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Tag Archives: fasting

Fighting for Harmony

Most people don’t view life in terms of harmony.  Yet, musicians and song writers seek a place or state of mind where creativity flows.  Others withdraw to a secluded location, retreating to regain joy and purpose for life.  Behind the scenes, in one way or another, we are all struggling to find harmony.

So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding, Romans 14:19.

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus spent forty days in the desert.  Fasting, praying and seeking God for insight, Jesus avoided the typical distractions within daily life.  This time of reflection served as a transitional period from a carpenter to a fisher of men.  Jesus turned his attention away from financial needs toward building a spiritual team of disciples.  Along the way, Satan arrives in Matthew 4:1-9 to disrupt this harmony.

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind, 1 Peter 3:8.

Similar visits occur today by demons seeking to divide families, communities and nations.  Based upon current events, it appears the Devil is accomplishing his goal.  Anger, dissension and gossip are on the rise, fueled by social media.  Instead of attacking the source, people are fighting one another with words of hate.  Perhaps, it’s time to withdraw into the wilderness to reverse this trend by fighting back to regain a sense of harmony.

by Jay Mankus

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An Evening of Enlightenment

When a historian refers to the term enlightenment, its likely bringing up the age of reason spanning from 1620-1789.  This intellectual movement was inspired by books such as Novum Organum and Critique of Pure Reason.  Francis Baker and Immanuel Kant were guiding forces which attempted to change the way people thought about life.  Yet, knowledge is not the only source for enlightenment.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight. For by me your days will be multiplied, and years will be added to your life, Proverbs 9:10-11.

According to Solomon, fearing the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Scholars who hear or read this might suggest “this is absurd.”  Yet, what I think Solomon is eluding to is that individuals who do not fear God become full of themselves, oblivious to the spiritual realm.  Meanwhile, those who fear God develop discernment and insight.  This keen awareness can lead to evenings of enlightenment when you keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple, Psalm 119:130.

Fasting, prayer, reading the Bible and worship are vehicles for receiving enlightenment on earth.  While some people set out to receive enlightenment daily, others are surprised by insight from a fast, moments in prayer, a rhema from the Bible or a moving experience in worship.  While on a retreat in Indiana, I had my own evening of enlightenment.  During the closing ceremony of the night, I received a revelation from God.  One day later, I traveled several hours to meet my girl friend Leanne, proposing shortly afterward.  When you follow through, faithful to God’s calling, enlightenment is not just an evening, its a way of life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

All the Fixings

One of the ways restaurants attempt to improve business is through monthly or season specials.  Whether its All You Can Eat, Buy One Get One Free or events like Crab Fest, these ads nudge families to go out to eat.  As for me, I enjoy restaurants with all the fixings like my families favorite Chinese buffet.  Although I don’t always practice self-control, my hunger is satisfied.

Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you, Jeremiah 32:17.

Beside food, there is another type of fixing which exists.  Whether its a parent with a child, teacher with a student or spouse with a husband or wife, some become obsessed with fixing other people.  While these intentions are good, some people like who they are.  Thus, when you may mean well, many people don’t what to change or simply aren’t ready yet.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, Ephesians 3:20.

In the end, its probably better to let God do all the fixing.  While you wait for those whom you love to come around, the best thing you can do is pray.  This may involve doing prayer walks through a room, seeking the advice of others and fasting for a specific need.  If you take the words of the apostle above, remember the power of God who is able to do far more abundantly than the human mind can imagine.  Let the fixings begin.

by Jay Mankus

Moving Beyond Hunger Pains to Experience Worship

A decade ago I attended a Bible Study and Sunday School with a few individuals who introduced to me to the Daniel Fast.  When the Babylonians invaded Israel in the Old Testament, several young Jews were taken back to Babylon.  Held captive against their will, these teenagers were reprogrammed to a new culture by king Nebuchadnezzar.  Overwhelmed with conviction, Daniel proposed a 10 day eating challenge limited to fruits, vegetables and water to a chief official.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way, Daniel 1:8.

This proposal has evolved into what churches refer to as the Daniel Fast, a three week period to eat healthy.  Some where along the way, 10 days was extended to 21, usually occurring at the beginning of each year.  To avoid shocking my own body, I do a modified fast in 7 day segments.  By the end of the first week, I give up soda or tea to transition over to water.  Depending on how I feel after 2 weeks, I might do a strict fast the last 7 days.  However, the hardest part of any fast involves coping with hunger pains which can ruin the spirits of any participant.

“Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink,” Daniel 1:12.

Although, I am still relatively a newbie when it comes to fasting, I discover something new each January.  During my first week of this year’s fast, the Holy Spirit placed a thought in my mind, “to move beyond hunger pains to experience worship.”  While I still have 2 more weeks to go, this mindset is helping me see the purpose of fasting, to draw closer to the Lord by worshiping God daily.  Thus, the next time you feel called to begin a fast, don’t forget to move beyond hunger pains to experience a heart set on worshiping God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Right Back Where I Started

About a year ago, I stood on a scale for the first time in a while.  Not believing the first number that appeared, I stepped off to reset it and tried once again.  Unfortunately, my weight remained the same, the heaviest I have ever been.  After the initial shock wore off, I vowed to dedicate 2016 to improving my overall health and fitness.

A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls, Proverbs 25:28.

In January I lost 20 pounds, ecstatic by this early progress.  However, life is a marathon, not a sprint.  Perhaps, a little over confidence started subtle compromises, a regression back into bad habits.  I can’t identify the exact time when this downward spiral began, but my goals for the year faded from my memory.  Subsequently, I now find myself right back where I started.

Training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, Titus 2:12.

Those fighting this losing battle are encouraged by the apostle Paul to renounce this vicious cycle.  Solomon compared a person without self-control to a broken city, vulnerable to outside attacks.  As the new year approaches, I have to pick myself up off the mat to turn my current health around.  I’m not sure how my daily routine will change, but I hope a clear vision appears as I prepare to fast for the month of January.  Until then, seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness to avoid giving into temptation.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Getting to Know God Through Fasting

When you are young and begin to notice the opposite sex, there are 5 things you can do to get someone’s attention.  The first three are obvious: shave and shower, put on cologne and deodorant, get dressed to impress others.  However, the final two require dedication and sacrifice.  Fully commit and submit to one person; then have the will to be faithfully compliant for the rest of your life.

Wash, put on perfume, and get dressed in your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking, Ruth 3;3.

Naomi’s mother in law provides similar advice after Naomi was done grieving the death of her husband.  Since Boaz is in line to be a kinsman redeemer, he becomes the obvious choice.  Yet, Naomi needed to take a bath, find her best perfume and replace her grieving clothes with a new attractive outfit.  The remaining two words of advice require action and an understanding of Jewish tradition.  Uncovering the feet of someone and lying at their feet is symbolic of full submission to an individual.  The last piece of advice in the verse below refers to fully committing, doing what is next.

When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do,” Ruth 3:4.

This 5 step process also applies to fasting.  The first step involves being freshly cleansed to get God’s attention, Isaiah 1:16.  When completed anoint yourself with the sweet fragrance of the word of God like the imagery within Ephesians 5:26.  Third, people need to replace a spirit of complaining by putting on the garment of praise, Isaiah 61:10.  Next, its vital to become fully committed and submissive by setting your heart and mind on things above, Colossians 3:1-3.  Finally, as you get to know God through fasting, faithfully commit to following God’s will, remembering the words of Jesus, “not my will, but yours be done,” Luke 22:42.

by Jay Mankus (inspired by a Jentezen Franklin sermon)

Fasting to Go Forward

The future is like a mystery novel full of twists and turns.  Within this darkness and uncertainty, its important to take some time to be still before the Lord.  Thus, before you speculate on what you think will happen its better to fast and pray prior to going forward.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven, Nehemiah 1:4.

While serving as a cup bearer to the king, Nehemiah’s main responsibility was to taste test food and vine prepared for the king in case it was poisoned.  Essentially, Nehemiah was a body guard, willing to die for his leader.  Yet, when news spread about the fate of Jerusalem’s walls, Nehemiah placed his whole trust in the Lord by beginning a fast.

Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.” I was cup bearer to the king, Nehemiah 1:11.

During this 3 month fast, the Lord began to provide Nehemiah with a clear vision for the future.  Instead of wavering, Nehemiah stepped out in faith to implement God’s plan.  Taking a leave of absence, Nehemiah served as an administrator to help Israel rebuild this wall in 52 days.  Thus, Nehemiah is the ideal example of fasting to go forward.

by Jay Mankus