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Tag Archives: Jesus

Slipping Away

Normaly, the phrase slipping away is used in a negative context.  Competitors may experience a sure victory slip away as momentum leads their opponent to a shocking comeback victory.  Meanwhile, pastors use this term when Christians begin to develop unhealthy habits, slowly slipping further and further away from God.

Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me, John 15:4.

Yet, Jesus refers to slipping away as a means to get away from the distractions in this life.  As crowds following Jesus’ earthly ministry got out of control, having a quiet time alone with God became increasingly difficult.  Thus, Jesus made a habit of sliping away, withdrawing to an isolacted location to listen to and pray to his heavenly father.

I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned, John 15:5-6.

If you aren’t careful, its easy to begin to make excuses for not spending quality time with God.  Busy schedules, important meetings and working hard to pay the bills are valid reasons to maintain a full schedule.  Nonetheless, if you want to be all you can be spiritually, you must remain connected to Jesus.  If you don’t, you may find yourself slip sliding away like a prodigal heading in the wrong direction.

by Jay Mankus

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Magnifying Confidence

If you have a tendency to be analytical like me, you might over think things instead of relying on common sense.  Yet, you can’t deny the difference confidence makes within an athlete, Christian and student.  Uncerainty can stiffle souls, causing individuals to be hesitant, without conviction to act.  However, confidence transforms lives, taking quiet soft spoken individuals to new heights.

When Jesus saw their [active] faith [springing from confidence in Him], He said, “Man, your sins are forgiven,” Luke 5:20.

One day Jesus was teaching in a home when crowds surrounded the building.  By this time in history, Jesus’ healing powers had become legendary as no condition was impossible to cure.  This knowledge empowered a few friends to climb on top of the roof, carrying their friend who was paralyzed.  Eager to get Jesus’ attention, these men cut open a few tiles and lowered their friend to Jesus’ feet.

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand, Isaiah 41:10.

This act of faith impressed Jesus and one of four gospel authors.  Luke magnifies confidence by referring to belief, energy and passion linked to those who trust in God’s power to transform lives.  Luke uses the imagery of a spring, bubbling over out of the ground.  When Christians stop focusing on the cants in this life and begin to open their minds to the possibilities with God’s help, confidence is magnifed.

by Jay Mankus

Properly Utilizing God’s Power

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.  Over the next forty days, the Devil began scheming of ways on how to trick Jesus into improperly using God’s power.  The longer Jesus went without food, fasting and praying to spiritually prepare his mind, the more vulnerable his body became.  Thus, in the passage below the Devil tempted Jesus to use God’s power for selfish reasons.  In a game of Truth or Dare, the Devil dared Jesus to show off, calling upon angels to keep him from falling.  Responding with Scripture, Jesus corrects the Devil’s abuse of God’s power.

Then he led Jesus to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, and said [mockingly] to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written and forever remains written, He will command His angels concerning You to guard and protect You,’ and, they will lift You up on their hands, So that You do not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied to him, “It is said [in Scripture], you shall not tempt the Lord your God [to prove Himself to you],’” Luke 4:9-12.

Before gathering a ministry team of disciples, Jesus experienced the best and worst from his fellow Jews.  Upon entering a town, Jesus went to the local synagogue, debating, listening and teaching God fearing Jews.  Jesus quoted the Old Testament, speaking with authority without any education or extensive training.  On one day, Jesus spoke about God’s grace extending to Gentiles, non Jewish believers.  This comment turned the crowd in Nazareth against Jesus, committing heresy in their eyes.  This uprising forced Jesus outside of town to a nearby cliff, as residents attempted to push Jesus off the edge to his death.  On this occasion with his life in danger, Jesus properly utilized God’s power, like a ghost, Jesus passed by the crowds escaping to Capernaum.

As they heard these things [about God’s grace to these two Gentiles], the people in the synagogue were filled with a great rage; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the crest of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to hurl Him down the cliff. 30 But passing [miraculously] through the crowd, He went on His way, Luke 4:28-30.

Today, the debate of properly utilizing God’s power continues.  Should you treat God like a supernatural Santa Claus, praying to the Lord with a long Christmas wish list?  Or should you only ask for things in accordance with God’s will?  Do you take Jesus literally, “ask and you will receive?”  What is a good middle ground, a place to start?  If you use Matthew 7:12 as an outline for prayer, this may clear up any confusion that you currently are struggling to grasp.  Prayer is a three step process, asking, seeking insight to explain unanswered prayers and continue to persist, wrestling with the Lord in prayer.  May this passage guide you to understand how to properly utilize God’s power.

by Jay Mankus

Change Your World

In the first century, one man set out to change the world.  This higher calling wasn’t rushed.  Nor did this man leave anything up to chance.  Rather, Jesus waited for the appointed time prior to selecting twelve disciples to lay a foundation for change.  Dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s, Jesus kept in step with the Holy Spirit to carry out the necessary Old Testament prophecies yet to be fulfilled.  Fasting, praying, being baptized, spreading goods news about the kingdom of God, training future leaders and surrendering to authorities set the stage for the climax.  As the crucifixion of a perfect lamb was about to be laid to rest in a tomb, a resurrection cancelled the written code the moment death was conquered, Colossians 2:13-15.  This one supernatural act has changed the world forever.

 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him, John 3:16-17.

The film Equalizer debuted In 2014, introducing a character who wanted to change the world one person at a time.  Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a retired CIA black ops operative using a local hardware store as his mission field.  When McCall sees injustices that occur within his spheres of influence, he acts immediately to accomplish the greater good.  After hours, during breaks or on the job interactions are used by Robert to develop relationships, challenging co-workers, customers and strangers to be the best you can be.  During one moving scene, Robert talks to a girl who is trapped by her pimp, unable to break free to fulfill her dream to become a singer.  Not wasting this opportunity, Robert exclaims, “change your world!”

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Sometimes when you feel the urge to make a difference in this life, its hard to know where to start.  Depending upon the atmosphere, circumstances or environment, many good intentioned individuals can become overwhelmed before ever getting started.  Thus, changing your world for the better requires a joint effort.  From a spiritual perspective, ground work must by laid through fasting and prayer.  Like the building of an ministry team, when the timing is right God will raise up leaders to fill the gaps that exist.  Yet, while you are waiting for the world to change, don’t lose heart.  Rather, let faith guide you until agents for change arrive.  May the words of this attached scene from Equalizer inspire you to change your world beginning today.

by Jay Mankus

Where Envy and Resentment Can Lead You

Envy and Resentment are like a notorious WWE Tag Team Wrestling Champion.  Envy begins each bout, distracting opponents by focusing on what others have instead of how God has blessed you.  The moment you fail prey to this tactic, resentment hits you over the head with a chair.  This is immediately followed by a punch to your gut before ending up in a headlock, struggling to break free.  Anyone who fails to come to their senses will be dragged away like a rag doll.  This is how envy and resentment lead people to some of the most vile and wretched places on earth.

Pilate answered them, saying, “Do you want me to set free for you the King of the Jews?” 10 For he was aware that the chief priests had turned Jesus over to him because of envy and resentment, Mark 15:9-10.

During the first century, Jesus was despised by the ruling class.  The thought of a carpenter from Nazareth developing a massive spiritual following offended the chief priests, elders and scribes.  When his disciples failed to adhere to Jewish ceremonial laws, this lack of observance opened the door for envy and resentment to consume these religious leaders.  If Jesus’ popularity continued without some sort of intervention, the power of future Pharisees and Sadducees was in jeopardy of being stripped away.  Thus, envy and resentment fueled this elite group to conspire, plot and pressure authorities to crucify Jesus.

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice, Ephesians 4:31.

When the apostle Paul turned his back on Judaism to follow Jesus Christ, he began to experience pushback from envy and resentment.  Human nature feeds off of the acts of the sinful nature, thriving on venting frustrations as well as unleashing your anger on others.  Yet, if this run away train of emotions possesses you, exhibit A features Cain who killed his brother due to jealousy.  Today, America’s ruling establishment is teaming up with the deep state to foil Donald Trump’s presidency.  This resistance has lasted more than a year, crushing souls along the way.  Perhaps its time to take a step back before envy and resentment devours another victim.  May the passages above convict hearts before any further actions are taken.  If not, envy and resentment may lead participants to an undesirable eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

Active, Lukewarm or Dead?

Animated, bubbly, dynamic, energetic, perky and vigorous are all synonyms which highlight active individuals.  When you came in contact with these lively souls, its possible to feed off of their enthusiasm.  During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encouraged his followers to add flavor to the lives of people you encounter, Matthew 5:13-16.  When actions and words co-exist, faith rubs off on others, similar to a lamp shining light into the darkness of this world.

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth, Revelation 3:16.

Prior to modern appliances, cooling drinks or adding ice cubes wasn’t an option.  Thus, past civilizations were forced to endure room temperature drinks.  The Bible refers to this as lukewarm.  The context in which this term is applied signifies an inactive faith.  From a spiritual point of view, idle faith is an insult to God, void of salt and light.  Unfortunately, I find myself closer to lukewarm than active.  In fact, in recent weeks I am hovering somewhere between a lukewarm and dying faith.

For just as the [human] body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works [of obedience] is also dead, James 2:26.

When talking about judgment, Jesus uses the expression take the plank out of your own eye before criticizing someone else, Matthew 7:1-5.  One of the members in the audience that day opens up about his own life in the passage above.  Taking a look in the mirror from a spiritual perspective, James looks back at a time in his life when his faith was dead.  Despite being raised by Mary and Joseph, James’ faith was lukewarm at best until the resurrection of Jesus.  I guess we all need a wake up call at some point.  May this blog awaken your soul to activate your faith, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

How Should a Christian Respond to Smut?

A generation ago, the content of movies, songs and television shows were heavily scrutinized.  If there was any traces of questionable material, conservative critics might label this as smut.  This term refers to anything that might be seen as obscene, pornographic or too revealing.  As Hollywood continues to push the envelope beyond decency over the past half century, smut has become mainstream, available at most check out counters in America.  This reality has caused me to ponder, “how should a Christian respond to smut?”

While He was in Bethany [as a guest] at the home of Simon the leper, and reclining at the table, a woman came with an alabaster vial of very costly and precious perfume of pure nard; and she broke the vial and poured the perfume over His head, Mark 14:3.

In the passage above, Jesus is anointed by a woman with a questionable reputation.  According to other accounts of this event in the gospels, this woman’s name is Mary.  Based upon comments made by local guests, Mary was a first century prostitute.  Having a lady of the night approach you at a party might be tempting to the average guy.  Yet, this encounter didn’t phase Jesus, even if Mary’s breasts were hanging out of a low cut blouse.  Jesus was tempted in every way just as men are tempted today by smut, but did not sin.  This makes Jesus the supreme authority on how to respond to and overcome smut.

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin, Hebrews 4:15.

In his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to eyes as the lamp of the body.  Keeping them pure is crucial to responding to immodest attire as the summer approaches.  One of Jesus’ disciples refers to three aspects that must be held in check.  According to 1 John 2:15-17, lust, sensual cravings and the longing of eyes stand in the way of responding to smut in a godly manner.  The apostle Paul urges one of his pupils to run away and flee from youthful desires in 2 Timothy 2:22.  According to Paul, the best way to respond to smut is by pursuing righteousness, faith, love and peace.  May this advice equip you to overcome future encounters with smut.

by Jay Mankus

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