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Author Archives: expressyourself4him

Unsung Heroes of the Night

Early on in the first century, following Jesus became fashionable. One physician shares his recollection of Jesus’ popularity at the end of Luke 9. Eager to follow in the footsteps of the 12 disciples, several individuals sought out Jesus, asking if they too could become a disciple. Luke’s account records 3 rejections with the spiritual reason for this no. In the passage below, Jesus appointed 72 additional disciples, but who are these unsung heroes of the night?

Now after this the Lord chose and appointed seventy others and sent them out ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and place where He Himself was about to come (visit), Luke 10:1.

The disciple whom Jesus loved mentions two of these unsung heroes by name. While 11 disciples abandoned Jesus following his arrest, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus played their part behind the scenes. Joseph went to the governor, convincing him to hand over Jesus’ body to have a proper burial. Meanwhile, a Pharisee who was timid earlier in John 3:1, came out of the darkness to stand tall. According to John, these two men prepared Jesus’ body to be buried.

And after this, Joseph of Arimathea—a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews—asked Pilate to let him take away the body of Jesus. And Pilate granted him permission. So he came and took away His body. 39 And Nicodemus also, who first had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, [weighing] about a hundred pounds. 40 So they took Jesus’ body and bound it in linen cloths with the spices (aromatics), as is the Jews’ customary way to prepare for burial, John 19:38-40.

Two thousand years later, you don’t have to receive an invitation from Jesus to be considered a disciple. Part of the Jesus’ command to first century spiritual leaders, Matthew 28:19-20, is to make disciples. Luke refers to when this call should commence, Acts 1:8, as the Holy Spirit comes upon you. If you want to be an unsung hero for God today, keep in step with God’s Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so you will be ready when God calls you act.

by Jay Mankus

The Journey to Death

On any given day on earth, 360,000 children are born while 151,600 individuals pass away. As one journey begins, many others come to an end, often without a warning. While Jesus spoke of his destiny of dying on a cross, his disciples didn’t believe him. These 12 men pictured Jesus as an earthly king of the Jews, about to come to power shortly after Palm Sunday. When this didn’t happen as imagined, Peter was devastated, returning to his life as a fisherman, John 21:1-6.

And those who passed by kept reviling Him and reproaching Him abusively in harsh and insolent language, wagging their heads and saying, Aha! You Who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, 30 Now rescue Yourself [from death], coming down from the cross! – Mark 15:29-30.

In Jesus’ final hours on a cross, most of the people who stopped by criticized and mocked him. Luke’s account includes words spoken by the criminals hanging on either side of Jesus. One of these criminals was selfish, wanting Jesus to save himself before saving him as well. The other criminal was humble, feeling unworthy, pointing out that Jesus had done nothing wrong. Touched by this man’s words, Jesus spoke of paradise, a place beyond death.

So also the chief priests, with the scribes, made sport of Him to one another, saying, He rescued others [from death]; Himself He is unable to rescue. 32 Let the Christ (the Messiah), the King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see [it] and trust in and rely on Him and adhere to Him! Those who were crucified with Him also reviled and reproached Him [speaking abusively, harshly, and insolently], Mark 15:31-32.

There are 48 verses in the Bible that reference Jesus’ death. Meanwhile, 11 Old Testament prophecies point to Jesus’ necessary journey to death. Due to Adam and Eve’s original sin, the fall of mankind, a second Adam was necessary to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10. This is what the apostle Paul refers to in Romans 5:12-14. This is what the Bible means by Jesus’ journey to the cross to fulfill God’s will. Rejoice in this completed mission, especially since Easter Sunday has now passed.

by Jay Mankus

When God Leaves the Backdoor Open

The origin of backdoor dates back to the early 1520’s. Over the past 500 years, this term has evolved from small homes that were built back to back to cultural expressions. The Urban Dictionary refers to taking an alternative route, going behind someone’s back, and or a form of betrayal. The Bible provides accounts of when God leaves the backdoor open.

Now there was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (a leader, an authority) among the Jews, Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and are certain that You have come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do these signs (these wonderworks, these miracles—and produce the proofs) that You do unless God is with him, John 3:1-2.

As churches throughout the world celebrate Passion Week, Nicodemus is prime example that fits into this category. In the passage above, this Pharisee requests a private meeting with Jesus under the cover of darkness. Afraid of what his peers might think of his curiosity about Jesus, Nicodemus uses the backdoor. As the recipient of John 3:16-17, these words brewed with Nicodemus’ heart.

As for this multitude (rabble) that does not know the Law, they are contemptible and doomed and accursed! 50 Then Nicodemus, who came to Jesus before at night and was one of them, asked, 51 Does our Law convict a man without giving him a hearing and finding out what he has done? 52 They answered him, Are you too from Galilee? Search [the Scriptures yourself], and you will see that no prophet comes (will rise to prominence) from Galilee, John 7:49-52.

The second time Nicodemus is mentioned in the Bible, he defends Jesus in the passage above. Some of his fellow religious leaders suggest that Nicodemus is a secret follower of Jesus. Becoming a Christian usually doesn’t happen over night as many choose to enter faith through the backdoor initially. When the words of the Bible begin to click and fear of what others think about you fades, God leaves the backdoor open, Revelation 3:20, so you can enter when you’re ready.

by Jay Mankus

Crashing Waves that Erode Your Faith

According to the latest research, erosion washes away 25 feet of coastal beach annually. When a region experiences more than it’s typical amount of hurricanes, crashing waves can wash away up to 50 feet of coastline in a season. On a rare occasion, the aftermath of a great storm forms a new land mass. Such is the case of the great hurricane of 1933. Crashing waves and storm surge eroded the Ocean City inlet, resulting in the creation of Assateague Island.

[Roaring] deep calls to [roaring] deep at the thunder of Your waterspouts; all Your breakers and Your rolling waves have gone over me, Psalm 42:7.

There are 53 verses in the Bible that use the expression wave. However, only 16 refer to a wave on a lake or sea. In the passage above, a chief musician sings about the power of rushing water. Whether the author is writing about a specific river, waterfall or a raging flood flowing after a severe storm, water has a mind of itself. One downpour can take a country road and transform it into a river, sweeping away anything that comes close to it’s path.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

While the height of waves are limited on lakes and rivers, the larger the body of water, the higher that waves climb. Although tsunamis are rare to most coastlines, invisible tsunamis occur daily in the forms of hardship, trials, and tribulations. If your faith is weak or unprepared, doubt will come crashing through like a freight train. Instead of hesitating, believers must be alert, forming hedges of protection via prayer so that when days of danger arrive, your faith will stand tall.

by Jay Mankus

When Adversity Causes You to Forget Your Faith

If you have been pampered, protected, or sheltered by your parents, it’s only a matter of time before you are introduced to adversity. This comes in the form of affliction, bad luck, distress, and heartache. While no one wants to endure adversity, these temporary periods of turmoil provide opportunities for growth. Yet, when the heat is turned up in the middle of any ordeal, adversity has a tendency to cause Christians to forget about their faith.

We are hedged in (pressed) on every side [troubled and oppressed in every way], but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair; We are pursued (persecuted and hard driven), but not deserted [to stand alone]; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed; 2 Corinthians 4:8-9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul shares the spiritual benefits of adversity. While you may feel abandoned from time to time when adversity strikes, God will stand by your side. As pressure and trouble builds, its easy to become overwhelmed. Yet, Jesus’ earthly brother reveals the purpose that these events play in your life, James 1:2-4. Instead of throwing in the towel, hang in there until maturity develops.

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. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you, 1 Peter 5:8-10.

The passage above is written by a disciple who publicly denied knowing Jesus three times. Perhaps, Peter is referencing this event as he unveils what is happening behind the scenes. In the spiritual dimension, demonic forces and powers lurk, waiting for a moment of weakness to attack. This explains why adversity causes many Christians to forget about their faith. Like pottery in a furnace, you have to go through fire before imperfections begin to fade. In the meantime, hold on to Jesus until adversity passes.

by Jay Mankus

30 Seconds of Courage

Audacity, boldness, and valor are words associated with courage. While the average lifespan of a male in the United States of America is 76 years of age, few ever demonstrate 30 seconds of courage while on earth. Fear of rejection, peer pressure, and political correctness keep most people confined, under wraps, afraid to go against the flow.

From that time forth Jesus began [clearly] to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and the high priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised from death. Then Peter took Him aside to speak to Him privately and began to reprove and charge Him sharply, saying, God forbid, Lord! This must never happen to You! 23 But Jesus turned away from Peter and said to him, Get behind Me, Satan! You are in My way [an offense and a hindrance and a snare to Me]; for you are minding what partakes not of the nature and quality of God, but of men, Matthew 16:21-24.

Although some may talk a good game, when the opportunity to be courageous arrives, rarely does an individual rise to the challenge. Take Peter for example, the rock upon which God will build the church, Matthew 16:18. When Jesus was about to be arrested early Good Friday morning, Peter took up his sword. However, later that night when asked if he knew Jesus, Peter did the opposite with 30 seconds of cowardice.

You stubborn and stiff-necked people, still heathen and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. As your forefathers [were], so you [are and so you do]! 52 Which of the prophets did your forefathers not persecute? And they slew those who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, Whom you now have betrayed and murdered—53 You who received the Law as it was ordained and set in order and delivered by angels, and [yet] you did not obey it! – Acts 7:51-53

Despite Peter’s epic failure, there was one apostle who displayed 30 seconds of courage. Instead of recanting his faith in Jesus, Stephen gave a moving speech before being stoned to death. Oddly enough, the religious leader who gave the order to have Stephen killed is the soon to be apostle Paul. If it wasn’t for Stephen’s 30 seconds of courage, Paul’s life may have taken a different path. May the power of the Holy Spirit inspire you to demonstrate 30 seconds of courage this Easter Season.

by Jay Mankus

From Community to Chaos and Back

The final event of Jesus’ earthly ministry is the Last Supper. This meal celebrating the Jewish Passover was the last event with all 12 of his disciples present. What began as the very first communion service, ended in speculation as Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would soon betray Jesus. This pivotal gathering started with a spirit of community, but ended in chaos.

And as My Father has appointed a kingdom and conferred it on Me, so do I confer on you [the privilege and decree], 30 That you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain, 32 But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren, Luke 22:29-32.

The first person to crack was Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of Jesus’ ministry. Poisoned by betrayal and greed, Judas agreed to hand Jesus over to Jewish religious leaders. While this was going on, Peter was confronted by 3 different individuals about his connection with Jesus. Each time, Peter vehemently denied his association with Jesus. As the cock cried three times, a spirit of conviction and remorse sent Judas into the desert to take his own life.

And He said to them, When I sent you out with no purse or [provision] bag or sandals, did you lack anything? They answered, Nothing! 36 Then He said to them, But now let him who has a purse take it, and also [his provision] bag; and let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy a sword. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must yet be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted and classed among the wicked (the outlaws, the criminals); for what is written about Me has its fulfillment [has reached its end and is finally settled], Luke 22:35-37.

Chaos is a state of confusion, disarray, havoc, mayhem, tumult, and upheaval. As Jesus was arrested, beaten and crucified on a cross, the Savior of the world was lost. Or was he as the day turned to night, a great earthquake tore the temple curtain into two, and the dead began to walk through the streets of Jerusalem like a scene from the Walking Dead. Out of this chaos, God raised Jesus from the dead three days later. This is the reason why Christians celebrate Easter Sunday as God restored order by uniting a community of believers through faith.

by Jay Mankus

When Gusts of Doubt Uproot Your Faith

Every Easter pastors, priests, and teachers read passages in the Bible of disciples abandoning Jesus in His greatest time of need. When asked to pray late at night, they fell asleep. After being confronted about his relationship, Peter, a member of Jesus’ inner circle, denied knowing Jesus on three different occasions. As the winds of doubt began to blow on that original Good Friday, the only disciple not uprooted by the pressure to conform was John who took care of Mary after Jesus ascended into heaven.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides], James 1:6-8.

According to first centurion historians, even Jesus’ earthly brother, James, did not believe until Resurrection Sunday. Perhaps, the passage above is a personal confession, disappointed by his own lack of faith. Instead using his God given ears to hear and eyes to see, gusts of doubt blinded James from Jesus’ true identity. Nearly 2000 years later, the gusts of doubt continue to blow. Some of these storms are hidden by gray clouds, appearing without a moments notice. When the sky clears, a trail of wounded souls and debris remain.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:21-22.

The apostle Paul compares faith to a deeply rooted tree, Colossians 2:7, nourished and built up by Christ. Unfortunately, winds of doubt often separate believers from their source of light and life. After cursing an unproductive fig tree, the disciples were shocked by Jesus’ miraculous powers. Jesus uses this teachable moment to reveal how doubt impacts his followers. Therefore, the next time you feel the gusts of doubt begin to blow, clear your mind before prayer is exercised to secure a firm defense.

by Jay Mankus

Lord It’s Been So Long

If you’re not careful, life can be like a white water rafting trip. Once you’re on the river, there is danger lurking around every corner. Depending upon the classification and level of rapids, each one can come fast and furious. Unless there is some sort of break in between for your mind to relax, there will be no rest for the weary. Anyone who finds themselves on a wild ride may be so focused on survival that taking time to spend with God is like a blip on a radar screen.

Moses sent them to scout out the land of Canaan, and said to them, Get up this way by the South (the Negeb) and go up into the hill country,18 And see what the land is and whether the people who dwell there are strong or weak, few or many,19 And whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they dwell in are camps or strongholds, 20 And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. And be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes, Numbers 13:17-20.

In his 1993 song, Power and Promise, Brett Williams uses the phrase, “Lord It’s Been So Long.” The context of these lyrics date back to Moses waiting to enter God’s Promise Land. In the second stanza, Williams refers back to the anguish Mary felt while her brother Lazarus was dead for 3 days. When signs of God’s power or presence is absent, invisible to your eyes, staying optimistic in times of trouble is difficult. This is where faith comes into play.

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? Anyone who walks about in the daytime does not stumble, because he sees [by] the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks about in the night, he does stumble, because there is no light in him [the light is lacking to him]. 11 He said these things, and then added, Our friend Lazarus is at rest and sleeping; but I am going there that I may awaken him out of his sleep, John 11:9-11.

However, when basic spiritual routines like going to church, reading the Bible or praying stop occurring, God fades from your memory. While the Coronavirus may have been an excuse for some to use in 2020, it’s time to reconnect. The imagery of Luke 15:20 pictures the Lord as a concerned parent, patiently waiting on the front porch for prodigals to come home. Until lost souls come to their senses, this reconciliation is put on hold. Therefore, if you find yourself distant from God, today as good as any day to open up by saying, “Lord, it’s been so long.”

by Jay Mankus

Truth and Integrity

Propaganda uses lies, half-truths, innuendo, smears, misinformation, one-sided arguments and inflammatory rhetoric to influence the public’s attitude toward a cause, ideal or, usually, a political agenda. Propaganda is regularly pushed by cable news networks, political lobbyists, and through social media posts. If you scan the headlines on any given day, you will find similar mantras, talking points, and vocabulary to convince the American people what they should believe about a specific issue or policy.

Stand therefore [hold your ground], having tightened the belt of truth around your loins and having put on the breastplate of integrity and of moral rectitude and right standing with God, Ephesians 6:14.

If a famous talk show host has an expert on to shed light on this hot topic, minds began to be swayed. When another professional in a similar field deviates from this view, the Cancel Culture is willing and able to beat this individual into submission by whatever means necessary. Even if the Science clearly supports this unpopular view, opinions are elevated to fact status so that what one political party wants, one political party gets. This hyper sensitive climate doesn’t leave room for truth or integrity to reside or fit in.

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace, Ephesians 6:15.

If you use the illustration portrayed by the apostle Paul, all it takes for truth to disappear is for the Belt of Truth to be loosened and taken off. As soon as moral absolutes are stripped away, the is no need for integrity. If everyone is doing what’s right in their own eyes, Judges 21:25, the truth turns to grey until that too soon fades away. Don’t look now, but truth and integrity are like spare change jars at your local convenience store. Until someone is willing to be courageous by taking a stand for God today, Ezekiel 22:30, I’m afraid truth and integrity will disappear like the Bill of Rights in our Constitution. May God inspire believers to stand in the gap daily for integrity and truth.

by Jay Mankus

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