RSS Feed

Tag Archives: fellowship

S.A.N.S. Episode 354: Hey Hey

Today’s song touches on the expression, “be careful what you wish for.” While every has dreams and goals in life, earthly desires can serve as barriers, obstacles, and roadblocks from making these wishes a reality. Hey Hey starts with an open-ended question, “what does the world have to offer?” As you look into this from afar or up-close, you may be attracted by what you see? Then again, if you’ve lived long enough like me, you recognize the empty promises to a life filled with sin.

[So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents]. But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations]. If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts], 1 John 1:6-8.

The Elms bring n important question to light through the lyrics of Hey Hey. While the chorus is nothing more than slang, each new stanza addresses a different group of people. After listening to this song for the first time, I was reminded of the passage above. Who you have fellowship with will dictate the person that you become, Psalm 1:1-3. The more questionable characters you surround yourself with, the more open you become to a secular lifestyle. As you enter a new year, chose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

Walking in Habitual Fellowship with God

When you read the four gospels in the New Testament of the Bible, the majority of the travel over land occurs while walking. These trips throughout the eastern Mediterranean region of the Middle East often occur in groups. Jesus sent the other seventy disciples in Luke 10 in pairs of two. Meanwhile, the twelve disciples walked together from place to place, observing and watching their spiritual leader. As Matthew, Mark, Luke and John reflect upon Jesus’ life on earth, He walked in habitual fellowship with God.

Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God after the birth of Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 So all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him], Genesis 5:22-24.

After the first six generations of descendants of Adam were mediocre at best, a shining star is born to Jared and his wife not mentioned by Moses. While the first boy in the Bible called Enoch is Cain’s first son who he built a city in his honor, Moses does not reveal Jared’s inspiration for naming his first son Enoch. The key point to remember about this second Enoch of the Bible is that he habitually walked with God daily. Enoch made the Lord his best friend on earth, praying to Him without ceasing.

And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a [u]deserted place, and there He prayed. 36 And Simon [Peter] and those who were with him followed Him [[v]pursuing Him eagerly and hunting Him out], 37 And they found Him and said to Him, Everybody is looking for You. 38 And He said to them, Let us be going on into the neighboring country towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out. 39 [So] He went throughout the whole of Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons, Mark 1:35-39.

The best example of what habitually walking with God resembles comes from the passage above. John Mark recalls an account from one of the disciples who went searching for Jesus early one morning. As the twelve disciples became stressed out, Jesus was receiving instructions from the Holy Spirit on where to go and what to do, Galatians 5:25. Jesus modeled how to keep in step with the Holy Spirit by his spiritual discipline of an early morning walk and time of prayer. As 2023 approaches, may you be inspired to devote next year to habitually walking in fellowship with God.

by Jay Mankus

Family and Faith

Some people may blame the death of two family members a week a part on bad luck. Others may point to destiny or fate for this rare occurrence. Yet, for me as a participant in the burials of Dick and Barb Wagner (my wife’s mother), I saw this as an opportunity for family and faith. Pastor Shawk’s message at Barb’s funeral, the day before her burial, was entitled Faith and Family. As I listened to Carl reflect upon his father’s life (Richard’s son), family and faith appear to be the legacy of the Wagners.

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses]. For by [faith—[b]trust and holy fervor born of faith] the men of old had divine testimony borne to them and obtained a good report, Hebrews 11:1-2.

Following the burials, those in attendance spent a few hours at one of Barb’s favorite restaurants. Meanwhile, conversations continued all afternoon long. Between golfing, playing disc golf and having leftovers in the hotel lobby, the deaths of Barb and Dick has brought everyone closer together than ever before. There is something about breaking bread together that sets an ideal environment for relationships to grow stronger. Perhaps, this explains Luke’s words in Acts 2:42 with fellowship as one of the core practices of the apostles.

By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible, Hebrews 12:3.

The author of Hebrews lays out how belief and faith work hand and hand. Part of faith is trusting that God is in control, Proverbs 3:5-6. Subsequently, when circumstances in life causes doubt to enter your mind, remember the victorious Christians of the past who are mentioned in the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11. Each one was challenged and tested, but as each matured, their faith stood tall. Yet, in times of death, families are needed to lift you up from sadness. May this blog inspire you to center your life around faith and family.

by Jay Mankus

Stir Up, Stimulate and Incite the Love of Jesus

As a former high school teacher, there was always at least one student per class who knew how to stir up trouble. If I didn’t identify this individual quickly, it wasn’t long before I lost control of an entire classroom. Yet, stir up does include synonyms that can be construed as positive. In the passage below, one New Testament author refers to someone who generates, sparks and triggers an atmosphere of love.

And let us consider and give [d]attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, Hebrews 10:24.

As soon as someone sets the tone for a positive climate to exist, others are stimulated to follow. Yet, if Christians don’t lead the way consistently, it won’t be long until another person fills this leadership void. The author of Hebrews urges believers to be attentive, careful and watch over one another. Guidance is provided by studying the Bible which is the source to finding out how to love.

And this is the message [the message of [g]promise] which we have heard from Him and now are reporting to you: God is Light, and there is no darkness in Him at all [[h]no, not in any way]. [So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents], 1 John 1:5-6.

While incite is often used in a negative manner, you can instigate a moment for the kingdom of God. In the passage above, light is the key to love. Unfortunately, all too often darkness enters the equation which tends to drag everyone else down. Therefore, if you want to stir up, stimulate and incite the love of Jesus, become partakers in Christian fellowship to inspire others to pass on God’s love.

by Jay Mankus

Joining the Fellowship of Faith

The origin of fellowship comes from the Greek word koinonia. This comes from the ancient Greek prefix koinos. Like anything in life, human beings tend to share common interests. As these individuals get to know one another and gather together, fellowships are formed. The goal of any fellowship is to pursue a shared interest or aim as one united body. The question is are you going to remaining on the sidelines or join the fellowship of faith.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

The first century church didn’t have lavish buildings with immaculate worship centers as a common meeting place. Rather, generous and wealthy church members opened the doors of their homes. Based upon the accounts in the New Testament, pot luck dinners were shared each week to get to know other people. When you’re having a rough week, Paul encouraged believers to keep meeting together.

So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the [c]hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. 24 And let us consider and give [d]attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, 25 Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching, Hebrews 10:23-25.

Meanwhile, the author of Hebrews paints a picture of what can happen when fellowships begin to love one another. When you have a spiritual brother or sister to hold you accountable, you have a reason to hold fast to your faith in Jesus. As you study the Bible with other Christians, this is one way to join the fellowship of faith. While the Coronavirus has disrupted many social functions in churches around the world, don’t be afraid to join the fellowship of faith in 2022, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Partners in the Fellowship

The book definition of partner is a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits. These relationships are often described as associates, colleagues, or teammates. When partners become intimate, terms such as soul mate are more appropriate as these individuals become focused on a common goal.

So then, those who are people of faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God [as partners in fellowship] with the believing and trusting Abraham, Lamentations 4:10.

Meanwhile, a fellowship is formed when multiple people form a friendly association based upon a shared interest. This joint venture often results in the establishment of a church, a safe place where people of faith can come together to reinforce their biblical beliefs. This is the context of the passage above as Jeremiah refers to the Jewish faith, partners in the fellowship due to their spiritual forefather Abraham.

Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

King Solomon illustrates the power of partners in the passage above. Solomon highlights the fact that there is power in numbers. Jehan Palsgrave was the first to record the expression “the more the merrier” in 1530. This mindset that the larger the number of participants, the greater the fun applies today in the context of a church. As one body with many parts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, with each possessing unique spiritual gifts, officially joining a church makes it possible to become partners in the Fellowship of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Make Sure That You are Knocking on the Right Door

Long before the days of cell and telephones, if you wanted to talk to someone you would go over to where they lived or write a letter. If this desired individual lived close by or in a nearby neighborhood, walking over to knock on the front door was a common practice. In the days of my youth, I regularly rode my bike or walked over to a friends’ house. On a couple of occasions, usually at night, I knocked on the wrong door. These embarrassing moments were short lived by quickly getting directions to where I needed to go.

When he, at a glance, became aware of this [comprehending all the elements of the case], he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where a large number were assembled together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the gate of the porch, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 And recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she failed to open the gate, but ran in and told the people that Peter was standing before the porch gate, Acts 12:12-14.

However, sometimes you are at the right place, but are surprised by who answers the door. Perhaps, a friend, relative or visiting neighbor greets you. Following a period of awkwardness, you are able to enjoy a time of fellowship. During the first century, Peter was at the right house, but the residents inside didn’t believe their maid. Rhoda opened the front gate, but not the front door, running inside to tell everyone the great news. Despite their pedigree of faith, a house of unbelieving souls doubted Rhoda until a persistent Peter kept knocking until he was finally let inside.

They said to her, You are crazy! But she persistently and strongly and confidently affirmed that it was the truth. They said, It is his angel! 16 But meanwhile Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the gate and saw him, they were amazed, Acts 12:15-16.

Near the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares praying to knocking on a door, Matthew 7:7-8. Jesus expounds upon this analogy with a three step process: asking, seeking and knocking. Everyone has probably experienced a moment of prayer where God seemed distant. Yet, when doubts begin to creep into your thoughts, Jesus urges believers to press on by continuing to seek God. Finally, if the Lord hasn’t clearly answered your request, keep knocking on God’s door like the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8, until justice arrives. In today’s scenario, fasting and praying until a cure for the Coronavirus is found.

by Jay Mankus

Forming a Complete Picture of God

It’s rare that you see kindness and severity in the same sentence. These opposing terms highlight elements of God’s nature. According to the apostle Paul, you should take note and appreciate both aspects of God’s personality. While God can demonstrate affection, concern and warmth, this is only one side of the picture. When commands, decrees and expectations aren’t met, God’s wrath is displayed through curses, loss and rebukes.

Then note and appreciate the gracious kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s gracious kindness to you—provided you continue in His grace and abide in His kindness; otherwise you too will be cut off (pruned away), Romans 11:22.

In the second half of the passage above, the apostle Paul adds a spiritual disclaimer. God’s grace and kindness is dependent upon how you exercise your free will. Those who abide in the fruits of the Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, enjoy and partake in fellowship with God. However, if you indulge your sinful nature, the severity of God can be unleashed upon disobedient souls. When you consider the pros and cons, a complete picture of God comes into view.

[So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents]. But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations], 1 John 1:6-7.

The disciple whom Jesus loved uses an analogy to paint his own picture of God’s true nature. Comparing a relationship with God to taking a walk, you have one of two options. According to John, each choice either represents light or darkness. Decisions inspired by the Holy Spirit result in blessings. On the other hand, poor choices influenced by your sinful nature bring spiritual darkness. The more you abide in Jesus, the clearer human minds become, able to envision a complete picture of God.

by Jay Mankus

Until I Walk Where I Belong

Hypocrisy is the contrivance of a false appearance of virtue or goodness, while concealing real character or inclinations, especially with respect to religious and moral beliefs. Whenever individuals begin to say one thing publically, but your every day actions tell a different story, a hypocrite is on the verge of being conceived. Unfortunately, at this moment in time, I find myself in the sad state of indulging in hypocrisy. This trend will continue until I begin to walk where I belong, exchanging darkness for the light.

If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 1:6-7.

A fellowship is formed when a group of people who share a common interest come together to reinforce this activity, belief or conviction . During his 3 year earthly ministry, Jesus used the analogy of light and darkness to express those who embrace God from others who have strayed from Old Testament principles. The disciple who Jesus loved builds upon this concept in the passage above highlighting that hypocrites are walking in darkness, not in the light of Christ.

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed, Romans 13:11.

One of the ways first century Christians inspired change was to develop a mindset that Jesus’ second coming is imminent. The apostle Paul eludes to this in a letter to the Church at Rome. When bad habits begin to become a life style, the fear of God is needed to awaken souls like mine from their spiritual slumber. Thus, until I start walking in the light, where I belong, examples of hypocrisy will continue to send a mixed message to others. Therefore, it’s time to leave my deeds of darkness by abiding in God’s light.

by Jay Mankus

Entrusted to the Grace of God

As a former youth pastor, I have seen how creative teenagers have become to raise money for mission trips.  During my tenure at First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana, three bus loads of junior and senior high students spent a week each summer repairing roofs for a poor community in southern North Carolina.  Anyone who donated money received an invitation to a banquet where pictures and testimonies were shared.  This event was designed to highlight and summarize all that God had done through these young people.

From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work which they had now completed, Acts 14:26. 

Based upon the words of Luke, Paul and Barnabas began this tradition at their home church in Antioch.  Paul and Barnabas traveled over 1200 miles in a little over two years.  As a result of their travel, more than a dozen new churches were established.  These new partnerships resulted in a series of letters, questions and return visits to help and nurture new converts to Christ.  According to Luke, it took a long time to communicate all that had happened, staying in Antioch an extended period, fellowshipping with Christian brothers and sisters.

Arriving there, they gathered the church together and began to report [in great detail] everything that God had done with them and how He had opened to the Gentiles a door of faith [in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior]. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples, Acts 14:27-28.

While fasting and praying back in Acts 13, the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to become missionary partners.  Luke refers to this event as being entrusted to the grace of God.  The church leaders in Antioch assigned the task of missionaries to these two godly leaders.  Paul was a Roman citizen while Barnabas was a wealthy man, a good combination for traveling throughout the Mediterranean.  Depending upon the gifts, resources and talents you have been blessed with, make sure you listen to God’s calling so that you will fulfill what God has entrusted you to do.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: