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The Way Maker

The 1920’s has been described as the Jazz Age or roaring twenties. This decade of prosperity was marred by the Great Depression which began in August of 1929. Nineteen hundred years earlier, Jesus brought an era of spiritual enlightenment. This was accomplished by turning people’s attention away from following a set of rules, the Torah, to entering into a personal relationship with God. However, even his twelve disciples were often left in the dark, unclear of what Jesus meant by following the way.

And when (if) I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way, John 14:3-4.

The disciple whom Jesus loved reflects upon these words after Jesus’ crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. John had plenty of time for reflection while living in exile on the Island of Patmos. Jesus spent the last three years of his life on earth pouring his heart and soul into twelve men. Little by little, Jesus showed this motley crew how to live, pray and serve mankind. Despite witnessing numerous miracles daily, a couple of disciples still doubted Jesus and couldn’t fully comprehend the way.

Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me. If you had known Me [had learned to recognize Me], you would also have known My Father. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him. Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father [cause us to see the Father—that is all we ask]; then we shall be satisfied, John 14:5-8.

Thomas and Philip are identified in the passage above, living by sight, not by faith. During a Sermon of the Mount of Olives, Jesus compares the way to two roads, a super highway and a narrow path. Prior to his arrest, Jesus often ruffled the feathers of religious leaders, referring to an inner temple, not the place of worship in Jerusalem. The Bible, especially the four gospels, provides clues for modern believers who seek a similar path, the Way. May this blog conceive a burning desire for you to follow the Way Maker, also a song by Mandisa.

by Jay Mankus

Malicious Accusations

Some of the Psalms in the Bible are like pages out of David’s personal diary. David went from a lonely shepherd boy to a war hero, killing a giant called Goliath. This unlikely rise to greatness incited a spirit of jealousy in those whom David surpassed. Chants by fans of his victorious battles even caused King Saul to become envious of David’s accomplishments. Thus, David quickly gained several enemies who spewed malicious accusations, some warranted and others unwarranted.

Although my father and my mother have forsaken me, yet the Lord will take me up [adopt me as His child]. Teach me Your way, O Lord, and lead me in a plain and even path because of my enemies [those who lie in wait for me], Psalm 27:10-11.

When these words began to eat away at David’s soul, he cried out to the Lord for help. Based upon the passage above, David’s own parents turned against him for undisclosed reasons. When you examine Samuel’s visit to Jesse in 1 Samuel 16, it appears that David’s oldest brother Eliab was the apple of his parents’ eyes. David was an after thought, not even invited to this special meeting. Yet, at some point, David’s fame and popularity created a rift or David’s parents were embarrassed by some of his ill-advised decisions.

Give me not up to the will of my adversaries, for false witnesses have risen up against me; they breathe out cruelty and violence. [What, what would have become of me] had I not believed that I would see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living! – Psalm 27:12-13

One of the translations of verse 12 uses malicious accusations in place of cruelty and violence. Perhaps, David became cocky, conceited by his success as a soldier. This unhealthy pattern is played out in 2 Samuel 11 as David has an affair with a soldier’s wife. Instead of confessing his sin publicly, David gave orders for Israel’s army to withdraw, allowing Uriah to die behind enemy lines. While David didn’t like the malicious accusations made against him, his actions made the bed he was forced to lie in. While you can’t control what others say about you, a life devoted to character and integrity can persuade former enemies to change their minds about you.

by Jay Mankus

Springing from and Leading to Faith

Compression coil springs are designed to push back on a surface when it comes into contact with another source. Perhaps, this is the imagery the apostle Paul is referring to in the passage below. Except push back comes in three forms: internal, spiritual and worldly influences. The purpose of faith is to bounce back from adversary, hardship or trials by relying on the power of the Holy Spirit which serves as a spiritual spring.

For in the Gospel a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith, Romans 1:17.

The more individuals read, study and meditate on the Gospel of Righteousness, the Bible, the more bounce; spring you will have in your faith. Despite being an ancient book, comprised by a collection of writers, an Old Testament prophet writes about a special quality hidden within, Isaiah 40:8. A first century author claims that the Bible’s words are living and active, Hebrews 4:12. Meanwhile, Jesus suggests that this spiritual book will endure forever, Matthew 5:18.

For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative, Romans 1:18.

According to the apostle Paul, there are individuals devoted to suppressing the truth about the Bible. When truth is hidden, the spring in a Christian’s step diminishes. When spiritual disciplines such as prayer, study and worship are not exercised, faith decays. Thus, if you want to regain your spiritual momentum, make sure you don’t stray far from God’s Word. Instead, pick up the sword of the Spirit, the Bible, on a daily basis to sharpener your faith and spring back to life.

by Jay Mankus

The Glitch that Makes You Great

A glitch is defined as an irregularity or malfunction that suddenly appears. Synonyms include breakdown, defect and flaws that are often noticeable. When any type of glitch is revealed within a human being, embarrassment, humility and a loss in self-esteem follow. If this glitch becomes a major weakness in your life, how can this glitch become a strength?

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted, 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Within a letter written to members of the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul unveils a secret scar. It’s unclear whether this is an addiction, chronic illness or some form of demonic oppression. Whatever the reason, this condition hampered Paul’s ability to function daily. While you may not consider this imperfection a glitch, Paul is forced to rely on God to get through each day.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

In the first century, there was only one spiritual leader who matched Paul’s charisma. Acts 18:24 mentions Apollos, described as cultured, eloquent and well versed. Other passages in the New Testament suggest that Apollos became a great preacher, far superior than Paul. This inferiority complex led Paul to turn his attention toward writing. While Apollos’ sermons have been forgotten, Paul’s words in his letters live on in the pages of the Bible.

So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:10.

Growing up in New Jersey, stuttering became my glitch. While the apostle Paul endured a thorn in his flesh, I battled a silent tongue. Although my heart and mind had plenty of things that I wanted to express, nothing coherent came out of my mouth. This 21 year struggle turned my attention to writing, developing a love and passion for this new hobby. If it wasn’t for my own glitch, stuttering, this blog wouldn’t exist. Thus, this is how the Lord transformed my glitch from a weakness into a strength. May the power of the Holy Spirit speak so your heart to help you see the glitch that makes you great in God’s eyes.

by Jay Mankus

Why You Should Avoid Jumping to Conclusions

Whenever I have a negative experience with an associate, co-worker or friend, my curious nature wants to know why. Did I do something wrong? Did I offend someone? Or does this individual simply not like me? These are the thoughts that go through my head daily. However, after reading the Bible today, I learned a valuable lesson on why you should avoid jumping to conclusion.

Now Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and he was laying them on the fire when a viper crawled out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the little animal hanging from his hand, they said to one another, Doubtless this man is a murderer, for though he has been saved from the sea, Justice [the goddess of avenging] has not permitted that he should live, Acts 28:3-4.

A first century ship in route to Rome ran aground off the coast of Malta. On a cold rainy winter day, 276 people abandoned ship, floating or swimming to shore. When natives of the island saw this event take place, a fire was started to bring warmth to wet and shivering bodies. The apostle Paul felt compelled to help out, gathering sticks when a baby viper snake attached itself to his arm. Gossip and murmurs began to spread around the campfire, perceiving Paul as a murderer was who escaped a ship wreck only to die on this island.

Then [Paul simply] shook off the small creature into the fire and suffered no evil effects. However, they were waiting, expecting him to swell up or suddenly drop dead; but when they had watched him a long time and saw nothing fatal or harmful come to him, they changed their minds and kept saying over and over that he was a god, Acts 28:5-6.

Aware of the deadly poison of vipers, the locals were waiting for Paul’s arm to swell up and then die. When this didn’t happen and Paul suffered no ill effects, another conclusion was made, a polar opposite of the first. From a murderer to a god; these are too extremes. This illustration proves the point not to jump to conclusions. While you may be eager to know what influenced someone to do this or that, only God knows the ultimate reason. Thus, the next time you see something from afar, sort out the facts first to ensure that you reach a logical conclusion.

by Jay Mankus

Replacing Chaos with Structure

The first class that I taught as a Middle School Bible teacher at Red Lion was entitled Wise Up: the Book of Proverbs. While the textbook was waterer down more than I cared for, the premise of this book was spot on. God established boundaries in the Bible to protect individuals from harm while keeping evil out. Those who know, learn and practice these principles replace chaos with structure.

So the Lord God took the man [He had made] and settled him in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may freely (unconditionally) eat [the fruit] from every tree of the garden; Genesis 2:15-16.

In the days following Creation, the Garden of Eden served as an oasis in the desert. This hidden paradise was given to Adam with two simple expectations, cultivate and maintain this tropical paradise. The Lord gave Adam and Eve free reign of this garden, able to eat fruit from every tree except for one. God’s only restriction (rule), was do not eat of the tree of knowledge. Obeying this rule kept Eden free from chaos.

But [only] from the tree of the knowledge (recognition) of good and evil you shall not eat, otherwise on the day that you eat from it, you shall most certainly [h]die [because of your disobedience],” Genesis 2:17.

Moses does not detail how long it took for Lucifer to convince Eve to taste this forbidden fruit. However, ever since this decision known as Origin Sin persuaded this couple to disobey God, chaos has reigned on earth. Once Pandora’s Box has been opened, it’s impossible to alter the past. Yet, there is a way to restore order. The most logical step is to rplace chaos is by practicing godly principles from the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Forbidden by the Holy Spirit

During the Day of Pentecost detailed in Acts 2, a supernatural event enabled first century disciples to speak in tongues.  Initially, eyewitnesses thought the disciples were drunk until foreigners, visitors to Jerusalem, began to hear these men speak in their own native tongue.  According to Acts 2:9, this included Asia Minor, a place Paul and Silas chose to reach during Paul’s second missionary journey.  However, Luke records another strange occurrence in the passage below, the apostles were prohibited to introduce the gospel to Europe.

Now they passed through the territory of Phrygia and Galatia, after being forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in [the west coast province of] Asia Minor, Acts 16:6.

There are a couple of explanations for this region being forbidden by the Holy Spirit.  One Bible Commentary suggests this territory was not a designated Roman province.  As a Roman citizen, the apostle Paul accepted this spiritual push back as a clear sign to wait for another opportunity in the future.  Meanwhile, Acts 1:8 refers to a natural progression for the gospel to spread: Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria.  The most logical explanation is that Paul and Silas went out of order, visiting the ends of the earth before reaching every nearby town and village.

And after they came to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not permit them; Acts 16:7.

As modern missionaries continue to fulfill the great commission, Matthew 28:16-20, the Bible warns of regions controlled by demonic powers such as Persia in the book of Daniel.  Those called to enter these dangerous countries and nations face the same risk the Elliott family took as described in the film End of the Spear.  When five missionaries were killed in Ecuador by the Wadani tribe, some would have seen this as a sign to quit.  Yet, this loss of life opened the door members of the Wadani to accept and receive the good news about Jesus Christ.  While there will always be forbidden areas on earth, may God fill you with resolve to fulfill God’s plan for your life.

by Jay Mankus

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