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When You're Unwilling to Change

Julia Roberts starred in the 1991 film Sleeping with the Enemy. However, nearly two thousand years before Nancy Price published her novel, a Jewish carpenter allowed himself to be infiltrated by a spiritual enemy. Jesus saw the potential in Judas Iscariot as a disciple, giving him an opportunity to change. Yet, in the end, this was part of God’s plan as Judas was unwilling to change despite witnessing countless miracles.

Simon Peter answered, Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words (the message) of eternal life. 69 And we have learned to believe and trust, and [more] we have come to know [surely] that You are the Holy One of God, the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of the living God. 70 Jesus answered them, Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And [yet] one of you is a devil (of the evil one and a false accuser), John 6:68-70.

On December 12th, 2019, scientists discovered an unknown virus in Wuhan, China. As news of this spread across the country and throughout the world, the name Coronavirus was given. As the number of confirmed cases in the United States has surpassed 54,000, citizens are forced to make one of two choices. Practice social distancing by changing how you live your daily life or continue ignoring the new CDC guidelines? The first doesn’t guarantee staying healthy, but the latter risks spreading the Coronavirus to those whom you love.

When it was evening, He was reclining at table with the twelve disciples. 21 And as they were eating, He said, Solemnly I say to you, one of you will betray Me! 22 They were exceedingly pained and distressed and deeply hurt and sorrowful and began to say to Him one after another, Surely it cannot be I, Lord, can it? 23 He replied, He who has [just] dipped his hand in the same dish with Me will betray Me! – Matthew 26:20-23

As Jesus’ betrayal grew near, one event sped up this process. When a prostitute wasted an expensive jar of perfume to anoint Jesus’ body, this decision pushed Judas over the edge. In his role as treasurer, Judas saw this act as a waste of money, not an act of worship. When a seed of betrayal was sown in Judas’ heart and mind, the Last Supper sets the stage for Jesus’ final call out. When individuals aren’t unwilling to change, the consequences can be eternal. May the current Coronavirus pandemic persuade stubborn hearts to alter their lives now before it’s too late.

by Jay Mankus

God’s Help or Satan’s Hurt

During a trip to Gibeon, King Solomon experienced a special dream one night. According to 1 Kings 3, the Lord appeared to Solomon in this dream, asking him to make a decision between wealth or wisdom. After thoroughly examining his options, Solomon requested a discerning heart and understanding mind. This decision pleased the Lord resulting in a life of blessings, riches and wealth like no other ruler in the Bible.

Now, O Lord my God, You have made Your servant king instead of David my father, and I am but a lad [in wisdom and experience]; I know not how to go out (begin) or come in (finish). Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people who cannot be counted for multitude. So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and bad. For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people? – 1 King 3:7-9

In the first century, the apostle Paul writes a letter to a teenage pastor named Timothy. Apparently, Timothy was uncertain and unsure of what position to take on wealth. The passage above provides biblical insight and perspective. While blessings are a sign of God’s favor, Satan uses riches as a vessel for temptation. Thus, when money becomes your god, God’s initial help can quickly turn into Satan’s hurts.

But those who crave to be rich fall into temptation and a snare and into many foolish (useless, godless) and hurtful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction and miserable perishing. 10 For the love of money is a root of all evils; it is through this craving that some have been led astray and have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves through with many acute [mental] pangs, 1 Timothy 6:9-10.

You don’t have to look any further than the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 to understand this concept. A younger son became consumed by his share of an inheritance. Before receiving this money, his mind became filled with earthly pleasures. Like an addict who can’t control himself, the prodigal son quickly became Exhibit A for Satan’s hurt. Broke, desperate and homeless, the only way to overcome Satan’s hurt is coming to your senses. May this story of redemption inspire you to embrace God’s help so Satan’s hurt becomes a thing of the past.

by Jay Mankus

The Machaira

The Greek word used by the apostle Paul to describe the sword of the spirit is machaira. The actual word is μάχαιρα, an 18 inch dagger used as a weapon of war during hand to hand combat. This piece of the armor of God represents the Word of God which serves two purposes. First and foremost, as a defensive weapon to correct and expose the lies of the Devil. Then, transition onto offensive by attacking secular worldviews through wielding the promises within the Bible to shine light upon an ever darkening world.

For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere, Ephesians 6:12.

One of the problems with war is identifying the enemy. As chaos on the battlefield ensues, some hide, retreat or pretend to be on your side. Perhaps, this explains the apostle Paul’s words in the passage above. Within any war, there are powers, rulers and spiritual forces working behind the scenes. Instead of giving into anger, frustration or rage, the person you are mad at could simply be a vessel of the Devil, distracting you from the real battle.

And take the helmet of salvation and the sword that the Spirit wields, which is the Word of God, Ephesians 6:17.

Just prior to introducing the Sword of the Spirit, the helmet of salvation is mentioned first. When armor isn’t put on in the correct order, soldiers become vulnerable, not completely covered. This helmet protects your mind from becoming concussed. During the battle called life, there will be individuals who won’t feel saved as doubts from the Devil are implanted within your minds. Life can be tiring, especially if you live pay check to pay check. Yet, without protecting yourself with the armor of God, you’re destined to fail. Therefore, may the machaira empower you to rely on the Bible to defend and enhance the kingdom of God.

by Jay Mankus

The Night I Met Satan in a Bowling Alley

By the beginning of my junior year in college, I felt called to pursue a career in youth ministry. To follow this calling, I began to volunteer in as many ways as possible to prepare myself for the future. I served as an assistant youth director for junior high students at my home church in Wilmington. Meanwhile, I sacrificed several weekends to help out with service projects, retreats and weekly youth related events.

The fear of the Lord is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate, Proverbs 8:13.

When one of my mentors from high school asked me to help out at a lock in, an overnight action packed activity, I jumped at this opportunity. High school students were dropped off at a local bowling alley before being driven back to the church in vans afterward. Serving as an adult, I wanted to sit back and listen, observing this group of teenagers. It didn’t take long to recognize the boy that everyone referred to as Satan. Beside being obnoxious, this boy kept running up behind bowlers, hitting and pushing them just before releasing their ball. This behavior continued for an hour.

Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord,” Romans 12:19.

Instead of being confrontational and preachy, I sat down with this boy, trying to find out what made him tick. I guess you can say understanding Satan became my project for this night. As the evening wore on, I stuck to this boy like glue, hoping to limit his emotional outbursts. When my patience wore off, I began to confront and rebuke Satan, “why are you trying to live up to this nickname?” Feeling compelled to go deeper, the Holy Spirit filled me with probing questions to get to the heart of this boy’s issue.

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places, Ephesians 6:12.

Normally, I don’t like to press people. Yet, after midnight, I spent an hour peeling away Satan’s onion, one layer at a time. My conversation revealed a broken home, a strict father and having no concept of love. Following a time of prayer in the chapel, the spiritual influences of Satan on this boy’s life was finally broken. This experience as a volunteer inspired me to devote 15 years of my life to youth ministry. As I found out as a college student, nothing is impossible with God as the boy that was called Satan gave his life to Jesus, Romans 10:9-11, before this lock in concluded.

by Jay Mankus

Drop It!

Everyone has at least one member of their family who feels like they always have to get in the last word. Instead of letting a comment go without a response, the temptation to reply is indulged. This character flaw often leads to arguments, heated debates and never ending disputes. Thus, before tempers flare, someone must intervene with a simple message, “drop it!”

So kill (deaden, deprive of power) the evil desire lurking in your members [those animal impulses and all that is earthly in you that is employed in sin]: sexual vice, impurity, sensual appetites, unholy desires, and all greed and covetousness, for that is idolatry (the deifying of self and other created things instead of God). It is on account of these [very sins] that the [holy] anger of God is ever coming upon the sons of disobedience (those who are obstinately opposed to the divine will), Among whom you also once walked, when you were living in and addicted to [such practices], Colossians 3:5-7.

The apostle Paul refers to this expression in the passage above. Instead of focusing on the negative, Paul begins chapter 3 with the ideal, “setting your hearts and minds on things above, Colossians 3:1-4. After setting the bar for Christians to reach for, Paul does a reality check by referencing acts of the sinful nature. These desires are natural until individuals make a decision to follow Jesus. This is when believers must drop their former practices.

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. 13 Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive]. 14 And above all these [put on] love and enfold yourselves with the bond of perfectness [which binds everything together completely in ideal harmony], Colossians 3:12-14.

Paul recognizes that certain things will be hard to drop, especially forgiving those who have severely hurt you in the past. Thus, Paul urges individuals to forgive others just as Christ has forgiven you. Perhaps, Paul is referencing the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:14-15, where Jesus introduces the forgiveness clause. Therefore, if you want to receive God’s forgiveness, drop any bitterness in your heart now to ensure your own forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

What You See Here Today

Alex Proyas directed the 2004 science fiction thriller I-Robot. This film was inspired by Isaac Asimov’s nine-story anthology I-Robot. Will Smith plays Detective Spooner, a bionic man assigned the apparent suicide of Dr. Alfred Lanning. James Conwell’s cameo’s of this character appears in the form of pre-recorded holograms. Set in the city of Chicago circa 2035, Spooner relies on these holograms during his investigation. The better his questions, the closer Will Smith gets to solving this case, a hidden revolution.

But the [Holy] Spirit distinctly and expressly declares that in latter times some will turn away from the faith, giving attention to deluding and seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach, Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared (cauterized), 1 Timothy 4:1-2.

In the first century, the apostle Paul writes two letters to a teenager pastor. Based upon the passage above and below, Timothy began seeing things that were unreal. This young man was struggling to comprehend what was going on culturally. In response, Paul refers to a time in the future where Christians will turn away from their faith. A second letter eludes to how gossip, lies and rumors influence what people end up believing. Once preconceived notions are set, ears will ignore facts as minds will only accept and embrace what their own worldview believes.

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions, 2 Timothy 4:3-4.

What you see here today in America is the fulfillment of the apostle Paul’s words. Whether you are a democrat, independent, libertarian or republican, the last three years have become a tug of war for political power. Instead of having the mainstream media and cable news networks cover these events in a bi-partisan way, most of the print and television media has taking one side. During the initial impeachment inquiry, news conferences took place after the democrats finished asking witnesses questions to announce victory and set the news cycle for the rest of the day. The only problem is the republicans had not yet asked a single question. This past week CNN only showed the democrats in Congress, switching to regular programming as soon as republicans offered their rebuttal. This happened all day long.

So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him. But you are not living the life of the flesh, you are living the life of the Spirit, if the [Holy] Spirit of God [really] dwells within you [directs and controls you]. But if anyone does not possess the [Holy] Spirit of Christ, he is none of His [he does not belong to Christ, is not truly a child of God], Romans 8:8-9.

Timothy wasn’t the only first century Christian to notice self-absorbed individuals. The apostle Paul blames this condition on a sinful mind, fueled by a carnal nature. This internal desire caters to earthly appetites and impulses which entice minds to taste what was once considered forbidden fruits. Whenever business people, CEO’s, directors or entrepreneurs act upon these inclinations, a specific worldview is promoted. When political talking points replace truth, the atmosphere is set for itching ears to hear and believe what you want. Unless this spiritual condition is addressed, a new revolution will commence as society drifts further and further away from a biblical worldview. What you see here in the form of current events should convict souls to come to your senses by drawing near to God.

by Jay Mankus

An Unlikely Cure for Depression

As someone who has worked nights the past 7 years, there usually isn’t anything good on television overnight. Despite trying to sleep on my nights off, my body is use to staying up late. Thus, I have a tendency to channel surf from time to time. Over Thanksgiving I caught an author who was speaking about an intriguing account from Cambodia. While talking with a psychologist doing research oversees, an unlikely cure for depression was discovered.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

This psychologist was studying Cambodian techniques on treating depression. One case study centered around a rice patty farmer who lost his leg when a land mine exploded. Doctors initially provided an artificial limb to continue his occupation after being medically cleared to return to work. Unfortunately, the strength to stay under water and added pain from this injury was too much for this man to overcome.

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.

When depression overwhelmed this man’s soul, medication was considered, but not prescribed. Instead, doctor’s listened to this man pour out of his heart, trying to come up with an alternative solution. After several days of discussion, this man was given a cow instead of drugs. This gift enabled this man to transition to a milk farmer. After one month of changing occupations, this man’s depression disappeared. Perhaps, its time that America adopts similar policies by stop handing out drugs and start being creative so that more unlikely cures for depression are discovered.

by Jay Mankus

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