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Tag Archives: zeal

Never Lag in Zeal and Earnest

Zeal demonstrates enthusiasm and great energy while in pursuit of a cause or objective. Meanwhile, earnest refers to intense conviction with sincere intentions. When you put these two terms together, Paul suggests that individuals should do whatever they can to use their God given spiritual gifts daily. During the first century, the goal was to fulfill the great commission, Acts 1:18. Spiritual gifts serve as the vessel, the role that you play in making Jesus’ words a reality.

Having gifts (faculties, talents, qualities) that differ according to the grace given us, let us use them: [He whose gift is] prophecy, [let him prophesy] according to the proportion of his faith; Romans 12:6.

In the 2005 film Sky High, young apprentices attended a secret school with the hope of ascertaining their super power. Once revealed, students were divided into one of two groups, superhero or sidekick. The list of spiritual gifts mentioned by the apostle Paul in verses 6-8 play a similar role. Some Christians possess dynamic and supernatural gifts like a superhero. All other believers play minor roles, serving the Lord in less flashy manners.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:11.

The passage above indicates the desired energy level expected by God. Paul recognized the fact that waking up day after day can took an emotional, mental or physical toll on your body. Instead of lagging in zeal or earnest, Christians should be aglow while fanning into flame their spiritual gifts. When your spiritual passion begins to fade, re-fuel by tapping into the power of the Holy Spirit. May this passage from the New Testament encourage you to never lag in zeal or earnest as you serve the Lord daily.

by Jay Mankus

Are You the Real Deal?

Former boxer Evander Holyfield earned the nickname the Real Deal. Part of the promotion and success of boxing involved putting on a good show. Pre-fight press conferences gave opponents the opportunity to talk smack, trash talking to encourage more viewers to tune into the actual fight. Former promoter Don King was infamous for staging brawls, emotional outbursts and scuffles to make headlines in the sports worlds. When it was time to fight, Holyfield is the only four-time world heavyweight champion. Thus, Holyfield’s words matched his talent.

But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I protested and opposed him to his face [concerning his conduct there], for he was blameable and stood condemned. 12 For up to the time that certain persons came from James, he ate his meals with the Gentile [converts]; but when the men [from Jerusalem] arrived, he withdrew and held himself aloof from the Gentiles and [ate] separately for fear of those of the circumcision [party], Galatians 2:11-12.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul took his zealous past as a Pharisee and applied this toward his Christian faith. Paul didn’t make any exceptions, calling out disciples of Jesus when their actions didn’t reflect their faith. During a visit to Galatia, Paul noticed that Peter began to backslide, altering his belief about Gentile Christians. A religious sect known as the Judaizers attempted to add Jewish practices to salvation. Afraid of their influence within Galatia, Peter withdrew from his Gentile friends, succumbing to peer pressure.

And the rest of the Jews along with him also concealed their true convictions and acted insincerely, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy (their example of insincerity and pretense). 14 But as soon as I saw that they were not straightforward and were not living up to the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) before everybody present, If you, though born a Jew, can live [as you have been living] like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how do you dare now to urge and practically force the Gentiles to [comply with the ritual of Judaism and] live like Jews? – Galatians 2:13-14

When I read the Bible, there is a tendency to elevate first century Christians to elite status. Yet, as the apostle Paul writes in the passage above, human nature influences everyone. Saints are not immune to temptation as the man nicknamed the rock wasn’t strong enough to stand up to the pressure to conform. This chapter of Galatians serves as a spiritual survey to see if you are the Real Deal or if you still have a long way to go? May you take any current failure, imperfection or mistake as an opportunity to improve by growing closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Just Give Me a Crumb

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is an opinioned woman, regularly sharing her beliefs with reporters.  During one press conference, Pelosi gave her initially thoughts on the 2017 Tax Reform Bill passed by Republicans in Congress.  Referring to the middle class, Pelosi compared $1000 bonuses given to blue collar workers as merely crumbs.  Since no democrat in the Senate voted for tax reform, Pelosi tried to discredit this impact on the growing American economy.

Now the woman was a Gentile (Greek), a Syrophoenician by nationality. And she kept pleading with Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 He was saying to her, “First let the children [of Israel] be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the pet dogs (non-Jews),” Mark 7:26-27.

The Bible has its own story about crumbs.  Whenever Jesus entered a city or town, he usually went to synagogues to teach Jews about the kingdom of God.  Based upon the Great Commission detailed in Acts 1:8, Jesus began his earthly ministry reaching out to God’s chosen people of the Old Testament first.  On some occasions, God fearing Gentiles, non-Jews, displayed more faith and zeal than everyone else.  The woman introduced in the passage above refused to take no for an answer, desperate to see her daughter healed.

But she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the pet dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer [reflecting your humility and faith], go [knowing that your request is granted]; the demon has left your daughter [permanently].” 30 And returning to her home, she found the child lying on the couch [relaxed and resting], the demon having gone, Mark 7:28-30.

The average person would have walked away unfulfilled after Jesus’ initial rejection.  Filled with persistence, this Syrophoenician woman was shrewd, giving a quick reply that even astonished Jesus.  Essentially, this Greek begged Jesus, pleading with him to just give her a crumb.  Recognizing the power of Jesus, even a crumb was enough to heal her demon possessed daughter.  May we all strive to follow in this godly woman’s footsteps, wrestling with God in prayer until the answer you are waiting on arrives.

by Jay Mankus

No Doubt About It

When I was young and stupid, I relied on bragging to prove that I could do something.  When challenged, I was often exposed as my cocky words could not be backed up by actions.  Subsequently, God used disappointment, humiliation and failure to allow me to mature.  While I never lost my passion and zeal for competition, I tried to let my play speak for itself in college.  Although I didn’t win every intramural championship, I believed in my heart that victory was attainable.  There was no doubt about it,

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men, Matthew 28:2-4.

In recent years, telling the truth is like an animal on the endangered species list.  Some people want to win so badly that exaggerating, fibbing and spreading rumors is all part of the process.  This destructive climate has poisoned politicians with misleading ads, slandering their opponents, hoping the general public will be persuaded to believe these lies.  If you have the cable news, newspapers and social media on your side, the lives of innocent people can be ruined, left like road kill along the shoulder of a highway.

While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day, Matthew 28:11-15.

As I am finishing my study of the Gospel of Matthew, I uncovered a similar first century plot.  Fearful the chief priest, Pharisees and religious leaders would lose their political power, they paid off Roman soldiers to spread false reports.  Despite the presence of zombies, the bodies of holy men and women from the past roaming the streets of Jerusalem for over a month, a corrupt scheme eventually halted the truth.  As a former high school Bible teacher, I come across secular films trying to discredit the Bible like this first century bribe.  Yet, when I research, study and watch these theories, I have come to one simple solution.  There is no doubt about the life, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven by Jesus Christ our Lord.

by Jay Mankus

The Heroes Journey

In 1949, the concept of the Heroes Journey was introduced by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces.  While this narrative pattern commonly appears in films, this outline can also be found in mythology, psychology and religion.  Campbell’s outline involves 12 stages which takes a character from the ordinary world to the special world and back.

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things, Hebrews 13:8.

The reason why people watch the same movies year after year is that the heroes journey enables individuals to identify with certain actors and actresses.  As fictional characters reveal their flaws, imperfections and weaknesses, people can relate to similar trials in their own life.  Subsequently, deep down inside viewers root for their favorites to reach to top of the mountain after facing adversity.

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness, Romans 12:6-8.

For someone who struggled with stuttering the first 20 years of my life, I always knew what I wanted to say, but rarely expressed what was in my heart and mind.  As an amateur screen writer, the Heroes Journey provides a valuable resource to make my aspirations come true.  However, before I proceed, I must study these 12 stages like trying to ace a test.  Once I fully grasp the Heroes Journey, I can begin to craft films that may one day end up on your favorites list.  Until then, I need to keep plugging away with an unyielding resolve to make my dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

 

Modern Idols of Nations

Footbaal, Basketbaal and Basebaal?  Idolatry involves cultism, devotion and zeal for a pastime.  When any hobby get’s out of hand, obsessions can lead to a veneration, turning into a form of worship.  Priorities and time allocation often reveal where a human heart lies.

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them! – Psalm 135:15-18

This allegiance is nothing new.  Developing a well-rounded personality is beneficial, yet idols influence individuals as nations rise and fall.  Whether religion is a fad, trend or life long pursuit, the powers of darkness will persuade some to delay, postpone or quit their journey called faith.   Thus, peer pressure sways the weak toward to idols of nations.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. – Colossians 3:5

According to Jesus, there is a direct correlation between one’s heart and idols.  “Those things you treasure will permeate into your heart, Matthew 6:21.”  Its no wonder that King Solomon urged the Jews to guard their hearts, Proverbs 4:23.  Therefore, to avoid the same fate of fallen saints throughout history, 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, follow the words of Deuteronomy 28:1-3.  When quiet times with God become a habit, escaping the idols of nations can be achieved.  May your life be filled with prayer, meditation and worship.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Designed for More

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. – Romans 12:11

Human beings are often creatures of habit, celebrating the highs and struggling through the lows.  Somewhere in between, joy, passion and zeal for life can be temporary lost.  For many, these emotions are never found except for periods of good news from time to time.  Despite what you encounter, God has designed you for more.

His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.” – John 2:17

According to Matthew 5:48, Jesus wants his followers to strive for perfection.  Yet, despite this plea many coast through life, living pay check to pay check trying to survive.  Stress induced by financial strain can suck the energy out of the strongest.  Thus, people settle for the ordinary rather than seek the extraordinary will God has designed for you.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. – Romans 12:2

The promise of Jeremiah 29:11 reminds me of God’s plans for prosperity and success.  Furthermore, the Lord’s work is not a waste of time.  Rather, Philippians 1:6 confirms the Holy Spirit will carry what we started, a life of faith, to completion.  Therefore, commit yourself to becoming a servant of the kingdom as you were designed for more than just an average life.

Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins. – James 5:20

by Jay Mankus

 

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