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A Permanent Dwelling Place

The biblical city of Corinth is located in modern day Greece, southwest of Athens. According to Acts 17:16, the apostle Paul is grieved by a city full of idols. Based upon an encounter with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, Paul did find two positive signs. Using an altar dedicated to an unknown god and a poet who writes about being an offspring of God, Paul introduces the God of the Bible to the Greeks. Based upon the passages below, the Corinthians needed to abandon their current idols so that room could be made for a permanent dwelling place for God’s Spirit.

Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]? 17 If anyone does hurt to God’s temple or corrupts it [with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [the believing church and its individual believers] are, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

Just as Jewish religious leaders viewed the temple as a physical building to worship God, Greeks possessed a similar mindset. Thus, Paul compares human bodies to a living spiritual temple. This inner sanctuary is where the Holy Spirit was designed to reside within your soul. However, until you recognize this spiritual truth, daily actions, choices and selfish decisions can corrupt, damage or hinder the Spirit’s ability to transform your life. Perhaps, this explains why Paul repeats himself three chapters later, using an analogy of a prostitute to grab a reader’s attention.

Or do you not know and realize that when a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? The two, it is written, shall become one flesh. 17 But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. 18 Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:16-19.

Addressing ungodly relationships within the church, Paul adds a new dimension to human bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Most sins that individuals commit are external such as gossip, fits of rage or slander. However, any type of sexual sin in the form of sexual immorality harms your own body. While you may have desires to make a permanent dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, sin will shut the door, locking God out. The only way to repair your relationship with God is to be reunited by purging sexual sins from your life. Until your temple is swept clean from sin, the Spirit will only have a temporary home.

by Jay Mankus

The Spirit of the World

According to Luke, the apostle Paul spent a year and a half visiting the church of Corinth. Following a visit to Athens, Paul headed to southern Greece, Acts 18:1. Philosophy, the search for wisdom and worldly traditions was a common topic of conversation at local marketplaces. Opening minds in Corinth to the spiritual dimension appears to have hit a snag. Paul blames this on the Spirit of the World in his first letter to the church.

Now we have not received the spirit [that belongs to] the world, but the [Holy] Spirit Who is from God, [given to us] that we might realize and comprehend and appreciate the gifts [of divine favor and blessing so freely and lavishly] bestowed on us by God, 1 Corinthians 2:12.

This term is not limited to the book of Acts. Paul writes two letters to a teenager pastor named Timothy building upon this concept. 1 Timothy 4:1 warns of a time coming in the near future where individuals will reject faith in God. Instead, people will turn their attention toward deluding and seductive spirits. Paul doesn’t hold back his feelings, suggesting the Spirit of the World teaches doctrines influenced by demons.

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

If you follow current events, listen to talk radio or watch cable news, it appears this time has arrived. The Me Too Movement comes alive when a Conservative or Republican is accused of sexual assault or rape. However, whenever a Democrat or Liberal politician is under a similar investigation, the leaders of Me Too and the mainstream media become silent. When you examine this silence with logic, the Spirit of the World isn’t willing to allow truth to enter it’s domain, Ephesians 6:12. Powers of darkness fuel this invisible fight to ensure worldly views overshadow biblical worldviews.

by Jay Mankus

Turning Procrastination Into Desire

In the minutes leading up to your lunch break or end of the day bell, signs of procrastination come forth.  To pass the time, there is a temptation to remain idle, delaying or loitering as much as possible without being noticed.  Others who are forced to endure deadlines, wait until  the last possible moment to begin, relying on adrenaline to finish on time.  This pattern may be effective for some, but after any failure in life, guilt tends to prompt individuals to consider a change, turning procrastination into desire.

The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied, Proverbs 13:4.

In the book Communicating with a Purpose, procrastination is the fourth barrier to effective communication.  After rejection, indifference and skepticism, the last two hurdles to clear are procrastination and fear.  The author uses dreaming as a technique to help people visualize success.  When a group or audience fails to act immediately, remind each person of the ideal outcome, what could be or should be if desire is exercised.  Once inspiration is conceived, motivated hearts can turn procrastination into desire.

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is, Ephesians 5:15-17.

After spending a year and a half in Corinth, the apostle Paul had a limited schedule.  Thus, his stay in Ephesus is brief, eager to maximize his time with Jewish converts to Christianity.  During his short stint, Paul reassures this new church that if you commit to the apostles teaching, following the blue print found within Acts 2:42-47, success is possible.  Seizing each day, Paul was driven to cast out any thought of procrastination with desire fueled by faith.  May this blog help you resuscitate hope, joy and the motivation to change for the better.

by Jay Mankus

 

Fullness or Unfulfilled?

While many Americans may not be as wealthy as they wish, some local restaurants offer buffets, all you can eat when you are hungry.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the discipline to stop when I’m full.  Rather, I gorge myself, eating more in a one sitting than a child living in a third world nation eats in a week.  Thus, I find myself full, yet unfulfilled.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, Colossians 2:9.

I started 2016 losing 20 pounds in the month of January, only to regain 10 this past month.  The human body is tough to manage, craving food but making those who lack discipline to feel shame and regret.  God promises to provide daily bread, enough money to take care of and feed your family.  Yet, there must be something else as when I taste the pleasures of life I often leave empty and unsatisfied.

And in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority, Colossians 2:10.

The apostle Paul writes to members of the church in Corinth struggling with a similar issue.  The conclusion he draws is that no matter hard someone tries to possess an abundant life, its futile without Jesus.  In your quest to become full, many leave the faith unfulfilled.  Thus, if you ever reach this state, listen to words of the passage above.  Reach out to Christ in prayer and God can make you both full and fulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

Listening to the Judge

When Greece was as its mecca, bemas were used, a raised area for a public official who either made speeches from a stepped position or served as a judge for legal cases.  The city of Corinth was the host of the Corinthian Games, an early version of the Olympics.  During track competitions, a bema seat was used to insure no one broke the rules.  The apostle Paul, an avid spectator devotes a portion of one letter to listening to the judge.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

In modern track and field events, judges hold two flags, one that is white and another that is red.  In a relay, white represents a clean hand off.  Meanwhile, if a red flag is raised, a foul has been committed.  Although red means automatic disqualification in races; field events give competitors three chances before being eliminated.  Thus, whether you like the rules or not, if you want to be  successful you must listen to the rules.

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:25.

One of God’s greatest qualities is that He doesn’t keep any record of wrongs.  However, just imagine for a moment if a judge was assigned to you daily, holding up a red flag for everyone to see each time you messed up.  This would be extremely embarrassing and make people uncomfortable, especially on a bad day.  Thank God this isn’t the way life has been designed.  Rather, the Lord created free will so that you have every opportunity to listen or to ignore the judge.  Until you cross the finish line, choose wisely by listening to the Judge.

by Jay Mankus

Learn from History or Relive Past Mistakes

If each life were made into a book, biographies would possess a section where readers scratch their heads.  The audience may think, “I can’t believe they are making the same mistake over and over again.”  Backsliding, downward spirals and periods of neglect cause the average person to repeat the sins of their past.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

During a visit to the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul witnessed a cycle church members were stuck in.  Wondering if these people knew the history of Israel, he begins to share life lessons from past failures.  Since Corinth was a port city, an influx of outsiders were leaving a negative impact on the culture, causing many to relive past mistakes of previous civilizations.  The point of Paul’s message was to learn from history or relive the past.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

No matter how hard I try to follow my New Year’s resolutions, its not long before I fall back into bad habits.  When I go a day or days without reading and studying the Bible, I’m one step closer away from embracing sins of the past or welcoming temptations of the present.  The disciple whom Jesus loved was right, “you can’t remain within Christ if you become unattached.”  In view of this, may those hungry for change turn back to the ultimate power source, Jesus Christ to get plugged in so that you learn from the history by avoiding past mistakes.

by Jay Mankus

 

Offense

As the seasons turn from winter to spring, an annual commotion draws near.  This month long hysteria known as March Madness serves as a drug for college basketball enthusiasts.  When you look beyond the brackets, politics and officiating, you’ll find amazing performances, buzzer beaters and even Cinderella.  Although offense is more entertaining, defense wins championships.  If a team can possess both, their squad becomes an impenetrable fortress on their way to the Final Four.

In life, roles are often reversed.  Arrogance, pride and over confidence lull people to sleep spiritually.  Instead of going on the offensive, many Christians resemble a goalie being bombarded with balls and pucks, trying to secure a daily shutout.  However, in the game of life, if you only play defense, you’ll never score.  This feeble strategy results in exhaustion, mental fatigue and emotional burnout, leading to a spirit of defeatism.

In the days of the apostle Paul, the residents of Corinth were avid sports fans, the host of the Corinthian Games, an Summer Olympic like competition.  This likely explains Paul’s use of athletic terminology in his 2 letters to the members of the Corinthian church.  Trying to connect with their culture, Paul addresses a lack of offensive minded individuals.  In 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Paul reveals why people are failing miserably, they’re not using the proper weapons.  The key to game planning an offensive attack against the devil is through your mind, verse 5.  As soon as you learn how to take each thought captive by making them obedient to Christ, you can begin demolishing spiritual strongholds.  Paul’s further advice in Ephesians 6:10-11 is crucial if you want to begin seeing progress.  Stop being one dimensional, play offense today!

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Fool Yourself

Hebrews 4:12 refers to the Bible as containing living and active words.  This unique characteristic sets the Bible apart from all other books ever written.  Ranked as one of the top selling books annually, the Bible has become the greatest seller of all time.  However, when you open this book to read it, don’t fool yourself like a narcissist by thinking you are better than you actually are.

When I opened Proverbs 26 today, God gave me a revelation, new insight to what King Solomon is trying to communicate to readers.  Solomon devotes this particular chapter to qualities of a fool.  Like a Litness Test to assess your degree of foolishness, chapter 26 contains over 20 traits of a fool.  Though you may rate yourself low, similar to a golfer who is under par, Romans 3:23 suggest everyone possesses at least one of these foolish attributes.

The apostle Paul gives new meaning to the term fool in the New Testament.  In his epistle to the educated citizens of Corinth, Paul makes being a fool not so bad.  According to 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16, wisdom does not come from schooling, which encourages students to trust in themselves.  Rather, wisdom is obtained through the power of the Holy Spirit, leading one to put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus.  While the world will continue to emphasize intelligence, becoming a fool for Christ will have the last laugh.  Therefore, don’t be a fool by following Jesus, – 1 Corinthians 1:27-31.

by Jay Mankus

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