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When You’re Painting Light Illuminates Imperfections

I spent last week trying to renovate a new house in South Carolina. The longer I participate in this process, the more helpless I feel as building and construction is not one of my gifts. Rather than get in the way, I turned to painting and sanding. After putting on a coat of primer, I thought we were ready to paint the ceiling. However, when I inspected each section a little close with light, I was disappointed by all the areas that I missed. When you’re painting, light illuminates imperfections.

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves, 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.

Light appears 272 times in the King James Bible. Light is used as spiritual imagery to illuminate everything that is good and true. Meanwhile, darkness is the opposite of God. Human nature tends to lower one’s standards, using justification and realization to participate in deeds of darkness. Until I started to read and study the Bible, I didn’t know right from wrong accept from what my parents taught me. Yet, like the apostle Paul’s confession in 1 Timothy 1:15, the closer you draw near to God, the more your sins are brought to the surface.

For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]. For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or [c]the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life, Ephesians 5:8-9.

In the passages above, the apostle Paul calls Christians to leave the darkness of their past by entering the light of the Lord. Yet, change requires a catalyst, something to trigger a dead spirit so it can be brought back to life. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, it was a Jewish man longing to eat the sloop given to pigs that altered his perspective. Any time human beings hit rock bottom, common sense is illuminated. Despite how frustrating it is to recognize any imperfection in your life, the light of God’s Word helps believers see what issues they need to addressed before maturity can be achieved, James 1:2-4.

by Jay Mankus

As for Us It’s Different

One of the most famous speeches in the New Testament is known as Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Using this mountain as a natural pulpit, Jesus begins his message with a set of attitudes to emulate. Just before making a transition to prayer and giving, Jesus uses logic to explain why Christians are called to a higher standard. To stand out like a lighted city on a hill, you need to go above and beyond what an average citizen would do. In other words, it’s different for us.

You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; 44 But I tell you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 [aj]To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

After playing four sports in high school, I decided to take a step back and just do intramurals in college. Little did I know that I would become the Intramural Coordinator for the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. One of my responsibilities was attending weekly coaches and referee meetings. During one of our basketball games, a teammate threw a punch and was kicked out of the game. Following his ejection, I had to explain to Chris the importance of “turning the other cheek.” While this discussion took an expected turn as Chris thought Jesus would have punched this guy too, my main point to him was as for us it’s different.

For if you love those who love you, what reward can you have? Do not even the tax collectors do that? 47 And if you greet only your brethren, what more than others are you doing? Do not even the Gentiles (the heathen) do that? – Matthew 5:43-47

Jesus makes this clear in the passage above. Christians aren’t called to blend into their surroundings like a chameleon, Rather, anyone who enters into a personal relationship with Jesus is expected to gradually become more like Christ. This transformation won’t happen immediately. However, as new believers begin to study the Bible and ask other Christian’s questions, change will occur. Subsequently, as maturity takes place over time, James 1:2-4, Christians will come to realize as for us it’s different.

by Jay Mankus

Joining the Fellowship of Faith

The origin of fellowship comes from the Greek word koinonia. This comes from the ancient Greek prefix koinos. Like anything in life, human beings tend to share common interests. As these individuals get to know one another and gather together, fellowships are formed. The goal of any fellowship is to pursue a shared interest or aim as one united body. The question is are you going to remaining on the sidelines or join the fellowship of faith.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

The first century church didn’t have lavish buildings with immaculate worship centers as a common meeting place. Rather, generous and wealthy church members opened the doors of their homes. Based upon the accounts in the New Testament, pot luck dinners were shared each week to get to know other people. When you’re having a rough week, Paul encouraged believers to keep meeting together.

So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the [c]hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word. 24 And let us consider and give [d]attentive, continuous care to watching over one another, studying how we may stir up (stimulate and incite) to love and helpful deeds and noble activities, 25 Not forsaking or neglecting to assemble together [as believers], as is the habit of some people, but admonishing (warning, urging, and encouraging) one another, and all the more faithfully as you see the day approaching, Hebrews 10:23-25.

Meanwhile, the author of Hebrews paints a picture of what can happen when fellowships begin to love one another. When you have a spiritual brother or sister to hold you accountable, you have a reason to hold fast to your faith in Jesus. As you study the Bible with other Christians, this is one way to join the fellowship of faith. While the Coronavirus has disrupted many social functions in churches around the world, don’t be afraid to join the fellowship of faith in 2022, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

The Adapted Truth

Adaptation is the biological mechanism by which organisms adjust to new environments or changes in their current environment. This evolutionary theory was discussed by scientists prior to the 1800’s, but it was Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace who developed the theory of natural selection. As time presses on and what human beings once thought was right has been altered, an adapted truth is necessary to combine the past with the present.

Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me, in [all] the faith and love which are [for us] in Christ Jesus, 2 Timothy 1:13.

As a child, I assumed I was a Christian. Growing up in a Romans Catholic Church, I was taught if I followed the Ten Commandments and practiced the Holy Sacraments, I would go to heaven. After attending a Methodist Youth Group in high school, I was encouraged to study the Bible. The more that I read I began to realize Christianity is a relationship, not a religious practice. This new adapted truth forced me to evolve spiritually.

Guard and keep [with the greatest care] the precious and excellently adapted [Truth] which has been entrusted [to you], by the [help of the] Holy Spirit Who makes His home in us, 2 Timothy 1:14.

Whether new nuggets of faith are unveiled, Romans 10:17, or you’re exposed to a new teaching that helps connect all the dots, you have to be open to change. During visits to Thessalonica and Berea in Acts 17, the apostle Paul began to recognize the shrewd from the silly. When you test everything you hear with God’s Word, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22, you may be forced to a new adapted truth so that what you believe aligns with the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Understanding Demonic Oppression

When the Coronavirus began to spread throughout the United States back in March of 2020, relatively unknown doctors became instant celebrities. While Dr. Anthony Fauci received most of the attention as the media’s darling, Dr. Oz was a regular guest panelist on cable news and talk radio. Depending upon their area of expertise or practice, these physicians tried to educate the general public on understanding the dangers of COVID-19. Although their advice varied, I learned the best way to stay healthy involved getting 7-8 hours of sleep and staying hydrated daily.

And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom last? For you say that I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub. 19 Now if I expel demons with the help of and by Beelzebub, with whose help and by whom do your sons drive them out? Therefore they shall be your judges.20 But if I drive out the demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has [already] come upon you, Luke 11:18-20.

When it comes to understanding demonic oppression, one of the best sources comes from a first century doctor named Luke. Beside his daily practice, this man sought to become a historian. As Luke began to hear about and see miracles that defied science, eagerness to record these details inspired two books. During a personal account with Jesus, Luke details a powerful spirit referred to as the strongman. Within this parable, Jesus suggests that a person freed from demonic oppression is not completely safe, Rather, if these individuals are careless, reverting back to former sinful practices, demons can return with more powerful tormenting spirits.

When the strong man, fully armed, [from his courtyard] guards his own dwelling, his belongings are undisturbed [his property is at peace and is secure]. But when one stronger than he attacks him and conquers him, he robs him of his whole armor on which he had relied and divides up and distributes all his goods as plunder (spoil). 23 He who is not with Me [siding and believing with Me] is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me [engage in My interest], scatters. 24 When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it roams through waterless places in search [of a place] of rest (release, refreshment, ease); and finding none it says, I will go back to my house from which I came. 25 And when it arrives, it finds [the place] swept and put in order and furnished and decorated. 26 And it goes and brings other spirits, seven [of them], more evil than itself, and they enter in, settle down, and dwell there; and the last state of that person is worse than the first, Luke 11:21-26.

In a chapter to the Church at Rome, Paul reveals his own demonic oppression, experiencing periods where he was unable to control his body, Romans 7:15-18. This baffling ordeal left Paul scratching his head, unable to break free from sinful desires. Beside Galatians 5:16-18, Romans 8:5-8 highlights an external battle that occurs within everyone’s soul. While many try a form of teetotalism, the practice of complete abstinence, Jesus reveals that certain spirits can only be removed via prayer, Mark 9:26-29. Although the book definition of demonic oppression is the work of evil spiritual forces that urge us to sin, deny God’s word, feel spiritually dead, and to be in bondage, few see this for what it is, Ephesians 6:12. While I’m not an expert on this topic, there is a lot more to life’s decisions than the “devil made me do it.” Thus, further study the Bible if you want to fully understand demonic oppression.

by Jay Mankus

Turn on the Lights or Shut the Door

The symbolism of light in the Bible is used to provide direction and insight. A Psalmist uses a lamp to illustrate how God’s Word illuminates light to guide our steps throughout life, Psalm 119:105. When you listen to the commands in the Bible by putting them into practice, you receive spiritual understanding. Unfortunately, many Christians often find themselves somewhere in between darkness and light. This is what one of Jesus’ disciples refers to as a lukewarm spirit, Revelation 3:15-16. When you find your faith mediocre at best, it’s time to turn on the lights or close the door?

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven, Matthew 6:14-16.

Apparently, Jesus noticed a similar pattern within his own followers. In the first portion of His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus calls His audience to stop turning their spiritual light on and off. Depending upon who you associate with, there is a temptation to avoid being preachy or pushy with non-Christians. Yet, Jesus urges first century believers to maximize their light, even if it means reorganizing your own spiritual house. The love is Jesus in your heart should inspire you toward moral excellence. As long as individuals reflect spiritual fruit, your light will be recognized by others.

The eye is the lamp of the body. So if your eye is sound, your entire body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is unsound, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the very light in you [your conscience] is darkened, how dense is that darkness! – Matthew 6:22-23

During the middle of this sermon, Jesus turns his attention toward ideals and motives. Just like today, there was a number of counterfeit, fake, and phony people in the crowd. Instead of being honest about their shortcomings, the insecure often put on a facade to hide the truth. Whenever you find yourself reeling spiritually, it’s essential to withdraw. Whether you pray or study the Bible, shut out the world until you are fully recharged spiritually. Until this reboot is complete by reviving your soul. look within before reaching out to others, Philippians 2:3-4. Then, let your light shine!

by Jay Mankus

Lies within Your Heart

As someone who grew up in the Catholic church, I was raised to believe that priests were the only individuals who were worthy enough to study the Bible and teach God’s Word. After a revival during the 1970’s, some priests began to encourage members of their congregation to start reading the Bible outside of church. Unfortunately, the church my family attended in Wilmington, Delaware was stuck in the dark ages until my dad’s relocation to Cleveland, Ohio. About this same time, I began to open my own Bible outside of church which exposed lies within my heart.

The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart, Luke 6:45.

When I started teaching high school Bible at Red Lion, a Sunday School class that I attended introduced me to a book called Restoring the Foundations. Written by Chester and Becky Kylstra, I discovered that this book inspired a healing ministry based upon addressing ungodly beliefs individuals have collected over the course of their lives. Like spiritual baggage weighing down your heart, soul and mind, this integrated approach introduced me to new terms such as soul spirit hurts. As people unpack this baggage, exposed lies can haunt you; preventing you from being healed.

“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is recognized and judged by its fruit. 34 You brood of vipers, how can you speak good things when you are evil? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart,” Matthew 12:33-34.

During the first century, Jesus introduced a troubling new teaching. When these words were first verbalized, I’m sure conviction silenced any whispers in the crowd. The thought of lies within your heart likely deflated souls previously filled with confidence and pride. This biblical truth sent shockwaves across town as murmurs echoed of this hidden evil from within. Scholars likely declared the words of the prophet are true, Jeremiah 17:1-10. As modern believers are introduced to this truth today, lies within your heart can finally be addressed by an integrated approach to healing.

by Jay Mankus

SWAG

Swag is one of those words that has evolved over time.  Initially short for swagger, swag is a personality trait which naturally flows out of confident individuals.  Professional athletes display this by playing to the crowd, swaying and strutting after successful impacts during a competition or game.  Journalists sometimes equate swag with gravitas, inner qualities that attract others to want to be around those who possess this special gift.

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, 2 Corinthians 4:4.

Recently, I stumbled upon an acronym for swag, Spiritual Wonders Anointed by God.  Although my employer refers to swag as stuff we all get, I know from experience not everyone receives the same allotment in life.  Rather, some people are more blessed than others, attaining and obtaining much more than the average person.  While a portion of success can be linked to dedication, hard work and perseverance, God’s role in swag can not be denied.

Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? – Hebrews 1:14.

Spiritual wonders anointed by God can be explained by guardian angels or ministering spirits.  Without divine intervention, there may be some of you who would not be alive today if it wasn’t for this insight and protection.  Meanwhile, swag can be developed from a permanent meaningful lasting relationship with God.  As one begins to pray, study the Bible and worship the Lord each week, the Holy Spirit living inside of you can produce swag.  As a new year approaches, may the Lord inspire you to draw near to God so that your faith will flourish in 2018.

by Jay Mankus

Divine Help

When the average person hears the name Ebenezer, many think of the character in the Christmas Carol.  The depiction of Ebenezer Scrooge as a grumpy and selfish old man taints the biblical meaning of this word.  Subsequently, few know that Ebenezer means divine help.

So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city, Genesis 23:17-18.

When Abraham’s wife died in the Old Testament, he purchases a plot of land.  The unique quality of this terrain included a large cave.  Abraham’s intent was to find a place for his entire family to be buried.  Like a private cemetery, this place became known as the cave of couples.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up, Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

Several generations later, Solomon recognized the importance of having a partner.  While he took this concept too far by taking 700 wives, God revealed to Solomon the vital role of a woman.  Although modern feminists continue to argue, complain and fight for woman’s rights, those who study the Bible understand a woman is a divine helper sent by God for men to reach their full potential.

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

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