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Tag Archives: fearing God

Vain and Perilous Resistance

If you have ever experienced what I call a God instance, recalling this account to others often unveils bizarre details. In the passage below, I stumbled upon the most detailed version of Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. While explaining his new allegiance to Jewish leaders and Pharisees, the apostle Paul reveals the words spoken to him from heaven. Instead of listening to conviction from the Holy Spirit, Saul was persistent to hold on to his religious upbringing. Instead of embracing Jesus’ teaching, Saul kept kicking against the goads through a vain and perilous resistance.

And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew tongue saying to me, Saul, Saul, why do you continue to persecute Me [to harass and trouble and molest Me]? It is dangerous and turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goads [to keep offering vain and perilous resistance], Acts 26:14.

When you are raised to adhere to, believe and follow a certain set of values, outside opinions usually fall upon deaf ears. Similar to Paul, I grew up Catholic, raised in a strict Roman Catholic church. While I did learn to fear God at an early age, the love of Jesus in the New Testament was rarely emphasized. Thus, as I began to be introduced to Christians who were actively participating in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10, I didn’t know how to respond. God used nightmares in the form of a reoccurring dream of dying over a two year period which finally brought me to my knees, giving up my own vain and perilous resistance.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:19-20.

Today, we live in an age of resistance. For the past three years, Democrats, Liberals and Progressives have failed to accept the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. Instead of learning from their failed attempt to elect the first female president, Hillary Clinton, a resistance campaign has been executed daily with impeachment as the latest plan to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, when individuals fail to embrace the reality of truth, no substitute will do. No matter how hard you may try fill the void in your heart with earthly hobbies, pastimes and treasures, peace won’t be found until vain and perilous efforts to resist God ends. In the passage above, John has a vision of a special door. Heaven’s side doesn’t have a door handle, only a knocker, trying to get our attention on earth. While God knocks, only you can let the Lord in. May this blog inspire you to end vain and perilous resistance by accepting God’s free gift, Romans 6:23.

by Jay Mankus

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How Jealousy Can Destroy a Church

The apostle Paul’s initial visit to Thessalonica can be described as the tale of two Sundays.  As a former Jewish zealot, Paul visited the local synagogue and consecutive Sabbaths.  According to Luke, a first century doctor and historian, Paul engaged in a series of discussions and friendly debates.  Paul used the Scriptures to persuade these Jews that Jesus was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.  By the third Sabbath, some Jews, a large number of God fearing Greeks and many leading women placed that faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

And Paul entered the synagogue, as was his custom, and for three Sabbaths he engaged in discussion and friendly debate with them from the Scriptures, explaining and pointing out [scriptural evidence] that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I am proclaiming to you, is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed),” Acts 17:2-4.

This rejection of Judaism didn’t sit well with a majority of the synagogue leaders.  Instead of continuing their friendly debate, unbelieving Jews became filled with jealousy.  Envious spirits provoked synagogue leaders to become hostile toward God, Romans 8:5-8.  The sinful nature influenced synagogue leaders to go down a slippery slope, combing Thessalonica for lowlifes and thugs to intimidate Paul and Silas.  This group stirred up trouble, forming a mob and throwing this city into an uproar, surrounding the house of Jason like a modern public protest.  This is an example of how jealousy can destroy a church.

And some of them were persuaded to believe and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large number of the God-fearing Greeks and many of the leading women. But the [unbelieving] Jews became jealous, and taking along some thugs from [the lowlifes in] the market place, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar; and then attacking Jason’s house tried to bring Paul and Silas out to the people. But when they failed to find them, they dragged Jason and some brothers before the city authorities, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too; and Jason has welcomed them [into his house and protected them]! And they all are saying things contrary to the decrees of Caesar, [actually] claiming that there is another king, Jesus.” They stirred up the crowd and the city authorities who heard these things, Acts 17:4-8.

Jealousy has a long and undesirable past that is documented in the Bible.  Jealousy led Cain, the first human being born on earth, to kill his younger brother.  Jealousy persuaded King Saul to make several attempts on the life of David his predecessor.  Envy isn’t limited to the Bible as acts of the sinful nature prey on souls who deviate, rebel or stray from God.  As someone who spent 7 years as an elder in a church, it only takes one influential leader on a board to follow in the footsteps of this synagogue in Thessalonica.  To prevent a future event from escalating, Paul writes two letters to set high standards for church leaders.  Titus 3:6-9 and 1 Timothy 3:1-7 detail qualifications to guard against jealousy from destroying another church.

by Jay Mankus

Is Being Devout Good Enough?

If you have been to a funeral recently, eulogies tend to focus on the good that an individual has done over the course of their life.  Despite flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, positive qualities are highlighted to give friends and family members hope that their loved one has entered the gates of heaven.  This makes me wonder is being devout good enough?

Now at Caesarea [Maritima] there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Regiment, a devout man and one who, along with all his household, feared God. He made many charitable donations to the Jewish people, and prayed to God always, Acts 10:1-2.

In the passage above, Luke introduces a highly respected individual.  Despite his lack of Jewish upbringing, Cornelius earned a reputation of being God fearing.  This holy reverence inspired a cheerful heart to give and fueled a desire to pray to God daily.  Perhaps, this character makes Cornelius an ideal candidate to become the first Gentile to receive the good news about Jesus Christ.

This Jesus is the stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief Cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation],” Acts 4:11-12.

Earlier in the book of Acts, Luke makes it clear that being devout is not good enough.  There is only one door, one way that leads to eternal life, faith in Jesus Christ.  God found favor in Cornelius, using a series of events that led to a meeting with Peter.  During Peter’s message within a house in Caesarea, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening.  Immediately, following Peter’s mini-sermon, Cornelius and his family were baptized.  If you want the eternal security mentioned in 1 John 5:13, place your trust in Jesus to seal the deal, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Staying Connected to the Right Things

When you add together all the live audiences, radio and television, Billy Graham proclaimed the good news about Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23, to 2.2 billion people during his 99 years on earth.  However, someone had to introduce Billy to Jesus.  Without this individual’s efforts, the spread of Christianity may not be what it is today.  Mordecai Ham was an evangelist who visited Charlotte, North Carolina while Billy was in high school.  Moved by Mordecai’s message one evening, Billy invited Jesus into his heart, Romans 10:9-10, as a teenager.  When people stay connected to the right things, spiritual fruits blossom.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment, He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly, Acts 10:1-2.

During the first century, the apostle Paul traveled throughout the Middle East on four different missionary journeys.  I guess you can say Paul from Tarsus was the Billy Graham of his day.  Yet, if it wasn’t for a man named Cornelius, Paul may have never become a Christian.  This military leader developed a stout reputation in his community.  This devout believer was grounded, fearing God, a faithful giver and dedicated to prayer.  These spiritual disciplines led to a vision from God that set the stage for Paul’s conversion to Christ.  Staying connected to the right things opened the door for an angelic encounter, as Cornelius immediately responded by faith.

One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.  The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God, Acts 10:3-4.

Before writing the Book of Acts, Luke traveled with Paul on several of his mission trips.  In this case, it appears Luke interviewed Cornelius, recounting his recollection in the passage above.  Based upon this event, God has the ability to commemorate prayers and offerings from your past.  Thus, if you stay connected to the right things, blessings are bound to come.  Sure, nearly 2000 years later the apostle Paul receives most of the credit for fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:7-8.  Nonetheless, God is searching for the next Cornelius and Mordecai Ham who are willing to stay connected to the right things.  While you may never get the attention of a Billy Graham or apostle Paul, those who stay connected to the vine, John 15:1-4, will receive honor and praise from God the Father.

by Jay Mankus

Is it Worth the Sleepless Nights?

I have a tendency to dream big, develop amazing visions that only someone who is rich and famous should possess.  Yet, I press on, taking a leap of faith, trying to maximize my time, pushing my God given talents to the limit, hoping that I will taste success one day soon.  However, a part of me still wonders, “is it worth the sleepless nights?”

For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear, Ecclesiastes 5:7.

According to one of the wisest to ever walk the face of the earth, dreaming is something you should be weary of.  I’m assuming Solomon is referring to those individuals focusing on a life outside of God’s will in the passage above.  Ultimately, God is whom you should fear.  Nonetheless, my greatest fear is living an entire life without using the unique gifts God has blessed me with.  Therefore, I will continue to endure sleepless nights until I find my place in this world.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future, Jeremiah 29:11.

While some my think I’m nuts, I believe God allowed me to lose my teaching position so that I could begin to write movie scripts.  Five years later, I have completed three films, the last in record time, less than 11 months.  I’m not sure why I have received visions on a trilogy about the Devil’s invisible attacks on mankind, but I know I need to be faithful to this calling.  Where this leads me, only God knows.  For now, its off to the editing process and copy righting, before sending this script off to Hollywood.  Perhaps, this year is the one that will put me on the map.  If not, the only thing standing in my way of success is another sleepless night.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Humility and Tears

During a period known as the Healing Revivals of the 1950’s, prosperity theology first became prominent in the United States.  Yet, the origins of the prosperity gospel can be traced back to the New Thought Movement which began in the 19th century.  Based upon the teachings of Malachi, referencing the storehouses of heaven, those who embrace this theology emphasizes that God will deliver his promises of the Bible for those who believe.  Unfortunately, this mindset differs from the ministry of the apostle Paul.

I served the Lord with great humility and with tears and in the midst of severe testing by the plots of my Jewish opponents, Acts 20:19.

In a meeting with the elders of Ephesus, Paul gives a farewell address, preparing church leaders for a time when he will longer be with them.  Paul’s description of his service is interesting, similar to words shared in Philippi.  To avoid becoming prideful, Paul felt led to pursue meekness.  Despite the victories Paul experienced, he admits that ministry can be painful, especially when someone you love abandons or leaves the faith.

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, Philippians 2:12.

Warning a community of believers from complacency, Paul suggests to diligently work out your salvation with fear and trembling.  Sure, part of the journey of faith is to pray for and cling to God’s promises.  However, genuine faith involves overcoming hardship, leaning on God’s grace in times of trials.  Thus, as this new year continues, may you follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul by practicing humility and crying out to the Lord in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

 

Ride Forth in Victory

Like the classic Queen song, We are the Champions, the thrill of victory is much sweeter than dealing with loss.  During my first season of coaching high school golf, I started 4-0 and finished 0-6.  Eight years later I saw an 8-1 team on the verge of making states, collapse down the stretch, going 1-5-1 missing states by a few percentage points.  While achieving victory on earth varies from person to person, you can ride forth in victory with confidence spiritually, 1 John 5:13.

According to the sons of Korah, 3 things as essential to secure victory, Psalm 45:4.

1. Truth

When Jesus spoke to a group of Jews during his last year on earth, he claimed that holding to his teaching leads to spiritual insight, John 8:31.  Jesus boldly proclaimed, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” John 8:32.

2. Humility

The wisest man beside Jesus to walk the face of the earth is Solomon based upon rulings like 1 Kings 3:16-28.  After being blessed with fame, riches and power, Solomon learned the dangers of pride, Proverbs 11:2.  His advice to cope with this inclination is to fear the Lord, humbling yourself until honor is bestowed, Proverbs 15:33.

3. Righteousness

One of the most famous church hymns was inspired by Jesus’ sermon on the mount, Seek Ye First.  In the segment of his message on proper and improper motives, Jesus introduces the secret to eliminating worry.  When you come to the point in your life where you seek first God’s kingdom and righteous, the Lord promises to provide for all of your emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

May this teaching give you a blue print to ride forth in victory.  Let us know how your journey toward victory is going.

by Jay Mankus

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