RSS Feed

Tag Archives: spiritual fruits

Exercise Every Kind of Endurance and Patience

The origin of organized exercise can be traced back to Johann Bernard Basedow. Building upon Rousseau’s ideas of the “Natural Human,” Basedow opened the Philanthropinum in Germany in 1774. This center for physical exercise began by offering wrestling, running, riding, fencing, vaulting, and dancing. While writing a first century teenage pastor, the apostle Paul acknowledged the benefits of physical training. Yet, Paul felt that spiritual training provides a greater value for life.

For physical training is of some value (useful for a little), but godliness (spiritual training) is useful and of value in everything and in every way, for it holds promise for the present life and also for the life which is to come. This saying is reliable and worthy of complete acceptance by everybody, 1 Timothy 4:8-9.

While runners warm up with stretching, Christians lean on prayer to prepare their hearts and minds for a new day. Just as muscles need to be loosened up prior to jogging, spiritual exercises requires tapping into the Holy Spirit. In a letter to the Church at Galatia, Paul lists a series of spiritual fruits to shoot for, Galatians 5:22-23. Perhaps, the passage below is a direct reference to the fruits of the Holy Spirit. Rather than develop an “Eye of the Tiger” mentality, Paul urges readers to hang in there with endurance and patience.

[We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy, Colossians 1:11.

From a human point of view, discipline and hard work will only take you so far. You may be able to beat yourself into submission like Paul’s analogy in 1 Corinthians 9:26-27. However, over the long haul, individuals need a higher power to invigorate and strengthen their soul. This is the type of spiritual exercise that Paul is talking about. If you’re feeling tired and weary, on the verge of giving up, spiritual exercise provides a spark to persevere. An Old Testament prophet uses the analogy of being lifted up by God so that endurance prevails. Isaiah 40:30-31.

by Jay Mankus

Anticipating and Waiting for the Blessing

Growing pains are often described as an ache or throbbing sensation in the legs. As teenagers start to experience major growth spurts, this pain is often felt in the front of thighs, calves or behind the knees. The apostle Paul refers to the concept of spiritual growing pains in one of his letters. After Paul departed the Church at Galatia, continuing on one of his missionary journeys, several members of this church were led astray by a Jewish sect known as the Judaizers. This is the context of Paul’s advice below.

For we, [not relying on the Law but] through the [Holy] Spirit’s [help], by faith anticipate and wait for the blessing and good for which our righteousness and right standing with God [our conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action, causes us] to hope, Galatians 5:5.

While the Old Testament serves as a modern day guide for living a moral life, this is not how you get in right standing with God. Rather, Jesus left behind the Holy Spirit as a counselor to help overcome spiritual growing pains. Instead of holding on to religious traditions, Paul wants Christians to rely on faith as you anticipate and wait for your life to be transformed by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps referencing Deuteronomy 28:1-3, faith is what keeps you going until blessings arrive in the form of spiritual fruits, Galatians 5:22-23.

Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; 18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will], 1 Thessalonians 5:17-18.

Meanwhile, a letter to the Church at Thessalonica suggests that Paul wants believers to concentrate on the will of God. Developing a prayerful mindset is a crucial step toward receiving the clarity needed to understand what God’s will is for your life. If you put these two passages together, the anticipation and waiting may refer to the realization of God’s will. Since this usually takes years to be unveiled, blessings from God start with a small trickle and will rain down once individuals find their place in this world by living out their faith.

by Jay Mankus

Signs of the Fullness of God

Whenever anyone seeks to advance in a career, hobby or trade, you must separate yourself from other potential candidates.  When milk sits in a refrigerated container and cream is added, it separates itself and floats on top of the milk.  This is what individuals must do when applying for a job, entering a contest or pursuing a professional career, rise to the top.  When signs of greatness are present, people begin to receive the recognition that they deserve.

Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word,” Acts 6:3-4.

Sometime after 30 AD, church growth exploded as more and more souls entered into personal relationships with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  The only downside to this movement was that the widows of Greek speaking Jews began to be neglected.  These Hellenistic Jews complained to the twelve disciples hoping that the church could begin to provide for their needs.  A meeting was scheduled to address this concern.  The end result was a selection process to choose seven godly men to oversee the distribution of food to the poor and needy.

The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch. They brought these men before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them [to dedicate and commission them for this service], Acts 6:5-6.

A first century doctor observed three special qualities from one man who separated himself from everyone else.  According to the passages above, Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, faith and wisdom.  If you take these observations in the context of Galatians 5:22, the fruits of the Holy Spirit were naturally flowing out of Stephen.  These traits of integrity are a clear sign of the fullness of God.  Anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, Matthew 6:33, will begin to exude the fullness of God.

by Jay Mankus

Staying Connected to the Right Things

When you add together all the live audiences, radio and television, Billy Graham proclaimed the good news about Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23, to 2.2 billion people during his 99 years on earth.  However, someone had to introduce Billy to Jesus.  Without this individual’s efforts, the spread of Christianity may not be what it is today.  Mordecai Ham was an evangelist who visited Charlotte, North Carolina while Billy was in high school.  Moved by Mordecai’s message one evening, Billy invited Jesus into his heart, Romans 10:9-10, as a teenager.  When people stay connected to the right things, spiritual fruits blossom.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment, He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly, Acts 10:1-2.

During the first century, the apostle Paul traveled throughout the Middle East on four different missionary journeys.  I guess you can say Paul from Tarsus was the Billy Graham of his day.  Yet, if it wasn’t for a man named Cornelius, Paul may have never become a Christian.  This military leader developed a stout reputation in his community.  This devout believer was grounded, fearing God, a faithful giver and dedicated to prayer.  These spiritual disciplines led to a vision from God that set the stage for Paul’s conversion to Christ.  Staying connected to the right things opened the door for an angelic encounter, as Cornelius immediately responded by faith.

One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.  The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God, Acts 10:3-4.

Before writing the Book of Acts, Luke traveled with Paul on several of his mission trips.  In this case, it appears Luke interviewed Cornelius, recounting his recollection in the passage above.  Based upon this event, God has the ability to commemorate prayers and offerings from your past.  Thus, if you stay connected to the right things, blessings are bound to come.  Sure, nearly 2000 years later the apostle Paul receives most of the credit for fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:7-8.  Nonetheless, God is searching for the next Cornelius and Mordecai Ham who are willing to stay connected to the right things.  While you may never get the attention of a Billy Graham or apostle Paul, those who stay connected to the vine, John 15:1-4, will receive honor and praise from God the Father.

by Jay Mankus

What Can Faith Do For You?

If you watch sports on television, the games are still the same but the responses by those on the court, rink or field have changed drastically.  Reality TV shows haven’t helped, giving obnoxious parents a platform to treat their children like a lottery ticket almost ready to be cashed in.  Beyond common sense, logic and morals, there should be something in our soul that makes a clear distinction between right and wrong behavior.  Something so clear that the average person says, “yeah, I see it!”

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, Hebrews 11:32.

The author of Hebrews spends an entire chapter highlighting people who demonstrated faith.  While some were more outspoken than others, the majority let their actions speak for themselves.  This is what leads the writer to suggest, “do I need to say anymore?”  Verses 33-38 go on to detail what faith did for these individuals.  The question today is do you believe these miracles still exist or like the movie is God dead?

Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection, Hebrews 11:35.

From the outside looking in, many modern Christians have stained and tarnished the image of faith.  The world sees a bunch of hypocrites whereas the genuine people of faith get overlooked.  For those who still believe have their chance to make a difference, to inspire a new generation to seek God.  What can faith do for you?  You’ll never find out until you take the leap, plunging into the unknown, waiting for spiritual fruits to blossom.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: