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As for Us It’s Different

One of the most famous speeches in the New Testament is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Using this mountain as a natural pulpit, Jesus begins his message with a set of attitudes to emulate. Just before making a transition to prayer and giving, Jesus uses logic to explain why Christians are called to a higher standard. To stand out like a lighted city on a hill, you need to go above and beyond what an average citizen would do. In other words, it’s different for us.

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; 44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 [aj]To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

After playing four sports in high school, I decided to take a step back and just do intramurals in college. Little did I know that I would become the Intramural Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. One of my responsibilities was attending weekly coaches and referee meetings. During one of our basketball games, a teammate threw a punch and was kicked out of the game. Following his ejection, I had to explain to Chris the importance of “turning the other cheek.” While this discussion took an expected turn as Chris thought Jesus would have punched this guy too, my main point to him was as for us it’s different.

For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that? – Matthew 5:43-47

Jesus makes this clear in the passage above. Christians aren’t called to blend into their surroundings like a chameleon, Rather, anyone who enters into a personal relationship with Jesus is expected to gradually become more like Christ. This transformation won’t happen immediately. However, as new believers begin to study the Bible and ask other Christian’s questions, change will occur. Subsequently, as maturity takes place over time, James 1:2-4, Christians will come to realize as for us it’s different.

by Jay Mankus

Flush

The word flush has numerous meanings depending upon its context.  For a poker player, a Royal Flush can’t be beat.  In the Men in Black movies, flush refers to an emergency escape route.  On the other hand, nutrients in water purify internal organs from chemicals, flushing impurities from the human body.  Meanwhile, if you aren’t feeling well, you might become flush in the face, reddening your complexion.  However, for me, there are certain days, weeks, months or years, I feel like flushing down the toilet!

As I endured another sleepless night, the image of the secondary definition for flush kept spinning through my mind.  I guess this is a sign of God wanting me to cleanse, dispose and purge all that is negative from my memory.  According to Proverbs 30:12, purity is not reached until filth is removed from your life.  In John 3:2-9, Jesus asks Nicodemus to flush everything he has been taught by man and replace it with a new concept.  This conversion, new birth and spiritual creation was too foreign for Nicodemus to grasp.  Thus, he stopped talking, becoming a listener, trying to absorb this new teaching, like Bounty Towels, the quicker picker upper.

 

Unfortunately, there might be decisions, experiences and images that you can’t seem to flush completely down the toilet.  Plungers may help with some issues, yet others may require a call to Roto Rooter to spiritually clear the plumbing within your temple.  The author of Hebrews probably addresses this better than anyone I have ever heard.  “In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood,”Hebrews 12:4.  Therefore, hang in there, Galatians 6:9, keep fighting, 1 Timothy 6:12 and flush sin from your life, Romans 13:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

3 Against 1 or Three in One

Where I come from, 3 against 1 isn’t a fair fight.  Yet, every morning, millions of Americans leave the safety of their own home to enter the war zone I call life.  Three invisible forces gang up on individuals daily, assaulting their minds, emotions and will.  Enemy #1 is your own flesh, Romans 8:5, implanting within you a spirit of curiosity, swaying your conscious to experiment with the unknown, Genesis 3:5-6.  Public Enemy #2 is this fallen world, 1 Peter 2:11, using a spirit of persuasion to conform your mind toward the excuse, “well, everybody else is doing it!”  Spiritual Enemy #3 is Lucifer, encouraging a spirit of disobedience within young people, Ephesians 2:2, fixing their hearts on earthly treasures, Matthew 6:21-24.

Watching The Sunset

On the other side of this spectrum, lies an invisible fortress built upon the Logos, the written word of God, prayer, fasting and worship.  The Father created this heavenly castle, sending His Son to inform the masses of its existence, John 14:1-4.  This kingdom does not use brute force, peer pressure or schemes to trick its occupants.  Rather, this paradise involves selflessness, servant-hood and sacrifice, Matthew 20:25-28.  The entrance fee is relatively inexpensive; one might say priceless, John 3:5-8.  Yet, this domain thrives on humility, love and obscurity.  There is only one star, one spotlight and one who is worthy to be praised, 1 Chronicles 16:25.

In the end, the choice is yours, to live for today, joining the 3 forces above or live for eternity?  God established free will so that people might choose love over evil and obedience over sin.  Like the line from A League of Their Own, when Gina Davis tells Tom Hanks, her manager, she’s quitting the team before the World Series.  Hanks replies, “If baseball was easy, everyone would play it.  The fact that baseball is hard; that’s what makes it a great game!”  According to Revelation 3:19-20, God created a special door for his kingdom.  The only handle of this door is located on our side.  Thus, God continues to knock on the door of your heart, yet only you can let Him in.  Today, the Spirit of Jesus has been left behind to guide you once you open this door, John 14:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

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