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Tag Archives: living out your faith

Thunder and Lightning

During one of my favorite seminary classes, Revival and Revivalism, the course began by studying the gradual spiritual decline in America.  According to several historians, 1799 was one of the darkest years for Christianity in the United States.  While the death of George Washington on December 14th didn’t help this matter, apathy, complacency and spiritual indifference spread throughout the East Coast.  This climate set the stage for thunder and lightning to appear in the form of the second Great Awakening.

“I love those that thunder out the Word… the Christian world is in a deep sleep.  Nothing but a loud voice can awaken them out of it,” George Whitefield -1739.

The second great awakening used some of the techniques successful in the first spiritual movement that began in 1730, lasting until 1743.  George Whitefield was one of the local preachers in Delaware, holding Tent Revivals in Pike Creek Valley and St. George’s which is now divided by the C&D canal.  Whitefield preached over 18,000 sermons to nearly ten million people, seeking to awaken the souls of American colonists who had strayed from God like prodigal children.

But when he [finally] came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough food, while I am dying here of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, Luke 15:17-18.

Whitefield felt the need to challenge individuals, using a thunderous approach to get the attention of those spiritually floundering.  Back in the early 1970’s, a similar tone was applied, known as Fire and Brimstone messages.  Unfortunately, this style turned many off to the gospel, leaving the church as a teenager, never to return again.  Instead of yelling at people to repent, Jesus recommended being salt and light to the unchurched, Matthew 5:13-16.  In today’s culture, earning the right to be heard by living out your faith is much more effective.  Thus, if you want to live long enough to experience a fourth great awakening, demonstrate the love of Jesus daily through random acts of kindness.  This should spark the interest of unbelievers and possibly ignite spiritual thunder and lightning.

by Jay Mankus

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Get Up While There is Time to Act

The term believe appears 124 times in the King James Bible.  Meanwhile, the word faith appears 521 times in the Good News Bible.  In the context of the Word of God, believe is more than simply agreeing in your mind that something might be true.  Rather, believe involves trusting God so much that you are willing to dedicate your life to Jesus.  Meanwhile, faith refers to the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works,] James 2:14.

One of the barriers that deters believers in God from acting out their faith is mere intellectual assent.  In laymen terms, this is simply head knowledge about God, Jesus and the Bible.  Perhaps, this factor prevented the earthly brother of Jesus, James, from becoming a disciple prior the crucifixion.  After being an eyewitness of Jesus’ resurrection, conviction within James’ own heart instilled a desire to pursue good works as evidence of his new found faith.  James claims that to be a believer isn’t good enough, genuine faith inspires daily action.

But are you willing to recognize, you foolish [spiritually shallow] person, that faith without [good] works is useless? – James 2:20

While listening to a sermon last weekend, I became troubled by my own lack of action.  The passage above is blunt, faith without works is useless.  Another translation states “faith without works is dead.”  You may be able to fool some people, but God isn’t buying inactive Christians.  John the Revelator writes in the book of Revelation that God will spit out lukewarm believers.  In view of this warning, Get up now while there is time to act by making a difference in your spheres of influence.

by Jay Mankus

When the World Laughs in Your Face

In the film National Treasure, Nicolas Cage plays Benjamin Gates, a treasurer hunter searching for the Knights Templar.  Hidden by the Free Masons, Gates tries to unlock clues left behind and revealed by his grand father.  However, in the professional arena Gates is considered a joke, a dreamer who is chasing after something that doesn’t exist.  To make matters worse, government officials laughed at him when he warns that the Declaration of Independence is in danger.

Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine,” Acts 2:13.

On the day of Pentecost, Peter and the disciples met a similar fate.  As the residents of Jerusalem listened to these Jewish leaders speak in tongues, a group individuals jumped to a conclusion, suggesting these men are merely drunk.  Empowered by this spiritual presence, Peter says “at 9 in the morning, I don’t think so?”  Despite this come back, I’m sure not everyone was convinced.  Thus, whenever you encounter critics, all you can do is trust what you believe by living out your faith.

These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed, 1 Peter 1:7.

If the creative, dreamers or visionaries stopped pursuing their calling due to other people’s opinions, the world would lose its artists, inventors and future leaders.  Like the apostles of the book of Acts, the Holy Spirit is an essential force to continue on regardless of whatever others may think.  Therefore, don’t overreact if joking, laughing or mocking ensues.  Rather, hold fast to your beliefs, roll with the punches and strive to fulfill God’s plan for your life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Faith That Yields a Bountiful Harvest

As a former seminary student, I’m embarrassed by the amount of over analysis which can take place from time to time.  In an attempt to study the Bible through the eyes of a specific theologian, the simplicity of Jesus’ words can be lost.  Instead of debating who’s right and who’s wrong, perhaps Christians should take Jesus’ words literally by becoming doers of the Word.

Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a crop—some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown, Mark 4:20.

While unwrapping the meaning to a famous parable, Jesus lays out four basic environments that exist in the world.  High traffic areas cause the soil underneath to become compacted and hardened.  Hilly or mountainous terrain is rocky, often unstable with soil constantly shifting and eroding resulting in shallow levels.  Unkempt areas explode out of control with briar patches, sticker bushes and thistles competing for spaces to grow.  Finally, ideal settings possess nutrients beneath which can lead to record crops.

He said to them, “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? – Mark 4:21

According to Jesus, this final scenario is achieved when individuals hear the spoken message and accept it as their own.  There is no exception to this rule, faith must become personal, owned by those who believe, Romans 10:17.  You don’t just profess your convictions and go back to the life you once lived.  Rather, Jesus calls his followers to shine their light by taking a stand in the world we live.  If you want a faith that will yield a bountiful harvest, dive in today by fulfilling Mark 4:20-21.

by Jay Mankus

 

You Shouldn’t Have to Ask

In life, there are no certainties, as each day on earth involves a plethora of possibilities.  Whether good, bad or indifferent, blessings and curses usually come and go like an endless cycle.  Nonetheless, when faith is the issue, you shouldn’t have to ask someone where they stand; this should be obvious.

The example Jesus uses can be found in his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5:13-16.  Faith is compared with salt, adding flavor to one’s life by preserving the soul through mediating, reading and reflecting on the Bible, Joshua 1:8.  Subsequently, faith should ignite hearts toward action, illuminating the love of God through deeds, a Christ like example and encouraging words.

According to the apostle Paul, gifts, personalities and talents vary, Romans 12:6-8.  Thus, being outspoken and vocal is not essential.  Rather, faith should compel individuals to demonstrate their commitment for Jesus on a regular basis, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.  By displaying faith, co-workers, family members and neighbors should be drawn to you, pondering, “something is different about him or her?”  You shouldn’t have to ask me, you should see this little light of mine shine daily.

by Jay Mankus

A King’s Faith

While channel surfing the other night, I stumbled across an interesting movie.  Titled King’s Faith, I was expecting to see a famous king.  Instead, this film featured a high school senior trying to break free from a turbulent past.  Only a king’s faith could rescue him from a gang who didn’t want to let go.

Long before the 2013 film, history recounts king’s whose faith transformed nations.  When citizens doubted God, feared the future or questioned why the wicked prosper, godly leaders provided a source of light during dark moments in time.  Joash, Josiah and Jehoshaphat, kings of Judah, refused to allow the memory of their God to be forgotten.  Moved by the Holy Spirit, a king’s faith enabled countries like America to exist.  Yet, who will stand in the gap today, Ezekiel 22:30, so that future generations may experience the power of a living God?

To experience a king’s faith, one must examine the common attributes shared by prominent leaders.  First, all successful kings had access to discerning individuals either through a prophet or wise council.  Second, godliness is instilled by surrounding yourself in the word of God, meditating on biblical truth.  Finally, calling on the name of the Lord through prayer is an essential ingredient to passing on faith to future generations.  For now, the world is waiting for the next person to display a king’s faith.

by Jay Mankus

Worship + Fasting = Spiritual Insight

The question, “am I in the right place,” is something I often ponder.  At my wit’s end, I turned to the pages of the Bible to find answers to this dilemma.  To my amazement, the words of Acts 13:2-4, jumped off the pages today, putting an equation into my mind: Worship + Fasting = Spiritual Insight.

Worship isn’t a service you attend once a week on Saturday night or Sunday.  Nor is worship a portion of a church service where you sing hymns or modern worship songs.  Rather, worship is an acquired adoration of a living God, where an individual devotes time each day to honor and revere the creator of the heavens and the earth.  As this relationship kindles, lyrics of praise become etched upon their hearts, paying tribute to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Fasting is a spiritual practice neglected by many denominations in recent years.  My first encounter with fasting began in high school, by not eating red meat on Friday’s during the Catholic celebration of Lent, prior to Easter.  Authors like Jentezen Franklin have helped me grasp this concept through books like the Fasting Edge.  The notion of fasting can be traced back to Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:41.  By replacing food with prayer for a meal, day, week or month, your body can be strength by a willing Spirit.  Like any type of training, start small and work your way your goal of a day, few days or an entire week.

According to Acts 13:2, something supernatural transpired when worship and fasting were present in Paul and Barnabas’ life.  During a normal Sunday service, the Holy Spirit filled each with spiritual insight.  Prior to this day, their future was unclear.  However, in the midst of these joint acts of faith, God called each to the mission field.  Though cautious initially, the Holy Spirit guided their inaugural journey, leading them to Seleucia and Cyprus, Acts 13:4.  The apostle Paul didn’t just write about faith, Galatians 5:25, he lived it!

Like a teacher becoming a student, are you where God wants you to be or are you resisting a spirit of change?  Since everything else I have tried has failed up to this point, its time for me to try the equation Worship + Fasting.  As I commit to next 3 days to this exercise, I am praying that spiritual insight will follow.  The only thing standing in the way of a modern miracle is weak faith.  Therefore, trust the promises within 2 Peter 1:3-9 to pave the way for blessings and a fruitful life in Christ!

by Jay Mankus

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