RSS Feed

Tag Archives: the perfect Lamb of God

Oh What a Feeling

Beginning in Junior High, music became an integral part of my life. I was there when MTV debuted in August of 1981, going over a friends house every day after school to watch Behind the Music. This was well before Reality Television caused music to become an afterthought on MTV. One of the songs ingrained in my mind is What a Feeling by Irene Cara. Cara’s song went on to become the theme song for the film Flashdance in 1983. When high school began for me, music filled me with an adrenaline rush each time I pressed the play button on my Walkman.

He then goes on to say, And their sins and their lawbreaking I will remember no more. 18 Now where there is absolute remission (forgiveness and cancellation of the penalty) of these [sins and lawbreaking], there is no longer any offering made to atone for sin, Hebrews 10:17-18.

The Bible talks about a different kind of feeling. This particular one is based upon the overwhelming sense of being forgiven. The author of Hebrews provides a reason to celebrate. Jesus was the missing link, the perfect lamb of God who serves as an eternal Great High Priest. While guilt and shame will still continue to haunt souls, there is absolute remission of past and present sins. Yet, Hebrews 10:26-27 does offer a cause for concern. Apparently, some first century Christians were taking God’s grace and mercy for granted. So don’t let the exhilarating feeling of forgiveness spoil your faith with an on again, off again mentality.

For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great are His mercy and loving-kindness toward those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him. 12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us, Psalm 103:11-12.

The Old Testament provides an analogy that reminds me of Irene Cara’s song. When the degree of God’s forgiveness is compared to infinity, this news makes me want to leap into the air and proclaim, “oh what a feeling!” From a human perspective, this concept is hard to comprehend. Yet, if God forgives and forgets our sins as far as the east is from the west, this fact should result in a greater appreciation. Whatever genre of music that you prefer, the next time that you feel overwhelmed by addiction or bad habits, turn up the volume so that you can celebrate God’s grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

The Canceling of Our Shortcomings

One of the core messages of the gospel, the good news about Jesus Christ, is the spiritual reality of God’s grace. Acronyms of grace often describe this as God’s riches at Christ’s expense. God’s activity toward human beings rains down forgiveness, repentance, regeneration, and salvation from heaven. This unmerited favor from God serves as a spiritual do over to those who enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11.

[So that we might be] to the praise and the commendation of His glorious grace (favor and mercy), which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption (deliverance and salvation) through His blood, the remission (forgiveness) of our offenses (shortcomings and trespasses), in accordance with the riches and the generosity of His gracious favor, Ephesians 1:6-7.

In the beginning of his letter to the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul unravels God’s grace. Grace is lavished upon the children of God in the form of love. Instead of condemning transgressions, the blood Jesus shed as the perfect lamb of God has redeemed guilty sinners. Romans 5:8 clearly describes the spiritual significance of Jesus’ act of love; “But God shows and clearly proves His love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Which He lavished upon us in every kind of wisdom and understanding (practical insight and prudence), Ephesians 1:8.

King David prophesized about this spiritual reality in Psalm 103:12. As far as the east is from the west refers to God’s infinite love. In other words, God’s love is equivalent to infinity. When you add everything together, the canceling of our shortcomings is made complete. Luke 2:10 describes Jesus’ birth as good tidings of great joy. Perhaps Luke was exhibiting forward thinking, knowing that the promised Messiah of the Old Testament would soon cancel our shortcomings.

by Jay Mankus

Mixing Birthdays with Christmas

Depending upon when you were born in a calendar year, your birthday is either overshadowed by Christmas, spread out throughout the year or occurs in the summer when most of your friends are on vacation. I fall into the latter category, often struggling to a find a few friends who are home in August. Yet, most of the women in my family are forced to mix their birthday with Christmas. My mother and wife were born one day a part in the middle of this month while my sister Cindy and Leanne’s mom were born on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately, these days are mere appetizers that lead up to the birth of Christ.

[My purpose is] that you may know the full truth and understand with certainty and security against error the accounts (histories) and doctrines of the faith of which you have been informed and in which you have been orally instructed, Luke 1:4.

In the wake of the Coronavirus, a once in a century event, some of you wish that you were born during a different month or period in history. During a late night conversation with a Pharisee named Nicodemus, Jesus refers the spiritual process of being “born again.” At the time of their discussion, this theological term wasn’t known causing Nicodemus to become sarcastic. “Do you really expect our mother’s to open up their legs to be forced back in their womb again?” The wry smile on Nicodemus face vanished quickly. According to John, this religious leader stops talking, intrigued by the thought of being spiritually reborn.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

As neighbors decorate the interior and exterior of their homes for this celebration, don’t be caught off guard by silly Nick. Rather, prepare your hearts for the true meaning of this holiday season. The passage above highlights what some Christmas Carols declare, “Joy to the World as Immanuel has come to earth to save this fallen world from sin. This gift wasn’t without a sacrifice as God offered up his one and only son to become the perfect Lamb of God. Perhaps, this Christmas as people gather together at a church, in a home or view an online service, the only birth that matters is the decision to become born again, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

Pray Now or Pay Later

The words pray now or pay later popped into my head nearly five years ago.  Looking back, I don’t remember if a Bible verse, lyrics of a song or a sermon conceived this concept.  Nonetheless, this phrase inspired me to write a book which turned into a screen play.  In a sense pray now or pay later is a mission statement to avoid subtle compromises that eventually leads individuals to give into temptation.  This process doesn’t happen over night.  Rather, carelessness, poor choices and self trust often results in painful consequences in the future.

After going a little farther, He fell to the ground [distressed by the weight of His spiritual burden] and began to pray that if it were possible [in the Father’s will], the hour [of suffering and death for the sins of mankind] might pass from Him. 36 He was saying, “Abba, Father! All things are possible for You; take this cup [of judgment] away from Me; but not what I will, but what You will,” Mark 14:35-36.

The night before his final day on earth in human form, Jesus felt compelled to pray.  While in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus began to confide in his inner circle, James, John and Peter.  Overwhelmed by the weight of a heavy soul, Jesus wrestled with God in prayer, wondering if there was another way.  Yet, knowing his purpose for being born, Jesus yielded with the words, “not what I will but your will be done.”  Jesus understood that praying now would give him the strength to submit to and fulfill God’s will, dying on a cross as the perfect Lamb of God.

And He came back and found them sleeping, and He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Were you unable to keep watch for one hour? 38 Keep [actively] watching and praying so that you do not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” 39 He went away again and prayed, saying the same words. 40 And again He came back and found them sleeping, because their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know how to answer Him. 41 He came back a third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough [of that]! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42 Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is near!” – Mark 14:37-42

When the disciples were unable to stay awake the first time he asked them to pray, Jesus reveals the key to pray now or pay later.  To avoid temptation, you must keep actively watching over your life in prayer.  This reason for this necessity is that God’s Spirit within you is willing, but your body is weak, vulnerable to giving into temptation.  Proactive prayer such as asking God to place a hedge of protection around you and your loved ones is a great place to start.  However, when a sense of urgency to pray disappears, you might find yourself like the disciples falling away or betraying Jesus at the first sight of adversity.  May this passage above and the words pray now or pay later awaken your soul to commit your life to a concert of prayer.

by Jay Mankus

 

Dirty Laundry

The average American places the outfit worn today into a laundry basket to be washed before the week is over.  While work clothes used around the house may be worn more than once, clothes tend to collect stains over time.  Whether its a casualty of a morning cup of coffee, grease from fast food or a pen that explodes, the process of turning dirty laundry into clean clothes provides a sense of accomplishment.

You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean, Matthew 23:26.

If you have ever traveled or visited a new culture, there is a chance you might offend someone by what you wear.  You may under dress in one city and over dress in another.  However, its not what you wear that counts.  Ultimately, its what’s on the inside of your heart that matters to God.  This is the point Jesus is making above, allowing an analogy to urge Pharisees to look within before judging others.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

When I became a youth pastor, I wanted to create a short booklet that I could leave with people who decided to follow Jesus or were beginning to seek God in an exploratory stage.  While the title is Finding a New Life in Christ, the concept is based upon dirty laundry.  Mistakes that people make are like stains on clothing; symbolic of sin which slowly corrupts souls.  The only one who can Shout out these stains is Jesus, who is the perfect Lamb of God.  Jesus’ life, death and resurrection opened the washer to purify our souls.  Therefore, the next time you do laundry, remember the price Jesus paid to make you clean once again.

by Jay Mankus

 

Matters Related to God

Since Adam failed to demonstrate leadership and Eve fell for the Devil’s trap, God’s perfect world vanished.  Thus, one of God’s first course of actions was to send a second Adam to restore that which was lost.  A temporary plan was put into practice, using a high priest to atone for the sins of Israel.  However, the Lord allowed time to pass before his resolution was unveiled.

Every high priest is selected from among the people and is appointed to represent the people in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins, Hebrews 5:1.

John the Baptist was chosen to serve as a messenger to communicate this matter.  One of the first objectives was to make a stark contracts between the God of the Old and New Testament.  The Lord was willing to offer His one and only son, not to condemn the world, but to save it.  Protected by angels and guided by the Holy Spirit, Jesus invested the last three years of his earthly life setting the stage for the modern church.  The only thing remaining was for the Father of life to stand by, allowing Jesus to become the perfect Lamb of God.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him, John 3:17.

Unfortunately, today many Christians are distracted by deception philosophy and human traditions.  Making the complex simple, matters related to God can be summed up in three biblical principles.  Love the Lord with all your heart, soul and mind.  Love you neighbor as yourself and pray for those who persecute you.  By doing this you will emulate the love of Christ and remind the world of a gracious and merciful God waiting to save those tangled by sin.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: