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Receiving the Holy Spirit

William McDowell – Spirit Break Out (Lyrics) – YouTube

Every generation contains individuals who attempt to reinvent that which has already occurred. Whether as some sort of superiority complex or stubbornness, these confident people refuse to back down regardless of what others believe, proclaim or think. Participating in a debate to expose a specific flawed mindset seems to be a productive use of time. However, when the crowd you are trying to convince doesn’t budge, even persuasive words can’t turn a hardened heart.

O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?] – Galatians 3:1-2

In the middle of the first Century, a group of new Christians formed a sect to appease Jews who didn’t want to let go of following the Torah. According to the apostle Paul, a group known as the Judaizers infiltrated the Church at Galatia. Unwilling to let go of Jewish traditions, these religious leaders began to convince members of the church to add circumcision to salvation. Ingrained within many followers from birth, this new teaching spread quickly throughout the Galatian Church. Subsequently, Jewish Christians began to look down upon and separate from Gentile converts to Christianity. Thus, Paul rebukes leaders in the passage above.

Have you suffered so many things and experienced so much all for nothing (to no purpose)—if it really is to no purpose and in vain? Then does He Who supplies you with His marvelous [Holy] Spirit and works powerfully and miraculously among you do so on [the grounds of your doing] what the Law demands, or because of your believing in and adhering to and trusting in and relying on the message that you heard? – Galatians 3:4-5

In recent years, new debates often related to theology have caused divisions within the 21st century church. One common dispute involves receiving the Holy Spirit. Some denominations claim that this is only accomplished immediately following a believer’s baptisms. Other doctrines refer to a Day of Pentecost moment where individuals experience a similar outpouring of the Holy Spirit. When these two ideologies clash, I’ve witnessed nasty confrontations on both sides. Yet, according to the Bible, Romans 8:1-8 and Romans 10:9-11 highlight how people of faith can receive the Holy Spirit today. May this occur without any hesitation so that lives are transformed by God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Walking in Freedom

Whether you prefer the day or at night, taking a walk with a friend or friends often yields fond memories.  Beside the exercise, special bonds can develop as one opens their heart to another soul.  Looking back in time, some of the best conversations I have ever had on earth occurred while taking a walk.

I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts. – Psalm 119:45

One of the most famous walks in the Bible occurred over a 7 mile stretch, from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Luke 24:13-35.  Following the crucifixion of Jesus, the disciples were trying to make sense of the events that had just taken place.  This hour long conversation involved a mystery guest, listening to the voices of these men.  Distracted by an eagerness to speak, Jesus’ presence was overlooked.  Playing coy, Jesus pretends to know nothing, asking question after question along the way.  Based upon the topic in Luke 24:25-30, unbelief was keeping these individuals from walking in freedom.

As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. – Luke 24:14

Psalm 119:43-48 provides instructions on how to reach this spiritual state.

1) Preserve your lips with God’s truth, verse 43.

2) Resolve to obey God’s laws, verse 44.

3) Seek God’s precepts on a daily basis, verse 45.

4) Boldly proclaim God’s ways to the leaders on earth, verse 46.

5) Delight in and embrace God’s commands, verse 47.

As soon as believers pray for and mediate on God’s Word, little by little, you will begin to walk in freedom.

by Jay Mankus

To Infinite and Beyond

Buzz Lightyear was introduced into pop culture in 1995, the star in Disney’s Animation Toy Story.  Like every great figure, Buzz’s catch phrase “to infinity and beyond,” endeared Americans to this small yet larger than life character.  The Toy Story series of films has grossed 1.9 billion dollars worldwide, giving a green meaning to infinite and beyond.

If Jesus arrived on the scene for the first time today, He might reference Buzz Lightyear  in a modern day parable.  With an emphasis toward low information voters, Jesus has a record of meeting people where they are, attracted by pop culture.  Subsequently, Jesus might begin with Hollywood to gain the attention and interest of listeners.  However, like a flip of the switch, Jesus weaves biblical truth into every story, pointing lost sheep toward eternity.

The One whom Jesus loved was privileged to private access, greater than even Peter.  Beyond his own gospel, this disciple added 3 additional letters filled with elements of his conversations with the Lord.  Perhaps the most revealing is found in 1 John 5:13.  If you hope to experience infinite and beyond, this passage provides the assurance you need.  When you add Romans 10:9-10 to this equation, you can boldly proclaim like Buzz Lightyear, heaven is a prayer away from of a world where infinite is beyond human comprehension.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

To the Next Generation

When I was your age, I had to walk to school both ways up hill.  This mantra is repeated to each new generation, worded slightly different to drive home the point, “you have it so much easier than I did.”   Whether this is exaggerated, somewhat true or simply a ploy to illicit guilt, the next generation is waiting for a positive message.

A humble shepherd understood this concept, passed over as an after thought by his own father, 1 Samuel 16:2-11.  If there is one lesson everyone can learn, don’t judge someone based upon their physical features, impressive or not.  Rather, the heart holds the key to greatness, 1 Samuel 16:7.  However, unless you speak from the heart, Luke 6:45, no one will know for sure who they should follow.

David verbalizes his beliefs in Psalm 71:14-18.  Recognizing that not everyone shares the same faith, the king felt led by God to express what his eyes have seen.  Instead of regurgitating the same old mantra, David was inspired to pass onto the next generation a message of hope.  Therefore, if you know the truth, don’t withhold this information.  Rather, boldly proclaim the marvelous acts of a risen Messiah to the next generation, 1 Corinthians 5:54-58.

by Jay Mankus

 

Making A Clear Distinction

In a world of diminishing absolutes, making a clear distinction between right and wrong isn’t what it use to be.  Shades of grey have entered the equation, leaving the truth uncertain.  To erase this confusion, one must shine the light of the Bible on this matter to distinguish the moral from immoral.

History reveals this struggle is nothing new as periods in time are filled with examples of people who blended in like chameleons, hiding their faith from society.  This pattern led Moses to challenge Israel to make a clear distinction between holiness and common citizens in Leviticus 10:10-11.  This lesson from the past should challenge us to examine our own lives to ascertain where do you stand?

When you’re feeling good about yourself, pride will lead you to hold a higher view than your actions actually display.  On the other hand, when your day of humility comes, you might feel like the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15.  Despite the good and bad that you do, Jesus still wants believers to shine their light, Matthew 5:13.  Like the childhood song proclaims, don’t hide your light anymore, make a clear distinction today by imitating God, Ephesians 5:1-4.

by Jay Mankus

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