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Be Done with Every Trace of Wickedness

While the apostle Paul provides a general classification of the acts of the sinful nature in Galatians 5:19-21, other New Testament authors go into more specific aspects of wickedness. Jesus’ earthly brother refers to the process of temptation that wears down weakened souls, James 1:13-15. The disciple whom Jesus loved blames this on sensual desires, lustful eyes and pride in 1 John 2:15-17. These passages serve as warnings for Christians to be done with every trace of wickedness.

So be done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy, jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind, 1 Peter 2:1.

The decision to become a Christian is like committing to a new diet. Whenever you make a transition from eating whatever you want to healthy or full vegan, taste will be one of the greatest obstacles. When I served as an elder at Red Lion, one of our members went off to a cancer treatment center. This particular facility used natural foods to make human bodies less acidic. In the case of my friend, after 6 months on a rigid diet, he became cancer free. Yet, his roommate was unable to alter his eating habits.

Strip yourselves of your former nature [put off and discard your old unrenewed self] which characterized your previous manner of life and becomes corrupt through lusts and desires that spring from delusion; 23 And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude], 24 And put on the new nature (the regenerate self) created in God’s image, [Godlike] in true righteousness and holiness. 25 Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another, Ephesians 4:22-25.

The apostle Paul applies a similar method to altering one’s lifestyle. Like a filthy kid playing in the mud all day, Paul urges new Christians to strip off their former nature. Whenever you hold on to bad habits and former addictions, traces of a wicked past will cling to your soul. This is when a divine intervention may be necessary. Like doing laundry once a week so that you can have clean clothes to wear, Christians need to practice Paul’s advice in Colossians 3:1-9 to remove your past and replace this with Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Preserving Your Soul During COVID-19

Prior to modern electricity and appliances, there wasn’t a way to store a large quantity of food. Back in the first century, salt was used to extend the life of and preserve meat. Since all living things require water and cannot grow in the absence of it, salt dries out food and prevents bacteria from growing. In the passage below, Jesus uses salt as a way to add flavor. However, instead of referring to food, Christians should add flavor to the lives of the people you come in contact with daily.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men, Matthew 5:13.

Unfortunately, as the weight of the worries in this world take a toll on human souls, you may not feel like passing on God’s love. The apostle Paul writes about this state of mind in Philippians 2:1-4. When you let yourself get run down, you lose the ability to help other people effectively. If you ever find yourself struggling to get through each day, you need to take time to renew and revive your own soul. Then and only then will you be able to preserve the lives of others.

But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by faith preserve the soul, Hebrews 10:39.

In the last passage leading up to the Bible’s version of the Hall of Fame, Hebrews 11, the author eludes to individuals who left their faith. At some point in life, these Christians abandoned their new life in Christ to indulge the addictions, bad habits, cravings and desires of their past. To avoid making the same mistakes of these wayward believers, the author points to heroes of the Christian faith. By examining and studying the choices that they made, you will be able to preserve your soul in the future regardless how long COVID-19 continues to last.

by Jay Mankus

Recovering from an Uprooted Faith

As the summer comes to an end on the East Coast, the Atlantic Hurricane season tends to intensity. Whether you’re talking about a nor’easter, tropical depression, super storm or major hurricane, these weather events wash away dreams and uproot lives. When these systems dissipate, survivors are forced to come together as communities to pick up the pieces of what these storms have left behind to be salvaged.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night. And he shall be like a tree firmly planted [and tended] by the streams of water, ready to bring forth its fruit in its season; its leaf also shall not fade or wither; and everything he does shall prosper [and come to maturity], Psalm 1:1-3.

The Psalmist compares a healthy individual to a tree planted by flowing streams of water. This daily nourishment promotes growth that enables fruit to prosper in season. Whenever an internal or physical storm uproots your faith, reading and meditating upon God’s promises in the Bible is the best way to start your recovery. When all seems lost, these living words stirs hearts and touch souls, Hebrews 4:12.

As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7.

According to the apostle Paul, there is only one Cornerstone upon which you can rebuild your faith. Jesus is like a thermostat that allows Christians to regulate their lives and recover from storms that uproot your lives. The more you read, study and share what you believe, Romans 10:17, faith springs to life. The more Jesus becomes your firm foundation for faith, a spirit of thanksgiving is conceived to give you a proper perspective after any storm.

by Jay Mankus

The Sound of Worship

Worship is the expression of reverence and adoration for God. This celebration is usually held inside a building. However, in this age of the Coronavirus, places of worship have been forced to be creative. In those states where lock downs still exist, worship services have been moved outside. Although most properties don’t have the luxury of a natural amphitheater, some worship teams have taken to the streets.

Not only that, but can anyone understand the spreadings of the clouds or the thunderings of His pavilion? – Job 36:29

In the passage above, Job compares the sound of worship to a storm growing in the distance. As clouds darken, filled with thunder and lightning, spectators watch from a distance, amazed by this brewing sight of nature. While rain in the New Testament is symbolic of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the Old Testament uses rain as a way to achieve truth. As voices cry out in public today, the sound of worship touches hearts.

Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the heavens of His power! Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to the abundance of His greatness! Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and [single or group] dance; praise Him with stringed and wind instruments or flutes! Praise Him with resounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath and every breath of life praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Hallelujah!) – Psalm 150:1-6

The last Psalm in the Bible highlights the sound of worship. As a worship leader sets the tone, praise can spread like a wildfire, from one soul to another. Meanwhile, as the Spirit of God moves, enthusiasm to raise the volume intensifies. When you add instruments to this equation, souls awaken to clap, dance and shake their bodies to exalt the Great I Am. This is what can happen as souls hear the sound of worship.

by Jay Mankus

Diakrisis

Pneumatikós is an adjective which is derived from pneúma, the Greek word for spirit. Pneumatikós refers to the spiritual realm,  the invisible sphere in which the Holy Spirit imparts faith. In the passage below, the apostle Paul choses the Greek word πίστις. As individuals begin to listen to and read the Bible, hearts, minds and souls are persuaded by conviction to believe in the risen son of God, Jesus.

But they have not all heeded the Gospel; for Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed (had faith in) what he has heard from us? 17 So faith comes by hearing [what is told], and what is heard comes by the preaching [of the message that came from the lips] of Christ (the Messiah Himself), Romans 10:16-17.

As individuals enter into a personal relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10, a variety of spiritual gifts are imparted. One of these gifts is Diakrisis, the spiritual gift of discernment. Whenever anyone begins to hear voices, logic questions if you are crazy or not? However, as I sought counsel from other spiritual leaders, I wasn’t sure what to do or how to proceed. Several years later, I attended a 2 day conference on discernment. During one workshop, I realized that writing was one of the best ways to utilize Diakrisis.

But in your hearts set Christ apart as holy [and acknowledge Him] as Lord. Always be ready to give a logical defense to anyone who asks you to account for the hope that is in you, but do it courteously and respectfully. 16 [And see to it that] your conscience is entirely clear (unimpaired), so that, when you are falsely accused as evildoers, those who threaten you abusively and revile your right behavior in Christ may come to be ashamed [of slandering your good lives], 1 Peter 3:15-16.

A few days after attending this event, I spoke with a woman from my Bible Study. After picking her brain about her own blog, Express Yourself 4Him was conceived. Like anything in life, the initial years was a learning experience, trying to figure out the content, format and overall objective. Using what I learned as a high school Bible teacher, Diakrisis led me to turn my posts into a daily devotional. Although some topics that I chose may not relate to you, I feel called to share my faith through writing about what God is teaching me daily. This is Diakrisis in action.

by Jay Mankus

Moving Forward Spiritually

The context of “taking sides” below occurs in the middle of a parable. Jesus tells a story of an individual who seeks to enter a strong man’s house. However, unless you first bind the spiritual entities that protect this house (body), you won’t be able to enter. In other words, if you’re not totally with Jesus, you’re against Him. Subsequently, those who are not moving forward spiritually begin to scatter, no longer imitating the love and life of Jesus.

He who is not with Me [definitely on My side] is against Me, and he who does not [definitely] gather with Me and for My side scatters, Matthew 12:30.

This same concept applies to churches as well. During a visit to the Church at Laodicea, John wasn’t impressed. Sure, there were some good things happening, blessed with wealth. Yet, at some point in time members began to trust in their financial riches instead of God. Just like Pink Floyd’s 1979 hit song, members of the Church at Laodicea had become comfortably numb. When you stop growing spiritually, idleness results in back sliding.

I know your [record of] works and what you are doing; you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth! – Revelation 3:15-16

Forward motion is difficult to maintain when your faith is currently stalled. When individuals remove Bible Study, prayer or worship from their weekly spiritual diet, this situation only gets worse. When picking up the Bible, speaking to God or going to church becomes a chore, a spiritual spark is needed. Until revival ignites a dormant faith, most souls will remain in neutral. May this blog inspire you to jump start your faith with forward motion.

by Jay Mankus

What Would the Bible Say about You?

At the end of his letter to the church at Rome, the apostle Paul thanks those who worked quietly behind the scenes. Without these men and women, Paul’s ministry journeys would not have been possible or successful. Beginning with a deaconess and woman who opened her home as a congregational meeting place, Paul wanted to ensure that their contributions were not minimized or overlooked. Unlike the gospels where woman and children are excluded from the overall count of individuals present, Paul places women first on his list.

Now I introduce and commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deaconess of the church at Cenchreae, That you may receive her in the Lord [with a Christian welcome], as saints (God’s people) ought to receive one another. And help her in whatever matter she may require assistance from you, for she has been a helper of many including myself [shielding us from suffering]. Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, Who risked their lives [endangering their very necks] for my life. To them not only I but also all the churches among the Gentiles give thanks, Romans 16:1-4.

In another letter to the church at Galatia, Paul breaks down his entire life into three stages. Galatians 1:11-24 serves as an outline for sharing your faith by detailing your life before knowing Jesus, your conversion experience and transformation since making this decision. While every faith story contains peaks and valleys, portions of your testimony will connect with or touch other souls. One of Jesus’ disciples urges first century Christians to be prepared, always ready to provide the reason for the hope that you have in God, 1 Peter 3:15-16.

[Remember me] also to the church [that meets] in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who was a firstfruit (first convert) to Christ in Asia. Greet Mary, who has worked so hard among you. Remember me to Andronicus and Junias, my tribal kinsmen and once my fellow prisoners. They are men held in high esteem among the apostles, who also were in Christ before I was. Remember me to Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord. Salute Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my dear Stachys. 10 Greet Apelles, that one tried and approved in Christ (the Messiah). Remember me to those who belong to the household of Aristobulus, Romans 16:5-10.

As I turn our attention toward today, I’m curious about what modern writers might say. Would you receive a shout out like Phoebe, Priscilla and Aquila or be out-shined by other believers? As you go to work, reside in a neighborhood and let your guard down at home, what do people notice? According to my children, I drive too fast, I’m impatient and too opinionated. Are your daily actions full of light or do moments of darkness blur the love of Jesus inside of you? The book of Acts ends abruptly. Some scholars suggest that either the final chapter was never fully completed or simply missing. When judgement day arrives, what will God say about you? Only time will tell so make the most of the days that the Lord gives you.

by Jay Mankus

Στόχο: Finding a New Target in 2020

Στόχο is the Greek word for target. When translated into English, this term could apply to aim, destination, goal or landing place. As individuals celebrate New Year’s Eve, minds and thoughts will begin to turn their attention toward a new year. Once all of the celebrations have ended, determined souls will search for a new target in 2020.

And they said to me, The remnant there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire. When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven, Nehemiah 1:3-4.

Unfortunately, sometimes your future may be blurred, clouded or uncertain due to unforeseen events. Accidents, failing health or trials can prove to be too much for one person to bear. Whenever you experience a devastating, horrific or troubling circumstance, follow in the footsteps of Nehemiah. After receiving news of Jerusalem vulnerability, this man fell to his knees, fasting and praying for a plan to rebuild this wall.

Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, statutes, and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses, Nehemiah 1:6-7.

Before focusing on a solution, Nehemiah acknowledges the sins of Israel which brought this fate upon Jerusalem. Before any new target can be discovered in 2020, everyone needs to get right with God. As prayers are lifted up, hearts unload their pain and minds begin to think clear again, conditions will improve for a new vision to be seen. May the beginning of this year inspire you to pave the way for a new target to be located.

by Jay Mankus

Songs that Save Souls

While singing a Christmas carol in church yesterday, a stanza from O Little Town of Bethlehem struck a cord with my soul. After examining the lyrics, I discovered two different versions. Unless you sing the traditional version, the sixth stanza is skipped completely. As the words “Where meek souls will receive Him,” flashed on the overhead screen, my heart was moved.

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation, Romans 10:9-10.

Immediately, a rhema, an utterance from God overwhelmed me. Humble and meek hearts are crucial to receiving Jesus as Lord and Savior, Romans 10:9-11. If hearts are broken, callous, distracted or worn down, the miracle of Christmas is ignore, lost or missed completely. One of the ways God has changed and transformed my own heart is through Christian music which has touched my soul.

Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! – Psalm 103:1

As I look back on the past three decades, there are some songs that became like a refuge, soothing my soul each time I listened to the lyrics. The first song is When God Ran by Benny Hester. After Hester got divorced, most of his music was removed from Christian bookstores, but this classic song moves me each time I hear it. In college, Feel the Nails by Ray Boltz served as a source of conviction to draw me back to God each time I strayed away.

Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! – Psalm 103:2.

One of my favorite Christmas traditions growing up was attending a Christmas Eve service that ended at midnight. After my father was transferred to Cleveland, my parents started attending a local church where the priest looked just like pictures of Jesus. This Christmas Eve service began at 10:30, singing Christmas carols until 11pm. The final hour was a traditional mass that ended with Joy to the World. As you attend church this Christmas, may God refresh your memory of songs that save souls.

by Jay Mankus

Anybody is Capable of Anything

No matter how hard coaches, parents and teachers seek to be impartial, there are certain individuals who demonstrate likeable qualities.  Thus, from time to time, adults are blinded by a perception that some students are perfect, uncapable of doing something wrong.  In the days of the Old Testament, David was a prime candidate, a man who developed a good reputation, possessing a heart for God.  Yet, when pressed by the prophet Nathan, David’s most recent transgression is exposed for everyone to see.  This account reveals that anyone, no matter how godly he or she appears, is capable of anything.

Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, As the Lord lives, the man who has done this is a son [worthy] of death. He shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing and had no pity. Then Nathan said to David, You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king of Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul, 2 Samuel 12:5-7.

The apostle Paul and King David shared similar qualities.  Paul was recognized as a person of character following his conversation to Christ in the first century.  With each missionary journey, Paul’s faith was admired by the leaders of churches throughout the Middle East.  Yet, during a letter written to the Church in Rome, Paul opens up about his own inner demons.  This invisible force became known as the sinful nature, fleshly desires which convince souls to do the opposite of what they have been taught.  This alarming reality illustrates that anybody is capable of doing anything.

Now if I do [habitually] what is contrary to my desire, [that means that] I acknowledge and agree that the Law is good (morally excellent) and that I take sides with it. However, it is no longer I who do the deed, but the sin [principle] which is at home in me and has possession of mem, Romans 7:16-17.

Whenever I connect to the internet, tune into talk radio or watch television, unthinkable acts are reported on daily.  These head scratching actions don’t make sense logically until you study the powerful grip of carnal desires.  While writing to church leaders in Rome, Paul confesses that the sinful nature often causes him to do that which is wrong.  Despite having good intentions, Paul is currently losing this spiritual tug of war.  Instead of being surprised, it’s time to accept the fact that anybody is capable of doing anything.  The sooner you understand this, the quicker you will fall upon your knees, pleading with God to remove these ungodly desires with the mind of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

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