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Rains from Heaven

While farmers pray for rain each summer to nurture freshly planted crops, vacationers hope for clear sunny skies until nightfall.  Meanwhile, those who reside in the path of previous hurricanes or tornado alley, plead with God to save their home, lives and town.  From God’s perspective, every day prayers lifted up to heaven often contradict one another.  Subsequently, rain sent from heaven will bless some while serving as a curse to others.

Yet He did not leave Himself without some witness [as evidence of Himself], in that He kept constantly doing good things and showing you kindness, and giving you rains from heaven and productive seasons, filling your hearts with food and happiness,” Acts 14:17.

After healing a man crippled from birth, eyewitnesses of this miracle exalted Paul and Barnabas to god-like status.  Instead of receiving this praise, Paul reveals the source of his power, pointing to heaven.  Evidence of God’s presence can be seen daily if you are watching closely.  Unfortunately, many have become oblivious, too focused on their own lives to thank the Lord for rains sent from heaven.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. 18 It was of His own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself—sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes], James 1:17-18.

An earthly brother came to realize this fact following Jesus’ resurrection.  Perhaps, the passage above is a culmination of a private conversation prior to Jesus ascending into heaven.  If only negative people who try to bring you down would grasp the concept that every perfect gift comes from above.  Embracing this mindset would transform families, neighborhoods and workplaces.  Yet, for now, the best way to keep this message alive is by pointing to rain sent from heaven.

by Jay Mankus

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Inactive, Missing Something or Unplugged?

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you, John 14:6.

When I read the New Testament, I see a Holy Spirit that is far greater than modern times. The seminary I attended nearly two decades ago used the rationale of a special anointing limited to first century Christians. According to Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost enabled apostles and disciples of Jesus to speak in foreign tongues, restoring communication barriers created during the building of the Tower of Babel. When these apostles and disciples passed away, this special anointing of the Holy Spirit disappeared.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come, John 16:13.

The one problem with this theory is that Jesus never mentions 2 different outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to a counselor, guide and helper. While certain denominations get caught up in debating the validity of speaking in tongues, perhaps the lack of a powerful Spirit lies within. Maybe a lack of spiritual fruit is a symptom of a far greater problem. From my perspective, the Holy Spirit’s full potential has been minimized due to one of three scenarios. Either I am idle, inactive in my faith, missing something like a post baptism transformation or I am unplugged, relying on my human nature instead?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law, Galatians 5:22-23.

The apostle Paul confronts this issue in a letter to the church at Galatia. According to Paul, there are two invisible forces at work: the Holy Spirit and Sinful Nature. During a letter to the church at Rome, Paul suggests that your mindset will dictate which force you will follow. Until modern believers dedicate themselves to practicing first century spiritual disciplines, the Holy Spirit will remain a unrecognized force. If only I could tap into this power, my camouflaged faith will be unveiled. May this blog inspire other believers to develop a spiritual hunger for God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The 7 Point Creed

For college basketball fans, March Madness is like Christmas. Over the next three weeks, 68 universities will compete for a national championship. Teams will be whittled down to 16 and 4 during the first 2 weeks of play before a champion is crowned at the conclusion of this event. When it comes to college basketball coaches, one of the greatest of all time is John Robert Wooden. During a 12 year period, Wooden led UCLA to 10 national championships. Behind this great man, there was a 7 point creed which served as his foundation for life.

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses], Hebrews 11:1.

A creed is system of belief based upon conviction, faith and personal devotion. The creed listed below was found in an old journal. These life principles allow fans, followers and readers to understand the mindset which made Wooden a legendary coach. Three contain biblical principles: praying, serving others and studying God’s Word. Two are based upon relationships, using your spheres of influence to help others and develop permanent meaningful relationships. One is focused on making sure success doesn’t change who you are as a person. Meanwhile, another is based upon the premise to seize each day God gives you.

1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

May the 7 point creed above inspire you to reach your full potential as a human being. While you may exchange, improvise or replace some of these with your own language, putting your faith into action will enable you to ascend to new heights. You may not win a national championship, but with God anything is possible.

by Jay Mankus

Come On Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6x23vYN33s

Every culture has its own unique expressions. Depending upon known awareness, discernment and knowledge, you may be privy to hidden information or oblivious. Thus, you may notice a snide comment or have it go right over your head. In a first century letter written to Christians scattered throughout the Middle East, the earthly brother of Jesus attempts to wake up his audience with the phrase “come now.” This would be equivalent to the modern saying come on man. James is urging his readers to stop doing stupid things as if to suggest, “you know better than that.”

Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit.” 14 [Yet you do not know [the least thing] [about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air], James 4:13-14.

The context of this passage in James 4 has ties to modern inspirational speakers. A modern paraphrase version of this text might say something like “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Apparently, people of faith began to become cavalier, not caring enough about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This mindset lead to a belief that God would take care of these individuals no matter what they did or said. This portion of James’ letter serves as a rebuke, urging Christians to live for today, here and now as tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and we will do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast [vainly] in your pretension and arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:15-17.

Whenever I go a day or two without reading the Bible, strange thoughts begin to enter my mind. Instead of taking my thoughts captive, my mind begins to wander, enticed by the ways of the world. Perhaps, James was aware that people he once respected began to backslide, returning to their former lifestyle prior to becoming a Christian. Thus, James feels the need to write “come on man, what are you doing?” To a certain extent, we all have our senior moments, forgetting the obvious. Yet, if you know what is right and don’t do it, you are just as guilty by committing a sin of omission. May this blog help you realign your life with God’s will by taking life one day at a time.

by Jay Mankus

A Passport to Heaven

Credentials are defined as evidence of authority, status, and rights. Anyone who possesses the proper credentials in life are given access to or are entitled to special privileges that exist depending upon your position, rank or title. At some point in his life, Jesus was recognized as a magician, rabbi and teacher despite not having an earthly degree in any of these areas. This reputation enabled Jesus to converse, discuss and meet with a wide range of individuals. During the first century, a rich young ruler approached Jesus searching for a passport to heaven.

A certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially and morally good], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” 19 Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially and morally] good except God alone, Luke 18:18-19.

A first century doctor recounts the dialogue between these two men in the passage above and below.  Based upon what was written, it appears that this ruler believed that heaven was something that could be earned.  Jesus nips this mindset in the butt, informing any who could hear that only God is good.  Jesus transitions into a different direction, taking a spiritual inventory of this young man’s past.  This discussion led to knowing and practicing the ten commandments.  Like a counselor listening to their patient, Jesus noticed one thing lacking within this ruler.  Financial success led this man to rely on money rather than fully trust the Lord to provide.  At the end of their conversation, this rich young ruler walks away disappointed, unable to meet the credentials necessary for a passport to heaven.

When Jesus heard this, He said to him, “You still lack one thing; sell everything that you have and distribute the money to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk],” Luke 18:22-23.

In a previous conversation with his own disciples, Jesus provides further insight into the credentials necessary to receive a passport to heaven.  Jesus gives those who seek to become a modern day disciple three ultimatums.  First, deny yourself by setting aside selfish ambitions.  Second, take up your cross through a willingness to endure whatever may come in the form of persecution.  Third, follow Jesus, by believing, conforming and emulating the life of Christ.  If you have to summarize these requirements to receive a passport to heaven, you must be willing to lose your life, surrendering it completely, to find eternal life.

by Jay Mankus

You Might Want to Reconsider That Thought

The National Inquirer was established in 1926.  This supermarket tabloid is designed to be an impulse purchase as you wait in line at grocery stores across the country.  This magazine will pay sources for tips, a practice generally disapproved of by the mainstream press.   Subsequently, many of the stories inside are fantasies, gossip and rumors that are unsubstantiated.  For this reason, the National Inquirer has developed a reputation as a joke, something to read for a good laugh and not taken as a serious source for journalism.  Nonetheless, times are changing and what used to be considered crazy is now being verbalized daily by paid protestors.

He sent messengers on ahead of Him, and they went into a Samaritan village to make arrangements for Him; 53 but the people would not welcome Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem, Luke 9:52-53.

Due to human nature, anyone can make bizarre, outlandish and stupid comments.  During the first century, the disciples made a statement that was front cover material, a story that might peak the interest of the National Inquirer if it existed at that time.  The headlines reading something like “Sodom and Gomorrah 2,” as disciples try to convince Jesus to call down fire from heaven.  However, this slip of the tongue is immediately addressed by Jesus.  In the passage below, Jesus is unsettled by this thought, correcting this error by explaining the proper mindset to possess in the future.

When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and destroy them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them [and He said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they journeyed on to another village, Luke 9:54-56.

Due to the invention of social media, comments, tweets and words are getting individuals into trouble every day.  Employers are now screening the internet, examining previous posts by prospective candidates.  Many qualified people are being denied the job of their dreams due to careless statements from their past.  While you may feel compelled to express your point of view from time to time, you might want to reconsider before you press send.  If not you will find yourself in a similar situation to the disciples, embarrassed and rebuked publicly.

by Jay Mankus

 

Playing God

If you take the time to catch up on breaking news, you might notice a disturbing new trend.  Instead of providing the full context of a conversation, sound bytes are used to promote a certain narrative.  Instead of relying on truth, justice and the American way, political allegiances have been formed.  This decision has replaced the Bible with political correctness.  Anyone who does not adhere to this new standard is attacked, exposed and slammed for intolerance.  The idea of a corrupt media was something I thought was impossible, left for nations of dictators from third world nations.  Yet, as the media’s elite begin to play God, redefining right and wrong, I’m afraid of what the future holds.

For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment, James 2:13.

In 2009, Paramore released Playing God, a single from their third album Brand News Eyes.  Lead singer Hayley Williams was one of the authors of this song, collaborating with band members Josh Farro and Taylor York.  The music video begins with Hayley sitting in her car, staring at a cross and a button of Jesus on her dashboard.  This time of reflection sets the stage for a new concept, what if God did not introduce freewill?  Instead God used force, to tie people up so they didn’t go where God didn’t want them to be.  While God refuses to participate in this mindset, adults, other siblings and parents from time to time like to play God.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Known for his wisdom, King Solomon addressed this topic during his day.  According to Solomon, everyone has an idea, a plan for their lives.  While your heart may guide you throughout this life, God ultimately establishes the direction you will take.  Along the way, barriers, obstacles and road blocks stand in your way, altering your course.  Thus, the sooner you start keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, the better off you will be.  Rather than condemning those around you for not following the path of integrity, make sure you show mercy to others so that when you do fall, forgiveness will be extended to you.

by Jay Mankus

 

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