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Delusions

A delusion is an idiosyncratic belief or impression that is firmly maintained despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted. Whether by error, fantasy or an illusion, delusions occur when individuals refuse to believe the facts. As others push back with reason, defense mechanisms kick in. The stubborn often deny reality, opting to participate in arguments and debates, seeking to win others over to their side.

And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is mere delusion [futile, fruitless], and you are still in your sins [under the control and penalty of sin]; 18 And further, those who have died in [spiritual fellowship and union with] Christ have perished (are lost)! – 1 Corinthians 15:17-18

When it comes to faith, believing and trusting in an invisible God in considered a delusion by many today. In the series Joan of Arcadia, Amber Tamblyn plays a high school sophomore who experiences a series of encounters with God. Afraid to tell any of her friends, Joan keeps this relationship secret. When Joan contracts a severe case of Lyme Disease at the end of Season 1, her doctors suggest that her unusual behavior were hallucinations. This crisis of faith makes Joan think God was a delusion.

If we who are [abiding] in Christ have hope only in this life and that is all, then we are of all people most miserable and to be pitied. 20 But the fact is that Christ (the Messiah) has been raised from the dead, and He became the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep [in death]. 21 For since [it was] through a man that death [came into the world, it is] also through a Man that the resurrection of the dead [has come], 1 Corinthians 15:19-21.

When things go your way, it’s easy to believe. However, when your life begins to fall apart, trusting God in the dark becomes a challenge. In your moments of weakness, the father of lies, John 8:44, will plant doubt within your mind. If you allow these thoughts to linger, ungodly beliefs will conceive. When you don’t take your thoughts captive, 2 Corinthians 10:4-5, the Devil can persuade some to believe God is merely a delusion. Don’t fall for this trap as Satan is afraid the same resurrection power that raised Jesus will also transform your life. Learn to trust God in the dark.

by Jay Mankus

God’s Endgame

The term endgame is an expression from the game of chess. Dating back to the 1850’s, endgame refers to the final stage when few pieces remain on the board. When a player’s remaining piece or pieces are trapped, it’s only a matter of time before your opponent declares, “check mate.” From a spiritual perspective, God has always remained one step ahead of the Devil. Just as he was reveling in his victory over Adam and Eve, God’s endgame is revealed in Genesis 3:14-15. While the Devil acquired authority as ruler of the air as spoils for his triumph, Ephesians 2:2, Jesus is sent as a second Adam to change the momentum in this spiritual game of chess.

And Jesus said to him, Today is [Messianic and spiritual] salvation come to [all the members of] this household, since Zacchaeus too is a [real spiritual] son of Abraham; 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:9-10.

According to the apostle Paul, there is no one on earth who is capable of pleasing God, Romans 3:10-12. No matter how determined you may be to achieve perfection, it won’t be long before your weaknesses are exposed. Subsequently, human beings are flawed creatures, unable to turn off their curious nature. Whether you wander into darkness or sit on the fence, watching the grass on the other side, everyone screws up. In the passage above, Jesus meets with a corrupt politician who always took more than was necessary. Despite over taxing and stealing from his constituents, Jesus’ endgame was to seek and to save those who were lost.

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live], Ephesians 2:10.

The game changer for sinners occurs in Romans 5:8. Despite all of our imperfections, God sent his son Jesus to die on our behalf. When Jesus was finally pronounced dead on the cross, Matthew 27:50, the Devil was lulled into a false sense of security. Believing this chess match was over, the Devil convinced one of Jesus’ disciples to take his own life, Matthew 27:5. Jesus died so that individuals could be raised back to life spiritually using this same resurrection power. The apostle Paul uses an illustration in Colossians 3:1-9 as you put to death your old life you can be recreated in Christ Jesus. God’s endgame introduces grace to the lost, God’s riches at Christ’s expense. Whatever you endure, don’t forget God’s endgame.

by Jay Mankus

The Healer and the Healee

News of any sort of biblical healing today will leave skeptics wondering, “that can’t be true, can it?”  In the past, many who have claimed to be the healee only experience temporary healing, with the conditions, illness or symptoms returning sometime after their miraculous encounter.  However, in recent years an outbreak of testimonies are coming in from all over the world from the healer and the healee.

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging. Mark 10:46.

In the days of Jesus, a particular individual sets the scene for a special day.  Unable to see, Bartimaeus appears to have relied on pity to make a living, similar to those who stand at crowded intersections asking for money.  Yet, when news of Jesus’ arrival came, he refused to stay in his hapless state.  Yelling out despite the naysayers, Bartimaeus’ cries touched Jesus’ heart.  A desperate man filled with an unswerving faith opened the door for permanent healing.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him. The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see,” Mark 10:51.

In my own circumstances, I often doubt that God can transform my situation.  Thus, instead of experiencing healing, I tend to become the complainer or complainee.  If only I possessed the faith of Bartimaeus, things would be different.  However, as for now, I’m grasping for the resurrection power made available by the Holy Spirit.  Though the apostle Paul teaches not everyone will be healed, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12, I’m waiting for the day I meet the healer and experience permanent healing.

by Jay Mankus

He Ain’t All That

In every success story, there are two primary factors which often impact the final chapter to each Cinderella story.  The first involves an individual with talent, dedicated to mastering his or her trade.  Discipline, hard work and sacrifices can lead to fame and fortune.  While on the rise, friends, family and relatives begin to develop a sense of entitlement, expecting some sort of payment for their involvement in the process.  When this obligation is not met, things can get ugly as those on the outside looking in respond with, “he ain’t all that!”

Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. – Mark 6:3

This tragedy of society is nothing new.  Jesus dealt with a similar situation as he went back to his hometown to teach at the synagogue.  Whether it is envy or jealousy, people can be cruel, taking occasional jabs to lessen your accomplishments.  In the case of Jesus, the negativity of the crowds grew, causing his ability to heal to decline.  As the murmurs of “he ain’t all that” intensified, this lack of faith restricted the power of God from being displayed.

Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” – Mark 6:4

With the invention of social media, ordinary people get their kicks out of trashing celebrities, professional athletes and those in the media.  Perhaps by tearing others down, insecure souls feel a little better about themselves.  Although misery loves company, lives will not change for the better until an environment for healing is formed.  Therefore, the next time you get the urge to say, “he ain’t all that,” follow the principles of James 5:16 so that the resurrection power of Christ can be unleashed.

by Jay Mankus

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