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Tag Archives: The Bible

Citizens of a Spiritual Commonwealth

As of September 2020, the Bible has been translated into 704 languages. While the original text consists of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic, there are now 900 different English translations of the Bible. Unfortunately, in this age of commercialism, certain expressions and words have been lost in translation. For example, the New King James Version uses heaven 327 times in the Old Testament and 255 times in the New Testament. Meanwhile, heaven is only mentioned 422 times in the entire New International Version.

But we are citizens of the state (commonwealth, homeland) which is in heaven, and from it also we earnestly and patiently await [the coming of] the Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah) [as] Savior, Philippians 3:20.

For this reason, I appreciate the Amplified Version which includes all the possible English translations. In the passage above, Paul describes heaven as a commonwealth, homeland, and state. This invisible destination awaits for those who trust in the name of the Lord, Romans 10:9-11. One of Jesus’ disciples received a revelation about what this place will be like, Revelation 21:4. According to John, there will be no more crying, mourning or pain. Heaven is a place where tears will be wiped away.

Who will transform and fashion anew the body of our humiliation to conform to and be like the body of His glory and majesty, by exerting that power which enables Him even to subject everything to Himself, Philippians 3:21.

The apostle Paul takes the concept of heaven one step further. While our earthly bodies are temporary, citizens of heaven will receive a new body that will last for eternity. Another disciple of Jesus refers to heaven’s unusual timeline. According to Peter, one day with the Lord is like a thousand years on earth, 2 Peter 3:8. This is what citizens of this spiritual commonwealth have to look forward to. Don’t get left out as you still have time to make a reservation this Mother’s Day, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

The Possession of a Priceless Privilege

Launched in 1997, Mastercard’s Priceless Advertisement Campaign has been one of the most iconic branding initiatives in recent history. The point of these commercials was to highlight that while some material items can be purchased, other moments in life are priceless. I’m not sure what inspired the apostle Paul to use a similar expression in a first century letter, but his relationship with God was invaluable.

Yes, furthermore, I count everything as loss compared to the possession of the priceless privilege (the overwhelming preciousness, the surpassing worth, and supreme advantage) of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord and of progressively becoming more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him [of perceiving and recognizing and understanding Him more fully and clearly]. For His sake I have lost everything and consider it all to be mere rubbish (refuse, dregs), in order that I may win (gain) Christ (the Anointed One), Philippians 3:8.

Value is often reflected by the time you put into a specific art, craft, hobby, or skill. The workaholic tends to be so consumed by their work that everything else is put on hold. Meanwhile, relational individuals follow the path of Mary in the Bible, savoring every moment that she had with Jesus, Luke 10:41-42. Perhaps, this account triggered Paul to write about the possession of the priceless privilege of being a follower of Christ.

And that I may [actually] be found and known as in Him, not having any [self-achieved] righteousness that can be called my own, based on my obedience to the Law’s demands (ritualistic uprightness and supposed right standing with God thus acquired), but possessing that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ (the Anointed One), the [truly] right standing with God, which comes from God by [saving] faith, Philippians 3:9.

This privilege is made possible by faith. In his letter to the Church at Rome, Paul writes about faith coming from hearing the message, the good news about Jesus Christ, Romans 10:17. For those of us who did not hear the Sermon on the Mount in person, the Bible is a valuable resource to remind Christians of this priceless privilege. Before this day ends, make sure you take a few minutes, whether in Word or prayer, to thank the Lord for being a child of God.

by Jay Mankus

Holding Out the Word of Life

The Psalmist is one of the first authors of the Bible to refer to this book as words for life. In the passage below, this portion of the Old Testament serves as a flashlight in the dark, pointing out the right direction to go. When you receive amazing advice, it’s like food for hungry souls. Meanwhile, each time you open the Bible, spiritual percepts provide tangible understanding to unveil truths that were previously hidden from you.

How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:103-105.

In the middle of the first century, the apostle Paul compares the Old Testament to a book of life. Inside of these pages, you will find a spiritual presence, Hebrews 4:12. This author suggests that these words jump off the pages, living and active to inspire souls to change for the better. Meanwhile, Paul uses the second coming of Jesus as motivation to hold up the Word of Life to whoever he comes in contact with daily.

Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose, Philippians 2:16.

In a letter to a teenager pastor, Paul explains how to correctly handle this spiritual book, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. The Bible serves as a spiritual guide to life as it convicts, corrects and disciplines those who stray off course. Although the original text of the Bible does not contain chapters or individual verses, John 3:16-17 points to salvation, not judgement. When you do hold out the Word of Life, make sure you do this with gentleness and respect.

by Jay Mankus

Kindred Spirits

Amy Bruni and Adam Berry visit people who believe their homes are haunted as part of a Travel Channel reality show. This team attempts to contact spirits and obtain evidence of a paranormal presence. The encounters form the series Kindred Spirits which will start it’s fifth season in 2021. While Kindred Spirits focuses on the supernatural, the Bible refers to a different kind of kindred spirit.

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life. Saul took David that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life, 1 Samuel 18:1-3.

Kindred refers to allied, connected, parallel, and related. The context of kindred often refers to a family or friend who share a close or intimate relationship. In the passage above, the prophet Samuel writes about the common bond between David and Jonathon. Like twins separated from birth, these two men appear to have been in one accord, developing strong ties.

For I have no one like him [no one of so kindred a spirit] who will be so genuinely interested in your welfare and devoted to your interests, Philippians 2:20.

In the passage above, kindred spirit is used by the apostle Paul to describe a valuable missionary partner. This individual named Timothy is a teenage pastor who demonstrated numerous godly qualities. Based upon his previous service, Timothy was a spiritual rock who was genuinely interested in the welfare of others. As co-workers, family, and neighbors watch you from afar, may the fruits of the Holy Spirit be present in you so that kindred spirits will impact the lives of others today.

by Jay Mankus

Your Love

Depending upon the Bible that you read, the word love appears 310 times in the original King James Version. As newer translations have been created, anyone who reads the New International Version, love is mentioned 551 times. If you dig deeper, these passages refer to one of five different types of love. The Hebrew word Ahab and four Greek terms: Agapao, Agape, Phileo, and Eros. Each of these express love from either God’s perspective (unconditional), family oriented (brotherly) or selfish (sensual).

And this I pray: that your love may abound yet more and more and extend to its fullest development in knowledge and all keen insight [that your love may display itself in greater depth of acquaintance and more comprehensive discernment], Philippians 1:9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul refers to love in action. One of the ways Christians demonstrate love is by praying for other people. While writing a letter to a specific church with fond memories, Paul directs his prayer toward their love. Paul’s prayer focuses on a two fold display of love. First, to develop a greater depth of acquaintance, perhaps seeing other people as God sees and loves them. Finally, to deepen one’s comprehension and discernment of God’s unconditional love.

So that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value [recognizing the highest and the best, and distinguishing the moral differences], and that you may be untainted and pure and unerring and blameless [so that with hearts sincere and certain and unsullied, you may approach] the day of Christ [not stumbling nor causing others to stumble], Philippians 1:10.

As Paul’s letter to Philippi continues, Paul shares his goal for the spiritual growth of these believers. Instead of rambling on and on in prayer, Paul’s mind is laser focused. These expectations set a high bar to follow, but how your love is lived out can change a family, neighborhood or place of work. Following the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2, many apostles lived each day as if Jesus was going to return before nightfall. This mindset began to fulfill the Great Commission, Mark 16:15 and transformed the way Christian’s love.

by Jay Mankus

When God Leaves the Backdoor Open

The origin of backdoor dates back to the early 1520’s. Over the past 500 years, this term has evolved from small homes that were built back to back to cultural expressions. The Urban Dictionary refers to taking an alternative route, going behind someone’s back, and or a form of betrayal. The Bible provides accounts of when God leaves the backdoor open.

Now there was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (a leader, an authority) among the Jews, Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and are certain that You have come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do these signs (these wonderworks, these miracles—and produce the proofs) that You do unless God is with him, John 3:1-2.

As churches throughout the world celebrate Passion Week, Nicodemus is prime example that fits into this category. In the passage above, this Pharisee requests a private meeting with Jesus under the cover of darkness. Afraid of what his peers might think of his curiosity about Jesus, Nicodemus uses the backdoor. As the recipient of John 3:16-17, these words brewed with Nicodemus’ heart.

As for this multitude (rabble) that does not know the Law, they are contemptible and doomed and accursed! 50 Then Nicodemus, who came to Jesus before at night and was one of them, asked, 51 Does our Law convict a man without giving him a hearing and finding out what he has done? 52 They answered him, Are you too from Galilee? Search [the Scriptures yourself], and you will see that no prophet comes (will rise to prominence) from Galilee, John 7:49-52.

The second time Nicodemus is mentioned in the Bible, he defends Jesus in the passage above. Some of his fellow religious leaders suggest that Nicodemus is a secret follower of Jesus. Becoming a Christian usually doesn’t happen over night as many choose to enter faith through the backdoor initially. When the words of the Bible begin to click and fear of what others think about you fades, God leaves the backdoor open, Revelation 3:20, so you can enter when you’re ready.

by Jay Mankus

Swift Training

The term swift appears 38 times in the Bible. Swift refers to happening quickly or promptly. There are many circumstances in life that pop up without any warning. When you encounter these situations, there is often little or no time to react. Thus, this requires an immediate response, action that is instantaneous, rapid, and without delay. One of the most famous passages on this topic is Numbers 22:22-35, where the Lord allows Balaam’s donkey to talk or else he would have been killed by an angel of death.

Of the Gadites there went over to David to the stronghold in the wilderness men of might, men trained for war who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and who were swift as gazelles on the mountains, 1 Chronicles 12:8.

Swift training often began with soldiers, prior to going off to war each spring, 2 Samuel 11:1. According to the passage above, Old Testament boot camps took place in the wilderness, likely in the desert where there was no snow in the winter. The three main criteria for swift training included handling a shield, spear, and being as quick as a gazelle. What set these individuals apart was an intensity which was on display with a glance at their face, possessing the eye of the tiger.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the place of the dead), where you are going. 11 I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither is bread to the wise nor riches to men of intelligence and understanding nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all, Ecclesiastes 9:10-11.

Yet, swift training isn’t limited to soldiers. King Solomon personalizes swift training to all members of the nation of Israel. Similar to the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1:5-6, there is an urgency to fan into flames your spiritual gift and talents. It appears that Paul quotes the passage above in Colossians 3:23, a call to put your heart and soul into your best qualities. When you take King Solomon’s words and apply this toward the church, 1 Corinthians 12:6-7, your unique and special gift should be swiftly applied daily.

by Jay Mankus

Terms of the Eternal and Timeless Purpose

Terms are a word or phrase used to describe a thing or to express a concept, especially in a particular kind of language or branch of study. In the context of the Bible, the Old Testament begins with Plan A, B, and C. Genesis begins with the creation of human beings, designed to become stewards of this newly formed planet. However, when this authority over the earth was lost in the Garden of Eden, a new plan was set into motion, Genesis 3:15. Plan B was briefly altered in Genesis 6:13 as God hit the reset button when desecration, a lust for power, and violence spread throughout the world. Plan C was forced to take a detour as well, Genesis 11:3-5 as human motivation did not coincide with the Lord’s grand design.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others]. And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves], Genesis 12:2-3.

When the dust settled, the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose of God was re-established with Abraham and fulfilled by Jesus, John 3:16-17. However, when you try to understand the countless whys along the way, King Solomon says it best in Ecclesiastes 3:11. “God will make everything beautiful in His time.” Like an artist who spares no expense or time until their work is complete, the apostle Paul details the eternal and timeless purposes in Romans 8:28-29. Each individual life is a blank tapestry, prepared in advance by God, Philippians 1:6, brought to completion as you yield control of your life over to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. As Christians become recreated in Jesus, mindsets change to see yourself as one of God’s works in progress, Ephesians 2:10.

[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere. 11 This is in accordance with the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose which He has realized and carried into effect in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3:10-11.

Perhaps this explains the words of King Solomon, warning those who try to push God off to the side, Proverbs 19:21. No matter how frustrating it may be, God’s plans don’t always coincide with your heart’s desire, Proverbs 16:9. When your steps are altered, you have to realize that your time table is different from God’s. Like the process of sanctifying grace, this gradual change takes a lifetime to be completed. To follow these terms, perseverance is a necessary attribute if you want to finish what God began in you, Hebrews 12:1. While I don’t always comprehend or understand God’s eternal and timeless purposes, Christians are called to be faithful, not always successive. Whenever you are in this journey called life, make a decision to follow Jesus so you can become all that God wants you to be.

by Jay Mankus

The Anatomy of Story

Author John Trudy released his first edition of The Anatomy of Story in 2008. One of the goals of this book is to provide 22 Steps on how to become a master storyteller. As an expert in the field of writing screenplays, Trudy attempts to help amateur writers who don’t quite understand this process well enough. Beside the Anatomy of Story, Trudy shares his secrets for writing a compelling script on podcasts as a guest speaker and teaches writing courses across the country.

As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s office; and He said to him, Be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me]. And he rose and followed Him. 10 And as Jesus reclined at table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and [especially wicked] sinners came and sat (reclined) with Him and His disciples, Matthew 9:9-10.

The Bible contains it’s own master story teller. Using a technique known as parables, the New Testament records 42 accounts scattered throughout the 4 gospels. Jesus masters the art of communication with a simple story that relates to common citizens. Instead of speaking down to individuals as the Son of God, Jesus meets people where they are, using parables to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson. Rather than spoon feed his audience, Jesus uses riddles to force listeners to figure his message out on their own.

And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, Why does your Master eat with tax collectors and those [preeminently] sinful? 12 But when Jesus heard it, He replied, Those who are strong and well (healthy) have no need of a physician, but those who are weak and sick. 13 Go and learn what this means: I desire mercy [that is, readiness to help those in trouble] and not sacrifice and sacrificial victims. For I came not to call and invite [to repentance] the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), but sinners (the erring ones and all those not free from sin), Matthew 9:11-13.

Prior to the days of cable television and the internet, American families sat at their kitchen table every night for dinner. Instead of eating quickly before heading off in your own direction, this time was set aside to share what happened to you during the day. While I didn’t enjoy being forced to sit in the same place for 30 minutes, my mom or dad always shared an interesting story to pass the time. As an introvert, COVID-19 has forced many to live this past year in isolation. Yet, I long for the day when families can recline together without wearing a mask to rediscover the anatomy of story.

by Jay Mankus

Fearless Before Evil

The Bible refers to evil as any mindset that which is opposed to God and His purposes. While the word evil can refer to anything that causes harm, everything that contradicts the holy nature of God is considered evil in God’s eyes. With or without the moral dimension, evil has a way of infiltrating lives in subtle ways. When evil attaches itself to human lives, individuals will begin to act out in anger, often through emotional outbursts. Unfortunately, when evil behavior is confronted, defense mechanisms activate, forming a wall that can divide and further separate rocky relationships.

Elijah replied, I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, by forsaking the commandments of the Lord and by following the Baals. 19 Therefore send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of [the goddess] Asherah, who eat at [Queen] Jezebel’s table. 20 So Ahab sent to all the Israelites and assembled the prophets at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah came near to all the people and said, How long will you halt and limp between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him! But if Baal, then follow him. And the people did not answer him a word, 1 Kings 18:18-21.

As Christians mature in their faith, the goal is to recognize evil with a readiness to stand up to it as a moments notice. One of the greatest examples of this in the Bible occurs when Elijah persuades 950 secular prophets into a spiritual duel. Instead of using weapons, Elijah comes up with a proposal to call fire down from heaven. The winner of this challenge will be the first to have their God bring fire down from. Although no coin flip was used to determine the order, Elijah allows followers of Asherah and Baal to go first. If you read the entire passage, 1 Kings 18:18-29, Elijah is so confident that he begins taunting these unsuccessful prophets.

At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, Cry aloud, for he is a god; either he is musing, or he has gone aside, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened. 28 And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with knives and lances until the blood gushed out upon them. 29 Midday passed, and they played the part of prophets until the time for offering the evening sacrifice, but there was no voice, no answer, no one who paid attention. 30 Then Elijah said to all the people, Come near to me. And all the people came near him. And he repaired the [old] altar of the Lord that had been broken down [by Jezebel], 1 Kings 18:27-30.

When these secular prophets finally gave up, Elijah goes to extremes to prove that the God of Abraham is Lord. Instead of appeasing these prophets, Elijah repaired an altar previously smashed by his opponents and prepared an offering to God. To prove a point, Elijah fills the area around his sacrifice with water, knowing what His Lord was about to do. On this day upon Mount Carmel, Elijah stared evil in the face and won. According to eye witnesses of this miracle, God sent fire down from heaven, consumed Elijah’s sacrifice and licked up all of the water in the trench that was dug. As evil continues to ravage cities, communities and states, may Elijah’s testimony inspire readers to be fearless before evil today.

by Jay Mankus

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