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A New Generation of Bereans

The apostle Paul wrote two letters to a teenage pastor in the first century. Serving as a spiritual mentor to Timothy, Paul provides a glimpse of what you should expect in the future. Paul warned of a time when individuals will begin to believe what their itching ears want to hear, 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Like a group of teenage girls chatting at a lunch room table, it won’t be long before urges to gossip using exaggeration spreads from one table throughout a school.

Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so, Acts 17:11.

During two separate trips to nearby cities, Paul experiences two distinct mindsets. Paul’s initial encounter in Thessalonica is like most large cities in the United States today, Acts 17:5-6. Like a scene from 2020, a mob mentality developed in the streets of Thessalonica. Unbelieving Jews served as agitators, doing whatever it took to prevent Paul’s ministry from winning over hearts and minds to Jesus.

But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. 22 Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.

One day later, Paul was impressed by the character of the Bereans. Unlike the Thessalonians who believed whatever they heard, the people of Berea developed a system for testing concepts and theories with God’s Word. After listening to a recent sermon on TBN, America needs a new generation of Bereans to rise up today. Rather than caving to the Cancel Culture, this nation needs noble individuals guided and inspired by biblical convictions. This is my prayer for future generations.

by Jay Mankus

Inviting the Holy Ghost into Your Home

As COVID-19 quarantines remain in place within several states, houses of worship are being forced to become creative. To ensure that their members return once churches are allowed to reopen, preachers, priests and teachers are gearing their messages toward this crisis. While listening to Jentezen Franklin’s sermon on TBN, he told a story from his childhood. Whenever visiting his grandfather’s house, the largest room was turned into a make shift worship service, inviting the Holy Ghost into this place.

And on the first day of the week, when we were assembled together to break bread [the Lord’s Supper], Paul discoursed with them, intending to leave the next morning; and he kept on with his message until midnight. Now there were numerous lights in the upper room where we were assembled, And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting in the window. He was borne down with deep sleep as Paul kept on talking still longer, and [finally] completely overcome by sleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead, Acts 20:7-9.

During the first century, Christians met in homes or outside in open areas. Instead of gathering in a centralized large building, churches met inside the homes of leaders or the wealthy who volunteered to host. Luke writes about one such service which took place in Troas. Apparently, the apostle Paul became long winded speaking until midnight. Meeting in a third story attic, a teenage boy began to fall asleep, moving toward an open window, trying to stay awake. Eutychus’ fall opened the door for a powerful healing.

But Paul went down and bent over him and embraced him, saying, Make no ado; his life is within him. 11 When Paul had gone back upstairs and had broken bread and eaten [with them], and after he had talked confidentially and communed with them for a considerable time—until daybreak [in fact]—he departed, Acts 20:10-11.

As modern believers open their homes to accountability groups, Bible Studies or prayer meetings, relationships begin to form. Instead of dreading attending a long service, these newly formed friendships turn a weekly event into an experience. However, until churches open their doors once again, the best thing you can do now is invite the Holy Ghost into your home. Acts 19:2 asks the question, “have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed?” Thus, before you can invite this Spirit, you must first receive it as your own, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

A Spoiled Faith

I caught an interview on TBN, the Trinity Broadcasting Network over the weekend about Middle East converts to Christianity. To protect their identity, new believers were sharing the hardships following a decision to leave the Muslim faith.  One woman opened up about a phone call she had with her mother.  This mom believed her daughter had been brain washed, poisoned by zealous disciples of Christ.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

In the last decade, Christians have been crucified, persecuted and in some cases forced to leave their homeland.  Since the mainstream media is not covering, investigating or reporting this news, the average American does not believe these travesties exist.  Subsequently, many who claim to follow or serve God do not know what true faith is.  Instead, political correctness is breeding a culture that is spoiling genuine faith.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

If there is anyone who is an expert in the field of hardship and persecution, the apostle Paul fits this criteria.  Following a life devoted to legalism as a Pharisee, Paul’s unexpected transformation creates a wave of resentment against his decision to become a missionary.  The passage above shares the spiritual truths suffering taught Paul.  Hardship serves as a spiritual purging, slowly changing your perspective on life.  If you never face trials, growth can be stunted.  Therefore, the next time suffering comes knocking, don’t let a spoiled faith keep you from becoming the man and woman God wants you to be.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Fireproof Test

Part of any firefighting school involves a basic review of the 4 stages of fire.  Beginning with incipient, fires grow until fully developed, eventually decaying over time due to a lack of energy.  A fire needs 3 components to form: an ignition source, oxygen and a fuel source.  Sparks trigger the initial flame, but the classification of each fire depends upon the amount of fuel which is available and degree of oxygen inside.

From a spiritual point of view, Christians have another test to determine their condition.  As kindling begins to catch, a lukewarm fire is born.  If consistently maintained, a fire can blossom into poppers, bursting out of comfort zones, consuming any liquid or sap within wood.  Once mature, raging fires blaze, spreading from person to person, as new logs are added.  However, if not properly supervised, fires can burn outsiders and lead to flickering embers, prior to dying out.

The Bible contains 3 elements which magnify the amount of spiritual heat a person gives off.  First, one must ask, have you seen the light of God’s Word, Acts 9:1-2, while hearing or reading the Bible?  Second, have you received the life of God’s Spirit, Acts 9:17, ignited and filled by the power of the Holy Spirit?  Finally, have you been compelled to display the love of Jesus, Acts 9:20-22, by sharing your testimony with a person?  This assessment, The Fireproof Test, seeks to ascertain whether or not your faith is on fire.  If your soul is not consumed by a raging fire, may you see the light, rise to new heights and flourish with God’s might!

by Jay Mankus

ps – The inspiration for this blog came after listening to a sermon from James Merritt, founder of Touching Lives, a ministry on TBN.  For music lovers, U2’s The Unforgettable Fire album contains several songs to ignite your journey.

So Close, But yet So Far

While I was tempted to name today’s blog, “So Close, but No Cigar,” common sense kept me from wavering off topic.  As I listened to Jentezen Franklin’s sermon on the Trinity Broadcast Network before attending church on Sunday, the Holy Spirit jogged my memory of the walls of resistance which deny believers from entering God’s promised land.  Moses dedicated his entire life to the nation of Israel, foregoing the riches of Egypt, Hebrews 11:24-27, yet the closest he came to a land flowing with milk and honey was a view from atop Mount Nebo.  Why did God deny him this privilege?  According to Numbers 20:6-13, Moses failed to carefully obey God’s command, striking a rock twice instead of just once.

Obedience is one wall to climb, but sometimes your own circumstances prove too much for a person to overcome.  Although hard to believe, my friend Harry endured a brutal set of events, triggering a back slide of historic proportions.  The person who led him to Christ committed suicide shortly after his conversion.  In the weeks that followed, one of his youth leaders who began to ease his pain, had an affair and abruptly abandoned the ministry, moving to California.  These poor witnesses kept Harry from entering a church for nearly 20 years.  My friend Eddy and I never thought Harry had been to church until a divine appointment at Cedar Point Amusement Park, reintroduced Harry to his former youth pastor.  In one moment, 20 years of severance was reunited, the first of many steps toward healing his bruised, confused and wounded heart.

Whether you feel like Moses today, with a mountain standing in between you and your dreams or as Harry did, coming to grips with a desolate soul, remember that sanctification is an on going process, not complete until the Lord takes you home.  Sure, you might have mountain top experiences, yet there is always a valley between mountains.  You may want answers, transformation and victory immediately, but sanctification occurs gradually, through a day by day process, Ephesians 2:3-7.  Therefore, live each moment on earth with a James 4:15 mindset, recognizing that you are close, but yet so far!

by Jay Mankus

From the Jailhouse to the Penthouse

Over 2 million Americans were incarcerated in federal, state and county jails last year.  In addition, more than 4 million were either on probation or parole during this same period.  For these people and many like them, it is an uphill climb to regain a place of dignity.  Stereotypes, their criminal record and a declining job market are further obstacles which stand in their way of success.  However, with God’s help, anything is possible, Luke 1:37.

Joseph1

In the book of Genesis, we find an account of a man who went from the jailhouse to the penthouse, Genesis 39:20-Genesis 41:41.  However, this did not happen over night and did not include a straight line to the top, taking several unexpected detours and u-turns.  Joseph was falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, yet he stayed optimistic.  Instead of dwelling on his circumstances, Joseph served all those he encountered while in prison.  Two years passed, without any sign of hope until Pharaoh had an unusual dream.  Only then did the chief cupbearer remember Joseph’s amazing gift.  Like a scene from a movie, Joseph ascends to second in command of Egypt, preparing for the 7 years of famine.

Today, many people are imprisoned internally, addicted to alcohol, drugs, porn, sex and the like, Galatians 5:19-21.  Although they may appear fine externally, inside they are confined by unhealthy cravings, James 1:14-15.  These sinful desires cripple one’s ability to function spiritually and hinder any dreams for success.  The apostle Paul spends half a chapter, Romans 7:7-25, dedicated to exposing this fleshly imprisonment.  Jesus is our key to get out, but the goal is to stay out of jail once set free, Romans 7:24-25.  Jesus has promised to prepare a place, a penthouse in the sky, John 14:3.  The choice is up to you by the road you decide to choose, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

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