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Wasting the Time God Gives You

Whether you own an alarm clock, phone, or watch, time doesn’t stop when you fall asleep. From the time you get to the time you go to bed; time keeps ticking away. Some days you may be productive while others have too many distractions to get what you want done. Subsequently, you’re either living the abundant life that Jesus promised, John 10:10, or you’re wasting the time that God has given you.

And He said, There was a certain man who had two sons; 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the part of the property that falls [to me]. And he divided the estate between them. 13 And not many days after that, the younger son gathered up all that he had and journeyed into a distant country, and there he wasted his fortune in reckless and loose [from restraint] living. 14 And when he had spent all he had, a [g]mighty famine came upon that country, and he began to fall behind and be in want, Luke 15:11-14.

The Bible uses the expression of sitting down to signal completion. When completing God’s will for His life by dying on a cross, Jesus sat down to be with God the Father in heaven. Yet, many Christians sit down at the end of each day without finishing what the Holy Spirit has called them to do. Subsequently, sitting down often results in wasting the time that God has given you on earth.

For while we were yet with you, we gave you this rule and charge: If anyone will not work, neither let him eat. 11 Indeed, we hear that some among you are disorderly [that they are passing their lives in idleness, neglectful of duty], being busy with other people’s affairs instead of their own and doing no work, 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11.

Whether you want to admit it or not, there is a little bit of prodigal spirit within all human beings. For some it’s the temptation of temporary pleasures, others struggle with materialism and people like me have a stubbornness that is hard to let go of. These weaknesses prevent Christians from seizing the moments in each day. Perhaps it’s time to stop wasting God’s time so that you can begin to taste the abundant life which Jesus has promised, John 10:10.

by Jay Mankus

Taking a Stand or Falling from Grace

Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic vision of a world decimated by plague is the backdrop of his 1994 mini-series entitled the Stand. The survivors of this deadly biological disease are forced to make one of two decisions: take a stand or fall from God’s grace. Each is tempted along their journey with images of darkness and light. Depending upon the choices made, believers head for a cornfield to meet Mother Abagail Freemantle while sinners depart for Las Vegas to meet up with Flagg; a.k.a. the Devil.

By this it is made clear who take their nature from God and are His children and who take their nature from the devil and are his children: no one who does not practice righteousness [who does not conform to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action] is of God; neither is anyone who does not love his brother (his fellow [i]believer in Christ), 1 John 3:10.

During the first century, people followed one of two natures: the flesh or the Spirit. Immaturity, stubbornness and rebellion caused many to embrace the highway to hell, Matthew 7:13-14. John blames a lack of conformity to God’s will as the reason for prodigal like behavior, Luke 15:11-16. What you practice will define who you become. You may not want to be a vessel of the Devil, but we all have periods in our lives where we stray from God by doing what’s right in our own eyes.

For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not [b]adjusted and [c]adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear]. But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to [d]a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

While the earthly brother of Jesus provides advice about temptation in James 1:2-15, the apostle Paul takes this one step further in the passage above. Since decision making in the midst of temptation can be poor, Paul urges Christians to look for the way out. Every day that you wake up to live, you should expect temptation and trials. As you battle with your own inner demons, Galatians 5:16-17, ask Jesus to give you the strength to endure, overcome and find the way out of tempting situation. Make the decision to make a stand today or else you’ll fall from grace like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

by Jay Mankus

The Delusion

Delusions occur when a false belief is accepted, or a judgment is made about an external reality. Author Chester Kylstra refers to this as ungodly beliefs in his book Restoring the Foundations. One of the best illustrations of a delusion happens in the film Rudy. Waiting for a bus to take him to Notre Dame, Rudy’s father tries to stop Rudy from chasing his childhood dream. According to Rudy’s father, he’s not smart and talented enough. This delusion prevented Rudy’s father from ever achieving his full potential in life.

If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude and lead ourselves astray, and the Truth [which the Gospel presents] is not in us [does not dwell in our hearts], 1 John 1:8.

Ungodly beliefs are not the only delusion that human beings endure. As sin enters your life in the form of enticement or lust, when the seed of sin is planted in your minds it’s only a matter of time before you will give into temptation, James 1:13-15. Unfortunately, to make yourself feel better, you might compare yourself with other people to conceal your own spiritual condition, Romans 2:1. This delusion comes in the form of justification and rationalization like the apostle Paul’s own struggle in Romans 7:15.

And by unlimited seduction to evil and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing (going to perdition) because they did not welcome the Truth but refused to love it that they might be saved. 11 Therefore God sends upon them a misleading influence, a working of error and a strong delusion to make them believe what is false, 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11.

The apostle Paul alludes to full blown sin in the passage above, James 1:15. Like an addict struggling to unhook their lives from an unhealthy substance, seduction is another delusion that you must confront. Anyone who has failed to break a bad habit understands the helpless feeling of compromise, asking God for forgiveness before indulging sinful passions. One of the lies of the Devil is that you’ll never change. Yet, if you follow Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 10:13, God does provide a way out of temptation as long as you are willing to break free from sinful delusions.

by Jay Mankus

The Reason to Forgive

Everyone has been burned, disappointed with or hurt by a close friend. Whether this was due to betrayal, growing apart or temptation bought on by human nature, there is no one righteous, not even one, Romans 3:9-12. When the shoe is on the other foot and you are the guilty one, remember the principle you reap what you sow. When you add this to Jesus’ teaching in the passage below, this is the reason to forgive.

And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [g]reckless and willful sins, [h]leaving them, letting them go, and [i]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [j]reckless and willful sins, [k]leaving them, letting them go, and [l]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses, Matthew 6:13-15.

As a child, forgiveness is a daily ordeal. Someone hurts your feelings, said something mean to you or as you get older, breaks your heart. If the words of Jeremiah 17:9 are any indication, life is filled with anguish, frustration, and pain. This is where children learn the hard way that it’s better to forgive rather than holding a grudge. The sooner you mend fences with friends, the better you’ll feel. Unfortunately, stubbornness often blocks the path toward peace.

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and [e]disregards the offenses of others], 1 Peter 4:8.

The words of the passage above might have been conceived in John 21:15-17. Peter is confronted by Jesus following his public denial. This conversation serves as a form of reconciliation as Jesus forgives Peter for his past sin. While the Lord’s Prayer is a basic prayer children learned in Sunday School classes, this is a great aid for forgiveness. As you reflect upon the past day, week, month or year, forgive those who have trespassed against you. If you want God to forgive you, this is the reason to forgive others.

by Jay Mankus

Freedom as a Pretext for Wickedness?

A pretext is given in justification of a course of action that is not the real reason. Whenever you are caught in the act of wrongdoing, the creative will come out with a logical excuse right off the top of their head. While watching an episode of Cold Case Files, one serial killer blamed a Succubus; a female demon. Similar to a child whose is caught by a parent, “the Devil made me do it” is a common rationale to explain irrational behavior.

[Live] as free people, [yet] without employing your freedom as a pretext for wickedness; but [live at all times] as servants of God, 1 Peter 2:16.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul explains that everything is permissible via freewill, but not everything is beneficial, 1 Corinthians 6:12. A few verses later, Paul uses a prostitute to introduce the concept of soul ties. Whenever human beings participate in any sexual act, a bond is formed. Instead of waiting for marriage to consecrate sacred vows made by a couple, temporary pleasures are gratified by giving into temptation.

And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. 16 The people answered, Far be it from us to forsake the Lord to serve other gods; Joshua 24:15-16.

Following Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, there were several religious cults that arose. Some of these groups cheapened God’s grace by professing the more you sinned, the greater God’s grace will be poured out upon you. This likely explains the words in Hebrews 6:4-6 as freewill was being used as a pretext for wickedness. Rather than follow the trends in today’s progressive culture, God wants more leaders like Joshua who aren’t afraid to take a stand by faithfully serving the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Seductive Impulses

Seduction is usually associated with persuading someone to have sex. Yet, there are multiple meanings which illustrate what individuals experience as seductive impulses ignite fleshly desires. This persuasion toward disobedience takes away the innocence of children as well as the curious and naive. Just as a cunning serpent planted a lie within Eve’s mind, the longer human beings contemplate bending a rule, seductive impulses intensify, Genesis 3:1-6.

For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. Avoid [all] such people [turn away from them]. For among them are those who worm their way into homes and captivate silly and weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women, loaded down with [the burden of their] sins [and easily] swayed and led away by various evil desires and seductive impulses, 2 Timothy 3:5-6.

The context of the passage above is based upon the end of days. Verses 2-4 is a list of actions, behaviors and choices that individuals will pursue prior to Jesus’ Second Coming. In another passage on End Times, Jesus states that the love of many will grow cold, Matthew 24:12. When you find yourself surrounded by people who don’t care anymore, seductive impulses become more attractive as consequences for disobedience are ignored.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

Meanwhile, the earthly brother of Jesus provides one of the best spiritual illustrations on seductive impulses. Temptation is compared to a fishing trip. However, in this analogy Satan is the fisherman and you are the fish. When seductive impulses are dangled in front of you, how will you respond? If Satan knows all of your weaknesses, will you be able to resist lustful passions? Before sin is conceived, look for a way out so that you aren’t the next saint to have a fall from grace, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

by Jay Mankus

Reproofs and Consequences

The term “Reprove” comes from Elizabethan English. The biblical definition of reproof has a variety of meanings depending upon the context. A reproof could refer to convince, disprove, rebuke or reject. In many cases, reproofs occur when a spiritual leader catches a believer doing or saying something that is out of character. While most churches have become too lenient on Christians living outside of church, a reproof is designed to correct wrong behavior.

To keep you from the evil woman, from the flattery of the tongue of a loose woman. 25 Lust not after her beauty in your heart, neither let her capture you with her eyelids. 26 For on account of a harlot a man is brought to a piece of bread, and the adulteress stalks and snares [as with a hook] the precious life [of a man], Proverbs 6:24-26.

While God promises to forgive those who repent, the consequences for any sin remains. In the passage above, King Solomon uses the example of a lonely man who seeks to fulfill his sexual desires with a one night stand. However, whenever two individuals participate in a sexual encounter, soul ties are developed and last long after this one excursion. Like any type of addiction or bad habit, inner cravings continue to grow via temptation until you are lured into another comprising position, James 1:13-15.

Why have you despised the commandment of the Lord, doing evil in His sight? You have slain Uriah the Hittite with the sword and have taken his wife to be your wife. You have murdered him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because [you have not only despised My command, but] you have despised Me and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife. 11 Thus says the Lord, Behold, I will raise up evil against you out of your [a]own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun. 12 For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel and before the sun, [Fulfilled in II Sam. 16:21, 22.] 2 Samuel 12:9-12.

No one is exempt from the consequences of sin, even if you are a man or woman after God’s own heart. In the passage above, the prophet Samuel shares the penalty for David’s act of adultery and murder. Unfortunately, David got a taste of the expression “what comes around goes around.” Reaping the seeds of sin, David’s family and life became a living nightmare. May the consequences of sin strike a nerve in your heart so that you’ll learn quickly from the next reproof that you receive.

by Jay Mankus

When Religion and Politics Mix

Los Angeles became the first city in the United States to be designated as a sanctuary city.  This 1979 decision was designed to prevent police from inquiring about the immigration status of arrestees.  Today, there are 36 other United State cities that have adopted this policy.  In recent years, churches in border states have been recruited to hide and protect illegal immigrants.  From time to time, I see cable news exclusives of local pastors defending their position.  This is where religion and politics mix.

But the Jews incited the devout, prominent women and the leading men of the city, and instigated persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them forcibly out of their district, Acts 13:50.

During the first century, Jewish leaders were fearful of the Jesus movement.  As more Jews converted to Christianity, influence and political power was being lost.  Thus, high priests, Pharisees, Sadducees and zealots sought whatever means necessary to stop any other Jews from turning their back on their Jewish heritage.  According to Luke, Jewish leaders used prominent, powerful and wealthy individuals to drive Christian leaders from their district.  This is where religious obsessions cloud minds and judgment.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless, James 1:26.

An earthly brother of Jesus makes an interesting observation in the passage above.  Religion and politics can and will mix from time to time, but if your tongue leads you astray, religion is worthless.  Jesus uses an analogy of a city on a hill in his Sermon on the Mount.  Christians are suppose to stand out, like a city with bright lights in the dark.  Actions, behavior and words reflect what is inside of your heart.  Unfortunately, the pressure of religion and politics may result in compromise, temptation or unexpected words.  When religion and politics and a fall from grace ensues, may conviction bring you back to the place where God desires.

by Jay Mankus

The Difference Between a Mistake and Sin

Blunders, errors or slip ups are words associated with making a mistake.  These missteps can be blamed on miscalculated, misguided or wrong actions.  A common explanation for this occurrence is being amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  Finding fault or judgment is often excused until the rules are made known to everyone.

Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness [ignoring God’s law by action or neglect or by tolerating wrongdoing—being unrestrained by His commands and His will], 1 John 3:4.

Meanwhile, the biblical term sin refers to an act of disobedience, rebellion or transgression.  The basis for law in the Bible is the ten commandments.  The first four detail how God expects individuals to respond, treat and worship the Lord.  The final six set the ground rules for civil law.  In the New Testament, Jesus summarizes these commandments into two brief guidelines.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Love your neighbor as yourself.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 And Jesus replied to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for others],’ Matthew 22:36-39.

According to one of Jesus’ disciples, a mistake becomes a sin when lawlessness is involved.  The Bible serves as a moral code for life, a line in the sand to demarcate how far you can go.  Boundaries are meant to keep you safe, far from sin.  However, ignoring, neglecting or not enforcing biblical principles opens the door for sin to become a lifestyle.  Therefore, the next time temptation dances, rolls or strolls into your life, don’t be mistaken about sin’s clear and present danger.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Story Behind A Just Cause

To be just refers to being fair and impartial.  The Bible details God’s hatred of those who have been mistreated and oppressed.  The term civil refers to behaving according to what is morally right within a just and democratic society.  The story behind this concept begins as God uses guilt as a just cause to convict sin despite being invisible (before the actual act) to the human eye.

But each one is tempted when he is dragged away, enticed and baited [to commit sin] by his own [worldly] desire (lust, passion), James 1:14.

While individuals may be able to deceive other human beings for an extended period of time, the truth will come out over eventually.  Whether it’s an addiction, a crime or shocking act, the Bible reveals what happens inside the soul before the act of sin emerges.  Seeds are planted within minds, temptation waters these thoughts until desire, lust and worldly passion drags the next unlikely candidate down a dark path.

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 1:15.

Sadly, headlines from the internet, newspaper or tabloids is the end result of the sinful nature getting the best of a weakened and vulnerable person.  After any fall, just as God sends guilt, humbled hearts open the door for forgiveness.  To those who comes to their senses, seeking reconciliation, the Holy Spirit moves toward the broken-hearted and crushed in spirit.  While this is often not seen in this light, God demonstrates a just cause by extending grace and mercy to the contrite.  May these words help you get over failure by embracing God’s forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

 

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