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Tag Archives: God-fearing

How Praying Can Direct Your Life

A first century doctor provides a case study on prayer in the book of Acts.  Luke also served as a historian, traveling along side of the apostle Paul to document each missionary journey.  In the chapter below, Luke interviews a man named Cornelius and Peter about a special God instance.  Before meeting one another, each man prayed to God within a 24 hour period.  What takes place in the passage below illustrates how praying can direct your life.

About the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had come to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius was frightened and stared intently at him and said, “What is it, lord (sir)?” And the angel said to him, “Your prayers and gifts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God [an offering made in remembrance of His past blessings], Acts 10:3-4.

A centurion from an Italian Regiment is described as God fearing.  This reverence for God resulted in a devout faith; becoming a family man.  Cornelius earned a reputation for being a charitable man, giving donations to Jews and known as a prayer warrior.  Apparently, praying in the afternoon was a daily habit, resulting in a vision involving an angel from God.  This encounter results in a series of directions which Cornelius acts upon and follows.

The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, 10 but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet descending, lowered by its four corners to the earth, 12 and it contained all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” – Acts 10:9-13.

Meanwhile, 21 hours later God begins to move within Peter as he prays to the Lord.  During a conversation with Luke, Peter describes his experience to a trance.  The hunger within his stomach sets the stage for a teachable moment for Peter.  Initially, Peter rejects God’s message which is contrary to the law of Moses.  However, after God repeats himself a second time, Peter agrees to be open to this new teaching.  Thus, prayer gave a non-Jew in Cornelius hope while changing the heart of Peter to accept future Gentiles, non Jews.  If God can speak to two praying individuals, then image what God can do when communities pour their hearts out to God in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

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Overriding the Rules of the Past

The first five books of the Old Testament are known as the Torah.  This Hebrew word refers to the law of God as revealed to Moses.  If Adam and Eve didn’t break God’s initial rule introduced in Genesis 2:16-17, this collection of rules and regulations for life on earth would not be necessary.  Unfortunately, Adam’s lack of leadership is to blame, allowing and watching Satan deceive and encourage Eve to take and eat fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.  This act of original sin led the apostle Paul to write in Romans 5:12-21 that death came through Adam.  This spiritual destruction was redeemed after God sent a second Adam, Jesus who brought salvation to the world as well as overriding the rules of the past.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (worldliness, manner of life), God made you alive together with Christ, having [freely] forgiven us all our sins, Colossians 2:13.

This concept is explained by the apostle Paul in a letter to the church at Colosse.  This ancient city of Phrygia in Asia Minor provides a vital message for those individuals stuck in modern denominations that focus on legalism rather than grace.  As a former zealot, Paul uses terminology familiar to God fearing Jews to get their attention.  Without a priest sacrificing an animal on your behalf, first century believers in God were powerless to receive forgiveness.  This co-dependency became a tedious practice that Jesus came to abolish.  As a perfect lamb of God, Jesus embraced death on a cross to pay the penalty for mankind’s sin, once and for all.

Having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of legal demands [which were in force] against us and which were hostile to us. And this certificate He has set aside and completely removed by nailing it to the cross. 15 When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities [those supernatural forces of evil operating against us], He made a public example of them [exhibiting them as captives in His triumphal procession], having triumphed over them through [he cross, Colossians 2:14-15.

However, this process would not be completed until Jesus rose from the dead on the third day.  The moment Jesus broke free of his grave clothes, the resurrection was finalized.  This symbolic act cancelled the written codes that stood against human beings.  In one magical second in time, Jesus nailed these age old rules to the cross, conquering death and unlocking the spiritual chains of legalism.  May the passages above speak to heart and give hope to your mind.  While the world tends to believe a relationship with God means living by a strict set of rigid regulations, Jesus came to set you free by overriding the rules of the past with free will.

by Jay Mankus

Another Reason to Pray

My son Daniel recently took the whole family out to dinner.  Proud of his new job, working at the local Brazilian Steakhouse, he wanted everyone to taste the food he takes home each night.  During the evening, several co-workers complimented my son of his strong work ethic and dependability.  Surprised by all this flattery, I thought to myself, “what have I done?”  Drawing a blank, I couldn’t point to anything in particular.  The only thing that came to mind was my daily prayers for each member of my family.  Perhaps, this simple discipline is paying off, transforming individuals through the power of the Holy Spirit.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” Matthew 5:4.

One of the hardest parts of praying is the uncertainty of answers to prayer.  God answers with one of three responses, yes, no and not now.  While some things are obvious like praying for a job or getting into the school of your choice, most topics for prayer take weeks, months or years to get a clear reply.  Although, I have gone through periods of doubt, wondering if I was merely wasting my time, a verse from the book of Acts has given me hope.  According to Luke, a well known first century physician, God has the ability to commemorate acts of faith.

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 10:4.

Cornelius was a God fearing centurion who led the Italian Regiment.  Cornelius wasn’t a do what I say, not what I do kind of guy.  Rather, Cornelius practiced his faith, emulating a godly leader at home and on the battle field.  Based upon the angelic encounter above, God has the ability to bless, honor and memorialize prayer warriors.  Therefore, if you feel like your current prayer life is void of results, don’t lose heart.  Rather, press on with another reason to pray so that God will respond soon to your heart felt plea for action.

by Jay Mankus

Too Many Pinocchios and Not Enough Average Joes

The Adventures of Pinocchio was first published in 1883 by Italian author Carlo Collodi.  Disney released the animated version of Pinocchio in 1940.  This puppet created by the woodcarver Geppetto serves as the protagonist of this film.  Magically brought to life, Pinocchio discovers a shocking reality about truth.  Each time Pinocchio tells a lie, the size of his nose immediately grows.  This standard has been adopted  by members of the media to illustrate the honest from those who distort the truth.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight, Proverbs 12:22.

Unfortunately, when you place a camera in front of most politicians, exaggerations, fake outrage and misleading statements flow.  When you add political talking points to this equation, the concept of cable news panels is becoming a pointless exercise.  If experts, guests and hosts are merely going to regurgitate what their side believes to be true, all you have each night in America for evening news is political spin, often void of truth.  This cycle goes on and on with too many Pinocchios and not enough average Joes.

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish, Proverbs 19:9.

In his 1990 album The Great Exchange, Bruce Carroll released the song Average Joe.  The lyrics refer to an average American family at the time, hard working, church attending and God fearing.  The chorus sings about the power of God flowing through the lives of averages Joes.  Back in the early nineties, this song was considered normal, socially acceptable.  Nearly, thirty years later, progressive ideas has labeled this concept as divisive, judgmental and non-inclusive.  Unless modern Pinocchios are exposed, held accountable and removed from power, average families are in danger of disappearing, shamed into conforming to the ways of the world.

by Jay Mankus

 

Those Without A Voice

Ever since Colin Kaepernick decided to sit down during the National Anthem a few weeks ago, his stance has taken on a life of itself.  Despite wearing socks that depicted cops as pigs, the liberal media covered for Colin, quickly sweeping this matter under the rug.  Meanwhile, the average hard working and law abiding citizen has been forgotten, left without a voice.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you, John 14:26.

The immigrant whose life long desire of owning their own business, the entrepreneur studying the latest trends and God fearing parents trying to start a family typically remain out of the limelight.  Regardless of the roadblocks each face, rugged individualism guide these goal oriented people.  Although success may not be obtained on the first attempt, the hope of the American dream keep many individuals going.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

If you feel left out, forgotten by your country and media, there is One who can intercede on your behalf.  When you reach a crossroads, not sure where to turn, the Holy Spirit is on call waiting for your prayer.  To those who believe in a risen Messiah, this invisible presence stands tall in the darkness of life.  Therefore, if you are on the verge of giving up or throwing in the towel, make sure you cry out to the great I Am; then, you will have a place in eternity.

by Jay Mankus

 

Amusing Myself to Death

The definition of entertainment refers to providing and or receiving amusement or enjoyment.  Early cultures built theaters, often used to host plays to provide comic relief from the troubles in life.  In recent years, sports allows individuals to release their stress for a couple of hours each weekend.  However, if you get too comfortable or close to the finer things in life, you may be in danger of amusing yourself to death.

While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

After a long week of work, I tend to find myself on a recliner soaking in something on television.  While I do spent time outside playing golf, at my current age, I prefer to be entertained.  Perhaps this explains why I have a hard time turning the channel when movies like A Few Good Men, Bourne Identity or Shawshank Redemption come on.  Its strange how reruns can attract someone’s attention, wasting valuable time that could be spent fulfilling your dreams.

So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there, Acts 17:17.

One of the best resources for escaping the grips of amusement is Summit Ministries.  During my decade of teaching, Dr. Jeff Myers and John Stonestreet were at the forefront of preparing students for college.  One of their common messages is that life imitates art.   The best way to address this is by engaging today’s culture through apologetics.  Just as the apostle Paul persuaded the people of Athens, this world needs a leader to snap people out of their spiritual slumber.  May the Lord awaken couch potatoes with the saving grace of God.

by Jay Mankus

 

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