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Tag Archives: God’s will

The Greatest Temptation

Then Jesus returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter, Matthew 26:40.

When the Son of God spoke in the first century, eager followers flocked to hear his teaching.  Afterward the needy, poor and sick lined up, pushing their way to the front, hoping for a miracle.  To a certain extent, the twelve disciples became complacent, taking their access to the Messiah for granted.  During special occasions Jesus left nine disciples behind, confiding in his inner circle composed of James, John and Peter.  During his greatest temptation, surrendering to religious leaders to be beaten, crucified and left to die, Jesus urges his disciples to pray late into the night.  An hour later Jesus returns to find his trusted leaders sleeping.

“Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41.

Disappointed, Jesus addresses the unseen battle going on within the human body.  The Spirit is willing to yield spiritual fruit detailed in Galatians 5:22-23.  Unfortunately, these traits often lose out to a weakened flesh, Galatians 5:19-21, by giving into temporary pleasures.  Way too often the events of Eden in Genesis 3 are re-enacted daily with forbidden fruits replaced by modern delicacies.  While current readers can take Jesus’ advice at face value, all but one disciple were about to abandon Jesus in his greatest time of need.  John, the one whom Jesus loved is the only disciple who doesn’t go into hiding.  Only one man put Jesus’ words into practice.

He went away a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done,” Matthew 26:42.

Jesus was a victim of a mob mentality, innocent of the charges made against him accept of course for being the son of God.  Overcome by emotion, Jesus pours out his heart to God the Father in prayer.  If this was any other person, justification would be made to not go through with this sacrifice.  However, without Jesus’ death, there would be no forgiveness, left to rely on Old Testament animal sacrifices.  Realizing this fact, Jesus submits to God’s will, surrendering early Friday morning.  While there will always be new temptations that arise and attack your soul, the greatest temptation is to reject God’s will for your life.  May you find your purpose on earth using Romans 12:1-2 as a guide.  From here its up to you to apply Matthew 26:41 so that you will keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

 

Setting Aside Self

While social media is designed to express what you’re doing, thinking or updating your status, the Bible reminds readers of a much simpler time.  Before modern technological inventions, life revolved around family.  Whether this meant following in your father’s footsteps, setting out to explore a new frontier or take over a family business, you didn’t eat or drink without working hard.  People didn’t have idle time to contemplate whether your life was acceptable or worthy of by your peers.  Rather, selfish desires were set aside for the greater good.

Jesus called the crowd together with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and [e]take up his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me], Mark 8:34.

In the first century, Jesus set high standards for his followers.  There were no surprises or speculation about what to expect.  Rather, Jesus required a full commitment, setting aside any selfish ambitions or desires.  In addition, Jesus laid out three major steps as well as a willingness to endure whatever may come during your faith journey.  According to the gospel of Luke, these extreme measures caused lesser known disciples to turn away, unable to commit.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

To a certain extent, some people are so over committed today that they do nothing well.  Others withdraw, doing little or nothing outside of school or work.  According to the apostle Paul, discipline is available through the power of the Holy Spirit.  This unseen force is attainable through the fruits of the Spirit, but only when you set aside self.  Many individuals struggle throughout life with discipline due to the inability to say no to their flesh.  This weakness is stunting their growth, unable to break free to reach their full potential.  If you are willing and spiritual hungry, set aside self so that God’s will may come into focus.

by Jay Mankus

 

God’s Second Wind

The concept of a second wind derives from running.  This phenomenon refers to a distance running often in the context of a long road race or marathon.  When athletes hit the proverbial wall, breath, energy and motivation fades.  Scientists have come up with two logical explanations for this phenomena.  Some believe the second wind is a result of the body finding the proper balance of oxygen to counteract the buildup of lactic acid within muscles.  Others point to endorphin production as the source of the second wind.  Whatever the reason, I believe God also plays a role in this process.

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.  Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; Isaiah 40:29-30.

A famous Old Testament prophet eludes to the second wind.  Using an illustration of an eagle nursing eaglets, this imagery help people visualize the invisible.  Despite the jubilation of any child, energy will disappear, crashing and falling in the form of an afternoon nap.  Instead of encouraging her young to walk, mother eagles prod them out of the nest to begin flying.  As eaglets grow tired or start falling toward the ground, adult eagles intervene to rescue their young from any harm.  In the same way, our heavenly father can and does use second winds to propel his children to complete and fulfill God’s will.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint, Isaiah 40:31.

Every work week in America, human beings rely on coffee, energy drinks or soda to get them through each day.  This dose of caffeine imitates a second wind.  As individuals begin to grow sleepy, these beverages serve as drugs to boost you through grueling, long or tiresome work days.  However, has anyone whispered up a pray to God for strength?  Are people relying on a higher source for power or has earthly substances become a replacement for God?  Perhaps, this blog will make you think twice the next time you go to grab some caffeine.  Maybe, you too will come to the conclusion that God is a major source for second winds.

by Jay Mankus

Never Me… Always We

I have always appreciated creative minds.  Whether it’s an amusing advertisement, catchy commercial or funny bumper sticker, I enjoy unique themes.  While watching my daughter Lydia’s volleyball game, I sat behind the opposition’s varsity team as new T-shirts arrived.  On the back, a powerful message was displayed about what it means to be a great teammate, “Never Me Always We.”

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, Galatians 2:20.

This motto got me thinking about my own Christian faith.  Sadly, I find my own life resembling another T-Shirt design.  However, this one reads “Always Me, Occasionally Thee.”  Some where along the way I have discarded a servant’s heart for selfish reasons.  Unfortunately, I have forgotten one of the apostle Paul’s life’s verse, dying to self.  This is the way these students can proclaim “Never Me Always We.”

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me, Luke 9:23.

Before accepting individuals as disciples, Jesus had three expectations for each one to follow.  There were no exceptions to these standards, turning away many who were not willing to submit.  First, you needed to deny yourself, to become part of God’s team.  Second, join this crusade, to make fishers of men by saving souls.  Finally, commit to following God’s will wherever this may lead you.  If you are willing to submit to these requirements, you too can say with confidence Never Me God Always Thee.

by Jay Mankus

A Race Against Time

When you hear someone mention the term race, it’s often in reference to Track & Field, Horses or Nascar.  Yet, my use is in the context of a personal battle.  Currently, I have fluid in my left eye along with a recent collapsed cell wall.  The sad thing is that this is my good eye.  Following emergency glaucoma surgery in December, a cataract has developed in my right eye to blur my vision.  Subsequently, I’m in a race against time to finish the book that I started this Spring.  Meanwhile, I still have a collection of screen plays I need to edit and an additional script in my head.  God willing I am hoping to complete these projects while I can still see.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him, 1 John 5:14-15.

Seeing and believing are two different aspects of faith.  According to the verse above, prayers should be based upon God’s will.  However, if what you are asking is foreseeable in the context of God’s will, you should be confident in having this request honored.  The only problem with my current dilemma is I’m not sure if it’s in God’s will for me to write full time.  As for now, I am trying to maximize my time away from work so that I can make the most of the gift of sight.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith,” Matthew 21:22.

This second verse on prayer refers to overcoming mountains, persisting despite obstacles blocking your current path.  Since last winter, I wake up daily not knowing if my vision will be blurred or clear.  I have the faith for the Lord to heal and restore my sight, but a medical miracle has not arrived.  The only thing I can do is press on like the persistent widow.  This woman of faith did not stop praying until she received the outcome she desired.  Perhaps, perfect vision is illogical to hope for in prayer.  Yet, I cling to the promises in the Bible waiting for a miracle to occur in connection with God’s will.  This is my race against time.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Fellowship of Suffering

About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.  Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed, Luke 22:59-60.

While individuals may not want to admit it, there is a lot of Peter within most human beings.  When questioned by someone like Jesus, its easy to become defensive proclaiming, “I’d never do that.”  Yet, when push comes to shove human nature longs for acceptance.  Thus, few people ever join the fellowship of suffering.

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go,” John 21:18.

When Jesus witnessed Peter’s final denial, this event likely cut to his heart.  Usually a big talker, Peter’s fear of persecution revealed a major flaw within his character.  Based upon the words within the gospel of John, it appears that this betrayal of Jesus haunted Peter for years.  Nonetheless, Jesus shows the way toward the fellowship of suffering, letting go and allowing God to lead you where you don’t want to go.

For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil, 1 Peter 3:17.

Following a moment of reconciliation with Jesus, Peter begins to enter a special group.  Unless you are willing to endure hardships for doing what is right, the fellowship of suffering is unattainable.  Jesus’ brother James refers to embracing trials by considering each attack on your faith a joy.  Whether it was maturity or a spiritual transformation, Peter gave up his life to spread the good news about Jesus Christ.  Prior to his death, Peter demanded to be crucified upside down claiming he was unworthy to die in the same manner of his Savior.  May this blog inspire you to follow in Peter’s footsteps by joining the Fellowship of Suffering.

by Jay Mankus

 

Unlikely Heroes

Hollywood has a way of portraying films that appear to be genuine, but add an unlikely hero to appeal to the masses.  Although this may draw tears from some viewers, others may think quietly to themselves, “yeah right.”  Teenagers tend to be truth detectors, not afraid to be blunt by cutting through the crap in life that exists.  Despite this painful truth, every once in a while unlikely heroes do come forth.

By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish with those who were disobedient, because she had given friendly welcome to the spies, Hebrews 11:31.

One of these which pops up in history is a prostitute from Jericho named Rahab.  I guess you can say she was the Dolly Parton or her day except her whore house wasn’t in Texas.  Nonetheless, God needed someone on the inside.  While her occupation doesn’t fit the typical servant of God, this testimony reveals that the Lord can use anyone to fulfill His will.

And Salmon the father of Bo’az by Rahab, and Bo’az the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, Matthew 1:5.

Rahab may not have done much to receive the honor of being selected as a member of the Hall of Faith.  Yet, she kept her word and held up her end of the bargain.  This simple act of faith saved her families life and opened the door for becoming a distant relative of Jesus.  Therefore, if you want to be an unlikely hero in the future, let faith guide you to the place where God can use you the most.

by Jay Mankus