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Be Ready to Punish Wayward Thoughts

Punishment is designed to inflict a penalty on someone or something. This form of a sanction serves as retribution for an offense, especially a transgression of a legal or moral code. If boundaries aren’t defined and standards not upheld, lawlessness will begin to run rampant. Thus, in the passage below the apostle Paul urges first century Christians to be ready to punish wayward thoughts.

[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:5.

This mentality is taking into account the spiritual dimension. While Solomon urged his sons to sharpen one another via accountability, Proverbs 27:17, spiritual discipline requires special weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:4. Instead of choosing a paddle that was once common to spank a child, spiritual weapons are meant to overthrow and destroy strongholds. Similar to the ancient practice of purging, taking thoughts captives takes effort.

Being in readiness to punish every [insubordinate for his] disobedience, when your own submission and obedience [as a church] are fully secured and complete, 2 Corinthians 10:6.

Just as teetotalers use abstinence to halt wayward thoughts, obedience to Christ is the force that keep weak bodies in check. Realizing that many Israelites were vulnerable to conforming to other beliefs and cultures, Joshua urges those ready to enter God’s Promised Land to meditate on the Torah day and night. These first five books of the Bible clearly define God’s expectations. Therefore, the best way to punish wayward thoughts is through the practice of Bible memorization to recall right from wrong.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Give Sin the Attention it Desires

As someone who’s life revolves around sports, the best way I can describe sin is like experiencing a bad losing streak. Sometimes you can try so hard to stop something from happening that your mind gives up before you achieve your desired outcome. Subsequently, you find yourself in bondage, held captive by an invisible force that makes you do the opposite of what you really want, Romans 7:15-16.

In the spring, when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab with his servants and all Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites [country] and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, when from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very lovely to behold, 2 Samuel 11:1-2.

Sin has a way of casting spells on weak individuals, distracting them from the way out of the mess they’ve created, 1 Corinthians 10:13. In the passage above, David was tired, didn’t feel like going to work so he took the entire spring off. After a few days, David got bored, talking an evening stroll on top of his castle. Instead of being rejuvenated from rest and relaxation, a second glance at Bathsheba caused David to give sin the attention it desired.

But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:14-15.

Perhaps, speaking from personally experience, the earthly brother of Jesus writes about the powerful force known as temptation. When wandering eyes stray from the cross of Jesus toward earthly pleasures, you open the door from sin to come into your life. If enticement, lust and passions are allowed to stick around, sin will take you further than you ever imagined or wanted. Newspaper archives is filled by shocking stories from people of faith who gave sin the attention it desired. This is why we should flee sin, James 4:6-8, while there is time to come to our senses to escape sin’s grasp.

by Jay Mankus

A Request for Protection to Save Us from Ourselves

Temptation and trials tend to co-exist, going hand and hand throughout life. Depending upon your own faith journey, most people usually wait until temptation arrives before prayers begin to flow. To the spiritually inexperienced and young, the Lord’s Prayer provides a guide for protection. This simple outline serves as a point of reference when Satan turns up the heat, Job 1:10-12 or when you begin to lose control of your earthly desires.

And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses, Matthew 6:13-15.

The earthly brother of Jesus clears up any confusion over who is to blame for temptation. According to James, God allows temptation to occur, but is not the source of it. When a trial enters your life, Satan attacks your sinful nature using evil to force some sort of compromise. When your body becomes weak and vulnerable, this is where prayer requests for protection are essential. Job prepared for his own trials by using prayer to establish a hedge of protection to avoid self-destruction from sinful desires.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

According to James, enticement, lust and passions dictate what your spiritual pulses will is. While wondering thoughts are the root of this spiritual problem, acting upon these is when sin is conceived. Thus, before you self destruct by allowing an addiction or bad habit rule your life, lean on prayer to turn back evil. The moment you develop this spiritual discipline, prayer can save you from yourself when temptation begins.

by Jay Mankus

The Master of Disinformation

Piercing the Darkness, a Frank Peretti novel, was first published in 1988. Building upon the first book in this spiritual warfare series, This Present Darkness, Peretti seeks to peal back the spiritual dimension to reveal what is happening behind the scenes. One of the lesser known demons has gained dominion over Bentmore College in Peretti’s book. The name given to this entity is the Master of Disinformation.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief [of the celestial] princes, came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia, Daniel 10:13.

Peretti’s fictional character is consistent with a biblical account in the Old Testament. Apparently, Daniel was granted access to the spiritual realm, made aware of a demonic presence that possessed a foothold in Persia. While it’s unclear how the demonic prince of Persia fought Daniel, the Master of Disinformation seeks to deceive, distract and de-emphasize the real threat with other information to change the narrative.

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere, Ephesians 6:12.

The apostle Paul appears to have had a similar experience during a visit to Ephesus. Instead of pointing out one particular spirit, Paul places these dark forces into 4 categories. When you take this information and consider the possibilities, it’s not too far fetched to believe in a modern demon of Dis-information. When social media sites collude to ban, censor or hide certain facts from the general public, the Master of Dis-information is alive and well today. This is where prayer provides spiritual googles to reveal what the darkness is trying to hide. Fast and pray so that truth prevails.

by Jay Mankus

When a Joy Ride is Interrupted by Stress

The term joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. When you add similar expressions such as “joyful” and “joyous”, joy is mentioned over 200 times. While the phrase joyride refers to a ride taken for pleasure, usually in an automobile, a New York City judge derived this term in the context of stealing cars or reckless driving. Nonetheless, when a joyous occasion rejuvenates your soul, lives glide through days with a positive mindset.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4:4-6.

Unfortunately, moments of joy are often rudely interrupted by stress and worry. There are 40 different passages in the Bible that address the topic of stress and hard times. Meanwhile, worry is used 38 times in the Bible. One of the greatest examples of a joy ride being interrupted by stress is found in Matthew 16. Peter goes from being praised by Jesus in verses 17 and 18 to being rebuked moments later in Matthew 16:22, “get behind me Satan.”

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 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 4:7-8.

During a letter written to Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul felt the need to encourage those overwhelmed by stress and worry. Instead of allowing the enemy to ruin your days of joy, Paul provide advice to stay positive. When you can’t find anything in your life to be thankful for, rejoice in the Lord. Pray for a forbearing spirit so that anxiety, uncontrollable circumstances and stress will roll off your back. The next time your joy is interrupted, let the peace of Christ settle you down.

by Jay Mankus

Going to Extremes to Fulfill Your Promises

King Solomon is considered one of the wisest individuals to walk the face of the earth. One wise saying warns against making vows that you can’t keep, Ecclesiastes 5:4-5. From an Old Testament perspective, if you didn’t keep want you promised, your words were worthless and reputation ruined. This is the context and setting when the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah who presided over Israel as a judge for a period of six years.

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, If You will indeed give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 Then whatever or whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it or him up as a burnt offering, Judges 11:30-31.

Following a victorious battle, Jephthah is overwhelmed by a spirit of thankfulness. Wanting to pay tribute to God, Jephthah is moved to make a vow in Judges 11:32. While in the wilderness with many miles to travel before reaching his home, Jephthah decided to offer up a burnt offering to the first creature that crossed his path. Unfortunately, the forests were barren and his daughter was the first to greet him. Instead of reneging, Jephthah goes to extreme measures to fulfill his promise to God.

But the other one reproved him, saying, Do you not even fear God, seeing you yourself are under the same sentence of condemnation and suffering the same penalty? 41 And we indeed suffer it justly, receiving the due reward of our actions; but this Man has done nothing out of the way [nothing strange or eccentric or perverse or unreasonable]. 42 Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory! 43 And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise, Luke 23:40-43.

As John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, it was clear to first century scholars that the Messiah was living in their presence. When the time was right, Jesus began a three year earthly ministry. Using 12 disciples and an additional 72 according to Luke, these individuals planted spiritual seeds to form churches. When the appointed time arrived to fulfill Old Testament promises, the disciples were confused. Believing Jesus would become an earthly leader, rising up to become King of the Jews, Peter was ready to take up arms. Instead, God has another plan, sending his own son as a permanent sacrifice to die for mankind, John 3:16-17. This is how the Lord goes to extremes to fulfill biblical promises.

by Jay Mankus

What a Will to Love Can Do for You

Twenty five years ago I was initiated into a large family. At a Thanksgiving Dinner of nearly 100 relatives, I was a target of those who attended. “Wondering who is this guy who is going to marry Leanne,” I was introduced, interviewed, and grilled by complete strangers. After several hours of intense conversations, I passed this final test two days prior to our wedding.

Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive], Colossians 3:13.

A quarter of a century ago, God was just beginning to reveal a special gift in me. This talent was first unveiled while teaching poetry at a boarding school in West Virginia. Thus, as I was finishing up the final details of our wedding, I wrote a paragraph about what love meant to me. After a couple of edits, this appeared in our wedding bulletin. This statement served as a testimony about the importance of the will to love in marriage.

And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony]. 15 And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always], Colossians 3:14-15.

The best way to define a will is something that you are bound to. In the context of marriage, this is a covenant that you enter in, promising “til death due us part.” Meanwhile, the Greek word for charity is φιλανθρωπία. The apostle Paul writes an entire chapter devoted to love in 1 Corinthians 13, a common Bible reading for weddings. Yet, if you want your marriage to last a lifetime, a will to love is the secret to maintaining my marriage for the past 25 years. Wishing my wife Leanne a Happy Anniversary. I love you!

by Jay Mankus

A Last Ditch Effort to Save a Nation

The origin of concerts of prayer dates back to revivalists in Scotland, in October, 1744. According to Joseph Tracy, a historian of the First Great Awakening,  the desire to convert the world to Christ prompted evangelists to devote two years toward prayer oriented events. Churches set aside time for prayer Saturday nights, Sunday mornings and the first Tuesday of each quarter. As a spirit of prayer spread throughout the region, souls were primed to confess their sins and receive Jesus as Lord.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life, John 3:16.

A similar movement began 36 years ago in South Korea. The International Prayer Assembly included 2,000 prayer-mobilizers from 70 nations who issued an International Call to Prayer. This concert of prayer was based upon five main objectives: call out to God for a worldwide outpouring of the Holy Spirit, to apply the work of the Cross to men and women, to awaken the church, to break the power of Satan over people’s lives and to unify and empower the church for world evangelism. The impact of these prayers likely explains the revival that spread throughout South Korea.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:17.

When you fast forward to today, the 2020 Presidential Election and Coronavirus have teamed up to create havoc. As Trump battles elections results in 6 battleground states, a growing number of COVID-19 cases have empowered government officials to flex their political power. While Biden is expected to become the 46th president, America is close to having spiritual holidays cancelled. Meanwhile, recent allegations that states using software provided by Dominion and Smartmatic may have rigged the election in Biden’s favor, omitted from the media. In view of this chaos, starting a new generation of concert of prayers may be the only hope to save the constitution and spiritual heritage of this once great nation.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Be Caught Sleepwalking Through Life

Somnambulism is a behavior disorder that originates during a deep sleep. This results in walking or performing other complex behaviors while still mostly asleep. My first experience sleepwalking occurred during a sleepover as a child. I feel asleep in an upstairs bedroom and ended up on a couch downstairs. Like any perplexed individual, I was shocked and uncertain how I ended up there.

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him through Jesus those who have fallen asleep [in death], 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

The apostle Paul uses fallen asleep in a different context, referring to Christians who have passed away. Jesus tells a first century story about falling asleep. In the parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus makes a clear distinction between the awake and asleep. Jesus associates the awake with wisdom and the asleep with foolish behavior. The point of this analogy is to encourage individuals to remain alert, sharp and wise.

For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death], 1 Thessalonians 4:15.

Sleepwalking suggests that you are going through the motions, without any direction, meaning or purpose. To avoid falling asleep spiritually, Jesus calls followers to develop a thirst for life, John 10:10. Yet, there is a spiritual force that tries to lull you to sleep, seeking to steal any joy that you have for life. However, if you follow in the footsteps of the Great Shepherd, laying down your needs and wants for others, this will snap you out of any spells that make you sleepy.

by Jay Mankus

So That Hope Survives

Ambition, aspiration, cravings, dreams, longings and yearnings are all associated with hope. When theses desires begin to slip away, individuals have to fight with determination so that hope survives. Whenever your confidence is shaken by defeat, failure or a loss, hope is like a dim light surrounded by darkness, ready to be snuffed out by unforeseen events.

But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

In a letter to a community with a troubled pass, Paul reminds this church that Christians are children of the light. Thus, as the Devil continues to bring and drag up skeletons from your past, don’t let doubt creep into your mind. The longer negative thoughts continue to linger, the closer the enemy comes to achieving his goal, John 10:10.

For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

The apostle Paul flips the script in the passage above. Instead of always being on defense, Paul takes up the Sword of the Spirit to go on offense, reminding believers of the ultimate prize. God’s end game is salvation, the opportunity to be reunited with Jesus in heaven. Hope is like an exit sign in the distance, the only way to God, John 14:6. When darkness blocks your path from this doorway, hope is what keep souls alive, surviving to live another day.

by Jay Mankus

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