Advertisements
RSS Feed

Tag Archives: the love of Jesus

Vain and Perilous Resistance

If you have ever experienced what I call a God instance, recalling this account to others often unveils bizarre details. In the passage below, I stumbled upon the most detailed version of Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. While explaining his new allegiance to Jewish leaders and Pharisees, the apostle Paul reveals the words spoken to him from heaven. Instead of listening to conviction from the Holy Spirit, Saul was persistent to hold on to his religious upbringing. Instead of embracing Jesus’ teaching, Saul kept kicking against the goads through a vain and perilous resistance.

And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice in the Hebrew tongue saying to me, Saul, Saul, why do you continue to persecute Me [to harass and trouble and molest Me]? It is dangerous and turns out badly for you to keep kicking against the goads [to keep offering vain and perilous resistance], Acts 26:14.

When you are raised to adhere to, believe and follow a certain set of values, outside opinions usually fall upon deaf ears. Similar to Paul, I grew up Catholic, raised in a strict Roman Catholic church. While I did learn to fear God at an early age, the love of Jesus in the New Testament was rarely emphasized. Thus, as I began to be introduced to Christians who were actively participating in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10, I didn’t know how to respond. God used nightmares in the form of a reoccurring dream of dying over a two year period which finally brought me to my knees, giving up my own vain and perilous resistance.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:19-20.

Today, we live in an age of resistance. For the past three years, Democrats, Liberals and Progressives have failed to accept the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election. Instead of learning from their failed attempt to elect the first female president, Hillary Clinton, a resistance campaign has been executed daily with impeachment as the latest plan to achieve this goal. Unfortunately, when individuals fail to embrace the reality of truth, no substitute will do. No matter how hard you may try fill the void in your heart with earthly hobbies, pastimes and treasures, peace won’t be found until vain and perilous efforts to resist God ends. In the passage above, John has a vision of a special door. Heaven’s side doesn’t have a door handle, only a knocker, trying to get our attention on earth. While God knocks, only you can let the Lord in. May this blog inspire you to end vain and perilous resistance by accepting God’s free gift, Romans 6:23.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

Lowering the Bar or Extending God’s Grace?

As a former Catholic, you can tell a lot about the direction of a church based it’s leadership.  Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, is now calling for priests to forgive any woman who has terminated a pregnancy.  During a recent interview on cable news, a member of a local archdiocese summarized this theological change.  In the past, female Catholics who had an abortion were excommunicated from the church, viewing this act of killing an innocent life.  Today, Pope Francis wants to focus on love and forgiveness by extending grace to those who have fallen short of God’s glory.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me,” 2 Corinthians 12:9.

When I heard excerpts of this interview, I wasn’t sure what to think.  However, now that I have had time to digest this new stance, there are two possible explanations.  First, the church is lowering the bar by altering the expectations of what it means to be a modern day Christian.  Just as public education has changed the standards for a passing grade, clergy is now more accepting.  As godliness diminishes within society it’s hard to find willing servants of Jesus.  Thus, many churches are being forced to overlook past transgressions to fill half empty buildings and worship services.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace, Romans 11:6.

The other logical explanation is a shift from an Old Testament view of God’s wrath and judgment toward a New Testament approach based upon the love of Jesus.  This theological position points to the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15.  God is already working in the lives of the righteous according to Matthew 9:9-13.  It’s the rebellious, lost and those wandering in the dark who need help.  Instead of emphasizing church growth, pastors have become more evangelistic to reach out to a generation of people who have not grown up in the church.  Depending upon your theological beliefs, you may lean toward one of these two positions.  Nonetheless, the church is suppose to be the hands and feet of Christ, like a beacon of light piercing into the darkness of a spiritually dead and dying world.

by Jay Mankus

Previews of Coming Attractions

If you get the chance to go to the movies, you will see a series of previews of coming attractions that will appear in theaters sometime in the near future.  This is an easy way to promote a return visit by wetting your appetite.  Following these trailers, visual images of food and drinks may entice you to break for the snack bar before the featured film begins.  However, as cable options continue to improve in the form of movies On Demand, families are waiting to watch films in the comfort of their own homes.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, Galatians 2:20.

While listening to a sermon last weekend, the pastor compared becoming a Christian to previews of coming attractions.  The point he was trying to make was that those who decide to follow Jesus are suppose to become more like Christ day by day.  The preview illustration refers to actions, behavior and words that should emulate the love of Jesus.  This transformation should result in noticeable differences.  Thus, the next time you encounter someone who has recently accepted Christ into their hearts as Lord and Savior, expect a kinder, gentler soul.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5.

To keep this new life going, Jesus introduces an analogy to encourage individuals to continue growing spiritually.  The source for life is compared to a living vine.  Spiritual progress is made by remaining connected to this source.  However, anyone who get’s disconnected, unplugged or removed stops growing.  Anyone who decides to find life in anything else becomes idle and will eventually lose all momentum like a withering branch.  If you claim to be a Christian, what are you previewing?  Are you a hypocrite like me at times, displaying a watered down faith or are you bearing spiritual fruit daily?  May this sermon speak to you, serving as inspiration to get reconnected to the living vine, Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Let’s Plow the Road

In the final fight scene within Independence Day over the skies of a California desert, Bill Pullman plays president Thomas Whitmore.  America’s last hope, this former fighter pilot leads a cast of misfits to plow the road for the last jet with a missile hoping to bring down an alien ship about to destroy their underground hide out.  Without this cover, defeat was inevitable.  Who will risk their life today to plow the road for future generations?

Looking to politicians won’t find you much inspiration.  Nor do most professional athletics provide the type of consistent leadership the youth of this country need.  Unfortunately, the frozen chosen, church going believers often behave more like Pharisees than the body of Christ.  As a result, people of faith are putting up road blocks to God instead of demonstrating the love of Jesus.

In Luke 9:57-63, Jesus is trying to separate the lukewarm from truly devoted followers.  Setting the bar high, one by one, the wishy washy walk away, unable to met the standards set by God, disqualifying themselves.  Not much has changed today as individuals still struggle to live in the world without losing faith, Matthew 19:16-24.  Instead of plowing the road, storms have blocked the path Jesus blazed. 1 John 2:6.  Despite this reality, its never too late to change.  Therefore, one light at a time, Matthew 5:13-16, let’s plow the road for others to follow.

by Jay Mankus

 

An Anniversary Day Prayer

Eight teen years ago today, I took the plunge, walking down the altar to a new life with my wife Leanne.  Three kids, two states and  one adventure after another has etched fond memories of the past two decades together.  With marriages, relationships and vows not lasting as long as they once did, an anniversary day prayer is necessary to keep the flame of love alive.

As Adam learned eons ago, Genesis 2:20-24, finding a suitable helper isn’t easy.  Maybe this is one of the reasons why King Solomon continued to seek wife after wife according to 1 Kings 11:1-3.  Unfortunately, even one of the wisest men to ever walk the face of the earth forgot to consider how being unequally yoked would influence his own relationship with God, 2 Corinthians 6:14-15.  All you have to do is read Proverbs 19:13 and 21:9 to understand Solomon’s regrets about rushing into marriage.

With this in mind, I am thankful for waiting, watching and trusting God to provide a godly spouse.  Although each of us have our own imperfections, the Lord has guided our steps together as a couple, Galatians 5:25.  Whatever the future holds, I am grateful to a loving wife, 3 great kids and daily bread.  Prayer is what has held my family together, offering up loved ones to God and asking angels to keep watch when you are not around.  In the end, one of my favorite prayers is for God give me the wisdom of Solomon, the love of Jesus and  the favor of Joseph from Genesis.    May you find the same joy and peace that I have experienced over the last 18 years.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Kisses

Steven Curtis Chapman once jokingly sang about being in love or having the flu bug during his Great Adventure Concert Tour.  Likewise, Psalm 85:10 describes 4 attributes, which when joined together develop chemistry.  When love and faithfulness connect, its as if righteousness and peace kiss.

Daily emotions rise and fall, leaving behind periods of ecstasy and agony.  While God’s love never fails, 1 Corinthians 13:8, human love is similar to Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus by a kiss. Matthew 26:48-49.  The side effects of Genesis 3:17-19 has turned the love of many ice cold like Demas in 2 Timothy 4:10.  On the outside there are signs of warmth, but internally the heart has been corrupted, Jeremiah 17:9.

Beside the fallen nature of mankind, Romans 3:23, there are traces of this spiritual element.  Honest and truthful words are like a kiss on the lips, Proverbs 24:26.  Fellowship with other believers brings out a kindred spirit, Acts 4:32-35.  The theological virtues of charity, faith and hope, 1 Corinthians 13:13, make love possible.  Finally, the cherry on the top is Colossians 3:13-14, making spiritual kisses a reality through the power of the Holy Spirit!  On this Mother’s Day, be a vehicle of adoration, passing on the love of Jesus to all you encounter!

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: