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Don’t Give Sin the Attention it Desires

As someone who’s life revolves around sports, the best way I can describe sin is like experiencing a bad losing streak. Sometimes you can try so hard to stop something from happening that your mind gives up before you achieve your desired outcome. Subsequently, you find yourself in bondage, held captive by an invisible force that makes you do the opposite of what you really want, Romans 7:15-16.

In the spring, when kings go forth to battle, David sent Joab with his servants and all Israel, and they ravaged the Ammonites [country] and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem. One evening David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, when from there he saw a woman bathing; and she was very lovely to behold, 2 Samuel 11:1-2.

Sin has a way of casting spells on weak individuals, distracting them from the way out of the mess they’ve created, 1 Corinthians 10:13. In the passage above, David was tired, didn’t feel like going to work so he took the entire spring off. After a few days, David got bored, talking an evening stroll on top of his castle. Instead of being rejuvenated from rest and relaxation, a second glance at Bathsheba caused David to give sin the attention it desired.

But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:14-15.

Perhaps, speaking from personally experience, the earthly brother of Jesus writes about the powerful force known as temptation. When wandering eyes stray from the cross of Jesus toward earthly pleasures, you open the door from sin to come into your life. If enticement, lust and passions are allowed to stick around, sin will take you further than you ever imagined or wanted. Newspaper archives is filled by shocking stories from people of faith who gave sin the attention it desired. This is why we should flee sin, James 4:6-8, while there is time to come to our senses to escape sin’s grasp.

by Jay Mankus

A Request for Protection to Save Us from Ourselves

Temptation and trials tend to co-exist, going hand and hand throughout life. Depending upon your own faith journey, most people usually wait until temptation arrives before prayers begin to flow. To the spiritually inexperienced and young, the Lord’s Prayer provides a guide for protection. This simple outline serves as a point of reference when Satan turns up the heat, Job 1:10-12 or when you begin to lose control of your earthly desires.

And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their reckless and willful sins, leaving them, letting them go, and giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses, Matthew 6:13-15.

The earthly brother of Jesus clears up any confusion over who is to blame for temptation. According to James, God allows temptation to occur, but is not the source of it. When a trial enters your life, Satan attacks your sinful nature using evil to force some sort of compromise. When your body becomes weak and vulnerable, this is where prayer requests for protection are essential. Job prepared for his own trials by using prayer to establish a hedge of protection to avoid self-destruction from sinful desires.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

According to James, enticement, lust and passions dictate what your spiritual pulses will is. While wondering thoughts are the root of this spiritual problem, acting upon these is when sin is conceived. Thus, before you self destruct by allowing an addiction or bad habit rule your life, lean on prayer to turn back evil. The moment you develop this spiritual discipline, prayer can save you from yourself when temptation begins.

by Jay Mankus

Conjugal Rights

From time to time, I will come across foreign concepts when I study the Bible. While studying a chapter written by the apostle Paul, one translation uses the term conjugal rights. Conjugal refers to marriage and the relationship of a married couple. The rights in this context applies to sexual relations, regarded as exercisable in law by each partner in the covenant of marriage. According to the beginning of chapter 7, the Corinthian Church wrote Paul a letter wanting to know what Christian’s should believe about relationships, remaining single and marriage.

But because of the temptation to impurity and to avoid immorality, let each [man] have his own wife and let each [woman] have her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights (goodwill, kindness, and what is due her as his wife), and likewise the wife to her husband, 1 Corinthians 7:2-3.

While this chapter in the Bible isn’t R rated like the Song of Solomon, Paul does go into graphic details. Conjugal rights includes goodness, kindness and loving spouses as Christ loved the church. This final call to love serves two purposes. The first is designed to live out your faith when you are with your soul mate. The second is a safe guard against controlling your spouse by using sex as a form of manipulation. Paul reminds couples that partners don’t have exclusive authority over their mate’s body. Rather, part of making vows to become one includes marital rights.

For the wife does not have [exclusive] authority and control over her own body, but the husband [has his rights]; likewise also the husband does not have [exclusive] authority and control over his body, but the wife [has her rights]. Do not refuse and deprive and defraud each other [of your due marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves unhindered to prayer. But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you [to sin] through your lack of restraint of sexual desire, 1 Corinthians 7:4-5.

While there may be exceptions to abstaining from sex for a mutually agreed upon time, Paul is clear about the dangers. When a communication gap occurs, often due to anger, Ephesians 4:26-27, the Devil has a way of ruining relationships. When you add this factor to a growing number of Christians addicted to pornography, temptation is awaiting and lurking around every corner of the internet, social media and television. In view of this dark reality, offering your spouse conjugal and marital rights is essential to save the institution of marriage in America.

by Jay Mankus

Unfinished

Every once in a while, I will get ahead of myself. Instead of finishing strong, I will celebrate too early, before an outcome has been determined. This premature response often causes individuals to take their foot of the gas, coasting the final portion of a contest, day or game. Whether arrogance, overconfidence or pride is to blame, victory tends to slip out of your hands as you try to run out the clock.

For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, Hebrews 6:4-5.

The author of Hebrews writes about a similar mindset, Christians who want to fast forward to heaven. Although a specific person is not mentioned, it appears that first century converts from Judaism to Christianity became complacent. Instead of growing closer to God day after day, spiritual exercise was replaced by a casual faith. One of Jesus’ disciples refers to this condition as a lukewarm spirit in the first century.

If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—[it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace, Hebrews 6:6.

Those who allow this trend to continue end up an unfinished product, not fulfilling God’s calling, plan or will. The words used in the passage above imply a stubborn heart has resulted in a lack of urgency. Like a scene from the 1993 film Groundhog Day, souls keep falling prey to temptation, committing sins over and over again. If want to break free from this addictive pattern, it’s time to invite Jesus to become the Lord of your life so that unfinished areas are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Rebounding Like a Boomerang

The oldest surviving Australian boomerangs come from a cache found in a peat bog in the Wyrie Swamp of South Australia. Boomerangs date back several thousand years to some of the earliest Aboriginal tribes of Australia. Boomerangs had several initial uses such as hunting weapons, percussive musical instruments, fire-starters and decoys for hunting waterfowl. When thrown with a high spin, the boomerang flies in a curved manner rather than in a straight line. When thrown correctly, boomerangs return to its starting point.

And David says, Let their table (their feasting, banqueting) become a snare and a trap, a pitfall and a just retribution [rebounding like a boomerang upon them]; Romans 11:9.

King David suggests that God allows individuals to stumble and fail. Whenever you experience failure, there are consequences. For example, if you reap what you sow, seeds of doubt, envy or hatred can boomerang back upon you. This is the retribution referred to in the passage above. Addiction, bad habits and poor choices can leave long lasting effects. Yet, humility opens the door for repentance. When individuals learn from their errors, mistakes and sin, faith can rebound like a boomerang.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:8-9.

Perhaps, this explains why the apostle Paul urges believers against giving up. Although your life may be currently falling apart, starting to sow spiritual seeds can turn your life around. Instead of giving into hopelessness, God is not done with you yet. To those who persevere, rising from the ashes of despair is possible with the help of the Holy Spirit. Do not lost heart as Spring is right around the corner. May this blog inspire you to rebound like a boomerang. With God, anything is possible, even a faith in desperate need of renewal and revival.

by Jay Mankus

Perhaps It’s Time to Sober Up?

I have what medical professionals refer to as an addictive personality. An addictive personality is a hypothesized set of personality traits that make an individual predisposed to developing addictions. I can’t just have one drink; everything I do is to the extreme. Whether it’s playing golf every day in high school, running 6 miles for fun in college or playing sand volleyball up to 8 hours a day each summer that I lived in Ohio, my motto for life is all or nothing. This aspect of my DNA puts me at risk of becoming an alcoholic.

Wine is a mocker, strong drink a riotous brawler; and whoever errs or reels because of it is not wise, Proverbs 20:1.

When it comes to alcohol, I was a quick learner. Sure, there was a temptation in college to act cool by drinking. Yet. after one semester of partying, I grew out of this stage by sobering up. While I still went clubbing along the Flats in Cleveland, Ohio each summer, I usually went as the designated driver. From time to time, I let my guard down by drinking to excess. Following a severe hangover that last 2 days and an alcohol poisoning scare at a wedding reception, my drinking days ended.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour. Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same (identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world, 1 Peter 5:8-9.

The Bible uses sober in a different context. While sober can refer to the practice of abstinence, one of Jesus’ disciples writes about becoming alert, clear-headed and spiritually awake. In this context, alcohol isn’t the enemy. Rather, the Devil possesses angelic powers, roaming the earth like a predator eager to pounce on the unprepared. Although quitting drinking can be extremely difficult, demonic influences and oppression seek to keep the powerless addicted. In view of this, it’s to sober up by joining Jesus, teaming up through a personal relationship so that freedom and victory is achieved.

by Jay Mankus

Do Not Miss Your Moment

The best part of any new year is that you have a clean slate, a fresh start. As the 20’s commence on January 1st, the possibilities of what may happen are limitless. Your first day, meal, pay check, vacation, etc. However, when you wake up for the first time, make sure that you don’t miss your moment, Ephesians 2:10, what God has prepared in advance for you to do this year.

When Jesus raised Himself up, He said to her, Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you? 11 She answered, No one, Lord! And Jesus said, I do not condemn you either. Go on your way and from now on sin no more, John 8:10-11.

One of the things that keeps individuals from reaching their full potential are addictions, bad habits and disobedient acts. Unless conviction elicits a sense of urgency, most people will tarry on with a mediocre life, void of any major accomplishments, dreams or goals fulfilled. The danger of sin is that spiritual separation will prevent you from recognizing God’s will for your life, distracted by temporary pleasures on earth.

For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion? – Esther 4:14

In the case of Esther, God used her cousin Mordecai to help her see why God enabled her to became queen. This wasn’t just a coincidence, Esther’s moment on earth had arrived to be a vessel for God. Apparently, the pressure got to Esther, asking Mordecai and as many Jews as possible to fast and pray for her. When you don’t think you can fulfill God’s will, ask other believers to pray for you so that you don’t miss your moment to shine.

by Jay Mankus

Hungry Eyes

The inspiration behind Eric Carmen’s song Hungry Eyes was simple, getting a new recording contract. Since Hungry Eyes was a song on Carmen’s demo reel, this song was first released in 1987 with little expectation for success. Meanwhile, Millennium Records, the soundtrack for Dirty Dancing, was looking for one more song to complete its project. Thirty two million copies later, Hungry Eyes lives on today as a classic song which reached as high as #4 on the Billboard Top 100 Chart.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness, Matthew 6:22-23.

Despite the success of this song, Jesus warns a first century crowd about the dangers of developing hungry eyes. Jesus uses the analogy of light and darkness to illustrate how human eyes serve as the lamp of your body. Those who focus their attention on the good, light, will be blessed. Unfortunately, anyone who allows lust to corrupt their eyes, opens the door, welcoming evil each time people indulge their sinful nature.

Do not love or cherish the world or the things that are in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh [craving for sensual gratification] and the lust of the eyes [greedy longings of the mind] and the pride of life [assurance in one’s own resources or in the stability of earthly things]—these do not come from the Father but are from the world [itself], 1 John 2:15-16.

According to one of Jesus’ disciples, hungry eyes are a byproduct of love for the world. As individuals taste forbidden fruit by crossing the boundaries set in the Bible, a craving for sensual gratification is conceived. When bad habits such as masturbation, pornographic and sexual immorality linger without purging these sinful tendencies from your life, hungry eyes take over, fueled by a lust for more. If today’s blog finds you in bondage, held captive by sin, ask the Lord for an escape route, 1 Corinthians 10:13, to overcome the spiritual condition known as hungry eyes.

by Jay Mankus

The Glitch that Makes You Great

A glitch is defined as an irregularity or malfunction that suddenly appears. Synonyms include breakdown, defect and flaws that are often noticeable. When any type of glitch is revealed within a human being, embarrassment, humility and a loss in self-esteem follow. If this glitch becomes a major weakness in your life, how can this glitch become a strength?

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted, 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Within a letter written to members of the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul unveils a secret scar. It’s unclear whether this is an addiction, chronic illness or some form of demonic oppression. Whatever the reason, this condition hampered Paul’s ability to function daily. While you may not consider this imperfection a glitch, Paul is forced to rely on God to get through each day.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

In the first century, there was only one spiritual leader who matched Paul’s charisma. Acts 18:24 mentions Apollos, described as cultured, eloquent and well versed. Other passages in the New Testament suggest that Apollos became a great preacher, far superior than Paul. This inferiority complex led Paul to turn his attention toward writing. While Apollos’ sermons have been forgotten, Paul’s words in his letters live on in the pages of the Bible.

So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:10.

Growing up in New Jersey, stuttering became my glitch. While the apostle Paul endured a thorn in his flesh, I battled a silent tongue. Although my heart and mind had plenty of things that I wanted to express, nothing coherent came out of my mouth. This 21 year struggle turned my attention to writing, developing a love and passion for this new hobby. If it wasn’t for my own glitch, stuttering, this blog wouldn’t exist. Thus, this is how the Lord transformed my glitch from a weakness into a strength. May the power of the Holy Spirit speak so your heart to help you see the glitch that makes you great in God’s eyes.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming Futile Thoughts

Futile is defined as a pointless effort, occurring when individuals are incapable of producing any useful result. Synonyms include fruitless, ineffective, of no use, vain and worthless. After reading the passage below, I began to wonder, what causes sharp minds to become dull and futile?

Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools [professing to be smart, they made simpletons of themselves], Romans 1:21-22.

A letter written to the church of Galatia illuminates how thoughts become futile. The apostle Paul uses the expression clear and obvious when referencing fleshly acts and practices in Galatians 5:19. A list of these ungodly acts follow in verses 20-21. At the end of these traits, Paul suggests that those who live according to their sinful nature will not inherit eternal life, sliding further and further away from God with each indulgence.

If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit we have our life in God, let us go forward walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit,] Galatians 5:25.

So if you find yourself in this unfortunate state, how do you reverse this trend? Where do you turn or what can be done to become fruitful and useful once again? At the end of Galatians 5, Paul introduces the concept of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit. Instead of gratifying sinful desires, obedience to the fruits of the Holy Spirit brings life. As soon as Christians understand their obligation to God’s Spirit, Romans 8:13, futile thoughts can be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t easy, but can be done with prayer and fasting along the way.

by Jay Mankus

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