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How Can You Love Your Neighbor When You Hate The Person You’ve Become?

Clive Staples Lewis was an atheist and British writer before becoming a lay theologian. C.S. Lewis once contemplated the concept of loving your neighbor. The following quote reveals his thoughts. You are told to love your neighbor as yourself. How do you love yourself? When I look into my own mind, I find that I do not love myself by thinking myself a dear old chap or having affectionate feelings.” This same dilemma exists today as how can you love your neighbor when many people don’t like the person they’ve become.

Teacher, which [e]kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] 37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect), Matthew 22:36-37.

Following a series of parables, Jesus is asked by a religious leader a spiritual question. “What’s the most important commandment?” Instead of de-emphasizing the other 9 from the most essential, Jesus divides the commandments into two parts. The first 4 commandments are based upon loving God with the final 6 focused on loving your neighbor. When Christians began to love God with all their hearts, soul and mind, the practice of religion turns into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. 40 These two commandments [f]sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets, Matthew 22:38-40.

When hearts grow cold, love stops naturally flowing out of human beings. If faith is not revived or resuscitated, this lack of love can slowly turn into self hatred for oneself. When sources for love dry up, there is no positivity that bubbles over on to the people you interact with daily. The longer this subtle decay continues, there is no inspiration to love friends and family. The key to loving your neighbor is to tap into the love of God, John 3:16-17. As individuals begin to feel and sense God’s love, desires to pass this on to others is restored. Unfortunately, healing take time. Just hang in there long enough for restoration to ignite your heart with the love of God.

by Jay Mankus

When I Ran out of that Grave

According to the apostle Paul, more than 500 people witnessed Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Sometime before Passion Week, Jesus performed a miracle, raising his good friend Lazarus from the dead. While Jesus was dead for three days, Lazarus had been dead for four days. An eye witness of this amazing feat writes about the stench from Lazarus’ decaying body. Nonetheless, moments later Lazarus ran of this grave to embrace friends and family.

Jesus said, Take away the stone. Martha, the sister of the dead man, exclaimed, But Lord, by this time he [is decaying and] throws off an offensive odor, for he has been dead four days! 40 Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you and [a]promise you that if you would believe and rely on Me, you would see the glory of God? 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 Yes, I know You always hear and listen to Me, but I have said this on account of and for the benefit of the people standing around, so that they may believe that You did send Me [that You have made Me Your Messenger], John 11:39-42.

In one of the apostle Paul’s letters, he refers to Jesus’ resurrection as swallowing up death, 1 Corinthians 15:53-58. This one event has changed the course of history. While Jewish religious leaders bribed Roman soldiers to claim that Jesus’ disciples stole and hid his body, Matthew 28:12-15, those who saw Jesus ascend into heaven quickly disposed of this lie, Acts 1:8-11. When Jesus cancelled the written code of death, Colossians 2:13-15, this one miracle opened the door for eternal life.

When He had said this, He shouted with a loud voice, Lazarus, come out! 44 And out walked the man who had been dead, his hands and feet wrapped in burial cloths (linen strips), and with a [burial] napkin bound around his face. Jesus said to them, Free him of the burial wrappings and let him go, John 11:43-44.

In John 21, Jesus appears before his disciples for a third time in his resurrected body. Yet, the scars of the nails that held Jesus to a cross could be felt by a doubting Thomas. While 99.9% of human beings will never experience or see a modern resurrection, for those who pass away on earth, your grave clothes are temporary. For as soon as Jesus returns for His second coming, the dead will arise, run out of their graves and then lifted up to heaven for eternity.

by Jay Mankus

Fighting a Battle You Can’t Seem to Win

The apostle Paul says the same thing to two different churches. In his letter to Galatia, Paul reveals a troubling reality about human beings that is taboo, often swept under the rug. Meanwhile, Paul takes this premise and applies it to his own personal life within a letter written to the Church at Rome. Based upon Paul’s confession in Romans 7, Paul was fighting a losing battle.

But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). 17 For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do. 18 But if you are guided (led) by the [Holy] Spirit, you are not subject to the Law, Galatians 5:16-18.

Paul’s initial passage serves as guide for what to expect. The internal war is a battle for human souls as fleshly cravings seek to shut down any supernatural attempts to take over your body. Unless you’re outgoing, this invisible war go on 24 seven, 7 days a week without most people paying attention. Only when evil begins to win or good triumphs will family and friends take notice of your rise or fall.

For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled, bewildered]. I do not practice or accomplish what I wish, but I do the very thing that I loathe [[b]which my moral instinct condemns]. 16 Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. 17 However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of me, Romans 7:15-17.

At the end of Romans 7, the apostle Paul comes to a conclusion. Without Jesus via the Holy Spirit working in your life, mankind is doomed. The symptoms of fighting a battle you can’t seem to win are on display daily. Some signs are more obvious than others. Nonetheless, as human beings go through life using trial and error as their guide, reach out to Jesus so you can start winning those battles that you’ve lost in the past.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond the Grave

Kerameikos is the name of the the first organized cemetery in the world. The Kerameikos is located in Athens, Greece which dates back to 1200 Before Christ. Visitors will find this cemetery north of the Acropolis. Kerameikos contains two sections divided by the Wall of Themistocles. This final resting place for the dead reminds the living where they will one day end up.

Now also we would not have you ignorant, brethren, about those who fall asleep [in death], that you may not grieve [for them] as the rest do who have no hope [beyond the grave], 1 Thessalonians 4:13.

The Bible addresses life beyond the grave. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to two different destinations, Matthew 7:13-14. One road leads to destruction while a less traveled path ends near the gates of heaven. If you haven’t made up your mind, the choice is yours, Deuteronomy 30:15-17. God isn’t forcing you to comply, offering free will as a way to exercise your mind, Revelation 3:20.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God. And those who have departed this life in Christ will rise first, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

The apostle Paul puts another spin on life beyond the grave. Paul illustrates what Jesus’ return will look like, Without any sign of formal warning, Jesus will descend from heaven with a loud cry, followed by an angelic shout before the blast from the trumpet of God sounds the alarm. Anyone who put their faith in Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, before dying will rise from cemetery’s around the world first. Once this has been completed, living Christians will vanish from the earth in twinkling of an eye. In order to celebrate life beyond the grave, make sure you choose Jesus, Acts 4:12.

by Jay Mankus

95% Obedience

Tracy Morgan debuted in a series of Rocket Mortgage advertisements in 2021. These commercials begin with Tracy suggesting that he is pretty sure about a topic that he is not 100% certain about. The purpose of these ads is to illustrate that being certain is better than being unsure. This reminds me of a recent sermon message I heard entitled 95% Obedience. This would be similar to the concept behind the Purge films, allowing disobedience once a year.

You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect, Matthew 5:48.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus sets a lofty goal, perfection. Unfortunately, this is impossible to accomplish by mere human efforts, Romans 3:10-12. The apostle Paul came to the realization that the weaker you get, this opens the door for people of faith to lean on Jesus like never before, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Despite this chance to grow, Paul writes about a friend named Demas who deserted the ministry due to a love for the world, 2 Timothy 4:10.

Saul said to Samuel, Yes, I have obeyed the voice of the Lord and have gone the way which the Lord sent me, and have brought Agag king of Amalek and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites. 21 But the people took from the spoil sheep and oxen, the chief of the things to be utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal. 22 Samuel said, Has the Lord as great a delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams, 1 Samuel 15:20-22.

For one reason or another, Israel’s first King adopted an 95% Obedience mindset. It’s unclear if arrogance or proud was the root cause of this decision, but Saul began to deviate from Samuel’s instructions. If you pick and choose when you’re going to obey God, this says something about your true allegiance. It’s like telling a significant other, “I’ll be faithful 95% of the year, but do whatever I want a few times a year.” Genuine faith is all in for God, moving all your chips to the center of the table, by trusting in the Lord for the final outcome.

by Jay Mankus

Things Seen and Unseen

The expression “doubting Thomas” comes from an encounter between Jesus and one of his disciples following his resurrection. Despite having a conversation with Jesus, Thomas wanted more proof, John 20:27. Thomas wanted to see and feel the scars, the holes in Jesus’ hand where He was hung from a cross. In John 20:29, Jesus refers to future Christians who believe without seeing. These individuals will be blessed as each walk by faith, not by sight.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure. 26 So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance, Romans 8:24-26.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the Church at Rome. Instead of talking about doubt, Paul uses hope as an object of faith. Rather than have the opportunity to see and touch Jesus, future believers must rely on hope to trust first century eyewitnesses who heard the gospel message in person. Faith in what is unseen is made possible via the Holy Spirit which serves as a spiritual counselor, John 16:13.

For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him, Colossians 1:16.

In a letter to the Church at Colosse, Paul reinforces this concept. Reflecting upon the Trinity, Paul highlights Jesus’ role in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Although a secular society continues to attack the Bible’s infallibility, this is where your faith is put to the test. During a message about the End Times, Jesus suggests that many people will abandon their faith, Matthew 24:10-13. The next time doubt creeps into your mind, remember that faith is the assurance of what is unseen, Hebrews 11:1.

by Jay Mankus

An Atheist with Passion

During a late night drive to Liberty University, I took a stroll down Memory Lane. Listening to a 2 CD set from In Reach, a Christian Band with lead vocalist Brett Williams, I was taken back in time to the 1990’s. The Waterline album debuted my senior year of college and Power and Promise came out while I was attending a Youth Ministry Trade School. A line from their song Savannah, “An Atheist with passion” reminded me of a former student.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light, Matthew 6:22.

Since 2011 was my last year of teaching high school, certain songs tend to help me recall the good and difficult times in my classroom. Jennifer was a byproduct of a broken home. Apparently, her older sister was the only adult in the house, making sure she got her two younger sisters to school on time every morning. While Jen’s parents claimed to be Bible believing Christians, their actions continued to feed fleshly desires. Subsequently, this hypocrisy left a sour taste in Jen’s soul, conceiving an Atheist with passion.

But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! – Matthew 6:23

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus warns his followers of the side affects of darkness. When addictions, bad habits or poor choices continue to happen, it’s only a matter of time before you too may find yourself in a similar state like Jennifer. During tests and quizzes, Jen regularly shared her disdain for Christianity. As a Bible teacher at this time, it was a hard pill to swallow. Yet, as time went by, all I could do was be a light for Christ. All Christians can do today is hope and pray that something you say or live out will persuade future Jen’s to leave their state of darkness by coming to the light.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystery Kept Hidden Through the Ages

Battles, conflicts, and wars can extend beyond a generation. The Arauco War between Spain and the Mapuche Tribe spanned 3 centuries, beginning in 1536 before ending in1825. Meanwhile, the Reconquista War is recognized as the longest lasting battle on earth, ending 780 years after it began. However, there is a spiritual conflict that remains ongoing. This began when the archangel Lucifer was kicked out of heaven in Ezekiel 28:12-19. Not wanting to go down without a fight, Lucifer took the form of a serpent to stake his claim on earth as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2.

And the Lord God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, you are cursed above all [domestic] animals and above every [wild] living thing of the field; upon your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust [and what it contains] all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel, Genesis 3:14-15.

Desperate this temporary loss, God had another plan up His sleeves. The mystery kept hidden for the ages is slipped into the passage above, a glimpse of what lies in wait for the future. What makes this mystery intriguing is the 400 years of silence between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Based upon the reign of Herod the Great, Jesus was born sometime around 4 BC. Although it’s unclear if current calendar’s are off by 4 years, first century Jews were not in agreement on exactly who the promised Messiah would be.

Also to enlighten all men and make plain to them what is the plan [regarding the Gentiles and providing for the salvation of all men] of the mystery kept hidden through the ages and concealed until now in [the mind of] God Who created all things by Christ Jesus, Ephesians 3:9.

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke are designed to fill in the gaps between the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Thus, as Jesus’ earthly ministry came to an end and the apostles picked up this spiritual baton, Jews and Gentiles were introduced to God’s master plan, put into place following the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. As Paul carried out the Great Commission via his missionary journeys in the book of Acts, Paul describes Jesus as the second Adam, Romans 5:12-21. This is where the mystery of the ages is brought to light and proclaimed to the world, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

The Many Sided Wisdom of God

Where does wisdom come from is an age old question. Thus, it’s not surprising that one of the wisest rulers to ever walk the face of the earth immediately addresses this issue in the first chapter of Proverbs. According to King Solomon, the source of wisdom begins with a reverent fear of God, Proverbs 1:7. This is the starting point for wisdom, providing an open door for the ability to discern further knowledge in the future.

[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere, Ephesians 3:10.

The apostle Paul builds upon this principle during the first century. In a letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul discloses that congregations are the main vessel through which the many sided wisdom of God is displayed. Perhaps, Paul is referencing previous letters in Romans 12:4-11 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 where the church is compared to one body with many parts. The words in Matthew 16:18 confirm that churches are meant to carry on that which Jesus began with his disciples.

But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated. 15 But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him], 1 Corinthians 2:14-15.

In a letter sent to members of a church in Ancient Greece, Paul discusses the obstacles that wisdom presents. When the spiritual is absent, logic, philosophy, and science is used as a substitute for wisdom. When individuals refuse to submit to the beginning of wisdom, fearing God, earthly knowledge serves as a stumbling block. Instead of gaining access to the many sided wisdom of God, this knowledge is hidden from the nonspiritual. Until you open your mind to the spiritual realm, you’ll never recognize or understand how the Holy Spirit unveils the many sided wisdom of God.

by Jay Mankus

Rushing to Find a Replacement

Frank Costello was the inspiration behind Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone’s character in the 1972 classic film the Godfather. On Thursday, February 17th, America lost the Godfather of talk radio. Rush Limbaugh’s talent on loan from God has been returned and now conservatives are rushing to find a replacement for his voice. Rush Limbaugh has been a beacon of truth since 1988 when his nationally syndicated midday radio show began. At the height of his popularity, 40 million people tuned into Rush’s radio program. Former President Donald Trump recently said, “To these people who listened to him every day, it was like a religious experience to a lot of people,”

This is he who was mentioned by the prophet Isaiah when he said, The voice of one crying in the wilderness (shouting in the desert), Prepare the road for the Lord, make His highways straight (level, direct). This same John’s garments were made of camel’s hair, and he wore a leather girdle about his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the country round about the Jordan went out to him; And they were baptized in the Jordan by him, confessing their sins, Matthew 3:3-6.

In the early first century, many Jews believed that John the Baptist was the promised Messiah of the Old Testament. Long before the days of radio, John’s popularity spread through word of mouth. Despite John’s native appearance and attire, he was a man of great substance. As John preached on the banks of the Jordan River, hearts were convicted to change their current direction in life. Overwhelmed by guilt, exposed from their conscience, individuals confessed their sins and were baptized. Some of John’s followers may have viewed him as their spiritual godfather.

I indeed baptize you in (with) water because of repentance [that is, because of your changing your minds for the better, heartily amending your ways, with abhorrence of your past sins]. But He Who is coming after me is mightier than I, Whose sandals I am not worthy or fit to take off or carry; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fan (shovel, fork) is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear out and clean His threshing floor and gather and store His wheat in His barn, but the chaff He will burn up with fire that cannot be put out, Matthew 3:11-12.

Despite the praise heaped upon him, John remained humble, recognizing the position God wanted him to play. While John baptized believers with water, Jesus introduced first century followers to the Holy Spirit. When John was arrested, some of his followers were hesitant to turn their attention to Jesus. Yet, as word of Jesus’ ministry began to spread, previous concerns faded away. Anytime you lose a great leader, it’s hard to find a replacement, a substitute to fill this void. Yet, if you believe in the promises of the Old Testament, Micah 2:12, God is always working behind the scenes to raise up a remnant of future leaders.

by Jay Mankus

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