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The Just Shall Live by Faith

Just refers to behaving according to what is morally right and fair. Yet, when I think of just, I envision someone justifying why they do what they do. Since I’m not an analytical person, I rarely contemplate the why in my daily life. Perhaps, this is due to a tendency to rely on feelings, what my heart is telling me to do or say. I don’t consider myself to be just. Rather, I follow my convictions with the Holy Spirit the wind beneath my wings as Bette Midler once sang.

But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live [f]by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him, Hebrews 10:38.

In the passage above, the author of one New Testament book examines how faith regulates the life of a Christian. Or should I say, what an active faith resembles. Beneath the surface, conviction from human consciences was designed by God to keep danger out by staying within the boundaries laid out in the Old Testament. When faith is great, fear shrinks as a holy fervor inspires individuals to pursue things that delight the Lord.

But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by faith preserve the soul, Hebrews 10:39.

Unfortunately, when human consciences become seared by actively indulging fleshly desires, it’s hard to go back to your life prior to becoming a prodigal. Sin has a way of entertaining you longer than expected, but leaves you feeling empty. This is the misery King David wrote about in Psalm 32:3-4. Before the darkness destroys what you have, respect your relationship with God. If you don’t have one, don’t delay so that you may begin the journey of the just who live by faith, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

When You Let Someone Down

As a child, whenever my mom yelled my full name, I immediately knew that I did something wrong. When expressions like “what were you thinking” or “I’m so ashamed of you” followed, this was a clear indicator that I let someone down. Whenever people that you care about or love are disappointed by your actions, human consciences produce spirits of conviction and guilt. Seeing the grief that you cause others to feel is not a welcomed sight.

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

In a letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul addresses individuals who have not lived up to biblical standards. The ideal goal is to become an imitator of God. This is accomplished by emulating the love and life of Jesus. As individuals become willing to offer their lives as a living sacrifice, the Holy Spirit can replace sinful tendencies. Yet, as the Psalmist reminded the apostle Paul, “there is no one righteous; not even one,” Romans 3:9-12.

But immorality (sexual vice) and all impurity [of lustful, rich, wasteful living] or greediness must not even be named among you, as is fitting and proper among saints (God’s consecrated people). Let there be no filthiness (obscenity, indecency) nor foolish and sinful (silly and corrupt) talk, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting or becoming; but instead voice your thankfulness [to God], Ephesians 5:3-4.

Subsequently, every day human beings continue to do the opposite of their initial intentions, Romans 7:15-16. You may be able to tame these sinful cravings temporarily through discipline, but when you let your guard down you will disappoint someone. Beside confession and acts of contrition, James 5:16, reconciliation takes time. Although you can’t go through life trying to please other people, you can develop a will to devote yourself to God.

by Jay Mankus

The Burning within Us

On the original Easter Sunday, a group of individuals traveled from Jerusalem to Emmaus, a 7 mile walk. Without any electronic devices to pass the time, this group reflected upon all that had happened during Passion Week. Going along on this walk was Jesus, disguised and playing coy. Jesus asks a series of questions, setting the tone for this afternoon stroll. Upon arriving, Jesus is asked to stick around for dinner. This is when an internal burning sensation began deep inside the hearts of these men..

Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered Him, Do you alone dwell as a stranger in Jerusalem and not know the things that have occurred there in these days? 19 And He said to them, What [kind of] things? And they said to Him, About Jesus of Nazareth, Who was a Prophet mighty in work and word before God and all the people— 20 And how our chief priests and rulers gave Him up to be sentenced to death, and crucified Him, Luke 24:18-20.

Based upon the knowledge of a first century doctor, Cleopas appears to have been one of 72 additional disciples chosen by Jesus in Luke 10:1. Since no one else is mentioned directly by name, Cleopas seems to be the leader of this caravan. Jesus continues to asks Cleopas questions as if a stranger, unaware of the previous events that took place from Palm Sunday to Good Friday. Cleopas responds to Jesus with a befuddled expression as if to suggest, “where have you been man?”

But they urged and insisted, saying to Him, Remain with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is now far spent. So He went in to stay with them. 30 And it occurred that as He reclined at table with them, He took [a loaf of] bread and praised [God] and gave thanks and asked a blessing, and then broke it and was giving it to them 31 When their eyes were [instantly] opened and they [clearly] recognized Him, and He vanished (departed invisibly). 32 And they said to one another, Were not our hearts greatly moved and burning within us while He was talking with us on the road and as He opened and explained to us [the sense of] the Scriptures? – Luke 24:29-32.

The mood of this group changed during a meal. Reclining at a table, Jesus let his guard down as the conversation ignited a spiritual fire within those who attended. It’s unclear what triggered their minds to finally recognize Jesus, but this communion like atmosphere opened their eyes. As soon as Jesus vanished like a ghost, this encounter struck a nerve in their consciences. Perhaps, there was a sense of regret, “I can’t believe Jesus was with us the whole time.” Inspired by this special moment, Cleopas’s group turned around, walking 7 miles back to Jerusalem as the fire inside their hearts continue to smolder.

by Jay Mankus

When Evil Overshadows Goodness

Evil is defined as profoundly immoral and wicked. Synonyms include bad, corrupt, depraved, foul, sinful, ungodly and wrong. When America was founded, Christians left Great Britain to start a new country with an emphasis on freedom of religion. Pilgrims and Puritans got on ships to set sail to this new land. To ensure that not just the elite and wealthy received education, schools were founded by churches to teach common people the Bible. Up until the early 1960’s, public schools used intercoms to read the Bible verse of the day into homerooms. This practice was designed to promote goodness over evil.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

If you study history, civilizations go through cycles that often repeat itself when mistakes of the past aren’t corrected or learned from. According to one Old Testament prophet, Israel had turned away from God. During this period of darkness, some Jews began to confuse evil with good. Unfortunately, this pattern is nothing new. If you use nightly news as an example, how does each broadcast begin? Usually with breaking news of an accident, crash, disaster, tragedy or violence. At some point, this ambulance chasing mentality has placed ratings as a higher priority than truth, justice and the American way. Subsequently, evil overshadows stories of goodness on a nightly basis.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. 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 6:22-23

Jesus addresses this topic during his sermon on the mount. According to the passage above, eyes are the lamp of human bodies. If your eyes use sound judgement, your entire body will be full of light and goodness. However, if anyone falls prey to lust, 1 John 2:15-17, individuals open the door for evil to enter your life. When enticement results in unsound practices, Jesus points out that consciences are darkened. This is how evil overshadows goodness. When evil is allowed to reside within human hearts, justification and rationalization follow. May this blog serve as a warning to regain control of wandering eyes. The sooner confession elicits a contrite heart, goodness can prevail as long as evil is disposed of and purged from your life.

by Jay Mankus

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