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When God Leaves the Backdoor Open

The origin of backdoor dates back to the early 1520’s. Over the past 500 years, this term has evolved from small homes that were built back to back to cultural expressions. The Urban Dictionary refers to taking an alternative route, going behind someone’s back, and or a form of betrayal. The Bible provides accounts of when God leaves the backdoor open.

Now there was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (a leader, an authority) among the Jews, Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and are certain that You have come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do these signs (these wonderworks, these miracles—and produce the proofs) that You do unless God is with him, John 3:1-2.

As churches throughout the world celebrate Passion Week, Nicodemus is prime example that fits into this category. In the passage above, this Pharisee requests a private meeting with Jesus under the cover of darkness. Afraid of what his peers might think of his curiosity about Jesus, Nicodemus uses the backdoor. As the recipient of John 3:16-17, these words brewed with Nicodemus’ heart.

As for this multitude (rabble) that does not know the Law, they are contemptible and doomed and accursed! 50 Then Nicodemus, who came to Jesus before at night and was one of them, asked, 51 Does our Law convict a man without giving him a hearing and finding out what he has done? 52 They answered him, Are you too from Galilee? Search [the Scriptures yourself], and you will see that no prophet comes (will rise to prominence) from Galilee, John 7:49-52.

The second time Nicodemus is mentioned in the Bible, he defends Jesus in the passage above. Some of his fellow religious leaders suggest that Nicodemus is a secret follower of Jesus. Becoming a Christian usually doesn’t happen over night as many choose to enter faith through the backdoor initially. When the words of the Bible begin to click and fear of what others think about you fades, God leaves the backdoor open, Revelation 3:20, so you can enter when you’re ready.

by Jay Mankus

Crashing Waves that Erode Your Faith

According to the latest research, erosion washes away 25 feet of coastal beach annually. When a region experiences more than it’s typical amount of hurricanes, crashing waves can wash away up to 50 feet of coastline in a season. On a rare occasion, the aftermath of a great storm forms a new land mass. Such is the case of the great hurricane of 1933. Crashing waves and storm surge eroded the Ocean City inlet, resulting in the creation of Assateague Island.

[Roaring] deep calls to [roaring] deep at the thunder of Your waterspouts; all Your breakers and Your rolling waves have gone over me, Psalm 42:7.

There are 53 verses in the Bible that use the expression wave. However, only 16 refer to a wave on a lake or sea. In the passage above, a chief musician sings about the power of rushing water. Whether the author is writing about a specific river, waterfall or a raging flood flowing after a severe storm, water has a mind of itself. One downpour can take a country road and transform it into a river, sweeping away anything that comes close to it’s path.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

While the height of waves are limited on lakes and rivers, the larger the body of water, the higher that waves climb. Although tsunamis are rare to most coastlines, invisible tsunamis occur daily in the forms of hardship, trials, and tribulations. If your faith is weak or unprepared, doubt will come crashing through like a freight train. Instead of hesitating, believers must be alert, forming hedges of protection via prayer so that when days of danger arrive, your faith will stand tall.

by Jay Mankus

When Gusts of Doubt Uproot Your Faith

Every Easter pastors, priests, and teachers read passages in the Bible of disciples abandoning Jesus in His greatest time of need. When asked to pray late at night, they fell asleep. After being confronted about his relationship, Peter, a member of Jesus’ inner circle, denied knowing Jesus on three different occasions. As the winds of doubt began to blow on that original Good Friday, the only disciple not uprooted by the pressure to conform was John who took care of Mary after Jesus ascended into heaven.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides], James 1:6-8.

According to first centurion historians, even Jesus’ earthly brother, James, did not believe until Resurrection Sunday. Perhaps, the passage above is a personal confession, disappointed by his own lack of faith. Instead using his God given ears to hear and eyes to see, gusts of doubt blinded James from Jesus’ true identity. Nearly 2000 years later, the gusts of doubt continue to blow. Some of these storms are hidden by gray clouds, appearing without a moments notice. When the sky clears, a trail of wounded souls and debris remain.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:21-22.

The apostle Paul compares faith to a deeply rooted tree, Colossians 2:7, nourished and built up by Christ. Unfortunately, winds of doubt often separate believers from their source of light and life. After cursing an unproductive fig tree, the disciples were shocked by Jesus’ miraculous powers. Jesus uses this teachable moment to reveal how doubt impacts his followers. Therefore, the next time you feel the gusts of doubt begin to blow, clear your mind before prayer is exercised to secure a firm defense.

by Jay Mankus

The Shield of Saving Faith

The initial shield as described by the apostle Paul in the Bible is called a scutum. The scutum was a large body shield measuring roughly 2.5 feet wide by 4 feet tall. Auxiliary soldiers had a different shaped shield as these shields were mostly made of wood, gluing a few layers together to make the curved shape. This shield was then covered in leather and a sheet of linen cloth added to the front. Designs were usually painted onto the front following it’s completion. After the 3rd century the oval or round clipeus became the standard shield for Roman soldiers.

And having shod your feet in preparation [to face the enemy with the firm-footed stability, the promptness, and the readiness produced by the good news] of the Gospel of peace. 16 Lift up over all the [covering] shield of saving faith, upon which you can quench all the flaming missiles of the wicked [one], Ephesians 6:15-16.

According to Psalm 7:13, flaming arrows were used during battles in the Old Testament. As technology improved, so did the accuracy which made Roman shield’s life saving. Prior to battle, these shields were soaked in a fire retardant substance to extinguish incoming flaming arrows. When bombarded by the enemy, soldier’s would dig their shield’s into the earth at an angle to protect their entire bodies from harm. Perhaps, this specific detail is why Paul refers to this weapon as the shield of saving faith.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:4-5.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul refers to the necessary mindset to ward off spiritual attacks. Whenever wars occur, soldier’s can become exhausted mentally and physically. If you don’t get enough rest or your confidence is shattered, it’s only matter of time before defeat and death set in. However, as Christians learn to fight fire with fire by using spiritual weapons to fight invisible supernatural forces, momentum can change at a moment’s notice. Therefore, the next time you feel like you’re getting pelted by this present age of darkness, pick up the shield of faith and stand your ground.

by Jay Mankus

The Real Global Warning Threat

The Dust Bowl of the 1930’s may have conceived a generation of scientists who adhere to and subscribe to the belief that global warming as the greatest threat to the future of the earth. This one event served as a painful lesson for farmers who over tilled their land, contributing to American’s Great Depression, spawning a decade from 1929 to 1939. To modern followers of global warming, there is no time to waste, whatever the cost may be to save this planet.

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it, Ephesians 4:29.

While preserving the earth is a noble cause, another global warning was recorded in the first century. Instead of highlighting the dangers of fossil fuel, the apostle Paul refers to a spiritual pandemic that began to spin out of control. This verbal pollution has taken a toll on souls for the past 2000 years. Gossip, slander, and trash talking have been embraced by social media, using entertainment as an excuse to keep sinning with a smile.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin). 31 Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind), Ephesians 4:30-31.

Apparently, the use of evil comments, hate filled speech, and unwholesome talk grieves the Holy Spirit. Human beings were designed to encourage and lift one another up. Yet, as global warming steals most of the news headlines, politicians seek to destroy anyone who does not hold or support their secular world view. Subsequently, dissenters are shamed on social media, often using false stereotypes to force a public apology. The decay of biblical values in America is the real global warning threat that must be addressed before faith in God becomes banned worldwide.

by Jay Mankus

An Unreserved Approach to God

Approach refers to draw closer; to come very near to. Prior to coming to faith, I viewed God as the great disciplinarian. Growing up in a Roman Catholic Church, God’s grace, love, and mercy was foreign to me. Thus, I developed an Old Testament perspective, one of judgment and wrath. I never felt good enough or worthy to approach God. Until joining a Methodist Youth Group in high school, I couldn’t comprehend an unreserved approach to God.

In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). 13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you. 14 For this reason [seeing the greatness of this plan by which you are built together in Christ], I bow my knees before the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Ephesians 3:12-14.

As the apostle Paul began to meet other Jewish converts to Christianity, a similar mindset prevented many from drawing near to God. The passage above serves as encouragement, opening the door to what is possible for those who believe in Jesus. Instead of allowing doubt to reign in your head, dare to have the boldness, courage, and confidence to approach God. When the presence of fear is removed, an unreserved approach to God is possible.

For we do not have a High Priest Who is unable to understand and sympathize and have a shared feeling with our weaknesses and infirmities and liability to the assaults of temptation, but One Who has been tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sinning. 16 Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it], Hebrews 4:15-16.

The passage above connects the Old Testament with the realization of the Messiah in the New Testament. Rather than continue in the ways of Mosaic Law to atone for sin, the author of Hebrews refers to Jesus as a great High Priest. This symbolism fulfills the words of Moses in Leviticus 17:11 which grants access to the throne of God. Part of the good news about Jesus Christ is that those who believe are granted permission to an unreserved approach to God. Take advantage of this new access, Romans 5:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Become Despondent Through Fear

Living out a Christian faith can be oppressive, tedious, and seemingly without end of obstacles. Furthermore, when things don’t go the way you expect or think, it’s not uncommon to suffer from depression. When confidence is lost or hope slips away, fear can suck the joy out of life. Like a golfer who is all over the place during their round, there are many days where you have to grind everything out.

In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). 13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you, Ephesians 3:12-13.

Whatever optimistic message you have received about a new life in Christ, every day has a new set of challenges. If you let your guard down, become over confident or don’t have enough prayer cover, extreme discouragement may not be too far behind. Unpleasant emotions are a byproduct of fear, caused by a belief that someone or something is a threat. This is where faith must rise to the occasion, opening the door for boldness and courage to shine through.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

Apparently, despondency was an issue in the first century as the apostle Paul writes a similar message to two different congregations. The context of the passage above refers to you reap what you sow. If your mind is constantly fixated on fear, you will become worn down by despondent thoughts. Therefore, if you want to rise above your circumstances, approach God with a humble heart, expecting blessings for those who belong to the household of faith.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus: The Master of All Trades

While attending a youth ministry trade school following college, I read a book entitled The Master of all Trades. The author used miracles performed by Jesus in the Gospel of John as a case study. When I studied each of these accounts, I realized that Jesus was proving his mastery over a series of elements. Although I can’t remember the author’s name or find the book online, this comparison provides a clear illustration that Jesus indeed is the master of all trades.

Eight Miracles In The Gospel Of John  

  1. Water Into Wine John 2:1-11
  2. Healing the official’s son John 4:43-54.
  3. The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda John 5:1-9 
  4. The Feeding of the 5000 John 6:1-14.
  5. Walking on the Water (John 6:16-25).
  6. The Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41).
  7. Raising Lazarus From The Dead (John 11:1-44).
  8. Casting net into sea catching 153 fishes (John 21:5-8).

When Jesus turns water into wine, he defies the laws of science and reveals his mastery over quality. In the process of healing an official’s son, Jesus conquers distance by healing this boy from afar. While visiting an invalid at a pool, lingering with this condition for thirty-eight years, Jesus shows his mastery over time. During the feeding of the 5000, Jesus shows his ability to overcome the odds, able to provide no matter how great the quantity. In a storm, Jesus walks on water to highlight his power over the elements on the earth.

There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [through Who He is], John 20:30-31.

At the end of John’s gospel, it’s clear that thousands of miracles performed by Jesus were left out of the Bible. John merely selects 8 that illustrate Jesus’ mastery of all trades. The final 3 give hope to those who seem to be in an irrevocable situation. Whether you’ve been without one of your 5 key senses from birth, on the verge of death, or failing miserably in your career, Jesus has the power to alter your current situation. As long as you believe, the master of all trades can do wonders for you and your family.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Waste the Waning Years of Life

If you want to pace yourself throughout the marathon called life, Hebrews 12:1, taking a break from time to time is essential. Whether this involves getting away for a few days, going on a retreat, or taking a vacation, bodies need to be rejuvenated. When human beings neglect the need to be recharged and refreshed, burnout, emotional breakdowns and exhaustion is likely in your future. Instead of making the most of your waning years, the tired tend to run out the clock.

Isaiah said, What have they seen in your house? Hezekiah answered, They have seen all that is in my house. There is no treasure of mine that I have not shown them. 16 Then Isaiah said to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord! 17 Behold, the time is coming when all that is in your house, and that which your forefathers have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon; nothing shall be left, says the Lord, 2 Kings 20:15-17.

In the passage above, King Hezekiah was just miraculously healed. After crying out to God in prayer, the Lord gave this king an additional 15 years on earth. Instead of devoting the remaining years of his live to serving God, selfish desires consumed Hezekiah’s soul. Following a visit from the King of Babylon, Hezekiah quickly forgot all that the Lord had done for him. Like a modern day politician who becomes corrupted by power, Hezekiah wastes the waning years of his life.

And some of your sons who shall be born to you shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of Babylon’s king. 19 Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, The word of the Lord you have spoken is good. For he thought, Is it not good, if [all this evil is meant for the future and] peace and security shall be in my days? – 2 Kings 20:18-19.

Looking back in time, it would have been better if Hezekiah’s illness ended his life. Due to a series of poor choices, Hezekiah’s actions affected his family, faith, and the nation of Judah. Moses introduced the concept of the sins of the father in Exodus 20:5. While 2 Kings doesn’t go into detail of Hezekiah’s transgressions as a father, one of his own sons appears to have been greatly influenced. Subsequently, Manasseh goes on to become one of the most ungodly kings in the Old Testament. This was all set up because a healed king exchanged eternal treasures for temporary pleasures. Seize the day while you still have time.

by Jay Mankus

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

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