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Tag Archives: God the Father

A Baptism of Suffering?

As a former high school Bible teacher, I am familiar with the differences between a believer’s baptism, christening and dedication.  Depending upon the denomination, leadership and theology of a church, baptism can be a divisive issue.  During one conversation in college, I was told if I wasn’t immersed, then I wasn’t truly saved.  I don’t think this is what Jesus meant by a baptism of suffering.

I have a baptism [of great suffering] with which to be baptized, and how [greatly] I am distressed until it is accomplished! – Luke 12:50

In the passage above, Jesus begins to reveal the fate that he must endure in the coming weeks.  The disciples could not wrap their heads around Jesus’ comment.  Many of these men believed that Jesus would become an earthly king, rising to power as king of the Jews.  Thus, the twelve disciples ignored Jesus’ warning, focusing on their travel plans for the next day.  To a certain extent, everyone overlooks signs and warnings from friends, distracted by selfish ambition.

Or are you ignorant of the fact that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We have therefore been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory and power of the Father, we too might walk habitually in newness of life [abandoning our old ways], Romans 6:3-4.

The apostle Paul unravels what Jesus means by the statement a baptism of suffering.  At the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, bishops agreed upon the term homoousios.  This means that Jesus, God the Father and the Holy Spirit are the same substance.  This means that Jesus was perfect, not needing to be purified.  However, as the Lamb of God, without blemish, Jesus needed to fulfill God’s will by suffering and dying on a cross.  Since Jesus completed his mission on earth, modern followers are baptized into Jesus’ death and raised from spiritual death through the power of the Holy Spirit.  May this blog bring clarity to this topic.

by Jay Mankus

Listen, Obey and Yield

During the last half century, I have been fortunate enough to attend, listen and participate in numerous inspirational events.  I went to Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during a Billy Graham Crusade to hear NFL Hall of Famer Reggie White speak.  Shortly after getting married, I heard former Colorado football coach Bill McCarthy address a crowd of sixty five thousand men during a Promise Keepers event at Soldier Field.  I spent a year under the spiritual leadership of Alistair Begg, the voice of Truth for Life ministries at the Chapel in Solon, Ohio.  Finally, I spent another year soaking in the knowledge of John Ortberg via Community Services at Willow Creek Community Church in Barrington, Illinois.

But even as he was saying this, a cloud formed and began to overshadow them; and they were [greatly] afraid as they entered the cloud. 35 Then a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, My Chosen One; listen and obey and yield to Him!” – Luke 9:34-35

Many of these speeches invigorated my soul, eager to live out my faith.  Yet, there is one message that stands alone in the Bible.  In the passage above, there were only four people present.  Beside Jesus, James, John and Peter were on a mountain that was engulfed by clouds.  This formation is similar to a heavy fog, limiting your visibility to a couple of feet.  Within this cloud, the voice of God the Father spoke.  To make sure there isn’t any doubt, God identifies Jesus as his own son.  Believing that brevity is clarity, God the Father shares seven words.  The command is simply: listen, obey and yield to Jesus.

When the voice had ceased, Jesus was found there alone. And they kept silent, and told no one at that time any of the things which they had seen [concerning the divine manifestation], Luke 9:36.

Listening means to be attentive, concentrate, hang on and keep your ears open.  Obeying is the act of accepting, bowing, carrying out, deferring to and submitting to that which is being recommended.  Yield refers to bear, contribute, fetch, gather, provide and realize the plan.  In this context, the calling that God has designed for your life.  According to the passage above, theses three disciples were in awe, reflecting upon what had just happened.  None of these men revealed this event until after Jesus rose from the dead.  Although there were only three eye witnesses, God’s message to modern believers hasn’t changed.  Listen, obey and yield to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

What Disturbs the Devil?

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” – Genesis 3:1

1) Obedience

Whenever someone refuses to break a rule, fails to compromise or take a short cut, the Devil becomes unsettled.  Therefore, expect a heavy dose of temptation in minds to challenge authority, doubt absolute truth and draw a new line for modern times.  Hollywood is a pawn that continues to remake documentaries and movies about American history, Bible stories and godly leaders in the past, hoping to rewrite a legacy void of character, integrity and truth.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!   I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.   I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.   So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. – Luke 15:17-20

2) Repentance

Any act, attempt or consideration to reconcile unhinges the Devil.  Whenever you confess your sins, you attract God the Father’s attention, thereby creating panic within the realm of fallen angels.  To squash any thoughts of this, don’t be surprised by spirits of bitterness, grudges and or pride getting in the way of restoring broken relationships.  Those on the verge of mending friendships will have unusual things occur, trying to distract and prevent you from publicly expressing your sorrow, James 5:16.

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted[a] by the devil.   After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. – Matthew 4:1-2.

3) Fasting

Finally, the spiritual practice of forgoing food to draw near to the Lord will certainly be like stirring up a hornet’s nest.  Fearful of the powerful results portrayed throughout the Bible, Satan will pull every dirty trick out of his play book to prevent you from entering this state of worship.  Mental, physical and spiritual attacks always follow this practice so be on guard if the Holy Spirit encourages you to participate in a fast, Ephesians 6:11-12.  Arm yourself with the attitude of Christ so that you will be reach new heights in your relationship with God.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Lost Days

For the last 6 months, I made a sacrifice, working nights to provide for my family.  Subsequently, I adapted my schedule to begin sleeping during the day so I could stay awake at night.  Looking back now, this decision has led to several lost days.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16

In an attempt to gain wealth, I’ve neglected my role as a father.  Sure, I’ve tried my best on my days off, yet the wear and tear of the night shift has stripped me of energy.  Thus, I’ve come to a cross road, hoping to seize the days of my life which remain.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17

With 2015 still relatively young, there is time to change course.  Although my work out and dietary plans have already fallen short of my goals for this year, God’s forgiveness is new every day, Lamentations 3:22-23.  Leaving my failures in the past, its time to arise and move forward to seize the days before they are lost again.

by Jay Mankus

Why is God Taking so… Long?

In this day and age, waiting is like praying for patience, nobody wants to do it.  The essence of waiting involves one of two options: either stay where you are or delay your plans until something happens.  However, if you’re not in a safe place common sense will urge you to move.  Meanwhile, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might overlook the obvious sign God has provided.

In Psalm 22:1, David’s prayer mirrors Jesus’ words in Matthew 27:46.  David went from the out house as a lonely shepherd, living in country fields under the stars to the penthouse, anointed as the next king of Israel in 1 Samuel 16:13.  However, the catch was David had to wait until Saul’s death until this dream became a reality.  A whirl wind took David to the king’s palace as a servant to the king, playing his harp, to a battle field, defeating Goliath and to a cave fleeing the wrath a jealous king, literally running for his life.  This is the context in which David felt forsaken and forgotten, unable to wait any longer.

Meanwhile, Jesus spent 6 hours hanging from a cross before his death.  Without any pain killers, Jesus endured excruciating  pain as 3 modern railroad sized spikes went through each hand and both ankles.  If this wasn’t bad enough, insults and mocking followed, carrying on for hours.  Grasping for air to breath, having a conversation to share his final words was exhausting.  Thus, God the Father went silent, allowing His Son to finish the task that Jesus was sent to earth to complete, Luke 19:10.  Not able to wait any longer, Jesus gave up his spirit, succumbing to the natural forces of life.

Perhaps, Hebrews 12:4 was placed into the pages of the Bible for impatient people on earth.  Despite the trials you encounter in life, God reminds mankind that at least you didn’t have to shed your blood on a cross.  With this subtle reminder, may God fill you with the spirit of Isaiah 40:28-31.  If you find yourself tired, weary and lacking understanding, may the wings of eagles lift you up as wait on God.  In your weakness of impatience, God is strong, carrying you periodically when you can’t tarry on, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  Although I don’t know why God is taking so long to reveal His plan to me, I am clinging to His promise of a brighter future, Jeremiah 29:11.

by Jay Mankus

Lost and Found

When I was in junior high, I lost my retainer walking home from a friends.  Although I should have had it in my mouth, I was a teenage boy who just happened to put this retainer in a pocket with a hole.  To make matters worse, it was late fall with large leaves everywhere on the ground.  As I retraced my steps, I had to get a rake, spending hours until dark searching and praying.  Unsuccessful, I went back early the next morning on Saturday, desperately hoping I didn’t have to tell my parents I lost a $300 dental piece.  On a whim and many prayers, I tripped over my retainer, uncovered all the debris and went home rejoicing.

In the gospel of Luke, a doctor devotes an entire chapter to the theme of lost and found.  Whether its a sheep that wandered off from its owner, a woman misplacing a valuable coin or a rebellious son who lost his moral compass, each parable illustrates the love of God the Father.  According to Luke 15:7, any time a sinner who has lost their way finds their way back to Jesus, angels celebrate in heaven rejoicing over a repentant soul.  Whenever the lost are found, fairy tale endings occur.

However, today there are more distractions to cause the curious to stray off course.  In fact, one may say the severity of temptations in this age may be greater than ever.  Nonetheless, you should not use disclaimers or create a built in excuse for sin.  Moreover, 1 Peter 2:11-12 is pertinent advice, warning the unprepared by the invisible war just in case anyone get’s too comfortable.  As for now, make sure pride doesn’t convince you to believe that you can be your own shepherd.  Follow the principles of Proverbs 3:5-6 and you will stay in communion with God.

by Jay Mankus

Worship + Fasting = Spiritual Insight

The question, “am I in the right place,” is something I often ponder.  At my wit’s end, I turned to the pages of the Bible to find answers to this dilemma.  To my amazement, the words of Acts 13:2-4, jumped off the pages today, putting an equation into my mind: Worship + Fasting = Spiritual Insight.

Worship isn’t a service you attend once a week on Saturday night or Sunday.  Nor is worship a portion of a church service where you sing hymns or modern worship songs.  Rather, worship is an acquired adoration of a living God, where an individual devotes time each day to honor and revere the creator of the heavens and the earth.  As this relationship kindles, lyrics of praise become etched upon their hearts, paying tribute to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Fasting is a spiritual practice neglected by many denominations in recent years.  My first encounter with fasting began in high school, by not eating red meat on Friday’s during the Catholic celebration of Lent, prior to Easter.  Authors like Jentezen Franklin have helped me grasp this concept through books like the Fasting Edge.  The notion of fasting can be traced back to Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:41.  By replacing food with prayer for a meal, day, week or month, your body can be strength by a willing Spirit.  Like any type of training, start small and work your way your goal of a day, few days or an entire week.

According to Acts 13:2, something supernatural transpired when worship and fasting were present in Paul and Barnabas’ life.  During a normal Sunday service, the Holy Spirit filled each with spiritual insight.  Prior to this day, their future was unclear.  However, in the midst of these joint acts of faith, God called each to the mission field.  Though cautious initially, the Holy Spirit guided their inaugural journey, leading them to Seleucia and Cyprus, Acts 13:4.  The apostle Paul didn’t just write about faith, Galatians 5:25, he lived it!

Like a teacher becoming a student, are you where God wants you to be or are you resisting a spirit of change?  Since everything else I have tried has failed up to this point, its time for me to try the equation Worship + Fasting.  As I commit to next 3 days to this exercise, I am praying that spiritual insight will follow.  The only thing standing in the way of a modern miracle is weak faith.  Therefore, trust the promises within 2 Peter 1:3-9 to pave the way for blessings and a fruitful life in Christ!

by Jay Mankus

Entering the Great Unknown

When the truth of God’s Word or a blunt reply from an honest friend, cuts to the heart, I find it difficult to initially accept their message.  A primal spirit joined by stubbornness make it hard for me to embrace the error of my way.  As a result, I am entering the great unknown in obscurity, far removed from friendships of the past.

The transition from adolescence into adulthood can be hindered or eased depending upon your status.  Dinner parties, gatherings and social events give individuals an opportunity to boast of their recent accomplishments or hide behind the great unknown.  Doctors, engineers and managers tend to flaunt their confidence unwittingly.  Meanwhile, the silence of the other guests speak volumes, embarrassed by their resumes, salaries or a combination of both.  Thus, these humble souls are eager to venture into the great unknown, hoping the future is better than their past and present circumstances.

While online fortune tellers claim they can reveal your future for a mere $20 bill, only God the Father knows what the great unknown holds.  Fortune cookies may give you a laugh or a series of so called lucky numbers, yet inside these treats are hollow, empty of any significant substance.  Therefore, as you start tomorrow, walking through an open door or driving toward a clear passage, take Jesus with you on this journey, serving as your mediator, 1 Timothy 2:5, as you enter into the great unknown!

by Jay Mankus

When Jesus Got Ticked Off

There is a misnomer held by many circles which suggests anger is a sin.  While someone’s tone of voice may reflect a degree of anger, the words an individual choose to verbalize ultimately reveal what is in their heart, Luke 6:45.  According to Ephesians 4:26, anger is a natural emotion people experience.  How you respond when you’re angry determines whether or not you sin.  Thus, when you read a book, it’s hard to detect if someone is mad, if that is their normal demeanor or they are upset.

When I read Mark 12:1-11 the other day I got the sense Jesus was ticked off by the chief priests, teachers of the law and elders.  The day before this encounter, Jesus cleared the temple of rift raft, over turning the tables of those who tried to turn the temple into a flea market.  Although I am not claiming Jesus sinned, I do believe the religious leaders had become a thorn in Jesus’ flesh, frustrated by their pig headed mindset.  Therefore, following their lack of cooperation in Mark 11:27-33, Jesus shares the parable of the Tenants to vent his anger.

When the truth hurts, people respond in various ways.  Some may publicly confess their error immediately.  Others may walk away humbled, contemplating how to handle their embarrassment.  In the case of the religious leaders, they were furious, realizing this unflattering parable was about them.  If Romans 8:28 is true, God allowed his Son to get ticked off, pushing the religious leaders beyond their limits so that the Father’s will would be done fulfilled through the death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus, Matthew 26:39-42.

A rhema, a word from the Lord received by Jay Mankus

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