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The Haves and Have Nots

The expression “the haves and have nots” dates back to the 17th century. One of the initial usages was based upon your socio-economic status. This superficial characterization focused on anyone who was living in poverty or did not have much money. As the wealthy flashed signs of their wealth while looking down on the less fortunate, the haves and the have nots was conceived.

To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit; To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit; 1 Corinthians 12:8-9.

The apostle Paul created his own list of the haves and have nots in the first century. However, the context of this list was based upon spiritual gifts given to Christians within the Church at Corinth. Some individuals received special powers such as healing, prophecy and the ability to perform miracles. Apparently, these talents were going to some of their heads, looking down upon people with lesser gifts such as giving, hospitality and service.

To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight ([c]the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. 11 All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses, 1 Corinthians 12:10-11.

Not much has changed over the past 2000 years. Occupations like doctors, lawyers, and scientists are held in high esteem while those forced to work in blue collared jobs are looked down upon. Regardless of how others view you, God wants Christians to focus on what they have, not what you don’t. Part of life is figuring out what you’re the best at and where you fit in. Once your spiritual gift is revealed to you, the rest of life should be spent looking for opportunities to apply your gift. Fan into flame what you have so that your life impacts the have nots.

by Jay Mankus

The Exercise of God’s Power

Exercise is the act of bringing into play. While exercise is a vehicle to lose weight or stay in shape, this isn’t something that human beings attribute to God. Yet, when fasting sets the spiritual tone and prayers are lifted up to heaven, miracles are the realization of God’s power in action. The Old Testament is filled with accounts of bizarre events that defy science. Whether it’s the ten plagues unleashed upon Egypt, the sound of trumpets bringing down the walls of Jericho or the resurrection of Jesus, this is the exercise of God’s power.

Of this [Gospel] I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s free grace (undeserved favor) which was bestowed on me by the exercise (the working in all its effectiveness) of His power, Ephesians 3:7.

The context of the passage above begins with the ministerial gift available to apostles, preachers, and teachers. As spiritual leaders bestow the gift of God’s grace upon their followers, lives are slowly changed. While some individuals are transformed over night, most experience a gradual evolution into a new creation in Christ Jesus. Perhaps, the apostle Paul credits revived souls to the exercise of God’s power working behind the scenes. The catalyst of this spiritual change is fuel by the Holy Spirit, aka, the Holy Ghost.

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides], Ephesians 6:10.

Three chapters later, the apostle Paul reveals why spiritual exercise is necessary. As Paul unveils the spiritual dimension, you will find oppressive authority exerted by governments, master spirits who control world leaders, and spiritual forces of wickedness seeking to cause havoc in this supernatural realm. Without the exercise of God’s power, defeat and destruction is likely. However, as Christians begin to put on the armor of God, Ephesians 6:10-18, with a layer of prayer, the exercise of God’s power will propel you to victory in the end.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Lose Your Edge to be Great

I was first introduced to the concept of losing your edge while watching the film Top Gun. The context of this expression occurs following an intense encounter with bogeys over the ocean. Cougar, the top pilot on the ship requests a private meeting with his Commanding Officer. Shaken up by this close call, Cougar lost his edge and then turns in his wings so he can return to be home with his newborn child. Cougar’s resignation opens the door for Maverick played by Tom Cruise to attend the Top Gun school with co-pilot Goose.

For thus says the Lord, When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you and keep My good promise to you, causing you to return to this place. 11 For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome. 12 Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to Me, and I will hear and heed you. 13 Then you will seek Me, inquire for, and require Me [as a vital necessity] and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart, Jeremiah 29:10-13.

Sixteen years later, American rock band LCD Soundsystem released their single “Losing My Edge”. The lyrics of this song refer to younger kids, a new generation who are about to take your place. Whenever an individual loses their confidence, the swagger that individuals once possess quickly vanishes. However, if another person comes along out of nowhere to challenge your position, this should inspire you to greatness. If you lose your edge to be great, apathy and complacency will soon take its place.

And He Who searches the hearts of men knows what is in the mind of the [Holy] Spirit [what His intent is], because the Spirit intercedes and pleads [before God] in behalf of the saints according to and in harmony with God’s will. 28 We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose, Romans 8:27-28.

In a first century letter to the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul provides a message of hope for those of you filled with doubt. The difference between confidence and doubt is night and day. A confident golfer will put a tee in the ground, take a practice swing and drive a tee shot straight down the middle of a fairway. A golfer consumed with doubt will likely block a tee shot out of bound or snap hook it into a nearby hazard. When Christians start accepting, believing and claiming the promises in the Bible, an ordinary day is replaced by answered prayers and miracles. Therefore, whenever you lose your edge to be great, place your trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6, so that confidence can be regained.

by Jay Mankus

Progressively Acquainted with Christ

The Progressive Corporation was founded in 1937 and has grown to one of the largest providers of car insurance in the United States. Whether it’s all the commercials using Flo as its’ spokesperson or the new sign guy, television advertisements have increased business national wide. The term progressive refers to developing gradually, proceeding step by step. Progressivism in the United States is a political philosophy and reform movement designed to alter the Constitution to keep up with the times.

Now as you abound and excel and are at the front in everything—in faith, in expressing yourselves, in knowledge, in all zeal, and in your love for us—[see to it that you come to the front now and] abound and excel in this gracious work [of almsgiving] also. I give this not as an order [to dictate to you], but to prove, by [pointing out] the zeal of others, the sincerity of your [own] love also, 2 Corinthians 8:7-8.

In a letter to the Corinthian Church, the apostle Paul uses progressive in the context of a personal relationship with God. As individuals begin to open the Bible, learn how to pray and open their hearts to worship, this acquaintance grows. As concepts like grace begin to be introduced, a bond is formed with an invisible being, As crazy as this might seem to the un-churched, Christians seek a progressive acquaintance with God.

For you are becoming progressively acquainted with and recognizing more strongly and clearly the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (His kindness, His gracious generosity, His undeserved favor and spiritual blessing), [in] that though He was [so very] rich, yet for your sakes He became [so very] poor, in order that by His poverty you might become enriched (abundantly supplied), 2 Corinthians 8:9.

If you follow the example of Jesus detailed in Mark 1:35, the Lord should be your first priority. Proceeding step by step in faith, a progressive acquaintance is formed. Instead of a casual, on today off tomorrow relationship, a permanent meaningful tie develops. As prayers are answered and miracles seen, a fire ignites within souls to want more and more. Thus, don’t let the Coronavirus sever your connection with God. Instead find time in your schedule daily so that you are progressively acquainted with Christ.

by Jay Mankus

PERMA

The technical term PERMA is an acronym for a model of well-being put forth by Martin Seligman. Seligman is considered a pioneer in in the field of positive psychology. PERMA consists of five important building blocks of well-being and happiness. The P stands for positive emotions, E for engagement, R for relationships, M for mission and A for accomplishments. This model was designed to help those individuals who have experienced post traumatic stress disorder and want to overcome this through a major comeback mentally.

You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore, Psalm 16:11.

The Bible compliments the PERMA model through a series of promises. Whenever you are on the road to recovery, doubt is one of the greatest obstacles, filling your mind with unbelief. Following a grueling injury while running a cross country race in high school, my doctors weren’t optimistic of me making a full recovery. After seeing the x-rays of my torn tendons, I was told that I would never run again, a permanent screw would have to be placed into my ankle, and I’d probably walk with a limp the rest of my life.

If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love. 11 I have told you these things, that My joy and delight may be in you, and that your joy and gladness may be of full measure and complete and overflowing, John 15:10-11.

At this time as a 16 year old, I wasn’t aware of the power of prayer. The day before my operation I was mobbed by Christian friends who laid hands on me, praying for a successful surgery. Twenty four hours later, the chief surgeon at Thomas Jefferson Hospital was amazed, explaining this procedure to me after I woke up. Like a skeptic who became open to the power of God, my ankle magically popped into place after twisting it back into where it belonged. Although I never heard of PERMA until listening to a recent sermon, I understood the importance of removing doubt from your mind before you pray, Matthew 21:19-22. May prayer be your PERMA.

by Jay Mankus

Understanding Demonic Oppression

When the Coronavirus began to spread throughout the United States back in March of 2020, relatively unknown doctors became instant celebrities. While Dr. Anthony Fauci received most of the attention as the media’s darling, Dr. Oz was a regular guest panelist on cable news and talk radio. Depending upon their area of expertise or practice, these physicians tried to educate the general public on understanding the dangers of COVID-19. Although their advice varied, I learned the best way to stay healthy involved getting 7-8 hours of sleep and staying hydrated daily.

And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom last? For you say that I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub. 19 Now if I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub, with whose help and by whom do your sons drive them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.20 But if I drive out the demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has [already] come upon you, Luke 11:18-20.

When it comes to understanding demonic oppression, one of the best sources comes from a first century doctor named Luke. Beside his daily practice, this man sought to become a historian. As Luke began to hear about and see miracles that defied science, eagerness to record these details inspired two books. During a personal account with Jesus, Luke details a powerful spirit referred to as the strongman. Within this parable, Jesus suggests that a person freed from demonic oppression is not completely safe, Rather, if these individuals are careless, reverting back to former sinful practices, demons can return with more powerful tormenting spirits.

When the strong man, fully armed, [from his courtyard] guards his own dwelling, his belongings are undisturbed [his property is at peace and is secure]. But when one stronger than he attacks him and conquers him, he robs him of his whole armor on which he had relied and divides up and distributes all his goods as plunder (spoil). 23 He who is not with Me [siding and believing with Me] is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me [engage in My interest], scatters. 24 When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. 25 And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. 26 And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first, Luke 11:21-26.

In a chapter to the Church at Rome, Paul reveals his own demonic oppression, experiencing periods where he was unable to control his body, Romans 7:15-18. This baffling ordeal left Paul scratching his head, unable to break free from sinful desires. Beside Galatians 5:16-18, Romans 8:5-8 highlights an external battle that occurs within everyone’s soul. While many try a form of teetotalism, the practice of complete abstinence, Jesus reveals that certain spirits can only be removed via prayer, Mark 9:26-29. Although the book definition of demonic oppression is the work of evil spiritual forces that urge us to sin, deny God’s word, feel spiritually dead, and to be in bondage, few see this for what it is, Ephesians 6:12. While I’m not an expert on this topic, there is a lot more to life’s decisions than the “devil made me do it.” Thus, further study the Bible if you want to fully understand demonic oppression.

by Jay Mankus

I Want Something More Than a Message

Depending upon the leader, pastor or speaker at your church, you may or may not be inspired by a sermon. The book definition of inspiration is the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something. Thus, as you sit in chairs, pews or watch socially distant at home, the message will move you to act, put you to sleep or cause you to reflect upon a certain aspect of your life. According to an individual who attended the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus urged his followers to put his words into action via practice.

So everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them [obeying them] will be like a sensible (prudent, practical, wise) man who built his house upon the rock. 25 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a stupid (foolish) man who built his house upon the sand. 27 And the rain fell and the floods came and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great and complete was the fall of it. When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, Matthew 7:24-28.

After being an eye witness of another miracle by Jesus, the disciples were sent by boat to cross the Sea of Galilee to Capernaum. However, during the night a squall churned up the waves, making it nearly impossible to cross. While this storm was brewing, Jesus decided to take a shortcut, walking across this body of water. Despite their close relationship with Jesus, Peter was the only disciple who wanted something more than just a message. Perhaps motivated by the feeding of the 5000, Peter took a step of faith.

Then He directed the disciples to get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent away the crowds. 23 And after He had dismissed the multitudes, He went up into the hills by Himself to pray. When it was evening, He was still there alone. 24 But the boat was by this time out on the sea, many furlongs [a furlong is one-eighth of a mile] distant from the land, beaten and tossed by the waves, for the wind was against them. 25 And in the fourth watch [between 3:00—6:00 a.m.] of the night, Jesus came to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were terrified and said, It is a ghost! And they screamed out with fright. 27 But instantly He spoke to them, saying, Take courage! I Am! Stop being afraid! 28 And Peter answered Him, Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. 29 He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. 30 But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]! – Matthew 14:22-30

Once outside the boat, Peter began to actually walk, stepping over each incoming wave. According to Matthew, a strong gust of wind caused Peter to become afraid. This fear took Peter’s eyes off of Jesus, turning his attention toward his circumstance, the storm. Subsequently, Peter began to sink beneath the crashing waves. Although Peter’s faith failed, he was the only disciple willing to get out of the boat. While no one likes to be embarrassed, if you want something more than just a message, practicing your faith means be willing to risk failure daily.

by Jay Mankus

H.O.P.E.

Dr. Joseph Klimek came to the conclusion at some point during his practice that there are certain things that happen on earth which science can’t explain. These unknown questions was the motivating force behind the founding of the Hartford Office of Paranormal Exploration. The presence of paranormal activity today shouldn’t be a surprise as the Bible contains 25 accounts of Jesus casting out a demon or demons. Meanwhile, the original term used to describe God’s Spirit in the Bible is Holy Ghost.

There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book, John 20:30.

During a recent episode of Unsolved Mysteries, HOPE, the Hartford Office of Paranormal Exploration was featured when a local woman claimed to be possessed by a demon. After interviewing each member of this team, parts of a live exorcism are shown. Although the identity of this possessed woman is withheld, she claims that the exorcism forced this demonic entity to leave her body. Unfortunately, talking about the spiritual realm in many circles today will result in others labeling you as crazy, insane or strange.

But these are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [through Who He is], John 20:31.

The author of the Gospel of John makes an interesting observation. At the conclusion of his book, John highlights that many of the miracles performed by Jesus are purposively omitted from the Bible. In his final sentence, John 21:25, if all the miracles performed by Jesus during his 3 year ministry were recorded in a book, libraries would not have enough space for all of these volumes. Thus, if you want to summarize Jesus’ impact on the blind, poor, and the sick, He gave hope to the hopeless.

by Jay Mankus

Removing the Debris that’s Blocking Your Path of Faith

Last week Hurricane Isaias’ path went through the state of Delaware. Although Isaias was downgraded to a tropical system by the time it struck Delaware, this storm spawned a record breaking tornado. Leaving a path of destruction for more than 29 miles, I left for work on Tuesday unaware of what I would face. While my commute normally takes a little over 30 minutes, a closed bridge and 3 other detours led to a 90 minute ordeal.

Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it. 39 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! – John 11:38-39

At one point when I realized I would be a minimum of 30 minutes late, I thought about turning around to go home. Yet, with my co-worker on vacation, I pressed on. Since all the traffic lights in Middletown were out, police officers were directing traffic, unable to warn drivers of less traveled roads also blocked by fallen trees. Since my only other option was backed up for several miles, I drove 10 miles out of the way to finally arrive.

Jesus said to her, Did I not tell you and 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 11:40-42.

In the passage above, Jesus is consoling two sisters whose brother Lazarus passed away. Angry at Jesus for not arriving earlier to heal her brother, Martha’s faith is wavering. During a prior visit, Jesus said that these women would see the glory of God. Lazarus’ death served as a boulder, blocking Martha’s path of faith. Unable to remove this stone by herself, Martha gathered family and friends so that Jesus could enter Lazarus’ tomb. Before this day was over, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, opening Martha’s eyes to the possibilities when faith is not blocked. May this story inspire you to remove any stone currently blocking your path to belief.

by Jay Mankus

Who is Chasing Who?

The book definition of chase is to pursue in order to catch or catch up with. Children grow up chasing neighbors in games like Hide-n-Go Seek or tag. After going through puberty, teenagers begin chasing members of the opposite sex, hoping to find true love. Upon graduating from high school, careers, dreams and goals are laid out with aspirations to find success. Along the way, God comes into the picture, planting people, road blocks and spiritual seeds into our lives. However, two first century encounters reveal the true nature of God via Jesus who chases lost souls.

The Samaritan woman said to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan [and a] woman, for a drink?—For the Jews have nothing to do with the Samaritans— 10 Jesus answered her, If you had only known and had recognized God’s gift and Who this is that is saying to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him [instead] and He would have given you living water, John 4:9-10.

The first begins in the city of Samaria, often bypassed by Jews. When you dig into the Jewish culture, woman and children are treated with little respect. Jewish father’s were only allowed to speak to their daughter’s in public, not even their wives. Feeling stifled with this man made rule, Jesus places himself at a well in the middle of the day, waiting to minister to those who would come. Jesus uses this opportunity to introduce the concept of living water. This topic of conversation creates a spiritual thirst in a woman who spent a lifetime chasing after love without finding it.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost, ” Luke 19:7-10.

During a visit to Jericho, another city with a tarnished past, Jesus reaches out to one of the most hated individuals in town. A tax collector name Zacchaeus treats Jesus’ like a rock star, hoping to get his attention. Hearing stories of healings, miracles and his vast wisdom, Zacchaeus was eager to ask Jesus a number of unanswered questions about life. Moved by the presence and words of Jesus, Zacchaeus is convicted to get right with God. At the end of this conversation, a first century doctor unveils Jesus purpose for coming, “to seek and to save the lost.” While you may not be currently running after God, Jesus is chasing after you, seeing great potential within. As soon as individuals come to their senses, the lost get found.

by Jay Mankus

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