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Tag Archives: Passover

A Living Sacrifice

In the context of the Bible, the offering up of a sacrifice is regarded as a divine institution.  The book of Leviticus serves as a handbook for sacrifices.  Essentially, God reveals to Moses the necessary steps to atone for any act of disobedience, error in judgment or mistake that is deemed a transgression against God.  These laws have been passed down from generation to generation so that Jewish believers are able to draw near to God.  When the promised Messiah, Jesus, arrives on the scene in the first century, the tradition of taking animals to the temple to be sacrificed was about to become extinct.  Following his life, death and resurrection, Jesus became the first living sacrifice compared to a perfect lamb of God.

“I say to you, whoever declares openly and confesses Me before men [speaking freely of Me as his Lord], the Son of Man also will declare openly and confess him [as one of His own] before the angels of God. But he who denies Me before men will be denied in the presence of the angels of God, Luke 12:8-9.

The apostle Paul refers to this concept in a letter to the church at Rome.  Instead of dying on a cross, Paul urges first century followers of Christ to present their bodies as a living sacrifice.  The Amplified Version of the Bible provides some clues to what exactly this means.  In quotations, Paul uses the expression “all of yourself.”  This includes your heart, mind and soul.  If you want to do a brief self-evaluation, what actions, behavior and words are setting you apart from the world?  Do people see the love of Jesus within you or have you succumb to peer pressure by conforming to the world?  This is give an overview, a blueprint to start your life long journey as a servant of Christ.

Therefore I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies [dedicating all of yourselves, set apart] as a living sacrifice, holy and well-pleasing to God, which is your rational (logical, intelligent) act of worship. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you], Romans 12:1-2.

Before He was betrayed by Judas during Passover, Jesus identifies an important trait for those who want to become a living sacrifice.  According to Jesus, you must be proud of your relationship with God.  While you still have to walk the walk as a light for Christ, Jesus expects believers to openly declare their faith.  This may be difficult for the shy or timid, but there are ways to share your faith naturally.  Some may do this through diets, fasting and random acts of kindness.  Others will find creative means via social media to express what they believe.  The key to becoming a living sacrifice is making Jesus your Savior and Lord.  May this blog inspire you to emulate this biblical practice.

by Jay Mankus

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Untouched

When my wife and I bought our home, we decided to forego cable initially.  On a good day for reception, 7 channels were available, with 4-5 normally visible.  Our favorite channel was Pax, tuning in weekly to catch Hope Island, a show about a pastor’s life outside of church and It’s a Miracle.  While each series had their moments, the testimonies shared on It’s a Miracle revealed a hidden truth.  Sometimes angels, divine intervention and prayer leave individuals untouched by trouble.

The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble, Proverbs 19:23.

In the Old Testament, it was common for Jewish families to recount previous miracles experienced by Israel to their children.  The Flood, Passover and possessing the Promised Land were popular stories to reflect upon.  These encounters instilled the power of God to the next generation.  Yet, King Solomon puts these accounts into their proper perspective by stressing that the fear of the Lord is the driving force behind protecting souls from trouble.

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 40:10.

Whether you are a person of faith or not, its easy for some to read too much into every day events.  This sort of daily and or weekly analysis often results in a false sense of security.  Self-reliance can make an individual believe that human effort, knowledge and strength is the source of their protection.  Unfortunately, this way of thinking discounts the invisible actions of angelic beings.  Although human beings should take some credit, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and the force behind protecting souls from danger.

by Jay Mankus

 

Jehovah Rapha

Israel spent 400 years in Egypt as slaves, enduring harsher conditions the longer they stayed.  When the timing was right, God chose Moses, a man with a severe speech impediment to represent Israel before Pharaoh.  Initially, Moses rejected God’s calling, as the Lord sends along his brother Aaron to address Egypt’s leader.  Although its not mentioned, Moses slowly takes control of these daily meetings with Pharaoh.  The absence of stammering suggests God healed Moses of his stuttering.

He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you,” Exodus 15:26.

Through Moses’ personal experience, set from from stuttering, the term Jehovah Rapha was coined.  This name for God means the Lord who heals.  After being eyewitnesses of the Passover, Israel saw the hand of God at work, passing over their doors to kill first born Egyptians.  The passage above serves as a reminder to work just happened as well as a call to action to carefully follow God’s commands while waiting to receive God’s promised land.

God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

Today, healing is one of those prayers and wants the sick desperately seek.  Yet, for those who have prayed for healing and sit helplessly waiting around to watch loved ones die, its hard to keep the faith.  While Jehovah Rapha is still actively at work, some never see the fruit of time on their knees.  Despite a lack of results, believers can not forget the words of Moses in Exodus 15:26.  Healing doesn’t always come instantaneously.  Rather, wounds take time to close.  When you back is against the door, cry out to Jehovah Rapha to mend your heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Original Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption film was inspired by the Stephen King 1982 novel collection Different Seasons.  In the 1994 movie, Tim Robbins plays a banker, Andy Dufresne, falsely accused of killing his wife and a golf professional during an affair which took place at his own home.  The jury had enough motive to convict and sentence Dufresne to two life terms in prision at Shawshank State Penitentiary.  When a new inmate reveals a confessional of this crime from a former cell mate, the warden denies Andy’s request for a re-trial as well as killing the prisoner who could prove Dufresne’s innocence.

When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread, Acts 12:3.

During the first century, a fisherman turned evangelist experiences a similar ordeal.  When the Jesus movement threaten to weaken Judaism, one of its leaders was arrested by King Herod.  Although his life was spared unlike his friend James of Zebedee, Peter is held by armed guards awaiting his trial after the Passover celebration.  To insure he would not escape, Peter was bound with chains on each arm.  Neither predicament seemed plausible until redemption entered the equation.

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists, Acts 12:7.

Andy Dufresne used a rock hammer, a poster of Rita Hayworth and time to escape through the tunnel used as the prison’s sewage pipe.  Switching the accounting book in the vault, Andy sent a letter to a local newspaper exposing the corruption at Shawshank on his first day as a free man.  Meanwhile, an angel wakes up Peter, releases his chains and leads him out of prison without anyone noticing his escape.  Following years of injustice, the warden commits suicide instead of facing law enforcement and Herod dies after failing to praise the Lord.  Although each story has its own twists and turns, the accounts by Luke of Peter in Acts 12 can be described as the original Shawshank Redemption.

by Jay Mankus

No Intentional Passes

As baseball fans await Sunday, March 30th, Opening Night for MLB as the Los Angeles Dodgers and Arizona Diamondbacks will meet in Sydney Australia, its time to freshen up on the lingo used in America’s pastime.  Whenever a clutch or power hitter faces a pitcher with runners in scoring position on either second or third base, its not uncommon to intentionally or unintentionally walk this player to face a less dangerous batter.  Great pitchers will try to fool these individuals with throws that look like a good pitch before falling out of the strike zone.  Although they may give up a walk, broadcasters will use the phrase, unintentional / intentional pass.

In life, this term has become too familiar, excusing individuals for their actions, behavior and comments.  Like Adam in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 3:12, people have become experts in playing the blame game, passing the buck to someone else more fitting.  To escape punishment, rationalization has become a way of life to avoid consequences, shifting all the responsibility like a dishonest politician.  If this trend continues, no one will accept blame or take the fall, dodging the truth with distortion and lies.

According to Moses in Leviticus 4:22 and 4:27, unintentional sin is a common occurrence.  If someone has not heard, does not know or hasn’t been properly informed about God’s command, this individual is deemed amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  However, once this information has been clarified, no intentional passes should be granted.  Guilty parties should follow the principle set forth by Jesus’ own brother, James 5:16.  Since Jesus has become today’s great high priest, no shedding of blood is necessary anymore, Hebrews 4:15-17.  Thus, when you are convicted of a trespass against one of the Bible’s laws, approach the throne of grace with confidence God will pass over your sin, leading you around the bases of life.

Do you have a story of starting over that you’d like to share with my readers?

by Jay Mankus

 
    
 

The Day When the Others Fell Away

If Matthew 5:48 is any indication, Jesus had high expectations for his followers.  Hard teachings like Matthew 19:16-25 even made Jesus’ own disciples question their faith.  Thus, to meet his lofty goal, Jesus selected 12 men, giving each special authority to act on his behalf, like an ambassador, Matthew 10:1.  During their initial trial run which began in Mark 6:7, it appears by remarks made in Mark 9:14-29 that success didn’t always came easy or in this case, not at all.  When all your attempts to please your boss, mentor and teacher fail, some fall by the wayside, John 12:6.

Meanwhile, Luke 10:1-20 implies an addition 72 disciples were appointed by Jesus and given similar responsibilities like the more famous 12.  Since the first 12 Jesus called are sent out in Luke 9:1-9, Luke is not repeating himself by accident.  Rather, Luke 10:17 suggests Jesus delegated an identical power to these men who were able to cast out demons, possibly healing others as well.  However, when the crowds following Jesus grew beyond a reasonable limit, Jesus offered up the words of Luke 14:25-35 to communicate his standards and necessary sacrifices to maintain for the long haul.  While none are mentioned to have left there on the spot, logic says people began to second guess their stance or commitment level.

The decision within the minds of many followers came to a climax in John 6:25-66.  Jesus used the feeding of the 5,000 as a teachable moment, to further people’s understanding of who he was, “the bread of life,” John 6:51.  Just as Jesus’ words puzzled Nicodemus in John 3:4, many disciples were left dazed, unable to grasp this spiritual message.  This difficult teaching lead to grumbling among the ranks of the disciples according to John 6:60-61.  While no names are given, John 6:66 clearly states that many of the 72 and possibly other categories of disciples abandoned Jesus.  This is the day, prior to Jesus’ last Passover on earth, when the others fell away.

by Jay Mankus

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