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The Noble Living Show

The Truman Show debuted in theaters during the summer of 1998. This movie within a movie starred Jim Carrey and Ed Harris. The only real thing in Truman’s life were the products placed into every scene like modern day Informercials. The Bible speaks of a live show that takes place in the homes, streets and workplaces across the country and throughout the world. This is the Noble Living Show.

Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom, James 3:13.

If you’ve never heard of this, you’re not alone. I was introduced to this concept late last week. According to the earthly brother of Jesus, the star of each episode are Christians who actively live out their faith. Instead of simple knowing what to do, this drama consists of a narrative drive inspired by the Holy Spirit to do good works. Except these characters remain humble unlike many of the modern reality shows.

For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice, That each one of you should know how to [c]possess (control, manage) his own [d]body in consecration (purity, separated from things profane) and honor, Not [to be used] in the passion of lust like the heathen, who are ignorant of the true God and have no knowledge of His will, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.

The key to this Noble Living Show is the harvest of righteousness, James 3:18. The earthly brother of James shares his own version of the acts of the flesh and traits of the Holy Spirit in James 3:13-18. Anyone who attempts to bypass this or tries to be good on their own strength will not sustain their nobility. Whenever you stumble or fall, take the advice of the apostle Paul in the passage above so that as other people see you in public the presence of Jesus in your heart will shine through.

by Jay Mankus

The Law of Liberty

When I was raised in the Roman Catholic Church, the fear of God was quickly ingrained within me. Subsequently, this mindset caused me to refer to the Bible as a long list of Do’s and Don’ts. Religiously following God’s commandments, decrees and precepts gradually wore me out. Yet, once I entered into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11, I began to see the Bible as a means toward liberation.

But he who looks carefully into the faultless law, the [law] of liberty, and is faithful to it and perseveres in looking into it, being not a heedless listener who forgets but an active doer [who obeys], he shall be blessed in his doing (his life of obedience), James 1:25.

Jesus’ earthly brother refers to the Torah as the law of liberty in the first two chapters of his letter to first century Christians. I wouldn’t be surprised if this concept was shared with him by Jesus. Rather than treat the Bible as a rigorous list of spiritual chores to carry out daily, James began to become liberated. Based upon the passage above, James sounds like Moses during his farewell address in Deuteronomy 30:15-16.

But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing]. Once I was alive, but quite apart from and unconscious of the Law. But when the commandment came, sin lived again and I died (was sentenced by the Law to death). 10 And the very legal ordinance which was designed and intended to bring life actually proved [to mean to me] death, Romans 7:8-10.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter in the Book of Romans to reveal how God’s law eventually liberated his troubled soul. Paul doesn’t hold back, pouring out his heart in frustration about his bleak spiritual condition. No matter how hard Paul tried to keep God’s Commandments, he failed miserably time after time, Romans 7:19-20. Despite Paul’s fallen nature, the final portion of Romans 7:21-25 illustrates how sinners can be liberated by the law of liberty through Christ, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

There’s More to Belief

Dr. James Kennedy founded Evangelism Explosion. Within this curriculum you will find the term mere intellectual assent. This refers to a basic belief in God similar to what the earthly brother of Jesus illustrates in the passage below. One of my favorite bands from college was a group called Surrender 18. This name matches their hit song as the lyrics reveal there are only 18 inches from your head to your heart. This distance is what separates the beliefs of an atheist from a Christian.

You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as [a]make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:19

Neil Diamond wrote the song “I’m a Believer” for his 1967 album Just for You. Yet, the Monkees version of this song became number one on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1966 due to the popularity of their television show. The lyrics of Diamonds song is the opposite of faith, referring to physical attraction: Then I saw her face, now I’m a believer. Not a trace of doubt in my mind; I’m in love, I’m a believer. Anyone can believe in something you see, but it’s what you do with your belief that makes it special.

And [so] the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed in (adhered to, trusted in, and relied on) God, and this was accounted to him as righteousness (as conformity to God’s will in thought and deed), and he was called God’s friend, James 2:23.

James uses Abraham’s belief as an example in the passage above. The book definition of belief is an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists. Abraham’s response to God was multi-fascinated. When asked to sacrifice his one and only son from his wife Sarah, waiting decades to be born, Abraham adhered to, trusted in and relied on God. Bible scholars suggest that Abraham believed that God would somehow resurrect his son if he was faithful to God’s calling. This is genuine belief.

by Jay Mankus

Under the Influence of a Sinful Nature

New York was the first state to create a law for individuals driving under the influence of alcohol. The first reported DUI arrest was in 1910. Modern laws use a person’s blood alcohol level to determine if someone is driving while intoxicated or over the legal limit, .1 percent which may vary from state to state. While the Bible warns about getting drunk, there are is another force that deserves careful attention.

Even so the tongue is a little member, and it can boast of great things. See how much wood or how great a forest a tiny spark can set ablaze! And the tongue is a fire. [The tongue is a] world of wickedness set among our members, contaminating and depraving the whole body and setting on fire the wheel of birth (the cycle of man’s nature), being itself ignited by hell (Gehenna), James 3:5-6.

The section of the Bible known as the Catholic Letters begins with a warning about words. James 1:19 introduces the influence of anger on your speech. James 2:17 suggests that if the words you use don’t reflect your personal relationship with God that your faith is either dead or dying. In the passage above, the earthly brother of Jesus illustrates what happens to your language under the influence of a sinful nature.

But sin, finding opportunity in the commandment [to express itself], got a hold on me and aroused and stimulated all kinds of forbidden desires (lust, covetousness). For without the Law sin is dead [the sense of it is inactive and a lifeless thing]. Once I was alive, but quite apart from and unconscious of the Law. But when the commandment came, sin lived again and I died (was sentenced by the Law to death).10 And the very legal ordinance which was designed and intended to bring life actually proved [to mean to me] death, Romans 7:8-10.

Since not everyone is outgoing, the apostle Paul provides an internal analysis above of how sinful desires can hold you back spiritually. While the human mind is a beautiful thing to waste, Eve was the first victim when she allowed lies about God to be planted within her thoughts, Genesis 3:4-6. Any foreign influence starts off subtle with a compromise. Yet, once your judgment becomes clouded, enticement and lust open your mind to that which once was forbidden. The only way to break free from the influence of the sinful nature is by embracing the harvest of righteousness, James 3:17-18.

by Jay Mankus

Supreme Expression

Pixar’s 2015 Inside Out follows a girl named Riley from her birth. Rather than express Riley’s life in a typical manner, emotions inside of her like joy, sadness, anger and fear steer the way. This creative twist of events provides a unique perspective of what goes inside the mind of a child. If only a spiritual element was added to this film, supreme expression could be realized.

You see that [his] faith was cooperating with his works, and [his] faith was completed and reached its supreme expression [when he implemented it] by [good] works, James 1:22.

Expression is the process of making known one’s thoughts or feelings. Whether this is communicated through an articulation, declaration or proclamation, words begin to express what’s going on deep inside of you. According to Jesus’ earthly brother, when faith, good works and words are implemented properly, you reach what the Bible refers to as supreme expression.

You see that a man is justified (pronounced righteous before God) through what he does and not alone through faith [through works of obedience as well as by what he believes], James 1:24.

Yet, what if you are extremely shy? Or like me, born with a severe speech impediment. What do you do to experience supreme expression? This is the dilemma faced by a man from Decapolis. According to Mark 7:32-35, Jesus said, “Ephphatha” which is a prayer to open and loosen your tongue. When you add belief to this prayer, Matthew 21:21-22, supreme expression is possible to achieve through Christ who gives us strength, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

The Faithful Will Become Fruitful

From a human point of view, no one will ever be faithful 100% of the time. The apostle Paul quotes an Old Testament prophet to illustrate this in Romans 3:9-12. The Bible implies faithfulness is an unswerving adherence to God’s commands and calling. While Jesus asks his followers to strive for perfection in Matthew 5:48, Paul understood that the weaker you become opens the door for Christ to become strong.

[The Father] has delivered and [m]drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son [n]of His love, 14 In Whom we have our redemption through His blood, [which means] the forgiveness of our sins. 15 [Now] He is the [o]exact likeness of the unseen God [the visible representation of the invisible]; He is the Firstborn of all creation, Colossians 1:13-15.

In the passage above, Paul explains the spiritual condition that Jesus rescued Christians out of. In a letter to the Church at Rome, Paul states that new believers have an obligation to live according to the Holy Spirit, Romans 812. This means faith in Christ involves fleeing your old self along with any former addictions, bad habits and desires. This is the first step toward faithfulness as you will live and learn via trial and error like new parents figure out how to raise an infant.

But seek ([z]aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness ([aa]His way of doing and being right), and then all these things [ab]taken together will be given you besides. 34 So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble, Matthew 6:33-34.

Jesus’ advice in the Sermon on the Mount is centered around developing the proper mindset. Instead of questioning God about why you haven’t received this or that, you might want to re-examine your priorities. According to Jesus, whoever begins to seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, all your concerns and worries will be taken care of by God. Another way to express this truth is the faithful will become fruitful.

by Jay Mankus

What a Spiritual Journey Encompasses

While a Christian’s faith begins with a public confession, Romans 10:9-11, the journey that follows is a life-long commitment. One New Testament author compares this to running a marathon in Hebrews 12:1-2. Yet, the apostle Paul provides an accurate description in the passage below of what a spiritual journey encompasses. This comes in the form of a prayer request so that Christians in Colosse reach their full potential.

For this reason we also, from the day we heard of it, have not ceased to pray and make [[g]special] request for you, [asking] that you may be filled with the [h]full (deep and clear) knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom [[i]in comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God] and in understanding and discernment of spiritual things—Colossians 1:9.

Part of this journey involves discovering your own spiritual gift, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. Until these talents are manifested and or unveiled, you probably won’t know the direction or path to take in life. Perhaps, this is why the apostle Paul spent so much time praying for clarity, knowledge and understanding for God’s will in life. Unlike Dorthy who had a yellow brick road to lead her and her friends to Oz, the Holy Spirit is an invisible guide for Christians on this journey of faith.

That you may walk (live and conduct yourselves) in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and [j]desiring to please Him in all things, bearing fruit in every good work and steadily growing and increasing in and by the knowledge of God [with fuller, deeper, and clearer insight, [k]acquaintance, and recognition]. 11 [We pray] that you may be invigorated and strengthened with all power according to the might of His glory, [to exercise] every kind of endurance and patience (perseverance and forbearance) with joy, Colossians 1:10-11.

Yet, when everything comes together and the stars align, God’s goal is for Christians to conduct your life in a manner worthy of the Lord. In a letter to a teenager pastor, Paul calls this leader to fan into flame his gifts. Go forth and fulfill what God has called you to do in life. While I long to become a screenwriter in Hollywood, for now God is calling me to post a blog every day so that you may know what a spiritual journey encompasses.

by Jay Mankus

Using Love Thy Neighbor to End Discrimination

The earthly brother of Jesus ends the first chapter of his letter to Christians scattered throughout the world following Nero’s persecution with a warning about succumbing to the ways of the world. As chapter two begins it’s clear that discrimination can corrupt and pollute human souls. Perhaps 2022 would be a great time to adopt love thy neighbor as a means to end discrimination. Yet, this begins by looking at yourself in the mirror to examine how you must change to love all people.

Are you not discriminating among your own and becoming critics and judges with wrong motives?Listen, my beloved brethren: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and in their position as believers and to inherit the kingdom which He has promised to those who love Him? – James 2:4-5

The first church I served as a youth direction in was in the country. This particular church community took Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:23-24 literally. Subsequently, on Communion Sunday a large portion was absent, off seeking to make right any broken or iffy relationship. One of my friends who was a pastor of a nearby church began to alter Communion Sunday so that nobody knew when to skip church. While this was an admirable act of faith for those who skipped church mend relationships, discrimination was still occurring due to pre-conceived notions and judgments.

But you [in contrast] have insulted (humiliated, dishonored, and shown your contempt for) the poor. Is it not the rich who domineer over you? Is it not they who drag you into the law courts? – James 2:6

There will always be some sort of discrimination due to the ungodly beliefs that human beings have been picked up over the course of their lives. Yet, the apostle Paul claims that charity is the greatest spiritual act that Christians can display, 1 Corinthians 13:13. When love is present in hearts due to the power of the Holy Spirit, loving your neighbor as yourself is achievable, Matthew 22:38-40. Rather than have politicians create a new law that has nothing to do with the actual title, use the love thy neighbor principle as a means to end discrimination.

by Jay Mankus

The Father of All Light

Exodus 8 reveals an important lesson about light and life. When King Pharaoh could not explain some of the miracles performed by Aaron and Moses, he sent for magicians who were actually able to duplicate the first two. Moses claimed that enchantments and secret arts allowed these magicians to turn water into blood and call forth frogs from the waters to fill the land. Yet, when these magicians were unable to bring forth gnats or mosquitoes, these men came to the conclusion that this was the finger of God, Exodus 8:18-19.

For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

According to the apostle Paul, Satan possessed similar powers in the first century. Apparently, Lucifer was able to retain some of his archangel abilities as Paul describes him as the ruler of the air, Ephesus 2:2. Just like the Egyptian magicians thousands of years ago, some modern leaders continue to masquerade as spurious counterfeits of faith today. Yet, at some point in time these individuals will be exposed as their hidden agendas and motives will be uncovered by the Father of all Light. Nonetheless, free will provides the power hungry with an excuse to see how much they can get away with in the darkness.

Every good gift and every perfect ([d]free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse], James 1:17.

When you grow up with a big brother who is perfect, you start to follow him around to find out the secret of his success. Apparently, James likely spied on Jesus while He was praying with His heavenly Father. While he may not have gotten as close as he wanted to hear every word spoken, James came to the conclusion that the Father of Light is what made Jesus who He was. Sharing eyewitness testimony, James wants every first century Christian to know that it is the God of heaven who is the giver of all good things. There is no doubt about it so don’t be deceived by luck, chance or coincidences.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming Spiritual Mood Swings

Mood swings are an abrupt and apparently unaccountable change in an individual’s mood. From time to time, there are logical and rationale reasons to explain these emotional swings. Women may blame that time of the month while men might point to a personal matter. Nonetheless, Christians are called to higher standards in Matthew 5:43-48. According to one of Jesus’ disciples, trusting in the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4 helps overcome spiritual mood swings.

Better is a dinner of herbs where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it. 18 A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger appeases contention. 19 The way of the sluggard is overgrown with thorns [it pricks, lacerates, and entangles him], but the way of the righteous is plain and raised like a highway, Proverbs 15:17-19.

King Solomon points to a trait passed on to him by his father David, 1 Samuel 16:7. While the world often uses physical appearances and traits as a means to determine greatness, God looks at the heart. Unfortunately, even men and women with a heart for God have inner demons. Some fall prey to anger which can trigger a mood swing with just one word. As someone who had my own anger management issues in the past, learning to control emotional outbursts is no easy matter.

Because of the hope [of experiencing what is] laid up ([d]reserved and waiting) for you in heaven. Of this [hope] you heard in the past in the message of the truth of the Gospel, Which has come to you. Indeed, in the whole world [that Gospel] is bearing fruit and still is growing [e][by its own inherent power], even as it has done among yourselves ever since the day you first heard and came to know and understand the grace of God in truth. [You came to know the grace or undeserved favor of God in reality, deeply and clearly and thoroughly, becoming accurately and intimately acquainted with it,] Colossians 1:5-6.

According to the apostle Paul, grasping God’s grace is the best place to start. Emotional mood swings are usually followed by conviction, guilt, shame or a combination of these three. Once the fireworks of your mood swing have come to an end, there is a brief moment where grace can come to the rescue. If you haven’t reached rock bottom like the prodigal son, common sense may not be regained for days, weeks, months or years. Yet, when the Father’s love shines through, controlling spiritual mood swings is possible.

by Jay Mankus

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