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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

Keep Praying for Complete Honesty in all Things

One of Aesop’s Fables written in 550 Before Christ tells the story of Mercury and the Woodcutter. When the woodcutter tells the truth about not losing a golden axe, he is rewarded by Mercury. This fable is the origin of honesty is the best policy. While honesty is mentioned 52 times in the Bible, human nature has a way of tempting people to exaggerate the truth.

Keep praying for us, for we are convinced that we have a good (clear) conscience, that we want to walk uprightly and live a noble life, acting honorably and in complete honesty in all things. 19 And I beg of you [to pray for us] the more earnestly, in order that I may be restored to you the sooner, Hebrews 13:18-19.

The author of Hebrews ends his letter with a series of calls to action. One of the best things you can do is pray for a clear conscience. When a conscience is troubled, you will be convicted to confess what you have done wrong. The earthly brother of Jesus provides similar advice in James 5:16. According to James, verbally confessing your sins will lead to healing and restoration.

The wise in heart will accept and obey commandments, but the foolish of lips will fall headlong. He who walks uprightly walks securely, but he who takes a crooked way shall be found out and punished, Proverbs 10:8-9.

King Solomon provides his own wisdom on this topic. Honest people have hearts that accept and obey God’s commandments. Yet, fools don’t take this seriously and end up doing whatever they want. When people do what’s right in their own eyes, the truth becomes clouded as justifications are made to excuse their behavior. In the end, praying for complete honesty in all things is the best way to break bad habits so that you can start to walk in an upright manner in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

Forgetting the Divine Word

Amnesia is a condition where individuals develop an inability to recall facts or previous experiences. This can be brought on by a brain injury, fatigue, repression, shock, trauma, or illnesses like lyme disease. From a spiritual perspective, amnesia can be induced by addiction, bad habits and a series of poor choices. Once sin entangles a life, this can cause a Christian to forget God’s word.

And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; Hebrews 12:5.

Whenever a busy week approaches, I try to maintain my daily schedule of reading the Bible and praying. Yet, at least once a month a packed schedule causes me to put my time with God on hold. Since I tend to be extremely focused on what I’m doing, I’m become so engrossed on the present that I forget about God. The longer I put off spending time with the Lord, I forget the Divine Word.

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 1:14-15.

The earthly brother of James gives an honest perspective of how and why Christians forget the Bible. When tempted by earthly pleasures or treasures, it’s not uncommon to have lapses in judgement. Whether you’re Edmund meeting the witch for the first time in the Chronicles of Narnia or Peter in public following Jesus’ arrest, enticement and peer pressure is hard to overcome. Yet, if you want to overcome any temptation, open up the Bible so that you don’t forget the Divine Word this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

The Mystic Secret of Faith

The English term Mysticism comes from the Greek word μύω meaning “I conceal”. The Greek derivative μυστικός, also known as mystikos refers to “an initiate.” The Christian definition of Mysticism is that part, or element, of Christian belief and practice that concerns the preparation for, the consciousness of, and the effect of a direct and transformative presence of God. The mystic part comes into play when the Holy Ghost, an invisible presence can transform the life of a rebellious and wayward soul.

They must possess the mystic secret of the faith [Christian truth as hidden from ungodly men] with a clear conscience, 1 Timothy 3:9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul claims that the truth about Christianity is hidden from the ungodly. Since Paul doesn’t go into greater details, perhaps Paul is referring to individuals who are self absorbed by their own sinful nature. Jesus uses imagery like light shining into darkness, John 1:5. One of the ways truth is hidden is when Satan snatches away what was sown in someone’s heart, Matthew 13:19. When you add this to lust of the flesh and pride. 1 John 2:15-17, the love of the world prevents many from trusting Jesus as Lord and Savior, Romans 10:9-10.

But the Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will cause you to recall (will remind you of, bring to your remembrance) everything I have told you, John 14:26.

As Passion Week began, Jesus gave hints to the transformative presence of God. The Holy Spirit is like an inner guide who helps, discerns, intercedes and guide you toward what God wants you to do and where you should go. Jesus demonstrates the mystic secret of faith while praying early in the morning, Mark 1:35-36. While the disciples had their own ideas on how they were going to spend the day, the Holy Spirit gave Jesus precise instructions. To a certain extent, I never really know what topic I am going to write about each week, but when the Spirit moves I follow by typing until my blogs are completed. In the end, faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

by Jay Mankus

Prophetic Intimations

An intimation is the action of making something known, especially in an indirect way. To the visual learner, speaking in parables by using analogies that spoke to a first century audience was effective. Instead of dumbing down his message like a teacher telling everyone the answers, Jesus uses prophetic intimations to make people think. One of the stereotypes assigned to Christians is naive, blindly following an invisible God. Yet, this is far from the truth.

This charge and admonition I commit in trust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with prophetic intimations which I formerly received concerning you, so that inspired and aided by them you may wage the good warfare, 1 Timothy 1:18.

Free will offers everyone the chance to spend their time as they wish. Going to church, reading your Bible or praying isn’t forced by a spiritual drill sergeant. Rather, attending church, going to a Bible Study or worshiping God should be something that Christians want to do. When I was a young Catholic searching to make sense of God, I was eager to find out the truth. The more I read the Bible, Old Testament prophecies began to align, opening my eyes to the Savior of the world.

And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those [preeminently] sinful? 12 But when Jesus heard it, He replied, Those who are strong and well (healthy) have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy [that is, [i]readiness to help those in trouble] and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite [to repentance] the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin), Matthew 9:11-13.

During a first century conversation, Jesus target audience comes into focus. The healthy don’t need to doctor, able to survive on their own. However, the sick and sinners all reach a point of desperation. Subsequently, Jesus recruited and trained 12 disciples to become spiritually self-sufficient. The goal was after Jesus fulfilled God’s master plan, these men could carry on his ministry after his ascension into heaven. As Christians strive to live the abundant life, John 10:10, you should want to draw closer and closer to God with each passing day. Seize the time that God gives you on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Mind Your Own Business

In my younger years as a student, if I was caught eavesdropping or asked too many questions, an insider would reply “mind your own business.” This idiom means to refrain from meddling, by keeping to your own affairs. Apparently, this expression was first used in the first century by the apostle Paul. Perhaps Paul was referencing part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:1-5. Instead of judging others, Paul wants believers to get your own affairs in order first.

To make it your ambition and definitely endeavor to live quietly and peacefully, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we charged you,12 So that you may bear yourselves becomingly and be correct and honorable and command the respect of the outside world, being dependent on nobody [self-supporting] and having need of nothing, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12.

In a letter to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul builds upon this concept. No one likes a control freak who points their finger to cast blame upon anyone who makes a mistake. If I could paraphrase the words above into modern lingo, “don’t tell people how to live, show them by your own example.” Christians who focus on studying the Bible, praying and applying biblical truth set the tone and become the light of the world, Matthew 5:14-16.

Do nothing from factional motives [through contentiousness, strife, selfishness, or for unworthy ends] or prompted by conceit and empty arrogance. Instead, in the true spirit of humility (lowliness of mind) let each regard the others as better than and superior to himself [thinking more highly of one another than you do of yourselves]. Let each of you esteem and look upon and be concerned for not [merely] his own interests, but also each for the interests of others, Philippians 2:3-4.

Instead of using similar terminology like take the plank out of your own eye first, Paul focuses on priorities. If your own life is falling apart, you won’t be much help to anyone in need. While Paul doesn’t say be selfish in the passage above, he suggests that you need to take care of your own interests first. Once you get your own house in order by removing any signs of hypocrisy, you can begin to look out for the interests of others.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Aerobics

Aerobics is a vigorous exercise designed to strengthen the heart and lungs. Besides running, swimming and walking which most of you can do by yourself at home or in your neighborhood, there are an unlimited supply of videos on aerobics. Whether you follow along to a workout video or you tube, there are numerous ways to get back into and stay in shape. However, if you keep putting this off day after day, you’ll lose all motivation for physical exercise.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. 25 Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. 26 Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit], 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

The apostle Paul introduces readers to the concept of spiritual aerobics. Using the host city of the Isthmian Games as a backdrop, a prestigious track and field event held during the off years of the Olympics, Paul references the strict training of these athletes. Spiritual aerobics is designed to strengthen your heart, soul and mind. Whether you’re reading the Bible, praying or participating in a worship service, these exercises energize your spiritual life.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-12.

The author of Hebrews takes spiritual aerobics to the next level, comparing this to running a marathon. I once ran 15 miles in an afternoon training for my senior year of cross country in high school. While one of my teammates easily cruised through the final few miles, I struggled to finish as my legs got heavier and heavier with each stride. The key to spiritual aerobics is unloading and throwing off anything that is holding you back or slowing you down. Instead of dreading the race called life, keep your head up and fix your eyes on Jesus so you will find the strength to make it to the finish line.

by Jay Mankus

Lord It’s Been So Long

If you’re not careful, life can be like a white water rafting trip. Once you’re on the river, there is danger lurking around every corner. Depending upon the classification and level of rapids, each one can come fast and furious. Unless there is some sort of break in between for your mind to relax, there will be no rest for the weary. Anyone who finds themselves on a wild ride may be so focused on survival that taking time to spend with God is like a blip on a radar screen.

Moses sent them to scout out the land of Canaan, and said to them, Get up this way by the South (the Negeb) and go up into the hill country,18 And see what the land is and whether the people who dwell there are strong or weak, few or many,19 And whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they dwell in are camps or strongholds, 20 And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. And be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes, Numbers 13:17-20.

In his 1993 song, Power and Promise, Brett Williams uses the phrase, “Lord It’s Been So Long.” The context of these lyrics date back to Moses waiting to enter God’s Promise Land. In the second stanza, Williams refers back to the anguish Mary felt while her brother Lazarus was dead for 3 days. When signs of God’s power or presence is absent, invisible to your eyes, staying optimistic in times of trouble is difficult. This is where faith comes into play.

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? Anyone who walks about in the daytime does not stumble, because he sees [by] the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks about in the night, he does stumble, because there is no light in him [the light is lacking to him]. 11 He said these things, and then added, Our friend Lazarus is at rest and sleeping; but I am going there that I may awaken him out of his sleep, John 11:9-11.

However, when basic spiritual routines like going to church, reading the Bible or praying stop occurring, God fades from your memory. While the Coronavirus may have been an excuse for some to use in 2020, it’s time to reconnect. The imagery of Luke 15:20 pictures the Lord as a concerned parent, patiently waiting on the front porch for prodigals to come home. Until lost souls come to their senses, this reconciliation is put on hold. Therefore, if you find yourself distant from God, today as good as any day to open up by saying, “Lord, it’s been so long.”

by Jay Mankus

Prayers to Stay Alive

The prophet Isaiah served as the spiritual advisor to King Hezekiah. On one occasion in Judah, Isaiah became a bearer of bad news, 2 Kings 20:1, revealing that Hezekiah’s illness will end his life. Not willing to go down without a fight, Isaiah records the words of this dying king. According to the context in Isaiah 38:2, upon hearing his death sentence, King Hezekiah turned away from the prophet, pouring his heart out to the Lord while facing a wall. Fourteen verses later, Hezekiah makes his intentions clear, “bring me back to life.”

Like a twittering swallow or a crane, so do I chirp and chatter; I moan like a dove. My eyes are weary and dim with looking upward. O Lord, I am oppressed; take my side and be my security [as of a debtor being sent to prison]. 15 But what can I say? For He has both spoken to me and He Himself has done it. I must go softly [as in solemn procession] all my years and my sleep has fled because of the bitterness of my soul. 16 O Lord, by these things men live; and in all these is the life of my spirit. O give me back my health and make me live! – Isaiah 38:14-16

Dying of old age is one thing, but when a rare disease threatens the life of child, parents become desperate. John Mark recalls a father who sought out Jesus, eager for him to come to his house. Before arriving, Jesus tells this ruler of the synagogue to keep on believing. Unfortunately, it appears that they were too late as news of this little girl’s death spread throughout Jairus’ home. Instead of accepting defeat, Jesus cleared the room, praying with his inner circle. Taking the laying on of hands to a new level, Jesus commands the spirit of death to leave this girl by proclaiming “arise”.

When they arrived at the house of the ruler of the synagogue, He looked [carefully and with understanding] at [the] tumult and the people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 And when He had gone in, He said to them, Why do you make an uproar and weep? The little girl is not dead but is sleeping. 40 And they laughed and jeered at Him. But He put them all out, and, taking the child’s father and mother and those who were with Him, He went in where the little girl was lying. 41 Gripping her [firmly] by the hand, He said to her, Talitha cumi—which translated is, Little girl, I say to you, arise [from the sleep of death]! – Mark 5:38-41

While father time will eventually be victorious, it doesn’t mean that you should accept a doctor’s diagnosis. When I was 16, I was told that I would never run again and most likely walk with a limp for the rest of my life. However, before my surgery for torn tendons and an ankle twisted 180 degrees in the wrong directions, Ken Horne and friends from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes laid hands on me in the hallway. Praying for a miracle, even the doctor who performed this procedure was surprised that I was able to run cross country my senior year of high school. When you refuse to accept fate, there are several examples of prayers in the Bible to help you stay alive physically and spiritually.

by Jay Mankus

When You Wanna Get Away

When the National Football League was in it’s prime, Southwest Airlines was one of it’s corporate sponsors. The initial commercial began with an official making a bad call during a game; then made it worse by leaving his microphone on while discussing the play with other referees. Thus, the phrase “you wanna get away” was born.

And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed, Mark 1:35.

Embarrassing moments don’t just disappear with time. Depending upon your age, how much you talk and the risks you take in life, these awkward and epic failures tend to increase. While on a field trip to the Smithsonian as a freshmen in high school, I wasn’t paying attention. Subsequently, I tried to walk up a down escalator. When I took I violent crash face first, I definitely wanted to get away.

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 1:36-38.

The Bible refers to a different kind of a get away. According to one of Paul’s missionary servants, Jesus started each new day by retreating to a quiet place. Once settled, Jesus began to communicate with his heavenly father. This time of prayer cleared Jesus’ head, enabling Him to start focusing on today. While modern people often wake up in a daze, Jesus was refreshed, able to narrow in on where to go, what to do and who to reach. The next time you wanna get away, follow in the footsteps of Jesus by praying.

by Jay Mankus

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