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Tag Archives: studying the Bible

When God Has to Repeat Himself

When I was a child, I rarely came to the dinner table the first time my mother called me.  Distracted by what I was doing at the time, I ignored the first warning.  The second call to come to the kitchen was louder, less pleasant and with a threatening tone.  This usually got my attention, but if I was fixated on a game,  I waited for the final warning.  As soon as I heard my full name, I knew I was in trouble, running as fast as I could to avoid future punishment.

This happened three times, and then immediately the object was taken up into heaven.17 Now Peter was still perplexed and completely at a loss as to what his vision could mean when the men who had been sent by Cornelius, having asked directions to Simon’s house, arrived at the gate, Acts 10:16-17.

When God seeks to get your attention, the Lord tends to be more patient.  Sometimes God will allow you to day dream about a specific act that He wants you to do.  If overlooked, God may speak to you through a passage in the Bible to further motivate you to act.  If this inspiration fades without any action, angels, visions or visitors may to sent to usher in acts of faith.  In the account above and below, Peter was stubborn, clinging to his former beliefs.  Like watching a rerun for the third time, Peter finally embraces God’s new message.

I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘Not at all, Lord; for nothing common (unholy) or [ceremonially] unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But the voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘What God has cleansed and pronounced clean, no longer consider common (unholy).’ 10 This happened three times, and everything was drawn up again into heaven, Acts 11:7-10.

The apostle Paul writes about offering your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.  When your heart and mind are fixated on Jesus, you won’t need to have God repeat himself over and over again.  According to Paul, staying in tune with God is like being in a state of worship, staying on key.  As individuals renew their minds through studying the Bible, ascertaining God’s will for your life become an obtainable goal.  Thus, if you’re tired of being left in the dark spiritually, unsure of where to go or what to do, focus on godly values and ethical attitudes to guide your steps.

by Jay Mankus

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The 7 Point Creed

For college basketball fans, March Madness is like Christmas. Over the next three weeks, 68 universities will compete for a national championship. Teams will be whittled down to 16 and 4 during the first 2 weeks of play before a champion is crowned at the conclusion of this event. When it comes to college basketball coaches, one of the greatest of all time is John Robert Wooden. During a 12 year period, Wooden led UCLA to 10 national championships. Behind this great man, there was a 7 point creed which served as his foundation for life.

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses], Hebrews 11:1.

A creed is system of belief based upon conviction, faith and personal devotion. The creed listed below was found in an old journal. These life principles allow fans, followers and readers to understand the mindset which made Wooden a legendary coach. Three contain biblical principles: praying, serving others and studying God’s Word. Two are based upon relationships, using your spheres of influence to help others and develop permanent meaningful relationships. One is focused on making sure success doesn’t change who you are as a person. Meanwhile, another is based upon the premise to seize each day God gives you.

1. Be true to yourself.
2. Help others.
3. Make each day your masterpiece.
4. Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
5. Make friendship a fine art.
6.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
7. Pray for guidance and count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

May the 7 point creed above inspire you to reach your full potential as a human being. While you may exchange, improvise or replace some of these with your own language, putting your faith into action will enable you to ascend to new heights. You may not win a national championship, but with God anything is possible.

by Jay Mankus

How Rich is Your Faith?

The concept of a stock market dates back nearly 500 years.  The first stock exchange began in 1531 as Belgium brokers and money lenders met in the city of Antwerp to deal with business, government and debt issues.  While the New York Stock Exchange is the most powerful and famous in the United States, the first began in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the Philadelphia Stock Exchange.  Today, there are cable networks devoted to following the rise and fall of modern markets.  Green is good and red bad as a ticker scrolls across the screen revealing up to the second results of trading.  Depending upon how a stock is trending, individuals scramble to buy or sell to maximize their investments.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

Recently, I have begun to view my faith in terms of a stock market.  If you could take the past year, placing your degree of faith on a flow chart, similar to the highs and lows of a stock, what would it look like?  At your peak, what elevated or lifted you to this all time high.  Meanwhile, when you reflect back upon your lowest lows, what caused you to experience, feel and end up in a rock bottom emotional state?  Have you come to your senses like the prodigal son in Luke 15?  Or has depression kept you paralyzed, enslaved by an addiction, bad habit or an undisciplined life?  In the passage above, the apostle Paul gives some advice to the poor in faith.  Investing time listening, reading and studying the Bible is a goldmine to those who want to become rich in faith.

“So it is for the one who continues to store up and hoard possessions for himself, and is not rich [in his relationship] toward God,” Luke 12:21.

Following the parable of the wealthy fool, Jesus reveals the reason why people hoard possessions on earth.  When individuals focus on their own concerns and needs, hobbies can become obsessions.  If there is no one to intervene, people end up on reality televisions shows like Hoarders or are visited by the crew from American Pickers.  According to Jesus, the way to reverse this trend is by improving your relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10.  Those who make investments in Bible Studies, mission trips or prayer groups will begin to see spiritual earnings rise.  As individuals connect with God daily through church related activities and a personal quiet time, your faith will rise.  Everyone will experience drops, falls and slides throughout life.  However, if you develop a resolve like the persistent widow in Luke 18, you will become rich in faith.

by Jay Mankus

Digesting Prophecy

The dictionary refers to prophecy as a “miracle of knowledge, a declaration, description or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to foresee, discern, or conjecture.”  In ancient days, Jewish leaders relied on prophets, people with the gift of discernment, able to see or sense future events.  Men and women of God relied on a special anointing to help advise and guide kings starting with Saul, then continuing this practice throughout the Old Testament.

Then the angel whom I had seen standing on the sea and the land raised his right hand [to swear an oath] to heaven, and swore [an oath] by [the name of] Him who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there will be delay no longer, but when it is time for the trumpet call of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, then the mystery of God [that is, His hidden purpose and plan] is finished, as He announced the gospel to His servants the prophets, Revelation 10:5-7.

Unfortunately, modern times have revealed false prophets, schemers and teachers.  These individuals have deceived vulnerable souls, in some cases extorting money from desperate and poor people hoping for a miracle.  These factors have made believing in the concept of a genuine prophet today difficult.  When I read passages from John the revelator, it takes time to digest what is written, especially in the passage above and below.  Any curious person would want to know the mystery of God.  Pursuing this hidden information might unveil God’s purpose and will for your life, but this quest will not happen over night.  Rather, digesting prophecy is a lengthy process, causing one famous pastor to wait 20 years before preaching on Revelation.

Then the voice which I heard from heaven, I heard again speaking to me, and saying, “Go, take the book (scroll) which is open in the hand of the angel who is standing on the sea and on the land.” So I went up to the angel and told him to give me the little book. And he said to me, “Take it and eat it; it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be as sweet as honey,” Revelation 10:8-9.

In verse 9, Christians are encouraged to read the Bible, chew and meditate upon the messages within this book.  According to the revelation above, some of the teachings of the Bible won’t sit well, like a bitter taste in your mouth.  Other topics will taste as sweet as honey.  Thus, as you begin to digest prophecy, its not an easy process.  Certain aspects will remain confusing and hidden, leaving your understanding about parts of the Bible in the dark.  As a former Bible teacher, this is frustrating, especially when you have to address the unknown in class.  Nonetheless, I press on, honesty confessing that there are books and issues that I am still digesting.  May this blog motivate you to diligently study the Word of God so that the unclear becomes clear as people digest prophecy.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond the Book

The song Living in the Pages by Bruce Carroll changed my perspective of the Bible.  This 1995 release from the album One Summer Evening challenges Christians to spend their time on earth living in the pages of the Bible.  After finishing two different stints as a youth pastor, I realized that spiritual growth is directly linked to the quality time invested beyond the book.  This includes meditating upon, reflecting on and putting into practice biblical practices.  Without any sort of application, conviction and I nspiration, a willingness to change fades away.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

From my own personal experience, it doesn’t take long for me to resemble Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  First published in 1886 as the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, this Robert Lewis Stevenson gothic novel uncovers the dual nature living inside of human beings.  Whenever I go a day or two without reading and studying the Bible, my behavior suddenly changes.  Impatience spreads, foul words come out of my mouth and my emphasis becomes self-centered.  Meanwhile, when I do read the Bible, jot down notes and write blogs influenced by this spiritual discipline, God becomes more of a priority in my life.  Thus, your faith depends upon what happens beyond the Bible.

So faith comes from hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the [preaching of the] message concerning Christ, Romans 10:17.

Since illiteracy was rampant among first century citizens, the Torah was regularly read out loud by priests and letters written by apostles and disciples shared by home church leaders.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul details the relationship between faith and the Bible.  The phrase out of sight, out of mind applies to Scripture.  If the numerous words of the Bible contain supernatural power to transform souls, then the more time you spend putting this advice into practice the better off you will be.  Therefore, beyond the book, put your faith into action so that your life may win the respect and trust of outsiders.

by Jay Mankus

 

Beware of the Weary Traveler

Drained, drowsy, exhausted, fatigued and spent are words associated with being tired and weary.  Depending upon your hobbies, occupation and physical fitness routine, energy can be released emotionally, mentally and physically.  Perhaps this is why the commandments reference loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Exercising each of these three aspects of the human body prevents the enemy, Satan, from snatching the good news of Jesus Christ from human hearts, Matthew 13:18-19.  The apostle Paul addresses this within 1 Thessalonians 5:23, urging his audience to prepare your spirit, soul and body for the second coming of Jesus.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Unfortunately, many good intentioned Christians use busyness as an excuse not to follow the advice of Jesus and Paul.  Yet, the longer any believer goes without praying, studying the Bible and worshipping God, the closer you get to the weary traveler.  This is a spiritual condition, not an actual person, where souls become vulnerable to demonic attacks.  Instead of resisting evil, weary travelers often contemplate forbidden fruits, entertain thoughts of doubt and open their minds to alternative lifestyles.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul urges his readers to hold on, press on and don’t give up on following the narrow path that leads to life, Matthew 7:13-14.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

In the days of the Old Testament, devout Jews grew weary of the ancient practices for seeking forgiveness.  Animals needed to be collected, trips to the temples planned and sacrifices made by a high priest to atone for the mistakes, rebellious acts and transgressions made by you and your family.  When you consider the blood, killing and smell left behind by this grueling tradition, its no wonder that Israelites in the days of the prophet Isaiah began to lose hope.  Receiving a vision from God, Isaiah compares the Lord to eaglets nurtured and raised by caring parents.  Thus, when you feel like you can’t go on any longer, let God carry you on wings like eagles.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

Today, a week doesn’t go by without news of a Christian falling from grace, caught in a surprising act of sin.  These tarnished believers often follow the pattern found in 2 Samuel 11:1-4.  Just because you are a man or woman after God’s own heart doesn’t make you immune to sin.  Rather, when the spirit of the weary traveler enters your soul, anything is possible.  Just ask King David who didn’t feel like going to work one day.  This decision led to idleness, boredom and a wandering spirit.  One thing led to another and suddenly a righteous man commits adultery, get’s another man’s wife pregnant and gives order to have her husband left behind and killed.  This Old Testament passage should serve as a wake up call to all Christians who are on the verge of entertaining the weary traveler.

by Jay Mankus

If I Don’t Do What God Calls Me to Do…What Does That Make Me?

In today’s softer, gentler climate, you don’t see many “in your face” personality types anymore.  These characters are often reserved for the military, personal trainers or professional sports.  Yet, during the first century, there was one man who didn’t care how you felt.  Rather, the apostle Paul was blunt, honest and serious in his letters to Christian congregations.  When you don’t do what God calls you to do, this lack of action causes you to be separated from God.

For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, beguiled and completely deceived me, and using it as a weapon killed me [separating me from God], Romans 7:11.

Sin is like catching a spiritual cold.  If you don’t take medicine such as studying the Bible, praying and worshipping God, your condition will worsen.  This virus attacks individuals on two fronts, your body and mind.  Human bodies require boundaries, exercise and routines.  If you fail to make time for God daily, out of sight, out of mind will cause souls to place God and your faith on a shelf to collect dust.  Meanwhile, demons and evil spirits influence minds by planting seeds of doubt.  These thoughts if unchecked can kill your joy for life.

 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. 16 Now if I habitually do what I do not want to do, [that means] I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good (morally excellent). 17 So now [if that is the case, then] it is no longer I who do it [the disobedient thing which I despise], but the sin [nature] which lives in me, Romans 7:15-17.

In the passage above, Paul hints at what it is like to be addicted to a specific sin.  Whether this is cheating, cursing, eating unhealthy, indulging your flesh in unwholesome ways or lying, breaking any bad habit is difficult.  Making a drastic change requires will power that many people lack.  Thus, all too often sinners throw in the towel, quit and wave the white flag, surrendering to Satan.  If this blog finds you in a similar state, ask God for the resolve necessary to fight through your ordeal.  Lean on the promise of Romans 7:24-25 so that failure does not define your life.

by Jay Mankus

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