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Tag Archives: Holy Spirit

Trying to Survive in a World Void of Love

If you have your own twitter handle or follow daily tweets, hatred is regularly spewed.  Feelings, opinions and thoughts once keep inside human minds are now given a venue to be unleashed without any filter.  This sets the stage for a cruel environment as critics pick apart individuals that they disagree with, dislike or simply pile on.  This is the atmosphere children and adults are forced to deal with, trying to survive in a world void of love.

“You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him,” Leviticus 19:17.

While technology wasn’t an issue, evil affected civilizations in the days of the Old Testament.  Moses addresses hatred that spread throughout the twelve tribes of Israel.  According to the passage above, bitter hearts were influencing relationships with neighbors.  Anyone who allows jealousy, hurt feelings or past encounters to prevent you from giving others the benefit of doubt incurs sin.  In many cases, lack of reason hampers love from being displayed.

If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen, 1 John 4:20.

The disciple whom Jesus loved gives his own take on why love is fading away, rarely displayed by anyone.  John believes people are afraid to be honest, caring more about being politically correct than being truthful.  Thus, a growing number of people offer lip service void of any signs of love.  This pattern must cease, replaced by humble hearts hoping to change.  While public education continues to focus on self esteem, love is derived from a spiritual transformation, Galatians 5:22-23.  When hearts are reborn, Romans 10:9-10, love is possible.  Unfortunately, love can’t be forced upon people, it occurs naturally as the Holy Spirit touches souls.  The only way to survive a world void of love unscathed is by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit through which love comes forth.

by Jay Mankus

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The Power of Thanksgiving

The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is ydh, referring to a public acknowledgement.  Greek uses the term efcharisto meaning the sense of appreciation, inspiring an expression of gratitude.  When a spirit of thanksgiving is verbalized to the down trodden, hurting and needy, affirmations can uplift anyone feeling down in the dumps.

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! – Psalm 106:1

Unfortunately, there is a negative force at work in the world, breeding critics, complaining and condemnation.  Whenever human beings give into the sinful nature, acts of the flesh come forth, usually in a cruel and harsh manner.  This mental barrier prevents individuals from doing the right thing as the apostle Paul describes in Romans 7.  The only way to break free from this addictive habit is through Jesus Christ.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

As a former professional golfer, my mind always got in the way, preventing me from reaching my full potential on the golf course.  Yet, the mind also hampers those off the course, in real life, whispering doubts, failure and ungodly beliefs into your head.  Unless you confront this battle with spiritual weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, victories will be few and far between.  Despite this troubling reality, with God all things are possible.  Therefore, if you want to make a difference this holiday season, unleash the power of Thanksgiving by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

What am I Doing and Where am I Going?

I was introduced to the concept of evaluation early on as a youth director.  Through conferences, seminars and a youth ministry trade school, I learned the importance of gaining feedback from participants.  During my decade of teaching high school, I incorporated this into my curriculum, encouraging students to be critical, honest and fair.  After years of fine tuning, the last day of each class I asked five questions.  What did you like?  What did you dislike?  What topic(s) did I not spent enough time addressing?  What topic(s) did I spent too much time covering?  What changes would you make to improve this class?  After giving students five minutes in silence to write down their opinions, I gave individuals an open forum to express their feelings verbally if so inclined.  While some discussion were brief, others carried on for several minutes.  These papers were collected, stored in notes books and became the foundation for improving my curriculum each summer.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Unfortunately, outside of the classroom it’s easy to become so consumed with life that you forget what you’re really doing and where your going?  Thus, I must confess that as I write blog after blog, I often forget the purpose for Express Yourself 4Him.  Initially, I wanted to create a modern day diary using the Confessions of Augustine as my inspiration.  The autobiography of this 4th century theologian from Hippo details Augustine’s conversion to Christ and the evolution of his understanding of the Bible.  As Augustine reflected on life while sitting on his back porch, the Holy Spirit began to unveil pieces to the puzzle called life.  Over the weekend, God convicted me of my haphazard nature, sensing a need to become more focused.  Thus, in the coming days, weeks and year, I plan on focusing on two main areas.  First, continue to use the Bible to help explain and understand current events.  Second, become more interactive by using the comments I receive as a source for future blogs.  If I don’t help my readers address their concerns, issues and problems of others, I’m missing an opportunity to use my God given gift.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you, Psalm 32:8.

If you have ever played a team sport team, sometimes the play called by a coach is flawed.  If you are quick or shrewd enough, you might be able to freelance enough to turn a loss into a gain.  This same concept applies to life.  There will be circumstances, days and scenarios where what normally works is ineffective.  Therefore, you have to improvise, change while on the fly.  This is where individuals must learn to place their sole trust in the Lord.  Yes, like anything else, this can be scary, requiring blind faith.  Like the Psalmist suggests above, this leap of faith involves counsel, instruction and teaching.  If you really want to make sure you are on the right track, Bible Study, prayer and worship is available to most everyone.  As I start my sixth as a blogger in February, I pray that the Lord enables me to keep in step with the Holy Spirit so I can minister to those in need.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did My Joy Go?

At the beginning of any relationship, there is an anticipation that consumes your body.  Similar to adrenaline, there is a rush each time you hold hands, embrace or hear the sound of this significant other’s voice on the phone.  As you experience this initial stage of courtship, your mind can’t keep thinking about the person you love.  Joy abounds every moment you spend together.  Then, little by little over time, joy disappears.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones, Proverbs 17:22.

This pattern also affects individuals who enter into a relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10.  Introductions to faith occur in various places, from Bible studies, one on one conversations, spiritual retreats and revivals.  When you begin to connect with God through prayer, study and worship, a peace that surpasses all understanding begins to emerge.  As you interact with other believers, this spiritual bond deepens, filling souls with the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, hardship, temptations and worries in life suffocate the joy most people have for the Lord.

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full, John 16:24.

Within a letter to the church of Rome, the apostle Paul urges individuals who are single to avoid marriage unless called to do so.  The context of these words refer to the struggle to keep Christ first when married.  No matter how disciplined, focused and strong you are, the weight of the world can easily erode joy for life.  Thus, while you may not have the feelings you once possessed, faith is designed to carry you through the rough stretches in life.  If faith without deeds is dead, the same concept applies to joy.  This explains why my joy for life has vanished.  In view of this, make sure you rely on the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:22-23, so that joy will return and live again.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

When Healing is Complicated

Teetotalism is a term related to the Bible that is rarely spoken today.  This word refers to a strict adherence to the Old Testament.  By the first century, Pharisees and other religious leaders added several human stipulations to existing laws.  One of these limitations prohibited individuals from physical exertion on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.  Subsequently, any type of exercise could be construed as breaking the law.  This interpretation prompted the zealous to avoid going out of their way to help someone on Saturday, even if it meant healing or saving a life.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, John 5:7-8.

This is the dilemma which confronted Jesus every week, to heal or not to heal.  Despite public pressure to conform to these man made regulations, Jesus fulfilled the will of his heavenly father.  In the passage above, a man had been an invalid for 38 years.  Visiting a healing pool, these waters were believed to have mystical powers.  Those who had been cured, healed or set free from physical infirmities gave credit to angels who came down to stir the waters.  The first person to enter the pool was healed.  Unfortunately, this invalid was never fast enough, sitting and waiting, year after year, watching others become cleansed and made new.  The sight of this pitiful man inspired Jesus to have compassion, reach out and perform a miracle.

And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”  But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk,’ ” John 5:9-10.

In the passage above, you can see how teetotalism blinds someone’s perspective of God.  Instead of rejoicing with this fully healed man, religious leaders were trying to discover who brought the Sabbath rules and why.  This mindset doesn’t make any sense, especially in the sight of an amazing miracle.  Nonetheless, human traditions created by powerful leaders attempted the steal the joy on this special occasion.  Today, similar rules have been established by government officials.  Whether it’s prayer, reading the Bible or sharing your faith, you have to consider the cost.  To heal or not to heal, to help or not to help and to pray or not to pray?  In the end, if your heart is in the right place, you will follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit by fulfilling God’s will for your life on earth.

by Jay Mankus

More Than A Mindset

There will always be people that you meet in life who think they know everything.  Whenever you interact with these individuals there is a tendency to hear comments such as “I know how you feel.”  Trying to relate to your situation, this mindset is flawed, clouded by arrogance, pride or narcissism.  In order to obtain a Christ like perspective, you must develop a balanced approached, more than merely a mindset.

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns,” Matthew 16:23.

During a meaningful conversation with his disciples, Jesus introduces expectations for those who desire to follow him.  Based upon the passage above, Peter possessed preconceived notions.  This mindset bred selfishness, preventing Peter from understanding the concerns of God.  Becoming a disciple is not just actions inspired by faith.  Rather, actions must work hand in hand as individuals consider the concerns of God by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me, Matthew 16:24.

There are 3 stages which must be completed before a genuine disciple produces spiritual fruit.  The initial step involves fulfilling Galatians 2:20, dying to self so that the concerns of God will replace selfish thoughts.  As this transformation begins to take shape, Jesus wants his followers to take up their cross.  Either this means to take ownership of your faith or to literally pick up the cross like Simon in Matthew 27:32.  Just like the saying there is no I in team, following Jesus refers to crossing out the I or me so that God’s kingdom becomes your sole priority.  This is the criteria Matthew details for a disciple which is more than a mindset.

by Jay Mankus

A Litmus Test

When an individual is nominated to serve as an ambassador, cabinet member or judge, politicians host hearings for these potential candidates.  Members of Congress take turns asking a series of questions.  This exchange is considered a litmus test as leaders are hoping to learn how what each believes, thinks and how they will serve if appointed.

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever, 1 Timothy 5:8.

In a letter to a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul shares a spiritual litmus test.  The passage above serves as a key indicator, revealing the character of a church member.  Emphasizing faith in action, Paul wants to ensue that this young shepherd choices his leadership wisely.  Anyone who does not show care, love and respect to family is not fit to represent Christ.

Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit, 1 Thessalonians 4:8.

In the first century, Bereans were the standard for biblical churches.  This congregation was taught not to fall for gossip, hearsay and rumors.  Rather, leaders were trained to test everything that they heard against the Word of God, 1 Thessalonians 5:21.  This practice prevented false teaching from being embraced.  In the end, each day is like a litmus test.  The decisions you make speak louder than words.  These choices will determine if you accept or reject God.  May this litmus test inspire you to adhere, follow and live out the instructions within the Bible.

by Jay Mankus