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Tag Archives: forgiveness

Heaven is Not for Everyone

I am always cautious when I try to tackle an unpopular topic. Yet, whenever I attend a funeral where a member of the clergy assumes or suggests that heaven is for everyone, I cringe. While God is the ultimate judge, a person’s witness typically leaves behind a trail of bread crumbs for friends and family to follow. Depending upon actions, deeds and faith demonstrated, you will find assurance, doubt or uncertainty for the eternal fate of those whom you love.

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it,” Matthew 7:13-14.

Jesus comments on two passages about heaven. The first focuses on the percentage of individuals that will end up in heaven or hell. The second details a necessary requirement to be forgiven by God. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush, blunt to his audience. You have two choices, follow the narrow path that leads to everlasting life or follow the crowd down the road toward eternal loss.

Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, 46 and said, “And so it is written, that the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed) would suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance [necessary] for forgiveness of sins would be preached in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things, Luke 24:45-48.

One of Jesus’ final words before acsending into heaven focuses on how New Testament Jews can find forgiveness through repentance. Biblical repentance contains two requisites, turn away from evil and turn back toward God. If one of these two steps is skipped, true repentance is not achieved. Thus, if anyone wants to approach death with eternal security, 1 John 5:13, repentance needs to become a daily practice. While I hate to be a Debbie downer, the Bible clearly states heaven is not for everyone.

by Jay Mankus

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Seduced

The term seduced is usually applied to an unwilling participant who is beguiled, enticed and lured into some sort of sexual encounter.  This leaves a victim feeling betrayed, used and violated.  Beyond physical attractions, individuals can also be seduced by alcohol, drugs, fame, food, impulses, pornography, power, shopping, technology and wealth.  One of God’s greatest concerns in the Old Testament was that Jews would be seduced by high places, centers for Canaanite idol worship scattered throughout the Middle East.

And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind, Jeremiah 7:31.

This connection became clear to me after reading an article written by a member of the Billy Graham Association.  High places is mentioned 117 times in the Bible; derived from the Hebrew word “hamah” referring to mountaintops.  In nearby hills, mountains and peaks, open-air altars on elevated knolls were built to pay tribute to pagan and secular gods.  When Israel entered the promised land in Canaan under Joshua’s leadership, God commanded his people to destroy and tear down these places.  Unfortunately, a lack of thoroughness left many behind as ancient idols slowly and subtly seduced God’s people year after year, unable to stay away.

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.

Today, with a click of a mouse, tap on your phone or voice to Alexia, the internet, a.k.a. the world wide net comes alive.  While this technology was created to advance, expand and further human development, new high places are erected daily.  Fueled by spiritual forces of evil, demons regularly seduce curious and vulnerable souls just like Eve succumbing to Lucifer’s reasoning.  This seduction often goes unnoticed until sin becomes full blown, leaving a trail of devastation and destruction.  Sure, there is forgiveness, grace and mercy, but humans don’t always see eye to eye, abandoning broken relationships to start anew.  Despite how far one may fall, in God’s eyes no one is too far gone.

by Jay Mankus

 

Love With Your Life

Martin Luther King Jr. would have turned 90 years old this week if he wasn’t murdered on April 4th 1968.  To honor his memory, Martin Luther King Day was first observed in 1986.  Four years later, Wyoming became the first state in the union to pass legislation to make Martin Luther King Day a legal holiday.  While Dr. King’s I Have a Dream Speech overshadows his 14 years as a civil rights leader, Martin Luther taught Americans how to love with your life.

Let all that you do be done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:14.

On their 1992 album Free At Last, DC Talk pays homage to Dr. King.  This group refers to spiritual slavery, when an individual is held captive by an addiction, unable to break free until Jesus enters their life.  Dr. King fought for a day when people were judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin.  Meanwhile, these Christians musicians longed for a day when forgiveness, grace and mercy reconciled their broken relationship with God.  One of the songs on Free At Last, Luv is a Verb, drives home the point that love is meant to be lived out.

Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love, 1 John 4:8.

The concept of love inspired a hit song by a relatively new artist called Hollyn.  Hollyn received notoriety for her appearance on American Idol.  Two years later, Gotee Records released One Way Conversations in 2017.  With the help of Toby Mac, Hollyn is a raising star who has followed in his footsteps.  Although the title is different, Love with Your Life illustrates that love isn’t love until you demonstrate it by caring for others.  Similar to Michael W’ Smith’s song Give It Away, love wasn’t put in your heart to stay.  The best example, Jesus, gave his life away by dying for you and me.  Go and do your best to love others with your life.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Story Behind A Just Cause

To be just refers to being fair and impartial.  The Bible details God’s hatred of those who have been mistreated and oppressed.  The term civil refers to behaving according to what is morally right within a just and democratic society.  The story behind this concept begins as God uses guilt as a just cause to convict sin despite being invisible (before the actual act) to the human eye.

But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion), James 1:14.

While individuals may be able to deceive other human beings for an extended period of time, the truth will come out over eventually.  Whether it’s an addiction, a crime or shocking act, the Bible reveals what happens inside the soul before the act of sin emerges.  Seeds are planted within minds, temptation waters these thoughts until desire, lust and worldly passion drags the next unlikely candidate down a dark path.

Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:15.

Sadly, headlines from the internet, newspaper or tabloids is the end result of the sinful nature getting the best of a weakened and vulnerable person.  After any fall, just as God sends guilt, humbled hearts open the door for forgiveness.  To those who comes to their senses, seeking reconciliation, the Holy Spirit moves toward the broken-hearted and crushed in spirit.  While this is often not seen in this light, God demonstrates a just cause by extending grace and mercy to the contrite.  May these words help you get over failure by embracing God’s forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

 

Cardiomegaly

In the 1966 Christmas classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the narrator blames the Grinch’s attitude on an abnormally small heart.  As the citizens of Who-ville began to sing carols in preparation of Christmas, the Grinch started to devise a plan to steal their joy.  From a spiritual perspective, the Grinch represents Satan, seeking to steal, kill and destroy any glimpse of the real meaning of Christmas.  Yet, as his plan was interrupted by Little Cindy Lou Who, God used this child to penetrate the Grinch’s soul.  In one instant, when the meaning of Christmas was revealed, the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes that day.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows], John 10:10.

The medical term for an enlarged heart is cardiomegaly.   This isn’t a disease, but rather a sign of another condition.  For example, during pregnancy, some mothers develop an enlarged heart.  This condition is usually temporary because of stress on your body.  Cardiomegaly can also be brought on by the weakening of the heart muscle, coronary artery disease or heart valve problems.  After three visits to a local cardiologist, I have been diagnosed with an enlarged heart.  My doctor wasn’t concerned, rather he wants me to come back in a year to monitor this condition.  Nonetheless, I do have something in common with the Grinch, an enlarged heart.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 36:26.

Throughout the Bible, there is an emphasis on pursuing a new heart.  The context of this reference is usually within a prayer.  King David asked God for a new heart after committing adultery and murder.  The prophet Jeremiah reveals how hearts can become deceitful, longing for fleshly desires instead of obeying God’s commands.  King Solomon refers to the heart as the well spring to life.  As I complete my 2500th blog, my prayer is that the Lord will create in me a new heart, full of forgiveness, love and mercy.  When individuals begin to demonstrate enlarged hearts seasoned with God’s grace, this world will become a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus

 

Kicking and Screaming

After one year of attending Channin Elementary School, within walking distance of my house, desegregation bused me into the city of Wilmington, Delaware.  For the next three years, Harlan Elementary became my new school home.  This drastic change was eye opening.  Whenever a student broke a rule, became disobedient or get caught doing something illegal, rarely did I hear, “my bad, I did it, I’m guilty.”  Instead, students were often dragged to the office, kicking and screaming, escorted by one or more administrators.

For you, my brothers, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom become an opportunity for the sinful nature (worldliness, selfishness), but through love serve and seek the best for one another, Galatians 5:13.

Today, whenever someone feels like they have been treated unjustly, social media has become a popular site to air your grievances.  While there are many options to choose, Facebook and Twitter are filled with rants daily.  Instead of thinking before individuals press send, emotions stir the pot, building up until one final act boils over to form a vicious tweet.  Once posted, souls attempt to bite and devour one another, plummeting the gutter to an all time low.  While the prudent thing to do is walk away, the sinful nature can’t resist to pile on by fighting back.

But if you bite and devour one another [in bickering and strife], watch out that you [along with your entire fellowship] are not consumed by one another, Galatians 5:15.

The context of the two passages above are sandwiched by a verse referring to the Golden Rule, treating others as you want to be treated.  Jesus uses this principle at the conclusion of the Lord’s Prayer, adding a condition to forgiveness.  According to Matthew 6:14-15, your forgiveness is dependent upon how you treat and forgive others who trespass against you.  Jesus is clear, “if you don’t forgive others, God won’t forgive you.”  Near the end of this gospel, Matthew 25:30, Jesus reveals what will happen on judgement day to those who harbor bitterness. failing to forgive.  Not only will these unfortunate souls be dragged away, kicking and screaming, eternity will be spent weeping, wishing they would have chosen love over hatred.

by Jay Mankus

Love and Forgiveness

Every neighborhood has an observer.  This individual makes a hobby out of being in the know.  In the process of gathering information, gossip may distort fact from fiction.  Nonetheless, finding out what’s going on becomes an obsession.  For these personality types, digging up dirt on others produces an adrenaline rush.  Anyone who follows down this path begins to develop the mindset of a Pharisee.

Jesus, answering, said to the Pharisee, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he replied, “Teacher, say it.” 41 “A certain moneylender had two debtors: one owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 When they had no means of repaying [the debts], he freely forgave them both. So which of them will love him more?” – Luke 7:40-42

In the first century, Jesus was regularly invited to dine with religious leaders.  Instead of trying to impress other guests, Jesus used each meal as an opportunity to minister to others.  After an uninvited prostitute approached Jesus to anoint his body with an expensive jar of perfume, commentary, murmurs and preconceived judgments were made about Jesus.  Frustrated by the lack of maturity displayed by the adults in this house, Jesus shares a parable to expose the heart of this matter.

Simon answered, “The one, I take it, for whom he forgave more.” Jesus said to him, “You have decided correctly.” 44 Then turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house [but you failed to extend to Me the usual courtesies shown to a guest]; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair [demonstrating her love], Luke 7:43-44.

Jesus tells a story about two debtors who did not have the ability to pay back their amount owed.  After finishing, Jesus turns to Simon, a Pharisee, asking a couple of questions.  This conversation exposes the flaw of most Pharisees, concentrating on judging others rather than displaying love and forgiveness.  Jesus warns the guests about falling into this harmful mindset.  In the end, if you want to be forgiven, you must love much.  Forgiveness and love follow the sowing principle.  Those who love much are forgiven, but those who love little, forgive little.  May this parable speak to your heart, inspiring a desire to love and forgive like Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little,” Luke 7:47.

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