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Tag Archives: the Spirit

A Different Kind of Miracle

The saying God works in mysterious ways is not an actual Bible verse.  Nor does this phrase possess an original author.  Rather, most historians attribute this expression to 9 specific passages of the Bible which imply a similar notion.  After suffering a freak accident last Friday afternoon, I feel compelled to share the details of a different kind of miracle.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God, Romans 8:26-27.

Every summer I long for going to the beach, often boogie boarding and body surfing for several hours at a time.  While I am not as young as I use to be, I often dive in trying to stay side by side my three teenagers.  Last Friday, the beach was closed for several hours due to sharks in the water.  When it re-opened late in the afternoon, I had one eye on the waves and the other on what lurks beneath, preparing my mind for a Jaws like attack on my children.

By referring to this, when you read it you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,  which in other generations was not disclosed to mankind, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the [Holy] Spirit; Ephesians 3:4-5.

As time passed, the waves intensified, consistently 5 feet tall with an occasional 8 footer.  Since the shark scare caused most swimmers to leave, this was ideal conditions for boogie boarding.  Initially, I rode a couple of waves right into shore before getting roughed up by a strong undertow.  On my last ride of the day, I didn’t have enough momentum as the wave broke.  Panicking, I made a quick turn to abort, but this didn’t happen in time as I was flipped and thrown down 8 feet to the ocean floor face first.

The mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, Colossians 1:26-27.

When I reached the surface, I felt like I broke my jaw, lost my front teeth and began bleeding.  A nearby lifeguard jumped off his stand, running into the water to see if I was okay.  Shook up, I limped to my car, with bumps, bruises and scraps.  A few days later, I spoke with a co-worker who is a former resident nurse.  Based upon our conversation, if my fall was slightly to the left or right, I could have easily broken my neck or even be paralyzed today.  Thus, in hindsight, this embarrassing experience of the agony of defeat is actually a different kind of miracle.

by Jay Mankus

 

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The Mystery of Prayer

Seven years ago, my career path took an unexpected turn from a high school Bible teacher to the unemployment line.  Following previous setbacks, God always gave me feedback, insight or some sort of sign to know if I was on the right path.  Unfortunately, my soul has never fully healed from this crushing disappointment, not quite sure what I am suppose to do or where I need to invest my time in the future.  This perplexing situation has lead me to contemplate the mystery of prayer.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

My research has led me to narrow in on three conditions which influence whether or not prayers are answered.  According to Deuteronomy 28, blessings are directly related to diligently listening, obeying the voice of God and carefully following God’s commands in the Bible.  The second piece of criteria is provided by Moses’ predecessor Joshua 1:5-9.  The new leader of Israel introduces the concept of spiritual disciplines which begins with reading, reflecting upon and mediating upon God’s Word.  Finally, Jesus provides the final condition during a conversation with his disciples in Matthew 21:19-22.  If you place your trust and confidence in Jesus, free from doubt, ask whatever you desire in the context of God’s will and the mystery of prayer will be unlocked.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth, 1 Timothy 2:1-4.

After Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension into heaven, the apostle Paul instructs first century believers on what to do now.  In a letter to the church of Rome, Paul writes about times when you are struggling to come up with words to say while praying.  According to Paul, this is when you need to lean on the Holy Spirit, trusting God to intervene as you pray.  When I evaluate my own life against these biblical standards, I can clearly see where I have come up short.  Thus, for now I need to get back to the basics: listening to God, studying the Bible, applying what I am learning and submit my life to prayer.  May the words in this blog help you better understand the mystery of prayer.

by Jay Mankus

The Greatest Temptation

Then Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter, Matthew 26:40.

When the Son of God spoke in the first century, eager followers flocked to hear his teaching.  Afterward the needy, poor and sick lined up, pushing their way to the front, hoping for a miracle.  To a certain extent, the twelve disciples became complacent, taking their access to the Messiah for granted.  During special occasions Jesus left nine disciples behind, confiding in his inner circle composed of James, John and Peter.  During his greatest temptation, surrendering to religious leaders to be beaten, crucified and left to die, Jesus urges his disciples to pray late into the night.  An hour later Jesus returns to find his trusted leaders sleeping.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41.

Disappointed, Jesus addresses the unseen battle going on within the human body.  The Spirit is willing to yield spiritual fruit detailed in Galatians 5:22-23.  Unfortunately, these traits often lose out to a weakened flesh, Galatians 5:19-21, by giving into temporary pleasures.  Way too often the events of Eden in Genesis 3 are re-enacted daily with forbidden fruits replaced by modern delicacies.  While current readers can take Jesus’ advice at face value, all but one disciple were about to abandon Jesus in his greatest time of need.  John, the one whom Jesus loved is the only disciple who doesn’t go into hiding.  Only one man put Jesus’ words into practice.

He went away a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done,” Matthew 26:42.

Jesus was a victim of a mob mentality, innocent of the charges made against him accept of course for being the son of God.  Overcome by emotion, Jesus pours out his heart to God the Father in prayer.  If this was any other person, justification would be made to not go through with this sacrifice.  However, without Jesus’ death, there would be no forgiveness, left to rely on Old Testament animal sacrifices.  Realizing this fact, Jesus submits to God’s will, surrendering early Friday morning.  While there will always be new temptations that arise and attack your soul, the greatest temptation is to reject God’s will for your life.  May you find your purpose on earth using Romans 12:1-2 as a guide.  From here its up to you to apply Matthew 26:41 so that you will keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

 

Use the Force of the Holy Spirit

In the context of Star Wars, the force is a metaphysical and ubiquitous power.  King Kayos is the first character to utter the expression, “may the force be with you.”  To awaken a certain kind of spirituality within his audience, George Lucas uses the concept of dualism to illustrate two opposing powers.  While the Jedi utilize the light side of the force, the Sith exploit the dark side, setting the stage for an epic battle between good and evil for dominance in the universe.

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted[by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him, Mark 1:12-13.

Descending from heaven to restore what Adam lost, Luke 19:10, Jesus is sent to earth by God the Father to complete a secret mission.  When the timing was right, Jesus followed the force of the Holy Spirit.  This calling drew Jesus into the wilderness for forty days, similar to Jedi’s led to spend time with Yoda, training to prepare for future battles.  While in the desert, Jesus fasted and prayed, using the power of the Holy Spirit to prepare his heart, soul and mind for a three year ministry on earth.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

After completing God’s will, Jesus died on a cross, rose from the dead and ascended back into heaven.  Prior to his exit from earth, Jesus spent forty days, relaying a great commission for his disciples to carry out.  Today, followers of Jesus are still seeking to complete the instructions found in Matthew 28:18-20.  To help us on this journey, the apostle Paul provides further directions in the passage above to guide individuals along the way.  Therefore, if you’re not sure where to go or what to do, cry out to the Lord so that the force of the Holy Spirit will intercede on your behalf to guide you toward the light and away from Satan’s darkness.  Use the force daily, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

A Prisoner of Your Own Appetite

A typical prisoner is held behind bars or in certain circumstances can be placed under house arrest.  This fate is a result of breaking the law, caught by authorities or brought in for questioning and possibly held overnight as a possible suspect of a crime.  Unfortunately, many people find themselves held hostage by an invisible force.  Beyond the physical realm, demons, powers of darkness and evil spirits are on the prowl, seeking to pounce upon weakened souls, 1 Peter 5:8.  Anyone who lacks self-discipline could be the next victim, a prisoner of your own appetite.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

According to the apostle Paul, the human flesh has a mind of it’s own.  Like a stubborn child, the sinful nature is in a constant state of want.  I can picture an infant screaming for food or toddler throwing a temper tantrum.  These fits of rage are signs of the flesh at an early stage of development.  As time goes by, outbursts only intensive, especially when lust within human hearts goes unsatisfied.  The more the average person feeds these cravings, the flesh can get out of control.  When selfishness is unleashed, even the strong may find themselves a prisoner of their own appetite.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God, Romans 8:7-8.

If you read between the lines of Romans 8, Paul is imploring burdened souls that you don’t have to do this anyone.  You don’t have to continue living in bondage to your sinful nature.  However, transformation begins within your mind.  Like any enemy, whispers of doubt consume those attempting to break free.  Thus, if you are serious about changing, you must ignore whispers from the Devil.  In this transitional period, you will likely experience withdraw, internal pressure to return to pleasing your flesh.  Yet, if you seek an accountability relationship, devote your life to prayer and submit to God, freedom is within your reach.  The journey is long, but don’t give up hope until victory arrives.

by Jay Mankus

Feeding Your Faith

Dieting is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions that adults make each January.  At the start of each year, more and more churches promote the Daniel Fast, based upon a ten day challenge made with a guard in Daniel 1:11-12.  This diet involves fruit, vegetables and water to challenge and encourage members to develop healthier eating habits.  Some who have been successful adopting Daniel’s diet into their daily lives may even consider a fluid’s only fast.  This follows Jesus’ model in Matthew 4:1-2 prior to beginning his earthly ministry.  Beside losing weight, my ultimate goal for fasting is to feed my faith.

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:16. 

Unfortunately, fasts are not for everyone, especially for those with medical conditions.  Others find that fasts result in irritation, easily annoyed by the slightest thing.  Whether you attempt to fast or not, everyone is under attack, wrestling with the human flesh inside of you.  If you use the Devil’s temptation of Jesus in Matthew 4 as a case study, the flesh is awakened by weakness.  However, each soul is different, vulnerable to various types of temptation.  Thus, one person may be tempted daily by food, another struggles with obedience and some simply possess bad judgment.  In the end, you have to decide if you are going to feed faith or your flesh?

For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want, Galatians 5:17.

How you respond to this question will dictate the path your life takes.  The imagery of Matthew 7:13-14 illustrates how attractive the broad road can be.  Thus, if you don’t exercise the discipline necessary to keep the desires of the flesh in check, faith will be crippled.  One of the reasons why I start each January with a modified Daniel Fast is to reconnect with God.  It doesn’t take much to become sidetracked or be sucked back into the bad habits of your past.  Therefore, if you find yourself fighting a losing battle with your flesh, try a new approach with a combination of fasting. praying and worship to ensure that your faith will be well fed.

by Jay Mankus

The Breath of the Almighty

One of my common expressions at work is “that’s a strange one.”  The context is based upon items and products that I stumble upon which I have never heard of before or seen.  Many people have the same response to the Bible, especially when you read a term that doesn’t make any sense initially.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, he makes a distinction between the Sinful Nature and the Spirit.  If you read chapter five from the beginning you will find there is an internal battle going on.  What you want to do and what God desires for you to carry out.  Those who live according to the world’s standards give into self gratification.  Meanwhile, those who truly decide to follow Christ must internally die to self to allow God’s Spirit to reign.

But it is the spirit in a man, the breath of the Almighty, that makes him understand, Job 32:8.

Elihu of the Old Testament is the first person to make this comparison.  Yet, Elihu is referring to signs of spiritual understanding.  When someone demonstrates or speaks words of wisdom, its not just the Spirit within mankind.  Rather, godliness comes forth through the breath of the Almighty God.  May this be your goal in life by yielding control so that the Holy Spirit will shine through you.

by Jay Mankus

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