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The Visible Representation of an Invisible God

Visibility is mentioned 8 times in the Bible. Invisible is mentioned 11 times; 4 of which are written by the apostle Paul. In the passage below, Paul eludes to visible signs that most people take for granted. For example, when I visit the beach I like to watch the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean and set over the Indian River Bay. Yet, when I am at home, I’m consumed by my work schedule and too tired to care about God’s creation on my days off.

For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification], 21 Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened, Romans 1:20-21.

Apparently, members of the Church at Rome were going through the motions. A stale faith was preventing these individuals from seeing the invisible attributes and nature of God. Thus, the passage above serves as a wake up call, a spiritual warning to idle Christians. Paul doesn’t hold back his displeasure, exhorting members of this church to stop making excuses. In other words, open your eyes so that the Holy Spirit will help you can see the Lord at work.

[Now] He is the exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation, Colossians 1:15.

In a letter to the Church at Colosse, Paul unveils that Jesus is the visible representation of an invisible God. Just as one of Jesus’ disciples provides a historical account of His relationship with God, John 1:1-5, Paul builds upon this fact. Putting everything together, Paul describes Jesus as the firstborn of all creation. Just like the man born blind in John 9:6-7 who sees for the very first time, it’s time for Christian’s to slow down, take a look around and see the visible representation of an invisible God.

by Jay Mankus

Form Without Function

Function is the basis for an act, serving as the bridge to your ultimate purpose.  Unfortunately, if you find yourself overwhelmed by a hectic schedule, many carry on with their daily routines without any meaningful reflection.  Anyone who allows the busyness of life to consume their soul, you may end up as a prime example of form without function.

What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works, James 2:14.

At some point following his brother’s death, James began to re-evaluate his belief system.  The life, death and resurrection of Jesus challenged his tradition view of Judaism.  The concept of a Messiah was believed to be part of the end times.  Yet, Jesus taught James that faith must be accompanied by good works inspired by love.  Without any external change by displaying fruits of the Spirit, you are merely form without function.

If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do? 17 So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective], James 2:15-17.

While observing religious practices for most of his life, it appears James was simply going through the motions, without a relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10.  Jesus’ lifestyle slowly convicted James’ heart, making him realize that his faith was dead, inoperative.  Following the commandments, praying and worshipping God is merely a to do list, a spiritual checklist.  Seeing the error of his way, James writes to first century Christians to encourage believers to activate their faith.  The love of Jesus is the form in which faith is meant to function.  May this lesson revive and rejuvenate your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

Are You Still Sleeping?

From time to time, my soul is filled with an overwhelming sense of conviction.  This guilt comes from spiritual naps, periods of my life where I fell asleep to what God wanted me to do, say or stand up for.  The Bible refers to this state as lukewarm.  Past generations used words such as wishy washy to explain how lame my faith can be at times.  To be bluntly honest,  I am fighting a losing battle, wrestling to stay above rising flood waters pulling me under.

And He came back and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Were you unable to keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep [actively] watching and praying so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak,” Mark 14:37-38.

No one is immune to sleeping as the human body is hard to control.  This requires an intent focus, like a disciplined athlete training for their next competition.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t take much for someone to slip into merely going through the motions.  Whether you are talking about prayer, reading the Bible or worship, these practices can become a mundane event, void of spiritual fire or zeal.  I guess you can say this is where I am, still sleeping, unable to awaken from this spiritual funk.

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.

According to the apostle Paul, those who find themselves in this spiritual state need to cry out to the Holy Spirit for help.  Instead of babbling the same old powerless prayer, ask God to intercede through the power of the Holy Spirit.  I’m tied of doing the same lame thing, hoping for a better outcome.  Therefore, join me in an awakening of the soul to once again put into practice the word of God.  If you’re still sleeping like me, its time to get up, Luke 21:36.

by Jay Mankus

Praying in Vain

Whether you are old, young or somewhere in between, hopelessness can lead people to question what they are doing?  When things don’t go your way, creating a snowball effect, minds might begin to wonder if God really cares about you and your situation?  If these trials persist, doubt often enters the scene causing individuals to begin to believe, “what’s the point of praying?”  “Why should I continue to pour my heart and soul into prayer, when nothing seems to change.”

This is where you will find David in Psalm 5.  In the midst of his circumstances, this servant of God wanted to make sure he wasn’t praying in vain.  Thus, he reminds God of his attributes, character and personality early in the morning.  Using God as a crutch, David realizes the Lord is his last resort, the only force able to transform his predicament.  Tired of seeing arrogant, deceitful, evil and wicked individuals proper, David pleads with God based upon Moses words in the Old Testament.  Not worthy to be called righteous, David rests in mercy, Psalm 5:7, entering God’s presence with reverence and respect.  Prayers like this one inspired the Lord to call his humble servant a man after God’s heart, 1 Samuel 16:7.

Wherever this blog may find you, confidence lies in results.  As soon as you see direct answers and progress, your attitude will improve.  However, if your words offered up in faith return unanswered, one of 3 things may be true,  First, God may be keeping you from something that might steer you away from Him.  Second, God’s timing is likely not aligned with your prayer, resulting in a “not right now” response, Ecclesiastes 3:11.  Finally, there is a chance that someone, something or an unconfessed sin from the past is blocking God’s reply, Isaiah 1:15-17.  Follow the principles of Isaiah 1:18-19 and you will leave vanity for sanity, experiencing a slice of heaven here on earth, Matthew 6:33-34.

by Jay Mankus

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