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Does Your Church Have an Angel?

When I think of angels, I usually imagine guardian angels who watch over an individual’s life. Yet, according to John, one of his visions that makes up the book of Revelation, there were 7 specific churches in Asia Minor who possessed an angel. Based upon the passage below, John compares these angels with spiritual messengers who guided the leaders of these 7 churches.

As to the hidden meaning (the mystery) of the seven stars which you saw on My right hand and the seven lampstands of gold: the seven stars are the seven angels (messengers) of the seven assemblies (churches) and the seven lampstands are the seven churches, Revelation 1:20.

As someone who has attended various churches throughout the United States, there are certain places where you sense the power of the Holy Spirit as you enter. Meanwhile, other church buildings seem strange, often giving me an uneasy feeling as I sit down. Is the difference between these churches the presence of an angel or the power of the faith within the members of a congregation?

For He will give His angels [especial] charge over you to accompany and defend and preserve you in all your ways [of obedience and service], Psalm 91:11.

One of the Psalmists writes about an angels ability to accompany Christians. Yet, God uses angels to defend and preserve the faith of those who believe. However, if Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels were kicked out of heaven, whether or not freewill is exercised will dictate the spiritual climate of a church. If angels are like modern day spiritual guides, the more church leaders keep in step with the Holy Spirit will set the culture and spiritual tone of modern day houses of worship.

by Jay Mankus

Praying for Blessings, Happiness and Protection

In my lifetime, more than 100 artists have written songs with pray, prayer or praying in the title. This includes secular artists like Praying by Kesha, You Got To Pray by M.C. Hammer and Livin’ On A Prayer by Bon Jovi. Regardless of your religious upbringing, when people get desperate, prayer is a natural response to someone in need. One of Jesus’ disciples suggests that prayer leads to blessings, happiness and protection.

Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them]. For know that to this you have been called, that you may yourselves inherit a blessing [from God—that you may obtain a blessing as heirs, bringing welfare and happiness and protection], 1 Peter 3:9.

A prayer is like a wish that pops into your mind. Sometimes a prayer can be a vivid vision of how you would like a situation in life to turn out. This may not be a Hollywood ending, but it’s an image of hope of how things could, might and should be if God gets behind the desires on your heart. Since story book endings are rare, prayers provide requests for change, progress and if possible a miracle. Yet, sometimes it’s the person who is praying who needs to change.

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, Job 1:9-10.

The passage above comes from the first completed book in the Bible. Shortly after Lucifer is banished and kicked out of heaven, this spiritual being finds a place on earth as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2. Following the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan needed to ask permission from God to tempt Christians. When the hedge of protection surrounding Job’s family is removed, hell is unleashed upon his life. Through all of the trials Job endured in life, he learned the importance of praying for blessings, happiness, and protection from evil.

by Jay Mankus

The Father of All Light

Exodus 8 reveals an important lesson about light and life. When King Pharaoh could not explain some of the miracles performed by Aaron and Moses, he sent for magicians who were actually able to duplicate the first two. Moses claimed that enchantments and secret arts allowed these magicians to turn water into blood and call forth frogs from the waters to fill the land. Yet, when these magicians were unable to bring forth gnats or mosquitoes, these men came to the conclusion that this was the finger of God, Exodus 8:18-19.

For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

According to the apostle Paul, Satan possessed similar powers in the first century. Apparently, Lucifer was able to retain some of his archangel abilities as Paul describes him as the ruler of the air, Ephesus 2:2. Just like the Egyptian magicians thousands of years ago, some modern leaders continue to masquerade as spurious counterfeits of faith today. Yet, at some point in time these individuals will be exposed as their hidden agendas and motives will be uncovered by the Father of all Light. Nonetheless, free will provides the power hungry with an excuse to see how much they can get away with in the darkness.

Every good gift and every perfect ([d]free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse], James 1:17.

When you grow up with a big brother who is perfect, you start to follow him around to find out the secret of his success. Apparently, James likely spied on Jesus while He was praying with His heavenly Father. While he may not have gotten as close as he wanted to hear every word spoken, James came to the conclusion that the Father of Light is what made Jesus who He was. Sharing eyewitness testimony, James wants every first century Christian to know that it is the God of heaven who is the giver of all good things. There is no doubt about it so don’t be deceived by luck, chance or coincidences.

by Jay Mankus

Blinded by Conceit

In this age of work, individuals who strive to become team players are invaluable. Being able to see the greater good makes your business, department or office more efficient and successful. Developing this mindset is like the apostle Paul’s analogy in 1 Corinthians 12:4-8. Whenever you find a role where you thrive, this is where you should excel and remain like a church body with many parts that becomes a well oiled machine. While this is the ideal scenario, seeking attention, fame or praise from others causes many to become blinded by conceit.

He must not be a new convert, or he may [develop a beclouded and stupid state of mind] as the result of pride [be blinded by conceit, and] fall into the condemnation that the devil [once] did, 1 Timothy 3:6.

In the passage above, Paul is listing spiritual qualifications that a pastor should look for as they recruit a leadership team within their church. Since Paul is writing to a teenage pastor who may be persuaded by unqualified individuals, he doesn’t want Timothy to select a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Anyone can make a good first impression, but the longer you are around someone will reveal their true character and nature. Even adults who become Christians later in life have to grow up and mature by putting on the mind of Christ while purging their old self, Colossians 3:1-4.

Furthermore, he must have a good reputation and be well thought of by those outside [the church], lest he become involved in slander and incur reproach and fall into the devil’s trap, 1 Timothy 3:7.

However, cunning individuals like the serpent in the Garden of Eden will keep on pushing the envelope. Meanwhile, Lucifer has the ability to present himself as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14. According to Paul, Lucifer’s fall from heaven was due to being blinded with conceit. Perhaps. when the Psalmist writes “pride comes before the fall” is eluding to Lucifer and those who follow in his footsteps. Pride can be like having blinders on, unable to see the errors of your way. Therefore, before pride becomes fully developed, snap out of this spiritual funk as soon as possible.

by Jay Mankus

Fighting an Invisible Enemy

Like many teenage boys, I was drawn toward horror flicks in high school. I’m not sure why I developed this unhealthy attraction, but the adrenaline of being scared out of my mind brought me back to the movies time after time. When I dreamed that I was being chased around my neighborhood by a beast or killer, I just assumed this was a harmless nightmare, Little did I realize that I was actually fighting an invisible enemy.

For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

As another Friday 13th approaches, it’s fitting that I was born on Saturday the 14th. I won’t read too much into this irony, but the apostle Paul warns Christians of what believers in God are up against. Following in the footsteps of his heavenly identity Lucifer, this fallen angel is a spiritual magician who is the master of deception. Just as this cunning serpent deceived Adam and Eve, human beings are fooled every day by this invisible enemy.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [b]overflows), John 10:9-10.

In the passage above, Jesus suggests that Satan tries to convince people that there is more than one way to enter heaven. As the gullible begin to search for this back door, character is stolen, dreams are killed and lives are destroyed. Jesus didn’t come to earth to condemn those who wonder off, but to seek and to save the lost, Luke 19:10. Therefore, as your eyes are opened to this invisible enemy, come to Jesus so you can begin to experience the abundant life.

by Jay Mankus

It Takes Two to Tango

The tango dance originated in lower-class districts of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Montevideo, Uruguay. Dances from the candombe ceremonies hasve influenced this popular style of ballroom dancing. As a teenager, whenever I got in trouble at school, one of my teachers used the expression “it takes two to tango.” While I knew nothing of the song written by Al Hoffman and Dick Manning and sung by Pearl Bailey, she was referring to my partner in crime.

And it was not Adam who was deceived, but [the] woman who was deceived and deluded and fell into transgression, 1 Timothy 2:14.

Apparently, the apostle Paul used a similar expression while writing a first century letter to a teenage pastor. In the passage above, Eve is blamed for original sin. According to Paul, Eve was deceived and deluded prior to taking a bite of this forbidden fruit. Adam is portrayed as an innocent bystander, persuaded by his wife to join her. Instead of reminding his wife of God’s only rule in the Garden of Eden, Adam goes with the flow by taking a bite too.

For if because of one man’s trespass (lapse, offense) death reigned through that one, much more surely will those who receive [God’s] overflowing grace (unmerited favor) and the free gift of righteousness [putting them into right standing with Himself] reign as kings in life through the one Man Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One). 18 Well then, as one man’s trespass [one man’s false step and falling away led] to condemnation for all men, so one Man’s act of righteousness [leads] to acquittal and right standing with God and life for all men, Romans 5:17-18.

In another letter to the Church at Rome, Adam doesn’t escape justice. As the spiritual leader of his house, Adam failed. Despite having nearly unlimited freedom in this beautiful land, Adam was willing to God. Subsequently, Adam’s mental lapse ruined God’s initial plan to live forever. As soon as Lucifer gained authority over the earth, Ephesus 2:2, God’s master plan is laid out in Genesis 3:15. This prophecy was fulfilled by Jesus as sin often takes two people to tango.

by Jay Mankus

Feeding a Hunger for God

Hunger and satiety are sensations that exist within human bodies. Hunger pains are caused by strong contractions of the stomach when it’s empty. Satiety is the absence of hunger; the sensation within you that makes you feel full after eating a big meal. While the most common New Year’s resolution annually is losing weight, developing a hunger for God doesn’t crack the top 10 on this 2020 list. Perhaps, if spiritual hungers increased, desires for physical food might level off in 2021.

Then Jesus was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry, Matthew 4:1-2.

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, the Holy Spirit led Jesus to begin a 40 day fast. Instead of maintaining a normal work week as a carpenter, Jesus withdrew into the wilderness for more than a month. To avoid the temptation of watching others eat food, Jesus invested this time into feeding his hunger for God. Although Matthew provides a brief summary of this fast, the only thing Jesus consumed was water during this time in the desert. As the end drew near, Jesus’ brain triggered the release of a hormone called Ghrelin in response to his empty stomach. This sets the stage for the Devil’s arrival on the scene.

And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [loaves of] bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:3-4.

Sensing his weak physical state, the Devil dares Jesus to turn stones into freshly made bread. As a former archangel, Lucifer was aware of God’s almighty power. However, Jesus quickly changes the topic, reflecting upon the words of the Old Testament. Spiritual hunger comes from meditating and reflecting upon biblical promises, Joshua 1:8. When Christians decide to fast, normal meal times are replaced with Bible Study, prayer and worship. Therefore, if you want to lose weight in 2021, feed your spiritual hunger for God by fasting. Come up with a realistic amount of hours or days and let the Holy Spirit guide you, Galatians 5:25.

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

Obscured and Covered Up

Every day there are chances and opportunities to encounter God. Yet, busyness, other priorities, and a lack of time conceal most people from seeing individuals sent by God. Instead of stopping to chat, entertain or engage these divine messengers, blinders prevent most from even saying hello. Perhaps, the apostle Paul witnessed a similar pattern in the first century as spiritual truth was obscured and covered up.

But even if our Gospel (the glad tidings) also be hidden (obscured and covered up with a veil that hinders the knowledge of God), it is hidden [only] to those who are perishing and obscured [only] to those who are spiritually dying and veiled [only] to those who are lost, 2 Corinthians 4:3.

Paul blames this on the god of this age, Ephesians 2:2, who roams the earth as the ruler of the air. This fallen angel is not a fictional character in the latest Sci-fi film. Rather, Lucifer is real, using the same tactics that led Adam and Eve to break God’s only rule in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:16-17. When you allow subtle compromises to bend your belief system, it doesn’t take long for bad habits to become full blown sin, James 1:13-15.

For the god of this world has blinded the unbelievers’ minds [that they should not discern the truth], preventing them from seeing the illuminating light of the Gospel of the glory of Christ (the Messiah), Who is the Image and Likeness of God, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Despite growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, the Gospel of Jesus was obscured and covered up. Church was a religious exercise for me, void of any personal relationship. Attending church quickly became a chore, not a forum to worship a living God. After 15 years of being close, my coach and mentor Ken Horne unveiled to me what Christianity was all about. Following a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s event, my eyes were opened as I began my journey in faith, Romans 10:9-10. May this blog inspire you to unmask blinded minds of those whom you love today.

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

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