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Tag Archives: vision

Be Careful How You Listen

Every September, from 2002 to 2012, I met the parents of my students during an open house at Red Lion.  After sharing the same spiel for several years, God gave me a vision about what it means to listen from a biblical perspective.  This idea turned into a visual presentation, pouring water from a bottle three times onto a hard table top, then adding a paper towel and finally into sponge.  After each pour I asked these adults what they witnessed and what each scenario represents.

So be careful how you listen; for whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a longing for truth], even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him,” Luke 8:18.

Water poured onto a table top represents a hardened heart.  When students don’t like a class, subject or teacher, their hearts become calloused.  Thus, whenever a lesson is presented, their minds and thoughts are elsewhere.  Adding a paper towel to the table is symbolic of being half-hearted.  Since a paper towel can only absorb so much water, it only does half the job.  This type of student only listens when they feel like it.  When topics are boring, confusing or over their head, they tune out.  The ideal form of listening is acting like a sponge, absorbing everything that you hear.  The Bible refers to this student as being whole hearted, all in and ready to hear.

“But be on guard, so that your hearts are not weighed down and depressed with the giddiness of debauchery and the nausea of self-indulgence and the worldly worries of life, and then that day [when the Messiah returns] will not come on you suddenly like a trap,” Luke 21:34.

Jesus regularly used the expression,”he who has ears, let him hear.”  Based upon the two passages above, those who possess a teachable heart want to learn, listening intently.  However, those who do not have a longing for truth will lose any desire for character, integrity and morality in the future.  Meanwhile, later on Jesus urges those willing to listen to guard their hearts.  When hearts become vulnerable to spiritual attacks, individuals can be dragged down by the heartache and pain in life.  Therefore, be careful how you listen so you will begin to apply biblical principles that result in a teachable heart.

by Jay Mankus

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When You Stop Learning… You Quit Living

If you are born or raised in the United States, the first 18 years of your life is already planned.  The basic expectation is for every child to attend school from kindergarten all the way through high school.  Following graduation, individuals may choose college, attend a trade school or work locally until a better opportunity arises.  From a worldly standard, the more degrees that you earn often result in higher pay, improved chances for advancement and an elevated social status.  Anyone who rejects this path to success may be ridiculed, shunned or teased by the elite as some educators within higher education believe if you stop learning, you quit living.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it.  For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay, Habakkuk 2:2-3.

In the days of the Old Testament, kings went to battle each spring to defend their territory from encroaching armies or expand their power over nearby lands.  According to 2 Samuel 11, David became bored by this annual tradition.  Perhaps, a few members of his posse convinced David to enjoy his power as king of Israel.  “You’re the king; send one of your commanders to oversee this military exercise.  Take some time off, relax and enjoy the wealth that you have accumulated.”  Since the Bible doesn’t detail any such conversation, maybe David felt like he arrived.  After serving as a lowly shepherd and musician, David was in the prime of his life, on the top of the world.  As the events of 2 Samuel 11 play itself out, complacency caused David to stop living according to God’s commands.  When you stop learning, you quit living as God desires.

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.

The Bible reveals the relationship between knowledge and vision.  Vision provides a game plan, enabling people to plot out their future through a series of goals.  As I reflect upon my own life, the times where I lost my way coincide with periods in my life void of goals and objectives.  Meanwhile, if accomplishments in life are etched upon a flow chart, my peaks and summits were achieved due to desire, focus and passion inspired by a dream or vision.  While some adults no longer have aspirations for pursuing another college degree, your current career is constantly changing as technology advances.  Thus, if you decide to stop learning, you will quickly fall behind as younger energetic co-workers will catch up and surpass your level of knowledge.  No matter how old you get, maintaining a teachable spirit is essential.  If you’re not careful, when you stop learning the Bible, you might quit the faith of your childhood.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Bible’s Response to the Secret Movement

In 2006 a film entitled the Secret was released in theaters.  When a subsequent self help book was written by Rhonda Byrne based upon this earlier movie, a movement began to gain some traction nationwide.  Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Larry King invited the founders of the Secret on their talk shows to discuss its teaching.  Based upon my understanding of this documentary, the mind is used as a catalyst to focus on the law of attraction.  According to the various guest speakers in the film, belief, positive thinking and vision are essential to reach your full potential on earth.  While some of the concepts addressed do make sense, the Bible does respond to the Secret Movement.

“But it shall come about, if you do not listen to and obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today, then all these curses will come upon you and overtake you,” Deuteronomy 28:15.

Instead of explaining good and bad in life through the law of attraction, the Bible has a different set of standards.  According to Moses, the good things in life are a direct result of God’s blessing.  Blessings occur as individuals begin to listen, obey and carefully follow God’s commandments, precepts and statues recorded in the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament.  Meanwhile, as people forget, stray from or reject God’s laws, curses come into your life in the form of disappointment, failure and trials.  There are other contributing factors such as prayer, repentance and reconciliation.  Yet, the New Testament introduces the world to a kinder, gentler God, full of grace, mercy and love demonstrated by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Do not quench [subdue, or be unresponsive to the working and guidance of] the [Holy] Spirit. 20 Do not scorn or reject gifts of prophecy or prophecies [spoken revelations—words of instruction or exhortation or warning]. 21 But test all things carefully [so you can recognize what is good]. Hold firmly to that which is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil [withdraw and keep away from it], 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

If you read the Secret or watch the movie, you may be tempted to believe in the endless possibilities of thinking everything you want and hope for into reality.  Unfortunately, this idea sounds too good to be true because it sets people up for failure, promising a false sense of reality.  While the Bible does compliment principles such as positive thinking, developing a strong mind and vision, sometimes faithful people like Job are attacked by demons, powers of darkness or Satan himself.  This element of the spiritual realm is not addressed by the Secret Movement.  Yet, when individuals exercise freewill, accidents, mistakes and those who seek revenge can alter, change or permanently end your life.  Thus, the Bible is designed as a light, Psalm 119:105, a guide, John 14:6 and an endless source of information to assure eternal salvation, 1 John 5:13.  May this blog help you sort through tough questions in life and prepare you for future theories about how to get rich quick.

by Jay Mankus

Death Knows Where to Find You

The older you get, the presence of death becomes more of a reality.  In the past year, I have lost a cousin, aunt and father in law.  At the last funeral I attended, I received news that my wife’s aunt Rose was recently diagnosed with cancer.  Last week, Rose went home to be with the Lord.  A homecoming in heaven, but a painful reminder of our temporary status on earth.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

According to Solomon, our bodies are on loan from God.  The Hebrew word for Adam is Adamah, symbolic of God forming Adam’s body out of the earth.  The moment death strikes human beings, souls return back to God.  While your body is left to decay beneath the ground, your spirit awaits judgment before spending eternity in heaven or hell.

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.

The apostle Paul referred to human bodies as a temple.  When the Holy of holies was torn in two during the earthquake immediately following Jesus’ death on a cross, this event set the stage God’s presence to no longer be limited to a physical building.  Rather, Jesus’ resurrection and the Day of Pentecost opened the door for the Holy Spirit to enter your life.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away,” Revelation 21:4.

In the last chapter of the Bible, John has a vision of Jesus in heaven.  Seeing the toll death takes on friends, family and relatives, Jesus promises to provide an eternally environment where they will be no more tears.  Heaven is the final destination where God will make you whole.  Since death knows where to find you, make sure your plans are secured before your time is up, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Beware of the Weary Traveler

Drained, drowsy, exhausted, fatigued and spent are words associated with being tired and weary.  Depending upon your hobbies, occupation and physical fitness routine, energy can be released emotionally, mentally and physically.  Perhaps this is why the commandments reference loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Exercising each of these three aspects of the human body prevents the enemy, Satan, from snatching the good news of Jesus Christ from human hearts, Matthew 13:18-19.  The apostle Paul addresses this within 1 Thessalonians 5:23, urging his audience to prepare your spirit, soul and body for the second coming of Jesus.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Unfortunately, many good intentioned Christians use busyness as an excuse not to follow the advice of Jesus and Paul.  Yet, the longer any believer goes without praying, studying the Bible and worshipping God, the closer you get to the weary traveler.  This is a spiritual condition, not an actual person, where souls become vulnerable to demonic attacks.  Instead of resisting evil, weary travelers often contemplate forbidden fruits, entertain thoughts of doubt and open their minds to alternative lifestyles.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul urges his readers to hold on, press on and don’t give up on following the narrow path that leads to life, Matthew 7:13-14.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

In the days of the Old Testament, devout Jews grew weary of the ancient practices for seeking forgiveness.  Animals needed to be collected, trips to the temples planned and sacrifices made by a high priest to atone for the mistakes, rebellious acts and transgressions made by you and your family.  When you consider the blood, killing and smell left behind by this grueling tradition, its no wonder that Israelites in the days of the prophet Isaiah began to lose hope.  Receiving a vision from God, Isaiah compares the Lord to eaglets nurtured and raised by caring parents.  Thus, when you feel like you can’t go on any longer, let God carry you on wings like eagles.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

Today, a week doesn’t go by without news of a Christian falling from grace, caught in a surprising act of sin.  These tarnished believers often follow the pattern found in 2 Samuel 11:1-4.  Just because you are a man or woman after God’s own heart doesn’t make you immune to sin.  Rather, when the spirit of the weary traveler enters your soul, anything is possible.  Just ask King David who didn’t feel like going to work one day.  This decision led to idleness, boredom and a wandering spirit.  One thing led to another and suddenly a righteous man commits adultery, get’s another man’s wife pregnant and gives order to have her husband left behind and killed.  This Old Testament passage should serve as a wake up call to all Christians who are on the verge of entertaining the weary traveler.

by Jay Mankus

Reaching a State of Expectation

From time to time, I make the mistake of trying to make changes to my life without asking or seeking God’s help.  While determination, discipline and focus can be effective tools to alter bad habits, spiritual ruts and unhealthy patterns, human effort will only take you so far.  I guess this is human nature’s way of learning the hard way.  Whenever I reach a point of frustration, unsatisfied with the current state of my faith, responding to a convicted heart is the best place to start.

Even now the axe [of God’s judgment] is swinging toward the root of the trees; so every tree that does not produce good fruit is being cut down and thrown into the fire,” Luke 3:9.

In the first century, God sent a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of His son Jesus.  Known as John the Baptist, this prophet used the Old Testament practice of purging to pierce the hearts of his audience.  As individuals began to reflect upon their vast imperfections, many came forward to be baptized by John.  Uncertain of what to do next, soldiers and tax collectors consulted John on the proper acts of penitence to pursue.  This advice provided vision for these newly baptized souls, reaching a state of expectation, looking for opportunities to serve God each and every day..

The crowds asked him, “Then what are we to do?” 11 And John replied, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do the same.” 12 Even some tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked, “Teacher, what are we to do?” 13 And he told them, “Collect no more than the fixed amount you have been ordered to [collect].” 14 Some soldiers asked him, “And what about us, what are we to do?” And he replied to them, “Do not extort money from anyone or harass or blackmail anyone, and be satisfied with your wages,” Luke 3:10-14.

Belief without trust, faith without action and hypocritical words are some of the reasons Christian churches aren’t flourishing like the first century.  One of the main culprits for this spiritual stagnancy are believers void of any fruit, Galatians 5:22-23.  If Christians are suppose to be the light of the world but lack integrity no one will take them serious.  Meanwhile, if the church is suppose to be the salt of the earth but lose their saltiness, there is no flavor left to incite any kind of spiritual hunger.  Therefore, if you want to reverse this trend, let the words of John the Baptist inspire you to reach a state of expectation influenced by the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for the Kingdom of God

Deep inside of human beings, there exists a purpose and reason for getting out of bed each day.  This invisible drive may change from time to time depending upon your career, job or motivation level.  When this sense disappears, fades or becomes unclear, mustering up enough energy to make it through a day turns into a chore.  The Bible refers to this term as vision.  This perception guides believers through trials and tribulations, remaining focused on your ultimate goal.

When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent and respected member of the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God—and he courageously dared to go in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus, Mark 15:42-43.

In the first century, there was a man who found himself torn between his occupation and purpose for living.  According to a couple of verses, Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin.  This ruling council was essentially the Jewish High Court, the supreme court for religious debates.  Yet, this position didn’t satisfy Joseph’s soul, longing for something more.  This spiritual thirst conceived a desire to wait for the kingdom of God.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body, John 19:38.

According to Luke 10, there was a secondary group of disciples chosen.  These seventy two individuals are not mentioned by name.  Yet, it appears Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple, perhaps working behind the scenes as one of these 72.  The crucifixion of Jesus served as a wake up call for Joseph, knocking on Pilate’s door while Jesus was still hanging from a cross.  Three hours earlier, at noon, the day turned to night.  This cosmic event is detailed by several first century historians.  This sign from God convinced Joseph that the kingdom of God was at hand.  May the Holy Spirit open your eyes today so that you too will respond to current events with a sense of urgency like Joseph of Arimathea.

by Jay Mankus

 

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