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Powerful in Deed and Word

The reality show Undercover Boss premiered in February of 2010. Business owners, CEO’s and presidents go undercover to interact with employees. While disguises vary, the employee’s impression will prove to the boss how important their job is to them. During a seven mile trip from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Jesus performs a similar act on a couple of his disciples. Jesus plays coy, pretending not to know what happened three days earlier. According to Luke 24:16, no one recognized Jesus, playing the part of an undercover boss.

He asked, “What things?” And they replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet powerful in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, Luke 24:19.

Near the end of this discussion, one disciple makes an interesting observation. While reflecting upon his life, this man compares Jesus to a prophet whose deeds and words are powerful. Jesus wasn’t all talk, no action. Rather, compassion led to miracles, day after day, helping those who came to Jesus as a last resort. Despite the compliments given to Jesus, these men lacked hope, faith and joy, acting like modern defeated Christians.

For indeed you already do practice it toward all the believers throughout Macedonia [by actively displaying your love and concern for them]. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, that you excel [in this matter] more and more, 11 and to make it your ambition to live quietly and peacefully, and to mind your own affairs and work with your hands, just as we directed you, 12 so that you will behave properly toward outsiders [exhibiting good character, personal integrity, and moral courage worthy of the respect of the outside world], and be dependent on no one and in need of nothing [be self-supporting], 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12.

The apostle Paul encourages the congregation of Thessalonica to practice displaying the love of God. Instead of speaking too much, Paul urges believers to live out their faith quietly. Unless you earn the respect of outsiders, you won’t be able to expand the gospel. Thus, while some people find it easy to talk to strangers, living out your faith is more important. When the timing is right, doors will open to further God’s kingdom. Until then, may your deeds be just as powerful as your words.

by Jay Mankus

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Restoring God’s Prophecy Over Your Life

A prophecy is compared to a miracle of knowledge. This supernatural declaration is spoken by a man or woman of God who has earned the reputation for disclosing prophetic messages that come true. Many Old Testament prophets had a success rate of over 90% with some not fulfilled by the end of their life. Unfortunately, modern prophets have a much lower rate of accuracy, leaving behind a wave of doubt that discredits anyone who possesses the gift of discernment today. One of the most famous prophecies in the Bible is Jesus’ words to Simon Peter about becoming the rock upon which first century churches were built.

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed), the Son of the living God.” 17 Then Jesus answered him, “Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, favored by God] are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood (mortal man) did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades (death) will not overpower it [by preventing the resurrection of the Christ]. 19 I will give you the keys (authority) of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth [gwill have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth will have [already] been loosed in heaven,” Matthew 16:15-19.

At some point in Peter’s life, this personal prophecy went to his head. On numerous occasions Jesus’ disciples debated who was the greatest among them. While not verbalized in scripture, I am sure Peter quoted Jesus, “I am the rock, what are you?” Thus, on the Eve of Judas’ betrayal, Jesus tries to warn Peter and the others, “the Spirit is willing but the body is weak.” Falling asleep while Jesus was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane serves as a foreshadowing, a precursor to Peter denying knowing Jesus in public three times. In the passage below, Jesus restores Peter’s confidence about God’s prophecy over his life. However, not without pain as Jesus asks Peter if he loves him three times, just like his public denial. After this conversation Peter became a new man, able to fulfill Jesus’ final prophecy in John 21:18, crucified upside down on a cross.

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these [others do—with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My lambs.” 16 Again He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with total commitment and devotion]?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter was grieved that He asked him the third time, “Do you [really] love Me [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend]?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [with a deep, personal affection, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep, John 21:15-17.

Depending upon your own relationships through out life, you may not have encountered a prophet. For those who haven’t been blessed by an individual, the Bible is filled with rhemas. A rhema is a Greek term that refers to an utterance or thing said. Anytime anyone opens the Bible, the Holy Spirit is able to convict, encourage, inspire or uplift souls through the living Word of God, Hebrews 4:12. Some of these passages refer to the future Christians. For example, the apostle Paul writes about the good works God has prepared in advance for a congregation in Ephesus, Ephesians 2:10. Therefore, even if you have yet to have an individual prophecize over your life, God has something special in store for you. As the Bible prompts hearts, restores minds and fans into flame spiritual gifts and talents, it won’t be long until the Holy Spirit fulfills God’s prophecy over your own life.

by Jay Mankus

Come On Man

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6x23vYN33s

Every culture has its own unique expressions. Depending upon known awareness, discernment and knowledge, you may be privy to hidden information or oblivious. Thus, you may notice a snide comment or have it go right over your head. In a first century letter written to Christians scattered throughout the Middle East, the earthly brother of Jesus attempts to wake up his audience with the phrase “come now.” This would be equivalent to the modern saying come on man. James is urging his readers to stop doing stupid things as if to suggest, “you know better than that.”

Come now [and pay attention to this], you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and carry on our business and make a profit.” 14 [Yet you do not know [the least thing] [about what may happen in your life tomorrow. [What is secure in your life?] You are merely a vapor [like a puff of smoke or a wisp of steam from a cooking pot] that is visible for a little while and then vanishes [into thin air], James 4:13-14.

The context of this passage in James 4 has ties to modern inspirational speakers. A modern paraphrase version of this text might say something like “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Apparently, people of faith began to become cavalier, not caring enough about their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This mindset lead to a belief that God would take care of these individuals no matter what they did or said. This portion of James’ letter serves as a rebuke, urging Christians to live for today, here and now as tomorrow is not guaranteed.

Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and we will do this or that.” 16 But as it is, you boast [vainly] in your pretension and arrogance. All such boasting is evil. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:15-17.

Whenever I go a day or two without reading the Bible, strange thoughts begin to enter my mind. Instead of taking my thoughts captive, my mind begins to wander, enticed by the ways of the world. Perhaps, James was aware that people he once respected began to backslide, returning to their former lifestyle prior to becoming a Christian. Thus, James feels the need to write “come on man, what are you doing?” To a certain extent, we all have our senior moments, forgetting the obvious. Yet, if you know what is right and don’t do it, you are just as guilty by committing a sin of omission. May this blog help you realign your life with God’s will by taking life one day at a time.

by Jay Mankus

Freedom, Frustration and Finality

In that day you will not [need to] ask Me about anything. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name [as My representative], He will give you. 24 Until now you have not asked [the Father] for anything in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete, John 16:23-24.

One of the biblical definitions of freewill is the freedom to use a created will as a moral agent. For example, listen to what Jesus says about prayer in the passage above. Prior to the Holy Spirit, the disciples weren’t able tap into the power of prayer. Jesus makes the assumption that you don’t have because you haven’t asked. Perhaps, the prayer lives of these godly men had become bland, generic and stale, void of any specific requests.

You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]. You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires, James 4:2-3.

However, there is a catch. When you do offer up prayer requests to God, you may possess impure motives. The earthly brother of Jesus refers to agendas not of God which are denied. Thus, if you treat prayer as a wish list for self-promotion, unanswered prayers will follow. Being rejected by God will result in frustration, especially if you think the content of your prayers are offered up with a sincere heart. The only other logical explanation for unfilled prayers are aspirations, dreams and goals that don’t align with God’s will.

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done,” Luke 22:41-42.

An hour before his betrayal, Jesus cries out to his heavenly father, overcome by anguish and stress. This prayer is mentioned by each of the gospel authors. The interesting aspect of this prayer is that as time passes Jesus moves from freedom to frustration toward finality. Jesus begins by asking, “if it’s possible take this cup, your will from me.” Reflecting upon his words, Jesus alters his request to include “not mine but your will be done.” Before completing his prayer, Jesus accepts his fate, surrendering to God with the words, “thy will be done.” May Jesus’ prayer help you to transition from frustration toward finality by embracing God’s will for your life.

by Jay Mankus

Fruit Inspectors

Quality Control is a system for verifying and maintaining a desired level of quality for a product.  Companies accomplish this through careful planning, use of proper equipment, continued inspection, and a corrective plan of action.  The roots of Total Quality Management can be traced back to the early 1920’s when statistical theory was first applied to product quality control.  By the 1940’s, Japan further developed quality control resulting in prosperous manufacturers especially in the automobile industry in the years that followed.

“Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? – Matthew 7:15-16

The Bible refers to a different kind of quality control system.  Jesus urges listeners of his Sermon on the Mount to become fruit inspectors.  Instead of determining the quality of a specific fruit, Jesus wants individuals to discern, examine and observe other human beings.  Afraid of counterfeit, fake and phony people deceiving honest souls, Jesus compares fruit to the content of someone’s character.  Like a mentor steering his students in the right direction, Jesus reveals what to look for when encountering any religious teacher.

Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets], Matthew 7:17-20.

In the passage above, Jesus provides guidelines to follow for fruit inspectors.  The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the church of Thessalonica.  During a visit to Berea, Paul was impressed by a culture of fairness, not jumping to any conclusions.  Paul references their example by encouraging others to test everything that you hear with the Bible to see if it’s true, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Quality fruit inspectors examine the facts, hold on to what is good and discard everything else.  May this blueprint allow you to perfect your ability to become a skilled fruit inspector.

by Jay Mankus

The Mind of a Murderer

The Investigation Discovery Channel began airing in 1996.  Twenty years later, the ID channel has inspired a series of programming based upon finding the killer of unsolved cases.  Recent shows like Snapped examines the mind of a murderer.  This phenomena has influenced Headline News to develop the Making of a Murderer to add to their late night murder mysteries.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

According to the Bible, a murder ruined the earth’s first family as jealousy led the oldest son Cain to kill his younger brother Able.  In the earliest days on earth, God walked and talked with Adam and Eve.  Apparently, God approached Cain before this act of murder occurred.  Like a parent warning their child, God warned Cain of his jealous heart, seeing his displeasure and frustration.  Unfortunately, the thought of getting rid of his brother had already conceived, only a matter of time before these thoughts inspired an evil action.

Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will have respect for him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘This [man] is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him, Luke 20:13-15a.

During a first century parable, Jesus reveals the mind of a murderer.  A group of tenants thought if they killed the owner’s only son, these men would be in line to receive his inheritance.  This flawed decision did not take into account one obvious fact: God is all-knowing and sees every deed committed by human beings.  While some may appear to get away with a crime or murder, sooner or later individuals will be brought to justice either on earth or in the afterlife.

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever murders shall be guilty before the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be guilty before the court; and whoever speaks [contemptuously and insultingly] to his brother, Raca (You empty-headed idiot)!’ shall be guilty before the supreme court (Sanhedrin); and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fiery hell, Matthew 5:21-22. 

Jesus expounds upon this concept in his Sermon on the Mount.  In the passage above, Jesus compares hatred with murder.  Hatred is an emotion that influences how you act.  The more people allow anger to dwell and grow within them, human beings will begin to act, behave and do things out of the ordinary.  Under extreme conditions, the mind of a murderer becomes more than a thought.  In view of this danger, it’s essential to take every thought captive by making them obedient to Christ.  This practice can reverse evil desires implanted by the Devil.

by Jay Mankus

 

Running Like the Devil is Chasing You

Depending upon the time of day, I like to listen to the radio while I write.  During today’s news update, there were two murder suicide’s featured in the area.  After watching an episode of Lost Season 1 last night, one scene came to my mind, a conversation between Locke (Terry O’Quinn) and Jack (Matthew Fox).  Locke suggested that some people look like the Devil is chasing them.  In the case of these four victims, they didn’t run fast enough to avoid death.

After [Judas had taken] the piece of bread, Satan entered him. Then Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly [without delay],” John 13:27.

In the passage above, Jesus makes the statement Satan entered Judas Iscariot during the last supper.  Bible commentaries suggest this possession accelerated Judas’ desire to betray Jesus.  Knowing what was about to come, Jesus exhorts Judas to finish his plan without delay.  Unfortunately, the moment individuals think things through in their mind, the act of sin quickly follows.  By this time, it’s often too late to turn back.  Using the analogy above, the Devil has caught you from behind and won’t let go.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). 15 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 1:13-15.

Temptation is like a classic car chase scene from a movie.  Initially, the good character is in the clear, far from harm.  However, as this pursuit continues chaos, distractions and traffic place the bad guy within striking distance.  Unless you flee from evil, minds will eventually embrace earthly desires.  Thus, the more you stare at temptation, it’s only a matter of time before the Devil grabs ahold of your life.  Therefore, be alert, on guard and keep watch so you stay well out of the Devil’s reach.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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