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Stimulating Your Spiritual Senses

Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment star in the 1999 film the Sixth Sense. Willis plays a child psychologist who encounters Osment, a young boy with an unique gift. This Sixth Sense remains hidden within Cole until Dr. Malcolm Crowe earns his trust. Following a series of sessions, Cole takes a risk to reveal “I see dead people.” Whenever an usual gift or talent is uncovered, it takes time to figure out how to apply this in a practical way.

Do not handle [this], Do not taste [that], Do not even touch [them], 22 Referring to things all of which perish with being used. To do this is to follow human precepts and doctrines, Colossians 1:21-22.

Throughout the New Testament, the apostle Paul leaves a series of bread crumbs for Christians to stimulate their spiritual senses. However, there are several obstacles that one must overcome before you can begin to scratch the surface of your potential in Christ, Philippians 4:13. Cravings and desires wage war against human souls, 1 Peter 2:11. When minds begin to drift toward temporary pleasures, Romans 8:5-9, there is no room for the Spirit to operate.

And those who belong to Christ Jesus (the Messiah) have crucified the flesh (the godless human nature) with its passions and appetites and desires. 25 If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit,] Galatians 5:24-25.

As individuals struggle with this internal tug of war, Galatians 5:16-18, spiritual gifts lay dormant, invisible to human eyes. However, as Christians walk by faith and not by sight, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit becomes achievable. This daily exercise heightens one’s spiritual senses that lie within a transformed heart, Psalm 51:10. After attending a 2 day Discernment Conference, my spiritual senses were awakened. Although I deviate from God’s Word from time to time, keeping in Step with God’s Spirit has been the secret to my success for stimulating my spiritual senses.

by Jay Mankus

Things Seen and Unseen

The expression “doubting Thomas” comes from an encounter between Jesus and one of his disciples following his resurrection. Despite having a conversation with Jesus, Thomas wanted more proof, John 20:27. Thomas wanted to see and feel the scars, the holes in Jesus’ hand where He was hung from a cross. In John 20:29, Jesus refers to future Christians who believe without seeing. These individuals will be blessed as each walk by faith, not by sight.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure. 26 So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance, Romans 8:24-26.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the Church at Rome. Instead of talking about doubt, Paul uses hope as an object of faith. Rather than have the opportunity to see and touch Jesus, future believers must rely on hope to trust first century eyewitnesses who heard the gospel message in person. Faith in what is unseen is made possible via the Holy Spirit which serves as a spiritual counselor, John 16:13.

For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him, Colossians 1:16.

In a letter to the Church at Colosse, Paul reinforces this concept. Reflecting upon the Trinity, Paul highlights Jesus’ role in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Although a secular society continues to attack the Bible’s infallibility, this is where your faith is put to the test. During a message about the End Times, Jesus suggests that many people will abandon their faith, Matthew 24:10-13. The next time doubt creeps into your mind, remember that faith is the assurance of what is unseen, Hebrews 11:1.

by Jay Mankus

The 4 Dreams of Christmas

Dream #1

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by [the power of] the Holy Spirit. 19 And Joseph her [promised] husband, being a just and righteous man and not wanting to expose her publicly to shame, planned to send her away and divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a Son, and you shall name Him Jesus (The Lord is salvation), for He will save His people from their sins,” Matthew 1:18-21.

You have probably heard of the 12 days of Christmas, a catechism song published in the 1780’s by oppressed Catholics.  Yet, 4 dreams that made Christmas possible, the mass of Christ, are often overlooked.  The first dream prevented Jesus from growing up in a single parent household, void of an earthly father.  While dreams are a series of thoughts, images, and sensations occurring in a person’s mind during sleep, the Lord sent an angel from heaven like a scene from a Christmas movie, to fulfill God’s plan for redemption on earth.

Dream #2

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.” 14 So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. 15 He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet [Hosea]: “Out of Egypt I called My Son,” Matthew 2:13-15.

Whenever you have any dream, there are rationale explanations.  This could be due to simply day dreaming, mental aspirations, nightmares or stress.  However, from a spiritual perspective, there are times when God uses dreams as a form of divine intervention.  The second dream of Christmas provoked an immediate response by awakening the soul of Joseph.  Just as Old Testament families plotted the deaths of brothers who stood in their way of the throne, Herod attempted to slaughter the king of the Jews.  However, babies are hard to identify from one another at an early age.  Thus, King Herod devised a plan to kill all babies under the age of 2.  This dream enabled Mary, Joseph and Jesus to escape this massacre in a nick of time.

Dream #3

But when Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, 20 “Get up! Take the Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” 21 Then Joseph got up, and took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel, Matthew 2:19-21.

Most people use an alarm clock to get up each morning.  Others use their cell phone to make sure they are not late for work.  However, this third dream introduces the concept of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.  After being on the run, living in a foreign land, another angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream.  It’s unclear if God sent the same angel each time, but this dream served as a spiritual alarm clock to get up and go.  This dream set the stage for the future king of the Jews to return home to Israel.  Although this is only an assumption, after news of Herod’s slaughter of countless baby boys reached Egypt, Joseph likely developed a keen awareness of his dreams.  Thus, each night as Joseph went to sleep, he was eager, hopeful and waiting for another encounter with God.

Dream #4

But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod [the Great], he was afraid to go there. Then being warned by God in a dream, he left for the region of Galilee, 23 and went and settled in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene,” Matthew 1:22-23.

The final dream of Christmas varies from the first three.  The Lord didn’t need to send an angel to get Joseph’s attention.  Rather, by this time in his life, Joseph was in tune with God, like a faithful servant eagerly awaiting his next command.  These dreams radically transformed the life of Jesus’ earthly father.  Instead of doubting, questioning or becoming a skeptic, Joseph had become a believer in God’s plan.  Mary and Joseph may not have understood the impact their son would make on earth, yet they began to walk by faith, not by sight.  As Christmas carols take over the airwaves this December, don’t forget to remind people of how God used dreams to protect and ensure this sacred holiday.  May these dreams open your mind to the possibility of God speaking to you and me in a similar manner today.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Denying the Ghost of Christmas Past

In the 1988 film Scrooged, Bill Murray plays a selfish, cynical television executive who is haunted by three spirits bearing lessons on Christmas Eve.  Bitter, disappointed and frustrated, Murray’s character came to the conclusion that Christmas was a fraud.  Far worse than Ebenezer Scrooge, Murray is visited by the ghost of Christmas past, present and future.  These shocking encounters convict Murray’s heart like the wealthy man in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  The only difference is that Murray is still alive while the rich man in the story below died.

So the rich man said, ‘Then, father [Abraham], I beg you to send Lazarus to my father’s house— 28 for I have five brothers—in order that he may solemnly warn them and witness to them, so that they too will not come to this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have [the Scriptures given by] Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets; let them listen to them,’ Luke 16:27-29.

Parables are meant to be analogies, hypothetical scenarios to illustrate spiritual truths.  Within this particular story, Jesus details a conversation between Abraham who is in heaven with a desperate rich man pleading his case from hell.  This man asks to be sent back to his family on earth in the form of a ghost, similar to the concept of the ghost of Christmas past.  Despite this man’s concern to save his family from the same eternal fate he is enduring, Abraham vehemently denies this request.  While Abraham references the importance of listening to and studying the words of Old Testament prophets, his reason for saying no is clear.  You must walk by faith, not by sight.

He replied, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent [they will change their old way of thinking and seek God and His righteousness].’ 31 And he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to [the messages of] Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead,’” Luke 16:30-31.

Every Christmas, pastors, priests, reverends and teachers attempt to share a fresh approach to Christmas, coming up with an unique angle or spin.  Of all of the sermons I have heard at Christmas Eve and or Christmas Day services, Abraham’s exchange with this rich man in hell is not one of them.  Human nature makes individuals think, “if I only saw a ghost, speak to the dead or witness a miracle, then I would believe.”  Yet, in reality, you shouldn’t have to experience the death and resurrection of Jesus to believe.  The author of Hebrews references this in Hebrews 6:1-6, supporting Abraham’s excuse for denying a first century visit from the ghost of Christmas past.

by Jay Mankus

A Spiritual Passport

Twenty five ago I met the criteria to participate in the Canadian PGA Tour Qualifying School at Morningstar International on Vancouver Island.  Upon receiving my letter of acceptance, I set out to obtain my first passport.  Since I had roughly five months to make my travel plans, I wanted to make sure everything was in place before May.  Fortunately, I picked up my passport a week before I flew out to the west coast.

Now He who has made us and prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the [Holy] Spirit as a pledge [a guarantee, a down payment on the fulfillment of His promise], 2 Corinthians 5:5.

Trying to get a passport today is much more complicated, taking a minimum of six weeks, but usually two to three months.  First, you must gather the proper documentation before you apply in person or online.  Documents include a U.S. birth certificate, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship or  Consular Report of Birth Abroad.  Before a passport can be processed, you must present a photo ID, usually a drivers license, and go to an approved location for a passport photo to be taken.  The final portion involves your travel plans within a country or multiple countries.

So then, being always filled with good courage and confident hope, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight [living our lives in a manner consistent with our confident belief in God’s promises], 2 Corinthians 5:6-7.

The Bible refers to a spiritual passport.  According to the apostle Paul, the Holy Spirit is received by all those who believe and profess that Jesus is Lord.  This invisible passport is like a seal from God, a promise that one day you will be welcomed into the gates of heaven.  However, while you are here on earth, God wants Christians to walk by faith.  When your sight deceives you, place your hope and trust in the promises within the Bible.  Whatever you are going through, don’t forget to apply for your spiritual passport, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

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