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Tag Archives: persecution

What You Don’t See

Every day someone will encounter persecution.  This will occur in the form of abuse, discrimination, oppression, punishment or victimization.  Persecution can be subtle by someone trying to manipulate you or brash by individuals who holds a higher position or social status in life.  However, what you don’t see is how current trials and tribulations prepare you for future events.

So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.

When I was in third grade, I walked to an elementary school in my neighborhood.  After desegregation was passed in Delaware, I was forced to attend a school in inner city Wilmington.  I went from the safety of the suburbs into a school with mainly African American and Hispanic students.  At the time, I was overwhelmed, scared and questioning God about why I had to go through this.  Thirty years later, when I became a high school teacher, these 3 miserable years helped me relate to a broad spectrum of students.

In this you rejoice greatly, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, which is much more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested and purified by fire, may be found to result in [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

In the passage above, Peter writes a letter to first century Christians.  While one of Jesus’ disciple doesn’t specify about which trial he is referring to, Peter warns believers that persecution is a necessary evil.  Whether it was denying Jesus in public or making a fool of himself, trials serve as a refining process for faith.  The apostle Paul uses the analogy of being clay shaped by God the Potter who molds and fastens us into his own image.  The hard part is going through the fire, furnace.  Therefore, the next time you feel overwhelmed by hardships, what you don’t see is God setting the stage for your next assignment in life.

by Jay Mankus

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How Close Is the End?

The introduction to each episode of the Days of Our Lives shows an hour glass flipped over.  The narrator of this soap opera follows with the words, “like sand through an hour glass, so are the days of our lives.”  The assumption made here is that life on earth is limited.  Eventually your time will expire, resulting in death.  The only question is how close is the end?  This fateful anticipation inspires cast members to live for the moment, without any care for tomorrow.

But understand this, that in the last days dangerous times [of great stress and trouble] will come [difficult days that will be hard to bear], 2 Timothy 3:1.

The apostle Paul sheds light on the question above in a letter to a teenager.  Apparently, this first century pastor experienced a series of hardship.  Troubled by what he saw, his mentor Paul reached out to Timothy in the form of a two letters.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul unveils a list of events that will occur prior to the second coming of Jesus.  These acts, behaviors and outcomes highlight the fact that many will fall away from God in the last days.

For people will be lovers of self [narcissistic, self-focused], lovers of money [impelled by greed], boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane, [and they will be] unloving [devoid of natural human affection, calloused and inhumane], irreconcilable, malicious gossips, devoid of self-control [intemperate, immoral], brutal, haters of good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of [sensual] pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of [outward] godliness (religion), although they have denied its power [for their conduct nullifies their claim of faith]. Avoid such people and keep far away from them, 2 Timothy 3:2-5.

After hearing about what happened to students at Covington Catholic High School last weekend, it appears the checklist above is nearly complete.  Students wearing Make American Great Again hats were unknowingly targeted by a group of protesters.  This set up switched the facts of what happened, edited video to a couple of minutes to define a specific narrative and posted these on social media.  Once a couple of posts went viral, these teenage victims became the instigators.  Like chum in the water, cable news anchors, journalists and twitter followers created a feeding frenzy.  If this dishonest hit piece isn’t a clear sign that the end is near, it’s a foreshadowing of future persecution that Christians and conservatives will face.

by Jay Mankus

 

Proud or Ashamed?

Before adulthood tends to complicate life, children can wear their emotions on their sleeves.  Young people celebrate achievements with exuberance and gleeful satisfaction.  Unfortunately, at some point while growing up, minds become convinced that certain activities, beliefs and faiths are inappropriate.  Thus, peer pressure may cause something you were once proud of to be replaced with shame.

For what does it benefit a man to gain the whole world [with all its pleasures], and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul and eternal life [in God’s kingdom]? – Mark 8:36-37.

Prior to the mass shooting that took the lives of 17 victims, students at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida weren’t experts on gun control.  Yet, in the days that have followed this tragic event, teenagers have been regularly used on cable news networks to ban, limit or repeal the second amendment.  Instead of correcting the flaws in their school safety policy or address the failure of school security guards to react, guns continue to be demonized along with those who own or use a gun.

For whoever is ashamed [here and now] of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels,” Mark 8:38.

This persecution of gun owners relates to Jesus’ words above.  How you respond to the Bible, faith and Jesus in public will influence how God treats you.  Those who disown their faith amidst criticism, pressure to conform or progressive views will be shunned by God.  Thus, you can’t be halfway, its either all or nothing.  Will you be ashamed due to what others think or will a zeal for the Lord reveal pride for God?  May the passage above serve as inspiration to strengthen your faith so that your choice is clear.

by Jay Mankus

 

People, Problems and Pain

While every April makes Americans think of 2 certainties in life, death and taxes, there is another that exists.  No matter where you go, what you do or how long you do, there will always be the 3 P’s: people, problems and pain.  People can be the reason or source of your problems and pain.  Some may think if I just eliminate the bad apple or get rid of this negative influence, everything will change for the better.  Unfortunately, there will always be someone else who comes along who possess similar traits.  Thus, to escape problems and pain that are destined to arrive, soulmates play a vital role to survival.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed, 1 Peter 4:12-13.

One of Jesus’ disciples reveals a common held belief during the first century.  Evidently, some individuals were surprised to see turbulent times enter their lives.  This flawed mindset is exposed by Peter, making sure everyone understands what to expect month to month.  Trials aren’t a strange occurrence.  Rather, people, problem and pain are placed into one’s life, serving as a means to refine your faith.  While not everyone will marry, Christian friends are placed on earth to help the suffering endure pain.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us, Romans 8:18.

The apostle Paul brings up a mindset necessary to overcome the turmoil that life brings upon unexpected souls.  The suffering mentioned in the passage above refers to the persecution, trials and harsh treatment from those who opposed the good news about Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  While there were days filled with pain, Paul developed a heavenly mindset, understanding that his current battle was temporary.  Thus, if you find yourself in a precarious situation, submit to God by trusting in the Holy Spirit to enable you to overcome the people, problem and pain you face throughout life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Taking as Many People with You as Possible

During a visit to the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul discovered a passionate group of sports fans.  Instead of modern sports like basketball or football, Corinthians embraced Track and Field as host of a Summer Olympics type of annual event.  Thus, Paul felt compelled to use words in one of his letters that appealed to this culture.  Within 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul compares evangelism with a race, hoping to win as many people as possible to Jesus Christ.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Years earlier, Jesus reveals an interesting concept to his disciples in the passage above.  While speaking about persecution, Jesus provides a heavenly perspective to a common event followers of Christ will encounter.  Human nature tends to make individuals fearful of what other people think of you.  However, Jesus warns the disciples about worrying about the wrong thing.  Rather, be on guard against the Devil, the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, who uses temptation to ensnare souls toward a life in hell, eternally separated from God.

Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time, 1 Timothy 2:6.

The Bible is filled with promises about life and the future.  John 3:16-17 reveals why God the Father sent his son Jesus to earth.  Upon completing God’s will for his life on earth, Jesus gave himself up as a ransom, paying the price for the sins of mankind.  This selfless act made it possible for fallen creatures to have a place in heaven, John 14:1-4.  Thus, anyone who makes their eternal reservation, 1 John 5:13, should want to take as many people with you as possible.  May the hope of a new year inspire souls to fulfill the great commission, Mark 16:15-16 so that the afterlife will serve as a great big family reunion in the sky.

by Jay Mankus

No Roots; No Fruits

The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away, Matthew 13:20-21.

If you are like me, you may ask yourself every now and then, “what am I doing?”  This self reflective question seeks to understand why you aren’t more productive, successful or victorious in life.  Despite attempts at improving my current situation, I feel like I’m stuck in slow motion, unable to get where I want to be.  This lack of progress brought me back to examine one of Jesus’ parables.

The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful, Matthew 13:22.

After sharing the parable of the Sower to a crowd of followers, the disciples were confused.  At one point, an unidentified disciple urges Jesus to stop be so mysterious as if to demand “why don’t you just come out and say what you mean?”  Moments later, Jesus withdraws to explain the meaning of this illustration to his disciples.  If you condense the two passages above Jesus suggests that if you don’t have strong spiritual roots, you won’t be able to bear spiritual fruit.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead, James 2:26.

Sometime after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, one of Jesus’ earthly brothers provides further insight on the parable of the Sower.  The Holy Spirit is a well spring, the source for spiritual life.  Like a root system in need of nutritious soil, human souls will eventually die without an infusion of God’s Spirit.  Therefore, if you want to get back on track toward a faith in action, dig deep by implementing the advice of the apostle Paul in Colossians 2:6-7.  If you forgo this step I’m afraid you’ll end up like me, no roots and no fruits.

by Jay Mankus

 

When the Spirit Left the Church

Most seminaries and theological institutions make a distinction between the Holy Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost from that which exists today.  Based upon the amount of healings, miracles and spiritual revivals that takes place in the book of Acts, scholars refer to this time period as a special anointing.  Sometime after A.D. 300, the Holy Spirit experienced by apostles and disciples left the church.

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them, Acts 2:4.

The answer for why the Holy Spirit vanished from the face of the earth can be attributed to the influence and reign of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great.  Prior to his conversion early in the third century, the Christian church was led by apostles, elders and laymen.  Despite increasing Roman persecution, faith flourished until some of Constantine’s edicts went into law.  One decree banned home churches from meeting.  Instead congregations could only meet in worship centers built by Constantine.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness, 2 Peter 1:3.

In an attempt to Christianize the world, Constantine tied pagan holidays and symbols to Christian celebrations.  While his motives likely had good intentions, this decision perverted and tainted sound theological doctrine.  Subsequently, ungodly beliefs that developed and those formed stunted the power of the Holy Spirit.  The presence of healings, miracles and radical transformation slowly faded from existence in the years following A.D. 300.  Despite these facts, the Bible talks about a pouring out of the Holy Spirit in the last days.  Although the Holy Spirit left the church initially, it doesn’t mean a spirit of revival can’t return.  May the Lord hear the prayers of the saints by bringing back the Spirit of Pentecost.

by Jay Mankus

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