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Tag Archives: Easter Sunday

The Sum Total of the Divine Perfection

Sum total refers to comprising the amount of a whole number. Based upon the expression coined by the apostle Paul, the Bible is a collection of God’s divine perfection. Within the vast historical accounts from Creation to the first century church, apostles, disciples, and eye witnesses testify to numerous miracles that defy logic, John 21:24-25. The final piece of this perfection was completed on Easter Sunday as Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

Modern Christians have access to this divine perfection in the form of a Bible. The author of Hebrews describe this collection of 66 books as a living document. Since each author was inspired by the Holy Spirit to record the events of their day, spiritual truths have a way of stirring souls. This spiritual penetration has the ability to transform hearts and renew minds. As individuals hide God’s Word in their hearts, the sum total of divine perfection comes into focus.

For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently, Colossians 1:19.

Paul compares God the Father’s divine fullness to the sum total of divine perfection. While agnostics, atheists, and liberals deny the Bible’s infallibility and the resurrection of Jesus, over 500 eyewitnesses saw Jesus before He ascended into heaven. Despite these accounts, Roman soldiers were bribed in Matthew 28:11-15 to prevent the spread of Christianity. While this rumor deceived many, the sum total of God’s divine perfection can’t be denied.

by Jay Mankus

The Service and Intervention of Jesus

When most Americans hear the term service, entering the military after high school is a practical way to serve your country. In recent years, public schools have used MLK Day as a way to give back to their local community. If you attend a church or belong to a group, service projects are a popular way of serving the less fortunate and those in need after a major storm or natural disaster.

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! – Philippians 2:5-8

While service tends to be an isolated activity for a day, weekend or entire week, an intervention is an immediate act taken to improve a dire situation. The apostle Paul does a great job of explaining mankind’s problem in Romans 5:8. Like a virus that doesn’t go away, sin slowly decays human beings via addictions, bad habits, and poor choices. Despite being undeserving, Jesus spent 3 years on earth serving God so that this spiritual intervention could be completed.

And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross, Colossians 1:20.

The entire book of Colossians is dedicated to the service and intervention of Jesus. This restoration project began in Genesis 3:14-15. In desperate need of a second Adam, Romans 5:12-21 explains how this plan was fulfilled through Jesus. Serving as a perfect Lamb of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Jesus became a sin offering for all who believe. When Jesus became obedient to death on a cross, the service and intervention of Jesus was completed on Easter Sunday. This is why the gospel refers to the good news about Jesus Christ, a servant who intervened on our behalf.

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

From Community to Chaos and Back

The final event of Jesus’ earthly ministry is the Last Supper. This meal celebrating the Jewish Passover was the last event with all 12 of his disciples present. What began as the very first communion service, ended in speculation as Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would soon betray Jesus. This pivotal gathering started with a spirit of community, but ended in chaos.

And as My Father has appointed a kingdom and conferred it on Me, so do I confer on you [the privilege and decree], 30 That you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 Simon, Simon (Peter), listen! Satan has asked excessively that [all of] you be given up to him [out of the power and keeping of God], that he might sift [all of] you like grain, 32 But I have prayed especially for you [Peter], that your [own] faith may not fail; and when you yourself have turned again, strengthen and establish your brethren, Luke 22:29-32.

The first person to crack was Judas Iscariot, the treasurer of Jesus’ ministry. Poisoned by betrayal and greed, Judas agreed to hand Jesus over to Jewish religious leaders. While this was going on, Peter was confronted by 3 different individuals about his connection with Jesus. Each time, Peter vehemently denied his association with Jesus. As the cock cried three times, a spirit of conviction and remorse sent Judas into the desert to take his own life.

And He said to them, When I sent you out with no purse or [provision] bag or sandals, did you lack anything? They answered, Nothing! 36 Then He said to them, But now let him who has a purse take it, and also [his provision] bag; and let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy a sword. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must yet be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted and classed among the wicked (the outlaws, the criminals); for what is written about Me has its fulfillment [has reached its end and is finally settled], Luke 22:35-37.

Chaos is a state of confusion, disarray, havoc, mayhem, tumult, and upheaval. As Jesus was arrested, beaten and crucified on a cross, the Savior of the world was lost. Or was he as the day turned to night, a great earthquake tore the temple curtain into two, and the dead began to walk through the streets of Jerusalem like a scene from the Walking Dead. Out of this chaos, God raised Jesus from the dead three days later. This is the reason why Christians celebrate Easter Sunday as God restored order by uniting a community of believers through faith.

by Jay Mankus

Leaving Behind an Echo of Love This Easter

For members of the faith community, this Easter will be unlike any other. There will be no large Passover celebration, no trip to Mecca or sunrise Service with fellow believers. Rather, in this age of social distancing, staying at a minimum of six feet away from those whom you love, what is a person to do? How can you celebrate a risen Savior without spreading the Coronavirus? Perhaps, leaving behind an echo of love is the solution.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men, Matthew 28:2-4.

Huh? Maybe the self isolation process has taken a toll on me, but hear me out. The book definition of echo is a sound or series of sounds caused by the reflection of sound waves from a surface back to the listener. When words are replaced by random acts of kindness, an echo of love is sown. This may be doing something without being asked, cleaning the house or serving others by putting your families needs above yourself.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.” So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples, Matthew 28:5-8.

Thus, as you are forced to take a rain check on partaking in communion, passing the peace and worshiping the Lord at church, 2020 may open the door for a new tradition. Whether this is having a bonfire in your backyard, a marathon game night or some other creative idea, don’t forget to leave an echo of love in your home. Although you may not have much to be thankful for in 2020, the resurrection provides hope for the afterlife.

by Jay Mankus

Living as a Fugitive from God

Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones star in the 1993 the Fugitive.  When noted surgeon Richard Kimble is wrongfully accused, tried and convicted for the brutal murder of his wife, a crash enables him to escape to prove his innocence.  Like any modern murder mystery series, sometimes the evidence is overwhelming, making it nearly impossible to convince authorities of the truth.  Thus, most fugitives are forced to runaway until a plan is advised to regain their freedom through the justice system.

But the man who was injuring his neighbor pushed Moses away, saying, ‘Who appointed you ruler and judge over us? 28 Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian yesterday?’ 29 At this remark Moses fled and became an exile in the land of Midian, where he fathered two sons, Acts 7:28-29.

One of the forefathers of Israel found himself in a similar position.  Raised by the daughter of Pharaoh, Moses could no longer remain silent as his descendants were being treated as slaves of Egypt.  When Moses witnessed a brutal beating, he avenged the oppression of one man by killing an Egyptian.  As soon as news spread of Moses’ act of aggression, he fled to Midian, leaving as a fugitive for forty years.  All we know about these wasted years is that Moses fathered two sons.

30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning thorn bush. 31 When Moses saw it, he was astonished at the sight; but as he went near to look more closely, the voice of the Lord came [to him, saying], Acts 7:30-31.

You don’t have to commit a crime to feel like a fugitive.  Rather, all you need to do is make other things in life a greater priority than God.  If this trend continues, it won’t be long before Sunday is just another day to do what you want instead of pausing to worship the Lord.  God nudged Moses by using an angel to get him back on track, in the direction of where the Lord desires.  Sadly, I find myself in a similar place, living as a fugitive from God.  I thought Easter Sunday would reignite a fire within my soul, but my priorities haven’t changed.  I shouldn’t need an angel to tell me to return to church.  Rather, an infusion from the Word of God, the Bible should provide conviction to bring me back again.

by Jay Mankus

Removing Any Unwanted Visitors

Now that Easter Sunday is over, some people may be wondering, what do I do now?  Well, one thing is for certain, the closer you get to God, the more of a threat you become to Satan, aka the Devil.  Thus, don’t be surprised by a series of unwanted visitors in the form of demonic attacks, ungodly influences and a wave of temptations to through you off track.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

The author of Hebrews compares life on earth to a marathon.  Along the way, there will be obstacles, pot holes and unplanned delays meant to trip you up.  As a former angel, Lucifer has the ability to disguise evil in an attractive manner.  These clever attacks delay, entangle and slow down runners.  Therefore, if you want to remove any unwelcomed visitors endurance and perseverance must exist.

And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him,” Acts 5:32.

A first century doctor makes an interesting observation between the Holy Spirit and obedience.  According to Luke, the Holy Spirit is bestowed and poured out upon those who obey God.  Thus, the best way to remove any unwanted visitors is by obeying biblical practices.  As you read the four gospels and continue throughout the New Testament, the anointing of the Holy Spirit is waiting for faithful followers.  As individuals keep in step with the Holy Spirit, this supernatural counselor will enable you to take the necessary steps to remove all unwanted and unwelcomed visitors.  May this bestowing awaken you as you draw closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Drifting Back Into Church

For a decade I stood in front of teenagers as a Bible teacher informing students of the importance of attending church. At the time, one of my close friends was a famous author who wrote books on Church Growth and Spiritual Gifts. When I was able to teach a couple of elective courses, I began to implement this material into my curriculum. Thus, I challenged juniors and seniors to ascertain their spiritual gifts. Once discovered students were encouraged to apply these talents within a local congregation or youth group.

But sin, finding an opportunity through the commandment [to express itself] produced in me every kind of coveting and selfish desire. For without the Law sin is dead [the recognition of sin is inactive]. 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]. 10 And the very commandment which was intended to bring life, actually proved to bring death for me, Romans 7:8-10.

As Easter Sunday approaches I find myself in an awkward predicament. Due to a strange sleep schedule, working nights, my body has become lazy, like the sluggard described by Solomon in the book of Proverbs. After attending church in January, other priorities have replaced church resulting in a three month absence. A rationalizing mind hides behind the two movie scripts I have been working on due May 1st. Despite pulling all nighters writing each weekend, there is no excuse for abandoning a body of believers. Thus, I find myself as a casual attender, like the Christmas and Easter crowd who will flock to mass this weekend.

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! – 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Within two chapters of the Bible, the apostle reveals some sort of secret sin that haunted him. Romans 7 hints to times in life when Paul wanted to do right, but the sinful nature caused him to do that what he despised. Every Saturday night I have intentions to go to church on Sunday, but my flesh has become too weak snuffing out the presence of the Holy Spirit. In the passage above, Paul reveals a physical ailment that hindered his daily life. This pain was a messenger of Satan attempting to steal Paul’s joy. If everything goes as planned, I will be drifting back into church Sunday. However, unless I tame my flesh like 1 Corinthians 9:26-27, I won’t become the man of God the Lord desires.

by Jay Mankus

Why is Friday so Good?

The origin of the term Good Friday is not clear if you check a couple of search engines. The “good” derives from German Gottes Freitag or Gute Freitag. While some believe this refers to God’s Friday, others disagree. Anglo Saxons coined the phrase “Long Friday,” as the Bible suggests Jesus stayed up all night without sleeping prior to his crucifixion.

“And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn,” Zechariah 12:10.

In all my years as a Christian, I have only attended one Good Friday service as a senior in college. The service was based upon the passage above, a somber message exclaiming that our spiritual leader is dead. Pastor Paul commented that “I guess we can still get together from time to time, but our Savior is gone.” There are a few verses that suggest the remaining disciples went into hiding, afraid that they too may be arrested and crucified. Thus, Good Friday seems like an oxymoron as all spiritual hope died with Jesus.

For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us that is capable of dying] must put on immortality [which is freedom from death]. 54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the Scripture will be fulfilled that says, “Death is swallowed up in victory (vanquished forever), 1 Corinthians 15:53-54.

To comprehend the meaning of Good Friday, you have to scan Old Testament prophecies beginning in Genesis 3:15. As a famous pastor once stated, “Jesus died on Friday, but Sunday is a coming.” While the joy for life was sucked out of Jesus’ followers during a 48 hour period, a resurrection ignited a movement which has survived for nearly 2000 years. Thus, this Friday is deemed good as Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. Easter Sunday is great as death was swallowed up in victory the moment Jesus rose from the grave. That is why this day is known as Good Friday.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Not Over Until You Quit

If you have ever coached, played or watched a little league baseball game, you know that no lead in safe.  My oldest son James played in the 11-12 year old championship game two years in a row.  The first game went into extra innings as each team went ahead, lost the lead only to tie the game in their last at bats.  Running out of pitchers, James came on in relief, pitching the 7th and 8th.  Needing one out to close out the game, an error let in the tying run.  In the bottom of the 8th, James was left on the mound while the opposing team celebrated.  One year later, the championship game went into the 9th, but this time his team walked off champions.  I hope these 2 games helped teach my son that it’s not over until you quit.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith,” Matthew 21:22.

During my sophomore year of college, my ultimate frisbee team reached the finals.  From a talent stand point, my team didn’t deserve to win based upon merit.  Down the entire game, I threw a Hail Mary pass as time was about to expire.  Laying on my back, I watched as my throw sailed over two teammates in the end zone.  However, a gust of wind miraculously keep the frisbee in the air long enough for our fastest player to make a game tying catch.  In overtime, a defensive stop gave us a chance to take our first lead of the game.  While making a catch in the end zone, a 6 foot 3 inch 200 pound defender landed on my arm.  Somehow by the grace of God, I held on seal the victory.  This experience taught me to never give up.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

After the crucifixion of Jesus on a cross, one disciple committed suicide, others went into hiding and a few returned to their former trades.  On the eve of Easter Sunday, Jesus’ mother,  Mary Magdalene and other women went to ceremonially prepare Jesus’ body.  Perhaps, some of them went to this cave, tomb hoping for a miracle.  Upon their arrival, an angel of the Lord delivered incredible news.  If someone can rise from the dead, then nothing is impossible.  Thus, these godly women learned a valuable life lesson, its not over until you quit.  Therefore, despite whatever trials you may endure, don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

by Jay Mankus

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