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Don’t Let Evil Find a Home

While the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John contain numerous references to Jesus casting out a demon or demons, there are only 7 accounts of exorcisms in the Bible. One author seems to be intrigued by this spiritual phenomena. As a first century doctor, Luke becomes introspective, unsure of where evil begins and ends. These thoughts likely inspired the passage below.

When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. 25 And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated, Luke 11:24-25.

Trying to walk the line between the physical and spiritual, Luke details what happens in the moments, hours and days following an individual’s independence from an evil spirit. As if giving a prescription to a current patient, Luke summarizes the emotions, feelings and possible symptoms one might experience. Highlighting a worse case scenario, Luke seeks to scare people straight by urging the freed and healed to not let evil find a home within your heart, soul or mind.

And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first, Luke 11:26.

Before allowing his patient (the reader) to leave, Luke lays out what will happen if you don’t listen to his advice. This is where using prayer to form a hedge of protection is essential. If this crucial step is skipped, the door is left ajar, giving evil just enough room to creep into your life. If Luke could come back from the dead, he would likely plead with anyone who would listen, “don’t let evil find a home.”

by Jay Mankus

Keeping the Faith

Faith is derived from the Latin term fides meaning confidence or trust in a person, thing, or concept. Personal beliefs, convictions, and expectations add to someone’s faith. During his closing remarks in a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul brings up an overlooked aspect of faith. Referring to a spiritual element, faith is not only conceived but Christians must remain part of it.

Be alert and on your guard; stand firm in your faith (your conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, keeping the trust and holy fervor born of faith and a part of it). Act like men and be courageous; grow in strength! – 1 Corinthians 16:13

Perhaps, Paul learned this from one of Jesus’ disciples. In the passage below, the earthly brother of Jesus uses his own personal experience. Apparently, many first century Christian began turning their faith on and off like a light switch. When faith becomes dormant, it’s a sign that you have become disconnected from God. This trend suggests that your heart and mind is being controlled by your flesh, not God’s Spirit, Romans 8:5.

What is the use (profit), my brethren, for anyone to profess to have faith if he has no [good] works [to show for it]? Can [such] faith save [his soul]? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clad and lacks food for each day, 16 And one of you says to him, Good-bye! Keep [yourself] warm and well fed, without giving him the necessities for the body, what good does that do? 17 So also faith, if it does not have works (deeds and actions of obedience to back it up), by itself is destitute of power (inoperative, dead), James 2:14-17.

When the apostle Paul commands followers “to keep the trust and holy fervor,” he is reminding believers that faith and deeds go hand and hand. You can’t have one without the other. Based upon first century historians, James did not believe that his brother Jesus was the Messiah. It wasn’t until the resurrection when James came to faith. Since life on earth is like a marathon, keeping the faith consists of abiding in and acting upon your love for Jesus Christ. May this blog inspire you to keep your faith active.

by Jay Mankus

When a Grumpy Old Man Begins to Take Over

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau starred in the 1993 film Grumpy Old Men. The screenplay was written by Mark Steven Johnson who also wrote the sequel Grumpier Old Men which debuted in theaters two years later. After doing some research, apparently there is such a thing as the Grumpy Old Man Syndrome. According to one source, this condition is a due to a combination of psychological and physiological issues. When the best years of life have passed, men often feel the need to wall themselves off to protect themselves from sadness and despair. Thus, angry outbursts are the direct result of what is going on within a troubled soul.

Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth, Psalm 37:8-9.

In the passage above, David writes about his various encounters with grumpy old men while serving as king of Israel. Age has a way of wearing on individuals, causing some to speak their mind without a filter. As anger, bitterness, and frustration build up deep inside of human hearts, evil is waiting for a trigger to be unleashed. Like a cease fire between two border nations, David calls believers to stop anger before you give the devil of foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27. Unfortunately, many ignore the early symptoms of anger until a co-worker, family member or neighbor experiences the wrath of your emotional outburst.

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [[against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves], 15 That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, Philippians 2:14-15.

In recent weeks, I find another presence at work in my body, Romans 7:15-16. Perhaps, the apostle Paul sensed a grumpy old spirit taking over his life as well. Anyway, this grumpy and negative attitude has overflowed from within me. When a series of rejections put my future writing aspirations on hold, disappointment is oozing out in the form of chippy comments, glaring eyes, and silently grumbling to myself. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, the apostle Paul provides an anecdote in the passage above. The moment a grumpy old man begins to take over, yield control over to Jesus. As you do, the darkness of angry spirits will be replaced by the light of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Driven to Your Knees

When tragedy strikes, most people need a shoulder to lean on, an attentive ear to listen or a hug to be consoled. During his several missionary journeys, the apostle Paul endured agitators, harassing crowds and mobs that wanted to silence his teaching about Jesus. On a couple of occasions, Paul was nearly beaten and stoned to death. Despite this persecution, Paul found time daily to kneel before the Great I Am.

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, 15 For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named [that Father from Whom all fatherhood takes its title and derives its name]. 16 May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality], Ephesians 3:14-16.

In a letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul reveals the secret to his prayer life. Upon his knees, prayer rejuvenated Paul, replacing his own needs with a desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Apparently, prayer strengthened and reinforced Paul, sensing God’s presence as he poured our heart in prayer. Paul exercised his faith in prayer by making a permanent place in his heart for Jesus.

17 May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love, That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God’s devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; 19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]! – Ephesians 3:17-19

Over time, Paul’s faith in Christ was deeply rooted, like the firm foundation of a skyscraper. The daily discipline of prayer conceived and established the love of Jesus within Paul’s soul. When people become devoted to prayer, selfish desires are replaced by the fullness of God. When you begin to experience the abundant life, John 10:10, a spiritual addiction is born. Instead of allowing the world to dictate your mood, praying in the Spirit is like a wave flooding your soul with God’s presence. This is why Paul was driven to his knees.

by Jay Mankus

A Subtle Reminder

Every day mail boxes are filled with reminders. Letters sent to remind you of an obligation, usually to pay a specific bill by a certain date. While many individuals have opted to set up their banking online, there will always be mailboxes filled with daily reminders. After a quick glance, most of the junk mail goes directly to the garbage, the recycle bin or a pile to be burned.

For anyone who eats and drinks without discriminating and recognizing with due appreciation that [it is Christ’s] body, eats and drinks a sentence (a verdict of judgment) upon himself, 1 Corinthians 11:29.

Whether you pick up a Bible, daily devotional or read online translations, this book is filled with spiritual reminders. In the passage above, the apostle Paul warns believers about going through the motions while taking communion. Instead of following the crowd to get in line, take some time for self reflection, If your heart isn’t right with God, it’s okay to abstain.

That [careless and unworthy participation] is the reason many of you are weak and sickly, and quite enough of you have fallen into the sleep of death, 1 Corinthians 11:30.

While the Walking Dead is a popular television series on AMC, if you look closely enough each day, you’ll pass by many people who are lifeless. They may not be zombies, but a lack of joy leaves a growing number comfortably numb. To avoid falling prey to apathy, depression or suicidal thoughts, make sure you take time to read the Bible daily. Once inside you’ll find subtle reminders to keep you from going through the motions.

by Jay Mankus

Divided from the Will of God

The Bible refers to the concept of God having a plan for your life. From Old Testament prophets who write about future plans, Jeremiah 29:11, to the apostle Paul who suggests you can know God’s will, Romans 12:2, callings occur daily. This might be in the form of a convicted conscience, heart felt desire, some sort of dream or inspirational message. Meanwhile, first century Christians believed that each individual was born with a specific gift, personality or talent, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. This spiritual gift is directly linked or tied to God’s will for your life. If God is the Potter, Romans 9:20-21, the will of God is an ongoing process as clay is molded and shaped, Philippians 1:6.

And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made {loaves of} bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:3-4.

Before beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus withdrew into the wilderness to spiritually prepare himself for this 3 year journey. Understanding the threats He would face, Jesus fasted and prayed to clarify God’s plan like which twelve men to choose to become his disciples. At the conclusion of these preparations, the Devil attempted to separate Jesus from the will of His heavenly father. Jesus had the power to fulfill each request, but what the Devil was asking is outside of God’s will. Each tempting situation was geared toward a specific area of Jesus’ life. Physical hunger, mental acuity, and spiritual obedience. These 3 types of scenarios represent how individuals are tempted daily, aimed at separating human beings from the will of God.

And he said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God, Matthew 4:6-7.

The apostle Paul unlocks the key to overcoming temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13. When confronted by the father of lies, John 8:44, Jesus kept looking for the way out. To overcome hunger, Jesus relied on the Word of God, quoting a verse from the Torah. To escape a dare which He was able to demonstrate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct the Devil’s misuse of Scripture. After gaining authority over the earth, Ephesians 2:2, the Devil offers this to Jesus. However, this request is directly opposed to the first commandment. Thus, Jesus finds the way out each time, refusing to deviate from God’s plan.

Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them. And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me. 10 Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.

Every human being has a weakness, sinful tendencies that they have a hard time resisting, Romans 7:15-17. As the ruler of the air, the Devil doesn’t need drones or hidden cameras, he sees and knows our weaknesses. Perhaps, this explains why so many former Christians have abandoned their faith, prodigals who have yet to come to their senses. Each decision you make has a blessing or consequence. Good choices keep you on track, but poor decisions cause you to drift further and further away from God. Freewill gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. However, at what point will you consider God’s calling, plan and will for your life? Whatever you decide, hold on to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Royalty of Loyalty

What is royalty? Is it diplomats, heads of state, or members of the royal family in England? While royalties are a sum of money paid to authors, composers and real estate agents, royalty is designated specifically for people of royal blood or descent. In the Old Testament, Jonathon was the son of King Saul, Israel’s first king. If his father didn’t deviate from God’s commands, Jonathon would have been next in line to become king.

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life. Saul took David that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life, 1 Samuel 18:1-3.

Meanwhile, loyalty are actions that naturally flow out of one’s character. These attributes are highlighted by allegiance, devotion, dependability and faithfulness. Rarely, does an individual possess both royalty and loyalty. However, in the case of Jonathon, he cared more about protecting his best friend’s life than becoming Israel’s second king. As soon as Jonathon saw that David was a man after God’s own heart, they developed a strong bond.

But on the morrow, the second day after the new moon, David’s place was empty; and Saul said to Jonathan his son, Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today? 28 And Jonathan answered, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, Let me go, I pray, for our family holds a sacrifice in the city and my brother commanded me to be there. Now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers. That is why he has not come to the king’s table, 1 Samuel 20:27-29.

When King Saul became consumed with jealousy, he sought take David’s life. This tested Jonathon’s loyalty, serving as a mediator to protect and stand up for his friend. Unfortunately, Saul was so blinded by his hatred of David that he lost the ability to be reasonable. Despite this rising tension within the royal family, Jonathon never forgot about the covenant he made with David. This display of love makes Jonathon the royalty of loyalty.

by Jay Mankus

Bringing to Light the Secret Things

Biblical context helps prevent wrong interpretations of Scripture. When you make assumptions about a specific verse in the Bible, you have to view each individual passage like one piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Context allows you to place similar pieces together. The more pieces you have connected, the clearer your understanding becomes of the Bible. The term theology refers to the science of God. The more you read and study the Bible, the full meaning of a passage comes into focus.

So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts. Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God, 1 Corinthians 4:5.

In the passage above, Paul is writing to members of Corinth who had a tendency to jump to conclusions. A spiritual leader named Apollos became a fan favorite, like the church whose attendance drops whenever the senior pastor isn’t preaching. Thus, Paul encourages first century Christians to avoid making premature decisions. Give outsiders a chance, an opportunity to demonstrate and sow spiritual fruit. While not everyone will be eloquent, Christ living within hearts make leaders great.

When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life], Romans 7:5-6.

One chapter unveils the issue raging within human souls. The apostle Paul pours out his heart in Romans 7, explaining the invisible tug of war that exists within each person. Bringing to light the secret things, Paul exposes sinful passions that arouse sensitive appetites. When you connect the passage above to Galatians 5:16-17, this internal spiritual war comes to life. Like feeding a beast, the more you give into selfish desires, the less room there is for the Holy Spirit to operate. Therefore, if you want to follow the prompting of God’s spirit, hearts and minds must be fixed on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Enrichment

Enrichment is the action of enhancing or improving the quality or value of something. This term is often association with increasing the proportion of a particular isotope in an element. During the cold war, the Soviet Union and United States began competing to see who could stock pile the most nuclear weapons. The enrichment of uranium using the U-235 isotope makes it possible for use in a nuclear reactor or weapon.

I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, 1 Corinthians 1:4.

In the opening of his first letter to the church of Corinth, Paul introduces the concept of spiritual enrichment. This process is made possible by God’s grace who is willing to give sinners multiple second chances. Indirectly referencing John 3:16-17, Jesus’ death and resurrection gives a breath of life to the hopeless. This free gift isn’t forced upon individuals. Rather, for those who accept Jesus into their hearts, Romans 10:9-10, favor in the form of spiritual blessings enriches lives.

[So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning]. 1 Corinthians 1:5.

One of the ways modern Christians are enriched is through giving, sharing and serving others. Whether you give blood in this time of need, share any excess that you may have to the needy or serve in a local food bank, these are ways to enrich others. As the Coronavirus continues to plague the United States and the rest of the world, may God open your eyes to daily opportunities to spiritually enrich family, friends and neighbors.

by Jay Mankus

Speak to Me Outside of Church

Prior to the Coronavirus cancelling worship services across the country, only 20% of Americans regularly attended church. Before being quarantined, this steady decline in attendance suggests that many Christians haven’t made church a priority, finding other things to do on Saturday and Sunday. According to a 2018 Outreach Magazine article, only the state of Hawaii saw a recent increase in worship attendance. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, perhaps this time away from church will conceive a hunger to join and become an active member in a local church.

My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it]; Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures, Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God, Proverbs 2:1-5.

As for now, believers are going to have to find an alternative, an avenue for God to speak to you outside of church. Reading the Bible daily is a logical step in this direction. In the passage above, Solomon is pleading with his children. Instead of trying to find joy and pleasure in the world, dust off this book and begin listening to the living Word of God. Open your heart and mind to these truths, embracing and treasuring these spiritual nuggets. The next transition is putting these words into practice by applying biblical principles through your actions, behavior and speech.

If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you, John 15:7.

This process will require prayer; lots of it. Since there isn’t a band, chorus and musician to lead you in worship, you can rely on your favorite internet site to enhance your prayer. Several years ago I was introduced to the concept of Soaking in the Spirit. This occurs by laying down in a room, closing your eyes and clearing your mind from stress of life while listening to worship music. The goal is to empty your mind of all the garbage that you have collected over time and ask God to remove and replace it with songs of praise. The attached song, a spontaneous worship montage by Kari Jobe is what I use when I want God to speak to me outside of church.

by Jay Mankus

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