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Tag Archives: the Word of God

The Ages of Faith

With the dawn of each new age, changes are made to adjust so that the world can understand what has happened in the past.  In the context of the Bible, 3 distinct stages exist: oratory, letters and publication.  The words of the Old Testament were passed on orally from one generation to the next.  Hebrew families raised their children by regularly recounting stories of faith to guide their steps into adulthood.  The celebration of Bar Mitzvahs for boys and Bat Mitzvah for girls culminates in years of biblical training by memorizing the Torah, the first five books of the Bible.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

During the first century, only the wealthy could afford education.  Thus, illiteracy among the middle and lower class was high.  As the Holy Spirit began to inspire authors to pen individual books of the New Testament, not many could read.  Therefore, apostles, disciples and pastors read these letters during gatherings for prayer.  This explains why the apostle Paul selects the phrase faith comes from hearing the word of Christ.

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.

The next age of faith began in 1450 following Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press.  This made the publication of Bibles accessible to common people.  However, segments of the church do not embrace this initially.  Major denominations like the Roman Catholic Church believed only priests could interpret the Bible correctly.  The average Christian could not be trusted to handle the Word of God.  This mindset and resistance led to the dark ages tainted by spiritual corruption.

This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall have good success, Joshua 1:8.

Today, we live in an age of over saturation.  Multiple translations are available with a click of a mouse, downloading an app or read on a cell phone.  This access in great for those who desire to grow their faith.  Yet, there is a temptation to change translations until you make the Bible say what you want.  Who knows what the next age may bring.  Nonetheless, if you want to growth your faith, the best way remains by daily reading, studying and memorizing the Bible.  This spiritual discipline often leads to putting faith into action.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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Not Just Words…A Lifestyle

Whether you are an athlete, co-worker or student, no one likes to be lectured by someone who does not practice what they preach.  While admonishing, correcting or rebuking an individual may have good intentions, when this act is carried out by a hypocrite, this conversation loses its meaning.  Subsequently, the purpose of any effort to illustrate what is right is lost by mere words.

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever, 1 Timothy 5:8.

As a teenager pastor, Timothy struggled to earn the respect of older members of his congregation.  Understanding his frustration, the apostle Paul wrote Timothy a few letters to convince others of the correct course of action.  The verse above is meant to keep in line anyone who thinks they are above God’s law.  Thus, Timothy was encouraged to stress the importance of developing a godly lifestyle, not empty words.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Over time, Timothy came to realize that the standard for life is the Bible.  This collection of books provides the confused, those stuck and uncertain with the answers necessary to move forward.  While there will always be those who challenge authority, the Word of God is the guiding light to lead the lost.  Wherever you are at this stage in life, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to become fixated on a Christ-like life style, not just words.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Tattoos of the Heart

I grew up in a genre where roughly 5-10 % of my peers had a tattoo.  According to a recent Pew Research Poll, 45 million Americans now have at least one tattoo, spending $1.65 billion annually.  Anyone who visits one of the 21,000 parlors across the country should expect to pay a minimum of $45 for a small tattoo or $150 for a large one on average.  If you are noticing those around, tattoos appear almost any where from an arm, leg, neck, shoulder or face.  Sometimes I wonder, why don’t I have one.  Yet, a still small voice revealed I have an internal tattoo on my heart.

When the days of my youth wore off in college, I took the words of Joshua 1:8 to heart.  Something deep inside my soul could not run from God any longer.  Thus, I began to examine passages like Proverbs 4:23 and Deuteronomy 6:5-9.  What I found initially was painful, a crooked and deceitful heart, Jeremiah 17:9.  Despite this grave reality, there is a remedy, a spiritual ointment to cleanse your heart, Psalm 119:9-11.  Therefore, I have discovered a lighted trail, Psalm 119:105, illuminated by the Word of God.  As I read, ponder its meaning and meditate on the truth within each passage, a spiritual tattoo is forming on my heart.

In his sermon on the mount, Jesus eludes to tattoos of the heart in Matthew 6:19-24.  Although, there is a catch, the things you treasure influence your heart.  If you are not careful, tattoos of the heart can be replaced by a world full of greed, materialism and ruin.  Regardless of your external appearance or any tattoo that you display, the condition of your heart will sway you toward evil or good, Luke 6:45.  This is what Stephen saw in religious leaders during the first century, Acts 7:51-52.  Therefore, if you want a tattoo of the heart, strive to fulfill Galatians 5:7, proving yourself to be a disciple of Jesus, John 15:7-8.  Come to God’s tattoo parlor by spending time reading the Bible daily!

by Jay Mankus

The Detours of Life

When unforeseen events, startling situations or the unpredictable occur, you end up in a foreign place, side tracked by life.  These trials can be time consuming, often resulting in cancellations, delays or detours from the route you thought you would be traveling.  The most common response from Christian observers is Romans 8:28, thinking they are helping by quoting, “all things work together for the good for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

What these first responders don’t recognize is that mothers, fathers and hurting people aren’t ready to accept the fact that their child, friend, relative or spouse is dead.  Having a front row seat, I’ve had classmates die in car accidents, friends fall to cancer and others end their life through suicide.  While exiting out of funeral homes, the promise of Romans 8:28 was the furthest thing from my mind.  The only thing I could provide was a hug, shoulder to lean on and my silent prayers.

During the exile of the Israel, a similar thought process went on in Psalm 137.  To cope with this detour, the Psalmist called people to remember the good times, the glory of Zion.  Through time, reflection and mediation on the word of God, healing comes.  Unfortunately, rates vary, with some turning a journey in the desert into 40 years of aimless wandering.  As you go through your own detours in life, lean on James 1:2-4 to provide you wisdom until a new path opens or the old is restored.

by Jay Mankus

Idle Potion #666

Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were the architects of the 1959 hit Love Potion #9.  Originally performed by The Clovers, this song rose to as high as 23 on the U.S. charts before falling back into the capsule of history.  Love potion number 9 refers to a spell which falls upon on man who ends up kissing everyone he sees like the modern country song Beer Goggles written by Neal McCoy.

Similar trances exist today, causing anyone who drinks of the world’s ways to gradually fall prey to a spirit of idleness.  Two months ago I was hungry for the Word of God, spending 1-2 hours daily reading the Bible and praying.  These daily reflections kept me from buying into the schemes of the devil, Ephesians 6:11.  However, as March faded away, so did my desire to continue super sizing my faith.  Thus, like tumbleweeds in steady Texas winds, I have been performing back flips, rolling ever closer to idle potion #666.

The expression out of sight, out of mind rings true, as the devil uses busyness as a portal into idleness.  When you add to this equation distractions and weariness, it only takes a whiff to induce innocent souls toward the devil’s lair.  God sends a spiritual wind to snap anyone out of idleness in the form of 1 Thessalonians 5:4-10.  Therefore, before you get too comfortable, examine your heart to see who or what you are actually following.  Set your mind on obeying 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21 or else you might be the next victim of idle potion #666.

by Jay Mankus