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Tag Archives: vision

Waiting for the Kingdom of God

Deep inside of human beings, there exists a purpose and reason for getting out of bed each day.  This invisible drive may change from time to time depending upon your career, job or motivation level.  When this sense disappears, fades or becomes unclear, mustering up enough energy to make it through a day turns into a chore.  The Bible refers to this term as vision.  This perception guides believers through trials and tribulations, remaining focused on your ultimate goal.

When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent and respected member of the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God—and he courageously dared to go in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus, Mark 15:42-43.

In the first century, there was a man who found himself torn between his occupation and purpose for living.  According to a couple of verses, Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin.  This ruling council was essentially the Jewish High Court, the supreme court for religious debates.  Yet, this position didn’t satisfy Joseph’s soul, longing for something more.  This spiritual thirst conceived a desire to wait for the kingdom of God.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body, John 19:38.

According to Luke 10, there was a secondary group of disciples chosen.  These seventy two individuals are not mentioned by name.  Yet, it appears Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple, perhaps working behind the scenes as one of these 72.  The crucifixion of Jesus served as a wake up call for Joseph, knocking on Pilate’s door while Jesus was still hanging from a cross.  Three hours earlier, at noon, the day turned to night.  This cosmic event is detailed by several first century historians.  This sign from God convinced Joseph that the kingdom of God was at hand.  May the Holy Spirit open your eyes today so that you too will respond to current events with a sense of urgency like Joseph of Arimathea.

by Jay Mankus

 

What am I Suppose to do Now?

In my thirty five years as a Christian, rarely have I received answers to prayers instantaneously.  Yet, this past Sunday was one of the exceptions as God immediately sent words of healing to my deflated soul.  Prior to attending church, I often watch a few of my favorite pastors.  Some times one of them may have an off day, but all three spoke directly through the television to my heart.  Dr. Tony Evans, James Merritt and Jentezen Franklin each gave me insight on what I am suppose to do next.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance, 2 Peter 3:9.

The first piece of advice was to start where you are.  Depending upon your current spiritual state, this could be humbling, ashamed of how far you have fallen.  Yet, for now, suck it up, set your ego aside and ask Jesus to mend your bruised, broken and battered heart.  Once you come to grips with this reality, start to give and use what you have.  Whether this is gifts, talents or time, follow in the footsteps of the faithful servants in the parable of the Talents.

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing, James 1:22-25.

James is preaching to himself in the passage above, referring to his numerous years of inactive faith, listening to Jesus’ words without the conviction to act.  This leads me to my final point, do what you can while you have the opportunity to serve.  In a letter to the church of Corinth, the apostle Paul uses a sports analogy to drive home this point, 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.  Striving to attain earthly trophies is noble, but you can’t take them with you in the next life.  Therefore, invest your time on earth striving to earn crowns that will last by doing what you can now.  May this blog give you the vision that you need to press on in this life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Losing Sight of God’s Glory

Attention, concentration and emphasis are words associated with focus.  These synonyms highlight the priority for those individuals who hone in on what’s important in life.  Depending upon your age, hobbies and interests, time will be allocated and invested in specific areas.  However, discipline, resolve and zeal are necessary traits to make your goals a reality.  Nonetheless, human nature has a subtle way of distracting good intentions.  The end result often leads to losing sight of God’s glory.

And David was dancing before the Lord with great enthusiasm, and David was wearing a linen ephod [a priest’s upper garment], 2 Samuel 6:14.

Prior to achieving fame by defeating the giant Philistine Goliath in battle, David was a skilled musician and shepherd.  The Old Testament does not reveal whether or not David combined these two abilities.  However, to stay sharp, I can see David practicing his harp at night, using a camp fire as a source for light.  As a former saxophone player, there is an adrenaline rush from playing moving songs.  Perhaps, this might explain the inspiration behind dancing, moving your body to the beat of music.  Beside performing for King Saul, David was also known to dance with enthusiasm, at one point dancing naked before the ark of the covenant.  Yet, five chapters later, seeing a beautiful woman bathing caused David to lose sight of God’s glory.

Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the LordPraise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) – Psalm 150:6

Romans 3:9-12 addresses mankind’s inability to avoid sin.  At some point, everyone screws up, falling prey to temporary pleasures.  As great as David’s act of adultery and murder detailed in 2 Samuel 11 may be, there is a way to regain your focus back toward glorifying God.  If you pray for a new heart, seeking to become a man or woman after God’s own heart, your spiritual vision will be renewed.  I have wasted years on earth trying to do what I want, to make a name for myself.  This selfish venture has blinded me from my real purpose for existing, Psalm 150:6.  Instead of waking up with the attitude what will God do for me today, there is a better alternative.  Start each day with a verse, a song and prayer to praise the Lord.  This is why you and I were born.  Therefore, don’t let the sun go down before practicing praise and worship of the great I Am.

by Jay Mankus

 

Staying Connected to the Right Things

When you add together all the live audiences, radio and television, Billy Graham proclaimed the good news about Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23, to 2.2 billion people during his 99 years on earth.  However, someone had to introduce Billy to Jesus.  Without this individual’s efforts, the spread of Christianity may not be what it is today.  Mordecai Ham was an evangelist who visited Charlotte, North Carolina while Billy was in high school.  Moved by Mordecai’s message one evening, Billy invited Jesus into his heart, Romans 10:9-10, as a teenager.  When people stay connected to the right things, spiritual fruits blossom.

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment, He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly, Acts 10:1-2.

During the first century, the apostle Paul traveled throughout the Middle East on four different missionary journeys.  I guess you can say Paul from Tarsus was the Billy Graham of his day.  Yet, if it wasn’t for a man named Cornelius, Paul may have never become a Christian.  This military leader developed a stout reputation in his community.  This devout believer was grounded, fearing God, a faithful giver and dedicated to prayer.  These spiritual disciplines led to a vision from God that set the stage for Paul’s conversion to Christ.  Staying connected to the right things opened the door for an angelic encounter, as Cornelius immediately responded by faith.

One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!” Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.  The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God, Acts 10:3-4.

Before writing the Book of Acts, Luke traveled with Paul on several of his mission trips.  In this case, it appears Luke interviewed Cornelius, recounting his recollection in the passage above.  Based upon this event, God has the ability to commemorate prayers and offerings from your past.  Thus, if you stay connected to the right things, blessings are bound to come.  Sure, nearly 2000 years later the apostle Paul receives most of the credit for fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:7-8.  Nonetheless, God is searching for the next Cornelius and Mordecai Ham who are willing to stay connected to the right things.  While you may never get the attention of a Billy Graham or apostle Paul, those who stay connected to the vine, John 15:1-4, will receive honor and praise from God the Father.

by Jay Mankus

Period

In the context of history, a period is a length or portion of time.  Physics refers to the interval of time between successive occurrences of the same state.  Woman experience a flow of blood and other material from the lining of the uterus, lasting for several days each month.  Meanwhile, English uses a period as a punctuation mark to clearly define the end of a sentence.

And the Lord answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it, Habakkuk 2:2.

Punctuation enables writers to separate sentences and their elements to clarify meaning.  In my early years,  I was an expert at crafting run on sentences, confusing my teachers and lowering my grade.  To make matters worse, I battled periods of stammering and stuttering throughout high school.  One of the only ways I could clearly communicate was with a pen and paper.  Thus, poor grammar hindered my ability to express myself.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

Oddly enough, I have spent the last 25 years in one form of writing or another.  This began as a poetry teacher in West Virginia, offering nightly active learning workshops for students.  From here I dabbled with song writing, climaxing with an album.  After exploring short stories, I ventured into a monthly news letter called Soul Improvements as an editor.  Serving as a staff writer for Travel Golf Media, developing high school Bible Curriculum and now writing movie scripts is all part of the journey I am on.  I’m not sure where this gift will take me, but I will continue to pursue this quest until God punctuates the end of my life with a period.

by Jay Mankus

Finally A Champion

 

My father played college football at the University of Pennsylvania from 1961 to 1964.  At this time, the Philadelphia Eagles played their home games at Franklin Field, the Quakers stadium on campus.  My father got to know some of these players, fresh off the 1960 championship team led by Norm Van Brocklin on offense and Tommy McDonald on the defensive side.  Human nature suggested another championship was close, possibly just around the corner, yet none came while my dad was a college student living in Philadelphia.

Awake and rouse yourself for my vindication, for my cause, my God and my Lord! – Psalm 35:23

When the team that you are on or cheer for is not victorious, losing takes its toll.  If seasons lead to decades and decades to half centuries, negative thoughts turn fans into cynics.  This loser mentality causes individuals to expect the worst, turning self fulfilled prophecies into reality.  Perhaps this may explain why national sports writers labeled the city of Philadelphia, negadelphia.  As this championship drought continued for 57 years, people struggling with self-esteem issues adopted the Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers or 49ers as their team.  This front runner mentality further alienated diehard Eagles fans from those who jumped off the Wentz Wagon after Carson’s season ending injury.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28.

Yet, it took a Christian head coach, Doug Peterson, a man of faith who painted a vision that his team began to embrace to lead the way.  Fellow believers, Carson Wentz and Nick Foles, took turns passing the baton as quarterback, from one to the other, putting the team in front of selfish ambitions.  Thus, this group of under dogs did what the experts said was impossible, to beat the greatest coach and quarterback combination of all time.  When the clock finally struck zero after Tom Brady’s Hail Mary pass feel incomplete in Super Bowl 52, what Philadelphia fans dreamed of, hoped for and prayed about came true.  By the grace of God, the Philadelphia Eagles are finally a champion.

by Jay Mankus

When I Can’t Find My Way Out

Although you may not know or recognize it, everyone has their own kryptonite.  This weakness makes human beings limited, powerless or at best, vulnerable to attacks from the enemy.  For me, I can be directionally challenged, regularly losing my way.  Stubbornness only worsens my condition, trusting in myself instead of leaning on outside sources like modern technology.  Unfortunately, some people never make the necessary changes, unable to find their way out of addiction, bad habits or poor choices.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

The author of the book of 1 Corinthians uses history as a way of understanding the past.  As the apostle Paul reflects upon the foundation of Israel as a nation, most died before ever seeing God’s promise fulfilled.  Whether ignorance, selfishness or a lack of vision was to blame, the majority did not please God.  Instead of appreciating manna from heaven, greed led souls to demand more.  God was treated like a grocery clerk at a check out line, praying for this or that without any regard for developing an intimate relationship.  Thus, the wilderness serves as a remainder of what not to do.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13.

What I fail to comprehend about the nature of God is that the Lord uses wilderness phases in life to prepare us for what’s next.  If you don’t adapt, learn or mature during these trials, you won’t be ready to succeed in the future.  While guarding angels are working behind the scenes to usher in the good things God has planned for us, Philippians 1:6, I often get in the way.  Impatience wants me to quickly skip ahead to the next journey in life before overcoming present obstacles.  Thus, it’s sad to say that I can’t find my way out, leaving me stuck living in the wilderness of broken dreams.  Perhaps, 1 Corinthians 10:13 contains the key, the missing link to take those living in defeat toward the door of victory.  May you endure this present life long enough so that the way out is revealed to you through whispers of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus