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Tag Archives: live by faith

Seeing God

My first exposure to the true meaning in the Bible came through two college courses.  Biblical and Classical Literature began by reading all 66 books of the Bible and ended with several classics like Beowulf.  My second class, the Bible as Literature wasn’t as interesting.  While examining the symbolism of the Bible with other ancient stories was educational, I don’t think my college professor went to seminary.  These experiences taught me not to read too much into literature.  Rather, take each piece in its original historical context.  Perhaps, this may explain why Joshua urged readers of the Bible to meditate on God’s laws day and night so that important details are not missed or neglected.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God,” Matthew 5:8.

In the first century, a spiritual leader entered the scene as a vivid story teller, using analogies called parables to captivate an audience.  In the passage above, Jesus lists a series of beatitudes.  According to Jesus, any individual who pursues these spiritual ambitions will be blessed by God.  If anyone wants to develop a pure heart, three traits are necessary: godly character, integrity and moral courage.  These values are a mindset, steps toward becoming spiritually mature.  For those who stay the course, seeing God work in your life won’t be a concept that you read in a book.  Rather, your eyes will be opened to the movement of the Holy Spirit altering, changing and transforming your life.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.

A disciple of Jesus makes an interesting connection in the passage above.  As children, babies cling to their parents, relying on their mother’s milk for food and father’s leadership for direction.  Jesus welcomed little children in his ministry, eager to bless, hold and interact with them.  Yet, when children grow up, innocence is lost as negative adults begin to verbally squash a teenager’s dreams.  John tells first century adults to live in anticipation of God’s promises in the Bible.  Live by faith like children expecting to walk hand and hand with God in heaven.  The key to making this a reality is developing a pure heart.  As hearts become aligned with God’s will, you will see God move in America.

by Jay Mankus

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Assurance or Insurance?

The term assurance refers to a positive declaration intended to give confidence.  In a biblical context, an assurance is a promise from God.  Certain passages of the Bible serve as guarantees, a pledge and vow to fulfill the hope for eternal life.  During a private meeting with his disciples, Jesus reveals his plans for the future.  According to the verse below, Jesus left earth following his death to prepare a room in heaven for his followers.  This message of assurance enables modern Christian to live by faith, not by sight.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you, John 14:2.

Meanwhile, insurance is a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for set payments.  If you want to drive, you need auto insurance.  Under Obama Care, the uninsured were fined, thereby forcing individuals to obtain health insurance even if they didn’t need or want it.  Insurance companies have convinced many Americans to buy more policies than what they actually need.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

In preparation for death, attorneys recommend creating a will so that you decide who will receive your remaining assets.  Shrewd insurance agents will offer clients term life insurance, the cheapest yet most beneficial for dying spouses.  However, from a spiritual perspective, the passage above is the only thing you need to know about eternal life.  If you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ before you die, you can know for certain that you will spend eternity in heaven.  This is the only assurance that you need about the afterlife.

by Jay Mankus

Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani?

While most people have moved on with their lives following Easter Sunday, there is something I want you to consider about this religious holiday.  One of Jesus’ last words before dying on a cross reflects the anguish within his heart and soul.  In order for God’s plan to redeem mankind to be completed, Jesus’ heavenly father watched from a distance as his son died.  This lack of action caused Jesus to cry out, “my God my God, why have you forsaken me?”

About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud [agonized] voice, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” – Matthew 27:46

If God let Jesus suffer and die, then human beings face a similar fate.  Despite God’s love for His one and only son, sometimes it feels like God turns his back on us as well. When Christians are in trouble, most reach out to God in prayer, begging and pleading with the Lord for divine intervention.  When a period of time passes without a clear answer, miracles don’t happen or a friend dies, many people feel like God has abandoned them.  When God doesn’t act immediately, its not uncommon to believe or think that God has forsaken you.

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. Luke 15:20.

Behind the scenes, God is more like the father portrayed in the parable of the Prodigal Son.  Unfortunately, while on earth Christians must live by faith, not by sight.  Human nature craves and longs for signs from God.  Yet, faith must remain firm when God is silent.  Like a roller coaster that goes up and down, there will be moments when God’s presence seems near.  However, faith needs to steer you during periods of darkness.  If you lose hope, you too may be tempted to exclaim, “eli, eli, lama sabachthani which translates my God my God, why has you forsaken me into English.  In the meantime stay strong or if you have to, lean on others to get you through trials in this life.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Sure About That God?

From time to time, God will call his followers to step out in faith.  While this is expected to a certain extent, some requests go beyond logic.  Noah was asked to build an ark before rain existed.  A man plagued with stuttering, Moses, was urged to confront Pharaoh to let Israel go.  Meanwhile Joshua was encouraged to go into battle with a marching band of trumpets.  At some point I’m sure all three of these men likely pondered, “are you sure about that God?”

Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, Genesis 2:5.

The book of Hebrews emphasizes that its impossible to please God without faith, Hebrews 11:6.  James, the earthly brother of Jesus states that faith is dead without accompanied by action, James 2:26.  Perhaps, the reason why individuals are forced to step out in faith is that many people spend most of their lives dwelling within personal comfort zones.  Thus, God has to nudge and prod people to live by faith, not by sight.

For we live by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7.

Prior to the fall of Jericho, Joshua led his army to march around the walls of the city for six consecutive days.  At some point during this week, there must have been murmurs by soldiers, “when am I going to get my weapon?”  Although its not mentioned in the Bible, human nature causes individuals to doubt.  While not vocalized, Joshua needed to unite the troops on the final day, with something like “stop talking and march.”  Though you and I will have many more “are you sure about that” moments, may you fight through the urge to doubt by trusting God, step by step in faith.

by Jay Mankus

Sending the Correct Message

In this political season, it doesn’t take much to communicate the wrong message.  Sometimes an individual goes rogue to advance their own agenda.  Others may attempt to make a name for themselves by expressing an over the top statement.  However, the most common mistake occurs from a slip of the tongue.  If the media is present, this faux pas usually results in a firestorm and has ended the careers of promising candidates.

I will climb up to my watchtower and stand at my guardpost.  There I will wait to see what the LORD says and how he will answer my complaint, Habakkuk 2:1.

On the flip side, many struggle to comprehend what God is trying to communicate daily.  Thus, countless people of faith wander off into the wilderness wondering if the Lord will ever make Himself clear.  Many prayers will be offered, yet silence can be one of the most frustrating experiences in life.  Distraught children, moms and others seeking answers cry out to the heavens waiting for some kind of tangible sign.

Then the LORD said to me, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others,” Habakkuk 2:2.

Unfortunately, the Bible is clear about this issue as believers are commanded to live by faith, not by sight.  Though some don’t want to hear this, time will tell why this or that happened to you.  Nonetheless, its easy to manipulate messages, often taking the Bible out of context to get the outcome you desire.  Despite these efforts, the prophet Habakkuk suggests that there will be times in life when you will have to wait for insight.  In view of this, practice patience until the Lord provides a runner to carry you the correct message.

by Jay Mankus

Resisting the Holy Spirit

As far as I can remember, I grew up in a strict Roman Catholic Church: taking my first communion there, going to C.C.D. and finally completing the confirmation process.  In my early years, nuns would strike you with a yard stick if you couldn’t quote the Our Father or Hail Mary when put on the spot.  When I got older, it bothered me  that the priest had the final  say, only his interpretation of scripture was valid.  Thus, in high school, I began a quest to find out more about the Bible, looking beyond just the Catholic faith for answers.

This journey has lead me to passages like Acts 7:51.  Whether you are a Catholic, Protestant , Jew or some other religion, sometimes its hard to break the traditions that have been engraved within your mind.  When your priest, pastor or rabbi says something, most assume, this must be true.  However, religious practices often enable leaders to usurp power over their flock, holding them captive to traditions.  Similar patterns exist today, as seminary teaches future shepherds to follow theological practices, often overlooking the presence and power of the Holy Spirit.

The Bible says live by faith, not by sight, 2 Corinthians 5:7.  The apostle Paul furthers this concept in Galatians 5:25, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, day by day, not just when we feel like or want to follow.  I am afraid that many Christians are so busy following orders and pursuing practices, they have been oblivious to the fact they are actually resisting the Holy Spirit.  Wherever you are in life, make room for the Counselor, John 14:16-17.  Resist the urge to follow human traditions, test everything you hear with the Bible and when God’s whisper appears, follow!

by Jay Mankus

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