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Living Forever Take 3

Part of any Hollywood blockbuster movie are dramatic shifts in the storyline, like a roller coaster with unexpected twists and turns. Viewers are immediately grabbed, their attention is gained and locked in until this two-hour ride ends. Due to original sin, the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, breaking God’s only rule, the Lord’s initial plan of living forever on earth is derailed. The apostle Paul writes about God’s backup plan in Romans 5:12-21, sending a second Adam to restore that which was lost.

And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die, Genesis 2:15-17.

Life expectancy went from 800-900 years all the way down to 120 following the flood. Christian Scientists point to the Open Canopy Theory, an atmosphere without rain which sheltered human beings from direct sunlight thereby slowing down the aging process. This is the most practical way to explain the steep decline in life expectancy. Meanwhile, the curse bestowed by God upon future men and women in Genesis 3:16-24 also points to the gradual decay of the earth as well.

When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took wives of all they desired and chose. Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not forever dwell and strive with man, for he also is flesh; but his days shall yet be 120 years, Genesis 6:1-3.

According to the Old Testament, Enoch was the only believer to not experience death on earth, Hebrews 11:5. The key to Enoch’s success and ascension into heaven was due to a consistent relationship with God, Genesis 5:22. From time to time, God will extend someone’s life like Hezekiah. This form of a blessing is addressed by Moses in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, with a simple equation: obedience to God results in blessings.

 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Omnipotent [Himself] and the Lamb [Himself] are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to give light to it, for the splendor and radiance (glory) of God illuminate it, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations shall walk by its light and the rulers and leaders of the earth shall bring into it their glory. 25 And its gates shall never be closed by day, and there shall be no night there, Revelation 21:22-25.

When you read the final chapter of the Bible, living forever takes on a new shape and form. Take 1 caused life to end before 1000 years. Take 2 allowed Jesus to restore that which was lost, Luke 19:10, to redeem all who have sinned and fallen short of God’s given. Take 3 begins with the creation of a new Jerusalem. When this city of gold is placed upon the new earth, heaven will be limited to this holy city. All of those in the Book of Life will live forever on earth residing in the New Jerusalem.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 287: Grace

Jonathan McReynolds was raised by a single mother in Chicago, Illinois. Thanks to a loving church family, Jonathon learned how to play the drums at age five. This love for music opened future doors to become a Grammy winning gospel singer. Rather than succumb to gangs which is prevalent in the Chicago area, the Lord has truly blessed Jonathon McReynolds with songs like Grace.

But if it is by grace (His unmerited favor and graciousness), it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace [it would be meaningless], Romans 11:6.

As a former Roman Catholic, good works was what I was taught to strive for in life. While isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it prevented me from embracing God’s grace. Like the words written to members of the Church in Rome in the passage above, grace replaces a works mentality. Instead of earning your way into heaven, the reality of God’s grace makes me to love and serve others.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 282: Brighter Days

One of Jesus’ disciples writes about how to enjoy life and see brighter days. Peter provides practical advice beginning with keeping your mouth from speaking evil. Similar to the advice given by Moses in his farewell address to the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:15-16, every choice you make daily leads to life or death. Blessing Offor, a Nigerian-born singer/songwriter, sings about this in his new song Brighter Day.

For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit), 1 Peter 3:10.

While Dorothy sang about finding a place over the rainbow, the Bible promises a life after death in heaven. Jesus tells his disciples about going on ahead of them to prepare a place in heaven, John 14:1-4. Yet, the lyrics of Brighter Days speaks to James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 1:6-7, looking beyond hardships in life to days where maturity and perspective alter your mindset. May Blessings’ song brighter your day and help you see the sunshine beyond the clouds.

by Jay Mankus

Tears of Joy and Pain

King Solomon writes about the emotional twists and turns that life brings you. Some of these unexpected events result in tears of joy while other moments bring pain to your heart. To keep circumstances in their proper perspective, Solomon encourages individuals to take everything in stride within chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. Solomon ends his teaching on joy and pain with “God makes everything beautiful in His time,” verse 11.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

As an emotional individual, I find it hard to stay even keel. While I no longer experience the emotional roller coaster of my immature high school days, tears of joy and pain are a weekly occurrence. Subsequently, I tend to read too much into daily events. Sometimes bad days are merely the ebb and flow of life, part of the refining process as one of Jesus’ disciples writes about in 1 Peter 1:6-7. Despite this spiritual reality, certain songs and shows still elicit tears of joy and pain.

Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away, Revelation 21:3-4.

I don’t mind tears of overwhelming gladness, but painful sorrow is an emotion that I’d rather not face. After reading the final chapter in the Bible, John reminds readers of one of the final promises of God. According to Jesus, tears will cease in heaven. All kinds of earthly anguish, mourning, and sorrow will be wiped away like erasing a new white board. Although there may be slight indications of what was once sadness, this human condition will pass away in heaven. May this day come soon.

by Jay Mankus

The State of Disembodied Existence

Every time I complete studying the entire Old or New Testament, I like to begin a new one with a different version of the Bible. The first church that I served in as a Youth Director was in Rising Sun, Maryland. At the time I worked there, this conservative Methodist Church was using the Amplified Bible. While this version is great for studying, it’s hard to read out loud as it gives all the possible translations of the Bible.

And the sea delivered up the dead who were in it, death and Hades ([c]the state of death or disembodied existence) surrendered the dead in them, and all were tried and their cases determined by what they had done [according to their motives, aims, and works], Revelation 20:13.

As I read the final chapter of the Bible, I’m using the Classic Edition of the Amplified Version. This might explain why John hints at the state of disembodied existence. It appears that John is referring to eternal life where our spirit and soul will reside, the essence of who you are. My spiritual mental in high school, Coach Ken, explained this to me that others will recognize us in heaven beyond our physical body.

Then death and Hades ([d]the state of death or disembodied existence) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14.

The apostle Paul uses this concept in a closing prayer for members at the Church at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-23. While the term soul appears just under 500 times in the Bible, Jesus spoke about loving God with all your heart, soul and mind, Matthew 22:47. While the concept of your state of disembodied existence is interesting, it’s not what’s important. The key is making sure you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11. This is my prayer for all who read this blog.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 273: Hold You Tight

If you watch any form of cable news, current events are littered with crime, devastation, and heartache. You don’t have to be a child to need a hug to brighten your day. This is the message that Dan Bremnes sings about in his new song Hold You Tight. The attached video uses current events to reach a broad group of people.

At that time the disciples came up and asked Jesus, Who then is [really] the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And He called a little child to Himself and put him in the midst of them, And said, Truly I say to you, unless you repent (change, turn about) and become like little children [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving], you can never enter the kingdom of heaven [at all]. Whoever will humble himself therefore and become like this little child [trusting, lowly, loving, forgiving] is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.And whoever receives and accepts and welcomes one little child like this for My sake and in My name receives and accepts and welcomes Me, Matthew 18:1-5.

When I first listened to Dan’s song, the above passage immediately came to mind. As busy adults, sometimes we lose focus on what really matters in life. The lyrics of Hold You Tight implies that Jesus will be there with you through the storms that you face, Matthew 11:28-30. Don’t try to fight these difficult times alone. Rather, cast your burdens at the foot of the cross so you can find relief for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Guaranteeing Your Place in the Book of Life

There is a reason that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time. Perhaps, reading pages that are described as living and active can be engaging and life changing, Hebrews 4:12. Yet, the one question I always wanted to know about as a child was what happens to human beings after you die? My question went unanswered for me until college.

I entreat and advise Euodia and I entreat and advise Syntyche to agree and to work in harmony in the Lord. And I exhort you too, [my] genuine yokefellow, help these [two women to keep on cooperating], for they have toiled along with me in [the spreading of] the good news (the Gospel), as have Clement and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life. Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! – Philippians 4:2-4.

Attending any funeral is depressing and sad. Yet, when you don’t know if the person who passed away is with Jesus in heaven can be crushing and gut wrenching. I remember attending a funeral at a strange church in high school after my friend committed suicide. The pastor kept saying “if there is God and if there is a heaven, we hope that Kevin is there.” This experience wanted me to know more about the Bible’s teaching on the Book of Life.

And if anyone’s [name] was not found recorded in the Book of Life, he was hurled into the lake of fire, Revelation 20:15.

The apostle Paul mentions the Book of Life in today’s first passage. The context of this letter highlights why you should rejoice in the Lord. Perhaps, this is the same reason why angels rejoice in heaven whenever a lost sheep is found by the Shepherd, Luke 15:7. While 99 percent of funerals claim that the person who died is now in heaven, this isn’t consistent with Jesus’ teaching in Mattew 7:13-14. According to one disciple, you can know for sure, guaranteeing your place in the Book of Life, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

The Biblical Armageddon

Politicians often use World War III as a talking point to convince voters that their opponent is far too extreme to get elected or too dangerous to remain in power. As mid-term elections continue to ramp up this month, advertisements and commercials will continue to demonize other candidates. While the 1998 film Armageddon is entertaining, there is one war that will occur known as the biblical Armageddon.

And I saw three loathsome spirits like frogs, [leaping] from the mouth of the dragon and from the mouth of the beast and from the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For really they are the spirits of demons that perform signs (wonders, miracles). And they go forth to the rulers and leaders all over the world, to gather them together for war on the great day of God the Almighty, Revelation 16:13-14.

According to a vision from God by one of Jesus’ former disciples, the final battle on earth, Armageddon, will take place at Megiddo. This former territory of the Tribe of Manasseh will serve as the scene of World War III. Despite all the lead up this this event in the Bible, John is vague about the actual details in Revelation 19:19-21. Instead of providing thrilling accounts like Saving Private Ryan, John summarizes this battle in a sentence: the beast was seized, overpowered, along with the false prophet who were defeated and judged by God. Spoiler Alert!

Behold, I am going to come like a thief! Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied) is he who stays awake (alert) and who guards his clothes, so that he may not be naked and [have the shame of being] seen exposed! 16 And they gathered them together at the place which in Hebrew is called Armageddon. 17 Then the seventh [angel] emptied out his bowl into the air, and a mighty voice came out of the sanctuary of heaven from the throne [of God], saying, It is done! [It is all over, it is all accomplished, it has come!] – Revelation 16:15-17.

Perhaps, this may explain why no famous movie writer has attempted to make a modern version of the biblical Armageddon. What John does provide in the passage above, Armageddon serves as the last piece of the puzzle of God’s plan on earth. This final event on earth will open the doors of heaven for eternity where all dead Christians will be reunited for a never-ending reunion. While I’m sorry there is no drama about the Armageddon, make sure you get your life right with God now, so you’re prepared.

by Jay Mankus

When Heaven Opened Up

Revelation in the Bible is one of those books that you have to read multiple times to truly understand what’s going on and what has to occur prior to Jesus’ second coming. As I finish up my summer long study of Revelation, it’s amazing how much important information I picked up this time around. I’m not sure how I missed this content before, but John writes about the day heaven opened up.

After that I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse [appeared]! The One Who was riding it is called Faithful (Trustworthy, Loyal, Incorruptible, Steady) and True, and He passes judgment and wages war in righteousness (holiness, justice, and uprightness). 12 His eyes [blaze] like a flame of fire, and on His head are many kingly crowns (diadems); and He has a title (name) inscribed which He alone knows or can understand. 13 He is dressed in a robe dyed by [c]dipping in blood, and the title by which He is called is The Word of God, Revelation 19:11-13.

American businesses have a way with grand openings. Inside and outside before a now store opens, progress is made daily as buildings begin to take shape. Some may use countdowns; others promise free items for the first x number of customers, and I’ve been to openings with raffle prizes all day long. One of John’s final visions that make up Revelation is the day when heaven opens up for good.

And the troops of heaven, clothed in fine linen, dazzling and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 From His mouth goes forth a sharp sword with which He can smite (afflict, strike) the nations; and He will shepherd and control them with a staff (scepter, rod) of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fierceness of the wrath and indignation of God the All-Ruler (the Almighty, the Omnipotent), Revelation 19:14-15.

The word “heaven” appears to 327 times in the Old Testament and 255 times in the New Testament. What has always confused me is what happens to all the people who have died prior to Jesus’ second coming and the day of judgment. The best explanation is provided by one of Jesus’ disciples, 2 Peter 3:8. If time in heaven is infinite, this time gap will be taken care of. The most important thing is making your reservation now, 1 John 5:12-13, so when heaven opens for good, you’ll have a room waiting for you.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 265: Commission

Taylor, Madison and Logan Cain grew up in Alabama as preacher kids. One of the benefits of being homeschooled by their parents, it opened the door to start their musical career at an early age. As part of the group simply known by their last name, Cain was recently selected by K-Love Radio as one of 7 emerging breakthrough artists.

He said to them, It is not for you to become acquainted with and know [b]what time brings [the things and events of time and their definite periods] or fixed [c]years and seasons (their critical niche in time), which the Father has appointed (fixed and reserved) by His own choice and authority and personal power. But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:7-8.

One of Cain’s most recent single Commission is based upon Jesus’ call to his disciples following his resurrection and just prior to his ascension into heaven in the Book of Acts. Based upon the lyrics, Cain is devoted to fulfilling this spiritual commission by using music to share their faith and love for Jesus. May today’s song inspire you to use your own spiritual gifts and talents to spread the gospel around the world.

by Jay Mankus

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