RSS Feed

Tag Archives: vision

God Knows the Right Time to Turn a Bad Situation Around

Every January, several churches across the United States participate in some sort of a fast to begin the new year. Some focus on a Daniel Fast where members of congregations eat fruits and vegetables, drink water and pray to draw near to God. Others observe a strict fast for a week, weeks or entire month, praying for direction, vision and confirming God’s will. In the Old Testament, queen Esther asks members of the Jewish community to fast and pray for her so that she will receive the right words to communicate to the king.

Then Mordecai told them to return this answer to Esther, Do not flatter yourself that you shall escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion? 15 Then Esther told them to give this answer to Mordecai, 16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me; and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I also and my maids will fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish, Esther 4:13-16.

Esther receives an answer to prayer, called to throw a banquet for the king and Haman. However, just as she is about to ask the king what she wants, Esther loses her train of thought. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit told her that the timing was not right. While stalling, waiting for a word from the Lord, Esther waits to reveal her concern one more day, deciding to throw another banquet tomorrow. While slightly puzzled, the king accepts Esther’s request. While unnamed people continued to fast and pray, the Lord used insomnia to keep the king up late that night. As a servant reads accounts to the king, he learns about an unrewarded act by Mordecai. This story turned a bad situation around at the right time.

On the third day [of the fast] Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the royal or inner court of the king’s palace opposite his [throne room]. The king was sitting on his throne, facing the main entrance of the palace. And when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight, and he held out to [her] the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king said to her, What will you have, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of the kingdom. And Esther said, If it seems good to the king, let the king and Haman come this day to the dinner that I have prepared for the king, Esther 5:1-4.

For such a time is this is one of the most quoted passages from the Old Testament. Yet, if it wasn’t for this three day fast, where depressed souls poured out their hearts to God in prayer, this story of the Bible probably doesn’t happen. There is a crucial lesson to learn from this biblical account. If you ever find yourself stuck in a bad situation, fasting and prayer can turn your situation around. However, you need to call upon others, to form a concert of prayer with an expectation that God knows the right time to turn your situation around. What are you waiting for? The beginning of 2020 is as good of a time as any to fast and pray for God’s calling.

by Jay Mankus

Fighting Off Urges to Be Lazy

Idle, lethargic, languishing, plodding and remiss are words associated with lazy. After a hard week of work or mentality exhausting day of school, laziness is an appealing option. Escaping from the stress that life throws your way seems logical. Losing yourself on your phone, playing Fortnite online or indulging in social media are common hobbies where time is wasted daily. Yet, at what point does rest and relaxation turn into laziness?

I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man lacking understanding and common sense; 31 And, behold, it was all overgrown with thorns, and nettles were covering its surface, and its stone wall was broken down, Proverbs 24:30-31.

Solomon uses an example from his own life to rail against the urge to become lazy. This king isn’t alone as the Bible consistently warns readers against choices, decisions and desires to become inactive. The term work is portrayed in God’s Word as action, progress and production. Any contrary acts are compared with sloths, like giving into fleshly cravings to hit your snooze button over and over again. At these moments in time, you have to fight off urges to be lazy.

When I saw, I considered it well; I looked and received instruction.
33  “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest [and daydream],” 34  Then your poverty will come as a robber, and your want like an armed man, Proverbs 24:32-34.

During stretches of 2019, I have repeatedly given into urges to be lazy. This bad habit normally occurs at the end of my work week. As I collapse into my bed. whispers of justification have persuaded me to listen to my sinful nature. As I have tried to snap out of my spiritual slumber, passages like Hosea 4:6 come to mind. Most translations blame laziness on a lack of knowledge. Another version suggests that people perish for a lack of vision. Well, as I continue this weekly battle, to fight off the urge to be lazy,, I must turn my life around with a vision that aligns with God’s will for my life.

by Jay Mankus

The Nazarite Vow of Abstention

According to current law, the legal minimum drinking age is 21 years old in the United States. Prior to 1986, some states allowed college students to drink legally upon reaching their 18th birthday. However, there are 4 exemptions enabling some to bend the rules. Twenty nine states allow children with a parent’s permission to drink alcohol on private property. Six states don’t require a parent’s consent as long as you are on private property. Ten states serve minors at restaurants with a parent’s consent and certain churches use real alcohol as part of their communion services.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise, Proverbs 20:1.

If you want to know the truth, if you live in the United States and really want to drink alcohol prior to your 21st birthday, determined teenagers will find a way. However, before anyone reads this and suggests, “if everyone else is doing it, why can’t I?” Well, before you allow this thought to persuade your mind, I want to share a dark period in my own life. During a friend’s wedding in college, I decided to drink. Little did I know that hours later I would be hugging a toilet suffering from alcohol poisoning. If it wasn’t for a member of the wedding party, I probably would have died. Since this event I decided to take the Nazirite vow of abstention.

Paul stayed for a while longer, and then told the brothers and sisters goodbye and sailed for Syria; and he was accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchrea [the southeastern port of Corinth] he had his hair cut, because he was keeping a [Nazirite] vow [of abstention], Acts 18:18.

After doing a little research, Numbers 6:1-21, individuals can make an oath for a certain period of time or can choose to make a vow for life to abstain from alcohol. Based upon the passage above, the apostle Paul made the Nazirite vow of abstention during his second missionary journey. To avoid confusing or causing others to stumble, Paul lived above reproach. While I served as a youth pastor, I too took a similar vow to avoid sending a mixed message. Abstaining from alcohol isn’t for everyone, but when you are fixated on reaching a certain audience, taking the Nazirite vow for a set period of time will enhance your message.

by Jay Mankus

Dreams are Like the Stars of Your Destiny

Nightly dreams mainly occur during a stage of sleep known as REM.  This acronym stands for rapid eye movement where brain activity is high, a similar level to being awake.  REM sleep results in the continuous movements of your eyes while you sleep.  Meanwhile, neurologists like Freud and Jung have developed their own theory.  The Dream Theory states that dreams merely come from within the human psyche, exposing what is in your unconscious mind.

For in a multitude of dreams and in a flood of words there is worthlessness. Rather [reverently] fear God [and worship Him with awe-filled respect, knowing who He is], Ecclesiastes 5:7.

When I searched the Bible for another point of view, a Jewish king frowned upon dreaming.  Referred to as one of the wisest men to walk the face of the earth, King Solomon focuses on who to listen to, God or your dreams in the passage above.  Despite this warning, Solomon does have something good to say about dreams in Proverbs 3:24.  Anyone who practices discretion and sound wisdom will be blessed by a deep and sweet sleep.  Later on in this book, Solomon writes about moments in life where dreams, prophecies, revelations and visions are absent, Proverbs 29:18.  When this occurs, rely on God’s laws in the Bible to guide your steps.

And having been warned [by God] in a dream not to go back to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. 13 Now when they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod intends to search for the Child in order to destroy Him,” Matthew 2:12-13.

One aspect of dreaming is described in the New Testament.  The apostle Paul uses the phrase keeping in step with the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5:25 as a way to follow God.  In the second chapter of the New Testament, Matthew gives two examples of how God uses dreams.  The first is similar to a nightmare, a warning to not go back to Herod.  Moments later, an angel of the Lord appears in Joseph’s dream.  These clear instructions ushered Joseph into action immediately.  God spoke to Joseph through dreams on numerous occasions, each time to direct and guide his steps on earth.

Now Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers, and they hated him even more. He said to them, “Please listen to [the details of] this dream which I have dreamed; we [brothers] were binding sheaves [of grain stalks] in the field, and lo, my sheaf [suddenly] got up and stood upright and remained standing; and behold, your sheaves stood all around my sheaf and bowed down [in respect].” His brothers said to him, “Are you actually going to reign over us? Are you really going to rule and govern us as your subjects?” So they hated him even more for [telling them about] his dreams and for his [arrogant] words. But Joseph dreamed still another dream, and told it to his brothers [as well]. He said, “See here, I have again dreamed a dream, and lo, [this time I saw] eleven stars and the sun and the moon bowed down [in respect] to me!” – Genesis 37:5-9

In the case of Joseph, his dreams were the stars of his destiny.  Based upon the accounts in Genesis, Joseph possessed a special connection with God.  Some may refer to him as a prophet with others focusing on his gift of dream interpretation.  Whatever the source, the favor of God never left Joseph despite a series of hardships.  While many Christians would have become bitter and given up on hope, Joseph never wavered.  From a practical perspective, if you believe in a dream, destiny or goal, a resolve and will is conceived.  When darkness settles in, faith serves as a compass to keep dreams alive.  May the saying “dreams are like the stars of your destiny” be more than just a slip inside of a fortune cookie.  My the Holy Spirit awaken your soul to reach for the stars as you seek to follow God’s will daily.

by Jay Mankus

Get Ready for Whatever May Happen

Basic combat training in the Army lasts for ten weeks.  This process is designed to turn civilians into soldiers.  This training involves marching, shooting and survival skills to prepare new recruits for life in the Army.  This military camp serves as a weeding out process to expose the out of shape, weak and unfit  Ultimately, a drill sergeants goal is to get soldiers ready for whatever may happen on the battle field.

The very night before Herod was to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries were in front of the door guarding the prison. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared [beside him] and a light shone in the cell. The angel struck Peter’s side and awakened him, saying, “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell off his hands, Acts 12:6-7.

The Bible can be used in a similar fashion as a training manual for Christians who want to become spiritually fit.  The book of Acts records the history of the first century church as well as sharing valuable life lessons.  During an encounter with an angel, Peter is not sure what to think.  Initially, Peter is sleeping when an angel being wakes him up in the middle of the night.  Like anyone who is a deep sleeper, this experience didn’t seem real, more like a vision.  However, the more this angel spoke, Peter realized he wasn’t dreaming.

The angel said to him, “Prepare yourself and strap on your sandals [to get ready for whatever may happen].” And he did so. Then the angel told him, “Put on your robe and follow me.” And Peter went out following the angel. He did not realize that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first guard and the second, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city. Of its own accord it swung open for them; and they went out and went along one street, and at once the angel left him, Acts 12:8-10.

Apparently, the words “get ready for whatever may happen” got Peter’s attention.  As if reliving a scene from a movie, Peter can’t believe what is happening.  Like a ghost, this angel and Peter sneak past all the guards in a high security prison.  Following each step made by this angel, before long Peter finds himself outside the jail on a city street.  If there is anything you can learn from this angel story, it is trusting God means becoming ready for whatever may happen in life.

by Jay Mankus

Realigning Your Dreams with God’s Will

Over the course of an automobile’s lifespan, owners will experience a gradual decay.  The initial shine will fade, tires will grow bald and hoses will eventually start to leak.  For the financially strapped, unable to buy a new one or trade in their current vehicle, alignments need to be scheduled to prolong the life of any vehicle.  Bumps in the road, potholes and unseen dips will knock frames out of their proper alignment.  To maximize fuel efficiency, ensure a smoother ride and avoid expensive auto repairs in the future, realignments are a wise investment.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge [of My law, where I reveal My will].  Because you [the priestly nation] have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I will also forget your children, Hosea 4:6.

One of the minor prophets in the Old Testament makes a plea to Jews sometime between 425 and 432 Before Christ.  According to Malachi, when people drift apart from God’s laws, a lack of knowledge leads to self-destructing acts.  Apparently, the Bible serves as a means to stay in tune with God.  Those who stray from biblical teaching will repeat the sins of their past, resulting in separation from God.  If this trend of forgetting God continues, you will reap what you sow.  Human nature assures that at some point in everyone’s life you will need to realign your dreams with God’s will.

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]. 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 12:4-7.

A letter written to the church at Corinth suggests that everyone is given a specific gift or talent from God.  When utilized in the context of a church, spiritual gifts are designed to illuminate the presence of the Holy Spirit.  While human dreams are inevitable, the Bible encourages believers to realign all of your unique talents with God’s will.  As individuals let go of hidden agendas, fame and impure motives, God blesses those who use their gifts for the common good.  As I reflect upon my current situation, I have dreams of becoming a screen writer of dramaties and movies.  Yet, I understand my present calling is simply to express my faith through this blog.  I don’t know what the future holds, but I pray that each day I draw closer to God’s will.

by Jay Mankus

How Praying Can Direct Your Life

A first century doctor provides a case study on prayer in the book of Acts.  Luke also served as a historian, traveling along side of the apostle Paul to document each missionary journey.  In the chapter below, Luke interviews a man named Cornelius and Peter about a special God instance.  Before meeting one another, each man prayed to God within a 24 hour period.  What takes place in the passage below illustrates how praying can direct your life.

About the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.) of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had come to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius was frightened and stared intently at him and said, “What is it, lord (sir)?” And the angel said to him, “Your prayers and gifts of charity have ascended as a memorial offering before God [an offering made in remembrance of His past blessings], Acts 10:3-4.

A centurion from an Italian Regiment is described as God fearing.  This reverence for God resulted in a devout faith; becoming a family man.  Cornelius earned a reputation for being a charitable man, giving donations to Jews and known as a prayer warrior.  Apparently, praying in the afternoon was a daily habit, resulting in a vision involving an angel from God.  This encounter results in a series of directions which Cornelius acts upon and follows.

The next day, as they were on their way and were approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof of the house about the sixth hour (noon) to pray, 10 but he became hungry and wanted something to eat. While the meal was being prepared he fell into a trance; 11 and he saw the sky opened up, and an object like a great sheet descending, lowered by its four corners to the earth, 12 and it contained all kinds of four-footed animals and crawling creatures of the earth and birds of the air. 13 A voice came to him, “Get up, Peter, kill and eat!” – Acts 10:9-13.

Meanwhile, 21 hours later God begins to move within Peter as he prays to the Lord.  During a conversation with Luke, Peter describes his experience to a trance.  The hunger within his stomach sets the stage for a teachable moment for Peter.  Initially, Peter rejects God’s message which is contrary to the law of Moses.  However, after God repeats himself a second time, Peter agrees to be open to this new teaching.  Thus, prayer gave a non-Jew in Cornelius hope while changing the heart of Peter to accept future Gentiles, non Jews.  If God can speak to two praying individuals, then image what God can do when communities pour their hearts out to God in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: