a day off.  If children are encouraged to plant trees on earth day, why not read the Bible at Christmas.  Why stop there as action, practical application and integration changes lives.  As we approach Memorial Day, may God move you to celebrate the reason for each season.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Can I Get A Witness?

Depending upon the context, the phrase “can I get a witness” has different meanings.  If you’re in a car accident, a witness could determine if your insurance will rise or stay the same.  In the court of law, a good or bad witness can sway the outcome of a trial.  Meanwhile, movies like School Ties reveal how anyone who sees a person cheat is encouraged to turn the guilty party in or the ethics code as a whole fails.

“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house, Matthew 5:14-15.”

From a spiritual perspective, Christians are suppose to stand out as shinning examples of God’s light.  Essentially people of faith are called to emulate the Bible’s truth by demonstrating fruits of the Holy Spirit.   Although many choose to be a chameleon, blending into the world, Jesus calls these individuals out, claiming the light is not in them, 1 John 2:11.  Thus, preachers today often make a plea from their pulpits in the form of “can I get a witness?”

But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of ajny kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people, Ephesians 5:3.

The type of witness the Bible is searching for possesses a genuine spirit, full of grace.  While these standards are hard to live up to, Jesus sets the bar high, Matthew 5:48.  As you wake up, you may not feel like following in the footsteps of Jesus.  Nonetheless, the strength of Christ in you will surpass what human limits allow, Philippians 4:13.  Therefore, if you want to please the Lord, stand up today by being an unabashed witness for Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: