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Tag Archives: the New Testament

Is God Really on Your Side?

Two weeks ago a speech during a protest in Southern California set social media on fire.  United States representative Maxine Waters turned her small podium into a pulpit stirring members of the audience.  When I heard the initial audio of this message, Waters sounded like a preacher speaking to the choir as the crowds chimed back in agreement.  Beside encouraging supporters to harass members of president Trump’s political team, there was one other statement that got my attention.  Representative Waters believed she was doing God’s work with the Lord on her side.  This comment led me to ponder, how do you know if God is truly on your side?

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? – Romans 8:31

After his conversion from Judaism to faith in Christ, first century believers initially thought Saul from Tarsus was merely pretending as a plot to destroy the apostles and disciples of Jesus.  This surprising development perplexed his fellow Jews, especially after overseeing the death of Stephen in Acts 7 and further persecution by ravaging church members in Acts 8.  I guess you can say Saul who became the apostle Paul played both sides of the fence until the Holy Spirit transformed his ways.  According to Acts 9:23-25, the Jewiish leaders quickly turned on Saul, plotting to kill Saul.  After escaping death, Paul’s missionary trips throughout the Middle East, North Africa and southern Europe clearly demonstrated that God was on Paul’s side.

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:6.

In the days of the Old Testament, God’s favor was recognized through a series of blessings, Deuteronomy 29:1-14.  While some may rationalize a few good breaks as lucky, those who live in accordance with God’s commands receive special anointings.  Eye witnesses of these individuals referred to their encounters as if God was walking by their side.  Meanwhile, the New Testament uses a different standard.  God will bring to completion the gifts, resources and talents of those who remain faithful and true to God’s calling.  Spiritual harvests are a sign that God is with specific people.  While time will tell if God is on Maxine Waters’ side, don’t leave this up to chance. Rather, set out to be a good and faithful servant to that which God has given you.  If you do, you will receive eternal crowns in heaven while letting your actions do the taking for you.

by Jay Mankus

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An Imperfect Process

During a recent writing session, a friend asked me how I have been able to write over 2000 blog posts.  After a pausing a moment, the hardest part is making sure you don’t repeat yourself.  Coming up with new content is an imperfect process, trial and error filled with as many failures as success.  Some of my personal favorites end up bombing with little views with mediocre posts often receiving surprising interest.  Yet, some never make the final cut, deleted, erased or put on hold until the timing is right.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written, John 21:25.

During a seminary class on the New Testament, I discovered the 66 books of the Bible had a similar process.  The Council of Jamnia was held in Yavneh sometime around 90 AD to canonize the 39 books of the modern Old Testament.  Some of Solomon’s Proverbs and the Book of Wisdom were excluded from this list.  Meanwhile, the council of Nicaea met in 325 to complete the same process for first century epistles inspired by Jesus for the New Testament.  Two letters written by the apostle Paul to Corinth were left off, not deemed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16.

Thus, when you read the letters to the Corinthians, you only have half the story.  On one occasion, the apostle Paul received disturbing news about the spiritual regression of new Christians living in Corinth.  Paul was so upset that a spirit of angry filled one of this excluded letters.  Perhaps, after proof reading his words, Paul was consumed with guilt, deciding not to send this it with a messenger.  This story serves as a teachable moment to think before you speak, reflect before you hit send or exercise self-discipline when your frustrated.  While every writer strives for perfection, imperfect people do their best to share what God puts on their hearts.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Draw Near

In the Old Testament, God’s presence is limited to a few select individuals.  After Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden at the end of Genesis 3, intimacy with God was severed.  Thus, God revealed himself to the forefathers of Israel, prophets and some leaders to guide and direct their paths.  However, due to continued disobedience throughout several centuries, God decides go silent for 400 years serving as a transition for the New Testament.

Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.  Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded, James 4:8.

Before Jesus arrived on to the scene, priests were used as a mediator between God and mankind.  To atone for sin, priests performed animals sacrifices with the shedding of blood to cleanse individuals, families and cities from their transgressions.  Without practicing this biblical principle, forgiveness is not obtained.  Therefore, drawing near to God can not occur unless repentance and contrition has been completed.

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water, Hebrews 10:22.

The new covenant introduced to his disciples during the Last Supper, Jesus eliminated the need for the Old Testament practice mentioned above.  Described as the Lamb of God, a perfect sacrifice without blemish, Jesus laid down his own life so that in Him, we too might have life.  While worshiping God at a building, home or a temple is still a vital aspect of faith, you can draw near to God anywhere and anytime.  As you draw near, God’s grace is a free gift available to all approach the Lord with a sincere heart, eager to forgive sinners as far as the East is from the West.

by Jay Mankus

 

Confession, Faith and Healing

When you are young, health is something that can be taken for granted.  This blessing is often forgotten until storms, trials or unexpected events arrive.  Thus, when my eye doctor recently told me I was losing vision in my right eye, I wasn’t sure what to think.  After a week of contemplation, prayer and reflection, my future lies in confession, faith and healing.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

The first 4 books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, also known as the Gospels detail close to 40 specific miracles performed by Jesus.  Although the audience and context of each author differs, there is a similar theme found before Jesus’ healing is complete.  Several cases involve an affliction, condition or disease that is related to some type of curse which requires confession.  Other individuals came to a point in life they began to accept their physical state, giving up hope of ever finding a cure.  These people were questioned by Jesus, seeing if desire and faith within would be reborn.

One who was there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years.  When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?” –  John 5:5-6

When you find yourself in need of healing, there are 2 questions you must dwell upon.  First, have you sinned against God, someone else or your own body?  Second, is there any area of your life where you’ve resigned, lost hope or believe you won’t succeed.  Depending upon the conviction you receive from the Holy Spirit, you may need to publicly confess your transgressions, ask God for the faith of Elisha or do both.  In the end, you will find that after confession and faith, healing will follow.  It might not always be the outcome you desire but as Job once said, ” the Lord gives and the Lord takes away,”

by Jay Mankus

Intoxicating

The term intoxicating often elicits a negative connotation.  This state is achieved by allowing a foreign substance to enter your body.  Alcohol is the most common drug used which tends to excite, stimulate or stupefy individuals.  King Solomon provides a positive and negative example of intoxicating in the book of Proverbs.

A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be intoxicated with her love, Proverbs 5:19.

According to Solomon, love can be intoxicating.  While the verse above may be graphic, sex in the context of marriage is suppose to bring pleasure to you and your soul mate.  Unfortunately, some drift apart from their first love.  When this occurs, lust can lead unsatisfied partners to become intoxicated with another person’s spouse.  For those who wonder toward this dangerous place, intoxication can blind people from common sense.

Why, my son, be intoxicated with another man’s wife? Why embrace the bosom of a wayward woman? – Proverbs 5:20

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul chooses the Greek work pharmakia in Galatians 5:20.  This is where the English language gets the word Pharmacy.  Whenever anyone allows a drug to enter their body, you become under the influence, like someone under a spell of witchcraft.   Thus, be careful of becoming intoxicated or else you might lose your mind or something worse.

by Jay Mankus

 

What’s Behind Blessings and Curses?

There is something fascinating behind the lives of the rich and famous.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit resorts, visit wealthy neighborhoods or vacation in exquisite destinations, its amazing what money can buy.  Yet, one has to wonder, what has led to the accumulation of mass possessions?  While the answers vary, discipline, hard work and persistence are involved.  However, at some point the blessing of God must be considered.

The LORD‘s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous, Proverbs 3:33.

During my 10 years as a high school teacher, I spent numerous hours developing curriculum.  One of the most intriguing chapters I taught was based upon an 18th century case study.  A pastor’s family and criminal were placed side by side, examining the descendants of each for 2 generations.  The findings revealed the pastor’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren went on to pursue higher education, serve the military and become self-sufficient.  Meanwhile, this alcoholic turned criminal gave birth to needy individuals, costing local, state and the federation government over 1 million dollars.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5.

Few people fail to recognize the conditional relationship crafted into the 10 commandments.  Growing up Catholic the verse above was omitted from CCD, similar to Sunday School in evangelical churches.  This passage suggests that God will not allow those people who chose to ignore God’s principles to prosper.  Unfortunately, modern sermons highlight the loving God of the New Testament, often canceling out the teachings of the Old Testament.  Yet, behind blessings and curses, you reap what you sow, leading to one or the other.  In view of this truth, choose obedience today.

by Jay Mankus

 

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