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The Day of Danger

Next to experience, repetition is one of the best modes of teaching. Perhaps, Moses was painfully aware of the human condition, so focused on the present that lessons of the past are forgotten. The Book of Deuteronomy simply means second law, serving as a constant reminder of God’s expectations. From the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20:1-26 to the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12, if important principles aren’t brushed up on, you won’t be prepared for the day of danger that will rock your world.

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. 13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place], Ephesians 6:12-13.

The context of this expression is found in what Bible scholars refers to the armor of God. As tension within the spiritual dimension builds, powers of darkness are lurking, waiting and eager to pounce upon weakened and lonely Christians, 1 Peter 5:8. This invisible danger seeks to steal spiritual truths within young and vulnerable hearts. Meanwhile, trials and tragedy are just a few of the weapons used to steal dreams and poison souls. If you think you’re exempt from the day of danger, just listen to the words of King Solomon below.

A prudent man sees the evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished [with suffering], Proverbs 22:3.

What’s odd about this passage is that five chapters later in Proverbs 27:12, Solomon chooses the exact same words. As one of the wisest human beings to walk the face of the earth, there must be a specific reason. Perhaps, one of his son’s was forgetful or had a short attention span. As Jesus often said, “you have ears, but do not hear.” When the timing isn’t right, crucial lessons fly by, out of sight, out of mind. Yet, when the timing is right and hearts embraces these spiritual morsels like a sponge, Christians are prepared when your day of danger arrives.

by Jay Mankus

The Shield of Saving Faith

The initial shield as described by the apostle Paul in the Bible is called a scutum. The scutum was a large body shield measuring roughly 2.5 feet wide by 4 feet tall. Auxiliary soldiers had a different shaped shield as these shields were mostly made of wood, gluing a few layers together to make the curved shape. This shield was then covered in leather and a sheet of linen cloth added to the front. Designs were usually painted onto the front following it’s completion. After the 3rd century the oval or round clipeus became the standard shield for Roman soldiers.

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. 16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one], Ephesians 6:15-16.

According to Psalm 7:13, flaming arrows were used during battles in the Old Testament. As technology improved, so did the accuracy which made Roman shield’s life saving. Prior to battle, these shields were soaked in a fire retardant substance to extinguish incoming flaming arrows. When bombarded by the enemy, soldier’s would dig their shield’s into the earth at an angle to protect their entire bodies from harm. Perhaps, this specific detail is why Paul refers to this weapon as the shield of saving faith.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [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 10:4-5.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul refers to the necessary mindset to ward off spiritual attacks. Whenever wars occur, soldier’s can become exhausted mentally and physically. If you don’t get enough rest or your confidence is shattered, it’s only matter of time before defeat and death set in. However, as Christians learn to fight fire with fire by using spiritual weapons to fight invisible supernatural forces, momentum can change at a moment’s notice. Therefore, the next time you feel like you’re getting pelted by this present age of darkness, pick up the shield of faith and stand your ground.

by Jay Mankus

What Children Ought to Know

Context is the circumstances that form a setting for an event, statement, or idea, and in terms of which it can be fully understood and assessed. As a student of the Bible, I regretfully must confess that I have overlooked the context of the Armor of God. At the end of Ephesians 5, the apostle Paul addresses God’s expectation for a husband and wife. While recently reading Ephesians 6, Paul clarifies what the Lord expects from their children as well. Based the comment in the passage below, the armor of God is designed to protect the entire family, including children. Therefore, this is what children ought to know before they leave a Christian home, Genesis 2:24.

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil, Ephesians 6:10-11.

As an adult, I don’t always have the expectations that I should for my own children. According to a first century doctor, the more you know spiritually, the more expectations Jesus has for you, Luke 12:48. Yet, when coaches, parents and teachers expect little of their athletes, children and pupils, the same can be true. Thus, whenever adults don’t fully prepare children for what lies in wait for them in the future, we as Christian leaders are setting children up to fail. The initial passage below should be ingrained into the hearts and minds of every teenager. This spiritual dimension isn’t just something that appears on a movie screen or streaming service. Rather, this biblical truth uncovers the spiritual forces of darkness at work in our world today.

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. 13 Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place]. 14 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, 15 And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the [a]firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness [b]produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace.16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of [c]saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one].17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit [d]wields, which is the Word of God.18 Pray at all times (on every occasion, in every season) in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people), Ephesians 6:12-18.

Most Christian denominations have some sort of confirmation process. When I was confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church, I was under the impression that I was taking ownership of my faith. Instead of going to church because your parents tell you to go, Confirmation serves as a way to pass the spiritual torch for one generation to the next. Yet, I was never told about Ephesians 6:12, likely out of fear. However, how can someone comprehend the armor of God when you don’t know what your spiritual enemy is up to, John 10:10. This blog was designed to sound the alarm, 1 Peter 5:8, so that when this roaring lion attacks, children will how what to do and how to react. May this blog be shared with countless households so that children will know how to handle and use the Sword of the Spirit, Matthew 4:1-11, so that the Devil will be forced to flee.

by Jay Mankus

Afraid to Tell Her of Your Love

An inciting incident in a screen play is a story that upsets the status quo and begins the story’s movement forward. According to author and story guru John Truby, narrative drive is the forward propulsion of a story. When communicated in the right manner, this serves as a page turner, captivating audiences as viewers want to find out what will happen next. The inciting incident in my own life was the death of a good friend from high school. Since I was afraid to tell her of God’s love while she was battling cancer, her passing created a spirit of conviction within my heart for this to never happen again.

You have heard of my earlier career and former manner of life in the Jewish religion (Judaism), how I persecuted and abused the church of God furiously and extensively, and [with fanatical zeal did my best] to make havoc of it and destroy it. 14 And [you have heard how] I outstripped many of the men of my own generation among the people of my race in [my advancement in study and observance of the laws of] Judaism, so extremely enthusiastic and zealous I was for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when He, Who had chosen and set me apart [even] before I was born and had called me by His grace (His undeserved favor and blessing), saw fit and was pleased, Galatians 1:13-15.

In a letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul writes about his previous life before entering a relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-11. The first chapter of Galatians serves as a blue print for telling your own personal story about how you came to faith. This outline begins by sharing how you acted, behaved and lived your life prior to making your spiritual decision. The second part is simply when and how you were introduced to God. The final step of a testimony is explaining how your life has been changed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. For some of you, this process may still be in it’s infancy. Yet, as time passes, light will expose traces of darkness that still exists within you.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but [with me] take your share of the suffering [to which the preaching] of the Gospel [may expose you, and do it] in the power of God, 2 Peter 1:7-8.

To ensure that I was not afraid anymore, I sought out accountability groups, Bible Studies and Christian groups on campus to deepen my faith. I set up a duel internship at a Bible Fellowship Church in Ohio to spark my passion for youth ministry. I spent a decade serving as a Bible Teacher at a Christian High School and the last nine years sharing my journey with God by writing daily devotionals at Express Yourself 4 Him. I’d be lying if I haven’t fallen short in the area of fear. Yet, faith is a process of rising and falling, talking steps back and marching forward. My end goal is to no longer be ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus so that when an opportunity to share my faith arises. When fear disappears, you will be prepared to give an answer for the faith that you now have, 1 Peter 3:15-16, this Easter Season.

by Jay Mankus

An Atheist with Passion

During a late night drive to Liberty University, I took a stroll down Memory Lane. Listening to a 2 CD set from In Reach, a Christian Band with lead vocalist Brett Williams, I was taken back in time to the 1990’s. The Waterline album debuted my senior year of college and Power and Promise came out while I was attending a Youth Ministry Trade School. A line from their song Savannah, “An Atheist with passion” reminded me of a former student.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light, Matthew 6:22.

Since 2011 was my last year of teaching high school, certain songs tend to help me recall the good and difficult times in my classroom. Jennifer was a byproduct of a broken home. Apparently, her older sister was the only adult in the house, making sure she got her two younger sisters to school on time every morning. While Jen’s parents claimed to be Bible believing Christians, their actions continued to feed fleshly desires. Subsequently, this hypocrisy left a sour taste in Jen’s soul, conceiving an Atheist with passion.

But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! – Matthew 6:23

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns his followers of the side affects of darkness. When addictions, bad habits or poor choices continue to happen, it’s only a matter of time before you too may find yourself in a similar state like Jennifer. During tests and quizzes, Jen regularly shared her disdain for Christianity. As a Bible teacher at this time, it was a hard pill to swallow. Yet, as time went by, all I could do was be a light for Christ. All Christians can do today is hope and pray that something you say or live out will persuade future Jen’s to leave their state of darkness by coming to the light.

by Jay Mankus

Unbridled Sensuality

A bridle is used by trainers to bring a horse under control. Wild horses tend to respond with anger and resentment, especially by throwing up their heads and drawing in their chin. If this is how a young colt reacts to being reigned in, imagine what a rebellious individual will do when caught in the act of sin. As people cross the line between right and wrong, gray areas are formed, leading some toward unbridled sensuality.

Their moral understanding is darkened and their reasoning is beclouded. [They are] alienated (estranged, self-banished) from the life of God [with no share in it; this is] because of the ignorance (the want of knowledge and perception, the willful blindness) that is deep-seated in them, due to their hardness of heart [to the insensitiveness of their moral nature], Ephesians 4:18.

As cultures become more and more progressive, what was once forbidden is now socially acceptable. Instead of encouraging and teaching abstinence in public school, commercials for new drugs are aired weekly to protect the sexually active. Rather than playing it safe, a growing number choose to keep feeding their sexual hunger, opening the door to contract various sexual diseases. Justification comes from the mindset, “if everyone else is doing it, why should I stop?” This is unbridled sensuality in action.

In their spiritual apathy they have become callous and past feeling and reckless and have abandoned themselves [a prey] to unbridled sensuality, eager and greedy to indulge in every form of impurity [that their depraved desires may suggest and demand], Ephesians 4:19.

According to the apostle Paul, sexual sins are different from all other sins, 1 Corinthians 6:12-19. While all sins have consequences, sexual sins result in soul spirit hurts as you become one with another human being. Sexual appetites tend to result in addiction, bad habits and or unhealthy cravings for sex. Before unbridled sensuality consumes any soul, reign in your flesh. This internal battle is on full display in Galatians 5:16-18, providing what you need to overcome these urges before you can regain control of your body.

by Jay Mankus

Shut It Down

The expression “shut it down” is an idiom, slang for to cease operations. Whether you’re referring to a dying business, a floundering device or an overheating vehicle, this command is uttered to prevent further damage. Instead of raising the white flag, shut it down implies that someone or something is giving up. While it’s never easy to admit defeat, these words suggest to move on and wait for another day.

Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind), Ephesians 4:31.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul urges Christians to break an unhealthy habit. Apparently, first century believers struggled to tame their own tongue. Instead of practicing self control, mouths began to spew abusive language. This pattern appears to have spread throughout the Church of Ephesus. Concerned about a full outbreak of trash talking, Paul had heard and seen enough, demanding, “shut it down!”

And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you, Ephesians 4:32.

Like a spiritual form of rehab, Paul adds instructions on how to change above. When urges to criticize, condemn or complain rise to the surface, a tender heart makes all the difference. Instead of treating others according to the world’s standards, remember what Jesus did for you on the cross. As a spirit of compassion begins to flow through your heart, shutting down malicious talk is possible. Rather than the tearing down others to make yourself feel better, choose encouragement to uplift those around you.

by Jay Mankus

Enterprises of Darkness

The origins of darkness can be traced back to the Bible. Apart from its literal meaning, darkness is symbolic of evil in the Bible. George Lucas introduced the world to a new element of darkness in the 1977 Star Wars film. Using a battle between good and evil, Darth Vader’s character is a byproduct of giving into the dark side. Sounding the warning alarm in the New Testament, the apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter, Romans 7, to the consequences of living in darkness.

Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be soin contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them. For it is a shame even to speak of or mention the things that [such people] practice in secret, Ephesians 5:11-12.

When darkness becomes a way of life, individuals pursue what the apostle Paul refers to as enterprises of darkness. This undertaking often takes the form of an activity, endeavor, or venture. While Lucas speaks of “following the force,” the Bible urges followers of Jesus to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25. If you choose the latter, souls will finds themselves slip sliding away, joining other wayward individuals in an enterprise of darkness.

[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13.

If you do find yourself on the opposite side of God, hope is provided in the passage above. When your life does spin out of control, there is a deliverer who can lift you out of darkness. However, words are meaningless unless you are willing to change. Until acts of contrition display glimpses of light, dominion’s of darkness will continue to reign. Therefore, if you do come to your senses, Jesus is waiting for you with open arms to begin an enterprise inspired by God’s light, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

So… You Really Want to Know?

Cause-and-effect is the relationship between actions or events such that one or more are the result of the other or others. In other words, for every action or choice, there is a reaction that is either positive or negative. This is what Bible refers to as the principle of sowing and reaping. If you take this concept literally, what you receive is directly proportionally to the degree to what you put into any endeavor.

Give, and [gifts] will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, will they pour into [the pouch formed by] the bosom [of your robe and used as a bag]. For with the measure you deal out [with the measure you use when you confer benefits on others], it will be measured back to you, Luke 6:38.

For example, a recent sermon that I heard stated the following. “If you sow a thought, you will reap an action. If you sow an action, you will reap a habit. If you sow a habit, you reap a specific character trait. If you sow a character trait, you reap a reputation. If you sow a reputation, you reap a legacy. If you sow a legacy, you reap an eternal destiny.” During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains how others will judge you. The name you will make for yourselves is based upon your own actions.

[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. Let each one [give] as he has made up his own mind and purposed in his heart, not reluctantly or sorrowfully or under compulsion, for God loves (He takes pleasure in, prizes above other things, and is unwilling to abandon or to do without) a cheerful (joyous, “prompt to do it”) giver [whose heart is in his giving]. And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation], 2 Corinthians 9:6-8.

If you’re not satisfied with the person that you’ve become, the passage above briefly explains why. Any individual who gives sparingly of their gifts, money, and or resources, will receive limited blessings from God, if any. The apostle Paul builds upon the teaching of Malachi 3:8-10. When you give to God in the form of service or tithes, blessings from heaven will rain down. Sow… if you really want to know how to change your destiny, the words above provide a blueprint for sowing according to God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Live Purposefully

While attending a seminar in college, I was first introduced to the concept of planning. One of the speakers proclaimed, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” This message is consistent with the words of an Old Testament prophet, Hosea 4:6. When your life is void of goals, without a clear vision for where you want to go, failure is in your future. Thus, if you want to live purposefully, this journey begins by discovering your place in this world.

Therefore He says, Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall shine (make day dawn) upon you and give you light. 15 Look carefully then how you walk! Live purposefully and worthily and accurately, not as the unwise and witless, but as wise (sensible, intelligent people), Ephesians 5:14-15.

Near the end of his letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul provides a pep talk for those individuals going through life without any sense of direction. Paul uses the analogy of sleep walking, spiritual dead or numb to God’s calling. Instead of going through life like a zombie from the Walking Dead, people need to become alive, inspired by the light of Christ. Until this spiritual hunger is conceived, people will continue to wander aimlessly through life.

Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is, Ephesians 5:16-17.

The Roman poet Horace recorded the Latin saying Carpe Diem in his work Odes, 25 years before Christ was born. As a Roman citizen, Paul likely knew of Horace’s work and may have referenced this in the passage above. If you truly want to seize each day, grasping God’s will for your life is the first step. As this comes into focus, uncovering your spiritual gifts and talents is crucial, 1 Corinthians 12:1-12. When these are put into action, 2 Timothy 1:6, living with purpose is possible, John 10:10.

by Jay Mankus

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