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Tag Archives: Jerusalem

Being Phased Out

If you work for a big company, sooner or later you will experience the pain of being phased out.  Sometimes this may be certain positions or an entire department that are eliminated to reduce cost and save money for shareholders.  Industries like coal may be phased out in my lifetime by cleaner, more efficient energy.  Meanwhile, other famous companies file for bankruptcy due to a lack of vision.  Richard Sears began using printed mailers in 1888 to advertise watches and jewelry.  This eventually gave birth to the Sears Catalog in 1943.  However, when Amazon was established in 1995 using the internet as an online catalog, Sears didn’t change their business model in time to save their company and customers.

But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place, Acts 12:16-17.

When Herod Agrippa I gave orders to have James the brother of John executed, Peter became a marked man.  According to Luke, religious leaders encouraged the king of the Jews to arrest and put Peter to death following the Passover celebrations.  While imprisoned, an angel of the Lord led Peter to escape.  However, based upon the passage above, Peter went into hiding, keeping a low profile.  It was during this period that the Lord rose up a godly man who would surprise Peter spiritually.  Saul who changes his name to Paul in Acts 13 is used to phase Peter out.  When the Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria heard the gospel message, Peter was no longer needed as God raised him up to reach a Jewish audience.  A new voice was necessary to introduce the Gentiles to the good news about Jesus.  Thus, Peter is replaced by Paul to start the final phase, taking the Bible to the ends of the earth.

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Acts 1:7-8.

According to the book of Revelation, Jesus will not return until every land, nation and tribe has a chance to either receive or reject Jesus as Savior, Romans 10:9-10.  This final phase is approaching 2,000 years and no one knows how much longer the Great Commission will take to complete.  Sure, there will always be guesses, projections and speculation, but only Jesus knows when this mission will end.  No one likes to be phased out, especially when you are forced to sit on the sidelines as someone else takes your place.  Nonetheless, if you aren’t gathering for God, you are likely scattering by leading others astray.  If this occurs, don’t be surprised if God sends someone else to finish the job that you were assigned.  This might result in being phased out by a believer who is more spiritually prepared than you.  However, failure does not mean the end.  Learn from your past mistakes so that the Holy Spirit will inspire you to be ready the next time God calls.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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The Mystery of the Holy Spirit

As of 1980, British statistical researcher David B Barrett identified 20,800 Christian denominations in the world.  From a historical perspective, there were two large branches of Christianity.  The Catholic Church in the west and the Orthodox Church in the east.  Following the Protestant Reformation in 1517, a third major group emerged.  Beside Martin Luther’s influence, Christian denominations vary depending upon which beliefs, creeds, doctrines and teachings are emphasized.

When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that [the people of] Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 They came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for He had not yet fallen on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus [as His possession], Acts 8:14-16.

One of the greatest disagreements among Christian churches is their understanding of the Holy Spirit.  The theology of baptism highlights this difference as a believer’s baptism, christenings, and infant baptisms mean different things to different denominations.  Some conservative and rigid churches believe if you are not baptized in a certain way or manner, you’re not really saved.  Meanwhile, some apostolic faiths claim if you do not speak in tongues, you aren’t saved either.  These debates magnify the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

Then Peter and John laid their hands on them [one by one], and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this authority and power too, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “May your money be destroyed along with you, because you thought you could buy the [free] gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart (motive, purpose) is not right before God, Acts 8:17-21.

Beginning in the book of Acts, a conversation to Christianity was immediately followed by baptism.  Luke, the author of Acts, reports that initial converts were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as soon as each baptism ceremony was completed.  This trend continued until Philip brought the gospel to Samaria.  When news spread to John and Peter that the Holy Spirit did not fill new believers, the laying on of hands and prayer was necessary to draw out God’s spirit.  This same dilemma continues today as visible signs of the Holy Spirit are rare.  Thus, some may question “am I really saved or what’s blocking the Holy Spirit?”  If I had the answer to this question, it wouldn’t be a mystery.  All believers can do today is trust God to shed the light of truth on the mystery of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Powerful in Deed and Word

The reality show Undercover Boss premiered in February of 2010. Business owners, CEO’s and presidents go undercover to interact with employees. While disguises vary, the employee’s impression will prove to the boss how important their job is to them. During a seven mile trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Jesus performs a similar act on a couple of his disciples. Jesus plays coy, pretending not to know what happened three days earlier. According to Luke 24:16, no one recognized Jesus, playing the part of an undercover boss.

He asked, “What things?” And they replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, Luke 24:19.

Near the end of this discussion, one disciple makes an interesting observation. While reflecting upon his life, this man compares Jesus to a prophet whose deeds and words are powerful. Jesus wasn’t all talk, no action. Rather, compassion led to miracles, day after day, helping those who came to Jesus as a last resort. Despite the compliments given to Jesus, these men lacked hope, faith and joy, acting like modern defeated Christians.

For indeed you already do practice it toward all the believers throughout Macedonia [by actively displaying your love and concern for them]. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, that you excel [in this matter] more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands, just as we directed you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders [exhibiting good character, personal integrity, and moral courage worthy of the respect of the outside world], and be dependent on no one and in need of nothing [be self-supporting], 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12.

The apostle Paul encourages the congregation of Thessalonica to practice displaying the love of God. Instead of speaking too much, Paul urges believers to live out their faith quietly. Unless you earn the respect of outsiders, you won’t be able to expand the gospel. Thus, while some people find it easy to talk to strangers, living out your faith is more important. When the timing is right, doors will open to further God’s kingdom. Until then, may your deeds be just as powerful as your words.

by Jay Mankus

When Conviction Overrides the Pressure to Conform

When a conscience is functioning properly, this human sense analyzes and evaluates whether or not your current actions are appropriate.  If you cross the line between right and wrong, a declaration of guilt is sent throughout your body.  This signal is felt by hearts and souls that are open to change.  Unfortunately, when opinions are elevated to truth status,  conviction is weakened, opening the door for peer pressure to take precedent.

And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:8.

At the end of his three year ministry on earth, Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for the future.  Unaware of his impending death, Jesus refers to a counselor that will be sent after he is gone.  This spiritual presence will enhance the conviction process, unveiling past and current transgressions.  Referring to the Holy Spirit, this invisible force will expose darkness by illuminating righteousness.  This spiritual aide is designed to use conviction as a tool to override pressure to conform to the ways of this world.

Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” – Acts 2:37

After Jesus ascended into heaven, residents of Jerusalem began to experience the initial presence of the Holy Spirit.  Luke describes this sensation as a heavy heart, struck with an overwhelming degree of anxiety and remorse.  Upon hearing this response, Peter guides these convicted hearts to take the next step, repent and accept Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior.  While not everyone goes through with Peter’s advice, this decision lays a foundation for conviction to override peer pressure to confirm.  May these words inspire you to act upon the conviction of the Holy Spirit so that you draw closer to God.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Your Mission or Are You Missing Inaction?

In the 2005 film Pacifier, Vin Diesel plays disgraced Navy Seal Shane Wolfe.  Upon the failure of his previous mission, Shane is reassigned to protect a family whose dead father created a secret weapon known as Ghost.  While government officials seek to locate this device, Shane’s new mission is to protect this family at all cost while examining the home for any clues.  Despite a series of set backs, Shane risks his life to complete this mission.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” Matthew 28:18-20.

Prior to his ascension into heaven, Jesus gave his disciples what is now known as the great commission.  This mission was laid out in three stages.  First, begin in Jerusalem, explaining what has happened to the Jews.  When phase one is complete, move on to Judea and Samaria, spreading the good news to surrounding towns and villages.  Finally, go into all the world to share the hope of salvation found in the words of John 3:16-17.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” Acts 1:7-8.

Nearly two thousand years later, God is waiting for you to fulfill a new mission.  Depending upon your personality, talents and spiritual gifts, instructions will vary.  Yet, unless you enlist by beginning your own spiritual journey, Romans 10:9-10, your mission will be unknown.  Lack of clarity helps explain why many are unproductive in this life.  However, as the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to you God’s plan, Galatians 5:25, success is possible.  May the season of Lent awaken souls to see the reality of the mission the Lord wants you to complete while on earth.

by Jay Mankus

The Daughters of Prophecy

A forecast, prediction or prognostication are words synonymous with prophecy.  In this age of cynicism the majority of people I know have their doubts.  In fact, some may place these individuals in the same category as mediums, palm readers or psychics.  However, the apostle Paul refers to four woman in Ephesus as daughters of prophecy.

He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied, Acts 21:9.

This concept is foreign territory for most people.  During a few stints of unemployment four years ago, I met a stranger in a Christian bookstore.  This man came up to me at the counter and began to claim I would soon be blessed with a high paying job, beyond my wildest dreams.  When you’re desperate, sometimes you cling to any positive news, no matter how outlandish it appears.  Unfortunately, I got sucked in, was set up for failure and as time flew by without an answer to my prayers, I lost hope in the idea of prophecy.

And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy, Acts 2:17-18.

Nonetheless, I can’t overlook Paul’s claims.  Based upon the context, these girls did not make up prophecies or try to impress Paul.  Rather, they only shared what God revealed to them.  While not a woman, Agabus accurately recounts Paul’s persecution in Jerusalem before it happens.  Luke was so impressed that he makes sure this prophet is mentioned in Acts.  I  can’t explain this rare spiritual talent, yet the Bible is clear, four daughters living in Ephesus possessed the gift of prophecy.

by Jay Mankus

When God Can’t Be Stopped

History can be like a treasure chest, full of valuable life lessons.  Despite these riches, pride will cause many to ignore this information.  Thus, if you don’t learn from the past, you will repeat the same failures of those who have gone before you.  From a spiritual perspective, you may have the fight of a bull dog, but sometimes God can’t be stopped.

Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail, Acts 5:38.

During a closed door meeting, religious officials in Jerusalem were flustered by a new movement.  Gamaliel, a shrewd Pharisee, adds his own two cents, reflecting upon previous events.  Recounting two similar uprisings, Gamaliel makes a valid point.  If the inspiration by the movement of these apostles of Jesus is natural, it will eventually die out.  However, if this origin is supernatural, it can’t be stopped.

But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God, Acts 5:39.

Students of John Calvin believe God predestines the choices individuals make in this life.  The opposing view suggests free will is an expression of the human soul, giving each the ability to accept or reject faith in God.  Depending upon where you find yourself on this position, your mindset will be slanted in one direction or the other.  Beyond theology, the Lord has omnipotent power on the earth.  Therefore, don’t be fooled by man’s wisdom.  Rather, be open to movements of God inspired by the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

 

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