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Tag Archives: living out your faith

On or Off?

When you enter a room at night, it’s pretty obvious whether or not a light switch has been turned on.  When I drive home in the dark from work at 4:30 in the morning, other cars and streets lights point me in the right direction.  Yet, as the sun rises, open windows may provide as much light as a ceiling fan or lamp.  Determining if a light switch has been turned on or off during the day is not as clear as the sun replaces man made lights.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has lost its taste (purpose), how can it be made salty? It is no longer good for anything, but to be thrown out and walked on by people [when the walkways are wet and slippery], Matthew 5:13.

This same concept applies to faith.  On Sunday’s, turning on Jesus is natural as believers enter their local house of God.  Yet, after this service is over or as a hectic work week begins, turning off my faith has become a common occurrence.  The light of others has blinded me from my own lame state, stuck in a casual faith, turning it on and off when I want.  Whether I like it or not, I have enabled my sinful nature to block, interfere and stunt my own spiritual growth.

“You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good deeds and moral excellence, and [recognize and honor and] glorify your Father who is in heaven, Matthew 5:14-16.

This on and off analogy came to me last night during an interaction with a co-worker.  While getting a cup of ice water, I glanced up at the score of the Little League World Series game that was on in our break room.  As I turned to leave, an associate approached with a condensed gospel presentation.  After his two minute spiel, I told him I am already a believer, briefly sharing about my writing ministry.  Yet, as I went back to work, this encounter consumed my soul with conviction.  It’s time that I stop turning on and off my faith.  Instead, I need keep the light of Christ in the on position so I don’t blend in or disappear in the dark.

by Jay Mankus

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A Name That Fulfills Its Purpose

A businessman was packing for a trip in the morning when he realized his suit was dirty. Frantic, this man began to google nearby dry cleaners. After finding a One Hour Dry Cleaner, this man set out to run a few errands. Upon arriving, he explained his situation to the front desk, expecting to pick up his suit in about an hour. The night manager interrupted this request, “I’m sorry sir, one hour cleaner is our name, not what we do.”

For [it is impossible to restore to repentance] those who have once been enlightened [spiritually] and who have tasted and consciously experienced the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted and consciously experienced the good word of God and the powers of the age (world) to come, and then have fallen away—it is impossible to bring them back again to repentance, since they again nail the Son of God on the cross [for as far as they are concerned, they are treating the death of Christ as if they were not saved by it], and are holding Him up again to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

A first century doctor served as a historian, recording the events of the apostle Paul’s mission trips. According to Acts 11:26, Luke noticed something special as he traveled to the city of Antioch. After being baptized following their conversion, people of faith began to emulate the teachings of Jesus. These individuals were so devoted that local residents referred to this movement as Christianity, a name that fulfills its purpose. Unfortunately, by the end of the first century, several sects of this religious movement began to give Christianity a bad name. One warped perspective began to encourage believers to sin more and more so that God’s grace could be poured out upon them. The author of Hebrews addresses this ungodly belief in the passage above.

So Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this [a man equal to Joseph], in whom is the divine spirit [of God]?” – Genesis 41:38.

Every once in a while, you will meet someone who appears to be perfect. While this individual does possess imperfections, something from within makes this person stick out. Such was the case of Joseph, a man of God who fled from evil. Joseph didn’t have to tell people he was a Christian, his faith naturally demonstrated God’s love and wisdom. If you have aspirations for greatness, emulating the life of Jesus is the place to begin. You will fall, slide off course and get tripped up along the way. Nonetheless, God is searching for servants of Christ who strive to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission, Mark 16:15-16, so that faith fulfills its purpose.

by Jay Mankus

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

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

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