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Is an Intervention Necessary in 2022?

Every family has at least one member who looks like they are about to lose it. Perhaps, this individual’s name came up during private conversations over the holidays. Maybe this name has become a punch line for “did you hear what Uncle Larry did this time? Yet, you’ve been concerned for a while, but haven’t had the guts to come out and say it. If you’re slightly convicted about any of the following, maybe 2022 is the perfect time for an intervention.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

As a former coach and teachable, it’s hard to watch one of your prized pupils self destruct. While there may be a few moments when you are able to stop the bleeding so to speak, if someone doesn’t want to change this free fall will continue. Sometimes friends and or parents may enable certain behaviors, hoping that the person in need will simply grow out of this phase. If nothing changes for the better, prayer and intervention may be your only two remaining options.

Therefore let anyone who thinks he stands [who feels sure that he has a steadfast mind and is standing firm], take heed lest he fall [into sin]. 13 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 10:12-13.

An intervention is the act of interfering with the outcome or course especially if a serious condition exists. In the passage above, the apostle Paul refers to a way out of temptation. Yet, when individuals are enticed and baited by lustful passions, they are not looking for a way out. Subsequently, this is where Christian leaders must come side by side those who are fighting a losing battle. Any successful intervention begins with a mature believer helping the lost find the way out of temptation. If this situation arises in your life, this year is the time to act and intervene.

by Jay Mankus

Fasting for the Future

Every January 1st churches across the country begin each new year with a series of fasts. Some of these are designed for health reasons like the Daniel Fast to eat fruits and vegetables, Daniel 1:1-21. Meanwhile, others will participate in media fasts as a way to disconnect from the ways of this world by reconnecting with God, Colossians 3:1-9. Finally, the remaining fasts are geared toward the future by forgoing food for a set period of time as a form of preparation like Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11.

Yet they seek, inquire for, and require Me daily and delight [externally] to know My ways, as [if they were in reality] a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God. They ask of Me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God [in visible ways]. Why have we fasted, they say, and You do not see it? Why have we afflicted ourselves, and You take no knowledge [of it]? Behold [O Israel], on the day of your fast [when you should be grieving for your sins], you find profit in your business, and [instead of stopping all work, as the law implies you and your workmen should do] you extort from your hired servants a full amount of labor, Isaiah 58:2-3.

Yet, one Old Testament prophet provides a disclaimer about fasting. One of the first warnings is the self- affliction that fasting may have on your body. The apostle Paul highlights this internal struggle in Galatians 5:16-17 as your sinful nature will clash with the Holy Spirit. Over the course of my life I’ve met several Christians who refuse to fast anymore as it makes them miserable. When people become extremely hunger, it’s not uncommon for these individuals to get easily angered and annoyed.

[The facts are that] you fast only for strife and debate and to smite with the fist of wickedness. Fasting as you do today will not cause your voice to be heard on high. Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul? [Is true fasting merely mechanical?] Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and an acceptable day to the Lord? [Rather] is not this the fast that I have chosen: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the bands of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every [enslaving] yoke? Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house—when you see the naked, that you cover him, and that you hide not yourself from [the needs of] your own flesh and blood? Then shall your light break forth like the morning, and your healing (your restoration and the power of a new life) shall spring forth speedily; your righteousness (your rightness, your justice, and your right relationship with God) shall go before you [conducting you to peace and prosperity], and the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard, Isaiah 58:4-8.

If you still want to go through with a January fast despite this warning, make sure you set realistic goals. Even if your church isn’t doing one, there are plenty of calendars, outlines and schedules that you can follow. In addition, try to have some sort of prayer list to concentrate on each day or week so when the urge to break your fast comes, praying will distract you from your hunger pains. Finally, if you do decide to fast, keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25 who tends to alter and add a new direction for your future.

by Jay Mankus

No Signs of Life

Today’s title is found in the lyrics of a band based in Columbus, Ohio. Send the Beggar’s second album Closer to Complete features a song entitled The Knot. The message is based upon a Christian who blends into their surroundings, afraid to make a public confession of a faith in Jesus. The lyrics include an autopsy performed by an angel, carefully examining this person’s heart. Inside the name Jesus Christ is pulled out, causing confusion which prompts a question: “why was this never shown?”

Even so consider yourselves also dead to sin and your relation to it broken, but alive to God [living in unbroken fellowship with Him] in Christ Jesus. 12 Let not sin therefore rule as king in your mortal (short-lived, perishable) bodies, to make you yield to its cravings and be subject to its lusts and evil passions, Romans 6:11-12.

One of the things I struggled with as a new Christian was mixing feelings with faith. My life was like an emotional roller coaster lifting everyone up around me while on my highs. This was quickly replaced by depression as I sucked the joy out of every room that I entered. To be honest, there have been periods where I exhibited no signs of life as a Christian. Like James 1:13-15, my faith was dead inside.

Do not continue offering or yielding your bodily members [and [a]faculties] to sin as instruments (tools) of wickedness. But offer and yield yourselves to God as though you have been raised from the dead to [perpetual] life, and your bodily members [and [b]faculties] to God, presenting them as implements of righteousness. 14 For sin shall not [any longer] exert dominion over you, since now you are not under Law [as slaves], but under grace [as subjects of God’s favor and mercy], Romans 6:13-14.

Apparently, first century Christians in Rome also experienced spiritual dry spells. Depending upon how you lived in the past, breaking any addiction or bad habit can take years. Similar to an internal tug of war, Galatians 5:16-18, ridding your life of sinful desires isn’t easy. King David describes this conviction and pain in Psalm 55:1-4. Whenever you find yourself spiritually dead or dying, on the verge of walking away from your faith, pour out your heart to God in prayer. May confession bring you back to life spiritually in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

Whenever You Move… Don’t Trouble Your Mind with the Unknown

Moving is one of those events in life that provides a chance for a fresh start. Yet, when a move is beyond your control, saying goodbye to close friends and neighbors can be extremely difficult. I moved a few times as a child with the second from New Jersey to Delaware. While it was hard to leave my baseball friends, the neighborhood in Wilmington my parents moved into became like a second family to me.

[Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go, Hebrews 11:8.

While reading the Bible earlier in the week, I was reminded of Abram’s move from Haran. Genesis 12:1-3 details God’s conversation with Abram, similar to a calling from God or tugging on your heart that you might experience today. Abram was 75 years old when he left everything that he knew to start a new life with his nephew Lot. Faith enabled Abram to enter the unknown of a foreign land.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

Sometime in the summer of 2022 I’ll be moving to South Carolina. This will be my first move in nearly 25 years. Yet, if I listen to the advice found in the Bible, I shouldn’t trouble my mind about the unknown. Nor should I allow anxieties of making new friends concern me. The best thing I can do is lift up all my worries to God in prayer. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am seeking a peace that transcends all understanding as I wait for this day to come.

by Jay Mankus

Changing the Way You See Life

In my adolescence, I was a shallow person. Beside being forced to attend a local Boy Scout troop, I lived and died sports. I even broke up with my high school sweetheart to pursue a state championship. Despite my ambitious attempts to win Concord at least one state title in my four years there, second place was the best that I could do. Rather than enjoy the chance to compete, I let the final result ruin my love for sports.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

While I made my initial confession to follow Jesus in high school, I continued to live according to my sinful nature. My faith was nothing more than a feeling, following God when it was convenient to do so. Subsequently, I struggled with depression throughout high school and into my first year of college. During a weekend at James Madison University, I was introduced to the concept of making Jesus the Lord of your life. Making this decision forever changed the way that I see life.

And the grace (unmerited favor and blessing) of our Lord [actually] flowed out superabundantly and beyond measure for me, accompanied by faith and love that are [to be realized] in Christ Jesus. 15 The saying is sure and true and worthy of full and universal acceptance, that Christ Jesus (the Messiah) came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am foremost, 1 Timothy 1:14-15.

For the first 18 years of my life, I was a selfish athlete who only cared about me, myself and I. I was a cocky athlete who believed that I was better than I was. Yet, when I read the statement made by the apostle Paul in the passage above, I came face to face with humility. Despite all the miracles performed and lives he help transformed, Paul considered himself the greatest sinner of all. This one confession taught me a vital lesson, the closer you draw near to Jesus and yield control over to him, the more your sins are unveiled. May the Word of God and prayer help change the way you see life like it did for me.

by Jay Mankus

The Power of Death

The origin of Hades dates back to ancient Greece. Hades is the god of the dead and ruler of the underworld. However, one New Testament book applies a spiritual element to the myth of Hades. According to the author of Hebrews, the power of death is held by the Devil. Behind the scenes in the supernatural realm, the ruler of the air, Ephesus 2:2, is searching for his next victim, 1 Peter 5:8.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [b]overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:9-11.

Using the analogy of a shepherd protecting his sheep from wolves, Jesus reveals the schemes of the Devil. Jesus suggests that there is a door to avoid the power of death from consuming you with fear. Yet, if you begin to listen to foreign voices like Eve in the Garden of Eden, a spiritual thief will enter your life through an open door, Ephesians 4:26-27. The power of death results in anxieties, insecurities and worries.

Since, therefore, [these His] children share in flesh and blood [in the physical nature of human beings], He [Himself] in a similar manner partook of the same [nature], that by [going through] death He might bring to nought and make of no effect him who had the power of death—that is, the devil—15 And also that He might deliver and completely set free all those who through the [haunting] fear of death were held in bondage throughout the whole course of their lives, Hebrews 2:14-15.

Whenever any individual gives the Devil a foothold, the power of death intensifies. Jesus explains this as a three step process where the Devil seeks to steal your dreams, kill any glimpse of hope before lives are destroyed. The author of Hebrews compares the power of death to a spiritual bondage that sucks the joy out of your life. Until you experience the deliverance of Jesus, Romans 10:9-11, the power of death will remain a reckless force that consumes troubled souls. The next time the power of death arrives at your door, cry out to Jesus in prayer before complete destruction arrives.

by Jay Mankus

A Cautionary Tale about the Worship of Angels

According to the apostle Paul, the worship of angels was a common occurrence in the first century, Colossians 2:18. Based upon the vast number of patron saints in Catholicism, seen as hallow and heavenly protectors, the worship of angels continue today. While modern individuals may have experienced visions from God, setting up places of worship or statues in these locations is something you want to avoid.

[Taking a place and rank by which] He Himself became as much superior to angels as the glorious Name (title) which He has inherited is different from and more excellent than theirs. For to which of the angels did [God] ever say, You are My Son, today I have begotten You [established You in an official Sonship relation, with kingly dignity]? And again, I will be to Him a Father, and He will be to Me a Son? Moreover, when He brings the firstborn Son [d]again into the habitable world, He says, Let all the angels of God worship Him, Hebrews 1:4-6.

According to the author of Hebrews, a growing numbers of Christian began to equate angels on the same level with Jesus. This concern inspired the entire first chapter, dedicated to straightening out this misconception. Likely building upon the premise introduced by one of Jesus’ disciples in John 1:1-14, Jesus is elevated back to his correct status as much superior to angels. Yet, when testimonies are shared about encounters with angels that modern people have experienced, it’s easy to get carried away.

Like a mantle [thrown about one’s self] You will roll them up, and they will be changed and replaced by others. But You remain the same, and Your years will never end nor come to failure. 13 Besides, to which of the angels has He ever said, Sit at My right hand [associated with Me in My royal dignity] till I make your enemies a stool for your feet? 14 Are not the angels all ministering spirits (servants) sent out in the service [of God for the assistance] of those who are to inherit salvation? – Hebrews 1:12-14

At the conclusion of Hebrews 1, angels are compared with servants of God. Whether angels come to you in response to prayer or sent to encourage a trouble soul, angels continue to minister to human beings today. Other events are more subtle as you’re distracted to avoid that accident you just missed being a part of. Nonetheless, angels need to be kept in their proper perspective as an assistant to God by leading hearts to embrace eternal life. Yet, anytime you exchange worship for God toward angels, you’re missing the mark designed to exalt the Great I Am.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Give Up on Struggling People

As a former high school coach, I’ve stood on the sidelines as one of my stars began to struggle. This is a helpless feeling to watch a gifted athlete completely lose their confidence. Sometimes a benching helps but most of the time this only worsens a crumbling situation. Meanwhile, in the classroom, there are plenty of hopeless students who are easy to give up on. Yet, as the apostle Paul once said in a first century epistles “don’t give up on struggling people.”

I am sending him back to you in [a]his own person, [and it is like sending] my very heart. 13 I would have chosen to keep him with me, in order that he might minister to my needs in your stead during my imprisonment for the Gospel’s sake, Philemon 1:12-13.

This portion of Paul’s letter was inspired by his relationship with a man named Onesimus. Paul served as the spiritual father of Onesimus, leading him in prayer to faith in Christ. While specific details aren’t included, at one point in his life Onesimus was unprofitable. This term doesn’t refer to his financial status. Rather, Paul is eluding to his spiritual condition as a lack of maturity stunted his growth. Despite this phase of disobedience, Paul doesn’t give up on him.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:8-10.

In another letter to the Church at Galatia, Paul reveals a spiritual reality, “you reap what you sow.” Struggling people tend to be their own worst enemy, as poor choices result in self destruction. Whether you’re a coach, friend or parent, seeing someone whom you love struggle can be heart breaking. Nonetheless, don’t lose heart or grow weary for fighting for what is good and right. If you stand by their side by bathing this person in prayer, faith will prevail.

by Jay Mankus

Going Off to an Invisible War

When individuals turn 18 in the United States, you can register to vote and enlist into the military if that is the path you want to choose. Prior to January 27th 1973, young men were forced to serve this country via a draft. Today, nearly 60 countries around the world still have some form of service conscription. As for modern day Christians, instead of heading off to boot camp for training, all you need to find is a quiet before going off to an invisible war.

But when you pray, go into your [most] private room, and, closing the door, pray to your Father, Who is in secret; and your Father, Who sees in secret, will reward you in the open, Matthew 6:6.

This concept was first introduced by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. The context of this passage was to ensure that prayer was done in a private setting, not as a way to show off in public as some Pharisees were doing. Jesus didn’t just preach to the masses, He lived out biblical disciplines. One of the apostle Paul’s ministry helpers recalls the time Jesus went missing in the middle of the night. As the disciples began to panic, Jesus was merely going off to an invisible war.

And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed. 36 And Simon [Peter] and those who were with him followed Him pursuing Him eagerly and hunting Him out], 37 And they found Him and said to Him, Everybody is looking for You. 38 And He said to them, Let us be going on into the neighboring country towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out, Mark 1:35-38.

Jesus went for a walk before sunset, finding a quiet place to begin his day with prayer. While Mark does not provide the length of time spent out in the wilderness, Jesus likely prayed for more than an hour, possibly two. As Jesus arose from this spiritual battle on his knees, He was armed with exactly where to go and what to do. As King Solomon once wrote about, “many are the plan’s in a man’s heart, but the Lord’s purpose prevail,” Proverbs 19:21. This is what it means to go off to an invisible war.

by Jay Mankus

Concentrate Your Prayers

When individuals participate in a long conversation, you may reach a point where you lose focus. While some topics are so fascinating that discussions will last for hours, others get old fast as you try to slip away to avoid wasting any more time. The talks that I remember the most in life are the ones that I was captivated by someone or something. Your degree of concentration tends to make the difference between a boring and interesting conversation.

Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; 18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19.

Conversation is the action or power of focusing one’s attention by using a concerted mental effort. When Christians enter into a conversation with God via prayer, there are many distractions that may abruptly end this spiritual connection. The apostle Paul wrote two letters to the Church at Thessalonica. In each letter Paul makes a point to encourage believers to concentrate their prayers.

Furthermore, brethren, do pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed on (spread rapidly and run its course) and be glorified (extolled) and triumph, even as [it has done] with you, 2 Thessalonians 3:1.

The first mention refers to developing a prayerful mindset. When prayer become unceasing, a hedge of protection is formed so that you will be prepared for whatever circumstance comes your way. Meanwhile, if you begin to pray for the Great Commission to be fulfilled, Matthew 28:19-20, the Word of the Lord will continue to spread. Despite the rise and fall of emotions in this life, concentrate your prayers so that God will be glorified.

by Jay Mankus

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