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Divided from the Will of God

The Bible refers to the concept of God having a plan for your life. From Old Testament prophets who write about future plans, Jeremiah 29:11, to the apostle Paul who suggests you can know God’s will, Romans 12:2, callings occur daily. This might be in the form of a convicted conscience, heart felt desire, some sort of dream or inspirational message. Meanwhile, first century Christians believed that each individual was born with a specific gift, personality or talent, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. This spiritual gift is directly linked or tied to God’s will for your life. If God is the Potter, Romans 9:20-21, the will of God is an ongoing process as clay is molded and shaped, Philippians 1:6.

And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made {loaves of} bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:3-4.

Before beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus withdrew into the wilderness to spiritually prepare himself for this 3 year journey. Understanding the threats He would face, Jesus fasted and prayed to clarify God’s plan like which twelve men to choose to become his disciples. At the conclusion of these preparations, the Devil attempted to separate Jesus from the will of His heavenly father. Jesus had the power to fulfill each request, but what the Devil was asking is outside of God’s will. Each tempting situation was geared toward a specific area of Jesus’ life. Physical hunger, mental acuity, and spiritual obedience. These 3 types of scenarios represent how individuals are tempted daily, aimed at separating human beings from the will of God.

And he said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God, Matthew 4:6-7.

The apostle Paul unlocks the key to overcoming temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13. When confronted by the father of lies, John 8:44, Jesus kept looking for the way out. To overcome hunger, Jesus relied on the Word of God, quoting a verse from the Torah. To escape a dare which He was able to demonstrate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct the Devil’s misuse of Scripture. After gaining authority over the earth, Ephesians 2:2, the Devil offers this to Jesus. However, this request is directly opposed to the first commandment. Thus, Jesus finds the way out each time, refusing to deviate from God’s plan.

Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them. And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me. 10 Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.

Every human being has a weakness, sinful tendencies that they have a hard time resisting, Romans 7:15-17. As the ruler of the air, the Devil doesn’t need drones or hidden cameras, he sees and knows our weaknesses. Perhaps, this explains why so many former Christians have abandoned their faith, prodigals who have yet to come to their senses. Each decision you make has a blessing or consequence. Good choices keep you on track, but poor decisions cause you to drift further and further away from God. Freewill gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. However, at what point will you consider God’s calling, plan and will for your life? Whatever you decide, hold on to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Evil Functions Best When No One Believes in It

According to the Bible, a crafty serpent brought evil to the earth, Genesis 3:1-7. The oldest recorded book describes a fallen angel who roams throughout the earth, Job 1:6-9. An Old Testament prophet writes about the day Lucifer was kicked out of heaven, Isaiah 14:12-15. Another prophet highlights the beauty of this anointed cherub prior to his fall from grace, Ezekiel 28:13-15. As time goes by, more and more residents of earth refer to Lucifer or Satan as a fairy tale, a fictional character or part of mythology.

You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! – James 2:19

As long as the source of evil in the Bible remains merely a figment of your imagination, this is the way the Devil likes it and wants it to be. When good things happen in life, most people credit accomplishments, blessings and rewards as a sign of hard work. However, when bad things develop in the form of defeat, hardships and trials, questions are raised upward toward God. The more people blame God for their problems on earth, evil functions best, disguised by ungodly beliefs.

But He gives us more and more grace (power of the Holy Spirit, to meet this evil tendency and all others fully). That is why He says, God sets Himself against the proud and haughty, but gives grace [continually] to the lowly (those who are humble enough to receive it). So be subject to God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him], and he will flee from you, James 4:6-7.

Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, all human being are born into a sinful nature. The earthly brother of Jesus refers to this inner desire as an evil tendency. The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter to this internal tug of war, Romans 7:15-18. Unless you become open to the power of the Holy Spirit via a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, evil will continue to ravage souls. Part of any spiritual awakening involves recognizing the bad, evil and sinful habits within you. Until evil is associated with the Devil, powers of darkness will continue to fly under the radar.

by Jay Mankus

Cancelled by Coronavirus

In a matter of days, college and professional sports seasons, public education classes and my volleyball league have either been cancelled, closed their doors for two to four weeks or suspended their seasons. The culprit, the Coronavirus, a.k.a. COVID-19 is to blame for this latest pandemic. While out picking up weekly supplies during my normal time, local shoppers treated Thursday afternoon as if the world was coming to an end. With this in mind, what does the Bible say about viruses?

At midnight the Lord slew every firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 30 Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead, Exodus 12:29-30.

The most famous plague of the Old Testament struck Egypt prior to the Exodus of the Jews. According to Moses, every family was impacted, losing the first born male overnight. Meanwhile, cattle farmers lost first born calves as well. According to Numbers 16:49, 14,700 individuals died in a plague brought on by the disobedience of Korah. Another 24,000 Israelites were wiped out by a similar plague in Numbers 25:9. There are other accounts of angels of death, deadly plagues and a real Devil who daily seeks to steal, kill and destroy the lives of weakened souls, 1 Peter 5:8.

So I looked, and behold, an ashy pale horse [black and blue as if made so by bruising], and its rider’s name was Death, and Hades (the realm of the dead) followed him closely. And they were given authority and power over a fourth part of the earth to kill with the sword and with famine and with plague (pestilence, disease) and with wild beasts of the earth, Revelation 6:8.

Whenever individuals experience the unknown, doubt, fear and panic can take hold of troubled hearts. In just one week, life as we know it has been turned upside down. The only recent pandemic that is comparable was the H1N1, back in the Spring of 2009. My oldest son contracted the Swine Flu months later during the Cross Country season. Although James missed nearly 3 weeks of school, he made a complete and full recovery. As human beings, not being in control of your health and well being conceives emotions of hopelessness. Yet, the only thing that you can do right now until COVID-19 goes into remission is pray to the God of miracles.

by Jay Mankus

A Biblical Look into the Mind

In the hours immediately following a mass shooting, law enforcement searches homes, computer devices and social media to see if any clues can explain these tragic events. While some motives may include revenge or terrorism, most investigations turn up signs of mental health problems. When individuals stop taking their medication or reach a breaking point, one stressful situation can push souls over the edge, acting upon the whispers and voices of evil in their head.

Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever], Romans 8:6.

Apparently, the apostle Paul received a revelation about the human mind detailed in the passage above and below. The flesh has a mind of it’s own, placing individuals in direct conflict with their conscious. As people act upon, behave and respond to their own impulses, this seems natural and normal. Yet, Paul warns readers that daily decisions made in the flesh prevents the Holy Spirit from providing spiritual insight. If people aren’t careful, you might find yourself overwhelmed by all the miseries which arise from sin.

[That is] because the mind of the flesh [with its carnal thoughts and purposes] is hostile to God, for it does not submit itself to God’s Law; indeed it cannot. So then those who are living the life of the flesh [catering to the appetites and impulses of their carnal nature] cannot please or satisfy God, or be acceptable to Him, Romans 8:7-8.

Just as professional caterers attempt to persuade customers to return to their establishment, the Devil works behind the scenes each day to ensure that souls become addicted to various sins. While appetites vary from person to person, demons are assigned accordingly based upon your own weaknesses. These two verses in the Bible highlight the spiritual dimensions of America’s mental health crisis. Until individuals are made aware of this internal tug of war, peace of mind is unachievable. May this blog help those living in bondage, enslaved by addiction find freedom through a personal relationship with Christ, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond Doubt

Self-doubt often comes from a lack of experience as individuals face new challenges in life. When confronted with any task no matter how confident that you may be in a specific field, the fear of failure may enter your mind. However, some people encounter extremely high levels of doubt to the point where it becomes debilitating. This is the mental condition that the Devil wants to keep you in, frightened by lingering thoughts of doubt.

For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, Romans 8:38.

One chapter earlier, the apostle Paul confesses an inability to control his own body, Romans 7:16-18. Despite possessing good intentions, Paul found himself held captive by sin, unable to do what was good and right in God’s eyes. Instead of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Paul’s faith was inoperable, caving to and indulging his sinful nature daily. So what happened in one chapter? What sparked Paul’s transformation from addiction to living a spirit filled life?

Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 8:39.

If you glance back at the beginning of Romans 8, Paul’s mind was in the wrong place. As soon as Paul began to focus on eternal treasures by forgoing temporary pleasures, doubt began to disappear. When Christians begin to operate in the supernatural realm, fixated on producing spiritual fruit, Galatians 5:22-23, a hunger and thirst for righteousness is conceived. This is the mindset which inspired Paul to write beyond a doubt, “nothing can separate us from the love of God.” May this blog encourage you to pursue a similar mindset so that you can begin to live beyond doubt.

by Jay Mankus

When the Negative is What You Believe

As I prepare to write another movie is 2020, I have been doing some research this month to prepare me. One book has pointed me to a few scenes from the 1990 film Pretty Woman. The goal of these exercises is to receive inspiration, ideas to develop characters and write dialogues that relate to every day people. While Julia Roberts is talking with Richard Gere, the two discuss what brought Vivian to become a prostitute. Despite receiving a few compliments from Edward, Vivian shrugs them off, suggesting that “the negative is what you remember and believe.”

You are of your father, the devil, and it is your will to practice the lusts and gratify the desires [which are characteristic] of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a falsehood, he speaks what is natural to him, for he is a liar [himself] and the father of lies and of all that is false, John 8:44.

During a first century conversation with religious leaders, Jesus introduces a theory to explain the whispers and inner voices that attempt to hold human beings down. As human beings struggle to overcome the demons of their past, the source of the negative in your mind is the Devil, “the father of all lies.” Unfortunately, even those who learn of this truth still tend to develop ungodly beliefs such as “you’ll never amount to anything, you’re not smart enough and even if you try, you’ll end up failing anyway.” A similar conversation occurs in the 1993 film Rudy as young man waits at a bus stop, eager to fulfill his childhood dream. Rudy’s father played by Ned Beatty tries to talk his son, Sean Astin, out of this decision, with the words, “you’re a Ruettiger; we’re not good enough for Notre Dame.”

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), John 10:10.

During the parable of the Shepherd, Jesus takes this concept one step further. Not only does the Devil want to keep you down by remembering and believing negative comments, his ultimate goal is to steal, kill and destroy. First, whispers of evil are designed to steal any glimmers of hope that pop into your mind. When this has become successful, stage two seeks to encourage people to gradually give up on pursuing childhood dreams. Finally, spirits of depression, despair and suicide enter to further devour and destroy lives. May this blog expose how negativity influences wounded souls to come to believe the father of all lies.

by Jay Mankus

The Freedom from Religion Movement

When I was a senior in high school, I was naïve about the spiritual dangers that existed in college.  A few of my spiritual mentors who already spent a year away at college warned me about giving into temptation.  These concerns fell upon deaf ears, causing me to wander away from the Lord during my first semester at the University of Delaware.  If I only listened to one of Jesus’ disciples in the passage below, I could have avoided the bad habits and heartache that I experienced during this dark period of my life.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

One of the modern dangers that lurks in the distance is the Freedom from Religion Movement. The Freedom from Religion Foundation is an American non-profit organization based in Madison, Wisconsin, with members from all 50 states.  This organization was founded by atheists and humanists who seek to censor and or prevent prayer from taking place in public schools.  The leaders of this movement decided to run a commercial during Tuesday night’s Democratic Presidential Debate.  The attached ad speaks for itself, an eerie preview of the future.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, Ephesians 6:18.

According to the apostle Paul, the best way to combat the Freedom from Religion Movement is through prayer.  As atheists rely on and use activist judges to take away religious freedoms, Christians need to keep alert by praying in the Spirit at all times.  When hope dies, the power of prayer fades.  Yet, if a concert of prayer begins within churches, communities and homes, hope can be restored.  Throughout history, one movement replaces another, seeking to accomplish it’s goals.  However, when God’s people stand in the spiritual gaps that exists, the Holy Spirit will be unleashed to ensure that the Jesus Movement prevails.

by Jay Mankus

No Good Thing Ever Dies

A first century Jew from the tribe of Levi devotes an entire chapter to some of Jesus’ parables.  A parable is typically a fictitious story that a broad audience can relate to and understand.  Jesus uses a hypothetical character who is confronted with a specific dilemma, issue or problem.  These analogies are designed to illustrate a biblical principle or moral attitude.  The passage below refers to weeds that are planted in between a field of wheat.

Jesus gave them another parable [to consider], saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds [resembling wheat] among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants sprouted and formed grain, the weeds appeared also, Matthew 13:24-26.

When human beings sleep, the enemy known as the Devil is planting counterfeit, fake and phony mirages that attempt to imitate the Christian faith.  Unless you receive training at an early age, it’s easy to be confused, deceived or tricked into believing a lie.  King Solomon wrote about teaching a child in the way that they should go at a young age so they do not depart from this, Proverbs 22:6.  When this behavior and discipline has been instilled by faith, good will remain look after a father has passed away.

He replied to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants asked him, ‘Then do you want us to go and pull them out?’ 29 But he said, ‘No; because as you pull out the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “First gather the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; but gather the wheat into my barn,”’” Matthew 13:28-30.

In this story, the owner of the wheat field does not overreact to the evil one’s infiltration.  Instead of removing adjacent weeds immediately which might weaken the root system of nearby wheat plants, patience pays off by waiting until the harvest to separate the good from the bad.  From a practical stand point, we can’t control the trials and tribulations thrown our way in life.  Some of you may have to endure Job like heartaches that seem to never end.  Yet, when souls place their feet upon the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, no good thing ever dies.

by Jay Mankus

Look Me in the Eye

Whenever an engaging conversation is taking place, eye contact is fixated on the other.  Although this may change slightly when individuals are walking and talking, there will be momentary pauses to maintain eye contact.  Unfortunately, the popularity of social media is changing how young people communicate.  Instead of looking at people in the eye, texts are sent, skype is used or images are exchanged via Snap Chat.

But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is how his name is translated) opposed them, trying to turn the proconsul away from accepting the faith. But ]Saul, who was also known as Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit and led by Him, looked steadily at Elymas, Acts 13:8-9.

In the passage above, Paul felt compelled to confront a spiritual opponent.  Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul addresses Elymas, a sorcerer who tried to prevent a proconsul named Sergius Paulus from placing his faith in Jesus.  Thus, Paul does not shy away from confrontation, looking at Elymas in the eye and rebuking him publicly.  Paul uses the teaching of Jesus from John 8:44 to refer to Elymas as a son of the devil.  Finally, Paul asks how long will this interference continue?

And said, “You [Elymas] who are full of every [kind of] deceit, and every [kind of] fraud, you son of the devil, enemy of everything that is right and good, will you never stop perverting the straight paths of the Lord? – Acts 13:10

During my last year as a high school teacher, texting exploded in popularity.  During the golf season, some of my players would text me a message at practice, off on another hole.  Afraid of confrontation, some golfers would send bold texts, demanding more playing time.  When I addressed their concerns face to face, words were few, often shying away from reality.  Nearly ten years later, communication skills continue to decay.  Perhaps, it’s time for Christians to start keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, by looking at people in the eye.

by Jay Mankus

The Hunger

Appetites and thirst are an internal signal that our bodies want food and drink.  When it’s hot thirst drives individuals to stay hydrated.  Meanwhile, when you miss a meal, hunger pains may persuade you to binge, raid the refrigerator or order take out to satisfy this desire.  However, God designed human beings with a soul, craving a different kind of hunger.

After He had gone without food for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:2-4.

As Jesus prepared for his three year ministry on earth, a fast was performed to focus solely on God.  In this vulnerable state, the Devil tempted Jesus with food, hoping Jesus’ physical need for food would override his spiritual preparations.  Instead, Jesus reminds the Devil that God desires human beings to meditate on God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:7-8.  While food satisfies the stomach, spiritual nuggets fuel the soul.

For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also, Matthew 6:32-33.

During a segment on worry, Jesus uses common sense to illustrate how God provides.  This portion of the Sermon on the Mount focuses on the proper attitude individuals should possess.  Instead of being consumed by worry, believers should develop a spiritual hunger for righteousness.  When God and the Bible become your main priority on earth, everything else falls naturally into place.  While hunger pains may come and go, may the hunger for God keep your soul satisfied daily.

by Jay Mankus

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