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Tag Archives: parable

When the Spiritual Dimension Changes

Jesus uses a parable to illustrate the spiritual dimension in John 10:1-10. Jesus lays out a series of characters from a shepherd, a thief and a watchman. Eluding to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Jesus urges his audience of the need for sheep to know the voice of their shepherd. When the spiritual dimension changes, Satan uses his angel like abilities as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, seeking to steal your hope, kill your dreams and destroy your life.

Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. 26 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down, Ephesians 4:25-26.

The apostle Paul takes a more practical approach to the spiritual dimension. While Jesus uses the analogy of a shepherd leading his sheep into a pen, Paul focuses on how individuals give the Devil opportunities to enter their life by the choices that you make. Anytime someone does not resolve their issue with a neighbor or spouse before the sunsets, this opens the door for the spiritual dimension to create havoc in your life.

Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. 28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need, Ephesians 4:27-28.

Whenever anger is allowed to fester overnight, roots of bitterness are conceived within human hearts. Subsequently, when the sun rises on a new day, this pent up frustration brews until the spiritual dimension changes. It only takes one conflict, hardship or trial for what’s inside of a trouble soul to be unleashed upon an innocent victim. This is exactly why Paul warns Christians against giving the Devil a foothold, a crack to come crashing through an opened door to ruin another life.

by Jay Mankus

Escaping the Snares of the Devil

One of the motivating forces for me to become a Bible Teacher was to warn high school students of the mistakes that I made when I was their age. Instead of using the expression of escaping the snares of the Devil, I regularly shared stories from my own life. Instead of giving students a license to sin by saying everybody does it, I revealed how you can overcome temptation as well as what happened when I stumbled and fell spiritually.

He must correct his opponents with courtesy and gentleness, in the hope that God may grant that they will repent and come to know the Truth [that they will perceive and recognize and become accurately acquainted with and acknowledge it], 26 And that they may come to their senses [and] escape out of the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him, [henceforth] to do His [God’s] will, 2 Timothy 2:25-26.

One of the requested stories that I shared with every class was my seat belt story. This parable illustrated what happens when you’re focused on God and when you’re not. I spent my first summer as a college student working as a Camp Counselor for a day camp five days a week. Over Thanksgiving break we had a camp reunion at a banquet hall. Before leaving, one of my counselors in training asked me for a ride home. This is where the story gets good.

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 [[f]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 ([g]identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world, 1 Peter 5:8-9.

The Devil goes fishing every day, throwing out bait laced with addiction, bad habits and cravings. Once you take a bite, it’s only a matter of time before the Devil has you hooked. As for the ride home, this girl lived in a house with a long driveway. When I reached the back door, she said that her seat belt was stuck. Without a thought, I reached over to unlock her belt. Based upon the look on her face, I realized on my ride home this was just a ploy for me to kiss her. When your mind is focused on God, choosing the way out of temptation is unveiled, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

by Jay Mankus

The Mind of a Murderer

The Investigation Discovery Channel began airing in 1996.  Twenty years later, the ID channel has inspired a series of programming based upon finding the killer of unsolved cases.  Recent shows like Snapped examines the mind of a murderer.  This phenomena has influenced Headline News to develop the Making of a Murderer to add to their late night murder mysteries.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

According to the Bible, a murder ruined the earth’s first family as jealousy led the oldest son Cain to kill his younger brother Able.  In the earliest days on earth, God walked and talked with Adam and Eve.  Apparently, God approached Cain before this act of murder occurred.  Like a parent warning their child, God warned Cain of his jealous heart, seeing his displeasure and frustration.  Unfortunately, the thought of getting rid of his brother had already conceived, only a matter of time before these thoughts inspired an evil action.

Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will have respect for him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘This [man] is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him, Luke 20:13-15a.

During a first century parable, Jesus reveals the mind of a murderer.  A group of tenants thought if they killed the owner’s only son, these men would be in line to receive his inheritance.  This flawed decision did not take into account one obvious fact: God is all-knowing and sees every deed committed by human beings.  While some may appear to get away with a crime or murder, sooner or later individuals will be brought to justice either on earth or in the afterlife.

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever murders shall be guilty before the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be guilty before the court; and whoever speaks [contemptuously and insultingly] to his brother, Raca (You empty-headed idiot)!’ shall be guilty before the supreme court (Sanhedrin); and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fiery hell, Matthew 5:21-22. 

Jesus expounds upon this concept in his Sermon on the Mount.  In the passage above, Jesus compares hatred with murder.  Hatred is an emotion that influences how you act.  The more people allow anger to dwell and grow within them, human beings will begin to act, behave and do things out of the ordinary.  Under extreme conditions, the mind of a murderer becomes more than a thought.  In view of this danger, it’s essential to take every thought captive by making them obedient to Christ.  This practice can reverse evil desires implanted by the Devil.

by Jay Mankus

 

From Spiritual Blindness to Humility

Spiritual blindness is a grievous condition experienced by those who do not believe in God, Jesus Christ, and His Word, the Bible. This state is often brought on by a popular view that God is all loving, preventing this spiritual being from sending human beings to hell. Spiritual blindness can also be contracted by the self-righteous. This occurs when religious individuals begin to compare themselves to less spiritual people. This comparison elevates their own self-esteem while lulling souls into a false sense of security.

He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [posing outwardly as upright and in right standing with God], and who viewed others with contempt: Luke 18:9.

During the first century, Jesus attempted to expose the spiritual blindness of religious leaders by using a parable.  This analogy compared one outstanding citizen, a Pharisee with a stellar reputation to a tax collector, the most corrupt and dishonest occupations at the time.  Jesus made his point by noticing the prayer habits of these two men.  This so called good guy exalted himself without any acknowledgement, gratitude or praise for the Lord above.  Meanwhile, the social misfit, hated by society, did not feel worthy to look up to heaven.  Rather, this tax collector beat his chest, disgusted by the spiritual condition of his soul.

The Pharisee stood [ostentatiously] and began praying to himself [in a self-righteous way, saying]: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—swindlers, unjust (dishonest), adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even raise his eyes toward heaven, but was striking his chest [in humility and repentance], saying, ‘God, be merciful and gracious to me, the [especially wicked] sinner [that I am]!’– Luke 18:11-13.

Life is full of cycles. phases and transitional periods.  During these ups and downs, God humbles the proud and lifts up the meek.  The hardest part of these emotional experiences is remembering where you came from.  In the darkest days of Job’s trials, this broken man once said, “from ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”  This confession reflects upon God creating Adam out of the dust only to return to the ground following his death.  When human beings recognize the frailty of life, a mist that appears for a while then quickly vanishes, this should move the spiritually blind to humility.  May this painful reality prompt acts of faith to get your life in order this year.

by Jay Mankus

The Injustice of Righteousness

Righteousness is a guiding virtue, a moral compass which leads individuals to a higher calling.  Although hiccups and slip ups will occur, God’s grace will wipe away the stains of sin.  Unfortunately, when the day of judgment comes, the Bible suggests there will be more souls in hell than heaven.  Subsequently, those standing outside the pearly gates will likely complain about the injustice of righteousness.

Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them, Mark 4:25.

Life on earth is just as unfair as the afterlife.  According to Jesus, the wealthy will continue to have while what little the poor possesses will be taken away.  This is one of those passages of the Bible which leaves more questions than answers.  The outsiders, anyone who does not believe in Jesus, John 14:6, and progressives won’t be pleased by Jesus’ comment.  The modern day Robinhood’s might consider this teaching to be an injustice of righteousness.

He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything, Mark 4:34.

Being left out of anything isn’t a pleasant feeling.  Whether its high school, work or a social network, everyone has experienced being the odd person out.  Denial, exclusion and rejection are forms of trials meant to toughen you up, James 1:2-4.  Nonetheless, you can’t change the facts inside of God’s Word.  In view of these truths, chose life so when your time is up, there will be no one else to blame, Deuteronomy 30:15-18.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Escaping the Demons of Your Past

And Jesus said to them, “This kind of demon cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.” – Mark 9:29

Have you ever asked someone a question who in their response tried to answer like they were an expert but in the back of your mind you realized this individual doesn’t have a clue?  Well, Jesus’ disciples, particularly Simon Peter gave off this vibe.  However, one day during an unusual encounter, Peter met his match, unable to help a desperate soul escape the demons of his past.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”- Matthew 12:43-45

In the passage above, its hard to distinguish if Jesus is referring to an actual event or merely using a parable to prove a point.  Nonetheless, this image does apply to anyone who has ever battled some sort of addiction.  Numerous times people say they want to stop their bad habit, yet a mysterious force places each on the verge of temptation day after day.  Thus, whenever you break free of these grips and began to clean up your temple, the human body, demons won’t give up without a fight.  Therefore, its essential to have a game plan to counter demonic oppression.

Answer me quickly, LORD; my spirit fails. Do not hide your face from me or I will be like those who go down to the pit. Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life. – Psalm 143:7-8

While King David faced his own demons, three answers were revealed after the prayer above.  First, David realized the more time he spent reading the Bible, God’s unfailing love would replace the guilt down deep in his heart.  Second, David recognized he couldn’t achieve victory over the demons of his past without initially trusting in the Lord’s power.  Finally, listening to the Holy Spirit for direction and guidance could begin to turn his life around.  If this blog finds you losing to your past, may the words of the Bible lift you up, give you hope and help you escape the demons of your past.

by Jay Mankus

 

Do You Have Faith for 2015?

I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but its important to look ahead as Christmas Day draws near.  For example, if you pray without faith, will God honor your requests?  But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord, James 1″6-7.  In the same way, if you don’t believe in the Holy Spirit’s power to transform your situation, don’t expect great things in 2015.

One of my favorite scenes from a movie occurs in Facing the Giants.  As a football coach questions his reason for remaining at Shiloh High, he encounters a man sent from God.  Speaking in a parable like Jesus, this wise elder sheds light on the secret to success in life.  Whenever a farmer prepares his field annually for the next crop, each expects the Lord to provide rain.  However, if you wait too long before you sow seeds in faith, you can miss the harvest.

Therefore, looking ahead, developing a vision is vital for 2015.  Although no one but God knows what the future holds, what are you passionate about?  What motivates you to get up before the sun rises?  If you’re drawing a blank, don’t worry because you have another 2 weeks to reflect these questions.  As you reach out in prayer to discover an answer, may the Lord fill you with faith for 2015 and beyond.

by Jay Mankus

 

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