RSS Feed

Tag Archives: Disciples

Where Do You Run When a Crisis Arises?

Jesus saw potential in a first century fisherman. According to Matthew 4:18-20, Peter and his brother Andrew were the first two disciples called by Jesus. While asking his twelve disciples a question, Peter is the first to answer correctly in Matthew 16:15-16. Jesus goes on to refer to Peter as a spiritual rock in Matthew 16:18. Yet, when a crisis arrived, Peter fell just like Adam and Eve in Matthew 16:22-23, a foreshadowing of Peter’s future denial of Jesus in Matthew 26:69-75.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Peter writes about his failure in the today’s passage. These words appear to come from a humbler and mature man of God. Whether Peter learned this from his conversation with Jesus in John 21 following the resurrection or time reflecting upon past mistakes, trials are necessary in order for Christians to grow spiritually. Likewise, Jesus’ earthly brother who doubted his older sibling also speaks to the role that temptations play in your life. This determines where you run when a crisis arrives.

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

While attending college at the University of Delaware, I met many Christians who used the phrase “Jesus in my crutch.” As someone who has broken my ankle and leg, I know the uncomfortable feeling of relying on crutches to walk until I got my casts off. Then I abandoned these crutches into a closet until my next accident. Yet, Jesus should be my crutch whether I’m healthy or hurt. The moment my Bible collects dust, or my prayers cease, I’m trusting myself and not God. The next time a crisis arises, may you run to God.

by Jay Mankus

Silence in Heaven

Earth is filled with emotions that lift human beings up to new heights and plummet others to the depths of depression. While reading one of Jesus’ parables, I discovered what causes mood swings in heaven. Whenever a lost soul repents and turns their life back to God, there are immediate celebrations. The Parable of the Lost Sheep illustrates the power of God’s love and its influence upon wayward sinners.

And when he gets home, he summons together [his] friends and [his] neighbors, saying to them, Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep which was lost. Thus, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one [[c]especially] wicked person who repents ([d]changes his mind, abhorring his errors and misdeeds, and determines to enter upon a better course of life) than over ninety-nine righteous persons who have no need of repentance, Luke 15:6-7.

Yet, one of Jesus’ former disciples writes about a side of heaven few people consider. According to John, there was 30 minutes of silence in heaven. Based upon the context of the passage below, this silence was due to anticipation and fear of what was about to occur. Perhaps, this time of silence was spent quietly praying for residents on earth, to prepare them for the tribulations to come.

When He [the Lamb] broke open the seventh seal, there was silence for about half an hour in heaven. Then I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets, Revelation 8:1-2.

One of the things that causes me to become silent is being shocked. When something doesn’t go as I expect or takes an unusual twist that throws me for a loop, I’m speechless. Stunned by what just happened, I’m silent until I make sense in my mind why God allowed this to happen to me. Whether you’re watching a thrilling movie or sporting event, silence serves as a processing method to accept current events. May this blog help you consider what’s going on in your life through moments of silence.

by Jay Mankus

There’s No Need for Disinformation

The Department of Homeland Security recently announced news of a new Disinformation Governance Board. When an old Tiktok video of the individual selected to oversee this board surfaced, the credibility of this Disinformation Board was immediately put into question. Meanwhile, a tweet by Jeff Bezos called out President Biden for his own disinformation about a false statement on Covid-19 vaccines.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my [spiritual] children are living their lives in the Truth, 3 John 1:4.

According to one of Jesus’ former disciples, the Bible has its own plan for dealing with disinformation. At the beginning of one of his last recorded letters, John’s greatest joy as a Christian is to see people, he spiritually mentored to live their lives in the truth of the Bible. Since the Bible contains supernatural power as a living document, Hebrews 4:12, disinformation is exposed by the light of God’s Word.

So Jesus said to those Jews who had believed in Him, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. 32 And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free, John 8:31-32.

Years earlier, John was present when Jesus told his disciples that spiritual truth will set you free. While disinformation, gossip, and rumors continue today, Christians who shine the light and love of Jesus will convict the hearts of those trying to control your speech. Despite the algorithms designed by social media sites that favor progressive ideas, living your life in the Truth will expose disinformation as its espoused.

by Jay Mankus

Under Construction

Depending upon the city, state or region you live in, summer time commences a season of construction. If these projects are out sourced to private businesses, construction is usually completed on time or ahead of schedule. Unfortunately, the state of Delaware usually takes a few years to start and another five years to finish what should have taken a year or two at most.

For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it? – Luke 14:28

A first century doctor overhears a conversation between Jesus and Pharisees. The parable above occurs at the end of this discussion. The context of this passage refers to the high expectations that Jesus has for his disciples. Before starting any new project, Jesus wants his followers to consider the cost before jumping in head first. If you want to finish what you start in this life, it’s okay to say no.

Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him, 30 Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish, Luke 14:29-30.

In their song Local Construction, Reliant K compares areas of your life that are never done to local construction. When I was a student, it always took me twice as long to complete a homework assignment than my friends. Sometimes this was because I didn’t know what I was doing and on other occasions, what I was learning didn’t click initially. There are certain things in life that are never done despite how hard you work on it. Since something in your life or in your community is always under construction, consider the cost you before you commit to your next project in life.

by Jay Mankus

The Biblical Meaning of the Scum of the Earth

In the early first century, a Jewish carpenter developed a following. Just like modern movements, new fads that become popular create a bandwagon affect as people want to be part of something special. While traveling with his 12 disciples, Jesus encountered several individuals who wanted to join his ministry. According to Luke 10:1, rumors of an additional 72 disciples drew large crowds hoping to make it through the interview process. The end of Luke 9 details three candidates who were rejected by Jesus, unaware of the intense commitment that was necessary.

And it occurred that as they were going along the road, a man said to Him, Lord, I will follow You wherever You go. 58 And Jesus told him, Foxes have lurking holes and the birds of the air have roosts and nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head, Luke 9:57-58.

In a letter to the church of Corinth, Paul uses similar words to describe his life as an apostle. Based upon the passage below, Paul is pouring out his heart about the toll the ministry has taken on his life. Perhaps, some people in Corinth were relying on their background as philosophers, thinking that anyone could become an apostle. Just as Jesus bluntly rejected potential disciples years earlier, the apostle Paul goes into “a so you think this is easy mode.” Paul highlights being homeless, hungry and persecuted. Like a grand finale, Paul states that if you want to be an apostle for Christ, you have to be willing to become like the scum of the earth.

To this hour we have gone both hungry and thirsty; we [habitually] wear but one undergarment [and shiver in the cold]; we are roughly knocked about and wander around homeless. And we still toil unto weariness [for our living], working hard with our own hands. When men revile us [wound us with an accursed sting], we bless them. When we are persecuted, we take it patiently and endure it. When we are slandered and defamed, we [try to] answer softly and bring comfort. We have been made and are now the rubbish and filth of the world [the offscouring of all things, the scum of the earth], 1 Corinthians 4:11-13.

If you do a search on the internet for the scum of the earth, the apostle Paul is credited as the first to use this idiom. Upon receiving this letter, I’m sure there wasn’t a long line in Corinth to sign up to become an apostle. If you skip ahead to 1 Corinthians 12:4-12, not everyone is cut out to be an apostle or disciple. These special roles are designed for individuals blessed with specific gifts or called to follow Jesus as a missionary. Although some gifts are more glorified than others, Paul compares the body of Christ to a united group with many parts. The sooner you discover your place, the more effective your church will become. While no one wants to feel like the scum of the earth, sometimes you have to meet people where they are before leading souls to Jesus. If we are the body, it’s time to go where the lost have wandered off. This is the biblical context of the scum of the earth.

by Jay Mankus

When You're Unwilling to Change

Julia Roberts starred in the 1991 film Sleeping with the Enemy. However, nearly two thousand years before Nancy Price published her novel, a Jewish carpenter allowed himself to be infiltrated by a spiritual enemy. Jesus saw the potential in Judas Iscariot as a disciple, giving him an opportunity to change. Yet, in the end, this was part of God’s plan as Judas was unwilling to change despite witnessing countless miracles.

Simon Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words (the message) of eternal life. 69 And we have learned to believe and trust, and [more] we have come to know [surely] that You are the Holy One of God, the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of the living God. 70 Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And [yet] one of you is a devil (of the evil one and a false accuser), John 6:68-70.

On December 12th, 2019, scientists discovered an unknown virus in Wuhan, China. As news of this spread across the country and throughout the world, the name Coronavirus was given. As the number of confirmed cases in the United States has surpassed 54,000, citizens are forced to make one of two choices. Practice social distancing by changing how you live your daily life or continue ignoring the new CDC guidelines? The first doesn’t guarantee staying healthy, but the latter risks spreading the Coronavirus to those whom you love.

When it was evening, He was reclining at table with the twelve disciples. 21 And as they were eating, He said, Solemnly I say to you, one of you will betray Me! 22 They were exceedingly pained and distressed and deeply hurt and sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, Surely it cannot be I, Lord, can it? 23 He replied, He who has [just] dipped his hand in the same dish with Me will betray Me! – Matthew 26:20-23

As Jesus’ betrayal grew near, one event sped up this process. When a prostitute wasted an expensive jar of perfume to anoint Jesus’ body, this decision pushed Judas over the edge. In his role as treasurer, Judas saw this act as a waste of money, not an act of worship. When a seed of betrayal was sown in Judas’ heart and mind, the Last Supper sets the stage for Jesus’ final call out. When individuals aren’t unwilling to change, the consequences can be eternal. May the current Coronavirus pandemic persuade stubborn hearts to alter their lives now before it’s too late.

by Jay Mankus

Apart from Me?

“The Italians have a Proverb, ‘He that deceives me once, its his fault; but if twice, its my fault.’” This is where Americans have derived the saying “fool me once, shame on you; full me twice shame on me.” Unfortunately, anyone who attempts to be good without relying on God will experience disappointment over and over again.

“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you], John 15:1-3.

A disciple shares an analogy used by Jesus.  This imagery compares God to an arborist.  Whenever human beings begin to sag, tire or wilt, the Gardener prunes every dead branch to stimulate growth.  The key to maintaining growth is staying connected to the vine.  The vine is Jesus, symbolic of the source to spiritual life.  Trying to pursue holiness apart of Jesus wears souls out, like a perfectionist who is never satisfied.

Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing, John 15:4-5.

This passage serves as a needed remainder to me that living life on my own isn’t working.  Thus, I am dying of thirst, in desperate need of living water.  Right now I feel like the apostle Paul in Romans 7, wanting to do the right thing, but unable to do so.  Therefore, it’s time for this vicious cycle of failure to come to an end.  The answer is easy, let God in to change you from the inside out.  Away with apart from me, replaced by Jesus in me.

by Jay Mankus

Can’t Stop Thinking About It

Mind-wandering is referred to today as task-unrelated thought. Depending upon the situation, you might experience thoughts not remaining on a single topic for a long period of time. This state of mind is allowed to continue when people are not engaged in an attention-demanding task.
Once individuals are less bogged down by the pressure of day to day life, minds can begin to narrow in on what’s important.

But after ordering them to step out of the Council [chamber], they began to confer among themselves, 16 saying, “What are we to do with these men? For the fact that an extraordinary miracle has taken place through them is public knowledge and clearly evident to all the residents of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to keep it from spreading further among the people and the nation, let us [sternly] warn them not to speak again to anyone in this name.” 18 So they sent for them, and commanded them not to speak [as His representatives] or teach at all in the name of Jesus [using Him as their authority]., Acts 4:15-18.

Following the day of Pentecost, miracles once performed by Jesus began to occur by his followers. After a man lame from birth was deemed healed after showing himself to a priest, John and Peter was brought in for questioning. A group of ruling men known as the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Court, were concerned that Jews were getting caught up in a new Jesus Movement. Evidently, people couldn’t stop thinking about miracles performed under the authority of Jesus Christ.

But Peter and John replied to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you and obey you rather than God, you must judge [for yourselves]; 20 for we, on our part, cannot stop telling [people] about what we have seen and heard,” Acts 4:19-20.

Thus, the Sanhedrin tried to stop this spiritual movement from spreading any further. This suggestion presented John and Peter with a moral dilemma. Should we give into this peer pressure to become politically correct or should we obey God? These former disciples of Jesus chose the latter, risking imprisonment to stand up for their beliefs and convictions. If there is one thing you shouldn’t stop thinking about, it’s Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Greatness Starts at the Bottom

Michael J. Fox starred in the 1987 film the Secret to My Success.  Fox plays Brantley Foster, a college graduate who gets laid off shortly after moving to New York City.  The premise of this movie is based upon the American Dream, starting from the very bottom and moving your way up through a company gradually to the top.  Like most college grads today, Fox found himself overqualified for most positions, but underqualified for the high paying positions.  While fictional in nature, Fox uses a worldly approach to get to the top.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” – Matthew 18:1

During a long walk between towns, the disciples lagged well behind Jesus.  At the back of a long caravan, the disciples began a heated debate on who was the greatest disciple.  While the author fail to address the content of this argument, below are a few likely positions that were taken.  Often brash, Peter begins by saying, “well Jesus did proclaim I am the petra, the rock upon which God will build his church on earth.”  John interrupts, “wait a minute, Jesus also said I am the one whom  he loves the most.”  James, brother of John, jumps into the fray “that’s nice boys, but Jesus called me first.”  When the disciples finally caught up, Jesus addresses this issue.

He called a little child and set him before them, and said, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless you repent [that is, change your inner self—your old way of thinking, live changed lives] and become like children [trusting, humble, and forgiving], you will never enter the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 18:2-3.

The passage above is one of two main passages about the being the greatest in heaven.  Mark 9:35-37 builds upon this concept, suggesting that whoever wants to be the greatest must be a servant to all.  One thing you can say about Jesus is he practiced what he preached.  Despite healing and performing miracles daily, Jesus encouraged these people keep quiet, remaining humble throughout his earthly life.  If you combine these passages, there are two traits to consider.  First, maintain the innocence of a child by emulating your heavenly father.  Second, put the needs and wants of others before yourself.  If you want to be great on earth, start today by serving those in your spheres of influence.

by Jay Mankus

Properly Utilizing God’s Power

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.  Over the next forty days, the Devil began scheming of ways on how to trick Jesus into improperly using God’s power.  The longer Jesus went without food, fasting and praying to spiritually prepare his mind, the more vulnerable his body became.  Thus, in the passage below the Devil tempted Jesus to use God’s power for selfish reasons.  In a game of Truth or Dare, the Devil dared Jesus to show off, calling upon angels to keep him from falling.  Responding with Scripture, Jesus corrects the Devil’s abuse of God’s power.

Then he led Jesus to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, and said [mockingly] to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written and forever remains written, He will command His angels concerning You to guard and protect You,’ and, they will lift You up on their hands, So that You do not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied to him, “It is said [in Scripture], you shall not tempt the Lord your God [to prove Himself to you],’” Luke 4:9-12.

Before gathering a ministry team of disciples, Jesus experienced the best and worst from his fellow Jews.  Upon entering a town, Jesus went to the local synagogue, debating, listening and teaching God fearing Jews.  Jesus quoted the Old Testament, speaking with authority without any education or extensive training.  On one day, Jesus spoke about God’s grace extending to Gentiles, non Jewish believers.  This comment turned the crowd in Nazareth against Jesus, committing heresy in their eyes.  This uprising forced Jesus outside of town to a nearby cliff, as residents attempted to push Jesus off the edge to his death.  On this occasion with his life in danger, Jesus properly utilized God’s power, like a ghost, Jesus passed by the crowds escaping to Capernaum.

As they heard these things [about God’s grace to these two Gentiles], the people in the synagogue were filled with a great rage; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the crest of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to hurl Him down the cliff. 30 But passing [miraculously] through the crowd, He went on His way, Luke 4:28-30.

Today, the debate of properly utilizing God’s power continues.  Should you treat God like a supernatural Santa Claus, praying to the Lord with a long Christmas wish list?  Or should you only ask for things in accordance with God’s will?  Do you take Jesus literally, “ask and you will receive?”  What is a good middle ground, a place to start?  If you use Matthew 7:12 as an outline for prayer, this may clear up any confusion that you currently are struggling to grasp.  Prayer is a three step process, asking, seeking insight to explain unanswered prayers and continue to persist, wrestling with the Lord in prayer.  May this passage guide you to understand how to properly utilize God’s power.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: