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Tag Archives: trying to understand God

When You Misread Signs from God

Somewhere along the way, I picked up a belief that God immediately punishes individuals for their sins.  Perhaps, I heard too many sermons on the wrath of God from the Old Testament growing up.  Subsequently, I began to read too much into daily events, as if I knew why good or bad things were happening to me.  Fortunately, I’m not the only one who struggles to understand God.

“Be careful,” Jesus warned them. “Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” – Mark 8:15

One day while traveling across the countryside, the disciples forgot to bring their usual allotment of bread for their trip.  As soon as this was brought to Jesus’ attention, He began to warn the disciples.  Thinking Jesus was mad at them for forgetting the bread, each misread what the Lord was trying to say.  Instead of seeing the big picture, the twelve disciples were blinded by a narrow view of this world.

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember? – Mark 8:18

A day earlier, Jesus had fed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and a couple of fish.  Focused on whose fault it was, forgetting the bread, each disciple failed to see that Jesus was and is the Bread of Life.  The yeast of the Pharisees is cynicism from human beings who try to discredit Jesus’ miracles.  Therefore, if you begin to live by sight and not by faith, you too may soon misread signs from God.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Anguish of Disobedience

One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was to consul a shaken mother the day after her son died in a car accident.  According to friends in attendance at a party, he only had one beer before leaving.  Impaired slightly, this young man couldn’t negotiate the bend on a countryside road, striking a tree head on, dead on arrival to the nearest hospital.  My sense is this woman wanted me to assure her that her son was doing well in heaven.  Since this boy was missing in action from youth group without any apparent faith, the anguish of her son’s disobedience on earth stirred in her soul.

According to Leviticus 10:1-3, Aaron endured similar trauma, sitting in stunned silence after his 2 oldest sons died suddenly.  Not the greatest role model, Aaron’s greatest claim to fame or should I say shame was creating a golden calf, Exodus 32:2-4.  Perhaps their father’s hypocrisy encouraged Nadab and Abihu to turn a deaf ear to his instructions.  Instead of carefully obeying the words God relayed to Moses, Aaron’s 2 sons began to experiment like 2 curious boys in a chemistry lab.  Subsequently, the pain of disobedience cost Nadab and Abihu their life.

Whether its a suicide note left behind for a family, the dairies of a troubled school shooter or victims of drunk driving, the anguish of disobedience is on display daily.  The free will of one individual’s action has been felt by several members of society.  People are left to wonder what might have been if one out of control human being didn’t cut short the life of their loved one.  May the words of Psalm 34:18 provide some comfort this day for anyone still coping with the anguish of disobedience.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where God’s Calling is Clearest

Skeptics will tend to agree with the words of 1 Samuel 3:1, “in those days the word of the Lord was rare.”  If these conditions exist today, how can someone discern or know if it is actually God’s voice calling out?  History provides 5 examples where God’s calling  is clearest.

1. In the Temple of the Lord, 1 Samuel 3:1-18.

Although just a boy, Samuel was raised in the temple.  Since his mentor was a priest, Samuel learned how to approach God, yet had never heard his voice.  On one ordinary night, Eli the priest introduced Samuel to the voice of the Lord.

2. Reading the Word of the Lord, 2 Kings 22:11-13.

Often, God is the first thing people cut from a busy schedule, allowing their Bible to collect dust on a shelf.  Time away from this book slowly reveals a shift in one’s actions, behavior and words.  After hidden for several years, Josiah finds a copy of the Old Testament hidden in a closet.  Astonished by the words he is reading, the king of Judea is moved by God to repent for the sins of his nation.

3. Retreating to a Remote Location, Mark 1:35-39 & 1 Kings 19:9-13.

To flee distractions and interruptions, Jesus regularly began his day in solitude, talking to God the Father.  This enabled the son of God to go where the Lord wanted Him daily.  Meanwhile, most retreat destinations are located in mountains or valleys, isolated from the hectic pace of life.  This atmosphere opens the door to listen for God’s still small voice.

4. Fasting and Worship, Nehemiah 1:4-11 & Acts 13:1-4.

Fasting is the practice of going without food for a set period to seek God’s will in a specific matter.  When you add worship to this equation, the Holy Spirit often opens up doors that were previous locked.  During a worship service, Paul and Barnabas each sensed a clear calling to become missionaries, sharing the good news of Jesus to a lost and dying world.

5. Keeping in Step with the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:26-31 & Galatians 5:25.

Whether you are in God’s house, fasting, praying, reading the Bible, retreating to recharge your spiritual batteries or in a state of worship, these environments provide unfiltered access to the Holy Spirit.  Essentially, this takes faith to the next level, becoming a doer of the word, Matthew 7:24.  Believers should test every voice, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, before accepting God’s calling, Isaiah 6:8.  If you think I’ve left any place out, please let me know under the comment section.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Why is God Taking so… Long?

In this day and age, waiting is like praying for patience, nobody wants to do it.  The essence of waiting involves one of two options: either stay where you are or delay your plans until something happens.  However, if you’re not in a safe place common sense will urge you to move.  Meanwhile, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might overlook the obvious sign God has provided.

In Psalm 22:1, David’s prayer mirrors Jesus’ words in Matthew 27:46.  David went from the out house as a lonely shepherd, living in country fields under the stars to the penthouse, anointed as the next king of Israel in 1 Samuel 16:13.  However, the catch was David had to wait until Saul’s death until this dream became a reality.  A whirl wind took David to the king’s palace as a servant to the king, playing his harp, to a battle field, defeating Goliath and to a cave fleeing the wrath a jealous king, literally running for his life.  This is the context in which David felt forsaken and forgotten, unable to wait any longer.

Meanwhile, Jesus spent 6 hours hanging from a cross before his death.  Without any pain killers, Jesus endured excruciating  pain as 3 modern railroad sized spikes went through each hand and both ankles.  If this wasn’t bad enough, insults and mocking followed, carrying on for hours.  Grasping for air to breath, having a conversation to share his final words was exhausting.  Thus, God the Father went silent, allowing His Son to finish the task that Jesus was sent to earth to complete, Luke 19:10.  Not able to wait any longer, Jesus gave up his spirit, succumbing to the natural forces of life.

Perhaps, Hebrews 12:4 was placed into the pages of the Bible for impatient people on earth.  Despite the trials you encounter in life, God reminds mankind that at least you didn’t have to shed your blood on a cross.  With this subtle reminder, may God fill you with the spirit of Isaiah 40:28-31.  If you find yourself tired, weary and lacking understanding, may the wings of eagles lift you up as wait on God.  In your weakness of impatience, God is strong, carrying you periodically when you can’t tarry on, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  Although I don’t know why God is taking so long to reveal His plan to me, I am clinging to His promise of a brighter future, Jeremiah 29:11.

by Jay Mankus

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