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Tag Archives: Pentecost

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

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Times of Refreshing

My earliest recollection of refreshing comes from a Nestea Commercial. Before advancements in air conditioning units, cold beverages were linked to the term refreshment. During a hot summer day, any type of ice cold drink can be energizing, invigorating or revitalizing. In the passage below, Luke compares refreshing to a cold wind on a hot day.

So repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins] and return [to God—seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day]; Acts 3:19.

The context of this passage comes from the beginning of Peter’s second sermon following the Day of Pentecost. To a certain extent, the Holy Spirit fell upon Jesus’ disciples like a refreshing wind. This spiritual encounter transformed Peter from a man who was once afraid to be associated with Jesus to a bold pillar of faith. After healing a man lame from birth, Peter seizes this opportunity to reveal what a difference Jesus can make in your life.

Nevertheless, do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. The Lord does not delay [as though He were unable to act] and is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is [extraordinarily] patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:8-9.

Ultimately, Peter compares repentance to times of refreshing. After you make the decision to change your inner self by returning your attention back to God, the Lord gives you a fresh start. This do over in life must include a contrite heart followed by acts of contrition which includes seeking God’s purpose on earth. Whenever I pour out my soul to God in prayer, laying all of my burdens at the feet of Jesus, I walk away refreshed. If this blog finds you struggling to get back on track with God, don’t be afraid to take the plunge of faith where you will find spiritual refreshment.

by Jay Mankus

The Hour of Prayer

Whenever you read a long book, there will be lapses in concentration. Human nature may lead to dream dreaming, a lack of focus or result in a desires to speed up. When quantity replaces quality as a goal, I tend to rush through certain details and facts relevant to the story. Thus, words on a page quickly fade from my short term memory. Subsequently, there are portions of the Bible that appear new to me daily.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.), Acts 3:1.

A recent discover is the hour of prayer. According to Luke, following the Day of Pentecost Jesus’ disciples began to pray for an hour in the middle of each day. Fellow believers met at a temple daily to lift up concerns, requests and worries to the Lord. Based upon Mark 15:25, 3 pm was the exact time Jesus gave up his spirit, succumbing to death. Perhaps, the hour of prayer was designed to honor Jesus, serving as a means to promote a sense of urgency for prayer while you are still alive.

But Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have; but what I do have I give to you: In the name (authority, power) of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—[begin now to] walk and go on walking!” Then he seized the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up. And at once his feet and ankles became strong and steady, and with a leap he stood up and began to walk; and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God, Acts 3:6-8.

If you have ever been to a prayer group, an hour is a long time to pray. Most of the prayer times I have participated in involve a time for requests prior to praying. In same cases, you may only pray for 15-30 minutes as sharing concerns may exceed the scheduled time. Regardless of the specific techniques that churches may use, attending a prayer meeting or service heightens your spiritual senses. Prayer can become addictive, especially as eyewitnesses testify to prayers which have transformed their lives. This confidence inspires minds to think big, craving and hoping for miracles.

21 Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

When I was 16, I ran two miles after twisting my ankle. My persistence to finish a race resulted in torn ligaments in my left ankle, causing my bone to twist 90 degrees in the wrong direction. After a visit to A.I Dupont Children’s Hospital, I was told by one doctor that I would never run again. Another said, I would be able to walk, but I would need to have a screw drilled into my ankle to keep this bone in place. These doctors did not consider the influence of prayer prior to my surgery. Christians, coaches and students prayed for healing. Like the lame man in the passage above, the power of prayer made the impossible possible. As others begin to emulate this first century practice, prayer can be a vehicle for miracles.

by Jay Mankus

A Lost Art or a Ceased Power

When you study history, centuries are remembered by the movements within each age.  Whether you are talking about the Renaissance, Industrial Revolution or Nuclear Age, culture. technology and trends shape the next generation.  As philosophers like Plato once proclaimed, these shifts have caused human beings to turn their faith from above to within.

Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through prophecy when the body of elders laid their hands on you, 1 Timothy 4:14.

During periods of spiritual Dark Ages, individuals wandered away from the truth.  As access to the Bible was limited to priests and spiritual leaders, saints were unable to fully practice the apostles teachings.  Thus, the notion of laying hands on individuals was likely a foreign concept.  It wasn’t until the 15th century when Johan Gutenberg’s printing press provided Bibles for the masses, making sure there no excuses from here on out.

Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress, 1 Timothy 4:15.

Within one of the apostle Paul’s letters is an interesting concept, spiritual gifts are conceived following the laying on of hands by elders of a church.  In fact in the next verse, spiritual progress is attributed applying spiritual gifts and laying hands on needy people.  This leads me to ponder, is this a lost art or a ceased power limited to the Pentecost generation?  While theologians will tend to lean toward the latter, perhaps this lost art is the difference between a dying church to one on the verge of revival.  Whatever you believe, the next time you have an opportunity to reach out, say a prayer and release the power of the Holy Spirit, just do it!

by Jay Mankus

 

When Obeying God Trumps Man

From an early age, the concept of obedience is reinforced within many childhood games.  Simon Says, Mother May I and Red Light, Green Light rewards and penalizes players for either obeying or disobeying.  Perhaps, the creators of these activities understood obeying God trumps man.

“We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” – Acts 5:28

Following the legalization of abortion in 1973 after the Roe vs. Wade ruling, the Senate passed the Church Amendment which eventually led states to enact conscience clauses.   While the wording may be different, these laws prevent individuals from performing procedures that go against their religious beliefs.  Unfortunately, as political correctness replaces the Bible as the moral gold standard, many are faced with the dilemma, “do I please man or God?”

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! – Acts 5:29

The disciples of Jesus found themselves in a similar situation around AD 30.  Jewish leaders and Roman officials attempted to quench their freedom of speech.  Thus, after authorities encouraged Peter to stop telling others about Jesus, he faced a crisis of faith.  Prior to the Holy Spirit, Peter would have likely retreated, blending into society like a chameleon.  However, after Pentecost Peter was a different man, unable to remain silent anymore.  Thus, this is one of those occasions in life when obeying God trumps man.

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

 

 

The Land of Look Behind

Prior to the 1982 documentary, a region known as The Land of Look Behind served as a refuge from slavery.  Jamaica’s interior topography, called Cockpit County, includes a mountain range with dense vegetation.  When the opportunity presented itself, oppressed slaves fled to the hills, trying to avoid their masters who sent the police for their return.  Some were successful, able to chart out a new life.  Unfortunately, most were caught; only able to imagine what could have been.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Living with regrets can be agonizing, wishing you can go back in time to change the course of history.  Yet, the reality of this life is that guilt, shame and remorse hover over sinful human beings.  There are many days I feel like a hostage, unable to break free of the hold of bad habits that have taken control of my decision making.  Subsequently, the words of Romans 7:15 have come to fruition in my life.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. – Romans 7:15

Now that Easter has passed, its important to look behind before you can move ahead.  Although problems will continue to exist, reflecting on past failures can set the stage for future success.  Since the story of the resurrection is fresh in the minds of believers, may the power of the Holy Spirit elevate individuals to new heights.  If the Pentecost could transform the disciples, why can’t the same Spirit inspire souls to usher in heaven on earth today?  Therefore, it’s time to catch a glimpse of the land of what can be.

by Jay Mankus

 

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