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Why Did You Do It?

A strange string of current events in my local newspaper has caused me to wonder, “why did you do it?” One couple turned their hotel room into a drug dealing center. Another adult male thought it was a good idea to fill his home with a number of bombs recently uncovered in connection with a local explosion. As I was writing this blog, I heard the news update that the latest school shooter just shot five classmates and himself on his birthday. If this teenage shooter dies, no one will know for sure, why did you do it?

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, Genesis 3:1-4.

The only logical conclusion that makes sense to me is that all of these individuals were deceived by the Devil in some manner or form. While they didn’t have a face to face conversation like Eve in the Garden of Eden, some type of justification and rationalization process occurred within their minds before acting out. Whispers of evil and possibly a desire for 15 seconds of fame has overruled the human conscience. Thus, free will was exercised to do the opposite of what many were taught.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

The Bible’s rationale to explain sinful acts is the mental war between the human flesh and Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to his own struggle to do that which is right. This battle is detailed in Romans 7, followed by the spiritual connection in Romans 8 as sinful minds are hostile to God. Thus, as souls straddle the fence between right and wrong, the longer you allow enticement to reside in your mind, the easier it become to pull the trigger, indulging in wrongful acts. May this latest incident turn the attention toward mental health and not just guns.

by Jay Mankus

On My Way

If you are searching for someone to follow, you’ll probably witness a fair share of blaming others, passing the buck and victimology. If you feel trapped by a negative environment, you might be tempted to sit tight, unsure of where to go and what to do. However, at some point you have to take a leap of faith. As you endure this internal tug of war, what is keeping you from going on your way?

O you poor and silly and thoughtless and unreflecting and senseless Galatians! Who has fascinated or bewitched or cast a spell over you, unto whom—right before your very eyes—Jesus Christ (the Messiah) was openly and graphically set forth and portrayed as crucified? Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the [Holy] Spirit as the result of obeying the Law and doing its works, or was it by hearing [the message of the Gospel] and believing [it]? [Was it from observing a law of rituals or from a message of faith?] – Galatians 3:1-2

During the first century, the apostle Paul visited the region of Galatia. The four cities which comprised this church are Antioch (near Pisidia), Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe. Apparently, a religious sect arose from Galatia and infiltrated this church. Thus, Paul writes a letter inquiring about the Judaizers who added Jewish practices to salvation. A modern comparison would be if you are not baptized in a specific way, you’re not really saved. Paul wants to get these believers back on track so that they can go in the way where God desires.

You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ]. A little leaven (a slight inclination to error, or a few false teachers) leavens the whole lump [it perverts the whole conception of faith or misleads the whole church], Galatians 5:7-9.

While most people who have attended church at some point in life have heard of the sinful nature, few know the inspiration behind Paul’s words in Galatians 5:16-25. When legalism, peer pressure and uncertainty paralyze your faith, souls must be awakened to the invisible spiritual forces that are present. Until individuals learn how to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, fear will keep many Christians stagnant. Therefore, if you want to go on your way by faith, listen and learn by implementing Paul’s teaching to the Galatians.

by Jay Mankus

Provoked by Bitterness and Bound by Sin

If you blessed to be around a newborn baby or infant eager to start crawling, you will witness periodical tantrums.  Some will signal moms that it’s time to breast feed or change a dirty diaper.  Prior to being able to speak, crying, fussing and screaming are signs of displeasure and unhappiness.  When you examine these fits of rage from a biblical perspective, knee jerk reactions from any human being are often provoked by bitterness.

Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this authority and power too, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit,” Acts 8:18-19.

There is where parenting will influence and shape the character of a child.  If parents allow children to get everything they want as soon as he or she cries, the more spoiled this individual will become over time.  This display of bitterness is a sign that the human flesh, known as the sinful nature is alive and well.  Anyone not trained or taught to resist this urge, will be provoked by bitterness and bound to sin.

But Peter said to him, “May your money be destroyed along with you, because you thought you could buy the [free] gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart (motive, purpose) is not right before God. 22 So repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, this thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are provoked by bitterness and bound by sin,” Acts 8:20-23.

During a trip to Samaria, Luke records an interesting conversation between Peter and a magician called Simon.  Based upon the passage above, Simon appears to have been spoiled in his younger years, normally getting whatever he wants.  Subsequently, Simon offers Peter a bribe, attempting to receive the Holy Spirit through a cash exchange.  However, this isn’t how God works.  When motives are impure, prayer is necessary to get yourself right before God.  Yet, unless you deal with bitterness and sin in a biblical manner, healing won’t occur.  Fasting, prayer and seeking godly counsel are steps on the road to recovery.  The best therapy to overcome the root of bitterness is meditating on the Word of God.  Exercising spiritual disciplines will release you from the bondage of sin.

by Jay Mankus

Full Blown

In the context of a medical scare, an outbreak has the potential to become a full-blown pandemic.  Instead of subtle signs that suggest a minor situation, full blown refers to conditions that are extreme.  Bacteria, disease and illness become contagious, spreading like a wild fire out of control.  Under extreme scenarios, fire fighters are helpless, waiting until fires to burn themselves out.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion). Then when the illicit desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin has run its course, it gives birth to death, James 1:13-15.

According to the earthly brother of Jesus, full blown is the by product of sin that has run it’s course, contaminating an entire soul that results in spiritual death.  This condition is brought on by temptation, made worse by desire, lust and passion.  The moment you allow sin to reign, addiction takes over, dragged away from common sense via enticement.  This vicious cycle does not stop until acts of the sinful nature take lives captive.

Now the practices of the sinful nature are clearly evident: they are sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality (total irresponsibility, lack of self-control), 20idolatry, sorcery, hostility, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions [that promote heresies], 21 envy, drunkenness, riotous behavior, and other things like these. I warn you beforehand, just as I did previously, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God, Galatians 5:19-21.

Last week at work, I opened my mouth which was persuaded by loose lips.  What I blurted out sounded funny initially. While laughing, my conscience sent an impulse of conviction to my body, “I can’t believe I just said that.”  A few comments later that night shed light on my condition: total irresponsibility and a lack of self-control.  To my surprise, full blown sin had arrived, shaking my soul with this painful reality.  May the apostle Paul’s warning in the passage above about spiritual inheritance motivate you to flee from traces of sin ready to blossom.

by Jay Mankus

The Court of Common Pleas

The mission of the Court of Common Pleas is to provide a neutral forum for the people and institutions of a county or state. This court seeks to resolve everyday problems, disputes, and more complex legal matters in a fair and unbiased manner. Last week I was introduced to this process, serving as a parent in support of my son.

For [God does not overlook sin and] the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who in their wickedness suppress and stifle the truth, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them [in their inner consciousness], for God made it evident to them. 20 For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense, Romans 1:18-20.

Three decades ago, I found myself in a similar place, sitting in a courtroom in Ohio following a head on collusion that I was in during college. Prior to my case, there were three DUI’s, driving under the influence. Since my accident took place in an Amish county, all three men were operating a horse and buggy. While this experience was not what I expected, I pleaded no contest, paid my fine and moved on with the rest of my life.

For with the heart a person believes [in Christ as Savior] resulting in his justification [that is, being made righteous—being freed of the guilt of sin and made acceptable to God]; and with the mouth he acknowledges and confesses [his faith openly], resulting in and confirming [his] salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes in Him [whoever adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Him] will not be disappointed [in his expectations],” Romans 10:10-11.

The apostle Paul indirectly refers to a spiritual Court of Common Pleas. In a letter to the church at Rome, Paul makes an argument that no one is without excuse. What Paul is saying is that every human being possesses the same flaw, born with a sinful nature. This inclination is at war with God’s Spirit sent as a counselor to guide you toward the narrow path, Matthew 7:13-14. Yet, before death, there is only one plea that is acceptable to God, Romans 10:9-10. Like the criminal on the cross who was helpless to save himself, those who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. Whatever state this blog finds your life in, make sure your spiritual plea is consistent with the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Busy, Bored or Busted?

During an episode of the Brady Bunch, I learned a good excuse for getting out of something you didn’t want to do. Barry Williams who played Greg on this show got out of a commitment by saying, “something suddenly came up.” In a sense, when you are busy priorities change as individuals get distracted, engaged or wrapped up in something unexpected. This involvement prioritizes one activity over another regardless of what you might have previously said or promised.

Then it happened in the spring, at the time when the kings go out to battle, that David sent Joab and his servants with him, and all [the fighting men of] Israel, and they destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem, 2 Samuel 11:1.

The opposite of busy is bored. Instead of being occupied, souls become aimless, idle, with plenty of time to kill. In the passage above, King David decides not to go to work, taking a vacation for a season. Like a teenager who doesn’t know how to stay out of trouble, it doesn’t take long for boredom to affect David. I guess you can say a mid-night stroll caused David’s mind to wander, lusting after a married woman. Instead of rejecting this desire, David used his power to indulge his sinful nature.

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you as king over Israel, and I spared you from the hand of Saul. I also gave you your master’s house, and put your master’s wives into your [care and under your protection, and I gave you the house (royal dynasty) of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have given you much more! Why have you despised the word of the Lord by doing evil in His sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife. You have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites, 2 Samuel 12:7-9.

Just like the 1983 song One Thing Leads to Another by the Fixx, boredom takes David down a slippery slope. Adultery, conspiracy and murder isn’t what I call a man after God’s own heart, 1 Samuel 16:7. These words once uttered by the prophet Samuel illustrate how quickly a godly person can fall from grace. Nonetheless, when the prophet Nathan busts David for his crime in the passage above, it’s an important lesson to learn. As soon as anyone wanders off track, adrift from God’s Spirit, boredom often results in full blown sin, James 1:13-15. May this testimony of David serve as a warning to stay busy by doing God’s work and fulfilling his will on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Crossing Over From the Old into the New

Not everyone understands their calling in life. Others wrestle with clarity, struggling to ascertain where they belong and what they should do. As for Joshua, this decision was clear, take over as Israel’s new leader. Joshua’s first assignment, lead God’s chosen people into a promised land, Canaan. However, a river and a wall stood before Israel. The only way to complete their journey was to cross over from the old into the new.

Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, 11 “Go throughout the camp and command the people, saying, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to cross this [river] Jordan, to go in to take possession of the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess [as an inheritance],’” Joshua 1:10-11.

If you have ever moved, families tend to amass, collect and hoard an excessive amount of possessions. Garage and yard sales are a common way to purge your house from unnecessary items. Yet, there are subtle things such as beliefs, ideals and viewpoints that individuals develop without much thought. Some of these mindsets are contrary to the Bible, opposing the commandments, decrees and precepts of God. Thus, as Israel crossed over the Jordan River, they needed to undergo a procedure, a spiritual purging.

So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], Colossians 3:5-6.

The Israelites didn’t have access to a physical book or the ability to foresee the addition of a New Testament. Nor could Joshua warn Israel about the sinful nature. In the passage above, the apostle Paul details what must occur if you want to cross over from your previous life into a new relationship with God. The first step involves a new mindset from earth toward heaven. The second involves discipline, purging yourself from ungodly practices that you have picked up from others. This battle never ends as imperfect people will continue to disobey God in one form or another. However, as you strive to keep in step with God, the Holy Spirit serves as a spiritual counselor to enable you to cross over from the old into the new.

by Jay Mankus

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