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Tag Archives: seeking God

Speak to Me Outside of Church

Prior to the Coronavirus cancelling worship services across the country, only 20% of Americans regularly attended church. Before being quarantined, this steady decline in attendance suggests that many Christians haven’t made church a priority, finding other things to do on Saturday and Sunday. According to a 2018 Outreach Magazine article, only the state of Hawaii saw a recent increase in worship attendance. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, perhaps this time away from church will conceive a hunger to join and become an active member in a local church.

My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it]; Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures, Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God, Proverbs 2:1-5.

As for now, believers are going to have to find an alternative, an avenue for God to speak to you outside of church. Reading the Bible daily is a logical step in this direction. In the passage above, Solomon is pleading with his children. Instead of trying to find joy and pleasure in the world, dust off this book and begin listening to the living Word of God. Open your heart and mind to these truths, embracing and treasuring these spiritual nuggets. The next transition is putting these words into practice by applying biblical principles through your actions, behavior and speech.

If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you, John 15:7.

This process will require prayer; lots of it. Since there isn’t a band, chorus and musician to lead you in worship, you can rely on your favorite internet site to enhance your prayer. Several years ago I was introduced to the concept of Soaking in the Spirit. This occurs by laying down in a room, closing your eyes and clearing your mind from stress of life while listening to worship music. The goal is to empty your mind of all the garbage that you have collected over time and ask God to remove and replace it with songs of praise. The attached song, a spontaneous worship montage by Kari Jobe is what I use when I want God to speak to me outside of church.

by Jay Mankus

3000 Blogs in 3000 Days

Former Hall of Famer Lou Gehrig earned the nickname Iron Horse for setting Major League Baseball’s record for consecutive games played at 2,130. Gehrig surpassed Everett Scott’s record of 1307 consecutive games, holding this mark for 56 years. The new standard for consecutive games played was set by former Baltimore Oriole short stop Cal Ripkin Jr. Before sitting a game in his 16th and final season, Ripkin played 2632 games in a row. As for me, today marks my 3,000th consecutive blog in as many days.

Seek the Lord and His strength; yearn for and seek His face and to be in His presence continually! – 1 Chronicles 16:11.

My first blog was posted in February of 2012, inspired by attending a weekend conference on discernment. One of the exercises I participated in used word association to highlight your gifts, talents and spiritual gifts. One of the attributes that was confirmed is my ability to write in the Spirit. The best way to describe this unique skill is using a scene from Good Will Hunting. Skyler and Will talk over lunch as she tries to multi-task, working on Organic Chemistry. Will uses the analogy “I just play” to explain his rare gift.

Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives, Galatians 5:25.

Two verses in the Bible unveil the spiritual possibilities for those who yearn for God’s presence and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. During my initial years as a high school Bible teacher, I was uncomfortable with and unsure of what to do with my strange gift. Yet, after receiving assurance from pastor Bruce, I began to write down my thoughts, whispers and voices that I hear. In case you were wondering; no I don’t see dead people. Journals, notebooks, sticky notes and any scrap piece of paper became vehicles to relay messages from God. Like a dream that fades from your memory, you never know where or when the Spirit will move. If you are eager to listen, you too can write 3000 blogs in 3000 days without repetition.

by Jay Mankus

Make Sure That You are Knocking on the Right Door

Long before the days of cell and telephones, if you wanted to talk to someone you would go over to where they lived or write a letter. If this desired individual lived close by or in a nearby neighborhood, walking over to knock on the front door was a common practice. In the days of my youth, I regularly rode my bike or walked over to a friends’ house. On a couple of occasions, usually at night, I knocked on the wrong door. These embarrassing moments were short lived by quickly getting directions to where I needed to go.

When he, at a glance, became aware of this [comprehending all the elements of the case], he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where a large number were assembled together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the gate of the porch, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 And recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she failed to open the gate, but ran in and told the people that Peter was standing before the porch gate, Acts 12:12-14.

However, sometimes you are at the right place, but are surprised by who answers the door. Perhaps, a friend, relative or visiting neighbor greets you. Following a period of awkwardness, you are able to enjoy a time of fellowship. During the first century, Peter was at the right house, but the residents inside didn’t believe their maid. Rhoda opened the front gate, but not the front door, running inside to tell everyone the great news. Despite their pedigree of faith, a house of unbelieving souls doubted Rhoda until a persistent Peter kept knocking until he was finally let inside.

They said to her, You are crazy! But she persistently and strongly and confidently affirmed that it was the truth. They said, It is his angel! 16 But meanwhile Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the gate and saw him, they were amazed, Acts 12:15-16.

Near the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares praying to knocking on a door, Matthew 7:7-8. Jesus expounds upon this analogy with a three step process: asking, seeking and knocking. Everyone has probably experienced a moment of prayer where God seemed distant. Yet, when doubts begin to creep into your thoughts, Jesus urges believers to press on by continuing to seek God. Finally, if the Lord hasn’t clearly answered your request, keep knocking on God’s door like the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8, until justice arrives. In today’s scenario, fasting and praying until a cure for the Coronavirus is found.

by Jay Mankus

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

Waiting for Good Things to Come

Waiting is contrary to human nature.  When you see something that you like or want, the concept of waiting seems pointless.  Yet, as I look back on my on life, there are certain things that I wasn’t ready to possess.  A lack of maturity, given something instead of earning it and forcing the issue are all contributing factors.  Perhaps, waiting is a tool God uses to prepare individuals for the future.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

When you don’t have the financial means to afford a place to live, food to eat or resources like a vehicle, even atheists may offer up prayers for their current situation to improve.  If there is no one on earth to lean on, its only natural to look up the heavens and hope for better days.  The Bible encourages souls to seek God instead of seeking alternative routes or taking short cuts.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

David compares waiting to a spiritual exercise like working out.  Waiting requires a gut check, seeing if you have what it takes to stick it out.  This process involves concentration, focus and a willingness to finish what you start.  Those who receive what they have been waiting for tend to appreciate what they now have.  Therefore, if you want to pursue a noble cause, trust God as you wait for good things to come.

by Jay Mankus

Sticks and Stones Wound Souls

Whenever anyone experiences a series of bad breaks, those close to this individual may begin to wonder why suffering, tribulations and unfortunate events have visited their friend.  In the Old Testament, bad and good were often linked to God.  Thus, a mentality developed to associate anything good with blessings and the bad as some sort of curse from God.  This is the context of the passage below as Job has listened to his friends attempt to explain the freak accidents and natural disaster that destroyed his possessions and took the lives of his children.

“I also could speak like you, If you were in my place; I could compose and join words together against you and shake my head at you,” Job 16:4.

Job calls out those who have made numerous accusations against him.  One of the translations refers to words that can tear you into pieces.  Essentially, Job states that anyone can sit back and point their finger in the direction of blame.  Yet, Job refuses to participate in this futile activity.  Rather, Job turns his attention toward seeking God to find understanding for his recent trials.  In today’s volatile climate of daily verbal assaults against those the media disagrees with politically, this is an important lesson to learn.

A [shortsighted] fool always loses his temper and displays his anger, but a wise man [uses self-control and] holds it back, Proverbs 29:11.

The phrase sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me first appeared in 1872.  Mrs. George Cupples presented this saying as advice in Tappy Chicks: and Other Links Between Nature and Human Nature.  While this piece of wisdom attempts to develop mental toughness, the Bible reveals a different story.  When anger or tempers influence language, critical words inflict wounds to human souls.  While there are no initial bruises like marks from sticks and stones, vulnerable hearts take each blow.  Before anyone person gets hurt or killed like the Capital Gazette shooting in Annapolis, Maryland, its time to lay down your weapons so that healing may begin now.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for Superman to Arrive

William Shakespeare wrote about lovers whose deaths reconciled two feuding families.  When tragedy strikes Romeo and Juliet, readers feel the pain of this story.  Shakespeare borrowed from an Italian tale adding his own spin to his famous novel taught in American English classes.  Yet, like anything in life, people change, evolve and learn to adapt.  If a similar classic was crafted today, the title would read something like Waiting for Superman to Arrive.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

As millennials become co-dependent on technology, the next generation is in danger of being lulled into complacency.  Sure, it’s nice to be able to keep up with electronic advances, but do you really need a device named after a girl to help you remember things?  Have people become so lazy that you can’t even find a location without asking Alexa or Sery?  This trend breeds individuals to go through life waiting for others to help you out.  Unfortunately, Superman is a comic character who isn’t going to rescue you from the trials of life.

For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:3.

Don’t get me wrong, waiting isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, the Bible encourages souls to be patient, seeking God as you wait for answers.  Nonetheless, the only Superman in history lived most of his life undercover, serving his community as a carpenter.  Before his departure in the first century, this man spoke of a counselor yet to come, an invisible presence able to direct and guide human hearts.  Instead of sitting back and relying on an electronic voice, it’s time to be proactive.  Therefore, as followers of Christ waiting for the second coming of Superman, Jesus, trust in the Lord so that you will be ready like the good servants in the Parable of the Talents.

by Jay Mankus

 

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