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The Father of All Light

Exodus 8 reveals an important lesson about light and life. When King Pharaoh could not explain some of the miracles performed by Aaron and Moses, he sent for magicians who were actually able to duplicate the first two. Moses claimed that enchantments and secret arts allowed these magicians to turn water into blood and call forth frogs from the waters to fill the land. Yet, when these magicians were unable to bring forth gnats or mosquitoes, these men came to the conclusion that this was the finger of God, Exodus 8:18-19.

For such men are false apostles [spurious, counterfeits], deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles (special messengers) of Christ (the Messiah). 14 And it is no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light; 15 So it is not surprising if his servants also masquerade as ministers of righteousness. [But] their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

According to the apostle Paul, Satan possessed similar powers in the first century. Apparently, Lucifer was able to retain some of his archangel abilities as Paul describes him as the ruler of the air, Ephesus 2:2. Just like the Egyptian magicians thousands of years ago, some modern leaders continue to masquerade as spurious counterfeits of faith today. Yet, at some point in time these individuals will be exposed as their hidden agendas and motives will be uncovered by the Father of all Light. Nonetheless, free will provides the power hungry with an excuse to see how much they can get away with in the darkness.

Every good gift and every perfect ([d]free, large, full) gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of all [that gives] light, in [the shining of] Whom there can be no variation [rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [as in an eclipse], James 1:17.

When you grow up with a big brother who is perfect, you start to follow him around to find out the secret of his success. Apparently, James likely spied on Jesus while He was praying with His heavenly Father. While he may not have gotten as close as he wanted to hear every word spoken, James came to the conclusion that the Father of Light is what made Jesus who He was. Sharing eyewitness testimony, James wants every first century Christian to know that it is the God of heaven who is the giver of all good things. There is no doubt about it so don’t be deceived by luck, chance or coincidences.

by Jay Mankus

Aroused by Faith

Aroused is not one of those words associated with Christianity. Yet, there are two distinct chapters in the Bible that offer contrasting differences. The first occurs in 1 Corinthians 10 where the apostle Paul reflects upon past mistakes made by former Jewish leaders. These individuals were aroused by sin that resulted in disobedience and rebellion. Meanwhile, Hebrews 11 is dedicated to the Christian Hall of Fame. The common denominator of these special candidates was being aroused by and prompted by faith to act.

[Aroused] by faith Moses, when he had grown to maturity and[f]become great, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, Hebrews 11:24.

To understand the passage above, a brief history lesson is necessary. Exodus 2:1-25 details how Moses’ parents hid their child in the Nile where Pharaoh’s daughter found him. This sets the stage for Moses’ life to be saved and raised in the house of Egypt’s king. Rather than endure a life of poverty, Moses experienced the riches of Egypt, likely spoiled beyond belief by Pharaoh’s daughter. However, as Moses grew up and matured, wealth became empty to him. This is when Moses’ faith was aroused.

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not [b]adjusted and [c]adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to [d]a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

After a list of past failures, the apostle Paul concludes 1 Corinthians 10 ends with a warning in verse 12 and advice to overcome temptation in verse 13. Verse 12 serves as a cautious reminder against becoming overconfident. Perhaps Paul is speaking of personal experience, a time in his life when pride led to failure. Conscious of this possibility, Paul lays out a spiritual blueprint of how to overcome temptation. Therefore, the next time you’re aroused by sin, look for the way out so that faith prevails.

by Jay Mankus

The Presence of Jesus in the Old Testament

Foreshadowing is an indication of what is to come. When plan A failed, allowing Adam and Eve to have free reign of the Garden and Eden except for the Tree of Knowledge, God uses imagery to introduce plan B. The apostle Paul explains the science of God in Romans 5:12-21. What Adam failed to do, being obedient to God, Jesus is sent several thousand years later to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel, Genesis 3:15.

In the second book of the Bible, the Lord raises up a man named Moses to be the voice of God for Israel. The only problem was Moses suffered from a severe speech impediment, Exodus 4:10. Despite getting frustrated with Moses’ lack of faith, God sends Aaron to speak on his behalf until Moses finds the courage to confront Pharaoh. The only way to survive an angel of death was to sacrifice a perfect lamb, without blemishes. Then sprinkle it’s blood above and upon your door posts. This lamb is symbolic of Jesus.

And you shall eat it thus: [as fully prepared for a journey] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment [proving their helplessness]. I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be for a token or sign to you upon [the doorposts of] the houses where you are, [that] when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall be upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt, Exodus 12:11-13.

Seven hundred years prior to the birth of Christ, a seer named Isaiah prophesied about Jesus’ birth, life and death. Isaiah 53:1-10 compares Jesus to a shepherd laying his life down for his sheep. The disciple who Jesus loved echoes this in John 10:1-11. While the Old Testament does show the wrath of God poured out upon the disobedient, the presence of Jesus sets the stage for God’s unconditional love in the New Testament. May this blog remind you of the numerous promises of God that have been fulfilled and those yet still to come.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Overlook God’s Providence

Immediately following the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites fled into the desert.  When Pharaoh changed his mind, Moses led God’s people to the banks of the Red Sea.  Against all odds, the Lord enabled Moses to part this body of water before collapsing upon and swallowing up the Egyptian army.  After witnessing this miracle, any event that follows would be obscure.  Thus, when God magically sent bread, manna from heaven, the Jews slowly began to overlook the obvious.

And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the Israelites no longer had manna, but they ate some of the produce of the land of Canaan during that year, Joshua 5:12.

Like any human being, time has a way of changing your perspective.  Initial awe, excitement and joy can fade when everything that follows is small in comparison.  Perhaps, this explains Jesus comment to one if his disciples, “blessed are those do not see me yet believe.”  The testimony of followers of Jesus immediately following his resurrection should have been enough.  Yet, doubt prevented Thomas from believing, needing to see with his own eyes.  When you live with a miracle worker every day for three years, at some point you begin to over look the obvious, expecting greater things.

Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me],” John 20:29.

As holiday shoppers rush through life to get their Christmas preparations in order, it’s hard to keep track of daily mundane responsibilities.  Meanwhile, subtle miracles are glanced over as God provides this or that without any praise or thanks.  Unfortunately, I tend to be the type of person who allows themselves to be pushed to the limit, on the verge of mental exhaustion weekly.  Thus, instead of seeing subtle signs of God’s providence, I have ignored the obvious.  I guess I need to follow the advice of the Psalmist by being still before God, Psalm 46:10.  When you do, you will stop overlooking the obvious by observing the hand of God over your life.

by Jay Mankus

God Uses What Little We Have to Demonstrate How Great He Is

Whenever a team receives awards, praise and recognition, there is a temptation for the best athletes/players to take most of the credit.  Yet, God uses a series of events, methods and situations to prevent success from going to your head.  At the height of the apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, thousands of people came to faith in Christ.  Instead of saying, “look at how great I am,” Paul became inflicted with a painful physical ailment.  This condition forced Paul to rely on the Lord for strength.  God used what little energy Paul possessed to demonstrate how great the Lord can work in spite of  our weaknesses.

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! – 2 Corinthians 12:7

While Jews lived as slaves for nearly 400 years within Egypt, God called one man to confront their leader.  The only problem is that this man, Moses, suffered from a severe speech impediment.  In other words, Moses stuttered regularly, especially when he was nervous.  Despite this disability, God wanted Moses to be the one to lead Israel’s exodus out of Egypt.  Initially, God gave Moses a safety blanket, his brother Aaron to speak for him.  However, at some point the Holy Spirit empowered Moses to have the courage and words to stand up to Pharaoh.  Throughout this ordeal. Moses learned that God can use a faithful stutterer to do things that was once unimaginable for someone with this condition.

Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me, 2 Corinthians 12:8-9.

As I look back on my own life, I was never a good student until high school.  I endured a learning disability which led to a fifth grade reading level while in tenth grade.  When you add  this to my own speech impediment, regularly stammering words, the odds were against me.  Yet, in my many weaknesses, Christ has become a strong influence in my life.  Although I am no longer a high school teacher, my former fear of speaking in public has vanished.  Sure, I probably could have done more with my life.  Nonetheless, God uses what little you and I have to demonstrate how great God is.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t You Have a Better Excuse Than That

Getting caught in a lie can be embarrassing.  Thus, as the truth draws near, human nature influences individuals to begin using excuses to justify inappropriate actions.  During a recent interview with the FBI, Reality Winner blamed Fox News for why see smuggled a classified report from a NSA government facility.  Upon hearing this my initial thought was, “don’t you have a better excuse than that?”

But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? – Exodus 4:10-11

Reality is not the only have to come up with a lame excuse.  When asked to become the voice for Israel to confront Pharaoh, Moses becomes afraid.  Instead of recalling God speaking to him through a burning bush moments earlier, Moses uses stuttering as a crutch to avoid God’s request.  In the exchange above, God appears to become upset, pointing to his power as creator.

But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come,’ Luke 14:18-20.

While there will always be excuses in life, but at some point people need to grow up.  When you are given authority at church, school or work, responsibilities should not be taken lightly.  Rather, when asked, encouraged or offered an opportunity to serve, rely on the Lord’s strength for these endeavors.  If you don’t, you will be tempted to come up with a reason why you didn’t instead of sticking things out until God’s calling has been completed.

by Jay Mankus

From Bad to Unbearable

There is an old cliché of going from bad to worse.  However, in some circumstances individuals experience unbearable conditions.  Sometimes this occurs due to an accident, illness or trial.  Whenever you encounter one of these extremes, faith and perseverance are essential to survive.

“You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw.  But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God,’ Exodus 5:7-8.

During Israel’s 400 years of slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh took out his frustrations on the Hebrew servants.  Beginning in Exodus 5, the quota of work remained the same, but the workers were forced to now collect straw to make bricks.  This decision was like the last straw forcing God’s hand to ramp up the plagues on Pharaoh.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

One of Jesus’ brothers records a mindset necessary to overcome harsh periods in life.  Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that when most people hear it you reply, “yeah right.”  Nonetheless, staying positive is half the battle.  Any type of negativity can poison minds resulting in an avalanche of doubt.  Therefore, the next time things go from bad to worse in your life, consider it a pure joy so that those who endure will receive the crown of life.

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 Food Bank

I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance, Mark 8:2-3.

The concept of a food bank can be traced back to the days of Pharaoh under the leadership of Joseph.  Serving as the Secretary of Agriculture and blessed with visions of a coming drought, Joseph rose to second in command of Egypt developing a surplus of food to prepare for seven years of famine.  Humanitarians of the past inspired the creation of the world’s first food bank in 1967, founded in the United States and now there are several throughout the globe.

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, Mark 8:4-5.

However, there is one person who can be credited as the original food bank.  Jesus was constantly observant of others, thinking of their well being.  This mentality motivated Jesus to get his twelve disciples involved in this process.  Like any selfish person, they wanted to pass the buck, letting someone else provide assistance.  Pressing the issue, Jesus asked a simple question, “what do you have to give?”

The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over, Mark 8:8.

Today, countless needy people exist wherever you may live.  Unfortunately, most that possess the means don’t have the ambition, drive and time to reach out to souls who are hungry and thirsty.  I’m just as guilty as the next person, distracted by my own wants and needs.  Despite this reality, we all have something give.  Therefore, the next time you have some spare change, time or resources to share, follow in the footsteps of Jesus who is the original food bank.

by Jay Mankus

 

No Mas

When boxing was in its hay day in America, Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran were in their prime, slugging it out in 3 title bouts.  On November 25th, 1980, the Louisiana Super Dome hosted their first rematch as Leonard tried to regain the WBC Welterweight belt he lost in their first fight.  Nicknamed Manos de Piedra by his native Panama, Duran’s hands of stone  appeared mortal.  Near the end of the 8th round, Roberto gave up, waving his gloves in the air, signaling his surrender to the referee.  A stunned crowd and opponent, waited for an explanation.  In response, Duran replied, “no mas, no mas; no more boxing!”

Sometime around 1465 B.C. a similar duel took place in Egypt.  When Aaron and Moses threatened Egypt with a series of plagues if their king, Pharaoh did not allow the descendents of Israel to offer sacrifices to God in the desert, tensions flared, Exodus 7:8-13.  To counter God’s power, Pharaoh called on the magicians and sorcercer’s of his day, who relied on secrets arts passed down to them, Exodus 7:11.  These wise men went toe to toe with God for 3 rounds equaling each miracle performed by Aaron using the staff God gave Moses.  However, when the 4th plague began, Exodus 8:16-19, the magicians knew they were beaten.  Instead of saying No Mas like Duran, they broke the bad news to Pharaoh in Exodus 8:19, “this is the finger of God that can’t be duplicated.”

 

Within the pages of John 15:1-8, Jesus uses a parable to help people understand a secret to life.  On your own, you are limited, powerless to reach your full potential, John 15:6.  However, if you choose to stay connected to the vine, Jesus, by making time for prayer, study and worship, you will bear great amounts of spiritual fruit, John 15:5.  In order to obtain this spiritual state, you have to reach a breaking point like Roberto Duran and Pharaoh, proclaiming “no mas!”  Just as the apostle Paul learned the hard way, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, when you are at your weakest, Christ is strongest, ready at a moment’s notice to come to your rescue.

by Jay Mankus

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