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Tag Archives: The Holy Spirit

The Cleansing

A decade old health poll revealed that 31% of Americans do not shower every day.  The same study showed 65% bath and or shower daily with 4% showering more than once a day.  Other cultures such as Europe find it socially acceptable to shower 3 to 4 times a week.  The purpose of cleansing is to disinfect, freshen up and sanitize human bodies.  The cooler than climate, the less this may be needed.  However, depending upon your degree of perspiration, you may need to shower twice a day to avoid offending your family with a fowl body odor.

And God, who knows and understands the heart, testified to them, giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; Acts 15:8.

The Bible refers to a spiritual cleansing.  This isn’t accomplished by taking a private bath or shower.  Rather, churches perform baptisms which demonstrate a public expression of an inner faith.  According to the apostle Paul, God cleanses souls through the power of the Holy Spirit.  After someone accepts Jesus as Lord and Savior, Romans 10:9-10, first century Christians immediately participated in outdoor baptism ceremonies along a nearby body of water.  Despite having clothes on at this time, Luke describes this process as hearts beings cleansed by faith.

And He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith [in Jesus], Acts 15:9.

The symbolism of baptism is God’s way of giving human beings a clean slate, a spiritual do over where souls set out on a life long journey as a new creation in Jesus Christ.  Unfortunately, the sinful nature inside of us, referred to as the flesh by Paul makes it impossible to be perfect.  In a letter to the church at Rome, Paul states on several occasions “there is no one righteous, not even one,” Romans 3. Thus, after experiencing a believer’s baptism, confession, prayer and fasting serve as means to receive another spiritual cleansing.  May these spiritual disciplines become a daily habit to cleanse your heart by faith.

by Jay Mankus

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The Day Christians Didn’t Want Church to End

From the age of 6 to 16, my parents started to vacation in the state of Maine.  After renting a small cottage on Thompson Lake for a few years, a retired couple invited my family to stay in their A-Frame and Lodge.  Subsequently, Maine became like a second home, spending several weeks there each August.  While my birthday parties were small, I went fishing, golfing or running every day.  Eventually, my parents found a church in Oxford, about a fifteen minute drive.  To my pleasant surprise, this church ran like a clock, ending in 39 minutes every Sunday.  As a teenager eager to fish or play golf, this priest kept my attention, always short and sweet.

When the congregation of the synagogue had been dismissed, many of the Jews and the devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who, talking to them were urging them to continue in the grace of God, Acts 13:43.

During one of their missionary journeys, Paul and Barnabas experienced the exact opposite reaction.  While preaching to a crowded synagogue in the region of Antioch in Pisidia, the audience in attendance did not work this service to end.  After being dismissed, several Jews and converts to Judaism begged Paul and Barnabas to keep teaching.  These souls were spiritually hungry, eager to learn more about the grace of God.  This desire reminds me of a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, where Jesus reveals two key priorities.

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also, Matthew 6:33.

Spiritual hunger isn’t natural, but when individuals take time to pray, read the Bible or worship God, the Holy Spirit alters human priorities toward spiritual desires.  Although I can’t recall ever wanting a church service to keep going, there are other moments in time that I didn’t want to end.  Spiritual retreats, certain vacations and my Tentmaker Leadership Training were so life altering that I wanted to stay.  Anytime you have to go back to reality is hard, especially if you are not happy with where you are in life.  Nonetheless, when you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you may find yourself like the service in Acts 13:43, not wanting church to end.

by Jay Mankus

All Those Who Were Listening

While Billy Joel refers to honesty as such a lonely word in his 1979 song, teachers often feel the same way about listening.  As a former high school teacher who spent a decade standing in front of teenagers, rarely did I grab the attention of an entire class.  This became apparent during each chapter review prior to the next text as only a handful of students were prepared.  At some point during my lectures, these informed students were attentive, able to concentrate or kept an open ear to what I was presenting.  While uniformed students may cram their way toward a good grade, all those who are consistently listening receive blessings from God.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who were listening to the message [confirming God’s acceptance of Gentiles]. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, Acts 10:44-45.

While interviewing Peter about an encounter with Gentiles, Luke narrows in on the power of listening.  Based upon Peter’s recollection of this day, not everyone in the audience was listening to his sermon.  This became obvious when those talking in the back or whispering on the side did not receive an outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Whether the words above are a direct quote from Peter or an observation made by Luke the author, “the Holy Spirit only fell on those who were listening.”  While not mentioned, the rest of the crowd sat around dumbfounded, likely disappointed that they missed this blessing from God.

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied up until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is [the fulfillment of] Elijah [as the messenger] who was to come [before the kingdom]. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words, Matthew 11:13-15.

When John the Baptist was imprisoned by Herod, a delegation of John’s disciples was sent to Jesus to make sense of his earthly ministry.  John’s disciples wanted to know if Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah.  Thus, as these men approached Jesus, they hung on every spoken word.  Following a tribute to John the Baptist, Jesus ends his comments with a plea to listen.  Based upon the quote above, there are two types of listening: casual and responsive.  Jesus doesn’t want people to nod in agreement.  Rather, God desires followers of Christ to become doers of the Word by putting Jesus’ advice into action.  Blessings will bestowed upon all those who are attentively listening.

by Jay Mankus

Signs of the Fullness of God

Whenever anyone seeks to advance in a career, hobby or trade, you must separate yourself from other potential candidates.  When milk sits in a refrigerated container and cream is added, it separates itself and floats on top of the milk.  This is what individuals must do when applying for a job, entering a contest or pursuing a professional career, rise to the top.  When signs of greatness are present, people begin to receive the recognition that they deserve.

Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word,” Acts 6:3-4.

Sometime after 30 AD, church growth exploded as more and more souls entered into personal relationships with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  The only downside to this movement was that the widows of Greek speaking Jews began to be neglected.  These Hellenistic Jews complained to the twelve disciples hoping that the church could begin to provide for their needs.  A meeting was scheduled to address this concern.  The end result was a selection process to choose seven godly men to oversee the distribution of food to the poor and needy.

The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch. They brought these men before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them [to dedicate and commission them for this service], Acts 6:5-6.

A first century doctor observed three special qualities from one man who separated himself from everyone else.  According to the passages above, Stephen was full of the Holy Spirit, faith and wisdom.  If you take these observations in the context of Galatians 5:22, the fruits of the Holy Spirit were naturally flowing out of Stephen.  These traits of integrity are a clear sign of the fullness of God.  Anyone who hungers and thirsts for righteousness, Matthew 6:33, will begin to exude the fullness of God.

by Jay Mankus

Falling Farther Away

The Freefall is an amusement ride developed by Giovanola. Two generations of this ride were designed and marketed throughout the world by the Swiss company Intamin.  The first series of Freefall rides can be identified by the angled supports at the base of the lift tower.  The second generation were identical, but the tower’s base structure on these variants did not taper outward.  The Freefall ride went out of style near the end of the 1999’s, replaced by new technology such as the Gyro Drop and compressed air tower rides.  What I learned last week is that you don’t have to go to an amusement park to experience falling.

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.

The author of Hebrews suggests that when individuals enter into a personal relationship with God, the Holy Spirit elevates and lifts up your faith.  Spiritual enlightenment gives people access to a heavenly gift, tasting the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  However, if you look back down at your former life, tempted to return, you can expect a great fall.  Modern terminology refers to this as back sliding away from God to indulge in temporary pleasures of the world.  To those who change their course, the passage above compares this behavior to crucifying Jesus on the cross over and over again.  At some point, you have to snap out of this spiritual free fall before its to late.

For if we go on willfully and deliberately sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice [to atone] for our sins [that is, no further offering to anticipate], 27 but a kind of awful and terrifying expectation of [divine] judgment and the fury of a fire and burning wrath which will consume the adversaries [those who put themselves in opposition to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

Five chapters later, the author of Hebrews unveils the fate of those falling farther away from God.  The imagery above suggests that some people will just barely get into heaven, by the skin of their pants.  Just prior to any spiritual freefall is marked by idleness, a lack of concentration, direction and guidance.  A disciple of Jesus refers to this as lukewarm, losing your love and passion for Jesus.  If believers do not feed and meditate upon the Word of God, it won’t be long before hearts, minds and souls begin to look back, over the edge toward the world.  Jesus compares this behavior to a farmer who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back, Luke 9:62.  If you want to save yourself from anguish, pain and suffering, fix your eyes on Jesus to avoid future free falls, Hebrews 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

An Important Message from the Past

 

The first Great Awakening, a series of Christian revivals began in England during the 1730’s.  This spiritual movement quickly spread to Britain’s thirteen colonies lasting until the 1740’s.  During these two decades, Jonathan Edwards played an integral role as a preacher, theologian and writer in America.  One of Edwards’ lasting legacies is a quote from an old sermon, “you contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”

For it is by grace [God’s remarkable compassion and favor drawing you to Christ] that you have been saved [actually delivered from judgment and given eternal life] through faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [not through your own effort], but it is the [undeserved, gracious] gift of God; Ephesians 2:8.

As individuals struggled with the notion that you can earn your salvation through good works, Jonathon Edwards uses the teaching of the apostle Paul to stop this train of thought.  Perhaps, members of the church of Ephesus shared a similar belief.  The passage above is part of a letter Paul wrote to expose this flawed mindset.  Salvation is a gift from God, only accessible by grace through faith in Christ.  This verse inspired Jonathan Edwards’ comment that mankind’s only contribution to salvation are transgressions from the past and present.

Not as a result of [your] works [nor your attempts to keep the Law], so that no one will [be able to] boast or take credit in any way [for his salvation]. 10 For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us], Ephesians 2:9-10.

To fully understand the apostles’ teaching, you have to look to verse 10.  Human beings are merely a piece to the puzzle, a work in progress.  As the Holy Spirit works behind the scenes to sanctify newly converted Christians, this process takes a lifetime to complete.  Meanwhile, God the Father serves as a potter, molding and fashioning followers of Jesus like clay.  Trials and tribulations serve as a furnace to remove our imperfections.  Instead of trying to earn your salvation, Paul urges readers to become a willing participant, eager to fulfill the good works God has prepared for you  in advance to accomplish in life.  This is an important message from the past to remember.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

How Close Is the End?

The introduction to each episode of the Days of Our Lives shows an hour glass flipped over.  The narrator of this soap opera follows with the words, “like sand through an hour glass, so are the days of our lives.”  The assumption made here is that life on earth is limited.  Eventually your time will expire, resulting in death.  The only question is how close is the end?  This fateful anticipation inspires cast members to live for the moment, without any care for tomorrow.

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear], 2 Timothy 3:1.

The apostle Paul sheds light on the question above in a letter to a teenager.  Apparently, this first century pastor experienced a series of hardship.  Troubled by what he saw, his mentor Paul reached out to Timothy in the form of a two letters.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul unveils a list of events that will occur prior to the second coming of Jesus.  These acts, behaviors and outcomes highlight the fact that many will fall away from God in the last days.

For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them, 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

After hearing about what happened to students at Covington Catholic High School last weekend, it appears the checklist above is nearly complete.  Students wearing Make American Great Again hats were unknowingly targeted by a group of protesters.  This set up switched the facts of what happened, edited video to a couple of minutes to define a specific narrative and posted these on social media.  Once a couple of posts went viral, these teenage victims became the instigators.  Like chum in the water, cable news anchors, journalists and twitter followers created a feeding frenzy.  If this dishonest hit piece isn’t a clear sign that the end is near, it’s a foreshadowing of future persecution that Christians and conservatives will face.

by Jay Mankus

 

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