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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

Believing in a Move of God

When I am depressed, frustrated or find myself falling into bad habits, I cry out to God.  This prayer in the form of a Hail Mary, a sports related phrase, doesn’t always work.  The best way to explain this lack of response from God is that I have already made up my mind, not open to applying God’s advice.  Until I reach the point of a contrite heart, turning 180 degrees from sin toward God, the Lord isn’t ready to take me serious.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved! – Psalm 80:19

During periods of the Old Testament, Israel was waiting on a movement of God.  The Bible refers to this process as a revival, where God resuscitates, restores and relaunches souls back on track toward God’s will for your life.   However, Individuals must display acts of contrition before a move of God will commence.  An Old Testament prophet eludes to this principle in Isaiah 1:15-20.  Isaiah talks about a time when God will not answer your prayers.  According to Isaiah, until you wash yourself by purging evil from your life, God will not bless your life or move in a mighty way.

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? – Psalm 85:6

The author of Hebrews adds one key step to jump starting a move of God, belief must come first.  This first century apostle states that you can’t please God unless faith in God is acted upon.  This is why many Christians end up falling short of experiencing the abundant life of Christ, John 10:10.  Hebrews 11 serves as the Bible Hall of Fame as each candidate is recognized by the faith they displayed.  If this blog finds you like me, frustrated and hopeless, may these promises in the Bible revive you so that a move of God will uplift your soul and re-energize your life.

by Jay Mankus

An Excuse to Hide

In most judicial cases, the innocent will be absolved, acquitted and excused from any blame from a previous accusation.  Truth has a way shinning light on the guilty party or parties.  Meanwhile, those who walk with integrity tend to be vindicated.  Unfortunately, everyone has a weakness, a blind spot where logic and reason is not always applied.  Thus, if you find yourself caught with your hand in a proverbial cookie jar, there is a natural inclination to run away and hide.  Perhaps, this is something human beings have inherited from Adam and Eve, a flaw that must be addressed.

Then the eyes of the two of them were opened [that is, their awareness increased], and they knew that they were naked; and they fastened fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.  And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool [afternoon breeze] of the day, so the man and his wife hid and kept themselves hidden from the]presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden, Genesis 3:7-8.

Prior to original sin, there was an innocence, a freedom that existed within human beings.  Yet, when you go beyond clearly defined boundaries, the consequences tarnish souls.  After tasting fruit from a forbidden area of the garden, guilt infiltrated human hearts.  This new feeling brought remorse, sorrow and the weight of a heavy heart, ashamed of breaking God’s only rule in the garden.  All of these built up emotions led to a knee jerk reaction, hiding from God, fearful of His response.  Thus, this collection of internal data influenced the earth’s first family to flee, an excuse to hide.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, “Go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim [judgment] against it, for their wickedness has come up before Me.” But Jonah ran away to Tarshish to escape from the presence of the Lord [and his duty as His prophet]. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities]. So he paid the fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord, Jonah 1:1-3.

Several centuries later, a prophet receive a calling from God.  Afraid and unwilling to heed this call, Jonah attempts to go in the complete opposite direction of Nineveh.  Depending upon which Bible commentary you prefer, there is a belief that Jonah knew the wicked people of Nineveh would repent.  Feeling as if they were an undeserving nation, Jonah refused to preach a message of forgiveness.  Thus, in his own mind, Jonah felt justified to run away from God.  However, a hurricane, abandoning ship and a journey in the belly of whale transformed Jonah’s heart.  Therefore, the next time you feel compelled to run or hide from God’s calling, repent now or you may end up experiencing a life threatening situation.  May these two encounters serve as teachable moments to alter your course now.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Genuine Confessions of Faith

In the middle of the 16th century, a man from Scotland left his mark on history.  John Knox became a minister, theologian and writer.  This devotion led to the founding of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  While living in exile in France, Knox was licensed to work in the Church of England, influenced the theology within the Book of Common Prayer and helped write the Confession of Faith.  John Knox emulated the words of the apostle Paul below, living out his faith daily.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame, Romans 10:9-11.

In the first century, baptism and confessions of faith went hand and hand.  The term baptism refers to a public expression of an inner faith.  Before ascending into heaven, Jesus exhorted his disciples to follow 3 main commands.  This speech is referred to as the Great Commission.  The first instruction is to go and make disciples by introducing new people to the good news of Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23.  Immediately following this confession, new converts were baptized.  Finally, as faith is activated, the Holy Spirit is awakened within hearts, minds and souls.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

One of the common mistakes new Christians make is rededicating their lives numerous times.  While confession should be a daily practice via prayer, God desires individuals to exercise repentance.  Essentially, the Lord wants human beings to make a 180 degree U-turn, away from sin and toward God.  Theologians introduced the phrase contrition to help explain God’s expectations.  Confession doesn’t mean a thing unless you take steps to refrain from mistakes of your past.  Thus, if you want to be a beacon of light, make sure your confessions of faith are followed by fruits of the Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

From That Time On

There were a series of events which took placed before Jesus began his earthly ministry.  Since the prophets of the Old Testament wrote about these specific details, Jesus waited patiently until this day arrived.  Following his baptism, John’s imprisonment and move to the Land of Zebulun and Naphtali, everything was set for Jesus to put God’s plan into action.

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” Matthew 4:17.

According to the verse above, Jesus’ message was clear, repent for the kingdom of God is near.  To avoid over kill, Matthew writes this statement once as a simple reminder, from that time on.  Whether Jesus was addressing a large crowd, a small group or speaking one on one, repentance played a crucial role.  This term refers to turning 180 degrees away from addiction, bad habits and unwholesome desires toward the grace and mercy of God.

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost, Luke 19:10

During a public conversation heard by several eyewitnesses, Jesus makes a remarkable admission.  Prior to meeting with a repentant tax collector, Jesus reveals his purpose for coming down to earth.  The statement above refers to seeking and saving that which Adam lost in the Garden of Eden.  This is two fold: the authority stolen by Satan and intimacy which Adam and Eve shared with God, walking and talking together day.  If you ever lose your way, don’t forget Jesus’ simply message: repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.

by Jay Mankus

Blind and Toothless

Jewish law detailed in the Old Testament is clear and concise.  “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth annd life for a life” doesn’t leave any grey area.  Yet, when asked about his opinion on biblical law Gandhi provided a classic quote.  “If this law was applied literally everyone would be blind and toothless.”

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, John 1:17.

Today, lawyers have crafted escape clauses and discovered loopholes to help clients avoid punishment.  When you combine this with activist judges who view the United States Constitution as a living documents, law now evolves as society changes.  This lack of consistency often results in chaos within classrooms, communities and work places.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet,” Romans 7:7.

Whenever someone is caught breaking a rule, knee jerk reactions tend to reply with something like “I didn’t know.”  The purpose of rules is to prevent individuals from using the amoral card, not informed on right from wrong.  Yet, laws without grace breeds teetotalism, the point Gandhi eludes to above.  Therefore, two things are necessary to avoid a blind and toothless society.  First, slow down long enough to read, reflect and meditate on the Bible.  Then, when you go beyond the boundaries God has set, confess, repent and turn to God in prayer for forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

The Hope of Glory

Hope is usually a vehicle which leads to glory.  When hope is absent, individuals struggle to find meaning and purpose in life.  However, as soon as the fruit of hope is conceived, this invisible source leads people to reach their final destination.  The hope of glory is achieved when souls put their faith in Christ for eternity.

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, Colossians 1:27.

In a world full of disappointment, its hard to find something that will last.  While Israel was always known as God’s chosen people, those outside of this nation developed an inferiority complex.  Nonetheless, the Bible promises a day when Gentiles will be introduced to the glorious riches of Christ.  Thus, the moment anyone confesses with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, the hope of glory is obtained.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

As this modern age turns toward a progressive life style, the words of the Bible is being discarded as a source for truth.  In return, the narrative of this historic book is being devalued causing many to lose their faith.  The best way to combat this reality is to daily listen to biblical principles.  Unless a devotional and prayer life become deeply rooted, experiencing the hope of glory is a pipe dream.  Therefore, before its too late to repent, place your trust solely in the Holy Spirit so that Christ within you will be manifested as the hope of glory.

by Jay Mankus

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