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When Voices of Doubt Wear You Down

Over the past month, I wanted to refresh my mind of the spiritual realm. I decided to reread Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti, opening my mind to what is going on behind the scenes spiritually. Peretti’s style of writing does a good job of illustrating how demons like doubt can wear individuals down. Comparing evil spirits to pests that feed on negativity, Christians that don’t take the spiritual dimension seriously will be overwhelmed as spiritual warfare intensifies.

Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

Jesus’ earthly brother compares doubt to crashing waves upon a shoreline. As someone who loves going to the beach, waves are relentless. While tides rise and fall, waves keep coming. While the size of waves varies depending upon the weather, waves don’t call time out, pause or take time off. Rather, one after another, waves weaken body surfers and boogie boarders with each crashing blow. James’ analogy doesn’t consider voices of doubt.

For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, [For being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides], James 1:7-8.

The passage above transitions from physical waves to waves of emotions. Whenever confidence is invaded by doubt, hesitation is conceived. Instead of building confidence, doubt erodes human minds spiritually like crashing waves on sandy beaches. While salt water exposes hidden debris, doubt makes minds unstable. As soon as thoughts begin to slip, voices of doubt will wear you down. As this enfolds, make sure you follow the apostle’s Paul advice in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 to take captive your thought life when doubt tries to invade your soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Spiritual Dimension

There are 30 passages in the Bible that refer to a spiritual dimension. The most famous occurs in Ephesians 6:12 where the apostle Paul unveils what is out of sight to human eyes. This dimension is transcendence toward something more than what is apparent in the experiences of other dimensions. According to Paul, what lies beneath the surface is an ongoing spiritual battle between powers, rulers and spiritual forces.

Now there was a day when the sons (the angels) of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan (the adversary and accuser) also came among them. And the Lord said to Satan, From where did you come? Then Satan answered the Lord, From going to and fro on the earth and from walking up and down on it. And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face, Job 1:6-11.

Although it’s not the first, Job was the first completed book in the Bible. Since chapter 1 references living in the land of dinosaurs, Job likely lived prior to the biblical flood mentioned in Genesis 7. Following a brief introduction, Job is made aware of what lurks out of sight. Whether through prayer or a one on one conversation with God, Job’s spiritual enemy is brought to life. Lucifer is described as a diligent traveler of the earth, seeking to steal, kill and destroy human souls, John 10:10.

But someone will say [to you then], You [say you] have faith, and I have [good] works. Now you show me your [alleged] faith apart from any [good] works [if you can], and I by [good] works [of obedience] will show you my faith. 19 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 2:18-19

In the middle of the first century, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about demons. Based upon Christian historians, James did not come to faith until after Jesus rose from the dead. While there is no mention of a private conversation with his big brother before ascending into heaven in Acts 1, James was aware of demons. Despite their tricks, demons know the fate that await them, Jude 1:6. While you’re current struggle may not be obvious to you, don’t be surprised if there is a spiritual element to what’s going on in the world today.

by Jay Mankus

Satan’s Pawn Shop

The reality television show Pawn Stars debuted on July 19th, 2009. Hosted by The Gold & Silver Pawn Shop just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada, a cast of characters and unique items have entertained Americans for more than a decade. Like a modern version of the Antique Roadshow, owner Rick Harrison discovers hidden treasures every episode. Yet, this popular show conceals the grim definition of pawn, “holding something hostage.”

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit. 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]. [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, Romans 8:5-7.

When you adopt and apply the term pawn to the spiritual dimension, Satan’s Pawn Shop includes human bodies held captive by sin. The apostle Paul compares this to a mindset focused on your carnal desires or the Holy Spirit. Natural inclinations lean toward gratifying your own fleshly desires. In the previous chapter, Paul details his own failures to keep his body in check, often doing the opposite of what he wanted to do, Romans 7:17-20.

Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

Despite this dire condition, Paul reveals who came to the rescue, paying the price for those held hostage by Satan. This ransom was purchased when Jesus laid down his own life on a cross, 1 Timothy 2:6. While some may try to intervene on God’s behalf, Jesus is the only one who can redeem lives seized by Satan. As the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, the enemy is watching, eager to pounce upon weak and vulnerable souls. This is a typical day inside of Satan’s Pawn Shop highlighted by 1 Peter 5:8-9.

by Jay Mankus

Stirring Up A Hornet’s Nest

The European hornet is the largest vespine in North America.  Yet, it’s the only true hornet found in this country.  These insects create nests out of surrounding plant materials forming a paper like hive.  The queen can lay two eggs per day under ideal conditions.  When threatened, hornets will attack as I learned as a teenager, stung a half dozen times while cutting my backyard.  There are not many things in life that compare with running away from a stirred up hornets nest.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation,” Matthew 12:43-45.

During a conversation with his disciples, Jesus reveals a similar power to riled up hornets.  While actions, behavior and choices are clearly visible to the human eye, the source behind natural responses is hidden.  In the passage above, Jesus pulls back the spiritual dimension to unveil the dangers of demons.  The individual in question was set free from an unspecified addiction.  However, anyone who does not purge themselves from conditions, influences or people that may tempt you to return, a relapse is highly probable.

And also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Luke 8:2.

Unless you live in a third world nation, the thought of demonic activity, demons and powers of darkness is left for Hollywood horror films.  Unfortunately, those individuals who need immediate help are often considered crazy, insane or off the deep end.  If demons were actively affecting the lives of common people in the first century, why would this concept disappear over time?  In fact, as morality declines this activity would likely increase.  Thus, the next time you experience an unsettling scene where someone loses it, this stirred up hornet’s nest may be energized by one or multiple demons.

by Jay Mankus

If the Lord had Not Been on My Side

If human beings could catch a glimpse of the spiritual dimension, a preview of what lies behind the scenes in life, perhaps souls would have a greater appreciation for divine intervention.  An individual loses their keys momentarily, only to escape a fatal car crash.  Someone wakes up with an uneasy feeling, deciding not to go to work at the World Trade Center on the day of 9/11/01.  A sluggish woman has a premonition to go to a doctor, finding a deadly disease in its infant stage, saving her life through early prevention.  Looking back on numerous miracles, if the Lord had not been on my side, I wouldn’t be alive today to write about it!

We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped. – Psalm 124:7

The Bible would be just another book if the boat God told Noah to build didn’t float.  If the flood waters of the mighty Nile decided to break as Israel was crossing upon dry land, Moses wouldn’t have survived to complete the Pentateuch.  Meanwhile, if Mary choose to abandon her new born babe before the Magi arrived, the Savior of World would be like all the aborted babies, a distant memory of what could have been, but never was.  Despite all of these scenarios, somehow, someway and for unforeseen purposes, the Lord of the heavens and earth choose to protect his people.

Our help is in the name of the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth, – Psalm 124:8

Like a scene from Groundhog Day, lives have been altered forever.  Unfortunately, not everyone has been saved, spared or protected.  Many have become victims, dealt a knock out blow, sending any hopes for life to the grave.  Many of those left behind on earth never recover, bitter at God for months, years and decades.  Feeling betrayed, few overcome the heartbreak and suffering of seeing wonderful souls eliminated from society by accidents, bloodshed and demonic influences.  May this piece give readers a new appreciation for life and faith to overcomes moments in time when God doesn’t appear to be on our side.

by Jay Mankus

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