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A Secret Truth

Mysteries tend to involve something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. Most children begin their lives stress free, trusting in their parents to provide for their needs. Depending upon their degree of maturity, parents tend to shield their young ones from the dangers of this world. Yet, according to the apostle Paul, human beings can not become partakers of eternal salvation based upon their own merit.

But I tell you this, brethren, flesh and blood cannot [become partakers of eternal salvation and] inherit or share in the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (that which is decaying) inherit or share in the imperishable (the immortal), 1 Corinthians 15:50.

Following this warning to members at the Church of Corinth, Paul transitions toward a special mystery. Apparently, this secret truth was decreed by the counsel of God. This event is linked to the crucifixion of Jesus, allowed to continue despite Jesus’ innocence for a hidden purpose. This secret truth in unveiled at the end of chapter 15 of Paul’s letter. The sting of death was removed through resurrection of Jesus on Easter.

Take notice! I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God). We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed), 1 Corinthians 15:51.

Jesus spoke of this mystery during a late night conversation with a Pharisee, John 3:1-5. The concept of being born again didn’t make sense to Nicodemus despite his vast religious knowledge. After making a sarcastic comment, Nicodemus shuts up, intrigued by the words of John 3:16-17. Based upon the actions and words within John 7:50-52 and John 19:38-42, Nicodemus put his faith and trust in Jesus. To those of you who are still left in the dark, Romans 10:8-11 unlocks this secret truth.

by Jay Mankus

Dear Agony

Passion Week celebrates the last week of Jesus’ life as a human being. Today, churches will have Maundy Thursday services recounting the last supper. Bible verses will be read, a betrayal will be revealed and a new covenant introduced now known as Holy Communion. Yet, during a 24 hour period, Jesus endured agony that few have ever experienced.

Just consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself [consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you will not grow weary and lose heart, Hebrews 12:3.

This series of events began when a disciple, Judas Iscariot, agreed to a bribe in exchange for handing Jesus over to the authorities. False witnesses attempted to smear Jesus’ reputation, soldiers punched Jesus in the face and flogged him, ripping most of the skin off his body. When this torture was completed, Jesus was mocked, ridiculed and had a four inch thick crown of thorns driven into his skull. Then, the long walk to Golgotha began.

You have not yet struggled to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin; Hebrews 12:4.

The author of Hebrews addresses the topic of agony in the passages above. If you are having a bad day, rough week or undergoing extreme circumstances, a question is asked. Are you on the verge of death, hanging from a cross? If not, consider him, Jesus, who shed his blood as the perfect lamb of God. The agony Jesus endured was a payment for sin, to save the world, John 3:16-17. Therefore, if you are overcome by the pain of agony, hang in there by casting your concerns up to God in prayer.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Not Over Until You Quit

If you have ever coached, played or watched a little league baseball game, you know that no lead in safe.  My oldest son James played in the 11-12 year old championship game two years in a row.  The first game went into extra innings as each team went ahead, lost the lead only to tie the game in their last at bats.  Running out of pitchers, James came on in relief, pitching the 7th and 8th.  Needing one out to close out the game, an error let in the tying run.  In the bottom of the 8th, James was left on the mound while the opposing team celebrated.  One year later, the championship game went into the 9th, but this time his team walked off champions.  I hope these 2 games helped teach my son that it’s not over until you quit.

And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith,” Matthew 21:22.

During my sophomore year of college, my ultimate frisbee team reached the finals.  From a talent stand point, my team didn’t deserve to win based upon merit.  Down the entire game, I threw a Hail Mary pass as time was about to expire.  Laying on my back, I watched as my throw sailed over two teammates in the end zone.  However, a gust of wind miraculously keep the frisbee in the air long enough for our fastest player to make a game tying catch.  In overtime, a defensive stop gave us a chance to take our first lead of the game.  While making a catch in the end zone, a 6 foot 3 inch 200 pound defender landed on my arm.  Somehow by the grace of God, I held on seal the victory.  This experience taught me to never give up.

I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Philippians 4:13.

After the crucifixion of Jesus on a cross, one disciple committed suicide, others went into hiding and a few returned to their former trades.  On the eve of Easter Sunday, Jesus’ mother,  Mary Magdalene and other women went to ceremonially prepare Jesus’ body.  Perhaps, some of them went to this cave, tomb hoping for a miracle.  Upon their arrival, an angel of the Lord delivered incredible news.  If someone can rise from the dead, then nothing is impossible.  Thus, these godly women learned a valuable life lesson, its not over until you quit.  Therefore, despite whatever trials you may endure, don’t give up, don’t ever give up.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for the Kingdom of God

Deep inside of human beings, there exists a purpose and reason for getting out of bed each day.  This invisible drive may change from time to time depending upon your career, job or motivation level.  When this sense disappears, fades or becomes unclear, mustering up enough energy to make it through a day turns into a chore.  The Bible refers to this term as vision.  This perception guides believers through trials and tribulations, remaining focused on your ultimate goal.

When evening had already come, because it was the preparation day, that is, the day before the Sabbath, 43 Joseph of Arimathea came, a prominent and respected member of the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), who was himself waiting for the kingdom of God—and he courageously dared to go in before Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus, Mark 15:42-43.

In the first century, there was a man who found himself torn between his occupation and purpose for living.  According to a couple of verses, Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin.  This ruling council was essentially the Jewish High Court, the supreme court for religious debates.  Yet, this position didn’t satisfy Joseph’s soul, longing for something more.  This spiritual thirst conceived a desire to wait for the kingdom of God.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body, John 19:38.

According to Luke 10, there was a secondary group of disciples chosen.  These seventy two individuals are not mentioned by name.  Yet, it appears Joseph of Arimathea was a secret disciple, perhaps working behind the scenes as one of these 72.  The crucifixion of Jesus served as a wake up call for Joseph, knocking on Pilate’s door while Jesus was still hanging from a cross.  Three hours earlier, at noon, the day turned to night.  This cosmic event is detailed by several first century historians.  This sign from God convinced Joseph that the kingdom of God was at hand.  May the Holy Spirit open your eyes today so that you too will respond to current events with a sense of urgency like Joseph of Arimathea.

by Jay Mankus

 

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