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Christmas for Dummies

Every year pastors, preachers and teachers are expected to come up with a fresh and new perspective of Christmas for their congregations.  On some occasions this goal is achieved.  Yet, many sermons crash and burn, wasting weeks of preparation making the simple complex.  In reality, Christmas is the mass of Christ, a day of remembrance, thanksgiving and worship.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” Luke 19:10. 

In a summary of a conversation with a tax collector, Jesus provides a Christmas for Dummies answer.  The context of the passage above refers to the fall of mankind, also known as original sin.  God gave Adam and Eve just one rule in the Garden of Eden, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die,” Genesis 3:2.  When lust entered into Eve’s heart, she influenced her husband Adam to ignore God’s law, taking and eating fruit.  This act of disobedience enabled sin to enter the world, resulted in expulsion from the garden, severed an intimate relationship with God and gave Satan authority and dominion over the earth.  Jesus’ birth came to seek and save what was lost back here.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” Genesis 3:15.

During an exchange with one of his fallen angels, God prophecies for the first time about the need to send his one and only son, John 3:16.  If you have seen the Passion of the Christ, this symbolism is played out while Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, stomping on the head of a serpent at the end of his prayer.  While Satan convinces first century religious leaders to execute Jesus’ crucifixion, the resurrection served as a check mate moment, foiling forever any demonic attempts to change the spiritual course of history.  However, this is one catch.

In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2.

God allows the Devil, aka Satan to retain his former angelic powers that he possessed while serving as the archangel Lucifer.  When you add this fact to a confession by one of Jesus’ disciples, Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour-1 Peter 5:8, this threat is real.  This why evil continues to exist on earth.  Therefore, while Jesus has his own birthday on our calendar, the ongoing spiritual war does not stop.  The fight for the eternal destiny of souls is a fierce battle, taking many innocent individuals to their graves.  While singing Christmas carols today in church may inspire or move you, make sure you guard your heart and mind, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, so that the hope of Christmas will not be lost again.

by Jay Mankus

Let the Weeding Begin

 

Unless you love a freshly manicured yard or need the money, not many people get excited about doing yard work.  Beside heat and humidity, keeping up with rampant weeds that overtake a garden can be demoralizing.  You may spend an entire weekend pulling up every invasive plant only to see others re-emerge in it’s place a few days later.  While using weed killer products like Roundup is an option, most of the modern products are so watered down that there isn’t enough chemicals inside to permanent remove these nuisances of the neighborhood.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, Matthew 13:41.

Jesus introduces an new concept of weeding during a private meeting with his disciples.  Unable to figure out the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus begins to reveal the symbolism of this story.  According to the passage above, at the end of this age Jesus will command the angels to weed out all negative influences on earth.  These forces are demonic, evil and unruly spirits who have led astray willing participants.  Unfortunately, this process won’t begin until Jesus’ second coming, leaving vessels of the Devil that create chaos.  This dark power eventually filled Stephen Paddock, taking the lives of 58 innocent victims.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

While individuals wait for the weeding to begin, many people like me have a lot to clean up.  Time, weariness and unkempt souls have led everyone to do something dishonorable.  Although these actions vary in degree, hearts should develop a sense of urgency to get right with God.  Instead of judging others, perhaps a little soul searching may reveal areas of decay in desperate need of healing.  Therefore, as evil continues to flourish, it’s time to commence your own spiritual weeding so that through the Holy Spirit you will become an honorable vessel ready to serve your Creator.  Let the weeding begin.

by Jay Mankus

 

Resisting Evil Desires From Within

Meteorologists use barometers to measure atmospheric pressure.  Since pressure can be used to predict short term changes in the weather, barometers reveal a glimpse of future events.  While weather forecasts remain inconsistent despite high tech equipment, those with the gift of discernment tend to have a higher success rate.  If this is true, perhaps there is a barometer of the soul.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

During an extended stay in Ephesus, an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia, the apostle Paul makes an astute observation.  When defeat, failure and trials occur, many people focus on external factors as the cause.  Paul disagrees claiming there are invisible forces to blame, dark, demonic and supernatural forces attempting to steal your joy in life.

Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul, 1 Peter 2:11.

Peter provides another perspective, likely reflecting upon his public betrayal of Jesus in the verse above.  Certain desires can be overwhelming, wearing you down over time.  Before you know it, temptation lures individuals to act in direct contrast with their morals causing a war against your soul.  Warning others not to fall into this trap, a barometer of the soul is essential to escape evil desires from within.

If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it,” Genesis 4:7.

The mind is like a human computer, created long before Serry and Elexia.  Prior to killing his brother, God was able to read Cain’s thoughts.  Troubled by what he is thinking, the Lord lays out Cain’s dilemma, sin is crouching at your door.  Likewise, today individuals must rule over evil thoughts with biblical truths, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  Success is achieved through taking your thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ.  Any other means will ultimately lead to indulgence.  In view of this, meditate on God’s Word daily to purge yourself from evil desires from within.

by Jay Mankus

 

Clouds of Darkness

It doesn’t always take a meteorologist or radar to predict a pending storm.  Temperatures may drop, wind gusts rise and skies blacken to serve as a warning sign.  Before the thunder claps, streams of showers on the horizon begin to fall like a ballet in the distance.  However, until it comes, nobody knows what’s hidden in the clouds of darkness.

This man lived in the tombs, and no one could bind him anymore, not even with a chain.  For he had often been chained hand and foot, but he tore the chains apart and broke the irons on his feet.  No one was strong enough to subdue him, Mark 5:3-4.

Besides weather, clouds of darkness can hover over individuals.  Elements could be demonic, a product of bad environments or caused by poor decisions.  In this state, people can take a change for the worse, often reaching a place where they appear to lose their mind.  Loved ones become helpless, unable to snap friends, neighbors and co-workers out of the spell, veiled by a cloud of darkness.

When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid, Mark 5:15.

Prior to the arrival of Jesus, those held hostage by these clouds were helpless.  However, resurrection power changed the fate of those living in darkness forever.  Today, healing is just a prayer away.  Complete restoration doesn’t usually occur overnight.  Rather, ungodly beliefs take time to be purged, cleansed by the power of the Holy Spirit.  If clouds of darkness start to surround you, may the Lord of Light stand with you until the storm is over.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Sunken Treasure

After viewing ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 presentation Rand University featuring Randy Moss, I was struck by the mentality possessed by citizens of Rand, West Virginia.  According to Sam Singleton Jr, dreams stop after high school for those who call Rand home.  Regardless of how gifted you are, few make it pass the 7 Eleven, the only convenience store in town, known as Rand University.  This is where shining stars become sunken treasures.

Although Randy Moss and Bobbie Howard did overcome the odds to make it to the National Football League, they are the exception to this rule.  Enrollment at Rand University begins with a few 6 packs here or a joint there.  Once blinded by addiction, apathy or both, the students in Rand become stuck, unable to escape the grips of invisible demonic forces.  Subsequently, dreams sink to the bottom of the ocean, where hope is nothing more than fool’s gold.

From a spiritual perspective, there are many towns like Rand, places where aspirations die.  If you pull back the third dimension, you will find generational curses and sins of the father blocking success, Exodus 20:3-5.  Unfortunately. Sam Singleton is merely a casualty of this spiritual war, Ephesians 6:12.  If you want to avoid becoming a sunken treasure of untapped potential, make sure you are prepared, Ephesians 6:13-20, with the armor of God to shield yourself from future attacks.

by Jay Mankus

 

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