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Tag Archives: grace and mercy

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

 

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Surviving Your Next Guilt Trip

Guilt is like an invisible lie detector test.  When human beings deny, exaggerate or lie, souls are awakened by pulses inside their body.  This reaction is triggered by consciences, an inner feeling or voice of truth.  The apostle Paul refers to this concept as the invisible qualities of God so that no one is without excuse, Romans 1:18-20.  The dilemma is not if your next guilt trip will arrive, but how will your respond when conviction starts gnawing upon your heart.

If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness [of sin], we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we [really] walk in the Light [that is, live each and every day in conformity with the precepts of God], as He Himself is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another [He with us, and we with Him], and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin [by erasing the stain of sin, keeping us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations], 1 John 1:6-7.

One of the objectives of the modern progressive movement is to de-emphasize absolutes by elevating personal opinions.  As lies are portrayed as truth by members of the media, gray areas expand resulting in a combination of confusion and rationalization.  If the Bible becomes discredited from endless attacks by atheist groups, future generations will look to other sources for moral guidance.  Perhaps, leaders want to return to the days of Old Testament Judges, where people began to do what was right in their own eyes.

If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose], 1 John 1:8-9.

The spiritual dynamic of guilt seeks to bring about humility.  Depression is a natural emotion created by God to make it painfully obvious that individuals can not follow the ten commandments on their own.  Thus, when guilt trips persuade hearts and minds to admit the error of their way, confession opens the door for hope, Romans 5:2-4.  Responding correctly to guilt, unlike Cain who killed his brother, enables contrite spirits to receive forgiveness, grace and mercy.  May the words of 1 John give you a blueprint for surviving your next guilt trip.

by Jay Mankus

The Gravational Pull Between Good and Evil

The invisible force that causes massive objects to pull other objects toward them is known as a gravitational pull.  When a professional athlete jumps into the air, the earth’s gravitational pull forces them back to the ground.  Early theologians developed the concept of dualism to help explain a similar pull between good and evil.  Dualism believes there are two independent powers behind everything that happens, one good and the other bad.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states that the universe is the battlefield in which this endless war is fought.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts], Galatians 5:16.

Prior to introducing the concept of the armor of God to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes the gravitational pull between good and evil.  Unlike dualism, these invisible forces are clearly defined.  In the right corner, the Holy Spirit is a guiding light, directing, prompting and urging souls to choose obedience in accordance with biblical law.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature opposes God’s Spirit, using impulses, lust and temporary pleasures to entice individuals to break God’s law.  Angels and demons fight for souls in the spiritual realm, pulling hearts and minds in different directions.

For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do, Galatians 5:17.

One of the weapons the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, uses is misinformation.  Going back to the Garden of Eden, Lucifer planted doubt within the mind of Eve by suggesting, “did God really say that?”  Replacing truth with justification and rationalization, the gravitational pull of sin is hard to resist, James 1:13-15.  Meanwhile, the Lord uses confession, James 5:16, pouring out grace and mercy upon willing participants to pull people back into fellowship with God.  In view of this wrestling match between good and evil, keep in step with the Holy Spirit so that your eternal destination will be secured, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Forgiving Those Who Don’t Deserve It

You can’t discuss forgiveness without bringing up Jesus’ name.  In the passage below, Jesus is placed on a cross between two criminals sentenced to death.  When Pilate, the governor, gave Jesus a chance to defend himself against trumped up accusations, he remained silent, accepting the fate and plan God set forth.  While all this was happening, Jesus emulated the love of God by forgiving those who didn’t deserve it.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left, Luke 23:32-33.

Captain George Kendall was the first person to executed in America.  Influenced by leaders in Great Britain, Kendall was hung in 1608 at the Jamestown colony in Virginia.  Today, 31 states have the death penalty as a punishment for those individuals who have taken another life.  This principle is based upon Jewish law, part of the Torah that Moses passed down for future generations, “life for life, death for death.”  However, the New Testament conveys a new message, Romans 6:23, the gift of God, Jesus Christ who paid the price for all past, present and future transgressions.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One,” Luke 23:34-35.

Unfortunately, if you listen to the media and political pundits, forgiveness is a lonely word.  Instead, condemnation, demonizing and judging individuals is a daily ritual.  This relentless attack is void of grace and mercy.  If Jesus can forgive the people who beat, crucified and mocked him, there must be room in our hearts to forgive those who hurt us.  Remember, forgiveness is conditional based upon how you forgive others, Matthew 6:14-15.  Despite whatever rationale you may have devised, the golden rule still remains the standard to live by, treating others as you want to be treated.  Therefore, bear with one another, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  This is the benchmark which enabled Jesus to forgive those who didn’t deserve it.

by Jay Mankus

Putting the AWE in Awesome

According to a recent study, awesome is one of the most popular words to express something which is considered amazing.  Due to the overuse of this term, awesome has lost some of it’s luster.  This bastardization of the English language has prevented a clear depiction, watered down by too many comparisons with less descriptive words.  Perhaps, it’s time to restore order by putting the awe back in awesome.

Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! – Psalm 33:8

One of the barriers to appreciating awesome is the recent trend of public displays of disrespect by athletes, leaders and politicians.  In some cases, celebrities, journalists and members of the media are encouraging these acts, considered acceptable behavior as long as it’s done to those individuals who possess politically incorrect views.  When disrespect reigns, honor and reverence disappear.  Awe can not be experienced unless a healthy fear and respect for high offices are restored.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

According to Luke 19:10, Jesus came to earth to seek and restore that which was lost.  This was accomplished by demonstrating a love that has transformed cultures since the first century.  This agape love is so powerful that souls are overwhelmed, brought to tears by the grace and mercy of God.  Incomprehensible to the average person, perfect love casts out the fear of God’s wrath depicted in the Old Testament.  One prodigal life at a time, Jesus came to earth to mend broken hearts.  Dying on a cross, serving as a perfect lamb, Jesus’ resurrection conquered death, putting the AWE in awesome.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Brand New Day

If I didn’t put Lamentations at the end of the passage below, these words could have spoken or written by any disgruntled individual today.  Whenever anyone endures a stretch of bad breaks, failure and sadness, it feels as if God is punishing you for some unknown reason.  As a child I attended a church that over emphasized the Old Testament, painting a different picture of God from the New Testament.  Thus, I grew up without a limited perspective of God’s true character and nature, seeing the Lord as a disciplinarian, judge and punisher for those who do evil.

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.  He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long, Lamentations 3:1-3.

The book of Lamentations has one of the most interesting chapters in the Bible.  The prophet Jeremiah begins by expressing the anguish of his depression.  This remorse continues like a tirade of complaining for twenty verses.  After letting all of his emotions out in the form of recorded words, Jeremiah transitions to the positive.  Despite how bad things may look, Jeremiah recalls a message of hope from the Torah, another name for the first five books of the Bible.  This promise altered his mood, bringing to light that each new day serves as a fresh start on life.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, Lamentations 3:21-23.

While you can’t reset life like a video game without removing the consequences, altering your attitude is a good place to start.  The hardest part of any complete transformation is learning how to forgive yourself.  This is even more difficult for those who possess a quest for perfection.  While God forgives and forgets, casting your sins as far as the east is from the west, the Devil uses guilt to haunt your mind by bringing up secret scars.  For most of my life, I have fought a losing battle, overlooking God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy, distracted by past failures.  After hearing a song from the group Firefight earlier in the week, I know the course of action I must take; viewing each morning as a Brand New Day.

by Jay Mankus

A Man Can Only Take So Much Failure

Parents tend to possess unique ways of motivating their children.  Over the years, most learn which buttons to push and which to avoid.  In the 1996 film Invincible, Kevin Conway plays Vince Papale’s father.  After thinking about backing out of an open try out hosted by the Philadelphia Eagles, Conway addresses Vince played by Mark Wahlberg.  Using reverse psychology, Conway suggests, “Vince, maybe you should sit this one out.  A man can only take so much failure.”

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

While I have watched this movie several times, this quote struck a cord in my heart for the first time last weekend.  To an extent, this expression is true as human beings can only handle so much.  Over time, everyone reaches a breaking point that leads to depression, heartbreak or suicide.  Thus, when you approach, near or reach this desolate place, it’s essential to turn your attention to God’s grace and mercy as instructed by the passage above.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong, 2 Corinthians 12:10.

The unlikely journey of Vince Papale from bartender to professional football player parallels the life of the apostle Paul.  Vince relies on his friends to get him through the loss of his wife and child.  Meanwhile, Paul places his trust in Christ alone.  The man who once persecuted Christians and gave the order to have Stephen executed ends up becoming a follower of the movement he once despised.  When individuals come to a crossroads in life, you have to eventually choose.  You may have two or multiple paths to decide from.  Yet, if you resolve to fulfill a childhood dream, make sure humility results in leaning on God’s power as a man can only take so much failure.

by Jay Mankus

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