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Undoing the Works of the Devil

One of my inspirations to become a youth pastor and high school Bible teacher was to help teenagers avoid the same mistakes that I made when I was their age. Perhaps, this desire was a form of penance to undo the works of the Devil from my younger years. I spent a majority of my adolescence indulging my sinful nature to bring me pleasure. Meanwhile, to those little children who were watching, I set a poor example on numerous occasions.

But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity. And when the woman saw that the tree was good (suitable, pleasant) for food and that it was delightful to look at, and a tree to be desired in order to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she gave some also to her husband, and he ate, Genesis 3:4-6.

One of the comments Jesus made about adults who corrupt innocent children was to tie a millstone around their neck and throw them into the sea to drown. The imagery of this story in the Bible put the fear of God into me. This combined with a reoccurring nightmare about dying as a child set the stage for God to begin to move me away devilish acts. Like most teenagers, I was a slow learner who couldn’t quite put all the sinful habits of my past behind me.

[But] he who commits sin [who practices evildoing] is of the devil [takes his character from the evil one], for the devil has sinned (violated the divine law) from the beginning. The reason the Son of God was made manifest (visible) was to undo (destroy, loosen, and dissolve) the works the devil [has done], 1 John 3:8.

When you do give into that demon on your shoulder whispering evil thoughts into your mind, confession is your best option, James 5:16. This doesn’t mean when a similar urge returns that you’re safe. Rather, one of Jesus’ former disciples compares the Devil to a predator seeking to prey on isolated and weakened Christians, 1 Peter 5:8. If and when addiction or bad habits get the best of you, this is when you need to wrestle with your flesh to break free, Galatians 5:16-18. If you want to undo the works of the devil in your life, your have to put to death that sinful mindset by taking your thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Not That Easy

When I was in high school, one of my teammates committed suicide. Of all the funerals I’ve ever attended, this particular one was the most depressing. I don’t recall the denomination, but I remember the minister asking “if there is a heaven and if there is a God, we hope that Kevin is there?” On this day 35 years ago, I began to realize going to heaven isn’t that easy.

For the time [has arrived] for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will [be] the end of those who do not respect or believe or obey the good news (the Gospel) of God? 18 And if the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the godless and wicked? – 1 Peter 4:17-18

Before Ponzi schemes are revealed, the individual or people behind this scam lived like they could get away from the justice system. If you read the Bible enough and look in the right places, you’ll find out that Bette Midler was correct in her assumption while singing From A Distance. God is watching human beings daily. Based upon those who have had near death experiences, your entire life is replayed on the largest television you’ve ever seen. This nightmare unveils every act you’ve ever committed.

For if we go on deliberately and willingly sinning after once acquiring the knowledge of the Truth, there is no longer any sacrifice left to atone for [our] sins [no further offering to which to look forward]. 27 [There is nothing left for us then] but a kind of awful and fearful prospect and expectation of divine judgment and the fury of burning wrath and indignation which will consume those who put themselves in opposition [to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

With this in mind, the passage above provides more facts to be weary of. When you add this to the apostle Paul’s words in Romans 1:18-20, God gives signs every day of the pending judgment that awaits those who pass away. If you have been introduced to Jesus by a friend, family member, or neighbor, don’t turn a deaf ear. Like the adulterous woman in John 8:10-11, leave your life of sin. While some people just barely get into heaven, don’t waste this opportunity before it’s too late, Luke 16:23-25.

by Jay Mankus

Thankfulness in the Midst of Adversity

The human spirit can handle many things in life.  When knocked down by disappointment, failure or rejection, the hope of a better future enables individuals to get up.  Yet, at some point the psyche can only take so much.  Thus, if a spirit becomes crushed, its difficult to be thankful in the midst of adversity.

The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear? – Proverbs 18:14

The passage above written by King Solomon summarizes 2016 for me up to this point.  Although the start of this year went well, the ending has been like a nightmare that you can’t get out of your head.  While my screen writing project failed to be embraced by Hollywood, a more serious situation developed.  In early August, my youngest son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes that has zapped his energy.  The hardest thing for a parent is wanting to do something to make things better, yet helpless and unable to intervene.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, Philippians 4:6.

The apostle Paul provides direction for those void of a thankful heart.  When you can’t make a difference, the Lord uses prayer as a vehicle for change.  Thus, I am thankful for the life that I have, not the one I want.  Perhaps, circumstances will turn around soon as I concentrate on prayer.  Even so, I can be thankful in the midst of adversity, especially when I consider my marriage of twenty one years with Leanne which I celebrate every Thanksgiving.

by Jay Mankus

The Place of Restless Souls

In Episode 3 of Project Afterlife, a patient goes to a nearby hospital for a routine procedure.  When an infection is found, this surgery turns into a nightmare, leading to an unexpected death.  During a 45 minute period, this man saw a river, separating two worlds.  To his left, restless souls cried out for help.  On his right, peace, joy and love is displayed.  Before facing judgment, relatives wrestled with God until his soul was resurrected through prayer.

I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture, John 10:9.

Near death experiences are nothing new.  However, now books are being replaced by you tubes, pod casts and testimonies of those who died momentarily.  As time seems to stand still, individuals recount vivid encounters of heaven.  In this realm, science is replaced by faith.  Though some may embellish to get attention, too many people have had similar experiences which point to another life after this world is through.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full, John 10:10.

Perhaps reflecting on this present life may provide insight and direction in the future.  Leaders of the past have proclaimed life is what you make it.  To an extent this is true, but this doesn’t explain countless souls who are restless, searching for the meaning to life.  Better to ponder now than after your life is gone.  Therefore, as you meander through good and bad times, ask Jesus to help you find an abundant life, void of restless souls.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Second Chance at Sight

In the 1988 film, Scrooged, Bill Murray is looking for a second chance in life.  Meanwhile, Alfre Woodard, playing Murray’s secretary Grace Cooley, prays for a Christmas miracle.  Inspired by visits from Christmas ghosts of the past, current and future, Murray risks his job by highjacking a live Christmas program to communicate the meaning of Christmas.  In the process, Cooley’s son who hadn’t spoken a word in years, breaks his silence at the conclusion of this live event.

As for me, I’ve received a second chance at sight.  Only a few people were aware of the pain I endured for 2 months this fall.  Unable to bear it any longer, I went to my eye doctor to see if I needed glasses.  Thinking old age was the main culprit, a set of tests revealed that my retinas were swollen, filled with fluids.  As the initial medicine made my condition worse to begin with, the nightmare of not being able to read things like the Bible was a real possibility.  However, 2 weeks later, God has given me a second chance at sight.

Therefore, as you open presents this Christmas season, don’t overlook the most precious gifts of all.  Whether its your senses, friendships or the memories of those who are no longer with you, Christmas is a time of second chances.  A season of forgiveness with the birth of a Savior, Matthew 1:21, who came to give you a new leash on life.  This Christmas, I got a second chance at sight.  As for you, may the power of the Holy Spirit reveal to you what you should be most thankful for.

by Jay Mankus

 

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