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Tag Archives: Spiritual Gifts

The Biblical Meaning of the Scum of the Earth

In the early first century, a Jewish carpenter developed a following. Just like modern movements, new fads that become popular create a bandwagon affect as people want to be part of something special. While traveling with his 12 disciples, Jesus encountered several individuals who wanted to join his ministry. According to Luke 10:1, rumors of an additional 72 disciples drew large crowds hoping to make it through the interview process. The end of Luke 9 details three candidates who were rejected by Jesus, unaware of the intense commitment that was necessary.

And it occurred that as they were going along the road, a man said to Him, Lord, I will follow You wherever You go. 58 And Jesus told him, Foxes have lurking holes and the birds of the air have roosts and nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head, Luke 9:57-58.

In a letter to the church of Corinth, Paul uses similar words to describe his life as an apostle. Based upon the passage below, Paul is pouring out his heart about the toll the ministry has taken on his life. Perhaps, some people in Corinth were relying on their background as philosophers, thinking that anyone could become an apostle. Just as Jesus bluntly rejected potential disciples years earlier, the apostle Paul goes into “a so you think this is easy mode.” Paul highlights being homeless, hungry and persecuted. Like a grand finale, Paul states that if you want to be an apostle for Christ, you have to be willing to become like the scum of the earth.

To this hour we have gone both hungry and thirsty; we [habitually] wear but one undergarment [and shiver in the cold]; we are roughly knocked about and wander around homeless. And we still toil unto weariness [for our living], working hard with our own hands. When men revile us [wound us with an accursed sting], we bless them. When we are persecuted, we take it patiently and endure it. When we are slandered and defamed, we [try to] answer softly and bring comfort. We have been made and are now the rubbish and filth of the world [the offscouring of all things, the scum of the earth], 1 Corinthians 4:11-13.

If you do a search on the internet for the scum of the earth, the apostle Paul is credited as the first to use this idiom. Upon receiving this letter, I’m sure there wasn’t a long line in Corinth to sign up to become an apostle. If you skip ahead to 1 Corinthians 12:4-12, not everyone is cut out to be an apostle or disciple. These special roles are designed for individuals blessed with specific gifts or called to follow Jesus as a missionary. Although some gifts are more glorified than others, Paul compares the body of Christ to a united group with many parts. The sooner you discover your place, the more effective your church will become. While no one wants to feel like the scum of the earth, sometimes you have to meet people where they are before leading souls to Jesus. If we are the body, it’s time to go where the lost have wandered off. This is the biblical context of the scum of the earth.

by Jay Mankus

A Special Endowment from God

Leadership is the action of leading a group of people through hardship, ordeals and trials. Genuine leaders cast a vision, take the initiative as a trail blazers to show the way and direct and guide followers through difficult times. Researchers have uncovered 12 different leadership styles that exist. A leadership style is merely the way a person uses power to lead other people. If you are still stuck at home as a non-essential worker, you’ve probably seen rogue governors of several states using the national guard and police officers to enforce their specific declarations. Several of these ordinances are unconstitutional, but these leaders are using fear of the Coronavirus to control American citizens.

Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity, 1 Timothy 4:12.

The older I become, the more I hear and see people blame God for disasters, failures or setbacks that they face in life.  Meanwhile, these same individuals, especially politicians, grandstand by taking credit for any accomplishment, success or victory in their city, state or county.  Instead of spreading around the praise to all the parties involved, press conferences are used to deflect blame while hoarding the credit.  Natural leaders don’t have to pretend to be successful as their labor is on display, a visible sign of spiritual fruit.  Unfortunately, God has become the scapegoat when things go wrong, a proverbial punching bag at the center of many complaints.

Do not neglect the gift which is in you, [that special inward endowment] which was directly imparted to you [by the Holy Spirit] by prophetic utterance when the elders laid their hands upon you [at your ordination]. 15 Practice and cultivate and meditate upon these duties; throw yourself wholly into them [as your ministry], so that your progress may be evident to everybody, 1 Timothy 4:14-15.

The passage above is a blue print for spiritual leadership. According to the apostle Paul, everyone is given a special endowment from God. This spiritual gift often lays dormant until the Holy Spirit enters your life through a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. In the first century, the laying on of hands was a common practice for healing and prayer. The apostle Paul urges Timothy to fan into flame the spiritual gift revealed to him in 2 Timothy 1:6. In other words, you can’t be the leader God wants you to become until your spiritual gift is discovered and implemented. While you can’t control what others do or say, may this blog inspire you to show others the way as action speak louder than words.

by Jay Mankus

The Wind Beneath my Spiritual Wings

In case you haven’t heard, I regret to inform you that my former coach, groomsmen and spiritual mentor Ken Horne passed away last Wednesday. While I am certain Ken is now celebrating with Jesus in heaven, I never got the chance to say goodbye. I first met Ken as my Earth Science as a 7th grader at Hanby Junior High School. Despite earning a D, C, B and A in each of the 4 marking periods, Ken gave me an A for the year. Thinking this was a mistake, I stopped by Ken’s classroom on my way home from school. Ken’s response to my concern was, “by the end of the year, you were an A student so I gave you an A.” These words left a lasting impression on me.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

Two years later, Ken and I ended up at the same school once again, Concord High in Wilmington, Delaware. This time Ken was my Physical Science teacher. Between 7th and 9th grade, I was lost, often feeling depressed and suicidal. Looking back, God brought Ken into my life to be the wind beneath my spiritual wings, gently leading me closer and closer to Christ. After thinking I was too cool for the Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s huddle at Concord, I finally said yes to Ken’s persistent invitations as a sophomore. The greatest quality Ken possessed was the ability to recognize and see the potential in students. Despite my flaws, imperfections and stuttering, the Holy Spirit enabled Ken see what I could be if I trusted Jesus as my Savior.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

During my final three years at Concord, Ken invited me to numerous events, retreats and revivals. Before I ever knew what I mentor was, Ken showed me how to live the abundant life by demonstrating this as my swim coach, teacher and spiritual leader outside of school. Ken asked me to share my testimony for the first time at a retreat during my junior. What impressed Ken the most was this was the first time I didn’t stutter in public. A year later, Ken entrusted me as the Program Director for FCA, asking questions and leading spiritual discussions with my peers. These experiences prepared me to become a Summer Work Camp Coordinator, Youth Director and High School Bible teacher. Like anyone who met Ken, we will all miss him. Yet, for now, all I can do I flame into flame my spiritual gift so that I might become the wind beneath someone else’s spiritual wings. Rest in peace Ken.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did My Love Go?

Whenever I have been active in a church, there was always someone around to hold me accountable. If I started to backslide, regress or slip into tempting situations, Christian brothers and sisters felt compelled to correct or rebuke the error of my ways. However, now that most church services have been cancelled, only accessible through live streaming, the body of Christ has been separated. Thus, as I drift closer to my perfectionist past, my love which one shined bright has faded.

And if I have prophetic powers (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), and understand all the secret truths and mysteries and possess all knowledge, and if I have [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but have not love (God’s love in me) I am nothing (a useless nobody), 1 Corinthians 13:2.

As the son of an immigrant, I have inherited several of my father’s traits. While dedication, focus and being serious aren’t bad, I tend to drown out everyone else, like a race horse with blinders on. The lack of a friend to point me in the right direction has hindered my ability to love. Although I may be able to reach others through this blog, the apostle Paul has harsh words for those who fail to demonstrate love. Whatever spiritual gift you possess is designed to be exercised and inspired by love. However, when love is absent, you gain nothing.

Even if I dole out all that I have [to the poor in providing] food, and if I surrender my body to be burned or in order that I may glory, but have not love (God’s love in me), I gain nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:3.

While reading 1 Corinthians 13 last week, a spirit of conviction consumed my soul. For some reason, I thought I could substitute love with another quality. Instead of putting on love by becoming the hands and feet of Christ, I tried to do this on my own, failing miserably. Reading Bible passages on love has started my recovery, but this doesn’t replace King Solomon’s solution. Proverbs 27:17 uses the analogy of sharpening a sword, suggesting that relationships between Christians sharpen one another. Therefore, if I want to reignite my heart with love, a godly mentor is the answer is restore my love.

by Jay Mankus

The Instruction Manual for Spiritual Gifts

As a former high school Bible teacher, one of my classes introduced the concept of spiritual gifts. After a short lesson, students took a spiritual gifts test to uncover hidden talents. Unfortunately, the humble and meek scored lower overall than the rest of my classes. Meanwhile, the confident often gave themselves higher marks during this self evaluation and spiritual inventory. Depending upon your mood, your score will fluctuate. This fundamental flaw with these types of tests doesn’t always highlight or reveal your strengths and spiritual weaknesses.

[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. 11 Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:9-11.

The passage above is similar to words written to the Church at Corinth. Instead of using an instruction manual style format, Paul completes his list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. In the following chapter, a disclaimer is added to prevent the blessed and more gifted from boasting. Paul doesn’t hold back suggesting that spiritual gifts and talents are worthless unless accompanied by love, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. To make sure all believers are on the same page, Paul defines biblical love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul’s letter to Roman Christians uses a different approach, blending and weaving love with spiritual gifts.

Contribute to the needs of God’s people [sharing in the necessities of the saints]; pursue the practice of hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits, Romans 12:13-16.

Perhaps, while visiting Rome, Paul witnessed some disturbing behavior, far from the example Jesus set during his three year ministry on earth. Thus, Paul felt compelled to use Romans 12 as the Instruction Manual for Spiritual Gifts. Directions include sincerity, loathing anything to do with ungodliness, loving each member of the church like family and maintaining a passion to serve the Lord. In the passage above, it’s almost as if Paul is referencing or quoting parts of the Sermon on the Mount to reinforce the need to love and pray for your enemies. If you follow Paul’s advice in this chapter, you will stand out like a city on a hill and the salt of the earth. May this blog inspire you to identity and fan into flame your spiritual gift(s).

by Jay Mankus

Never Lag in Zeal and Earnest

Zeal demonstrates enthusiasm and great energy while in pursuit of a cause or objective. Meanwhile, earnest refers to intense conviction with sincere intentions. When you put these two terms together, Paul suggests that individuals should do whatever they can to use their God given spiritual gifts daily. During the first century, the goal was to fulfill the great commission, Acts 1:18. Spiritual gifts serve as the vessel, the role that you play in making Jesus’ words a reality.

Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith; Romans 12:6.

In the 2005 film Sky High, young apprentices attended a secret school with the hope of ascertaining their super power. Once revealed, students were divided into one of two groups, superhero or sidekick. The list of spiritual gifts mentioned by the apostle Paul in verses 6-8 play a similar role. Some Christians possess dynamic and supernatural gifts like a superhero. All other believers play minor roles, serving the Lord in less flashy manners.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:11.

The passage above indicates the desired energy level expected by God. Paul recognized the fact that waking up day after day can took an emotional, mental or physical toll on your body. Instead of lagging in zeal or earnest, Christians should be aglow while fanning into flame their spiritual gifts. When your spiritual passion begins to fade, re-fuel by tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit. May this passage from the New Testament encourage you to never lag in zeal or earnest as you serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

A Foretaste of the Blissful Things to Come

In the passage below, the apostle Paul points out that the Holy Spirit isn’t limited to Christians and Jews. Rather, God’s Spirit now extends to Gentiles who believe by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The term first fruits likely refers to the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-4. Meanwhile, the foretaste of things to come is symbolic of the grace of God communicated to all in conversion.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves too, who have and enjoy the firstfruits of the [Holy] Spirit [a foretaste of the blissful things to come] groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of our bodies [from sensuality and the grave, which will reveal] our adoption (our manifestation as God’s sons), Romans 8:23.

One of my former pastors explained grace as God’s riches at Christ’s expense. However, as Paul explains in the passage below, grace is invisible. Thus, as individuals begin to adjust their practices following their conversion from worldly pleasures toward eternal treasures, this transition is rarely smooth. Initial confessions of sin are refreshing, like receiving a shower of grace from heaven. Yet, when you begin to commit the same sinful act day after day, grace is cheapened and hope can be lost.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? – Romans 8:24

In a letter to the church of Corinth, Paul pours out his heart during a moment of weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12. Like anyone who is experiencing a spiritual free fall, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is overwhelming. Perhaps, Paul’s plea to God is merely asking the Lord, “why do I have to go through this?” Nonetheless, each Christian goes through a process known as sanctifying grace. This form of grace makes a soul acceptable and justified before God. Despite whatever hardships that you endure, may you recognize the foretaste of grace that will be completed before you meet your creator in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

The Desires of the Spirit

From my own personal experiences, many of the so called “spirit filled” churches that I have attended over emphasize certain spiritual gifts. Instead of teaching the desires of God’s Spirit, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the gift of prophecy and speaking in tongues overshadow what God desires. Thus, I find myself as an adult who lacks the knowledge and spiritual insight to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

When the concept of the Holy Spirit was first introduced to his disciples, Jesus refers to this Holy Ghost as a Counselor. Synonyms for counselor include advisor, confidant, guide and mentor. If this was Jesus’ ultimate goal, then I have been misinformed about the role of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, I need to simplify my understanding to an invisible counselor who yearns for me to become aware of the desires of God’s Spirit.

But when He, the Spirit of Truth (the Truth-giving Spirit) comes, He will guide you into all the Truth (the whole, full Truth). For He will not speak His own message [on His own authority]; but He will tell whatever He hears [from the Father; He will give the message that has been given to Him], and He will announce and declare to you the things that are to come [that will happen in the future], John 16:13.

The apostle Paul has provided a list below to visualize what God prefers. These fruits of the Spirit are desired actions, behaviors and character traits that Christians should seek to obtain. Mere Christianity written by C.S. Lewis contains two types of virtues, with the second only accessible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Cardinal virtues such as prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice are qualities that anyone can possess. Yet, the theological virtues of charity, hope and faith are limited to Christians.

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, 23 Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge]. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires.

According to Paul, sinful appetites, desires and passions keep many individuals from every fulfilling the desires of the Spirit. Until your human flesh is crucified, dying to self, the ability to produce spiritual fruit is hindered. This may explain why many regions of the world are filled with darkness, void of any spiritual life. If you want to add flavor to the lives of those who you come in contact with daily, follow Paul’s advice by pursuing the desires of the Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Best for You and Me

As a recovering perfectionist, I tend to look at a glass half empty. This tendency to be negative often results in beating myself up inside. While I can forgive others for committing transgressions against me, forgiving myself is another story. This process may take days, weeks or months to get over a stupid blunder, error or mistake. Whenever anyone is too hard on themselves, Satan uses this vulnerability to steal your joy for life.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows), John 10:10.

While using an analogy of a shepherd tending his sheep, Jesus illuminates the dangers that sheep face while on earth. According to John 10:6, the crowd was initially confused so Jesus spoke in clearer terms. This is the context of the passage above as Jesus reveals how Satan seeks to steal, kill and destroy souls. Although this spiritual truth may elicit fear upon receiving this news, you have to know what your enemy will attempt to do to avoid becoming the next victim.

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need, Ephesians 4:28.

One of the songs from their 2009 album Breaking the Silence, The Letter Black sings about what’s best for you and me. The lyrics of Best of Me focuses on an individual who is haunted by their past. The author suggests that the only thing keeping us alive breathing is the knowledge of God’s existence. Entering into a personal relationship with Jesus provides meaning and purpose for life as new converts seek to ascertain God’s will. As minds are renewed by the Bible, Romans 12:1-2, what’s best for you and me is using your own God given gifts and talents to serve the Lord on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Entrusted to the Grace of God

As a former youth pastor, I have seen how creative teenagers have become to raise money for mission trips.  During my tenure at First United Methodist Church in Columbus, Indiana, three bus loads of junior and senior high students spent a week each summer repairing roofs for a poor community in southern North Carolina.  Anyone who donated money received an invitation to a banquet where pictures and testimonies were shared.  This event was designed to highlight and summarize all that God had done through these young people.

From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been entrusted to the grace of God for the work which they had now completed, Acts 14:26. 

Based upon the words of Luke, Paul and Barnabas began this tradition at their home church in Antioch.  Paul and Barnabas traveled over 1200 miles in a little over two years.  As a result of their travel, more than a dozen new churches were established.  These new partnerships resulted in a series of letters, questions and return visits to help and nurture new converts to Christ.  According to Luke, it took a long time to communicate all that had happened, staying in Antioch an extended period, fellowshipping with Christian brothers and sisters.

Arriving there, they gathered the church together and began to report [in great detail] everything that God had done with them and how He had opened to the Gentiles a door of faith [in Jesus as the Messiah and Savior]. 28 And they stayed there a long time with the disciples, Acts 14:27-28.

While fasting and praying back in Acts 13, the Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to become missionary partners.  Luke refers to this event as being entrusted to the grace of God.  The church leaders in Antioch assigned the task of missionaries to these two godly leaders.  Paul was a Roman citizen while Barnabas was a wealthy man, a good combination for traveling throughout the Mediterranean.  Depending upon the gifts, resources and talents you have been blessed with, make sure you listen to God’s calling so that you will fulfill what God has entrusted you to do.

by Jay Mankus

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