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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

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

Has God Left America Yet?

You don’t have to be a historian to recognize the United States of America aren’t so united.  Sure, negative news overshadows any decent, encouraging or trace of optimism out there.  Nonetheless, even if a positive news network did exist, remaining realistic in this time of hate crimes, moral decay and political hypocrisy would be difficult.  In my mind, there’s only one thing left to ask, “has God left America?”

Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals, Judges 2:11.

If the Supreme Court is a foreshadowing of the future, its only a matter of time before the Lord removes his blessing.  In recent days, Oklahoma courts have ruled the 10 Commandments monument outside the state capitol must be removed.  While atheists, progressives and revisionist historians will say, “what’s the big deal,” the founding fathers are shaking in their graves at the removal of one of the last beacons of truth in America.  Though history goes in cycles, when you eliminate concrete absolutes, leaders of this country are opening the doors to a chaotic society.

They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD‘s anger, Judges 2:12.

No one likes to be told what to do, except for the government who is regulating what you eat, say and so on.  In the past, God allowed Israel to be taken captive, living in exile for hundreds of years.  Despite these tangible lessons, individuals still strayed from the Lord, only turning back during the tough times.  The events of 9/11 did the trick for a little while, but now the hearts of many have turned cold.  Has God left America completely, probably not.  Yet, if the cultural trends continue, there won’t be any room left for freedom of speech, religion or worship.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Keep on Reading…Until You Receive Inspiration

Although apathy permeates throughout several segments of society, there are beacons of hope that exist.  If you are a historian, books contain powerful messages of leaders who transformed their nations.  Meanwhile, starving souls searching for the meaning of life, keep on reading, flipping through pages until inspiration is found.

As for me, the Bible has become a well spring, the driving force behind this blog.  After reaching 10,000 hits today, I can’t take credit for the articles, titles or words.  Rather, I felt compelled to rely on meditating on the Bible, sermons and words that would connect with common struggles people undergo.

Whether you’re talking to someone every day at work for 3 years or writing 1000 different blogs, the longer you go, the harder it becomes to come up with new material.  While you might have some good days, conversation and pieces can become stale.  Therefore, in my quest to keep a dream alive, I will keep on reading until I receive inspiration.

by Jay Mankus

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