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Tag Archives: The great commission

Being Phased Out

If you work for a big company, sooner or later you will experience the pain of being phased out.  Sometimes this may be certain positions or an entire department that are eliminated to reduce cost and save money for shareholders.  Industries like coal may be phased out in my lifetime by cleaner, more efficient energy.  Meanwhile, other famous companies file for bankruptcy due to a lack of vision.  Richard Sears began using printed mailers in 1888 to advertise watches and jewelry.  This eventually gave birth to the Sears Catalog in 1943.  However, when Amazon was established in 1995 using the internet as an online catalog, Sears didn’t change their business model in time to save their company and customers.

But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17 Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place, Acts 12:16-17.

When Herod Agrippa I gave orders to have James the brother of John executed, Peter became a marked man.  According to Luke, religious leaders encouraged the king of the Jews to arrest and put Peter to death following the Passover celebrations.  While imprisoned, an angel of the Lord led Peter to escape.  However, based upon the passage above, Peter went into hiding, keeping a low profile.  It was during this period that the Lord rose up a godly man who would surprise Peter spiritually.  Saul who changes his name to Paul in Acts 13 is used to phase Peter out.  When the Jews in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria heard the gospel message, Peter was no longer needed as God raised him up to reach a Jewish audience.  A new voice was necessary to introduce the Gentiles to the good news about Jesus.  Thus, Peter is replaced by Paul to start the final phase, taking the Bible to the ends of the earth.

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth,” Acts 1:7-8.

According to the book of Revelation, Jesus will not return until every land, nation and tribe has a chance to either receive or reject Jesus as Savior, Romans 10:9-10.  This final phase is approaching 2,000 years and no one knows how much longer the Great Commission will take to complete.  Sure, there will always be guesses, projections and speculation, but only Jesus knows when this mission will end.  No one likes to be phased out, especially when you are forced to sit on the sidelines as someone else takes your place.  Nonetheless, if you aren’t gathering for God, you are likely scattering by leading others astray.  If this occurs, don’t be surprised if God sends someone else to finish the job that you were assigned.  This might result in being phased out by a believer who is more spiritually prepared than you.  However, failure does not mean the end.  Learn from your past mistakes so that the Holy Spirit will inspire you to be ready the next time God calls.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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Proving Your Faith

I spent most of my youth pursuing sports, playing a different sport each season.  One of the best ways to get more playing time is practicing during the offseason.  Unfortunately, when you are the best or one of the top athletes in a sport like me, I got complacent, lost my drive and was surpassed by others boys as I got older.  Since sports is so focused on statistics, coaches placed an emphasis on proving yourself game after game and week after week.

22 But Saul increased in strength more and more, and continued to perplex the Jews who lived in Damascus by examining [theological evidence] and proving [with Scripture] that this Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). 23 After considerable time had passed [about three years or so], the Jews plotted together to kill him, 24 but their plot became known to Saul. They were also watching the city’s gates day and night so they could kill him; 25 but his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket. 26 When he arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple, Acts 9:22-26.

If you take the Great Commission literally, Matthew 28:16-20, (Jesus’ plan to spread the gospel throughout the earth), proving yourself spiritually is based upon the degree to which you share your faith.  According to the passage above, Saul spent somewhere between 2 to 3 years doing this.  According to Luke, Saul used his upbringing as a Jewish zealot and knowledge of the Old Testament to convince his listeners that Jesus was the promised Messiah.  Despite Saul’s efforts, this wasn’t good enough to be accepted and embraced by Jesus’ disciples.  Basically, Jesus’ inner circle believed that Saul hadn’t done enough to prove that his faith was genuine.

What is the benefit, my fellow believers, if someone claims to have faith but has no [good] works [as evidence]? Can that [kind of] faith save him? [No, a mere claim of faith is not sufficient—genuine faith produces good works.] 15 If a brother or sister is without [adequate] clothing and lacks [enough] food for each day, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace [with my blessing], [keep] warm and feed yourselves,” but he does not give them the necessities for the body, what good does that do? 17 So too, faith, if it does not have works [to back it up], is by itself dead [inoperative and ineffective], James 2:14-17.

An earthly brother of Jesus gives a broader view of how an ordinary person can prove their faith.  Prior to Jesus’ crucifixion, James believed that his oldest brother was a liar and lunatic.  When you read the passage above, James is using his own life as an example.  At some point, James’ own faith became inoperative and ineffective.  Genuine faith is alive and active, producing spiritual fruit or planting seeds of faith.  Therefore, if you want to prove your own faith, make sure that you  in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23.  By doing this, your faith will come alive for others to hear and see.

by Jay Mankus

A Name That Fulfills Its Purpose

A businessman was packing for a trip in the morning when he realized his suit was dirty. Frantic, this man began to google nearby dry cleaners. After finding a One Hour Dry Cleaner, this man set out to run a few errands. Upon arriving, he explained his situation to the front desk, expecting to pick up his suit in about an hour. The night manager interrupted this request, “I’m sorry sir, one hour cleaner is our name, not what we do.”

For [it is impossible to restore to repentance] those who have once been enlightened [spiritually] and who have tasted and consciously experienced the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted and consciously experienced the good word of God and the powers of the age (world) to come, and then have fallen away—it is impossible to bring them back again to repentance, since they again nail the Son of God on the cross [for as far as they are concerned, they are treating the death of Christ as if they were not saved by it], and are holding Him up again to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

A first century doctor served as a historian, recording the events of the apostle Paul’s mission trips. According to Acts 11:26, Luke noticed something special as he traveled to the city of Antioch. After being baptized following their conversion, people of faith began to emulate the teachings of Jesus. These individuals were so devoted that local residents referred to this movement as Christianity, a name that fulfills its purpose. Unfortunately, by the end of the first century, several sects of this religious movement began to give Christianity a bad name. One warped perspective began to encourage believers to sin more and more so that God’s grace could be poured out upon them. The author of Hebrews addresses this ungodly belief in the passage above.

So Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this [a man equal to Joseph], in whom is the divine spirit [of God]?” – Genesis 41:38.

Every once in a while, you will meet someone who appears to be perfect. While this individual does possess imperfections, something from within makes this person stick out. Such was the case of Joseph, a man of God who fled from evil. Joseph didn’t have to tell people he was a Christian, his faith naturally demonstrated God’s love and wisdom. If you have aspirations for greatness, emulating the life of Jesus is the place to begin. You will fall, slide off course and get tripped up along the way. Nonetheless, God is searching for servants of Christ who strive to fulfill Jesus’ Great Commission, Mark 16:15-16, so that faith fulfills its purpose.

by Jay Mankus

Genuine Confessions of Faith

In the middle of the 16th century, a man from Scotland left his mark on history.  John Knox became a minister, theologian and writer.  This devotion led to the founding of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  While living in exile in France, Knox was licensed to work in the Church of England, influenced the theology within the Book of Common Prayer and helped write the Confession of Faith.  John Knox emulated the words of the apostle Paul below, living out his faith daily.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame, Romans 10:9-11.

In the first century, baptism and confessions of faith went hand and hand.  The term baptism refers to a public expression of an inner faith.  Before ascending into heaven, Jesus exhorted his disciples to follow 3 main commands.  This speech is referred to as the Great Commission.  The first instruction is to go and make disciples by introducing new people to the good news of Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23.  Immediately following this confession, new converts were baptized.  Finally, as faith is activated, the Holy Spirit is awakened within hearts, minds and souls.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

One of the common mistakes new Christians make is rededicating their lives numerous times.  While confession should be a daily practice via prayer, God desires individuals to exercise repentance.  Essentially, the Lord wants human beings to make a 180 degree U-turn, away from sin and toward God.  Theologians introduced the phrase contrition to help explain God’s expectations.  Confession doesn’t mean a thing unless you take steps to refrain from mistakes of your past.  Thus, if you want to be a beacon of light, make sure your confessions of faith are followed by fruits of the Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Use the Force of the Holy Spirit

In the context of Star Wars, the force is a metaphysical and ubiquitous power.  King Kayos is the first character to utter the expression, “may the force be with you.”  To awaken a certain kind of spirituality within his audience, George Lucas uses the concept of dualism to illustrate two opposing powers.  While the Jedi utilize the light side of the force, the Sith exploit the dark side, setting the stage for an epic battle between good and evil for dominance in the universe.

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him, Mark 1:12-13.

Descending from heaven to restore what Adam lost, Luke 19:10, Jesus is sent to earth by God the Father to complete a secret mission.  When the timing was right, Jesus followed the force of the Holy Spirit.  This calling drew Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, similar to Jedi’s led to spend time with Yoda, training to prepare for future battles.  While in the desert, Jesus fasted and prayed, using the power of the Holy Spirit to prepare his heart, soul and mind for a three year ministry on earth.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

After completing God’s will, Jesus died on a cross, rose from the dead and ascended back into heaven.  Prior to his exit from earth, Jesus spent forty days, relaying a great commission for his disciples to carry out.  Today, followers of Jesus are still seeking to complete the instructions found in Matthew 28:18-20.  To help us on this journey, the apostle Paul provides further directions in the passage above to guide individuals along the way.  Therefore, if you’re not sure where to go or what to do, cry out to the Lord so that the force of the Holy Spirit will intercede on your behalf to guide you toward the light and away from Satan’s darkness.  Use the force daily, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

Taking as Many People with You as Possible

During a visit to the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul discovered a passionate group of sports fans.  Instead of modern sports like basketball or football, Corinthians embraced Track and Field as host of a Summer Olympics type of annual event.  Thus, Paul felt compelled to use words in one of his letters that appealed to this culture.  Within 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul compares evangelism with a race, hoping to win as many people as possible to Jesus Christ.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Years earlier, Jesus reveals an interesting concept to his disciples in the passage above.  While speaking about persecution, Jesus provides a heavenly perspective to a common event followers of Christ will encounter.  Human nature tends to make individuals fearful of what other people think of you.  However, Jesus warns the disciples about worrying about the wrong thing.  Rather, be on guard against the Devil, the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, who uses temptation to ensnare souls toward a life in hell, eternally separated from God.

Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time, 1 Timothy 2:6.

The Bible is filled with promises about life and the future.  John 3:16-17 reveals why God the Father sent his son Jesus to earth.  Upon completing God’s will for his life on earth, Jesus gave himself up as a ransom, paying the price for the sins of mankind.  This selfless act made it possible for fallen creatures to have a place in heaven, John 14:1-4.  Thus, anyone who makes their eternal reservation, 1 John 5:13, should want to take as many people with you as possible.  May the hope of a new year inspire souls to fulfill the great commission, Mark 16:15-16 so that the afterlife will serve as a great big family reunion in the sky.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Your Mission or Are You Missing Inaction?

In the 2005 film Pacifier, Vin Diesel plays disgraced Navy Seal Shane Wolfe.  Upon the failure of his previous mission, Shane is reassigned to protect a family whose dead father created a secret weapon known as Ghost.  While government officials seek to locate this device, Shane’s new mission is to protect this family at all cost while examining the home for any clues.  Despite a series of set backs, Shane risks his life to complete this mission.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age,” Matthew 28:18-20.

Prior to his ascension into heaven, Jesus gave his disciples what is now known as the great commission.  This mission was laid out in three stages.  First, begin in Jerusalem, explaining what has happened to the Jews.  When phase one is complete, move on to Judea and Samaria, spreading the good news to surrounding towns and villages.  Finally, go into all the world to share the hope of salvation found in the words of John 3:16-17.

He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth,” Acts 1:7-8.

Nearly two thousand years later, God is waiting for you to fulfill a new mission.  Depending upon your personality, talents and spiritual gifts, instructions will vary.  Yet, unless you enlist by beginning your own spiritual journey, Romans 10:9-10, your mission will be unknown.  Lack of clarity helps explain why many are unproductive in this life.  However, as the Holy Spirit begins to reveal to you God’s plan, Galatians 5:25, success is possible.  May the season of Lent awaken souls to see the reality of the mission the Lord wants you to complete while on earth.

by Jay Mankus

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