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Tag Archives: the presence of God

When You Put God First

Leadership refers to being in the position to guide a group of people.  Leadership roles vary from a boss, captain, head, principle or superior.  While some people are born with leadership skills, most individuals learn from a mentor.  This process often begins as a teenager, continuing throughout life as you take the baton before its your turn to handoff to someone else.  During the exodus out of Egypt, Joshua was waiting in the wings until replacing Moses as the leader of Israel.

He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” Then Joshua fell with his face toward the earth and bowed down, and said to him, “What does my lord have to say to his servant?” – Joshua 5:14

The goal at hand in these days was to enter God’s promised land.  The obstacle, facing a land of giants protected by a mighty wall surrounding Jericho.  As captain of the army of the Lord, Joshua doesn’t exhibit an earthly style of leadership.  Rather, Joshua is overwhelmed by the presence of God, falling prostrate to the ground, bowing on his knees.  Perhaps, Joshua is uncertain, not sure what to do.  Thus, Joshua seeks God’s counsel, eagerly waiting for direction.

The captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy (set apart to the Lord).” And Joshua did so, Joshua 5:15.

In the passage above, Joshua is merely modeling what Moses taught him.  Back in Exodus 3, an angel of the Lord first appeared to Moses in a burning bush.  Just Moses took off his sandals, obedient to the Word of the Lord, Joshua does the same, acknowledging this holy ground.  According to Jesus, when you put God first by seeking after righteousness, Matthew 6:33-34, all these things will be given unto you.  The testimony of Joshua is living proof as the walls of Jericho turned to rubble with the blast of seven trumpets in Joshua 6.  Whatever you do in life, don’t forget to put God first.

by Jay Mankus

The Emotions of Praise

Depending upon what church, temple or mosque you attend, an increasing number of people are reserved, afraid of letting others know what’s inside of them.  Meanwhile, Pharisees still exist in most places of worship, putting on a show for others to see, Matthew 6:5.  Therefore, when you enter a house of praise where emotions are on display as a genuine act of worship, outsiders struggle to accept or embrace this movement.

Music causes unique styles of expression like individuals moved to toe tap, gradually turning their bodies into human tambourines.  Others begin to snap their fingers and clap their hands.  Those with rhythm may follow the beat, dancing and swaying side to side.  When touched by the lyrics, one might lift their hands high, closing their eyes to heighten their focus on God.  Tears often fall as you reach this stage of worship, moving some to fall to their knees or bow at the altar.

While numerous churches are spiritually dead today, void of these emotions of praise, a remnant remains alive and well.  The sons of Korah highlight acts of praise in Psalm 47 including clapping hands, shouts of praise and cries of joy.  The moment the human soul approaches the throne of grace, Hebrews 4:16, with a humble heart, the emotions of praise break out.  This act of worship is what you offer up to God on the Sabbath.  You may bring a tithe or appreciate the biblical message, yet the emotions of praise is where you meet and experience the presence of God.

Have you ever been moved by the Holy Spirit to let your guard down?  Please share a story of your own emotions of praise.

by Jay Mankus

You Don’t Smell As Good As You Think

In his prime, comedian Bill Cosby had a stand up act about the transformation infants go through.  Cosby was a genius, not needing to use cursing or rely on vulgarity to make people laugh.  Instead, Bill spoke about how babies’ poo does not smell initially.  However, any parent who has had to change a dirty diaper understands the stench and mess that comes out of the body of someone so little.  Thereby proclaiming, “you don’t smell as good as you think that you do!”

Last spring, I suffered from a severe sinus infection that my body could not Fight off.  No matter what I did to battle this ailment, over the counter drugs could not relieve the constant pressure in my head.  One of the side effects of this cold was extreme sweating and an unusual body odor, foreign from my typical workout smell.  I changed my deodorant and shampoo to improve my aroma, without much success.  Fortunately, by the end of June, God healed me from this daily hindrance.  Through it all, I learned a difficult life lesson, “I didn’t smell as good as I thought.”

Today, arrogance, pride and self-conceit serves as a false sense of security.  These defense mechanisms blind individuals from reality.  No cologne, deodorant or perfume can mask anyone from the sinful nature inside them, Romans 3:23.  The only way to overcome this spiritual condition is by bathing in the presence of God, Psalm 23:6.  Whether you read the Bible, Romans 10:17, worship the Lord in song, Psalm 150 or withdraw to pray, Mark 1:35, spending time doing with God will lead you in the right direction away from the stench of sin.  May you come to acknowledge what the apostle did in the first century, “you don’t smell as good as you think,” 1 Timothy 1:15.

by Jay Mankus

Heavenly Dwelling

Come as you are to the Most High Place

Where an invisible shield will provide a refuge

Safety and security serve as a blanket of protection

With angels waiting in the wings, ready to act on a moment’s notice.

Like a force field, harm and predators bounce out without leaving a mark

The life guard on duty relies on love as a weapon of defense

Whenever a swimmer cries out for help, afraid of incoming breakers

The giver of life will come to your aid in a twinkling of an eye.

Delivering you from the waves of circumstances, situations and trials

As long as you remain in the presence of the Lord Most High

Long life, salvation and satisfaction will accompany you the rest of your days

Why wait any longer, since an open pew is awaiting for your arrival!

by Jay Mankus

Keeper of the Door

John Cusack plays a key master at a graduation party in the 1989 classic Say Anything.  Known as one of the more responsible seniors at his school, Cusack is delegated a role like a designated driver.  However, he greets each person at the door, taking the keys of every driver upon entry.  Thus, in the wee hours of the morning, Cusack drives home any drunk student in their own car, with his date played by Ione Skye  following behind to drive him back to the party.  Although some might be bitter with this assignment, better to be the keeper of the door than not invited at all.

The author of Psalm 84:10 makes a similar observation about the kingdom of God.  The Psalmist recognizes that while the party life style appears attractive to outsiders, it leaves an empty feeling deep within your soul.  Therefore, even if you are a lowly door keeper in the house of God, its far better than dwelling with the wicked.  The author’s point is that individuals should accept their lowly position, thankful for their invitation to the eternal party called heaven.

Unfortunately, its hard to play the door mat, being trampled and walked over by arrogant and ignorant people.  Humility is a tough pill to swallow, especially for the prideful.  Maybe this is why the Psalmist focuses on the joy of spending just one day in the presence of God.  If current believers can be rejuvenated by the Sabbath, expressing the same passion as Psalm 84, this world would be a much better place to live.  Therefore, before the sun sets on Sunday, starting a new week, spend some time with God, keeping the door of communication open all week long.  Listen for the knocking, Revelation 3:20, so that you can be a modern day keeper of the door!

by Jay Mankus

The Breath of the Lord

Norway rat

During the dark days of the Black Plague, sneezing was an early indication of this disease.  Thus, the expression, “may God bless you,” was aptly spoken, hoping the individual who sneezed would not die.  This spoken prayer was the only line of defense people had, since scientists were initially baffled by this outbreak.

In the beginning of this world, God created Adam to live forever, breathing life into his body.  However, like the Black Plague, sin’s influences and presence after the fall, gradually sucked the life out of mankind.  The toll of this spiritual disease eventually forced God to limit human life to 120 years.

Today, there is a different kind of threat, the absence of the presence of God.  Just as in the decay of the nation of Israel in the Old Testament, America is experiencing a similar power outage of God’s blessing.  Disobedience, idols and worldliness has eliminated the breathe of the Lord in many regions of the world.  Like the words of the prophet Isaiah 40:7, America and other dying nations are overdue for the breathe of the Lord.  May desperate souls rise from the ashes, made whole again by the Holy Spirit!

by Jay Mankus

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