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Tag Archives: the gift of God

Forgiving Those Who Don’t Deserve It

You can’t discuss forgiveness without bringing up Jesus’ name.  In the passage below, Jesus is placed on a cross between two criminals sentenced to death.  When Pilate, the governor, gave Jesus a chance to defend himself against trumped up accusations, he remained silent, accepting the fate and plan God set forth.  While all this was happening, Jesus emulated the love of God by forgiving those who didn’t deserve it.

Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. 33 When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left, Luke 23:32-33.

Captain George Kendall was the first person to executed in America.  Influenced by leaders in Great Britain, Kendall was hung in 1608 at the Jamestown colony in Virginia.  Today, 31 states have the death penalty as a punishment for those individuals who have taken another life.  This principle is based upon Jewish law, part of the Torah that Moses passed down for future generations, “life for life, death for death.”  However, the New Testament conveys a new message, Romans 6:23, the gift of God, Jesus Christ who paid the price for all past, present and future transgressions.

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”[And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 35 The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One,” Luke 23:34-35.

Unfortunately, if you listen to the media and political pundits, forgiveness is a lonely word.  Instead, condemnation, demonizing and judging individuals is a daily ritual.  This relentless attack is void of grace and mercy.  If Jesus can forgive the people who beat, crucified and mocked him, there must be room in our hearts to forgive those who hurt us.  Remember, forgiveness is conditional based upon how you forgive others, Matthew 6:14-15.  Despite whatever rationale you may have devised, the golden rule still remains the standard to live by, treating others as you want to be treated.  Therefore, bear with one another, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.  This is the benchmark which enabled Jesus to forgive those who didn’t deserve it.

by Jay Mankus

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The Real Deal

During an Olympic boxing match, the favorite to win the gold medal was disqualified.  Critics of this decision in the media labeled it as “the Raw Deal.”  This nickname stuck with this boxer for a period of time.  However, when Evander Holyfield became the heavy weight champion of the world, he urged his followers professing, “I’m the real deal,” not the raw deal anymore.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Since this nickname was adopted, others have come forward in various areas of life to claim, “no I’m the real deal.”  The Hardees fast food chain even introduced a value meal called the Real Deal after the former heavy weight champ.  Yet, what separate Evander from most boxers is his devout and vocal testimony of his faith in Christ.  Like any believer he has stumbled and fallen, but God’s grace seals the deal to the promises within the Bible.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

Well before Evander Holyfield was born, the authors of the Bible introduced a spiritual real deal.  The apostle Paul refers to a gift from God.  The context is based upon the fact that the sinful actions of mankind deserve death.  Yet, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, Luke 19:10.  The disciple whom Jesus loved takes this concept one step further, claiming you can know for sure.  While many will claim to be the real deal, put your hope, faith and trust in that which is eternal.

by Jay Mankus

 

Faking Holiness

If your life was placed on a chart or graph, there would be peaks and valleys with plateaus somewhere in between.  High points mark periods of success and victories within life.  The low areas represent failures where doubt and disappointment often attack your soul.  Unfortunately, human nature causes many to assign blame for their valleys rather than finding fault from within.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

Since salaries and wages are normally based upon the services or work provided, its easy to say, “look what I did.”  Yet, the apostle Paul reminds individuals that salvation is not based upon human efforts.  Rather, God’s grace opens the door to eternity, providing access to the undeserving like me.  Sure, I can put on a good face, pretending to be a godly Christian.  Nonetheless, I find myself going through the motions way too often, lukewarm and faking holiness.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

During my recent Daniel Fast, conviction of this fact has consumed me.  Despite my flaws, I am thankful for the passage above.  Jesus died for imperfect people like me, a demonstration of God’s agape love.  May those of you who reach a similar low point embrace biblical promises by accepting God’s free gift by faith.  Don’t pretend to have things all together.  Rather, confess your sins and pray for healing so that reconciliation will begin.

by Jay Mankus

Payments in Life

In 1983, Donna Summer released the song “She Works Hard for the Money.”  While this song appeared on Summer’s eleventh album, its become one of her most popular singles through the years.  Co-written by Michael Omartian, the context of the chorus refers to Onetta Johnson, a rest room attendant at Los Angeles’ Chasen’s Restaurant.  After meeting this exhausted woman during a brief conversation, the idea for this song was conceived.

The wages of the righteous is life, but the earnings of the wicked are sin and death, Proverbs 10:16.

The Bible refers to two different types of payments in life, one from the Old Testament and the other from the New Testament.  The context of king Solomon’s version is based upon the sowing and reaping principle mentioned in Galatians 6:8.  However, this also can be understood as you receive wages based upon the attention to detail, effort and your overall focus.  Subsequently, anyone who chooses righteous over temporary pleasures and treasures will have their life extended.  Meanwhile, those who break the law, cut corners or swindle others out of their money will earn sin and death.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Nonetheless, the apostle Paul brings good news for those who need a second or third chance in life.  Examining the symbolism of Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection, Paul uses the concept of payments to prove his point.  The wages for sin, which encompasses all of mankind is eternal separation from God.  However, there is hope for the world, a new lease on life for anyone looking to change their life around.  This good news comes in the form of God’s free gift, grace through faith that leads to eternal life.  2 payments, 1 life; the choice is yours as eternity awaits.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Faith in Foreclosure

When a home owner fails to pay the debt accrued and owed, the mortgage lender can choose to foreclose on a property to regain their money.   According to a 2015 study, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware have the highest foreclosure rates in the United States.  The highest rate affected the residents of New Jersey where one in every 559 housing units filed for foreclosure after payments were not made.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, Hebrews 10:26.

From a spiritual perspective, Jesus paid the debt for sin accrued over the course of one’s life.  The apostle Paul uses the analogy, for the wages of sin is death, in Romans 6:23.  Yet, the good news lies in the final line, the gift of God is eternal life.  However, when you do mess up, God expects acts of contrition to follow.  Thus, if you treat promises in the Bible as a get out of jail free card, you are in danger of experiencing a faith in foreclosure.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

In an earlier chapter, the author of Hebrews provides a glimpse of a faith in foreclosure.  Whether its an addiction, careless acts or poor choices, some are lured into a false sense of security.  Before being introduced to the Bible’s teachings, individuals can claim to be amoral, not knowing right from wrong.  However, once you have seen the light; enlightened from years walking in darkness, you no longer have an excuse.  Thus, anyone who reaches a faith in foreclosure, must fully repent, turning 90 degrees away from sin, back to God or face the consequences mentioned above.  Turn back to Jesus today while time is on your side.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faith Without Hesitation

When I was young, I got caught in a severe thunderstorm.  However, it wasn’t the lightning I was worried about.  I found myself on the other side of a raging creek, with the water level rising with each second that I waited to jump.  I stood three feet away from safety, yet there wasn’t room for a running start, stuck between two boulders.  My mind said you won’t make it, but fear of the impending weather caused me to jump.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

Not much has changed since I made this leap of faith.  However, the older you get, the obstacles increase in difficulty.  Unfortunately, the longer you postpone or wait to face trials, the harder they become.  Creek beds turn into rivers and rivers into lakes.  Hesitation may seem normal, but leads to doubt.  Genuine faith leaves second guessing behind, resulting in a solid spiritual foundation.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Evangelists often use what is known as the road to Romans to illustrate faith.  Using the passage above, designers of this analogy refer to sin as the Grand Canyon separating human beings from God.  Even if you were a world long jump champion, you can’t physically make it to the other side.  The solution to this problem is the cross of Jesus.  Although invisible, Christians walk by faith to get to the other side.  In view of this, don’t procrastinate any longer.  Rather, display a faith without hesitation.

by Jay Mankus

 

Life’s Ransom

Director Ron Howard used a 1954 episode of The United States Steel Hour from the series Fearful Decision to produce the 1996 film Ransom starring Mel Gibson and Rene Russo.  Author Ed McBain’s novel King’s Ransom also influenced Howard’s portrayal of police procedure in this movie.  When a millionaire’s son is kidnapped, the ransom is set for $2 million for his safe return.

The Bible refers to another ransom in Psalm 49:7-9.  However, this amount is like the entertaining Master Card commercials, priceless.  Whether you’re rich or poor, white or blue collar, no payment is sufficient enough to receive eternal life.  Helpless, life a parent held hostage, Jesus intervenes, going to the bank called Calvary, Matthew 20:28.

The apostle Paul describes life’s ransom in Romans 6:23.  The wages, payment due for the errors, mistakes and sin you’ve committed in life is death, separated from God.  Despite your dire condition, Jesus decided to pay the ransom for your life on Good Friday, 30 AD, Romans 5:8.  Thus, the gift of God is in the mail, waiting for you to receive the Lord Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10.  May the power of the Easter message come alive in your soul, resurrecting faith, hope and love, 1 Corinthians 13:13.

by Jay Mankus

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