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Witnesses of the Holy Spirit

If you have ever witnessed an accident, there are several things which must take place before you can leave.  The police must be contacted, vehicles must be moved off to the side and witnesses need to give their account of what happened.  The authorities are trying to create a 360 degree picture of the scene.  When all of the accounts are written down, an accurate perspective is usually derived.

We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him, Acts 5:32.

When it comes to testifying about that which is unseen, accumulating information is much more difficult.  Perhaps a prayer spoken up to heaven is answered in a relatively quick time.  Or a financial need is met in a supernatural manner.  Some may even see a miracle unfold which defies logic.  If you have encountered any of these scenarios, maybe you have been a witness of the Holy Spirit.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:19.

The apostle Paul puts a different spin on this topic.  Relying on Jesus’ words to his disciples in John 16, Paul suggests this counselor can actually enter your body.  This Holy Ghost transformed his brethren from scaredy cats to bold evangelists.  This display of faith likely inspired a generation of believers.  Although the presence of the Holy Spirit may be rare in these days and times, don’t be surprised if you become a witness to the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Threat of Faith

According to the scientific community life evolves.  As environments or habitats change, creatures and human beings are forced to adapt if they want to survive.  The same can be said about worldviews.  When truth is conveyed, realized or revealed, belief systems are put to the test.  This is the threat of faith.

For we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs Moses handed down to us, Acts 6:14.

People will always go through periods of change.  Whether its puberty, relationships or unforeseen trials, each day provides a series of surprises.  Through the good and bad, hearts rejoice and grieve, while emotions rise and fall.  Yet, when what you have always known is challenged, faith and doubt collide.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

Through the years, time can take a toll on wounded souls.  In the case of the Jews, religious leaders thought the Jesus movement would destroy Judaism.  Thus, this threat elevated tensions, fueling resentment against Christianity.  As more and more individuals believed and were baptized, faith became a threat.  Nonetheless, when souls hear or read the words of the Bible, faith becomes a friend in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus


Worthy of Suffering

During my time at the University of Delaware, I was fortunate enough to meet several missionaries.  Through campus groups like Campus Crusade, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Intervarsity, opportunities arose to interact with individuals from different countries, cultures and dynamic characters.  In biblical terms, several of these people I met are worthy of suffering.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name, Acts 5:41.

It’s interesting how people define success in various ways.  The poor may say a good day is having enough money to feed the whole family.  The middle class might suggest its making more than you spend.  Meanwhile, the upper class base success on property, possessions and power.  Yet, for first century Christians, enduring public persecution for their faith was like a badge of courage.

The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name, 1 Peter 1:7.

Beyond any physical or verbal abuse martyrs experienced, a nugget of truth has been passed on from generation to generation.  While you may suffer for your beliefs, trials serve as a vehicle for growth.  Just as a furnace uses fire to remove imperfections from clay, persecution strengthens faith.  Thus, while the world is dumbfounded by those willing to risk death, imprisonment or public beatings, devout Christians continue to embrace suffering for the sake of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

When God Can’t Be Stopped

History can be like a treasure chest, full of valuable life lessons.  Despite these riches, pride will cause many to ignore this information.  Thus, if you don’t learn from the past, you will repeat the same failures of those who have gone before you.  From a spiritual perspective, you may have the fight of a bull dog, but sometimes God can’t be stopped.

Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail, Acts 5:38.

During a closed door meeting, religious officials in Jerusalem were flustered by a new movement.  Gamaliel, a shrewd Pharisee, adds his own two cents, reflecting upon previous events.  Recounting two similar uprisings, Gamaliel makes a valid point.  If the inspiration by the movement of these apostles of Jesus is natural, it will eventually die out.  However, if this origin is supernatural, it can’t be stopped.

But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God, Acts 5:39.

Students of John Calvin believe God predestines the choices individuals make in this life.  The opposing view suggests free will is an expression of the human soul, giving each the ability to accept or reject faith in God.  Depending upon where you find yourself on this position, your mindset will be slanted in one direction or the other.  Beyond theology, the Lord has omnipotent power on the earth.  Therefore, don’t be fooled by man’s wisdom.  Rather, be open to movements of God inspired by the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus


Balancing Faith With Reality

My weekly routine includes time with a former co-worker reflecting on our years in Christian education.  While each discussion varies, one topic usually comes to the forefront, what impact did we have on our former students?  Did the lessons taught inspire faith or has the reality of a lost world caused souls to back slide?  Unfortunately, news of partying in college, suicides and students having kids out of wedlock has taken the wind out of our sails.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, Romans 5:5.

Out of sight out of mind is a common occurrence for Christians who leave the friendly confines of biblical education for a secular environment.  Perhaps, the foundations I once thought were firm was merely a mirage.  Then again, maybe I was naive, trying to make everyone feel good about life instead of challenging individuals to take a stand.  Time will sift the wheat from the chaff, yet as a teacher turned writer, I still struggle with balancing faith with reality.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly, Romans 5:6.

Since I joined Facebook 3 years ago, I’ve had former students and youth de-friend me based upon words in this blog.  At times, I may be perceived as over the top, out there or out of touch with reality.  Nonetheless, as I study the book of Acts, I am reminded of the only force on this planet which can still transform souls.  Sure, there are many things in the Bible that don’t make sense, but without the power of the Holy Spirit Peter, James and John would have returned to their fishing boats and the message of Jesus would have disappeared.  Therefore, as I continue to learn how to balance faith with reality, I cling to the promises in the Bible of an abundant life, where victory is not smothered by defeat.

by Jay Mankus


Peter’s Shadow

Legends, myths and legendary characters will always be discussed.  Whether its Babe Ruth, Paul Bunyan or Frank Sinatra, common people can be mystified by figures who are larger than life.  Although some feats may be embellished, those who were alive at the time of their prime wouldn’t put it past them to achieve the impossible.

As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by, Acts 5:15.

However, sometimes a real life Clark Kent does the unexpected, turning into a super humanitarian.  Such is the case of Peter, a fisherman turned minister.  Fueled by the Holy Spirit, this once Jesus denier became transformed into a powerful healer.  An eyewitness of Peter’s miracles, Luke a real life doctor was astonished by Peter’s healing power, extending to his own shadow.  Drawing crowds similar to the days of Jesus, those who believed experienced restoration as soon as the shadow of Peter touched their body.

God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them, Acts 19:11-12.

This phenomena continued through the apostle Paul.  Like Peter, his past was nothing to be proud of, hunting down and executing Christians.  Yet, this same Spirit, allowed Paul to turn over a new lease on life.  Possessing strong leadership skills, Paul kept Jesus’ legacy of healing alive.  While Jesus healed those who touched his cloak, those who reached out to Paul’s handkerchiefs experienced similar results.  From a human and scientific perspective, these events make no sense.  Nonetheless, when anointed by the Holy Spirit, even Peter’s shadow can and is used by bring believers into the family of God.

by Jay Mankus


Stories That Make You Go Hum…

Sometimes you have to be in the right place and right time to believe a story that you hear.  When something doesn’t make sense logically, skeptics always arrive on the scene, trying to poke holes into your account.  Yet, history holds a plethora of unexplained events which even baffle government officials to this day.

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out, Acts 5:19.

Arrested in plain sight, the apostles were taken to a public facility in Jerusalem.  The prison doors were locked, guards took their watch and loved ones went home sad, unsure of the future of their friends.  Nonetheless, like a scene out of a Hollywood, an invisible entity unlocked all their cells, allowing each to slide by the night watchmen and walked home unharmed.  This is one of those prison breaks that make you want to go hum…

On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to, Acts 5:24.

Like the resurrection of Jesus, who made several appearances in public 40 days after his death, this escape from prison befuddled religious leaders.  Just as Andy Dufresne disappeared like a fart in the wind near the end of Shawshank  Redemption, this biblical account emphasizes an essential truth about the Lord’s power.  Whether you are Mary, Joseph or someone seeking to emulate Jesus, with God all things are truly possible.

by Jay Mankus


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