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Tag Archives: The Bible

Just Don’t Read…Get the Know the Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake, Psalm 23:1-3.

Sheep are mentioned more than 500 in the Bible, more than any other animal.  Sheep were important to nomads and the agricultural life of Hebrews in the Old Testament.  Whether you’re talking about the 23rd Psalm or the Parable of the Lost Sheep, this animal is used to symbolize the relationship between God and his followers.  As you read the beginning of Luke 15, Jesus is like a shepherd who is willing to leave behind the faithful sheep to find the one who has wandered off.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over, Psalm 23:4-5.

Unfortunately, stubborn individuals are resistant to change. While people may experience moments of guilt from within their conscience to stop what they are doing, the disobedient tend to press on, full steam ahead. Regardless of how pure in heart that you may be, everyone dabbles in rebellion, especially when you come across a rule that doesn’t make any sense. However, until the Biblical Shepherd steers you in the right direction, you’ll do lots of wandering until you find your way home.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:10-11.

The disciple whom Jesus loved compared his spiritual leader to a good shepherd. Instead referring to an actual shepherd tending after his sheep, Jesus served as a father figure to shelter human beings from the Devil. While the attacks of this spiritual enemy have continued long after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, just don’t read the Bible, get to know the Good Shepherd, aka God’s one and only son Jesus Christ. As you open the Bible, the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see what it takes to live the abundant life that Jesus promised in the passage above.

by Jay Mankus

Seeking out What is Right

Before the creation and evolution of the internet, students went to the library to find the right answer. After going through the card catalog, I usually went to a librarian to expedite my search for the book with the answer to my question. As I got older, I was introduced to Cliff. If time was running out before a due assignment, Cliff Notes was a reliable source until one of my teachers caught on to the short cut that many of us were taking to find out what we needed to know.

These six things the Lord hates, indeed, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look [the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood. 18 A heart that manufactures wicked thoughts and plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who breathes out lies [even under oath], and he who sows discord among his brethren, Proverbs 6:16-19.

From a Biblical Worldview, the Bible is the place to seek out what is right. According to one first century author, the Bible is living and active, able to penetrate souls, Hebrews 4:12. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul refers to God’s Word as the source for correcting, rebuking and teaching individuals what is right, 2 Timothy 3:16-17. A first century church developed a practice for testing new philosophies by examining them with the Old Testament, Acts 17:11-12.

Lying lips are extremely disgusting and hateful to the Lord, but they who deal faithfully are His delight. 23 A prudent man is reluctant to display his knowledge, but the heart of [self-confident] fools proclaims their folly, Proverbs 12:22-23.

King Solomon is much more direct in the passages above. Before you fully understand what is good and right, you need to know what God detests. If any act falls under one of these 7 categories, the Lord wants any of his followers to flee from these behaviors. One of Jesus’ earthly brothers called first century believers to draw near to God while resisting temptation, James 4:7. In his final remarks in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provides a blueprint in Matthew 7:7-8 for seeking out what is right.

by Jay Mankus

The Shadow of Things to Come

Foreshadowing is a literary term that serves as an indication, a warning of future events. Shakespeare mastered the art of foreshadowing, sprinkling this technique within several of his literary pieces. From a biblical point of view, the Old Testament is full of foreshadowing as hints of a Messiah started dropping following Original Sin, Genesis 3:15. Prophets of old placed imagery into the Bible to prepare first century Jews for Jesus’ arrival.

Such [things] are only the shadow of things that are to come, and they have only a symbolic value. But the reality (the substance, the solid fact of what is foreshadowed, the body of it) belongs to Christ, Colossians 2:17.

In a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul refers to the shadow of things to come. This passage serves as a way to unwrap the science of God. Theology unveils the connection between Jesus and God the Father. Colossians 2:13-15 illustrates how Jesus was able to conquer death and cancel the written code set up in the Old Testament. The foreshadowing here is likely the future church, belonging to and united by Jesus.

Let no one defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions [he claims] he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit, Colossians 2:18.

Unfortunately, premature judgements, labeling and stereotypes have corrupted modern day churches. As leaders act as umpires instead of spiritual mentors, the gospel message has been watered down. When preachers end up becoming hypocrites, void of any spiritually fruit, souls are left with a bad taste. If Christians aren’t prepared for the storms of life, the shadow of things to come will bring ruin rather than rest. May this blog serve as a warning to prepare yourself for future rough patches, James 1:3-6, like a shadow of things to come.

by Jay Mankus

The Sum Total of the Divine Perfection

Sum total refers to comprising the amount of a whole number. Based upon the expression coined by the apostle Paul, the Bible is a collection of God’s divine perfection. Within the vast historical accounts from Creation to the first century church, apostles, disciples, and eye witnesses testify to numerous miracles that defy logic, John 21:24-25. The final piece of this perfection was completed on Easter Sunday as Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

Modern Christians have access to this divine perfection in the form of a Bible. The author of Hebrews describe this collection of 66 books as a living document. Since each author was inspired by the Holy Spirit to record the events of their day, spiritual truths have a way of stirring souls. This spiritual penetration has the ability to transform hearts and renew minds. As individuals hide God’s Word in their hearts, the sum total of divine perfection comes into focus.

For it has pleased [the Father] that all the divine fullness (the sum total of the divine perfection, powers, and attributes) should dwell in Him permanently, Colossians 1:19.

Paul compares God the Father’s divine fullness to the sum total of divine perfection. While agnostics, atheists, and liberals deny the Bible’s infallibility and the resurrection of Jesus, over 500 eyewitnesses saw Jesus before He ascended into heaven. Despite these accounts, Roman soldiers were bribed in Matthew 28:11-15 to prevent the spread of Christianity. While this rumor deceived many, the sum total of God’s divine perfection can’t be denied.

by Jay Mankus

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

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