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Spiritual Liberation

Liberation is the act of setting someone free from imprisonment, slavery, or oppression. This release results in deliverance, relief and salvation. According to the Bible, no human being can liberate themselves spiritually. Despite whatever good intentions that you may have, everyone possesses a fatal flaw. Whether this takes the form of an addiction, bad habit, or a weakness, human nature will feed these cravings, desires, and longings throughout the course of your life.

As it is written, None is righteous, just and truthful and upright and conscientious, no, not one. 11 No one understands [no one intelligently discerns or comprehends]; no one seeks out God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have gone wrong and have become unprofitable and worthless; no one does right, not even one! – Romans 3:10-12

This painful reality creates a felt need within human hearts for a Savior. Unfortunately, many attempt to fill this void with alternatives and substitutes. Whether you follow the path of a prodigal in Luke 15 or chase after the meaning in life, there is a book that holds all the answers, John 3:16-17. Nonetheless, if you force people instead of letting individuals search on their own, faith can’t be assigned and is something that must be personally embraced, Romans 6:23.

In [this] freedom Christ has made us free [and completely liberated us]; stand fast then, and do not be hampered and held ensnared and submit again to a yoke of slavery [which you have once put off], Galatians 5:1.

While studying the origins of past Great Awakenings in seminary, spiritual liberation begins with a spirit of confession. However, this requires someone to become vulnerable, pouring out their heart and soul to a congregation or gathered audience. This isn’t an act or something that can be faked. Rather, when secret sins are laid bare for all to hear and see, others feel compelled to reveal their own dirty laundry. Therefore, if you want to experience spiritual liberation, get your life right with God by confessing your wrongful acts in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Angels of Deliverance

Deliverance is the action that results in being rescued or set free. Synonyms include emancipation, liberation, redemption and salvation. This term suggests that a group, individuals or a nation is undergoing a dire situation. These predicaments are often so severe that saving yourself isn’t impossible. Thus, there will be moments in life where everyone will need some sort of divine intervention. For those who turn to God when your back is against the wall so to speak, the Bible refers to angels of deliverance.

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield], Psalm 121:2-5.

Although the Psalmist does not mention angels by name, God’s nature is revealed in the passage above. This song of ascent reflects upon previous times where the Lord helped either directly or indirectly. As a shepherd, David credits God for overseeing his steps despite walking over hilly terrain, Psalm 18:36. Meanwhile, while you are sleeping, guardian angels are assigned to watch over you day and night, Psalm 91:11. Angel stories continue today as believers share how God shielded them from harm.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:10-11.

In the New Testament, Jesus reveals who you need deliverance from, an invisible thief who seeks to steal, kill and destroy souls. Using the analogy of a good shepherd fighting off attacks from wolves, Jesus uncovers God’s plan for deliverance. Predicting his death on a cross, Jesus’ sinless life and sacrifice was necessary to restore that which Adam lost, Luke 19:10. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to earth along with angels to ensure that deliverance continues today.

by Jay Mankus

What Have I Been Doing?

The older that I get, each year seems to be a carbon copy of the last one.  I start off strong, eating healthy, exercising and spending regular time with God in January.  When spring arrives, I usually let some things slide, struggling with my diet and working out.  By the start of summer, my life resembles a house that hasn’t been cleaned for months.  As I was singing a worship song on Sunday, a spirit of conviction overwhelmed my soul.  Like a still small voice, the Holy Spirit asked, “what have you been doing the past few years?”

I was once alive without [knowledge of] the Law; but when the commandment came [and I understood its meaning], sin became alive and I died [since the Law sentenced me to death], Romans 7:9.

In the 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays Phil, a news reporter from Pittsburgh on assignment.  During his trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Murray get’s stuck in a blizzard, forced to stay another day.  Unfortunately, Murray is caught in a time gap, reliving Groundhog Day over and over again.  To a certain extent, I feel like Bill Murray’s character, trapped by time.  However, while Phil slowly learned to make the most of each day, I keep making the same mistakes year after year.  Like the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, I find myself stuck in a pattern of sin, unable to break free.

So I find it to be the law [of my inner self], that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully delight in the law of God in my inner self [with my new nature], 23 but I see a different law and rule of action in the members of my body [in its appetites and desires], waging war against the law of my mind and subduing me and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is within my members, Romans 7:21-23.

Since I began working nights four years ago, attending church has been a difficult task due to my sleep schedule.  When I did miss a Sunday, I started watching a few pastors on TBN, the Trinity Broadcasting Network.  At some point, I thought I was strong enough to go without a congregation, attending church about once a month.  Yet, now I know I was misled by a rationalizing mind.  God designed human beings to be social creatures who thrive in a fellowship of believers.  Unfortunately, I was blinded, believing that I could exist apart from Christ’s body.  Boy… was I wrong!

Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]? 25 Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin, Romans 7:24-25.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know the necessary course of action, reconnect and join a church.  As a former youth pastor, its hard to overlook all the flaws that I see when I visit a new church.  Nonetheless, I have to make a decision before the summer ends.  As I cope with my wretched state, at least deliverance is available to those who trust in Jesus Christ.  May this blog serve as a warning so that you don’t make the same mistake of trying to serve God without a church to call home.  If you don’t, you might find yourself pondering, “what have I been doing?”

by Jay Mankus

Going Over the Edge

Every day tragedy strikes someone an earth.  On the surface, authorities write up reports based upon the physical evidence.  However, sometimes there is a hidden force that goes unnoticed, demonic influences that causes individuals to go over the edge.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

I’m not sure why the devil or demons don’t make the front page of the news more often, but perhaps a spiritual bliss is clouding the minds of Americans.  If you visit third world nations, powers of darkness are visible and part of daily conversations.  Unfortunately, many people in this country have been lulled to sleep spiritually, often sweeping controversial and taboo topics under the rug left for someone else to ponder.

And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer,” Mark 9:29.

If you study Jesus’ teaching in the four gospels, demons are part of his training.  During a trial run, Jesus sent his disciples out two by two giving them authority to cast out demons.  However, on one occasion, prayer was necessary before complete deliverance could be accomplished.  Following this unsuccessful attempt, Jesus was disappointed by his disciples lack of faith.  Similar to a teacher’s rant to inattentive students, Jesus rebukes them with a response of “weren’t you listening?”  In view of this, the next time someone displays unusual behavior or goes over the edge, maybe it’s time to consider the role demons play to get to the heart of these matters.

by Jay Mankus

You Are the One

As a boy growing up on the playground during recess, kickball was the game of choice.  Since school wasn’t that exciting, I longed for this time.  The only awkward moment was picking teams, sitting on a bench until your name was called.  While some waited longer than others, it was always great to hear, “you are the one” on my team.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

God has a different way of choosing individuals.  While the average person looks at size, strength or stature, the Lord examines the heart.  Subsequently, many of God’s servants often get overlooked in this life, not appreciated like they should be.  When things don’t go your way, its hard to keep a good attitude.  Thus, some get stuck on the bench until the very end, never hearing “you are the one.”

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14

There are others who experience divine intervention also known as God’s providence.  In the case of Esther, she was born into a situation to save the Jews from extinction.  This wasn’t by accident, chance or dumb luck.  Rather, a close relative saw her situation for what is was, an opportunity for serve God for such a time is this. While this blog may find you still sitting on a bench, waiting for God to call your name, don’t give up hope.  The day will come when you hear those precious words, “you are the one.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Making A Deal with the King of Sodom

From time to time, you might find yourself in a precarious situation.  When under pressure, you might make a rash decision, forcing the issue without thinking about the consequences of an action.  Before you pull the trigger in the future, perhaps its better to wait and see if Lord is in agreement until making a deal with the King of Sodom.

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh, Genesis 14:17.

As one king came to meet Abram, another, the King of Salem brought bread and wine.  Serving as a priest of the Most High God, Melchizedek blessed Abram and give him a tenth of everything he had.  This visit provided Abram with the assurance of deliverance, that God would be faithful to protect God’s people from their enemies.  The thought of a potential compromise was no longer necessary.

That I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich, Genesis 14:23.

This passage of the Old Testament teaches a valuable life lesson.  If you place your trust solely in the Lord, you won’t be obligated to another party or person.  Like Jesus’ words in the Our Father, Matthew 6:9-15, our hope should be placed in Christ alone to provide daily bread.  Therefore, do not waver in your faith as temptation approaches.  Rather, follow the words of Proverbs 3:5-6 so that you won’t be swayed by deals from the king of Sodom.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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