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Divided from the Will of God

The Bible refers to the concept of God having a plan for your life. From Old Testament prophets who write about future plans, Jeremiah 29:11, to the apostle Paul who suggests you can know God’s will, Romans 12:2, callings occur daily. This might be in the form of a convicted conscience, heart felt desire, some sort of dream or inspirational message. Meanwhile, first century Christians believed that each individual was born with a specific gift, personality or talent, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. This spiritual gift is directly linked or tied to God’s will for your life. If God is the Potter, Romans 9:20-21, the will of God is an ongoing process as clay is molded and shaped, Philippians 1:6.

And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made {loaves of} bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:3-4.

Before beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus withdrew into the wilderness to spiritually prepare himself for this 3 year journey. Understanding the threats He would face, Jesus fasted and prayed to clarify God’s plan like which twelve men to choose to become his disciples. At the conclusion of these preparations, the Devil attempted to separate Jesus from the will of His heavenly father. Jesus had the power to fulfill each request, but what the Devil was asking is outside of God’s will. Each tempting situation was geared toward a specific area of Jesus’ life. Physical hunger, mental acuity, and spiritual obedience. These 3 types of scenarios represent how individuals are tempted daily, aimed at separating human beings from the will of God.

And he said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God, Matthew 4:6-7.

The apostle Paul unlocks the key to overcoming temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13. When confronted by the father of lies, John 8:44, Jesus kept looking for the way out. To overcome hunger, Jesus relied on the Word of God, quoting a verse from the Torah. To escape a dare which He was able to demonstrate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct the Devil’s misuse of Scripture. After gaining authority over the earth, Ephesians 2:2, the Devil offers this to Jesus. However, this request is directly opposed to the first commandment. Thus, Jesus finds the way out each time, refusing to deviate from God’s plan.

Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them. And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me. 10 Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.

Every human being has a weakness, sinful tendencies that they have a hard time resisting, Romans 7:15-17. As the ruler of the air, the Devil doesn’t need drones or hidden cameras, he sees and knows our weaknesses. Perhaps, this explains why so many former Christians have abandoned their faith, prodigals who have yet to come to their senses. Each decision you make has a blessing or consequence. Good choices keep you on track, but poor decisions cause you to drift further and further away from God. Freewill gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. However, at what point will you consider God’s calling, plan and will for your life? Whatever you decide, hold on to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Risking Failure or Keeping It a Dream?

The etymology of the word dream has ties to an Anglo-Saxon word. Draugmas are illusions, deceptions in the mind linked to joy, merriment or music. Some dreams appear to be so realistic that when you wake up, you’re unsure if this actual happened or not. Action oriented individuals prefer living life the hard way, through a series of trials and errors. Others choose to live their life in a bubble, free from taking risks. Dreamers come alive when they go to sleep, reveling in a world of imagination.

For a dream comes with much business and painful effort, and a fool’s voice with many words. When you vow a vow or make a pledge to God, do not put off paying it; for God has no pleasure in fools (those who witlessly mock Him). Pay what you vow, Ecclesiastes 5:3-4.

According to King Solomon, dreams occur following a busy day. Depending upon your thoughts, dreams can be inspirational, urging you to act. Thus, Solomon suggests that a dream may prompt you to make a commitment. However, instead of getting sentimental, make a decision quickly. Either pledge to do something or not. Consider the costs of living to a higher standard and act quickly. Unfortunately, dreamers often play if safe, waiting for further confirmation or another dream to respond.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels] and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams, Acts 2:17.

A disciple of Jesus eludes to a different kind of dream, Acts 2:17. Either Jesus had a private conversation with Peter or the Holy Spirit gave him a glimpse of the future. Just as the Day of Pentecost brought an outpouring of God’s Spirit, a similar movement will occur prior to Jesus’ second coming. In the last days, dreams will serve as a warning to future events. Unless you’re willing to share what God has revealed to you, you’re not helping anyone. Although you may face ridicule or skepticism, dreams are meant to be shared. However, it’s up to you if you risk failure or keep it to yourself.

by Jay Mankus

Engage

As a father who recently celebrated his oldest son’s wedding, the term engage makes me think of the process a couple goes through prior to getting married.  Yet, synonyms of engage provide a much broader scope.  Absorb, captivate, engross, occupy and seize refer to an engaging encounter, the act of focusing on a specific activity or making the most of your time.  Couples who are dating that are not engaged does not mean they are disengaged.  Rather, one, or both parties are unsure that their significant other is Mr. or Mrs. Right.

Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was greatly angered when he saw that the city was full of idols. 17 So he had discussions in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles, and in the market place day after day with any who happened to be there, Acts 17:16-17.

Upon his first visit to Athens, this city full of idols greatly distressed the apostle Paul.  Instead of withdrawing to a place of safety, Paul began to ask locals about the history of these idols.  Apparently, Paul had daily discussions with these Jewish believers, asking if any inspirational or positive idols existed.  By engaging God-fearing Gentiles, Paul discovered a altar dedicated to an unknown God and a poet who spoke of God’s offspring.  This search for something good inspired Paul to approach the philosophers who debated in a public square daily.

They took him and brought him to the Areopagus (Hill of Ares, the Greek god of war), saying, “May we know what this [strange] new teaching is which you are proclaiming? 20 For you are bringing some startling and strange things to our ears; so we want to know what they mean.” 21 (Now all the Athenians and the foreigners visiting there used to spend their [leisure] time in nothing other than telling or hearing something new,) Acts 17:19:21.

Unfortunately, the art of persuasion is disappearing.  Past historical events like the Scopes Money Trial led Christians like William Jennings Bryan to debate atheists in a public forum.  Instead of continuing this tradition, modern politicians use the media to attack, demonize and smear the reputation of their opponents.  Subsequently, instead of putting aside differences to embrace being Americans, belief systems are creating an expansive divide.  The end result is that adults are acting like spoiled children, disengaging from those who don’t share their worldview.  The only way to alter this trend is through prayer and fasting so that engaging the lost will bring hope to dead and dying souls.

by Jay Mankus

The 12 Vibes to Spiritual Discernment

 
In a world of vanishing absolutes, civil citizens, good behavior and honesty are nearing extinction.  Instead, people are blaming bad luck, extreme circumstances and a poor economy for their crude and rude habits.  If there was ever a time to access solid advice, the 12 vibes of discernment are available to help steer you in the right direction.  Conceived by the Extra Ordinary Faith Bible Study curriculum, this list has been provided below like a check list used to process information before you accept or decline advice for life.
1. Your Conscience
This first vibe is indirectly mentioned in Galatians 5:16-18.  When the apostle Paul refers to the acts of the sinful nature being obvious, he is likely referring to the built in vibe God has placed within the human mind.  Whenever guilt expresses itself in a “I shouldn’t be doing this moment,” your conscience is trying to tell you to drop the forbidden fruit you have tasted.
2. Godly Influences
While not easy to find in a society filled with hypocrites, “do as I say, not as I do,” this second vibe requires effort on your part to seek out people who have experienced similar trials in life.  When you find the right person, you will be drawn toward ideal conditions like a young Samuel who needed Eli to point him toward God, 1 Samuel 3:1-10.
3. Knowledge and Vision
When a person loses their sense of purpose in life, depression, hopelessness and missteps often follow.  According to one of the minor Old Testament prophets, people perish, destroyed by a lack of knowledge or vision depending upon the translation you use, Hosea 4:6.  These 2 attributes help individuals see the big picture, bringing their life into focus, communicated by an encourager or optimistic leader you need to invest your time hanging around.
4. Reading the Bible
On the outside, the Bible appears like any other book.  However, this special collection of history contains supernatural powers, living and active according to Hebrews 4:12.  In fact, faith comes from hearing and or reading this book, Romans 10:17.  This instructional guide for life provides the human soul with knowledge and vision not found in this world.
5. An Accountability Partner
Like having a personal trainer, its essential to have someone who is blunt, challenging and inspires you to reach your full potential.  However, this suitable helper will take an unswerving desire and countless hours to locate a compatible personality.  This is the most difficult vibe to obtain, yet once established, its the most rewarding, Proverbs 27:17.
6. Through Prayer
Although many new comers to prayer treat God as if going grocery shopping, talking to the Lord at the check out counter, Psalm 34:18 gives any rookie comfort.  Before you start, make sure you isolate yourself in a place without any distractions.  If you stop talking for a moment by listening to God, you might even experience a Mark 1:35-38 like moment.
7. Weeping and Fasting
When prayer appears to stall, some have turned to weeping and fasting, Nehemiah 1:3-4.  In a sense, this is taking prayer to the next level, crying out to God with emotion, following in the footsteps of David, Psalm 4:1.  For those unable to fast, the Daniel Fast, eating only fruit, vegetables and water for 21 days should suffice.  As your heart is broken by the things that break God’s heart, this vibe will likely result in answers, discernment or both.
8. Accessing the Holy Spirit
Unfortunately, most men are like me, not wanting to read the directions of gifts they have to assemble.  On the other hand, first time mothers taking their newborn back home face a similar challenge, “what do I do know?”  The phenomena known as spiritual wisdom is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, accessible through the mind of Christ, Ephesians 2:6-8.  When you pray the promise of 2 Peter 1:3-4, the power of the Holy Spirit can be unleashed in your life.
9. Divine Intervention
At your weakest moment, God has a history of sending angels to the rescue, like Elijah in 1 Kings 19:6-9.  Missionary testimonies are filled with amazing encounters with angelic forces sent to save their lives or minister to them, Matthew 4:11.  The power of prayer can usher guardian angels into action, protecting God’s people from the schemes of the devil.
10. Through Meditation
Unlike New Age and Yoga practices, Christian meditation refers to concentrating on and memorizing the Bible, Joshua 1:8.  The best cure for sin is living according to God’s principles by hiding scripture within your heart, Psalm 119:9-11.  When you practice the words of Romans 12:1-2, God’s will for your life becomes clear and attainable.
11. During Worship
If you have ever reached a point of desperation, there are examples of believers who encountered God while participating in worship services, Acts 13:2-3.  Whenever you add fasting or prayer to this equation, God’s vibes are dialed in like having 4G.
12. Through Dreams
Whether your experience is like a book or a movie, when all other measures appear to fail, God uses angels or a still small voice to communicate his message through dreams, Matthew 2:13; 2:19-20.  As you test everything, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, to make sure your dream is relevant, you should be able to use these spiritual vibes as a measuring stick for discernment.
by Jay Mankus
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