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When Satan Hinders and Impedes Your Spiritual Progress

Every day a new set of obstacles arise with the sun. Some of these challenges are recognizable, allowing individuals to easily side step these obstructions. Unfortunately, many of these impediments will come as complete surprises, catching the average citizen off guard and unprepared for what lies ahead for the future. Thus, when the sunsets to end your day, many are left scratching their head mumbling, “how did this happen and why?”

But since we were bereft of you, brethren, for a little while in person, [of course] not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great longing to see you face to face,18 Because it was our will to come to you. [I mean that] I, Paul, again and again [wanted to come], but Satan hindered and impeded us, 1 Thessalonians 2:17-18.

In the first century, the apostle Paul didn’t believe in bad luck. Rather, when strange things started to happen to hinder and impede his most recent missionary journey, Paul blamed Satan. When your spiritual opponent is able to masquerade as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14, faith must be elevated. If the enemy is the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, it time to start fighting back with spiritual weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully. Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:7-8.

One of Jesus’ disciples shares his own recollection of Satan’s attacks. As Peter was about to celebrate a victorious moment in his life, Matthew 16:16-18, a few moments later everything changed. Peter goes from a spiritual hero to being accused of being on Satan’s side, Matthew 16:22-23. When Satan hinders or impedes your spiritual progress, it’s essential that you take your thoughts captive. Just as Jesus used fasting and prayer to overcome temptation, Matthew 4:1-11, be vigilant so you can withstand the next spiritual attack that you’ll face. When you draw near to God, the Devil flees, James 4:7.

by Jay Mankus

Engaged and Energized

While engagement is often associated with the process leading up to marriage, to be engaged refers to an active, engrossed and involved state. I’ve never thought of prayer in the context of being engaged. However, when the apostle Paul found an isolated spot to pray, Mark 1:35, his concentration was fixated on God. Paul wasn’t just hoping and wishing for an answer to prayer, he expected God to perform a miracle.

We are ever giving thanks to God for all of you, continually mentioning [you when engaged] in our prayers, 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

One verse later, Paul refers to being energized by faith. As Christians begin to pray with an unceasing desire, this is often accompanied with a sudden boost of energy. When you add and incorporate promises in the Bible to prayer, faith is strengthened. Prayer is an act of putting the needs of others before yourself as you pour out your heart to God. When prayer becomes a daily habit, a spirit of service is conceived.

Recalling unceasingly before our God and Father your work energized by faith and service motivated by love and unwavering hope in [the return of] our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 1 Thessalonians 1:3.

In the first century, there was a belief that Jesus would return in their own lifetime. For those individuals who witnessed Jesus rise from the dead, there was a sense of urgency to seize each day on earth, Galatians 6:9-10. This is the motivation that the apostle Paul refers to in the passage above. If you want to make the most of your life on earth, engage yourself in prayer so that your faith is energized to keep on serving Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Under Construction

Depending upon the city, state or region you live in, summer time commences a season of construction. If these projects are out sourced to private businesses, construction is usually completed on time or ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, the state of Delaware usually takes a few years to start and another five years to finish what should have taken a year or two at most.

For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it? – Luke 14:28

A first century doctor overhears a conversation between Jesus and Pharisees. The parable above occurs at the end of this discussion. The context of this passage refers to the high expectations that Jesus has for his disciples. Before starting any new project, Jesus wants his followers to consider the cost before jumping in head first. If you want to finish what you start in this life, it’s okay to say no.

Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him, 30 Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish, Luke 14:29-30.

In their song Local Construction, Reliant K compares areas of your life that are never done to local construction. When I was a student, it always took me twice as long to complete a homework assignment than my friends. Sometimes this was because I didn’t know what I was doing and on other occasions, what I was learning didn’t click initially. There are certain things in life that are never done despite how hard you work on it. Since something in your life or in your community is always under construction, consider the cost you before you commit to your next project in life.

by Jay Mankus

Radical Grace Theory

Critical Race Theory is analysis based on the premise that race is not a natural, biologically grounded feature of physically distinct subgroups of human beings but a socially constructed (culturally invented) category that is used to oppress and exploit people of colour. This philosophy began in the 1970, but officially was organized in 1989 at the first annual Workshop on Critical Race Theory. Today, you will find curriculum for Critical Race Theory in businesses, colleges, and public education.

[In this new creation all distinctions vanish.] There is no room for and there can be neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, [nor difference between nations whether alien] barbarians or Scythians [who are the most savage of all], nor slave or free man; but Christ is all and in all [everything and everywhere, to all men, without distinction of person], Colossians 3:11.

While there will always be isolated pockets of racism in any city, state or nation, pushing Critical Race Theory endangers Dr. Martin Luther King Junior’s dream and vision for America. Quoting his 1963 speech, Dr. King longed for a day when his “four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Since Critical Race Theory stresses victimology rather than personal responsibility, character has been de-emphasized by this movement.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off]. Notice, it is I, Paul, who tells you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no profit (advantage, avail) to you [[a]for if you distrust Him, you can gain nothing from Him], Galatians 5:1-2.

The weakness of Critical Race Theory is that it takes God and faith out of the equation. If you listen to Dr. King, one of his most famous quotes is, “Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.” Perhaps, Martin was referring to one of the two Bible passages listed above. Part of the apostles teaching in the first century includes a church body where all distinctions vanish. As people enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, radical grace transforms individuals to become color blind. This is the radical grace theory that all nations should embrace and practice.

by Jay Mankus

A New Generation of Bereans

The apostle Paul wrote two letters to a teenage pastor in the first century. Serving as a spiritual mentor to Timothy, Paul provides a glimpse of what you should expect in the future. Paul warned of a time when individuals will begin to believe what their itching ears want to hear, 2 Timothy 4:3-4. Like a group of teenage girls chatting at a lunch room table, it won’t be long before urges to gossip using exaggeration spreads from one table throughout a school.

Now these [Jews] were better disposed and more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they were entirely ready and accepted and welcomed the message [concerning the attainment through Christ of eternal salvation in the kingdom of God] with inclination of mind and eagerness, searching and examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so, Acts 17:11.

During two separate trips to nearby cities, Paul experiences two distinct mindsets. Paul’s initial encounter in Thessalonica is like most large cities in the United States today, Acts 17:5-6. Like a scene from 2020, a mob mentality developed in the streets of Thessalonica. Unbelieving Jews served as agitators, doing whatever it took to prevent Paul’s ministry from winning over hearts and minds to Jesus.

But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. 22 Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.

One day later, Paul was impressed by the character of the Bereans. Unlike the Thessalonians who believed whatever they heard, the people of Berea developed a system for testing concepts and theories with God’s Word. After listening to a recent sermon on TBN, America needs a new generation of Bereans to rise up today. Rather than caving to the Cancel Culture, this nation needs noble individuals guided and inspired by biblical convictions. This is my prayer for future generations.

by Jay Mankus

You Can’t Quantify Feelings

Science is based upon the collection of data. This information is accumulated through a series of experiments using trial and error to quantify the difference between fact and fiction. Quantify refers to assessing, calculating, evaluating, gauging, sizing up and weighing the results. Theories are developed and formed based upon observing similar outcomes over and over again. One thing that scientists all agree on is that you can’t quantify feelings.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly perverse and corrupt and severely, mortally sick! Who can know it [perceive, understand, be acquainted with his own heart and mind]? 10 I the Lord search the mind, I try the heart, even to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings, Jeremiah 17:9-10.

One Old Testament prophets warns Jews of the dangers of feelings. If human hearts are deceitful, you can’t trust your feelings to be accurate. According to Jeremiah, hearts and minds can play tricks on you, resulting in waves of emotions. Meanwhile, feelings are temporary, often fleeting and fading from one thing to the next. Unless you are in love, feelings tend to change like the weather.

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses], Hebrews 11:1.

Since you can’t quantify feelings, the author of Hebrews reveals how faith is the vehicle designed to take the place of feelings. Faith serves as assurance like a spiritual heart beat to keep Christians going. When hope is absent or invisible, faith is the foundation for belief in God’s existence. While feelings often end in disappointment, living by faith and not by sight encourages others to do the same. When faith is lived out daily, blind hope can be quantified.

by Jay Mankus

A Critical Time for Grace

One of the earliest references to someone being “canceled” occurred on a VH1 Reality show back in 2014. One of the cast members of Love and Hip Hop: New York kick started what Americans now refer to as Cancel Culture. Cisco Rosado used the expression “you’re cancelled” to his girl friend Diamond Strawberry at the time. In the 7 years that have followed, beliefs, opinions and political ideologies are under attack, outed by social media daily.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

The Cancel Culture has become like a feeding frenzy, looking for a reason to eliminate and silence anyone who is unwilling to conform to a secular worldview. As active members of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter diligently search for offensive posts and words, these miserable individuals will stop at nothing to get their way. These control freaks don’t appear to be letting up as any mistake, slip up or verbal misstep is magnified daily.

For it is by free grace (God’s unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ’s salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; Not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law’s demands], lest any man should boast. [It is not the result of what anyone can possibly do, so no one can pride himself in it or take glory to himself,] Ephesians 2:8-9.

Subsequently, this is a critical time for grace. Rather than continue down this road of condemnation and finger pointing, forgiveness must find to a way to restore sanity. As the Cancel Culture begins to ruin, smear and take down their own, perhaps a spirit of common sense is emerging. Nonetheless, you can’t sustain peace until God’s grace provides second chances to change for the better. May this blog remind the masses of God’s riches at Christ’s expense.

by Jay Mankus

Weston the Pedestrian

Edward Payson Weston was a grown man as the 1860 Presidential Election approached. Weston was so sure that Abraham Lincoln would not win this four way race that he made a bet with a friend. If Lincoln wins, Weston vowed to walk from Boston all the way to his inauguration in Washington, DC. While reaching a news stand, Weston was shocked to read that Lincoln had indeed won the 1860 Presidential Election.

Wealth [not earned but] won in haste or unjustly or from the production of things for vain or detrimental use [such riches] will dwindle away, but he who gathers little by little will increase [his riches], Proverbs 13:11.

To make the inauguration in time, Weston figured out that he would have to walk 50 miles a day. Prior to his departure, Weston carefully plotted his 9 day journey using maps. Two years later, Weston published “The Pedestrian,” a record of this walk that got Weston to Washington on inauguration days, but 5 hours after Lincoln’s speech concluded. Instead of accepting defeat, Weston used this experience to become a walking sideshow, walking for hours at local roller skating rinks on the east coast.

But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing, 1 Timothy 6:9.

There are 6 passages in the Bible to warn readers against betting. Unfortunately, between state lotteries, scratch off cards and newly formed sports betting sites, there is a new movement to get rich quick. Despite all the advertisements and commercials detailing how much the latest winner received, there are always more losers than winners. The streets of Atlantic City and Las Vegas are littered with homeless individuals who came seeking fame and fortune, but left broke and broken. May this blog serve as a warning to avoid becoming addicted to gambling.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Break a Child’s Spirit

In this age of child prodigies, being an elite athlete in any sport forces many to grow up way too fast. Instead of living a carefree life until attending college or a trade school, the pressure to be the best can take a toll on young adolescents. If a parent begins to live their lives vicariously through this phenom, the fun of competing can quickly fade. Subsequently, many children end up resenting sports due to a controlling father or mother.

Fathers, do not provoke or irritate or fret your children [do not be hard on them or harass them], lest they become discouraged and sullen and morose and feel inferior and frustrated. [Do not break their spirit,] Colossians 3:21.

First time parents tend to become more strict with their first child and gradually become more lenient with every child thereafter. Yet, in the first century, Jewish father’s were disciplinarians, prone to demonstrate a tough love. Based upon the apostle Paul’s observations of parenting in the Church at Colosse, several children were walking around defeated, unable to please their father. This is likely the inspiration behind Paul’s command, “don’t break their spirit.”

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

Since my father served in the military, my initial years as a parent involved stern discipline. Yet, as my two boys, James and Daniel, learned how to speak, I had to ease off the throttle before I broke the spirit of my boys. To suddenly alter and change your ways isn’t easy as you can go too far in the lenient direction. Nonetheless, the goal of any parent is to train up a child in the ways of the Lord so that a legacy of faith will be left behind, Proverbs 22:6.

by Jay Mankus

Planned Obsolescence

The Centennial Light is the world’s longest lasting light bulb. Installed in 1901, this bulb remains in use today in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department in California. Prior to this notoriety, members of the fire department would leap up and touch this light bulb as a form of good luck before leaving for their next emergency. This light bulb is one of the last traces of a time when Made in America meant a striving toward perfection.

Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

Apparently, the Shelby Electric Company who manufactured the Centennial Light Bulb made their products too good. While customers were satisfied by this dependable light bulb, production in factories came to a screeching halt. Concerned with their future, Light bulb Manufacturers formed the Phoebus Cartel. The initial meeting took place in Geneva, Switzerland. To ensure their future, corporations in this field came up with the concept planned obsolescence.

For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:8.

The byproduct of this business concept is that customers have been literally screwed ever since. Planned Obsolescence is the policy of producing consumer goods that rapidly become obsolete. Instead of purchasing long lasting reliable products, light bulbs now require replacing, achieved by frequent changes in design to limit a bulb’s light to 100 hours of use. Over 100 years later, consumer expectations have plummeted. This is what happens when human beings don’t practice Colossians 3:23 or take pride in their work.

by Jay Mankus

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