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Tag Archives: The Holy Spirit

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

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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

 

The Story Behind A Just Cause

To be just refers to being fair and impartial.  The Bible details God’s hatred of those who have been mistreated and oppressed.  The term civil refers to behaving according to what is morally right within a just and democratic society.  The story behind this concept begins as God uses guilt as a just cause to convict sin despite being invisible (before the actual act) to the human eye.

But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion), James 1:14.

While individuals may be able to deceive other human beings for an extended period of time, the truth will come out over eventually.  Whether it’s an addiction, a crime or shocking act, the Bible reveals what happens inside the soul before the act of sin emerges.  Seeds are planted within minds, temptation waters these thoughts until desire, lust and worldly passion drags the next unlikely candidate down a dark path.

Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:15.

Sadly, headlines from the internet, newspaper or tabloids is the end result of the sinful nature getting the best of a weakened and vulnerable person.  After any fall, just as God sends guilt, humbled hearts open the door for forgiveness.  To those who comes to their senses, seeking reconciliation, the Holy Spirit moves toward the broken-hearted and crushed in spirit.  While this is often not seen in this light, God demonstrates a just cause by extending grace and mercy to the contrite.  May these words help you get over failure by embracing God’s forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

 

Spiritual Drifters

A drifter is defined as a person who is continually moving from place to place.  Those who fit this description are referred to as a transient, vagabond or wanderer.  Individuals who fall into this category often do not develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Without a good reason to stay, people drift into new communities hoping for a place to call home.  As America has lost its sense of community within cities, neighborhoods and towns, a growing number of nomads have a emerged, disconnected and unknown by the person next door.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served], 1 Corinthians 12:4-5.

Over the last two decades, a new classification has been added to this term, spiritual drifters.  When someone enters into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, finding a church that meets your spiritual needs can be difficult.  Larger congregations can be superficial, challenging to connect with a mentor who understands who you are and what you are going through.  Smaller churches offer a more intimate setting, but if you don’t share common interests, developing a close bond rarely occurs.  Thus, countless Christians go church hopping, visiting new places each weekend, searching for a place to call home.

And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:6-7.

As a former elder in a church for seven years, I’m the last person you would expect who would become a spiritual drifter.  Yet, for the past seven years, my family and I are still in limbo.  Initially, we spent a few years attending a small church that served as a time of healing after Red Lion was sold and disbanded.  My two youngest children found a great youth group for two years until that church suffered the same fate, closing it’s doors to sell their property.  While each family member has a favorite, none of us have been blown away or sensed the Holy Spirit say this is home.  Thus, for now I continue as a spiritual drifter, hoping that one day soon I can stop watching, connect and become an active member of a church again.

by Jay Mankus

Developing a Heart for Kingdom Things

When you consider common talk radio debates such as who is the greatest, opinions vary.  Some look strictly at physical features.  Others point to sheer strength and overall talent.  Meanwhile, intelligence, personality and wit is not overlooked.  On some occasions, appearance, gravitas and stature can be so impressive that even a prophet of God is fooled.  Such was the case in Samuel’s quest, seeking to find and anoint the next king of Israel.  In a rush to complete this task, Samuel neglected a vital trait, someone with a heart for kingdom things.

So it happened, when they had come, he looked at Eliab [the eldest son] and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is before Him.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:6-7.

As Samuel approached a handsome young man, the oldest son of Jesse, the Holy Spirit spoke.  It’s not clear if a spirit of conviction fell upon Samuel or God appeared in the form of a whisper.  Regardless of the communication style chosen by God, the message was crystal clear, this man is not the one, lacking a heart focused on kingdom things.  Since the heart is hidden from plain view, people can masquerade, pretend and trick others from discovering what’s in their heart.  While Samuel looked to the oldest son of Jesse to find Saul’s replacement, God’s candidate was in the fields, serving as a lowly shepherd.  Also a musician, David relied on God to provide for his daily needs.

“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].  “Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].  “Blessed [inwardly peaceful, spiritually secure, worthy of respect] are the gentle [the kind-hearted, the sweet-spirited, the self-controlled], for they will inherit the earth.  “Blessed [joyful, nourished by God’s goodness] are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness [those who actively seek right standing with God], for they will be [completely] satisfied, Matthew 5:3-6.

During his sermon on a mountain side, Jesus lists a series of qualities, beatitudes that serve as a to do list to develop a heart for kingdom things.  Like a spiritual blueprint, Jesus rolls out a vision to identify qualities Christian should spend their time on earth chasing after.  These characteristics are based upon sacrifice, servanthood and trusting God.  According to Jesus, individuals who pursue kingdom things will be completely satisfied.  While the world will continue to tempt souls to indulge their human nature, the Lord is searching for future leaders to elevate their faith.  May this blog inspire you to develop a heart for kingdom things.

by Jay Mankus

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