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A Noble Society

Impressionism coalesced in the 1860s when a group of artists that included Monet, Sisley and Pierre-Auguste Renoir pursued plein air painting. Meanwhile, first impressions involve ideas, feelings, or opinions about something or someone. This type of impression is formed without conscious thought, often on the basis of little evidence to go on. During a first century visit to a nearby town, a doctor makes an observation, identifying in his mind a more noble society.

Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so, Acts 17:11.

Perhaps, the formation of this belief was formed by living among and with less noble individuals. While serving as a historian to the apostle Paul’s missionary trips, citizens of Thessalonica formed a mob that surrounded the house of Jason. This motley crew was gathered by unbelieving Jews aroused by jealousy. As Luke witnessed this anger, rage and violence, meeting a group of Bereans was like a breath of fresh air. Putting these two experiences together illuminated noble qualities found in Berea.

For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice, That each one of you should know how to possess (control, manage) his own body in consecration (purity, separated from things profane) and honor, Not [to be used] in the passion of lust like the heathen, who are ignorant of the true God and have no knowledge of His will, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.

Months following his visit, the apostle Paul writes his first of two letters to the newly formed church at Thessalonica. Concerned by the unseemly behavior he encountered, Paul urges members to begin to address self control. This advice is based upon the need for Christians to be set apart, living according to the will of God going forward. If anyone seeks to reach noble heights as a citizen, sinful desires must be addressed. When you add Paul’s teaching to the practices of the Bereans, a noble society is possible when God becomes your inspiration for living.

by Jay Mankus

Beware of Public Opinion

While there is usually a hint of truth in every opinion, perspectives can change in an instant.  Professional athletes can be a hero one day and a goat the next.  Politicians can be on the verge of becoming the next president one week and the next treated like road kill, kicked to the curb and buried by the media.  If this isn’t disturbing enough, just post or tweet something politically incorrect and your reputation will be ruined or severely tarnished.

When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, the goddess Justice has not allowed him to live,” Acts 28:4.

Despite the century, jumping to conclusions and first impressions are a part of history.  Just ask the apostle Paul who endured a shipwreck only to become bit by a viper while starting a fire to keep warm.  This led the citizens of Malta to assume Paul was cursed by God, not able to escape justice.  After surviving this poisonous snake’s venom without any ill effects, the tide of public opinion changed.  Days later Paul’s legend grew, like a god.

The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead; but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god, Acts 28:6.

I guess the moral of this story is to keep a level head.  Don’t allow the gossip, opinions or rumors which spread daily to influence how you feel.  Rather, mind your own business and try to live a quiet life, pursuing what’s right.  In the end, people will know you by your actions, love and words.  Let God be in the final judge, until that day, press on to do the work that the Lord has created and called you to do on this earth.

by Jay Mankus

To Hell With You

The other night at Bible Study, an impromptu discussion broke out about how hypocritical Christians can be.  In fact, every year people who are seeking God become turned off by churches, pastors and modern day Pharisees who care more about traditions than displaying the love of Jesus.  Instead of continuing their search, hurt people have decided to stay at home, finding other things to do on Sunday.

In business, there was a an old principle called the 3/10.  For every good experience an individual has, they will tell 3 other people.  However, whenever a customer encounters poor service, they reach out to 10 people, sharing their disappointment and frustrations.  Recently, a new ratio has replaced the 3/10 now known as the 11/4 principle, with the negative being the higher number.  Since first impressions often have lasting affects, if you’re not careful, someone might say, ” to hell with you and your religion!”

 

Unfortunately, the reality in life entices most people to get a little too comfortable, caught off guard by unknowing observers.  As a result, Christianity becomes less and less attractive to Americans due to the bad taste of judgmental believers.  In the end, something has to give, either the offended will give God another try or immature followers of Jesus will grow up by starting to resemble the son of God.  Whenever you are on the road of life, Matthew 7:13-14, may God nudge you back in the right direction.

by Jay Mankus

From Water Into Wine

As in the movies, every human being, regardless of their super natural powers has a weakness, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.  Super Man had his kryptonite, the Wicked Witch of the West water and Eve her apple.  When the lights go out on life, sin is the only thing preventing individuals from the miracle of eternal life.

Unfortunately, doubt, first impressions and stereotypes keep most from living the life God intended, Ephesians 2:10.  The doubting Thomas’, Debbie downers and preconceived notions people pick up from their surroundings create a dome, void of any biblical miracles.  Thus, the devil truly does steal your dreams, kill remnants of hope and destroy the desire to fulfill God’s will for your life, John 10:10.

Where O Lord are the days of your miracles?  Why can’t we see another instance of water turned into wine?  If you are like me, desperate for answers, glimpses of progress or hungry for results, you’ve turned to the right place.  Behind the scenes, God is at work, serving as the God of the living, John 11:38-44.  While you don’t hear of many modern day Lazarus’, the Holy Spirit is alive and active, Hebrews 4:12.  The spiritually dead are being revitalized, raised up by the Word of God, John 3:16-17, turning tears of water into everlasting wine, John 4:13-14.  Taste and see how good the Lord is, Psalm 34:8!

by Jay Mankus

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