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Tag Archives: angels

Disguises and Masks

In my early years, I was gullible, often accepting and believing what others told me. This weakness made me an easy prey for practical jokes. After being misled by a group of older boy scouts, my eyes were open to what my peers were capable of. Whenever you get tricked the first time, skepticism will prompt individuals to uncover disguises or masks to avoid getting duped again.

But the [Holy] Spirit explicitly and unmistakably declares that in later times some will turn away from the faith, paying attention instead to deceitful and seductive spirits and doctrines of demons, [misled] by the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences are seared as with a branding iron [leaving them incapable of ethical functioning], 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

Based upon descriptions of Lucifer in the Bible, this fallen angel serves as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2. Apparently, one of his disguises comes in the form as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14. Several New Testament writers elude to spirits that masquerade as apostles. Yet, Paul and John urged believers to test everything so that no one is deceived by demonic influences.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit [speaking through a self-proclaimed prophet]; instead test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets and teachers have gone out into the world. By this you know and recognize the Spirit of God: every spirit that acknowledges and confesses [the fact] that Jesus Christ has [actually] come in the flesh [as a man] is from God [God is its source]; 1 John 4:1-2.

There is a healthy balance one must develop between trust and truth. Christians need to be educated by the potential camouflage, shrouds and veils that hide potential harm. Thus, testing spirits based upon scripture will uncover imposters, unmasking evil motives. Meanwhile, relying on the Bible as a source for checks and balances will enable souls to recognize God’s Spirit. While the pulpit may not preach that much about the spiritual realm, Ephesians 6:12, modern Christians must be diligent to avoid disguises and masks the Devil continues to hide behind.

by Jay Mankus

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Don’t Let Feelings Control Your Theology

Theology is the science of God; the study of beliefs, doctrines and theories based upon the Bible. Meanwhile, feelings are a natural reaction to your emotional state. Under duress, hardship or trials, feelings will clash with your theology. Depending upon your state of mind, words may come out of your mouth that contradict what you actually believe. Thus, when push comes to shove, never let feelings control your theology.

But their report seemed to them like idle talk and nonsense, and they would not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb. Stooping [at the small entrance] and looking in, he saw only the linen wrappings; and he went away, wondering about what had happened, Luke 24:11-12.

Three days after Jesus’ death, a group of women are eager to tell the disciples about their encounter with two angels. One of these eye witnesses is Jesus’ mom, insisting that the Lord has risen from the dead. Instead of rejoicing, these men let their feelings control their theology. Subsequently, the disciples accused these women of gossip, hearsay and non-sense. Yet, Peter ran to the tomb hoping that these women were telling the truth.

When Mary came [to the place] where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who had come with her also sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit [to the point of anger at the sorrow caused by death] and was troubled, John 11:32-33.

About a year earlier, two sisters found themselves in a similar situation. Their brother had died, succumbing to a fatal illness. However, Martha, reached out to Jesus prior to his death, begging him to come heal Lazarus. When Jesus finally arrived, Mary, the youngest, accused Jesus of not caring and essentially blaming him for Lazarus’ death. While these women let their emotions control their comments, Jesus stayed focused. Jesus gave commands to roll back the tombstone, stood death in the face and brought Lazarus back to life. This is an example of what can happen when belief, conviction and faith never waver.

by Jay Mankus

No Substitute Will Do

As a former teacher, I despised planning for my days off, putting together lesson plans for a substitute.  While this replacement for a class, day or week tries their best to follow the material provided, students will do all they can to battle for a movie day or study hall.  When I returned back to the classroom, I was usually disappointed by the lack of progress that was made.  Although there are several excellent full time subs, some individuals are impossible to replace.

And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed, Acts 14:23.

As an adult, I struggle to focus when I attend a church service and the senior pastor is off or out of town.  Maybe once or twice the guest speaker is just as good, but usually there is a big drop off.  When worship leaders are absent or the A team is away playing for another service, there is usually a noticeable difference.  Whenever superior talent is replaced by an alternate or reserve, these fill ins are put into a no win situation.  If surprisingly good, regulars might feel threatened.  When someone fails miserably, you will likely lose this volunteer, to avoid future embarrassment.

But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone, Hebrews 2:9.

These illustrations prove that no substitute will do for certain scenarios.  For example, attending church from an off campus sight or virtually on an electronic device is a growing trend.  When pastors or worship teams aren’t available, newly planted churches can participate by watching from a large screen.  If you are not careful, it’s easy to withdraw, staying home to listen to sermons and worship.  I must confess that I have fallen prey to this trap.  I rationalize my actions by listening to two to three sermons each Sunday.  Yet, when it comes to being part of a local congregation, no substitute will do.  God designed the body of Christ around imitate relationships.  Thus. getting involved means going to church, fellowshipping with others and making yourself vulnerable to God.

by Jay Mankus

A Reason To Celebrate

According to a recent AAA survey, 112 million American traveled 50 miles or more to celebrate Christmas in 2018.  Like most holidays, airports and highways will be packed as families travel back and forth from these destinations.  Yet, how many arrived safely without incident?  Furthermore, how many individuals gave thanks to God upon arriving?

“Being thus arrived in a good harbor and brought safe to land, they fell upon their knees and blessed the God of heaven, who had brought them over the vast and furious ocean,” William Bradford, 1620.

The quote above seems applicable for any trip that you take.  In an exhibit dedicated to Pilgrims at the Museum of the Bible,  Bradford’s recollection of the Pilgrim’s landfall upon Plymouth Rock reveals the faith of those who set sail across the Atlantic.  Apparently, the Mayflower experienced rough seas, squalls and unsettling weather.  Nonetheless, when this journey was complete, God received the credit for arriving safely.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name, Hebrews 13:15.

As someone who has driven nearly one million miles behind the wheel of a car, my appreciation for God is lacking.  Sure, when road conditions are treacherous I cry out to the Lord, but rarely do I thank God when I arrive.  As I travel back home in the morning, I need to apply the passage above.  Praise should be continual, daily and genuine.  Instead of taking credit for keeping my family safe, I need to thank angels, divine intervention and God’s mercy for watching over me and my family.  Perhaps, we can all learn from the Pilgrims, with a reason to celebrate the little things in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Replacing Your Filters

Depending upon the quality of your air conditioner and furnace unit, air filters need to be replaced as soon as thirty days or as long as six months.  The U.S. Department of Energy claims that replacing a dirty filter with a clean one can lower your air conditioner’s energy consumption by 5 to 10 percent.  Meanwhile, furnace filters should be changed every two to three months depending upon the size of your filter.  Whether you live in an apartment, condo or home, basic upkeep is essential to prolonging your appliances.

We are destroying sophisticated arguments and every exalted and proud thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought and purpose captive to the obedience of Christ, 2 Corinthians 10:5.

The Bible refers to a different kind of filter.  According to the apostle Paul, the human mind is a spiritual filter.  Whenever a thought enters your head, God has given individuals the ability to stop evil from corrupting your body.  Before I became a Christian, I was oblivious to the concept of angels, demons and the powers of darkness.  Yet, the more that I read the Bible, the more I understand the importance of replacing your filter by making every thought obedient to Christ.  This is accomplished by memorizing and meditating upon verses of the Bible to prevent evil from persuading souls to give into temptation.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places, Ephesians 6:12.

While the media attempts to convince the world that certain individuals are the enemy, the apostle Paul corrects the record in the passage above.  Sure, there will always be people that rub you the wrong way by getting under your skin.  Yet, the Devil uses physical opponents to suppress any joy that you may have in your heart.  This is why replacing your spiritual filter daily with biblical principles, God’s promises and truth is essential.  The next time strange thoughts catch you off guard, replace the filter in your mind with the Word of God.  May this practice renew and transform your mind, Romans 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

Celebration and Suffering

News of an expecting birth is worthy of a celebration in the form of baby shower.  After labor ushers into this world a new human being, joy consumes families of this infant.  In the years that follow, there are a series of memorable moments, first steps, first words and first day of school.  As new parents work together to raise children, celebrating is often replaced by suffering.  From childhood to adolescence, life only gets more complicated, especially for first time parents.  At some point, celebration fades away as suffering intensifies.  I don’t mean to be Ebenezer Scrooge, but this is a reality of life.

Now it happened that the poor man died and his spirit was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom (paradise); and the rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom (paradise), Luke 16:22-23.

After sharing the parable of the unjust manager, Jesus transitions into another parable.  Entitled the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus highlights a reason to celebrate and another to fear.  Using a story about a rich and poor man, Jesus uses a hypothetical scenario to detail what heaven and hell is like.  When Lazarus dies, God rewards this poor man with what Jesus calls paradise.  Meanwhile, a self-centered rich man who cared only about himself was sent to hell.  According to Jesus, hell is a place of eternal suffering, able to see those celebrating above, but unable to do anything to help their agony and pain.  This fact should convict and inspire the living to avoid a similar eternal destiny.

And he cried out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in severe agony in this flame,’ Luke 16:24.

In the previous chapter, Luke, a well known first century doctor recalls three parables that illustrate God’s grace, love and mercy.  Whether a possession is lost like a coin or pet, heaven celebrates each time a sinner repents.  Angels are programmed to embrace hearts that confess the error of their way.  Meanwhile, even if you are a prodigal son or daughter who has left your family, God will never abandon you.  These stories have been written to urge souls to surrender your life to follow Jesus.  Although this road is narrow as detailed by Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, any worldly suffering that you might endure is worth this decision.  Therefore, do not ignore the passage listed above so that your eternal destination will be celebrated at your funeral rather than suffer, not knowing whether you are in heaven or hell.

by Jay Mankus

Addiction and Dieting

The Bible blames addiction on a hidden force within human bodies.  The apostle Paul refers to this as fleshly desires, a nature that leads individuals to give into sin.  Prior to the introduction of a spiritual law, this sinful nature went unnoticed, accepted as a part of life.  However, when you apply biblical principles to addiction and dieting, a first century Christian makes a shocking revelation.

We know that the Law is spiritual, but I am a creature of the flesh [worldly, self-reliant—carnal and unspiritual], sold into slavery to sin [and serving under its control]. 15 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity], Romans 7:14-15.

No matter how hard you try to do the right thing, carnal, unspiritual and worldly influences often lead people to do the exact opposite.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul uses baffled and bewildered to explain his addictive actions.  Like someone in need of rehab, Paul couldn’t control himself, doing the very thing that he hates.  While I have never been to a detox center, I hope that these words of the apostle Paul are applied to modern clinics to help people see that addiction and dieting have a spiritual connection.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts]. 17 For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do. 18 But if you are guided and led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the Law, Galatians 5:16-18.

Since the end of November, I have been forced to drastically change my diet due to major health concerns.  As I have tried to eat right the last two weeks, I have found that my body is addicted to unhealthy food.  Like an alcoholic longing for a drink, my body daily craves junk food, sugar and sweets.  In the passage above, the cure to overcoming any addiction is provided.  Within any decision that you make, there are two forces waging war to control your soul.  The sinful nature and the Holy Spirit are like an angel on one shoulder and a demon on the other, whispering into each ear.  Until individuals learn to habitually walk in the Holy Spirit, to keep in step with God’s Word, Galatians 5:25, success will be limited.  However, the more you apply these principles to addictions, bad habits and dieting, God can and will transform your life.

by Jay Mankus

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