RSS Feed

Tag Archives: heaven

So That Hope Survives

Ambition, aspiration, cravings, dreams, longings and yearnings are all associated with hope. When theses desires begin to slip away, individuals have to fight with determination so that hope survives. Whenever your confidence is shaken by defeat, failure or a loss, hope is like a dim light surrounded by darkness, ready to be snuffed out by unforeseen events.

But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

In a letter to a community with a troubled pass, Paul reminds this church that Christians are children of the light. Thus, as the Devil continues to bring and drag up skeletons from your past, don’t let doubt creep into your mind. The longer negative thoughts continue to linger, the closer the enemy comes to achieving his goal, John 10:10.

For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

The apostle Paul flips the script in the passage above. Instead of always being on defense, Paul takes up the Sword of the Spirit to go on offense, reminding believers of the ultimate prize. God’s end game is salvation, the opportunity to be reunited with Jesus in heaven. Hope is like an exit sign in the distance, the only way to God, John 14:6. When darkness blocks your path from this doorway, hope is what keep souls alive, surviving to live another day.

by Jay Mankus

The Spiritual Dimension

There are 30 passages in the Bible that refer to a spiritual dimension. The most famous occurs in Ephesians 6:12 where the apostle Paul unveils what is out of sight to human eyes. This dimension is transcendence toward something more than what is apparent in the experiences of other dimensions. According to Paul, what lies beneath the surface is an ongoing spiritual battle between powers, rulers and spiritual forces.

Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face, Job 1:6-11.

Although it’s not the first, Job was the first completed book in the Bible. Since chapter 1 references living in the land of dinosaurs, Job likely lived prior to the biblical flood mentioned in Genesis 7. Following a brief introduction, Job is made aware of what lurks out of sight. Whether through prayer or a one on one conversation with God, Job’s spiritual enemy is brought to life. Lucifer is described as a diligent traveler of the earth, seeking to steal, kill and destroy human souls, John 10:10.

But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith. 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:18-19

In the middle of the first century, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about demons. Based upon Christian historians, James did not come to faith until after Jesus rose from the dead. While there is no mention of a private conversation with his big brother before ascending into heaven in Acts 1, James was aware of demons. Despite their tricks, demons know the fate that await them, Jude 1:6. While you’re current struggle may not be obvious to you, don’t be surprised if there is a spiritual element to what’s going on in the world today.

by Jay Mankus

When the Perishable Puts on the Imperishable

The expression “Living on Borrowed Time” originated in England during the 17th century. The Old Style Calendar the English followed belonged to April. Thus, it was common for individuals to describe the first eleven days of May as borrowed days. Depending upon your age, you may be living on borrowed time now, but what Jesus did on a cross at Golgotha can alter your future.

And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished forever) in and unto victory, 1 Corinthians 15:54.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul describes the spiritual significance of Jesus’ death on the cross. Prior to His crucifixion, Jews were forced to follow Old Testament law and practices to be forgiven. However, Hebrews 4:14-15 describe Jesus as the Great High Priest who became a living sacrifice. After Jesus conquered death by rising 3 days later, the perishable, human bodies, are now able to put on the imperishable, Jesus Christ.

[Thus you were circumcised when] you were buried with Him in [your] baptism, in which you were also raised with Him [to a new life] through [your] faith in the working of God [as displayed] when He raised Him up from the dead. 13 And you who were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh (your sensuality, your sinful carnal nature), [God] brought to life together with [Christ], having [freely] forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 Having cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (bond) with its legal decrees and demands which was in force and stood against us (hostile to us). This [note with its regulations, decrees, and demands] He set aside and cleared completely out of our way by nailing it to [His] cross, Colossians 2:12-14.

In a separate letter to the Church at Colosse, the apostle Paul explains in detail how Jesus’ death and resurrection disarmed Jewish law. The passage above highlights Jesus’ spiritual accomplishment. Instead of being forced to live according to the motto, “living on borrowed time,” Jesus opened the door to eternal life. In a private conversation with disciples, Jesus reveals that He is going away to prepare a place for you in heaven, John 14:2-4. When this was completed, the perishable can now put on the imperishable.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Believe the Fake News

Sensationalism is a tool that the print media has used to attract attention, gain recognition or serve as a distraction to steer the headlines in a different direction. By the early 19th century, American newspapers relied on scoops and exposés to increase circulation. The origin of fake news likely began in The New York Sun’s “Great Moon Hoax” of 1835. This breaking news story claimed that there was an alien civilization on the moon, establishing the Sun as a leading and profitable newspaper. Perhaps, this explains why the apostle Paul warned the church at Thessalonica to test everything that they hear, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22.

While they were on their way, behold, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had occurred. 12 And when they [the chief priests] had gathered with the elders and had consulted together, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers, 13 And said, Tell people, His disciples came at night and stole Him away while we were sleeping. 14 And if the governor hears of it, we will appease him and make you safe and free from trouble and care. 15 So they took the money and did as they were instructed; and this story has been current among the Jews to the present day, Matthew 28:11-15.

In the middle of the first century AD, Paul was disturbed by another fake news story spread by religious and Roman leaders. This rumor inspired an entire chapter written to the church at Corinth. After soldiers were offered a bribe, Roman officials claimed that there was no resurrection of Jesus. Rather, the disciples came in the middle of the night to steal his body. Yet, Paul cuts through this lie by addressing the eye witnesses, more than 500 individuals who saw Jesus following his death on a cross. In the passage below, Paul reminds his audience that many of these people were still alive.

For I passed on to you first of all what I also had received, that Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) died for our sins in accordance with [what] the Scriptures [foretold], That He was buried, that He arose on the third day as the Scriptures foretold, And [also] that He appeared to Cephas (Peter), then to the Twelve. Then later He showed Himself to more than five hundred brethren at one time, the majority of whom are still alive, but some have fallen asleep [in death]. Afterward He was seen by James, then by all the apostles (the special messengers), And last of all He appeared to me also, as to one prematurely and born dead [no better than an unperfected fetus among living men], 1 Corinthians 15:3-7.

Nearly 2000 years later, atheists, agnostics and revisionist historians continue to revive this fake news story. Using sources such as Gnostic gospels, written well after Christ’s death and resurrection, the search for Jesus’ missing body continues. Most of the shows referencing the Bible aired on the Discovery, History or Learning channels uses naturalistic scholars who believe this fake news story. Just in case you haven’t read Acts 1:9-11, news flash: Jesus ascended into heaven. According to the apostle Paul, without the resurrection there would be no faith. Thus, the next time someone tries to pass on this rumor as fact, don’t believe the fake news.

by Jay Mankus

The Devil and Karl Marx

A decade before writing his Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx wrote the following in a 1837 poem. “Thus Heaven I’ve forfeited, I know it full well. My soul, once true to God, is chosen for Hell.” Based upon Marx’s own words, the evils wrought by his oppressive ideology and theory caused Karl to part ways with God. When you add up all of the total carnage, Marx’s Communism has led to the deaths of over 100 million souls. Perhaps, some where along the way, Karl teamed up with the Father of Lies.

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false, John 8:44.

While studying the past, professor Paul Kengor was inspired to craft The Devil and Karl Marx: Communism’s Long March of Death, Deception, and Infiltration. Michael Knowles writes in the foreword “few others writing today who use terms such as collectivism and individualism only take this debate so far. Ultimately the fight comes down to spiritual warfare: good versus evil.” Kengor’s book details the clash of the modern, devilish forces of socialism and communism. You won’t get this in public or higher education.

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]. 11 Put on God’s whole armor [the armor of a heavy-armed soldier which God supplies], that you may be able successfully to stand up against [all] the strategies and the deceits of the devil. 12 For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere, Ephesians 6:10-12.

During the first century, the apostle Paul’s eyes were opened to the spiritual realm, recognizing how political and spiritual leaders became pawns of the Devil. If you don’t engage the enemy, spiritual footholds will be seized, Ephesians 4:26-27. Instead of being a helpless spectator, watching your city, state, and country fall apart, put on the full armor of God. When you’re unsure of your next move, pray in the Spirit so that your prayers will provide a hedge of protection for spiritual warriors on the front lines. The future of America is on the line Tuesday, November 3rd. Your vote may be the difference from keeping the Devil and Marxism from taking over.

by Jay Mankus

Memorializing Christ

The Bible claims that Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith, Hebrews 12:2,  The author of Hebrews attempts to explain how the Old Testament applies to Jesus who shed his blood as a form of propitiation.  The apostle Paul builds upon this by saying Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross, 1 Corinthians 15:53-57.  While Memorial Day weekend comes once a year, we should memorialize Christ’s victory daily as Jesus disarmed the powers and the authorities which stood oppose to human beings, Colossians 2:15.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life, Leviticus 17:11.

In the original Webster’s Dictionary, the word authority does not exist by itself.  Rather, the term authority is found under the definition for author.  The root of authority comes from the term authorship meaning origination or creation.  After being expelled from heaven, Lucifer tried to obtain the earthly authority given to Adam and Eve by God using deception.  When his plan began to change Eve’s mind, Adam didn’t stop her.  In response to the fall, Jesus was sent as the second Adam, Romans 5:12-21, to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins, Hebrews 9:22.

The science of God, theology, can be confusing.  Sometimes it takes time to digest complex passages in the Bible.  Instead of getting bogged down, I try to simplify things so I do not forget what the Lord has done.  According to Romans 3, we all have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory.  The wages for this fall is an unfortunate payment, death, Romans 6:23a.  However, the reason why we should memorialize Christ is at the end of Romans 6:23b.  “For the gift of God is eternal life, in Jesus Christ our Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Run with Certainty

After spending 4 years running cross country in high school, my college career lasted a week. The coach who recruited me and spoke at my high school banquet didn’t know my name on the first day of practice. Everything that I thought to be true about my potential in college was a lie. I’ve never been a quitter, but I lost my sense of purpose after 5 days. I didn’t have the energy to even make it on the junior varsity team. I guess you can say I lost that loving feeling for running if there is such a thing.

Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary, 1 Corinthians 9:26.

Intramural sports kept me in shape after I gained the freshman 25. I suppose breaking the dorm record by eating 9 cheese steaks in 30 minutes wasn’t such a good idea. Anyway, as my first set of mid-term exams arrived, I used running as a study break to clear my mind. Some nights I took a slow jog around campus. When finals stared me in the face, running became like a break from life. Listening to the sound track to Rocky IV provided me to the adrenaline to fly around campus before returning to my books.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

Thirty years and another fifty pounds later, I have limited my running to the spiritual kind. While eluding to the Corinthian Games, a popular track and field event during the first century, Paul talks about the mindset runners possess. Instead of listening to your body, long distance runners enter a trance like state, focused on what’s ahead while maintaining a steady stride. When you run with certainty, there’s no doubt you’ll cross the finish line. Christian’s don’t leave their old life behind to follow Jesus just hoping to get into heaven. Rather, we run with certainty, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Unfinished

Every once in a while, I will get ahead of myself. Instead of finishing strong, I will celebrate too early, before an outcome has been determined. This premature response often causes individuals to take their foot of the gas, coasting the final portion of a contest, day or game. Whether arrogance, overconfidence or pride is to blame, victory tends to slip out of your hands as you try to run out the clock.

For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, Hebrews 6:4-5.

The author of Hebrews writes about a similar mindset, Christians who want to fast forward to heaven. Although a specific person is not mentioned, it appears that first century converts from Judaism to Christianity became complacent. Instead of growing closer to God day after day, spiritual exercise was replaced by a casual faith. One of Jesus’ disciples refers to this condition as a lukewarm spirit in the first century.

If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—[it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace, Hebrews 6:6.

Those who allow this trend to continue end up an unfinished product, not fulfilling God’s calling, plan or will. The words used in the passage above imply a stubborn heart has resulted in a lack of urgency. Like a scene from the 1993 film Groundhog Day, souls keep falling prey to temptation, committing sins over and over again. If want to break free from this addictive pattern, it’s time to invite Jesus to become the Lord of your life so that unfinished areas are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Most Holy Emotions

The term emotions appears 6 times in the Bible with 3 different translations. Genesis 45:1 uses the expression Qara’ to describe Joseph’s emotional outburst after being reunited with his brothers. This comes from the Hebrew word Qal: to utter a loud sound in the form of calling out or crying. Meanwhile, Job 15:12 refers to his heart being overwhelmed by emotions. Lamentations 1:20 uses the expression “my bowels are troubled; mine heart is turned within me.” The final mention occurs in a letter to the church of Corinth where Paul refers to the most holy of emotions.

For I resolved to know nothing (to be acquainted with nothing, to make a display of the knowledge of nothing, and to be conscious of nothing) among you except Jesus Christ (the Messiah) and Him crucified. 3 And I was in (passed into a state of) weakness and fear (dread) and great trembling [after I had come] among you, 1 Corinthians 2:2-3.

The context of this passage is based upon Paul’s motives for visiting Corinth. Trying to say, “I didn’t come like I was checking off a spiritual to do list. Rather, I resolved to share the gospel, the message of a living Messiah who was crucified, but rose from the grave.” Apparently, this initial visit didn’t start off too well, leaving Paul filled with dread, fear and stress. Perhaps, the most holy emotions flow out of overcoming obstacles, conceived when a lost soul comes to faith in Christ. Just as angels rejoice in heaven, Luke 15:7, when a sinner repents, holy emotions may explain celebrations of faith.

And my language and my message were not set forth in persuasive (enticing and plausible) words of wisdom, but they were in demonstration of the [Holy] Spirit and power [a proof by the Spirit and power of God, operating on me and stirring in the minds of my hearers the most holy emotions and thus persuading them], 1 Corinthians 2:4.

As I reflect upon my 35 years as a Christian, the joy of answered prayers has stirred my soul on numerous occasions. The most memorable moments in my life have occurred after hearing that friends had come to faith in Christ. While in college I remember two phone calls where I jumped up and threw my hands into the air like an end zone celebration. Perhaps, this is the type of holy emotion Paul is writing about. However, holy emotions can include death like Jesus weeping for Lazarus. Whatever emotions that you endure, be sure you give thanks in all circumstances, Philippians 4:4-8.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Holding You Back?

During my final year of coaching cross country, I started having my runners wear weights once or twice a week. Since I ran warm ups and cool downs with my junior high team, I also wore weights as well to see how it felt. Early on, you couldn’t tell much of a difference, but as practice wore on the harder it became to lift your legs. Although the 2.1 mile course I designed wasn’t hilly, the final .25 miles was all up hill. A perfect test for wearing weights despite complaining and whining runners at the end of practice.

You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? – Galatians 5:7

First century authors of the Bible use a series of analogies comparing life to running. This is likely due to the Isthmian Games, named after the Isthmus of Corinth. This event took place the year before and year after the Olympic Games. Since the Olympics were held only once every four years, the Pythian Games were held in the third year to complete the Olympiad cycle. In the passage above, the apostle Paul received news that Christians in Galatia were struggling likely due to the Judaizers, a religious sect who hindered their spiritual development.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

Meanwhile, the author of Hebrews compares a faith journey to running a marathon. Typically, 26.1 miles, this distance requires extensive training just to compete and finish. When I was in the best shape of my life, I once tried to run 15 miles. Running with a friend from high school, he left me in the dust as I struggled to breathe the final five miles. This one experience makes me painfully aware of what Hebrews 12:1 is suggesting. In order to make it across the finish line, heaven, you need to start throwing aside any unnecessary weights. The more you discard now, the easier the homestretch will become in the future.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: