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Tag Archives: Savior

Determined in the Spirit

Bent on, committed to, firm about, insistent on and obsessed with are all expressions associated with determined. The actual definition is having made a firm decision and being resolved not to change it. Just as professional athletes exhibit determination to become the best in the world, the apostle Paul reached a spiritual maturity that few Christians ever display. Perhaps, Paul received a message from the Lord that his time left on earth was nearing an end. Whatever the reason, the process of becoming determined in the Spirit was conceived.

Now after these events, Paul determined in the Spirit that he would travel through Macedonia and Achaia (most of the Greek mainland), and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome [and preach the good news of salvation],” Acts 19:21.

The best way to comprehend the concept of being determined in the Spirit is by examining a letter Paul wrote to the church at Colosse. This determination is derived from a heart and mind fixated on eternity. Paul didn’t harbor hate for his enemies and spiritual opponents. Rather, Paul crucified his sinful nature by habitually concentrating on things from above, heaven. Each person in the crowds that he preached to were considered lost souls in desperate need of a Savior. This mindset motivated Paul to become driven and determined in the Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

Therefore if you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, sharing in His resurrection from the dead], keep seeking the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above [the heavenly things], not on things that are on the earth [which have only temporal value]. For you died [to this world], and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory, Colossians 3:1-4.

Is it possible to become determined in the Spirit today? Well, a portion of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount provides an easy self-evaluation for you to see if you are on the right track, Matthew 6:19-24. The context of this message is addressing proper and improper attitudes and motives. Depending upon your current spiritual condition, what do you treasure? Luke 12:34 reinforces the notion that where your treasure is, your heart will be also. When hearts embrace temporary treasures, wandering eyes will empower lust to indulge the sinful nature, 1 John 2:15-17. As for me, until I begin to treasure eternal things daily, being determined in the Spirit won’t be achievable until my heart and mind align with God.

by Jay Mankus

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Ridiculing Responses From God

The dictionary refers to cynicism as an inclination to believe that people are motivated purely by self-interest.  Synonyms include doubt, suspension and skeptical.  As postmodern and secular humanism replace a biblical worldview, it’s not uncommon to hear individuals ridicule responses from God.  Following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting at the Tree of Life Worship Center, a few members of the media scoffed at offers of thoughts and prayers for those affected.  Instead these individuals demanded calls for repealing the second amendment by demonizing guns.

Knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires, 2 Peter 3:3.

According to one of Jesus’ disciples, the world will see a rise in scoffing.  A growing number of people will liter their speech with deriding comments, mockery and a sneering tone.  The days of Leave It to Beaver and Little House on the Prairie are long gone.  In it’s place Modern Family, Seinfeld and the Simpsons has transformed millennials.  As a generation grows up without attending church, experiencing youth groups and or missing a spiritual mentor along the way, it’s no wonder that scoffers will increase as the second coming of Jesus approaches.

One of the criminals who had been hanged [on a cross beside Him] kept hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us [from death]!”– Luke 23:39

As a trio of people were in the process of being crucified, one desperate soul fought to the very end.  In the heat of the moment, this criminal became frustrated by Jesus’ lack of action.  Essentially, he was saying, “we don’t have much time left; if you’re truly the Son of God, save yourself; then save us.”  Unaware of God’s grand design, this man died without knowing a Savior.  Perhaps, the bitterness, ridicule and venom that comes out of someone’s mouth is a byproduct of spiritual frustration.  Thus, the next time you are a victim of ridicule, dig a little deeper into the life of this perpetrator to see if the hope of a Savior may transform their life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Regress or Resolve

If you live long enough, everyone will experience periods of atavism, backsliding and reverting back to previous habits of your childhood.  The dictionary refers to this as regression, where individuals return to a less developed state.  These lapses can last a few days, linger or develop into addictive states.  Thus, the sooner one acts, the better you will be in the future.

For sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, deceived me, and through the commandment put me to death, Romans 7:11.

Unfortunately, depression is a powerful force.  This mood can oppress the soul, crippling any good intentions to escape.  Beside prayer and fasting, resolve is one of the last hopes for anyone stuck in a rut.  Imaging the person you use to be and seek to become is a step in the right direction, yet doubt, fear and uncertainty create a valley that seems too wide to jump over.

As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me, Romans 7:17.

Nonetheless, experiencing regression sucks, not a fun place to call home.  As I search for the person I use to be, I often wonder if I will ever see glimpses of the man I once was.  As I wait to see how this story unfolds, there is much work to do and restoration to accomplish.  Yet, for now I cling to resolve, resisting the urge to continue in complacency.  Perhaps, the apostle Paul endured a similar battle in Romans 7.  Thanks be to God for a Savior who conquered sin and death so that those wrestling with regression may one day taste victory.

by Jay Mankus

The Savior of the World

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it, Matthew 7:13.

Two times of year at Christmas and Easter, backsliders, the religious and prodigals reunite at church.  The motives for this annual tradition vary.  Some do this as an act of penance.  Others do this as an obligation to their friends or parents.  Meanwhile, there are those who hope this visit will transform their life, praying that the Savior of the world will become real.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it, Matthew 7:14.

However, in recent years there has been some confusion over what the term Savior means.  Is Jesus the Savior of the World, for those who seek Him out?  Or is Jesus the Savior for the world, everyone included?  As Universalism expands throughout the world, the Pope and some evangelists are taking stances not found in the Bible.  Fearful of offending those outside the church, spiritual leaders are now claiming the God of the Bible is the same God as those whom other religions worship.  Unfortunately, this is not true.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves, Matthew 7:15.

During his sermon on the Mount, Jesus spoke about two destinations, heaven and hell.  Based upon his own words in the gospel of Matthew, those who enter hell is much greater than those who take the road less traveled.  While Jesus is the Savior of the world, He is not the Savior of all.  While this teaching may be unpopular, it comes straight from Jesus’ mouth.  I’m assuming the false prophets are those who stray from the Bible’s teaching, trying to appease a cynical culture.  In view of this, study the Bible for yourself in 2016 and you will discover the truth about the Savior of the world.

by Jay Mankus

Choking the Word Out of Your Faith

One of the assumptions Christians often make is “once saved, always saved,” suggesting salvation can not be lost once you profess faith in Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  However, Jesus provides three exceptions to this rule, real life scenarios that disrupt one’s initial commitment to God.  After the crowds left his presence, Jesus reveals the meaning of the Parable of the Sower to his disciples, exposing how certain things can choke the Word out of someone’s faith.

But the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful, Mark 4:19.

1. The Worries of this life: Beyond food, clothing and shelter, the human mind can race while trying to sleep.  Financial concerns often lead to stress, sucking the joy of one’s life.  Subsequently, the poor begin to think, “if I only had money, then I will truly be happy.”

2. The Deceitfulness of Wealth: You don’t have to venture far into statistics to see how greed can ruin the lives of individuals.  In a Case Study based upon winner’s of the lottery, only a small percentage found true contentment.  Several families were torn apart by selfish expectations, others went bankrupt by burning through their lump sum jackpot and some ended up in prison, corrupted by the love of money.

3. The Desire for Other Things: You don’t have to be rich to lose your way in life.  However, wealth tends to open up doors, leading to opportunities never dreamed of before.  Thus, the need for God and a Savior wane.  In the end, Bibles collect dust, sitting in a drawer for most of one’s life.  If you’re not careful, this gradual process can invade your soul, choking the Word out of your faith.

by Jay Mankus

Setting the Table

Prior to fast food dinners out, setting the table was a daily chore delegated by parents to teach their children about how to properly prepare before each meal.  Beyond laying out table arrangements, this term has been adopted by other avenues.  Baseball uses this analogy to encourage players to get into scoring position so that power hitters can drive them home.  After reading a passage of the Bible today, this saying also relates to a spiritual principle.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way,” Mark 1:2.

If you want to change the hearts, minds and souls of other people, a foundation must be set.  There needs to be a beacon of light, pointing the way through their actions, behavior and words.  Although I never thought of it in this manner, John the Baptist set the table for Jesus.  Inspired by a chance to come clean, purge bad habits and verbally profess their shortcomings, John developed a large following who sought forgiveness.  Despite his success, John recognized that he was only a small piece to life’s puzzle, ready to pass the baton to the Savior of the world.

I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit,” Mark 1:8.

Hidden within John’s words is the realization that his ministry was temporary, unable to permanently change individuals.  However, the real Messiah will offer an invisible power called the Holy Ghost in the King’s James Version.  While the power of sin will continue to cause the masses to fall prey to addiction, character flaws and poor decisions.  The hope of the Holy Spirit provides an anointing that can lead to freedom.  May the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-15 lead you to usher in heaven while living on earth as you set the table for future generations of faith.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Fear is Transformed into Favor

Fright, horror and terror are words synonymous with someone who is afraid.  Whether these emotions stem from witnessing a shocking event, embedded from watching a scary movie or implanted by nightmares from the Devil, rarely is fear associated with something positive.  Nonetheless, a holy fear can transform this word into favor from God.

But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. – 1 Peter 3:14

One of the most overlooked messages of Easter is how a bunch of weak men who went into hiding, afraid for their lives were transformed by the Holy Spirit to become martyrs of the faith.  Fear caused Peter to deny knowing Jesus three times in Matthew 26:69-75.  Yet, some how a reverent fear turned Peter from a scaredy cat into a bold apostle who was crucified upside down, feeling unworthy to be killed in the same manner of his Savior.

Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.   You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. – Psalm 128:1-2

Despite my years of access to the Bible, opportunities to attend mega-churches in the past and relationships with God fearing believers over the course of my life, I still quake and quiver like a little girl when pressed by the world.  Similar to the apostles, we all need a Pentecost moment, Acts 2:1-4, where fear is discarded by a boldness from God’s mighty counselor, Acts 4:29.  Then and only then will fear transform into favor from God.

by Jay Mankus

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