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Tag Archives: the hand of God

Recognize, Perceive and Understand

A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection. Over several decades of attending church, I’ve heard pastors refer to God instances where the hand of God is perceived to perform a miracle. Prior to 1555, the Bible did not contain individual verses. These were added to the Vulgate Bible to help readers identity memorable portions of a book.

By this we come to know (progressively to recognize, to perceive, to understand) the [essential] love: that He laid down His [own] life for us; and we ought to lay [our] lives down for [those who are our] brothers [[l]in Him], 1 John 3:16.

Everyone knows about John 3:16’s popularity as one of the most iconic verses in the Bible. However, do you recognize, perceive or understand a commonality between John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16? The latter is quoting the words of Jesus addressed to a first century Pharisee named Nicodemus. The passage above serves as a reminder so that you recognize, perceive, and understand God’s love for you.

 For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life, John 3:16.

As I write blogs today, the Holy Spirit urges me to remind my readers of key biblical principles. I often question with a whisper, “are you sure you want me to address this again?” While you may be aware of certain biblical truths, using a new context or illustration often drives home this point in a more powerful way. This is the purpose of 1 John 3:16: serving as a clear reminder of John 3:16-17 so that another generation of Christians will understand the unconditional love of God.

by Jay Mankus

The Ancestry of Jesus

A day doesn’t go by that I don’t hear or see an advertisement for Ancestry.com. Whether this is simply a fad or successful business model, adults are beginning to ascertain their families history. Searches are accomplished through DNA tests and family tree kits to help individuals better understand their genealogy. Perhaps, its not a coincidence that the first chapter of the gospel summarizes the ancestry of Jesus.

The book of the ancestry (genealogy) of Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the son (descendant) of David, the son (descendant) of Abraham, Matthew L1.

One of Jesus’ disciples from the tribe of Levi briefly highlights 2000 years of Jesus’ family tree in the first chapter of the New Testament. Like any family, there are characters that don’t seem to fit, staining and tainting a families reputation. Since last names are more of a modern development, the Bible refers to people based upon where they were born and the town in which they reside. For example, Jesus of Nazareth.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place under these circumstances: When His mother Mary had been promised in marriage to Joseph, before they came together, she was found to be pregnant [through the power] of the Holy Spirit. And her [promised] husband Joseph, being a just and upright man and not willing to expose her publicly and to shame and disgrace her, decided to repudiate and dismiss (divorce) her quietly and secretly. Matthew 1:18-19.

Despite possessing a lineage of an adulterer, habitual liar and prostitute, Matthew sets the stage for God’s anointing on the birth and life of Jesus. The hand of God, known as providence, was upon Mary and Joseph who each encountered an angel so that Jesus didn’t end up in a single parent home. This aspect of Jesus’ childhood illustrates that it doesn’t matter what happened in your families’ past. Rather, when you keep in step with the Holy Spirit, character, integrity and a good man is formed. If this upward trend continues throughout your own life, future descendants will be proud when they examine the legacy that you have left behind.

by Jay Mankus

Who Really Deserves the Credit

A few days leading up to my son James’ wedding, my wife and I received praise and thanks.  Emma’s father Pete mentioned twice, once at the rehearsal dinner and during his wedding toast of the blessing that James been to Emma and their family.  While the hand of God is ultimately responsible for my son’s maturity, there are others who deserve credit as well.

The one who is taught the word [of God] is to share all good things with his teacher [contributing to his spiritual and material support], Galatians 6:6.

In 1988, a man named Ray Boltz was asked to write a song for Pastor Appreciation Sunday.  Upon completion, the lyrics of Thank You serve as a reflection, looking back at all the people in life who has directed, guided and helped individuals draw closer to Jesus.  When I think about James, I can’t forget all the Christian teachers at Red Lion who taught, nurtured and inspired James from kindergarten to eighth grade.  From his first, Mrs. DeMaio to his last, Mrs. Beattie, I thank God for everyone in between who has shaped and touched James’ life.

Let us not grow weary or become discouraged in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap, if we do not give in. 10 So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers), Galatians 6:9-10.

I don’t know how this story will end, James’ new life with Emma.  Yet, as a parent, I am committed to pray for, fast if necessary and build up this young couple.  Sometimes parents expect children to behave, mature and become a finished product in their time, not God’s.  Thus, all I can do is seize the opportunities that become available.  Despite how I feel or what I see from my own perspective, the apostle Paul commands believers to persist in doing good.  While I’m waiting, I want to thank all of you who have poured your own life into my son James.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Overlook God’s Providence

Immediately following the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites fled into the desert.  When Pharaoh changed his mind, Moses led God’s people to the banks of the Red Sea.  Against all odds, the Lord enabled Moses to part this body of water before collapsing upon and swallowing up the Egyptian army.  After witnessing this miracle, any event that follows would be obscure.  Thus, when God magically sent bread, manna from heaven, the Jews slowly began to overlook the obvious.

And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the Israelites no longer had manna, but they ate some of the produce of the land of Canaan during that year, Joshua 5:12.

Like any human being, time has a way of changing your perspective.  Initial awe, excitement and joy can fade when everything that follows is small in comparison.  Perhaps, this explains Jesus comment to one if his disciples, “blessed are those do not see me yet believe.”  The testimony of followers of Jesus immediately following his resurrection should have been enough.  Yet, doubt prevented Thomas from believing, needing to see with his own eyes.  When you live with a miracle worker every day for three years, at some point you begin to over look the obvious, expecting greater things.

Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me],” John 20:29.

As holiday shoppers rush through life to get their Christmas preparations in order, it’s hard to keep track of daily mundane responsibilities.  Meanwhile, subtle miracles are glanced over as God provides this or that without any praise or thanks.  Unfortunately, I tend to be the type of person who allows themselves to be pushed to the limit, on the verge of mental exhaustion weekly.  Thus, instead of seeing subtle signs of God’s providence, I have ignored the obvious.  I guess I need to follow the advice of the Psalmist by being still before God, Psalm 46:10.  When you do, you will stop overlooking the obvious by observing the hand of God over your life.

by Jay Mankus

All I Need to Be

If you are a counselor, parent or teacher, there will always be questions that you will not be able to answer.  Some may be too personal, others beyond your realm of expertise or foreign to what you have experienced in life.  Thus, you may have to send an individual off to another adult, co-worker or friend.  However, when it comes to your own children, you should be able to point them in the right direction to ascertain all they need to be.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4.

As the youngest child, David was relegated to the role of a shepherd, overseeing the family herd.  There wasn’t much time to consider anything else as David often slept in the fields with his sheep.  This experience swayed David to rely on the Lord at an early age, trusting God to hold back bears, wolves and any other wild animal from devouring his sheep.  During boring days and lonely nights, David learned to delight himself in the Lord.  As he pondered all that he needed to be, God rewarded David’s faithfulness with the desires of his heart.

A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, Psalm 23:1.

Reflecting back on previous encounters, David had a revelation, switching places with God.  Instead of taking credit for years of dedication and hard work, David saw the hand of God over his sheep.  Thus, he was no longer in charge.  Rather, the Lord had become his shepherd with David serving as a sheep, listening to God’s voice for direction.  This role reversal prepared David for what was to come later in life.  If today’s blog finds you struggling to figure out all you need to be in life, delight yourself in Jesus and the Great Shepherd will lead you to greener pastures that will ultimately refresh your soul, Psalm 23:2.

by Jay Mankus

 

Blessed, Fortunate or Normal

I spent last night eating dinner at my parents house.  Beside the normal topics of conversation, I began ask about cousins I haven’t heard from or seen in years.  Unfortunately, each relative’s update included a similar pattern, ending with disappointment, divorce or unfulfilled potential.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19. 

Like anything in life, there is a temptation to compare yourself with others.  While my life hasn’t been perfect or void of adversity, I feel quite fortunate and blessed.  Up to this point, the Lord has provided daily bread, a sense of accomplishment and passion to pursue my dreams.  Then again, maybe I’m just normal, making the most of what God has given me.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, James 1:17.

When you study what the Bible says about blessings, you have to be careful not to take verses out of context.  The apostle writes to Philippians after surviving an earthquake and seeing the hand of God in allowing trials to occur.  Meanwhile, the brother of Jesus reflects upon how God is in control, despite how bad your current situation may be.  Nonetheless, when you have experienced a good and decent life, you’re either blessed, fortunate, normal or a little bit of all three.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Hand Behind the Plan

The origin of the hand of God likely began during the reign of King Belshazzar.  Following the Babylonian’s conquest of Israel and subsequent exile, the hand of God arrived on the scene.  This event could not be explained by modern enchanters, astrologers and diviners.  Thus, Daniel was recommended to interpret the hand behind these words.

Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote, Daniel 5:5.

In the years that have followed, there is just as much confusion now as then.  Few people today have the spiritual insight like Daniel possessed.  Whether its an anointing, keen awareness or special training, recognizing the hand of God in any aspect of life is difficult.  Those who knew Daniel referred to his ability as having the spirit of the gods within him.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 1 Peter 5:6.

Today, many false prophets exist, claiming to know the hand behind God’s plan.  However, if you read their books, follow their teaching and test these predictions, inconsistencies abound.  In view of this dilemma, its better to follow the words of the apostle Paul above.  The Old Testament is filled with examples of God humbling the proud and lifting up the meek.  Thus, whether you are able to discern the hand of God or not, remember to stay humble and God’s favor will fall upon you.

by Jay Mankus

A Song for the Season

Every so often I will hear a song that touches my heart or stirs my soul.  The artist who sings and or writes these special songs have everything fall into place.  In some cases its as if the hand of God, divine intervention or angelic inspiration led to the final result.  When it comes to Easter, I can’t think of a better song that summarizes this special season than Forever by Kari Jobe.

The moon and stars they wept
The morning sun was dead
The Saviour of the world was fallen
His body on the cross
His blood poured out for us
The weight of every curse upon him

If you had to give a sunrise sermon, a condensed message, the lyrics of Forever highlight the death and resurrection of Jesus and what it means for you and for me.  You don’t have to listen to a 30 or 60 minute sermon to understand what this day means for Christians. Although every song has its time and place, Forever has become an instant classic for me, now a popular worship selection for Sunday mornings.

One final breath he gave
As heaven looked away
The son of God was laid in darkness
A battle in the grave
The war on death was waged
The power of hell forever broken

Instead of trying to come up with a new angle, I thought the words of Forever would suffice.  It only takes three stanzas to summary Good Friday through Easter Sunday.  While the words vary slightly from the actual Bible verses, Forever nails it, so to speak, touching core principles about what Jesus’ victory over death means.  The final portion of the third stanza quotes 1 Corinthians 15, concentrating on verses 55-57.

The ground began to shake
The stone was rolled away
His perfect love could not be overcome
Now death where is your sting?
Our resurrected King
Has rendered you defeated

Wherever you are on this Easter Sunday, may the song Forever remind you of the greatest sacrifice ever made.

by Jay Mankus

Resting in Hope

Fifty years ago, most families consisted of a husband, wife and children.  In those days, moms stayed at home, taking care of the kids while the father was usually the main bread winner.  Over the last half century, this sight is rare, like a species of animals on the verge of extinction.  Subsequently, adults are now working nights, weekends or two jobs just to keep up with their monthly bills.  The idea of resting in hope is a fantasy for many tired souls.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest in hope, Acts 2:26.

On the Day of Pentecost, Peter was filled with peace.  Looking back on the last few months, the hand of God on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection began to make sense.  This clarity boosted the spirits of the disciples.  Despite Jesus’ absence following his ascension into heaven, a metamorphosis was ongoing in the hearts and minds of God’s people.  Peter attributes this reformation due to resting in hope.

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

Stress has an opposite effect on individuals, leading to restless nights.  A by product of stress, worry induces doubt, causing minds to wonder if things will ever improve.  This is where I am from time to time, struggling to remain optimistic.  Nonetheless, when I reach low points in life, I am reminded of the promises in the Bible.  The more I hear and read these words, I begin to rest in hope.

by Jay Mankus

The Hands of God

Stephen King has written a plethora of books, several of which have become classic films.  Taking horror in a new direction, King’s 1994 mini-series entitled the Stand portrays an end of days film in America.  Following a biological outbreak, only 10 percent of the population survive with the righteous calling the heartland home.  Meanwhile, those tempted by evil make their way to Las Vegas.  In the end, the Hand of God comes down to rescue the saints from a nuclear bomb.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them, Acts 13:2.”

Throughout history, God’s hands have been invisible, mysteriously protecting faithful Israelites.  Accounts abound within the Old Testament.  Noah and his family escaped the flood.  Abraham and Lot fled Sodom and Gomorrah before its demise.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived a fiery furnace and Daniel spent a night in a lion’s den, without harm.  Are these merely coincidences or the hands of God?

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off, Acts 13:3.

According to the New Testament, God’s hands are extended from heaven through his followers.  When the elders laid hands on people, discernment, gifts and wisdom are imparted.  Similar to a prayer circle, believers expect God to do great things.  Without faith, even Jesus could not perform miracles in his home town.  Yet, when a concert of prayer is formed around a person in need, the hands of God are more than a legend; His power become a reality to those who receive this blessing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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