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Living Under Satan’s Yoke

In the context of farming, yokes are a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. This devise unite donkeys, oxen or mules to work together. As a pet owner, if I didn’t have my dog on a collar, harness or leash, she would run free, wandering aimlessly through my neighborhood. This is a positive example of a yoke.

For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

On the flip side, yokes have a negative connotation. Groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have put touring Circus’ out of business. Banning previously legal practices has made it impossible to safely control wild animals used in traveling Circuses. From a spiritual sense, one of Jesus’ disciples compares the Devil to a lion on the prowl, searching for his next victim, 1 Peter 5:8. When human beings lose control of their flesh, Satan uses your sinful nature to oppress you. Bondage is how souls begin to be held captive, living under Satan’s yoke.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

In the passage below, Jesus eludes to spiritual yokes. Some people are burdened by religious practices that focus on traditions rather than a relationship with God. Jesus hates seeing individuals weighed down by the worries of life. Thus, the process toward healing is laid out above by laying down your burdens at the feet of Jesus. Some try to fix their problems on their own, but only Jesus can provide permanent healing. If this blog finds you worn out by being under Satan’s yoke, come to Jesus on your knees, using prayer as a vehicle for change.

by Jay Mankus

Rediscovering the American Spirit

While Hurricane Harvey and Irma have received most of the headlines this month, another human interest story hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves.  As Americans watched images of devastation, flooding and property loss from these storms, compassionate hearts have been compelled to act.  Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watts thought maybe he could raise some money using social media.  More than thirty million dollars later, donations continue to pour in.  Meanwhile, average citizens with boats, trailers and trucks have driven to Texas to aid in the search and rescue of stranded homeowners.  Countless others have provided clothes, diapers and water for victims who have lost everything except their lives.  In the face of adversity, these hurricanes have revived the American Spirit.

If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.  But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:10.

From a historical perspective, King Solomon is considered one of the wisest human beings to ever walk the face of the earth.  In the passage above, Solomon points to the goal Israelites should strive to achieve.  Human beings can be fragile, often in need of a social companion.  Whether this is a classmate, co-worker or friend, life is easier when you have someone close to pick you up after a fall.  Sometimes falling refers to a physical act, but others struggle with a lack of confidence, depression or insecurity.  Based upon the context of Genesis 2, Adam spent a portion of his life searching for a suitable helper.  Initially, Adam looked for companionship among animals, likely taking some home as pets.  Yet, at some point these relationships didn’t suffice, eventually resulting in God creating Eve.  The Lord in his infinite wisdom understood the power of one person helping another in need.  Like the pay it forward movement, as one person demonstrates random acts of kindness, other good Samaritans are motivated to join in.

But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him, Luke 10:33.

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus uses an analogy to illustrate what happens every day.  Sometimes people get into an accident, need help or are stranded along side of the road.  The people that should come to the rescue like priests and religious people use a busy schedule as an excuse to continue on their way.  The social outcast like the Samaritan ends up saving the day.  One of the points Jesus is trying to make is which one are you?  Are you going to remain on the sideline, failing to lend a helping hand to the countless who lost a home or family member?  Or will the selfless response by J.J. Watt inspire you to abandon your own worries to reach out to someone less fortunate?  Many the power of the Holy Spirit fall upon the volunteers in Florida and Texas to rediscover the American Spirit.  Although there will be other natural disasters in the future, I pray that this kindred spirit of giving continues to impact the lives of individuals forced to start over from scratch.  When communities love their neighbors as themselves, this world becomes a better place to live.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Where Are Your Footprints Leading?

For those of you who have pets, it doesn’t take much for a kitten, puppy or other new member of the family to reap havoc.  Like any child who knows their in trouble, sometimes animals try to hide their mess.  In this case, all you have to do is follow visible signs of destruction before you reach the guilty party.  Yet, child and pets aren’t alone as even adults have moments of weakness, sending a poor message by taking steps in the wrong direction.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth, 1 John 1:6.

Unfortunately, grown ups tend to make life much more complicated than it is.  Subsequently, sometimes its important to simplify life, going back to the basics.  The Bible kids classic song Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See is a great place to start.  These lyrics warn individuals of the lasting consequences of walking in darkness.  Tasting forbidden fruit, lusting for someone or something or crossing the line known as sin, could become a life style if you’re not careful.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.   But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22-23

In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares the correlation between your eyes and sin.  Essentially, eyes are a lamp created to guide and direct people throughout life.  However, if used inappropriately, these beacons of light can become a source for evil.  Thus, whether you are young or old, Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See still applies.  In view of this choose wisely and if you make mistakes along the way, repent quickly.  May the footprints that you leave on earth point souls to the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

No Pets for You

During the 7th season of Seinfeld, episode 116 introduced the “Soup Nazi” to pop culture.  Larry Thomas played this vibrant character, excessively strict and unwilling to bow down to the requests of patrons like Jerry, Elaine and George.  Subsequently, when the Soup Nazi felt disrespected, he coined the phrase, “no soup for you,” becoming an instant sensation and regular guest on Seinfeld.

While reading Exodus 11:27, I was surprised to see cats and dogs are deemed unclean by God.  Any creature with paws and walk on all fours are off limits.   Any Jew who touched a cat or dog would become unclean til evening, forced to wash their clothes as well.  Essentially, God was telling the Israelites, “no pets for you!”

Today, OCD, obsessive compulsive disorder, takes the words of the Bible to the extreme.  According to Jesus, what you touch doesn’t make you clean or unclean.  Purity or the lack there of comes from within, Luke 6:43-45.  Therefore, your heart determines your actions, behavior and words.  In view of this truth, Jesus urged his followers to set their hearts on things above, Matthew 6:19-21.  The apostle Paul takes this one step further in Colossians 3:1-4, encouraging individuals to set your hearts on eternal things.  Whether you like pets or not, the Bible doesn’t restrict animals today; God introduced free will to enable you to make your own choices.

by Jay Mankus

 

On A Long Leash

From the very beginning, God has given human beings a long leash on life, Genesis 2:15-17.  God walked and talked with Adam, showing him the entire Garden of Eden.  “All this is yours, but you cannot eat from the tree of knowledge,” verse 17.

God didn’t implant humans with a microchip to keep track of our whereabouts.  Nor has the Lord surrounded us with an electric fence, shocking us when we wander off track.  Rather, God only had one rule.  Adam and Eve were free to go anywhere in the garden, doing as they pleased, He only asked them not to eat from the fruit of one tree.

Like almost every pet, curiosity created a lustful impulse to disregard what their master had said.   As soon as enticement told hold of their heart, the beast inside of them is unleashed, causing a separation between them and their master.  As for Adam and Eve, they were banished from the garden, Genesis 3:23, unable to have that intimate relationship with God.

According to Luke 19:10, Jesus came down from heaven to earth to restore what the first Adam lost.  Jesus came to set us free, giving us free will to choose right or wrong, love or evil and obedience to God or disobedience, Galatians 5:13.  However, while our leash on earth is still long, we shouldn’t misuse this freedom to indulge in the sinful nature.  If you listen to the Spirit, Romans 8:10-11, you will be able to hear God knocking.  When you open this door, Revelation 3:20, fellowship with God can be restored!  Like Moses said long ago, the choice is yours, Deuteronomy 30:15.

by Jay Mankus

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