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Tag Archives: the power of God

The Gap Between Reality and Faith

As a young Christian, I had a bad habit of treating prayer like a child sitting on Santa’s lap before Christmas. Looking back, I did receive a good portion of the gifts that I requested. However, when it came to waiting for prayers to be answered, that was another story. I guess I viewed God like Jim Carrey in Bruce Almighty, wanting everyone to win the lottery. This is just one example of the gap between reality and faith.

And as He saw [k]one single leafy fig tree [l]above the roadside, He went to it but He found nothing but leaves on it [[m]seeing that in the fig tree the fruit appears at the same time as the leaves]. And He said to it, Never again shall fruit grow on you! And the fig tree withered up at once. 20 When the disciples saw it, they marveled greatly and asked, How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once? 21 And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:19-22.

One walk with his disciples illustrates this point in the passage above. Jesus was hungry after a long day of helping broken, poor and troubled souls. Expecting a fig to satisfy his stomach, Jesus reacts when this tree isn’t doing what it was created to do, bear fruit. After placing a curse on this tree, it immediately withers in plain view of the disciples. Curious by this one act, the disciples want to know how and why Jesus did this. Jesus uses this opportunity to highlight the relationship between belief and faith.

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out], Hebrews 11:6.

Apparently, doubt and unbelief are a major force in the gap between reality and faith. When you go before the Lord in prayer, belief and faith are essential for miracles to happen. If a barrier, mountain or obstacle is standing in your way, do you see the power of God or have you lost hope of ever becoming the person God wants you to be? The author of Hebrews is blunt in the passage above as it’s impossible to please and satisfy God without faith. Subsequently, only when Christians begin to fulfill the will that God has for them will the gap between reality and faith gradually merge into one.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus: The Master of All Trades

While attending a youth ministry trade school following college, I read a book entitled The Master of all Trades. The author used miracles performed by Jesus in the Gospel of John as a case study. When I studied each of these accounts, I realized that Jesus was proving his mastery over a series of elements. Although I can’t remember the author’s name or find the book online, this comparison provides a clear illustration that Jesus indeed is the master of all trades.

Eight Miracles In The Gospel Of John  

  1. Water Into Wine John 2:1-11
  2. Healing the official’s son John 4:43-54.
  3. The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda John 5:1-9 
  4. The Feeding of the 5000 John 6:1-14.
  5. Walking on the Water (John 6:16-25).
  6. The Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41).
  7. Raising Lazarus From The Dead (John 11:1-44).
  8. Casting net into sea catching 153 fishes (John 21:5-8).

When Jesus turns water into wine, he defies the laws of science and reveals his mastery over quality. In the process of healing an official’s son, Jesus conquers distance by healing this boy from afar. While visiting an invalid at a pool, lingering with this condition for thirty-eight years, Jesus shows his mastery over time. During the feeding of the 5000, Jesus shows his ability to overcome the odds, able to provide no matter how great the quantity. In a storm, Jesus walks on water to highlight his power over the elements on the earth.

There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [through Who He is], John 20:30-31.

At the end of John’s gospel, it’s clear that thousands of miracles performed by Jesus were left out of the Bible. John merely selects 8 that illustrate Jesus’ mastery of all trades. The final 3 give hope to those who seem to be in an irrevocable situation. Whether you’ve been without one of your 5 key senses from birth, on the verge of death, or failing miserably in your career, Jesus has the power to alter your current situation. As long as you believe, the master of all trades can do wonders for you and your family.

by Jay Mankus

Becoming One of God’s MVP’s

The phrase Most Valuable Player dates back to 1931. This award was established by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. The criteria for this award attempted to recognize the most outstanding player each season. Major League Baseball changed the name of this award in 1944 after their first commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis died. Meanwhile, the National Football League’s first MVP award was named the Joe F. Carr Trophy beginning in 1938. Lefty Grove was the first professional athlete in the United States to be named the Most Valuable Player.

David said to Saul, Let no man’s heart fail because of this Philistine; your servant will go out and fight with him. 33 And Saul said to David, You are not able to go to fight against this Philistine. You are only an adolescent, and he has been a warrior from his youth, 1 Samuel 17:32-33.

God’s standards for MVP contain a few crucial characteristics. First, faith separates average looking individuals from the pillars of the past recognized in Hebrews 11. This Hall of Faith lists those filled with assurance despite the odds each faced. Second, believing and trusting in the power of God elevates visionaries from mere dreamers. As Israeli soldier’s looked at Goliath’s height, 9 feet 6 inches, David saw an uncircumcised Philistine who could be defeated. The final attribute which gets God’s attention is fanning into flame your spiritual gift and talents.

Your servant killed both the lion and the bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God! 37 David said, The Lord Who delivered me out of the paw of the lion and out of the paw of the bear, He will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said to David, Go, and the Lord be with you! – 1 Samuel 17:36-37

Most Valuable Players don’t listen to their skeptics who dwell on what can’t be accomplished, done or fulfilled. Rather, MVP’s use negativity to fuel, inspire and ignite motivation to do what others said was impossible. Some of the greatest athlete’s of all team were driven to reach new heights to become faster, stronger and mentally tougher than ever imagined. One way that modern day Christians can maximize their God given abilities is by tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25. While God’s MVP’s usually don’t get recognized on earth, eternal treasures are awaiting in heaven for those filled with a spiritual resolve.

by Jay Mankus

Is Anything Too Hard for God?

Chaos occurs when panic fuels complete disorder and a state of confusion. With each breaking news story about the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID 19, cities, states and countries continue to make adjustments. As more and more leaders order businesses to close, cancel previously scheduled events and order curfews for infected areas, the Stock Market continues to fall. As bad news snowballs into an avalanche of worry, some may wonder if this pandemic is too hard for God to handle?

Yet, O Lord God, You said to me, Buy the field with money and get witnesses, even though the city is given into the hands of the Chaldeans. 26 Then came the word of the Lord to Jeremiah, saying, 27 Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is there anything too hard for Me? – Jeremiah 32:25-27

In the 18th year of King Nebuchadnezzar’s reign, a similar panic began to set in. However, individuals weren’t selling stocks. Instead, home owners began to abandon their property, fleeing to escape the charging Chaldean army. Just as the Israelites bought into this fear, an Old Testament prophet shares an encouraging message. Despite the encroaching troops, God urges people to buy and not sell. If anyone doubted this request, Jeremiah uses an open ended question to infer that no situation is too hard for God.

And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband? 35 Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God, Luke 1:34-35.

On the verge of the first century, a Jewish virgin was pledged to be married, betrothed to a carpenter named Joseph. When visited by an angel, Mary was perplexed, pondering how she could become pregnant without partaking in sexual intercourse. As this angel began to share the details mentioned above, Mary was in awe. This initial conversation along with encounters with Elizabeth led Mary to come to the conclusion: “nothing is impossible with God.” May this blog remind you that not even the Coronavirus is too hard for God to handle.

by Jay Mankus

Too Many Pinocchios and Not Enough Average Joes

The Adventures of Pinocchio was first published in 1883 by Italian author Carlo Collodi.  Disney released the animated version of Pinocchio in 1940.  This puppet created by the woodcarver Geppetto serves as the protagonist of this film.  Magically brought to life, Pinocchio discovers a shocking reality about truth.  Each time Pinocchio tells a lie, the size of his nose immediately grows.  This standard has been adopted  by members of the media to illustrate the honest from those who distort the truth.

Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight, Proverbs 12:22.

Unfortunately, when you place a camera in front of most politicians, exaggerations, fake outrage and misleading statements flow.  When you add political talking points to this equation, the concept of cable news panels is becoming a pointless exercise.  If experts, guests and hosts are merely going to regurgitate what their side believes to be true, all you have each night in America for evening news is political spin, often void of truth.  This cycle goes on and on with too many Pinocchios and not enough average Joes.

A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish, Proverbs 19:9.

In his 1990 album The Great Exchange, Bruce Carroll released the song Average Joe.  The lyrics refer to an average American family at the time, hard working, church attending and God fearing.  The chorus sings about the power of God flowing through the lives of averages Joes.  Back in the early nineties, this song was considered normal, socially acceptable.  Nearly, thirty years later, progressive ideas has labeled this concept as divisive, judgmental and non-inclusive.  Unless modern Pinocchios are exposed, held accountable and removed from power, average families are in danger of disappearing, shamed into conforming to the ways of the world.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Fear Causes Your Dreams to Begin to Sink

When you are young, minds aren’t afraid to dream big.  Summit Ministries refers to this as BHAG’s, short for big hairy audacious goals.  Innocent minds don’t think of common obstacles that stand in the way of adults.  Rather, a child like faith exists which sets the stage for great things in the future.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus, Matthew 14:27-29.

Unfortunately, at some point in life, doubt creeps into confident individuals.  Such is the case of Peter, a bold disciple not afraid to take chances.  Thus, when Jesus asked him to join him on the water, Peter jumped at this opportunity.  Initially, Peter was defying gravity as he was actually walking on water just like Jesus.  Then, a gust of wind caught Peter by surprise.  This act of nature led to a chain of events as fear caused Peter to begin to sink into the middle of the lake.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:30-31

This story is symbolic of people who allow fear to interfere with accomplishing their dreams in life.  Determination, focus and vision enable individuals to get off to a good start in life.  Yet, at some point we take our eyes off of Jesus.  The moment this occurs people begin to think about the reasons why you can’t fulfills dreams and goals.  The next time this doubt creeps into your mind, shift your attention toward the power of God so that fear doesn’t cause your dreams to sink.

by Jay Mankus

When Your Mind Get’s in the Way

Depending upon how you were raised, parents give advice, guidance and warnings as you grow up.  Some of the common phrases of my generation were “think before you speak, open mouth insert foot” and simply “think.”  These words suggest that sometimes your mind gets in the way.

But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!”  – Numbers 13:31

In the Old Testament, God had promised Israel a new land flowing with milk and honey.  Before entering this place, Moses sent out a team to explore this region.  Known as the 12 Spies, only two brought back a positive report.  The other ten were misled by minds gripped with fear.  This first glance underestimated the power of God as their minds got in the way.

 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it,” Numbers 13:30.

In the end, the voices of Caleb and Joshua were silenced by the majority.  However, if you want to overcome doubt, leaders must raise their voices to convince the feeble and weak.  The next time you hear a crowd minimizing the power of God, step out in faith to persuade the masses.  If you don’t the human mind will get in the way, leaving you outside of the blessings God has in store for you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

Untouched

When my wife and I bought our home, we decided to forego cable initially.  On a good day for reception, 7 channels were available, with 4-5 normally visible.  Our favorite channel was Pax, tuning in weekly to catch Hope Island, a show about a pastor’s life outside of church and It’s a Miracle.  While each series had their moments, the testimonies shared on It’s a Miracle revealed a hidden truth.  Sometimes angels, divine intervention and prayer leave individuals untouched by trouble.

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble, Proverbs 19:23.

In the Old Testament, it was common for Jewish families to recount previous miracles experienced by Israel to their children.  The Flood, Passover and possessing the Promised Land were popular stories to reflect upon.  These encounters instilled the power of God to the next generation.  Yet, King Solomon puts these accounts into their proper perspective by stressing that the fear of the Lord is the driving force behind protecting souls from trouble.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 40:10.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, its easy for some to read too much into every day events.  This sort of daily and or weekly analysis often results in a false sense of security.  Self-reliance can make an individual believe that human effort, knowledge and strength is the source of their protection.  Unfortunately, this way of thinking discounts the invisible actions of angelic beings.  Although human beings should take some credit, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and the force behind protecting souls from danger.

by Jay Mankus

 

Faith Like Fly Paper

Modern technology often exposes archaic early designs of inventions.  Such is the case of fly paper, created to limit the nuisance of flies each summer.  This sticky substance was coated with a sweet fragrance to attract curious pests.  When intruders make initial contact, most can not escape, stuck until breathing their last breathe.

That your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God, 1 Corinthians 2:5.

For those individuals who chose to live life on their own, there are other pests who will invade your life.  Each incoming obstacle can wear you down mentally, sometime sucking the joy out of life.  Thus, its essential to develop faith, trusting in an invisible God to free you from burdens that stick to people like fly paper.

You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone, James 2:24.

While faith is an inward belief, faith without works is dead.  Action motivated by conviction is a sign of livelihood.  Unfortunately, many talk a good game, but do not back it up, sending a mixed message.  Anyone who follows this pattern is like a fly stuck on paper clinging to life.  Therefore, don’t trust in the world’s wisdom, but rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to free you from the fly traps in this life.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Our Problems Meet God’s Possibilities

As life takes an unexpected twist or turn, certain things don’t make sense.  A typical response to unfortunate events is to question God wondering, “why is this happening to me?”  When confronted with problems, struggles and worries, perhaps its time to consider these situations as an opportunity for God to meet us in the storms of life.

And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you, Genesis 45:5.

While his arrogance may have created the environment for hardship, Joseph was betrayed by his brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit, thrown into prison and forgotten after helping a member of the king’s service.  Despite one disappointment after another, Joseph didn’t dwell in the past or throw a pity party, “woe is me.”  Rather, Joseph saw his problems as a chance for the power of God to rescue him.

But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance, Genesis 45:7.

Amid these setbacks, God gave Joseph the strength to press on.  Raising him up on wings like eagles, Joseph persevered until he found his true purpose in life.  Sure, the path the Lord took him on was a long and winding road, but Joseph’s problem met God’s possibilities.  If you find yourself spinning your wheels in 2016 or going around in circles, don’t lose hope.  Rather claim the promise of Luke 1:37, with God all things are possible!

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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