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Glory, Honor and Peace

Before stepping down as leader of Israel, Moses gives a farewell address in Deuteronomy 30. In the middle of this speech, Moses gives a call to action in verses 15-17. These words reveal Moses’ hope for the nation of Israel, to listen to and obey God’s commands in the Torah. Based upon the passage below, the apostle Paul revisits this topic by detailing the pros and cons of obedience and disobedience.

But for those who are self-seeking and self-willed and disobedient to the Truth but responsive to wickedness, there will be indignation and wrath. [And] there will be tribulation and anguish and calamity and constraint for every soul of man who [habitually] does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile), Romans 2:8-9.

Paul gives three explanations for why individuals end up habitually doing evil. The first two, self-seeking and self-willed, directly impact the third. Whenever anyone is self-absorbed, certain aspects of reality are overlooked. When you add to this equation by justifying and rationalizing wrong actions, the Truth within the Bible is discarded or ignored.

But glory and honor and [heart] peace shall be awarded to everyone who [habitually] does good, the Jew first and also the Greek (Gentile), Romans 2:10.

Meanwhile, Paul promises three blessings for those who habitually do good: glory, honor and peace. While Romans 7:15-18 reveals that the ability to do good is hindered by our own sinful nature, Galatians 5:25 explains how the Holy Spirit can lead to good habits. Although you may be tempted to take short cuts or cross the boundaries set in the Bible, if you want to experience glory, honor and peace, doing good is the only path that promises these blessings.

by Jay Mankus

Baby Steps

Baby steps are subtle advances in progress.  In the early months following birth, babies don’t possess the agility and strength to stand on their own.  However, as soon as infants begin to figure out how to crawl, many become like run away trains, difficult to catch.  From a spiritual point of view, the first baby step requires gaining access to God.  This occurs when individuals place their faith in Christ, Romans 10:9-10.

Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power], Romans 5:1-2.

According to the apostle Paul, the next step you should take is listening to and reading the Bible, Romans 10:17.  Paul felt so strongly about this baby step that he wrote a letter to one of his young pupils, a teenager named Timothy.  Like a stern teacher, Paul stresses the importance of studying to prove yourself as a workman for God.  Although the Bible is no longer a class or subject in public education, you must become a diligent student of the Word to handle it correctly.

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15.

At some point along the way, everyone needs a mentor to guide you throughout life.  In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis warns individuals against getting ahead of yourself.  As you set out to accomplish a goal, success is not defined by reaching the summit.  Rather, success is the process of arriving, one step at a time.  Therefore, if you fall away from God for a period of time, don’t try make amends all it once.  Rather, like an adult forced to learn how to walk all over again, take life one step at a time.

by Jay Mankus

People, Problems and Pain

While every April makes Americans think of 2 certainties in life, death and taxes, there is another that exists.  No matter where you go, what you do or how long you do, there will always be the 3 P’s: people, problems and pain.  People can be the reason or source of your problems and pain.  Some may think if I just eliminate the bad apple or get rid of this negative influence, everything will change for the better.  Unfortunately, there will always be someone else who comes along who possess similar traits.  Thus, to escape problems and pain that are destined to arrive, soulmates play a vital role to survival.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

One of Jesus’ disciples reveals a common held belief during the first century.  Evidently, some individuals were surprised to see turbulent times enter their lives.  This flawed mindset is exposed by Peter, making sure everyone understands what to expect month to month.  Trials aren’t a strange occurrence.  Rather, people, problem and pain are placed into one’s life, serving as a means to refine your faith.  While not everyone will marry, Christian friends are placed on earth to help the suffering endure pain.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us, Romans 8:18.

The apostle Paul brings up a mindset necessary to overcome the turmoil that life brings upon unexpected souls.  The suffering mentioned in the passage above refers to the persecution, trials and harsh treatment from those who opposed the good news about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  While there were days filled with pain, Paul developed a heavenly mindset, understanding that his current battle was temporary.  Thus, if you find yourself in a precarious situation, submit to God by trusting in the Holy Spirit to enable you to overcome the people, problem and pain you face throughout life.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Hope of Glory

Hope is usually a vehicle which leads to glory.  When hope is absent, individuals struggle to find meaning and purpose in life.  However, as soon as the fruit of hope is conceived, this invisible source leads people to reach their final destination.  The hope of glory is achieved when souls put their faith in Christ for eternity.

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory, Colossians 1:27.

In a world full of disappointment, its hard to find something that will last.  While Israel was always known as God’s chosen people, those outside of this nation developed an inferiority complex.  Nonetheless, the Bible promises a day when Gentiles will be introduced to the glorious riches of Christ.  Thus, the moment anyone confesses with their mouth and believe in their heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, the hope of glory is obtained.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ, Romans 10:17.

As this modern age turns toward a progressive life style, the words of the Bible is being discarded as a source for truth.  In return, the narrative of this historic book is being devalued causing many to lose their faith.  The best way to combat this reality is to daily listen to biblical principles.  Unless a devotional and prayer life become deeply rooted, experiencing the hope of glory is a pipe dream.  Therefore, before its too late to repent, place your trust solely in the Holy Spirit so that Christ within you will be manifested as the hope of glory.

by Jay Mankus

More Than Just A Curse Word

As a resident of the greater Philadelphia area, I understand the passion of Philly fans.  Although the main stream media continues to accuse them of throwing snow balls at Santa Claus, most season ticket holders wear their emotions on their sleeves.  If you add alcohol to a bad call or break, thoughts become verbalized.  Thus, if you attend an Eagles game on a Sunday, God’s name may be used in a slightly different context than church.  Phrases such as “Jesus Christ, God dam it and Holy bleep” are reactions to a sporting event beyond their control.

Outside of the realm of sports, there is another topic of conversation.  If someone begins to experience a string of bad luck, loses in life or turmoil, God is usually the first to be blamed.  The Old Testament nature of God leads individuals to believe God is punishing them for something done in their past.  Yet, when the tide turns toward blessings, praise and rewards for hard work, there is a tendency for adults to take the credit.  Either forgetting or overshadowing God’s role, glory is often stolen by selfish souls.

Regardless of where you find yourself on this spectrum, the majority will agree that today’s language is merely a byproduct of a fallen generation.  Society has accepted the idea that words need to be spoken, even if people are hurt.  Twitter feeds this notion, giving disgruntled followers a platform to voice their opinion.  Nonetheless, God is more than a curse word or punch line for a comedian.  Rather, Hebrews 4:12-13 reveals that everything will be uncovered, brought to the light, as everyone will have to give an account of what they’ve done and the words they have spoken.

by Jay Mankus

Hyperreality

Candy bars that can dance, roller coasters that make you feel like you can fly and water rides that defy the laws of gravity.  Just another day of living in America’s hyperreality.  A term used by post-modern philosophy, hyperreality hinders one’s ability from distinguishing reality from that which is manufactured.  Behind the surface of fame, glory and riches, lies empty hearts, void of true fulfillment and purpose in life.

Hyperreality has turned Martin Luther King Junior’s I Have a Dream message upside down.  Instead of focusing on the character of someone’s heart, society has turned their attention toward dress, fashion and image.  The Material Girl can say whatever she wants as long as her physical appearance keeps up with the Joneses.  Reality television adds to this delusion as film edits, political motives and the great puppet master pulls the strings to falsify what you see.  Once again, behind the scenes, people aren’t who they appear to be on the big screen.

Peter began to see hyperreality in his day based upon comments made in 1 Peter 2:11-12.  His solution recognizes the obvious, you can’t control the world, but you can control how you respond.  Thus, the more one is able to follow the words of Joshua 1:8 and Colossians 3:1-3, the greater one’s ability is to detect truth from fiction.  Don’t be deceived by hyperreality.  Rather, be transformed by the Word of God, Romans 12:2.

by Jay Mankus

Eclipsed by Glory

Inspired by the first woman to swim the English Channel, a California swimmer attempted a similar feat, trying to make the 22 mile journey from Catalina Island to the California coastline.  Swimming for 15 hours, with a boat on either side of her for safety, a thick Marine layer prevented this woman from seeing the finish line.  Exhausted and swimming blind the entire time, she gave up only a few hundred yards from the beach.  Thus, the fog, as thick as pea soup, eclipsed her glory, failing to make history.

From January 1st, 2012 through March 23rd, 2013, I was living in a dense spiritual fog.  During this 15 month stretch, there were moments, even a day or two, when I thought, finally these clouds are dissipating.  To my disappointment, another layer of fog rolled in, more dense than the one before.  My career path became like a yo-yo, slinky and a series of one hit wonders, showing hope and promise one day, yet gone the next.  As a result, I was ready to quit, as my plans kept coming up empty, Proverbs 19:21.

From an astronomy perspective, an eclipse occurs when there is an obscuration of light as a moon or planet intervenes momentarily.  From a spiritual point of view, human beings often seek fame for themselves, stealing God of the glory He is due.  Despite these efforts, the Lord’s purpose always prevails, using the weather to steer you in the direction, toward His will.  Therefore, move out of God’s way, let Jesus take the wheel, Ephesians 2:10 and submit to the Creator’s commands in Philippians 2:13-14.  Then, you can experience the eclipse of God’s glory!

by Jay Mankus

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