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The Service and Intervention of Jesus

When most Americans hear the term service, entering the military after high school is a practical way to serve your country. In recent years, public schools have used MLK Day as a way to give back to their local community. If you attend a church or belong to a group, service projects are a popular way of serving the less fortunate and those in need after a major storm or natural disaster.

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! – Philippians 2:5-8

While service tends to be an isolated activity for a day, weekend or entire week, an intervention is an immediate act taken to improve a dire situation. The apostle Paul does a great job of explaining mankind’s problem in Romans 5:8. Like a virus that doesn’t go away, sin slowly decays human beings via addictions, bad habits, and poor choices. Despite being undeserving, Jesus spent 3 years on earth serving God so that this spiritual intervention could be completed.

And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross, Colossians 1:20.

The entire book of Colossians is dedicated to the service and intervention of Jesus. This restoration project began in Genesis 3:14-15. In desperate need of a second Adam, Romans 5:12-21 explains how this plan was fulfilled through Jesus. Serving as a perfect Lamb of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Jesus became a sin offering for all who believe. When Jesus became obedient to death on a cross, the service and intervention of Jesus was completed on Easter Sunday. This is why the gospel refers to the good news about Jesus Christ, a servant who intervened on our behalf.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming a Nervous Breakdown

The definition of a nervous breakdown is a period of mental illness resulting from severe depression, stress, or anxiety. This condition manifests itself primarily as severe stress-induced depression, anxiety or dissociation in a previously functioning individual. If these symptoms continue without any sort of intervention, the afflicted are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis until this disorder is cured.  During a long cross country practice in high school, I had my own breakdown while running up a hill.

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had slain all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow. Then he was afraid and arose and went for his life and came to Beersheba of Judah [over eighty miles, and out of Jezebel’s realm] and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or juniper tree and asked that he might die. He said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers, 1 Kings 19:1-4.

A mental breakdown is defined by its temporary nature, often closely tied to psychological burnout, severe overwork, sleep deprivation and similar stressors. In the passage above, an Old Testament prophet wasn’t prepared for the revenge sought by Queen Jezebel. After defeating the prophets of Asherah and Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah may have become over confident, 1 Kings 18:38-40. If I successfully called fire to come down from heaven following a prayer like Elijah, I would feel invincible.

As he lay asleep under the broom or juniper tree, behold, an angel touched him and said to him, Arise and eat. He looked, and behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a bottle of water at his head. And he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came the second time and touched him and said, Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you. So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God, 1 Kings 19:5-8.

Unfortunately, only God knows the future. Thus, when your suffer a surprising defeat, shocking failure or a humiliating lose, it takes time to recover. If a life is lost or a job terminated, the recovery time is often extended to months and years to feel normal again. This is when you need to retreat like Elijah to quiet place, to be still before God, 1 Kings 19:11-13. While the healing process will vary, this is the first step toward overcoming a nervous breakdown.

by Jay Mankus

The Toll of Temptation

Canon Pictures 015

A few years ago, I read an article on the effects marathons had on a runners body.  Based upon totals miles run, long distant runners can lose between a half inch and inch in height over the course of their lives.  The constant pounding on ligaments and tendons takes a toll on the human body, eventually wearing down and shrinking over time.  This might explain how I lost nearly an inch in height after running several thousand miles over a 7 year span.

At the end of your life you will groan, when your flesh and body are spent, Proverbs 5:11.

Inside the human body, another aging process is occurring.  The obvious is the decay of internal organs.  However, the one I am eluding to involves the emotional and spiritual toll temptation takes on the soul.  When you don’t feel well, people make reservations to see a doctor.  However, there are some health conditions that can only be cured by a spiritual transformation.

I do not understand what I do.  For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do, Romans 7:15.

The apostle Paul once experienced a trying time in his life.  While the specifics are missing, it appears Paul was struggling to overcome some sort of addiction.  No matter what he tried failed.  Sin was ravaging Paul’s life, unable to break free from this chain of sin.  If you find yourself in a similar pattern, intervention is a must.  Seek out a friend, fellow believer or godly influence to bring you out of this pit of despair.  If you refuse help, the toll of temptation will continue to devastate your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Buffer Zone

Whether you’re at home, school or work, you are bound to experience a clash in personalities.  If this turbulence happens regularly, you may be in need of a buffer.  Whether this is a cushion, defense or shield, buffer zones lessen the impact of two stubborn people.

When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple, Acts 9:26.

However, sometimes a buffer can be a moderator, serving as a voice of reason.  As the Holy Spirit transformed Saul, who became Paul, the disciples were skeptical, thinking this was merely a ploy to infiltrate the first century church.  None of Jesus’ disciples were going to give Paul a second chance until Barnabas intervened.

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus, Acts 9:27.

If it wasn’t for Barnabas’ relentless efforts, one of the greatest apostles all time never would have been discovered.  The buffer zone Barnabas provided insulated Paul from the doubts of Jesus’ disciples.  Despite their differences, Paul proved himself to be a worthy servant of Christ.  In view of this story, don’t let negative feelings prevent you from giving someone a fresh start.  And when necessary, create a buffer zone to guard and protect others from ruining someone’s reputation.

by Jay Mankus

Rehab

The term rehabilitation was initially associated with individuals who had lost their battle with alcohol or drugs, needing intervention to break free from addiction.  However, as the medical field expands, anyone who has minor or major surgery is expected to rehab before receiving a clean bill of health.  Unfortunately, not everyone who enters rehab recovers completely, relapsing into back habits or experiencing reoccurring pain from previous injuries.

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons, Mark 16:9.

Whenever you research the Bible, you must realize there are various theories which exist.  Sometimes to make their point, scholars can jump to conclusions or reach, trying to validate their belief.  Such is the case of Mary Magdalene whom Gnostics suggest was secretly married to Jesus.  Since Jesus visits her first after his resurrection, surely there must be something going on.  Yet, when you examine the character of Jesus throughout the 4 gospels, Jesus is most likely checking up on one of his former patients like a doctor, making sure her spiritual rehab is going well.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline, 2 Timothy 1:7.

Speculation will always happen, especially among those who seek to know everything.  Yet, from first hand experience, rehab can be grueling.  Following my collapsed lung and two broken ribs eight teen months ago, my body still hasn’t fully recovered.  Laying or moving the wrong way is a subtle remainder of the pain I endure.  However, there is nothing worse than losing a spiritual battle to an addiction, allowing the devil to have a foothold on your life.  This form of rehab can continue throughout life or take some to the grave way too early.  May the promise of 2 Timothy 1:7 help regain control and lead to victory in the near future.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Another Day Flushed Down the Toilet

There was a time in my life when I was highly motivated, eager to reach my full potential.  Unfortunately, I now experience periods of  apathy, not caring how productive I am on my days off.  Like a malaise, time ticks away while reclining in my chair.  Before I can snap out of it, another day is flushed down the toilet.

While watching a reality show last, Jon Taffer, host of Bar Rescue, reached out to a family owned business in Staten Island, New York.  Initially successful, three brothers let their establishment become inundated with a motley crew of bikers.  In desperate need of an intervention, Jon uses tough love to convict this family of their inadequacies.  When push comes to shove, you either need to stand up to face your fears or your dreams will be flushed down the toilet.

If you find yourself heading in the wrong direction, accountability from a co-worker or friend is essential to stay on track.  Proverbs 27:17 suggests that accountability sharpens those who engage in and practice it.  Therefore, if you don’t want another day to be lost to idle time, get involved now by meeting a friend in need.  Unless you do, there’s a good possibility that another day will be flushed down the toilet.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Pawns of the Devil

According to Webster, a pawn is someone used by others for their own purpose.  Pawns vary from a dupe to a puppet and in extreme conditions, a hostage.  When you consider Jesus’ insight in John 10:10, there are 3 stages to pawns of the Devil.  Initially, time is used to steal children away from God.  To further this separation, ambitions, dreams and goals are plucked, one by one, killing any hopes of emotional, physical and spiritual prosperity.  Finally, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, lives are destroyed figuratively and literally.

Pawn #1 is subtle, using amusement, entertainment and obsessions to lure committed followers off the narrow road.  Throw in a little compromise, enjoyment and worldly pleasures and before long, priorities began to change.  One of the signs of Satan’s success is a lukewarm spirit, causing souls to lose focus of what’s truly important in life.  Add an onslaught of trials and those pure in heart wander into uncharted waters, opening their eyes to a whole new world like Eve.  If you look across the fence long enough, you might find yourself on the other side.

Pawn #2 is merely a byproduct of time.  Once temptation begins to dig its claws deep into hearts and minds, the outcome shouldn’t be surprising.  Spiritual neglect is replaced by bad habits, careless behavior and loose lips.  The presence of a disciplined life is a distantly memory, kicked to the curb by fleshly desires.  Hooked, lined and sinking fast, the light of Christ fades into addictions of darkness.  At some point, individuals become puppets of the Devil, accomplishing his will through a hypocritical and tainted testimony.

Unless intervention occurs, Pawn #3 resembles a tsunami.  The first wave starts by destroying marriages and or relationships near and dear to your heart.  Isolated, the second wave brings financial ramifications as consumption, gambling and waste make their way to your shores.  Just when you think the storm has subsided, the surge is relentless building in size and wrath.  If you survive, a pitiful soul remains, a shell of the person you were before the pawns of the Devil entered your life.  For those still standing, remember the words of Peter, a failure himself, resist the devil by keeping the faith, 1 Peter 5:8-9.  May this revelation encourage hearts to draw near to the One true God, 1 Timothy 2:4.

by Jay Mankus

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