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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

Evil Functions Best When No One Believes in It

According to the Bible, a crafty serpent brought evil to the earth, Genesis 3:1-7. The oldest recorded book describes a fallen angel who roams throughout the earth, Job 1:6-9. An Old Testament prophet writes about the day Lucifer was kicked out of heaven, Isaiah 14:12-15. Another prophet highlights the beauty of this anointed cherub prior to his fall from grace, Ezekiel 28:13-15. As time goes by, more and more residents of earth refer to Lucifer or Satan as a fairy tale, a fictional character or part of mythology.

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 2:19

As long as the source of evil in the Bible remains merely a figment of your imagination, this is the way the Devil likes it and wants it to be. When good things happen in life, most people credit accomplishments, blessings and rewards as a sign of hard work. However, when bad things develop in the form of defeat, hardships and trials, questions are raised upward toward God. The more people blame God for their problems on earth, evil functions best, disguised by ungodly beliefs.

But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it). So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you, James 4:6-7.

Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, all human being are born into a sinful nature. The earthly brother of Jesus refers to this inner desire as an evil tendency. The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter to this internal tug of war, Romans 7:15-18. Unless you become open to the power of the Holy Spirit via a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, evil will continue to ravage souls. Part of any spiritual awakening involves recognizing the bad, evil and sinful habits within you. Until evil is associated with the Devil, powers of darkness will continue to fly under the radar.

by Jay Mankus

Oops I Have Done It Again

In the earliest days on earth, God provided Adam and Eve with a vast amount of freedom. The passage below states Adam’s daily responsibility in the Garden of Eden. There wasn’t a long list of to do’s and dont’s. Rather, God limits the rules to one: do not eat from the tree of knowledge. With the boundary line between right and wrong clearly set, only one tree and it’s fruit was off limits. This couple didn’t have to guess what the right thing to do was nor could they claim to be amoral, not knowing right from wrong.

And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die, Genesis 2:15-17.

When Eve flirted with Lucifer, a serpent in disguise, a seed of doubt was conceived within her mind. The longer this conversation continued, enticement and lust for this forbidden fruit grew. Despite standing right there next to his wife, Adam was complicit, serving as a curious bystander. This joint act of disobedient forced God to introduce a new set of laws via the Torah to combat original sin. While God was willing to forgive this transgression, punishment is handed out for each guilty party in Genesis 3.

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]?-Job 1:6-8

While Genesis is the first book of the Bible, Job is the oldest book. Comments made in chapters 40-41, suggest that Job was living in a land of dinosaurs. If this is true, that would mean Job lived prior to the flood detailed in Genesis 6:17. Job doesn’t refer to Satan as a snake. Rather, Lucifer is a fallen angel who has retained his supernatural powers. Like a spiritual lion seeking to pounce on weak minded individuals, this fact is not to be taken likely. If you disregard or ignore this information, you may find yourself ensnared by sin, stuck in pitiful addicted state. Instead of saying “oops I have done it again,” make sure repentance results in acts of contrition. May this blog inspire you to focus on spiritual transformation.

by Jay Mankus

Learning to Operate in the Supernatural

The apostle Paul makes an interesting observation while writing a letter to the Church at Rome. Human beings have grown accustom to operating in the natural by following bodily organs. If you know your body, some can sense an illness about to conceive, an abnormal pain and when you’ve eaten too much. Yet, Paul takes this concept deeper, referring to sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh. These internal obstacles make operating in the supernatural extremely difficult.

When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death, Romans 7:5.

A complete picture of this internal struggle is provided in the passage below. The theological term for this wrestling match between good and evil is dualism. Dualism believes in two equal but conflicting powers that reveal the distinction between God and the world, and between matter and mind. C.S. Lewis once said, “Christianity agrees with Dualism that this universe is at war. But it does not think this is a war between independent powers. It thinks it is a civil war, a rebellion, and that we are living in a part of the universe occupied by the rebel.” The rebel inside or Lucifer himself?

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.

This is the barrier that currently exists, a byproduct of original sin, due to Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden of Eden. The only way to operate in the supernatural is by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, Paul writes about having an obligation to the Spirit to those who believe, Romans 8:10-11. During his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus uses the analogy of good deeds to elevate expectations for followers of Christ, Matthew 5:43-47. Therefore, instead of just doing enough to get by, its time for believers to begin operating in the supernatural daily, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

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