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Tag Archives: The Bible

The Hour of Prayer

Whenever you read a long book, there will be lapses in concentration. Human nature may lead to dream dreaming, a lack of focus or result in a desires to speed up. When quantity replaces quality as a goal, I tend to rush through certain details and facts relevant to the story. Thus, words on a page quickly fade from my short term memory. Subsequently, there are portions of the Bible that appear new to me daily.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.), Acts 3:1.

A recent discover is the hour of prayer. According to Luke, following the Day of Pentecost Jesus’ disciples began to pray for an hour in the middle of each day. Fellow believers met at a temple daily to lift up concerns, requests and worries to the Lord. Based upon Mark 15:25, 3 pm was the exact time Jesus gave up his spirit, succumbing to death. Perhaps, the hour of prayer was designed to honor Jesus, serving as a means to promote a sense of urgency for prayer while you are still alive.

But Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have; but what I do have I give to you: In the name (authority, power) of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—[begin now to] walk and go on walking!” Then he seized the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up. And at once his feet and ankles became strong and steady, and with a leap he stood up and began to walk; and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God, Acts 3:6-8.

If you have ever been to a prayer group, an hour is a long time to pray. Most of the prayer times I have participated in involve a time for requests prior to praying. In same cases, you may only pray for 15-30 minutes as sharing concerns may exceed the scheduled time. Regardless of the specific techniques that churches may use, attending a prayer meeting or service heightens your spiritual senses. Prayer can become addictive, especially as eyewitnesses testify to prayers which have transformed their lives. This confidence inspires minds to think big, craving and hoping for miracles.

21 Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

When I was 16, I ran two miles after twisting my ankle. My persistence to finish a race resulted in torn ligaments in my left ankle, causing my bone to twist 90 degrees in the wrong direction. After a visit to A.I Dupont Children’s Hospital, I was told by one doctor that I would never run again. Another said, I would be able to walk, but I would need to have a screw drilled into my ankle to keep this bone in place. These doctors did not consider the influence of prayer prior to my surgery. Christians, coaches and students prayed for healing. Like the lame man in the passage above, the power of prayer made the impossible possible. As others begin to emulate this first century practice, prayer can be a vehicle for miracles.

by Jay Mankus

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Average Isn’t Good Enough

In the context of golf, average is like the par for each hole listed on a course’s scorecard. Amateurs golfers strive for par, hoping to take advantage of the easier holes. Meanwhile, the more difficult holes will challenge players, often satisfied with a bogey, one over par. This isn’t the case for professionals who will usually miss 36 hole cuts if they don’t shoot several strokes under par. Average golf professionals don’t last long on the PGA Tour, demoted to a lesser tour or forced to pursue another career.

Concerning this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull and sluggish in [your spiritual] hearing and disinclined to listen, Hebrews 5:11.

The Bible doesn’t paint a positive picture of average Christians. The author of Hebrews refers to an individual who is dull, ignorant and stubborn. Instead of reaching new heights, an unwillingness to listen has resulted in an average life. The difference between an amateur and a professional is the amateur dabbles, unsure of themselves. The professional is committed, determined and focused, possessing a faith in their God given talent. Most amateurs are content with their current status, falling back on another trade as their main career.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers [because of the time you have had to learn these truths], you actually need someone to teach you again the elementary principles of God’s word [from the beginning], Hebrews 5:12.

According to the Bible, God expects Christians to move beyond elementary principles. The apostle Paul uses the analogy of growing up, from a child into a man, 1 Corinthians 13:11. At some point, the Lord wants all believers to put aside childish ways. Modern churches use the confirmation process as a vehicle for growth, enabling teenage boys and girls to take ownership of their faith. As adults, God expects more, to move beyond an amateur mindset toward the devotion of a disciple. May this blog inspire souls to draw closer to Jesus, eager to serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

You Can’t Expect Others to Follow If You’re Not Leading the Way

During a trade school I attended after college, I was introduced to several leadership principles. From time to time, I will go back to examine and review notes from one of two three ring binders. At the time of this course, the curriculum and material was cutting edge, filled with articles, case studies and insight from successful leaders throughout the world. One of the sayings I still recall is “the enthusiasm of a leader will never exceed that of its group.”

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death, 1 John 3:14.

Essentially, this refers to the concept that you can’t expect others to follow if you’re not leading the way. As a parent, the Bible provides several instructions on how to become the spiritual leader of your house. The apostle Paul urges husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Meanwhile, King Solomon uses Proverbs to help fathers instill in their children godly principles to cling to throughout life. However, when I am not demonstrating love, emulating biblical standards and walking in integrity, I am sending a mixed message.

Since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1 Peter 1:23.

At this point in my life, I have failed miserably at being a godly leader. The hardest part of my current predicament is that if I don’t get my own life/house in order, I’m just another useless hypocrite. When you abide in death, love is impossible to accomplish. Thus, I find myself in need of a spiritual boost, an awakening only available through what Peter calls the imperishable seed. Only when I began to allow God’s Word, the Bible to abide and dwell within me, can I lead my family in the manner that God desires.

by Jay Mankus

Speed Trap

Back in 1986, I was introduced to the need for speed. The film Top Gun coincided with the year I received my driver’s license. Thus, when Maverick and Goose approach their fighter jet, played by Tom Cruise and Anthony Edwards, I understood their conversation, “I feel the need, the need for speed.”

Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]; James 1:19.

I was naïve back then, unaware of the speed traps lurking around each corner. Nine months after I got my license I received my first speeding ticket, flying down the St. George’s Bridge, oblivious to the cop at the bottom of the hill. This past Monday, I spent the day in traffic court for my son Daniel who received a ticket Christmas Eve, driving to my parents house after work. Hopefully, he too learned a valuable listen.

For the [resentful, deep-seated] anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God [that standard of behavior which He requires from us], James 1:20.

The Bible has an interesting perspective on speed traps. Instead of focusing on driving, the context above refers to speeding up and slowing down. The earthly brother of Jesus encourages first century Christians to be quick to listen. Apparently, the need for speed is centered around becoming a better listener. Meanwhile, you must fight the urge to become angry, slowing down as a form of discipline to tame your tongue. Therefore, the next time you get behind the wheel, dial in your ears toward heaven so that you avoid any urge for a lead foot or road rage.

by Jay Mankus

Opening Your Mind to Understanding the Bible

The element of a person that enables them to become aware of the world and their experiences is the mind. According to a recent study, the average person only uses 10 % of their brain at a time. Thus, human beings are only operating at a tenth of their full potential. In the 2014 film, Scarlett Johansson plays Lucy, a woman who becomes part of a secret case study. After a special drug is created by scientists, this pill enables Lucy’s mind to reach maximum capacity. This movie illustrates what it would be like if human beings could tap into the other 90% of their mind.

Then He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you, everything which has been written about Me in the Law of Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,” Luke 24:44.

During a seven mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Jesus participates in a conversation that transforms the lives of a couple of his disciples. Based upon the context of the passage above, Jesus’ true identity is hidden until reaching Emmaus. Although the time is not mentioned, this discussion likely occurs over several hours, reflecting upon the events of the Passion Week, the final days of Jesus’ earthly life prior to his resurrection. Apparently, Jesus makes these men think, quoting Moses, Old Testament prophets and the book of Psalms. By the time this conversation concludes, minds are opened to fully understanding the Bible.

Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, Luke 24:45.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in several of his letters to first century Christians. Paul encourages the church at Rome to renew their minds by meditating upon the Scriptures, Romans 12:1-2. To those in Colosse, Paul focuses on setting minds on things above. The context refers to putting to death your sinful nature by setting your mind on eternal causes, Colossians 3:1-17. Perhaps, Paul borrowed this from Joshua who urged the nation of Israel to mediate on God’s Word day and night. As modern individuals emulate this ancient practice, you too can have your mind opened up to the full meaning of the Holy Bible. May this blog inspire you to begin your own journey into examining and studying the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Unplowed Ground to Cover

The phrase unplowed ground refers to fallow ground. This comes from the Hebrew word nir meaning tillable but untilled ground. In the passage below, the prophet Hosea is talking about land that could be productive, but for whatever reason has not been broken up, tilled, plowed, and prepared for planting. To anyone who is willing to take an honest assessment of their life, everyone has unplowed ground to cover.

Sow with a view to righteousness [that righteousness, like seed, may germinate]; Reap in accordance with mercy and lovingkindness.
Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek
and search diligently for the Lord [and to long for His blessing] until He comes to rain righteousness and His gift of salvation on you. You have plowed and planted wickedness, you have reaped the [willful] injustice [of oppressors], you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and your chariots, and in your many warriors, Hosea 10:12-13.

In the film Facing the Giants, a janitor stops by to tell a high school football coach on the verge of being fired something God put on his heart. After sharing this rhema, a message from the Bible, the janitor recalls a story about two farmers. During a severe drought, both farmers prayed for rain, but only one went out to his fields to prepare his land. If you expect God to help you cover the unplowed areas of your life, faith should inspire action.

Since by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a sincere love of the believers, [see that you] love one another from the heart [always unselfishly seeking the best for one another], 23 for you have been born again [that is, reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] not of seed which is perishable but [from that which is] imperishable and immortal, that is, through the living and everlasting word of God, 1 Peter 1:22-23.

One of Jesus’ disciples refers to an imperishable seed. This analogy represents the living Word of God, the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 details the power of the Bible, calling the words in this book as living and active. Each time individuals open up these pages to read, souls are convicted and inspired to cover unplowed ground. Therefore, if you want to experience a physical and spiritual harvest, let God’s principles renew and transform your mind. As you do, God will sow seeds within newly tilled areas.

by Jay Mankus

Stop Blocking Miracles

As a novice student, when high school teachers and college professors started to repeat something, my classmates began to write this information down in their notebooks. Others instructors would be more obvious, coughing in jest or implying, “hum… this sounds like a good test question.” However, when the son of God, Jesus, repeats the same message three chapters later, you might want to take this to heart. In the verses below, Jesus takes two different scenarios that illustrate how and why individuals can block miracles from occurring.

“Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in My name [meeting together as My followers], I am there among them,” Matthew 18:19-20.

This first passage is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible. A month doesn’t go by without someone in church, a person praying or a pastor on television who names and claims this promise. However, Jesus places two escape clauses in verse 19. The first refers to harmony within the body of Christ. God wants members of a congregation to be on the same page, united in the decisions that are made. The second clause mentions the will of God. Prayers that exclude, ignore or go outside the will of God will be rejected. Thus, whenever discord or selfishness exists, potential miracles will be blocked and nullified.

Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

The second disclaimer is based upon faith. Despite witnessing miracle after miracle, the disciples struggled to place their complete confidence and trust in Jesus. When a fig tree isn’t bearing fruit in season, Jesus curses it, withering this tree immediately. Using this as a teachable moment, Jesus refers to a mountain blocking your view from God’s full potential. Thus, the key element is a persistent faith that believes you will receive what you ask for in prayer. When this is missing, a lack of faith blocks potential miracles from occurring. Therefore, if you want to determine what’s keeping you from ascending to your full potential, you may be out of alignment with God’s will. Or traces of doubt are holding back future miracles. May this blog help you gain understanding into what God truly desires.

by Jay Mankus

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