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Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Carnivore or Vegetarian?

A carnivore are creatures that feed on the flesh of other animals. Any mammal that falls into this classification eats mainly meat. Meanwhile, vegetarians are at the other end of this spectrum, consuming mainly fruits and vegetables. This dietary lifestyle is often inspired by health, moral or religious convictions. According to a 2017 study, only 2% of Americans are vegetarians with 1/4 of these individuals claiming to be vegan.

But Daniel made up his mind that he would not defile (taint, dishonor) himself with the king’s finest food or with the wine which the king drank; so he asked the commander of the officials that he might [be excused so that he would] not defile himself, Daniel 1:8. But Daniel said to the overseer whom the commander of the officials had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12 “Please, test your servants for ten days, and let us be given some vegetables to eat and water to drink, Daniel 1:11-12.

Every year pastors of certain congregations participate in a Daniel Fast at the beginning of January. When Israelites were taken into captivity by Babylon, one man was unwilling to change his strict diet. The passage above details to very first Daniel Fast. Similar to Catholics who give up eating meat during the season of Lent, fasting enables believers to focus on God for a specific period of time. Since Old Testament law prohibited Jews from eating food from unclean animals, taking steps to become a vegetarian is a way to honor and please God.

For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]. Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever]; Romans 8:5-6.

The New Testament reveals the spiritual symbolism between carnivores and vegetarians. In the passage above, the apostle Paul compares carnal desires to fleshly desires. In a letter to Galatia, this behavior is described as a sinful nature, contrary to what God desires. Instead of including vegetables within this analogy, the polar opposite of carnal desires is the Holy Spirit. Thus, eating healthy is one thing. However, obeying God has spiritual ramifications. The apostle Paul compares this to a battle between mind over matter. While deciding to be a carnivore or vegetarian is optional, God demands followers of Christ to steer clear of carnal desires.

by Jay Mankus

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Parental Discretion Advised

If you catch the very beginning of a televised movie or arrive early at a local theater, a disclaimer will flash across the screen. This statement is designed to warn viewers of what individuals are about to see. In legal terms, phrases such as “parental discretion is advised” enables those behind the making of a film to avoid liability or being held responsible for its content.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols, Acts 17:16.

As the apostle Paul visited the city of Athens, there was no warning. Instead of being prompted by parental discretion advised, Paul was bombarded by pornography. Some of these idols were dedicated to the goddess of love, celebrating, encouraging and promoting sexual immorality in the name of religion. This visual cesspool didn’t stop Paul for searching for positive signs of life. Like a rigid site seeing tour, Paul didn’t stop until discovering an altar and poem that spoke to his heart.

Now as I was going along and carefully looking at your objects of worship, I came to an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ Therefore what you already worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you, Acts 17:23.

If Jesus and his disciples encountered this adult and mature content, I can imagine one of the disciples pleading with Jesus to call fire down from heaven to destroy Athens. Yet, Paul shows much more grace, engaging philosophers with an inscription and poetry. These two pieces of literature serve as a common ground, opening the door for the apostle Paul to share the good news about Jesus Christ with Greeks. Instead of being offended, Christians need to learn to engage other cultures by using apologetics, defending the Christian faith. This means leaving safe spaces to bring life to dark and immoral places, relying on the Holy Spirit as your guide.

by Jay Mankus

A Name That Fulfills Its Purpose

A businessman was packing for a trip in the morning when he realized his suit was dirty. Frantic, this man began to google nearby dry cleaners. After finding a One Hour Dry Cleaner, this man set out to run a few errands. Upon arriving, he explained his situation to the front desk, expecting to pick up his suit in about an hour. The night manager interrupted this request, “I’m sorry sir, one hour cleaner is our name, not what we do.”

For [it is impossible to restore to repentance] those who have once been enlightened [spiritually] and who have tasted and consciously experienced the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted and consciously experienced the good word of God and the powers of the age (world) to come, and then have fallen away—it is impossible to bring them back again to repentance, since they again nail the Son of God on the cross [for as far as they are concerned, they are treating the death of Christ as if they were not saved by it], and are holding Him up again to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

A first century doctor served as a historian, recording the events of the apostle Paul’s mission trips. According to Acts 11:26, Luke noticed something special as he traveled to the city of Antioch. After being baptized following their conversion, people of faith began to emulate the teachings of Jesus. These individuals were so devoted that local residents referred to this movement as Christianity, a name that fulfills its purpose. Unfortunately, by the end of the first century, several sects of this religious movement began to give Christianity a bad name. One warped perspective began to encourage believers to sin more and more so that God’s grace could be poured out upon them. The author of Hebrews addresses this ungodly belief in the passage above.

So Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this [a man equal to Joseph], in whom is the divine spirit [of God]?” – Genesis 41:38.

Every once in a while, you will meet someone who appears to be perfect. While this individual does possess imperfections, something from within makes this person stick out. Such was the case of Joseph, a man of God who fled from evil. Joseph didn’t have to tell people he was a Christian, his faith naturally demonstrated God’s love and wisdom. If you have aspirations for greatness, emulating the life of Jesus is the place to begin. You will fall, slide off course and get tripped up along the way. Nonetheless, God is searching for servants of Christ who strive to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission, Mark 16:15-16, so that faith fulfills its purpose.

by Jay Mankus

Crossing Over From the Old into the New

Not everyone understands their calling in life. Others wrestle with clarity, struggling to ascertain where they belong and what they should do. As for Joshua, this decision was clear, take over as Israel’s new leader. Joshua’s first assignment, lead God’s chosen people into a promised land, Canaan. However, a river and a wall stood before Israel. The only way to complete their journey was to cross over from the old into the new.

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Go throughout the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to cross this [river] Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess [as an inheritance],’” Joshua 1:10-11.

If you have ever moved, families tend to amass, collect and hoard an excessive amount of possessions. Garage and yard sales are a common way to purge your house from unnecessary items. Yet, there are subtle things such as beliefs, ideals and viewpoints that individuals develop without much thought. Some of these mindsets are contrary to the Bible, opposing the commandments, decrees and precepts of God. Thus, as Israel crossed over the Jordan River, they needed to undergo a procedure, a spiritual purging.

So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], Colossians 3:5-6.

The Israelites didn’t have access to a physical book or the ability to foresee the addition of a New Testament. Nor could Joshua warn Israel about the sinful nature. In the passage above, the apostle Paul details what must occur if you want to cross over from your previous life into a new relationship with God. The first step involves a new mindset from earth toward heaven. The second involves discipline, purging yourself from ungodly practices that you have picked up from others. This battle never ends as imperfect people will continue to disobey God in one form or another. However, as you strive to keep in step with God, the Holy Spirit serves as a spiritual counselor to enable you to cross over from the old into the new.

by Jay Mankus

Restoring God’s Prophecy Over Your Life

A prophecy is compared to a miracle of knowledge. This supernatural declaration is spoken by a man or woman of God who has earned the reputation for disclosing prophetic messages that come true. Many Old Testament prophets had a success rate of over 90% with some not fulfilled by the end of their life. Unfortunately, modern prophets have a much lower rate of accuracy, leaving behind a wave of doubt that discredits anyone who possesses the gift of discernment today. One of the most famous prophecies in the Bible is Jesus’ words to Simon Peter about becoming the rock upon which first century churches were built.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of the living God.” 17 Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favored by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ]. 19 I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth [gwill have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven,” Matthew 16:15-19.

At some point in Peter’s life, this personal prophecy went to his head. On numerous occasions Jesus’ disciples debated who was the greatest among them. While not verbalized in scripture, I am sure Peter quoted Jesus, “I am the rock, what are you?” Thus, on the Eve of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus tries to warn Peter and the others, “the Spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Falling asleep while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane serves as a foreshadowing, a precursor to Peter denying knowing Jesus in public three times. In the passage below, Jesus restores Peter’s confidence about God’s prophecy over his life. However, not without pain as Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times, just like his public denial. After this conversation Peter became a new man, able to fulfill Jesus’ final prophecy in John 21:18, crucified upside down on a cross.

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 Again He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you [really] love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep, John 21:15-17.

Depending upon your own relationships through out life, you may not have encountered a prophet. For those who haven’t been blessed by an individual, the Bible is filled with rhemas. A rhema is a Greek term that refers to an utterance or thing said. Anytime anyone opens the Bible, the Holy Spirit is able to convict, encourage, inspire or uplift souls through the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12. Some of these passages refer to the future Christians. For example, the apostle Paul writes about the good works God has prepared in advance for a congregation in Ephesus, Ephesians 2:10. Therefore, even if you have yet to have an individual prophecize over your life, God has something special in store for you. As the Bible prompts hearts, restores minds and fans into flame spiritual gifts and talents, it won’t be long until the Holy Spirit fulfills God’s prophecy over your own life.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Be Afraid or Hesitant to Ask God

If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him, James 1:5.

Three pillars of faith advise readers of the Bible to essentially do the same thing. The earthly brother of Jesus suggests that if anyone lacks wisdom, ask God who has a long history of generosity. The disciple whom Jesus loved adds to the concept. The context to any prayer request should emphasize and align your wishes with God’s will. Meanwhile, during his Sermon on the Mount Jesus urges listeners to not be afraid or hesitant to ask God. Rather, continue to seek and knock on God’s door until answers are received.

This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. 15 And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him, 1 John 5:14-15.

In the passage above, John speaks from experience. These words aren’t some unrealistic dream that you hope for God to answer a prayer. Rather, John refers to his degree of confidence as he reflects upon all the prayers that the Lord has specifically answered. One of the reasons some people don’t offer up prayer requests to God is the fear of being disappointed. John urges readers of the Bible to move beyond doubt by trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

One of Jesus’ biggest frustrations with human beings is their lack of dependence on God. Throughout the gospels Jesus highlights one essential point, “you don’t have because you haven’t asked.” According to the passage above, prayers are directly linked to your degree of belief. The greater your faith, the more you will begin to see answers to prayer. However, when doubt enters your mind, prayers become words without any divine power. Therefore, if you want to see modern miracles don’t be afraid or hesitant to ask God. When you do pray, place your personal trust and confidence in Jesus to do what he promises in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Two Elements of Transformation

Before a dramatic and thorough change occurs within the life of a human being, there is usually a series of events that serve as a catalyst. Some people have to hit rock bottom before coming to their senses. Others go through some sort of near death experience before their soul is awakened. As for me, I suffered a nervous breakdown in high school before God set the stage for my heart to finally be open to receiving the good news about Jesus Christ.

Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favored by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ], Matthew 16:17-18.

After Jesus suffered, died on a cross, rose again and ascended into heaven, Jesus sent an invisible counselor to carry on the ministry he began on earth. The venue in which this movement continues in is the church. While not every congregation has a physical building, the church is the cornerstone for faith. After following the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 10:9-10, the church is the vehicle through which spiritual transformation occurs. Accountability, confession, fellowship, prayer and worship are methods through which each believer undergoes the sanctification process.

Now I say this, believers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit nor be part of the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (mortal) inherit the imperishable (immortal). 51 Listen very carefully, I tell you a mystery [a secret truth decreed by God and previously hidden, but now revealed]; we will not all sleep [in death], but we will all be [completely] changed [wondrously transformed], 1 Corinthians 15:50-51.

The final element of transformation is the cross. A common analogy refers to crossing out the I in self to become a member of God’s team. This commitment involves denying your own aspirations, dreams and goals on earth. According to Jesus, the only way to find life is by giving it up, losing it to follow the cross of Christ. This decision is often met with rejection from friends, family and neighbors. Nonetheless, if you truly want to fulfill God’s will by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, you heart will begin to cry out in prayer, “not mine, but your will be done.”

by Jay Mankus

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