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A Permanent Dwelling Place

The biblical city of Corinth is located in modern day Greece, southwest of Athens. According to Acts 17:16, the apostle Paul is grieved by a city full of idols. Based upon an encounter with Epicurean and Stoic philosophers, Paul did find two positive signs. Using an altar dedicated to an unknown god and a poet who writes about being an offspring of God, Paul introduces the God of the Bible to the Greeks. Based upon the passages below, the Corinthians needed to abandon their current idols so that room could be made for a permanent dwelling place for God’s Spirit.

Do you not discern and understand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, collectively as a church and also individually]? 17 If anyone does hurt to God’s temple or corrupts it [with false doctrines] or destroys it, God will do hurt to him and bring him to the corruption of death and destroy him. For the temple of God is holy (sacred to Him) and that [temple] you [the believing church and its individual believers] are, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17.

Just as Jewish religious leaders viewed the temple as a physical building to worship God, Greeks possessed a similar mindset. Thus, Paul compares human bodies to a living spiritual temple. This inner sanctuary is where the Holy Spirit was designed to reside within your soul. However, until you recognize this spiritual truth, daily actions, choices and selfish decisions can corrupt, damage or hinder the Spirit’s ability to transform your life. Perhaps, this explains why Paul repeats himself three chapters later, using an analogy of a prostitute to grab a reader’s attention.

Or do you not know and realize that when a man joins himself to a prostitute, he becomes one body with her? The two, it is written, shall become one flesh. 17 But the person who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with Him. 18 Shun immorality and all sexual looseness [flee from impurity in thought, word, or deed]. Any other sin which a man commits is one outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body. 19 Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 1 Corinthians 6:16-19.

Addressing ungodly relationships within the church, Paul adds a new dimension to human bodies as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Most sins that individuals commit are external such as gossip, fits of rage or slander. However, any type of sexual sin in the form of sexual immorality harms your own body. While you may have desires to make a permanent dwelling place for the Holy Spirit, sin will shut the door, locking God out. The only way to repair your relationship with God is to be reunited by purging sexual sins from your life. Until your temple is swept clean from sin, the Spirit will only have a temporary home.

by Jay Mankus

A Reason to Reconsider

Imitation is a response by an observer or observers who replicate another’s behavior. This can be viewed as a form a flattery when the originator sees others coping a dance move, expression or unique style. One of the nicknames Jesus received during the first century was the Great Magician. Jealous of Jesus’ great healing powers, religious leaders began to refer to Jesus as an illusionist, performing miracles in the name of Satan, Matthew 12:24. Despite these claims, Jesus’ ministry inspired others to become faith healers without having a personal relationship with God.

Then some of the traveling Jewish exorcists also attempted to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I implore you and solemnly command you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches!” – Acts 19:13

During a trip to Ephesus, Luke details a family of brothers who became Jewish exorcists. This isn’t a scene out of the Exorcism of Emily Rose, a 2005 film. Rather, the sons of Sceva traveled to homes filled with desperate individuals hoping to be set free from demonic oppression and possession. Apparently, this was a viable occupation, making enough money and successful enough to rid souls from imps. Yet, when this crew confronted a legion of demons, all 7 got their butts kicked, barely escaping, fleeing in fear.

This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified and exalted. 18 Many of those who had become believers were coming, confessing and disclosing their [former sinful] practices. 19 And many of those who had practiced magical arts collected their books and [throwing book after book on the pile] began burning them in front of everyone. They calculated their value and found it to be 50,000 pieces of silver, Acts 19:17-19.

Like the top grossing horror films of all time, fear gripped everyone who interviewed these brothers or witnessed this assault. According to Luke, the thought of imitating the Christian faith stopped, resulting in a spiritual awakening that spread to practicing witches. Contrite hearts began to purge their lives from anything that attempted to imitate God’s power. Subsequently, magical books worth 50,000 pieces of silver were burned. The fear of God from what happened to the 7 sons of Sceva served as a reason to reconsider previous practices by embracing Jesus as Lord and Savior.

by Jay Mankus

Believing in a Move of God

When I am depressed, frustrated or find myself falling into bad habits, I cry out to God.  This prayer in the form of a Hail Mary, a sports related phrase, doesn’t always work.  The best way to explain this lack of response from God is that I have already made up my mind, not open to applying God’s advice.  Until I reach the point of a contrite heart, turning 180 degrees from sin toward God, the Lord isn’t ready to take me serious.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved! – Psalm 80:19

During periods of the Old Testament, Israel was waiting on a movement of God.  The Bible refers to this process as a revival, where God resuscitates, restores and relaunches souls back on track toward God’s will for your life.   However, Individuals must display acts of contrition before a move of God will commence.  An Old Testament prophet eludes to this principle in Isaiah 1:15-20.  Isaiah talks about a time when God will not answer your prayers.  According to Isaiah, until you wash yourself by purging evil from your life, God will not bless your life or move in a mighty way.

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? – Psalm 85:6

The author of Hebrews adds one key step to jump starting a move of God, belief must come first.  This first century apostle states that you can’t please God unless faith in God is acted upon.  This is why many Christians end up falling short of experiencing the abundant life of Christ, John 10:10.  Hebrews 11 serves as the Bible Hall of Fame as each candidate is recognized by the faith they displayed.  If this blog finds you like me, frustrated and hopeless, may these promises in the Bible revive you so that a move of God will uplift your soul and re-energize your life.

by Jay Mankus

You Might Want to Check This Out

Whenever a student enters their first semester of high school or college, transitioning to this next level can be difficult.  Some professors and teachers understand this, providing subtle hints during lectures.  The more serious might exclaim, “what aren’t you writing this down.”  Meanwhile, savvy veterans tend to be more entertaining, coughing in gest “this seems like a good test question,” winking to anyone paying attention.  Ultimately, I learned that anytime facts, information or statistics were repeated, it was something I should definitely study.

If your hand causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It is better for you to enter life crippled, than to have two hands and go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:43-44.

During a first century speech to his disciples, Jesus repeats the same sentence almost verbatim three times.  The subtext above this passage in my Bible reads Dire Warnings,  I don’t mean to be Captain Obvious, but you might want to check into this beginning with Mark 9:44.  Since the previous verse mentions hell, this statement refers to an eternal reality.  From a literal stand point, Jesus highlights a constant gnawing on human flesh in a place without any escape from fire.  Jesus’ dire warning is to scare souls straight from this state of eternal suffering.

If your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It would be better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell, 46 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:45-46

Jesus’ advice to avoid this destination is through the Old Testament practice of purging.  While Jesus isn’t telling people to physical remove parts of your body, the actual call to action refers to removing the source of temptation within your life.  For an alcoholic its getting rid of any beverages that might cause you to stumble.  Those addicted to pornographic must place filters on computers, cancel mail subscriptions and remove all magazines that promotes lust.  Everyone has a weakness.  There is no such thing as a superman or super woman.  Rather, each must meditate, pray and act immediately upon conviction so that any traces of temptation are removed.  May you be successful in this constant battle to avoid the wrong eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Spoiled Faith

I caught an interview on TBN, the Trinity Broadcasting Network over the weekend about Middle East converts to Christianity. To protect their identity, new believers were sharing the hardships following a decision to leave the Muslim faith.  One woman opened up about a phone call she had with her mother.  This mom believed her daughter had been brain washed, poisoned by zealous disciples of Christ.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

In the last decade, Christians have been crucified, persecuted and in some cases forced to leave their homeland.  Since the mainstream media is not covering, investigating or reporting this news, the average American does not believe these travesties exist.  Subsequently, many who claim to follow or serve God do not know what true faith is.  Instead, political correctness is breeding a culture that is spoiling genuine faith.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

If there is anyone who is an expert in the field of hardship and persecution, the apostle Paul fits this criteria.  Following a life devoted to legalism as a Pharisee, Paul’s unexpected transformation creates a wave of resentment against his decision to become a missionary.  The passage above shares the spiritual truths suffering taught Paul.  Hardship serves as a spiritual purging, slowly changing your perspective on life.  If you never face trials, growth can be stunted.  Therefore, the next time suffering comes knocking, don’t let a spoiled faith keep you from becoming the man and woman God wants you to be.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Cleansing of the Soul

The Greek philosopher Plato referred to the soul as a psyche with 3 parts: reason, high spirited and appetite.  Modern definitions suggest the soul is the essence of who you are, personification or something connected to the heart and mind.  However you envision the soul, one thing is clear, sooner or later a cleansing will be necessary.

If a car needs their cooling system flushed every 50,000 to 75,000 miles, then why would individuals go years without cleansing their soul.  The Message Bible provides a modern illustration of what it means to be purge your soul from the stresses of life.  Listen to Jesus as he addresses wounded souls:   28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

An Old Testament prophet recounts a similar procedure within Isaiah 1:12-20.  The situation recorded takes us behind the scenes to God’s perspective.  Exposing the flaws of mankind, impure motives abound, preventing the Lord from answering prayers for forgiveness.  Yet, when honest lips take the initiative, the cleansing process can commence.  Nonetheless, words are meaningless unless acts of contrition follow.  Therefore, if you truly want transgressions of the past flushed out of your body, practice the words of Isaiah 1:16-18 and you too can experience a cleansing of your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Inches From Adultery

In a chapter entitled, Anatomy of Adultery, Dr. James Dobson addresses a shocking trend in America.  Although men were more guilty of committing adultery in previous decades, today married women 29 years of age and younger have turned the tables on their spouses, indulging in significantly more affairs than men.  Another study from Dr. Kelly Bonewell reveals 4 out of 10 Americans believe adultery is morally acceptable.  If this is true, many adults are inches away from adultery.

The topic of adultery is nothing new.  During his famous Sermon on the Mount, Jesus threw a curve ball to those in attendance.  Formerly regarded as something only a married man or woman could commit, Jesus introduces a spiritual element to adultery in Matthew 5:27-30.  This perspective has no limitations, including all ages, who are also vulnerable to temptation.  Adultery isn’t just a sin, its a byproduct of lust.  Therefore, if flirting gives birth to lust, James 1:13-15, even Christians can draw close, inches away from adultery.

The first time I read Jesus’ comments in Matthew 5:29-30, I thought He was being unreasonable.  However, once I did a little research, I discovered Jesus was referencing the Old Testament principle of purging.  When someone removes the atmosphere, environment and traces of lust, thoughts of adultery will fade from their minds.  However, if you put yourself into a compromising position one too many times, the line will be crossed so that inches become reality.  May the words of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 serve as a warning before its too late to alter history.

by Jay Mankus

 

Dining Out

The events of today can only be explained as a God instance, leading me to center of God’s will for a moment in time.  Stir crazy from not being cleared to go back to work yet, I spent 2 hours spring cleaning, purging my lame wardrobe.  After running an errand, I felt compelled to find a quiet restaurant to read and write for a while.  What followed next is best described as a Happy Meal at McDonald’s.

After enjoying a small treat from the dollar menu, I began reading a few chapters of the Bible, jotting down interesting details.  Before I started my prayer journal, a stranger approached with a few questions.  Noticing my Bible, his curiosity led to an hour long conversation.  Fifteen minutes later, a bystander joined the fray, adding to what I had begun.  To my surprise, this passionate woman was the mother of one of my former students.  When she departed, our discussion continued, reflecting on the temptations in life.

Although the conclusion wasn’t earth shattering, a seed was planted in a heart whose soul has been influenced by the hypocrisy of Christian leaders.  In life, God doesn’t force anyone to believe.  Rather, the apostle Paul suggests individuals are surrounded by visible and invisible qualities of a higher power, Romans 1:18-20.  Thus, anyone who is longing for a deeper meaning to life should start by soaking in the words of Christ, Romans 10:17, so that one day their minds will be renewed.  If you’re thinking about driving through or ordering take out, you might miss an encounter of a lifetime.  Therefore, slow down, kneel and ask the Holy Spirit for the words to share as you dine out.

by Jay Mankus

Cleansing of the Tides

High above the crashing breakers

Beyond the daylight of the sky

Exists a barren crusted mass

That reflects light back to earth

Penetrating the darkness of night

Is an illuminating oblique feature

Which serves a specific purpose

We call this spotlight the moon

A rotating orb which circles the earth

To preform its 24 hour cleaning service

Controlling tidal movements for our planet

The tides obey every command

Going to and fro and in and out

Cleansing every impurity into the seas

Our tides create a natural recycling system

Purging shores from daily tarnish

Erasing any signs with just one wave

These blemishes are quickly forgotten

As far as the east is from the west

This is symbolic of God’s unconditional love

Who cleanses another undeserving soul from sin!

(c) Jay Mankus, July 1996.

This was a poem which was inspired by a Carman song from the 1990’s.  As I asked the Lord what to write yesterday, I heard a still small voice remind me of this poem.  Thus, today it is reborn in a new format.  I hope you enjoy the message!  My these tides serve as a fresh start for 2013!

What Causes Someone to Pull the Trigger?

In light of the recent murder of Kasandra M. Perkins and subsequent suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, its important to learn from this tragedy.  If our culture continues to make the same mishaps without gathering information from history, we won’t survive.  Thus, it is vital to begin to grasp what causes someone who appears normal to pull the trigger.

To uncover this mystery, we must go back 8,000 years to study the first murder ever recorded.  Cain was a farmer, like his father Adam, a difficult occupation due to the curse placed on the ground by God in Genesis 3:17-19.  Taking this into account, Abel, Cain’s younger brother, decides he doesn’t want to stay in the family business, opting to pursue a career as a shepherd.  Not dependent on the soil, Abel thrives, moving his sheep from field to field once the are grasslands depleted.  This success leads Abel to easily give his first fruits back to God while older brother Cain struggles to make ends meat.  These events create a spirit of jealousy within Cain’s heart, frustrated by blessings Abel receives, Genesis 4:4-7.

Now that we have a motive for murder, one must delve into the words of Jesus, investigating the Sermon on the Mount to probe for more clues why someone might pull the trigger.  In Matthew 5, Jesus is trying to put Old Testament laws, mainly the 10 Commandments into modern terms.  Jesus isn’t attempting to change these commands.  Rather, He is putting them into laymen terms so that everyone in attendance understands.

According to Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus equates hatred with murder.  A normal person is not going to pull the trigger, killing someone.  However, when a person allows hatred to enter their heart and dwell there, murder is conceived.  Like the conservation with Cain in Genesis 4:6-7, God was trying to talk him out of acting upon his hatred of Abel.  The expression “sin is crouching at your door” is a Babylonian term used to refer to an evil demon trying to enter a building, threatening to harm those inside.  In other words, the second stage to pulling the triggers involves demonic influences which sows seeds of murder within someone’s mind.

Yet, Jesus does not stop here; there is one more step which pushes people over the cliff of normalcy to insanity.  Although the context of Matthew 5:27-30 is adultery, Jesus is addressing the Old Testament practice of purging.  If an alcoholic wants to quit drinking, but lives next door to a liquor store, he must move to purge his desire to drink.  Likewise, if someone embraces unwholesome lusts, you have to take drastic steps to regain control of your body, Matthew 5:29-30.  People who commit suicide and or murder are enslaved by these desires, crossing the point of no return like Cain, James 1:13-15.

I don’t claim to be an expert on murder or suicide, but I do believe all the answers to life can be found in the Bible.  You may not have all your questions answered in this life, yet you can make reservations for the next life, John 3:16-17.  In fact, John, the one whom Jesus loved, who knew Jesus better than anyone else on earth, leaves everyone an amazing promise in 1 John 5:13.  Make a date with God today, Romans 10:9-10, before its too late to act!

by Jay Mankus

A Study of the Word

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