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Tag Archives: God’s calling

Are You Talking to Me?

The phrase “you talkin’ to me” is a classic line from the 1976 film Taxi Driver. Robert De Niro plays Travis Bickle who looks at himself in the mirror and imagines what he what he would say if confronted by a bad guy. Unfortunately, this generation is so busy staring at their cell phone or electronic device that this conversation would never commence.

And I said, Who are You, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting, Acts 26:15.

While addressing King Agrippa about his conversion from Judaism to Christianity, Paul points to his life altering conversation with God. During a trip to Damascus, Saul who changed his name to Paul was exposed to what appears to be some form of lightning. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him, Acts 9:3. This is how the Lord got Paul’s attention, blinded for a short period of time due to exposure to these bright lights.

But arise and stand upon your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, that I might appoint you to serve as [My] minister and to bear witness both to what you have seen of Me and to that in which I will appear to you, Acts 26:16.

Once Paul realized what was actually happening, it took some time for everything to sink in. Luke records Paul’s conversation with God in the passage above. Whenever any individual has an encounter with God, this event doesn’t happen by chance or coincide. Rather, God is talking to you for a specific purpose, revealing a calling, plan or vision that God wants you to fulfill. In view of this, don’t be caught with earbuds drowning God’s voice out so that when God’s whisper appears, you’ll know God is talking to you.

by Jay Mankus

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Compelled and Obligated

During a visit thirty miles south of Ephesus, the apostle Paul feels compelled to reach out to nearby church leaders. This desire pushed Paul to summon for elders in Ephesus to meet him in Miletus. Apparently, the Holy Spirit informed Paul that this would be the last time he would see these individuals. Like a sense of duty, Paul does not hold anything back, compelled to give one more inspiration speech.

And now, compelled by the Spirit and obligated by my convictions, I am going to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, Acts 20:22.

In the passage above, Paul communicates the connection between being compelled by the Holy Spirit and obligated to follow biblical convictions. Keeping in the step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, requires a drive and urging from God. As the Spirit prompts you to seize the day, making the most of an open door, an opportunity to use your God given talents, your degree of conviction will make the difference. When conviction is lacking, souls will bypass the Holy Spirit to indulge their sinful nature. Thus, many discard, ignore or reject their obligation to follow God’s calling.

So then, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation, but not to our flesh [our human nature, our worldliness, our sinful capacity], to live according to the [impulses of the] flesh [our nature without the Holy Spirit]— 13 for if you are living according to the [impulses of the] flesh, you are going to die. But if [you are living] by the [power of the Holy] Spirit you are habitually putting to death the sinful deeds of the body, you will [really] live forever, Romans 8:12-13.

In a letter to Christians at the church in Rome, Paul uses tough love to reinforce the importance of being compelled and obligated to Christ. Two chapters later, Romans 10:9-10, Paul eludes to those who have believed in their hearts and confessed with their mouths that Jesus is Lord. For those who make this commitment, this public confession requires a transformation from giving into your flesh to living in the power of the Holy Spirit. As believers daily and habitually put to death their sinful deeds, the Holy Spirit compels souls to act via an obligation fueled by biblical convictions.

by Jay Mankus

Memory Loss

There are 10 common symptoms of memory loss.  Whether it’s confabulation, confusion, forgetting names, getting lost, irritability, language difficulties, depression, struggling with day to day affairs, following directions or neurological issues, any of these are signs of old age.  Anyone who exhibits these traits are often diagnosed with dementia or in severe cases, Alzheimer’s disease.  As medical and science advancements enable human beings to extend life expectancy, memory loss will likely affect you at some point in the future.

For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing, James 1:23-25.

In the first century, some of the disciples developed memory loss between Maundy Thursday and Resurrection Sunday.  Despite being warned on several occasions, eluding to this event in the future, Jesus’ arrest and crucifixion a day later led to a spiritual meltdown.  One of Jesus’ vocalist followers, Peter, denied knowing Jesus three times in public within 24 hours.  Others went into in hiding, afraid they too many be arrested or sentenced to death like their leader.  After 3 years together, a few days of trials resulted in spiritual memory loss.

Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:13-14.

The latest democratic talking point is accusing President Donald Trump of memory loss day after day, claiming to be signs of dementia.  Unfortunately, these accusers are suffering from the same thing, unable to come to grips with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election loss.  Instead of wasting their breaths on endless excuses, it’s time to follow the advice of the apostle Paul in the passage above.  Sure, memory loss is a reality in most individuals, especially when it comes to names of people you just met.  Nonetheless, worrying about the past is a lost cause.  Rather, press on toward the future, focusing on that which God has called you to do.  Those who heed this call will begin to feel much better while you invest your time on heavenly causes.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Don’t You Have a Better Excuse Than That

Getting caught in a lie can be embarrassing.  Thus, as the truth draws near, human nature influences individuals to begin using excuses to justify inappropriate actions.  During a recent interview with the FBI, Reality Winner blamed Fox News for why see smuggled a classified report from a NSA government facility.  Upon hearing this my initial thought was, “don’t you have a better excuse than that?”

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? – Exodus 4:10-11

Reality is not the only have to come up with a lame excuse.  When asked to become the voice for Israel to confront Pharaoh, Moses becomes afraid.  Instead of recalling God speaking to him through a burning bush moments earlier, Moses uses stuttering as a crutch to avoid God’s request.  In the exchange above, God appears to become upset, pointing to his power as creator.

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come,’ Luke 14:18-20.

While there will always be excuses in life, but at some point people need to grow up.  When you are given authority at church, school or work, responsibilities should not be taken lightly.  Rather, when asked, encouraged or offered an opportunity to serve, rely on the Lord’s strength for these endeavors.  If you don’t, you will be tempted to come up with a reason why you didn’t instead of sticking things out until God’s calling has been completed.

by Jay Mankus

Jehovah Rapha

Israel spent 400 years in Egypt as slaves, enduring harsher conditions the longer they stayed.  When the timing was right, God chose Moses, a man with a severe speech impediment to represent Israel before Pharaoh.  Initially, Moses rejected God’s calling, as the Lord sends along his brother Aaron to address Egypt’s leader.  Although its not mentioned, Moses slowly takes control of these daily meetings with Pharaoh.  The absence of stammering suggests God healed Moses of his stuttering.

He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you,” Exodus 15:26.

Through Moses’ personal experience, set from from stuttering, the term Jehovah Rapha was coined.  This name for God means the Lord who heals.  After being eyewitnesses of the Passover, Israel saw the hand of God at work, passing over their doors to kill first born Egyptians.  The passage above serves as a reminder to work just happened as well as a call to action to carefully follow God’s commands while waiting to receive God’s promised land.

God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

Today, healing is one of those prayers and wants the sick desperately seek.  Yet, for those who have prayed for healing and sit helplessly waiting around to watch loved ones die, its hard to keep the faith.  While Jehovah Rapha is still actively at work, some never see the fruit of time on their knees.  Despite a lack of results, believers can not forget the words of Moses in Exodus 15:26.  Healing doesn’t always come instantaneously.  Rather, wounds take time to close.  When you back is against the door, cry out to Jehovah Rapha to mend your heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

Freewill, Destruction and Restoration

One of the best visual illustrations of freewill can found in the last book of the Bible.  While on the Island of Patmos, John compares freewill to a door with a special feature.  This door does not have a handle on God’s side.  Thus, God can call and knock, hoping individuals will hear His voice, but only you can let God in.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me, Revelation 3:20.

Unfortunately, disobedience is a common response to God’s calling.  According to the apostle Paul, people have a tendency to set their hearts and minds on the flesh.  Those who become distracted by the world regularly ignore, reject or put God on hold.  Jesus warned his followers of falling into this pattern, referring to a broad road that leads to destruction.  Moses in his farewell address simplifies this concept by proclaiming that each day individuals have the opportunity to select life or death by the choices you make.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires, Romans 8:5.

Fortunately, those who mess up by sinning are given a second chance.  Lamentations 3 provides a promise for those longing for forgiveness as God’s grace is available day after day.  Therefore, when you utilize freewill, opting for disobedience over obedience, there is hope for those who are facing destruction.  Yet, God is not holding your hand, forcing you to do what is right.  The choice is yours.  In view of this, lean of God’s mercy the next time you fall down, followed by acts of contrition as a sign of penance.  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

When Life Get’s in the Way of Your Plans

The older you become, the more likely it is that one phone call will radically change your life.  Bad news has a way of stealing joy as well as altering any plans that you have previous made.  Just before Christmas, my wife’s mom was rushed to the hospital.  In the week’s that have followed, there have been ups and downs, resulting in a series of trips to Chicago to see her mother.  In the end, everyone will pass, but preparing for the inevitable is like riding a roller coaster in the dark.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

In moments like these, the wisdom of Solomon shines light on what’s truly important.  Sure, developing goals are helpful to create a five or ten year plan for prosperity.  Yet, beyond a man’s or woman’s heart, the Lord will throw an occasional curve ball to keep you off balance.  Subsequently, if your steps aren’t in alignment with God’s calling, a detour will likely be coming, drawing you back to where you need to be.  Whether that’s taking care of an ailing parent or pursuing a promotion to keep get your children through college, only time will time.  Yet, for now life is like a wheel of fortune, around and around it goes, where it stops nobody but God knows.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them, Ephesians 2:10.

So what do you do when life get’s in the way of your plans?  First, praying can serve as a vehicle for healing as well as a source of comfort.  Second, seek counsel from those who have already gone through a similar situation.  This provides prospective as well as the ability to avoid making the same mistakes as your predecessor.  Finally, cling to the promises of the Bible, memorizing these passages to instill in you hope that God is not finished using and working through you.  May the Holy Spirit guide your steps the next time life get’s in the way of your plans.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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