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Does God Know that You Fear the Lord?

As September ends today, October transitions from fall to a month of horror movies. One of my former co-workers tries to watch a scary movie once a day for the entire month. These types of movies are designed to inflict fear, crafted in such a way to scare the hell out of you. While this may be a good way to pass the time, does God know that you fear the Lord?

And Isaac said to Abraham, My father! And he said, Here I am, my son. [Isaac] said, See, here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt sacrifice? Abraham said, My son, [b]God Himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering. So the two went on together, Genesis 22:7-8.

While children are introduced to Abraham as the guy in that funny song “Father Abraham,” this man of God had his own internal struggles. When placed into an awkward situation, Abraham had a tendency to exaggerate, stretching the truth. In other words, when push came to shove, Abraham lied like a politician on the campaign trail. This sinful pattern went on out for years until God forced Abe to make a change.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there; then he laid the wood in order and [c]bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar on the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took hold of the knife to slay his son. 11 But the [d]Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham! He answered, Here I am. 12 And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son. 13 Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering and an ascending sacrifice instead of his son! – Genesis 22:9-13

Sometimes God will place you into a situation where you are forced to choose your allegiance. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his one and only son Isaac. Rather than look for a way out, Abraham got up earlier in the morning before the sun rose. Abraham had three days to make a decision if he wanted to go through with this. In the end, Abraham chose to fear the Lord. May this blog challenge you to prove to God that you truly fear Him in October.

by Jay Mankus

Neglect What is Natural

The apostle Paul devotes two chapters of his letter to the Church at Rome to what is natural. Romans 7 provides a personal confession by Paul of what he knows is right but getting his body to do this is a completely different story, Romans 7:15-18. The next chapter reveals the internal struggle between your fleshly desires and God’s Spirit, Romans 8:5-8. When your mind wanders, you’ll end up doing what’s natural.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone desires to be My disciple, let him deny himself [disregard, lose sight of, and forget himself and his own interests] and take up his cross and follow Me [[p]cleave steadfastly to Me, conform wholly to My example in living and, if need be, in dying, also]. 25 For whoever is bent on saving his [temporal] life [his comfort and security here] shall lose it [eternal life]; and whoever loses his life [his comfort and security here] for My sake shall find it [life everlasting], Matthew 16:24-25.

Frank Peretti introduced me to the spiritual realm through his series of books on what life would be like if we could see the ongoing battle between angels in demons. Piercing the Darkness and This Present Darkness opened my mind to this tug of war between the natural and supernatural, Galatians 5:16-18. The apostle Paul likely provided Peretti the inspiration for his books in Ephesians 6:10-20. When prayers cease, the Devil takes the upper hand.

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life [his blessed [q]life in the kingdom of God]? Or what would a man give as an exchange for his [blessed] [r]life [in the kingdom of God]? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory (majesty, splendor) of His Father with His angels, and then He will render account and reward every man in accordance with what he has done, Matthew 16:26-27.

Based upon the passage above, Jesus expects his followers to neglect the natural, any fleshly desires. Jesus set the example in Philippians 2:5-9, laying down his life to take away the sins of the world. Turning the other cheek when someone hits or hurts you isn’t natural. Nor is forgiving someone who transgresses against you over and over again, Matthew 6:13-15. Nonetheless, until you are born again spiritually, John 3:3-5, neglecting what is natural will be a losing proposition. Success is the process of arriving to faith.

by Jay Mankus

Mind Games

As a teenage boy, I wasn’t charismatic or eloquent. I struggled to maintain a B average and entered high school at 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. While competing in sports was my first love, attractive females began to get my attention. Unfortunately, I was so small and quiet, that I was invisible when other guys were around. Subsequently, dating was something that I longed for, but was unable find someone that liked me more than a friend.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

What made matters worse was a severe speech impediment. When I opened my mouth, I never knew if I was going to embarrass myself in class or actually spit something out. I could visualize what I wanted to say, but my mind would play tricks on me. The longer this condition persisted, I began to develop an ungodly belief that I would never be able to share what was in my heart and on my mind.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

After entering into a personal relationship with Jesus as a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to the promises of the Bible. When I learned about my own internal struggles in Galatians 5:16-18, the miracles of Jesus gave me hope. My prayers began to focus on healing my stuttering so that this mind game would end. Twenty years after my condition was first diagnosed, the power of the Holy Spirit finally broke through. While the Devil still tries to remind me of my past, the Bible has steadied my faith as this spiritual mind game continues today.

by Jay Mankus

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