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Tag Archives: the spiritual realm

Recognizing Distractions Early Before It’s Too Late

There is a strange phenomena that occurs when individuals are about to draw close to God.  The apostle Paul points to the spiritual realm to explain distractions, interruptions and unexplained events, Ephesians 6:12.  According to Paul, the devil’s strategy includes three waves.  The first enables certain rulers to rise to power such as judges, kings and political leaders.  This wave is reinforced by worldly forces, areas, regions and territories under demonic oppression where evil is allowed to reign.  Finally, there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realm fueled by demons, minions and strongmen to execute Satan’s schemes on earth.

It happened that as we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination [that is, a demonic spirit claiming to foretell the future and discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners a good profit by fortune-telling. 17 She followed after Paul and us and kept screaming and shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” – Acts 16:16-17

Using this criteria, Luke details an example from Paul’s ministry while visiting Philippi.  While on his way to participate in a prayer and worship service, a slave girl was sent to distract Paul.  Apparently, a demonic spirit recognized that Paul’s missionary team were servants of the most high God.  Just as spirits hounded Jesus, this revealed truth caused a slave girl to interrupt Paul’s message of salvation to Europe for several days, regularly screaming and shouting as Paul tried to preach.  According to Luke, this gradually wore Paul down, annoyed by this constant distraction.  When Paul rebuked this spirit, the owners of this slave girl complained to the chief magistrates, convincing law enforcement to imprison Paul and Silas.

She continued doing this for several days. Then Paul, being greatly annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit [inside her], “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ [as His representative] to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment, Acts 16:18.

While in prison, Paul and Silas could have been distracted by anger, bitterness and injustice.  Yet, prayers of the saints strengthened these men, turning this setback into a golden opportunity.  How you may ask?  Well, Paul and Silas transformed their prison cell into a worship service.  As Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns, a great earthquake rocked Philippi.  When this quake opened the doors to each cell, some would have taken this as a sign from God to escape.  However, Paul demonstrated amazing leadership, convincing all the prisoners to stay put; saving the life of the jailor who was about to kill himself, the fate he would have faced if any prisoner escaped.  These are the blessings that await those who recognize spiritual distractions early before it’s too late..

by Jay Mankus

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Just Okay is Not Okay

Every so often an advertising campaign stumbles upon a concept that goes beyond the ability to sell an item, product or service.  AT&T recently introduced “Just Okay is Not Okay,” using a patient in a hospital prior to his surgery.  Upon meeting his doctor, this physician developed a reputation for being average.  To dramatize this point, the doctor about to perform his surgery is coming off of a suspension for malpractice, recently reinstated.  This visualization drives home the point that being just okay is not okay.

‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold (invigorating, refreshing) nor hot (healing, therapeutic); I wish that you were cold or hot, Revelation 3:15.

This same principle applies to the spiritual realm.  One of Jesus’ disciples uses the analogy of lukewarm water, neither cold or hot.  John highlights the best qualities of each, invigorating cold showers that wake you up and soaking in a hot tub to massage sore body parts.  Each temperature serves a specific purpose.  Yet, if you want to become more than just okay, individuals must possess a desire for greatness, to be the best you can be.  If you are somewhere in between, without any conviction or drive, you likely won’t amount to much.

So because you are lukewarm (spiritually useless), and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of My mouth [rejecting you with disgust], Revelation 3:16.

During an encounter with God in heaven, John reveals how the Lord feels about souls that become lukewarm.  The Amplified Version of the Bible uses the phrase spiritually useless.  Not holding anything back, those who find themselves in this spiritual state disgusts God.  Apparently, the lukewarm taste of wishy washy Christians makes God want to vomit.  Therefore, just okay isn’t okay in God’s eyes.  Rather, seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, Matthew 6:33, then you will move beyond okay to a good and faithful servant.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Nightmare or Scary Reality

Several years ago I attended a Bible Study led by a pastor who opened my eyes to the spiritual realm.  When the timing was right, I probed deeper, wanting to understand more about angels and demons.  One night an opportunity arose for this pastor to share a few stories about powers of darkness that he and other members of his church have encountered on earth.  Before revealing these details, pastor Bruce gave a warning to everyone in the room.  Whenever confronting any type of spiritual entity, you must have a group of prayer warriors covering you to serve as a hedge of protection against demonic attacks or push back from these powers of darkness.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places, Ephesians 6:12.

Curious, I asked a simple question, why is a team of prayer warriors necessary?  Pastor Bruce went on to talk about a former leader of his church who attempted to confront the powers of darkness of a well known vacation destination by himself.  Unaware of the stronghold that existed in this area, this man ended up in a mental hospital, troubled by the demonic entities unleashed upon his life.  This encounter caused this man to leave church for several years, haunted by scenes often reserved for Hollywood horror movies.  All I needed was one real life example to realize I needed to begin to become proactive in my prayer life to protect myself from similar attacks as a Bible teacher at the time.

Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone], 1 Peter 5:8-9.

This leads me to the other night.  I have been taught to be careful when addressing certain topics.  Last week I felt compelled to share a blog about Witchcraft in the context of people wanting to place a hex on Brett Kavanaugh.  Anyway, I should have expected some sort of push back, but I got careless, unprepared spiritually.  Subsequently, I was minding my own business, drifting off in a deep sleep when it happened.  I’m not sure if this was a nightmare or a scary reality, but I saw a voodoo doll in someone’s hand.  As soon as I got a little closer, the doll resembled me as a pin was placed into this doll.  I felt immediate pain, waking up moments later with a severe headache, struggling to grasp what just happened.  Inspired by a whisper from the Holy Spirit, I started praying.  About 15 minutes later I began to feel normal again.  Yet this ordeal, whatever the explanation, serves as an instant reminder to watch and pray so that future attacks aren’t successful.

by Jay Mankus

 

Wake Me Up

In the summer of 2009, Staples created a witty back to school shopping advertisement.  This commercial compared children going back to school to the most wonderful time of year for adults.  Using a Christmas carol, parents are jubilantly placing school supplies into a shopping cart while both kids are dazed and depressed.  From time to time, everyone needs comic relief to bring laughter and joy into your life.

“I, I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins,” Isaiah 43:25.

When it comes to the spiritual realm, you need more than a funny show to snap you out of a spiritual funk.  This unhealthy state usually begins with distractions from the world, preoccupation with other priorities and simply forgetting to invite God into your daily life.  Those that continue down this road, allowing busyness to take over will begin to experience the early stages of spiritual amnesia.  Symptoms include memory loss in terms of biblical application, failing to pray, a tendency to forget to read the Bible and lost desire to attend church weekly.

“For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more,” Hebrews 8:12.

The only known cure to spiritual amnesia is confession.  According to the Old and New Testament of the Bible, God pours out his grace, mercy and forgiveness to those who acknowledge their shortcomings.  Unfortunately, the hardest part of spiritual amnesia is breaking free from its numbing powers.  In my younger years, I went off to a retreat to revive my soul.  Yet, as an adult with a busy schedule, you have to search harder than ever to find opportunities to regain spiritual momentum.  Although recovery does not happen overnight, if you seek God like the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8, your faith will be restored.

by Jay Mankus

 

If You Look Down… That’s Where You Will Go

Growing up two hours south of the Pocono Mountains, a neighbor introduced me to skiing while in junior high school.  One of the greatest obstacles I had to overcome was my fear of heights, some thing a chair lift ride to the top of Camelback Mountain only exasperated.  Gradually, I learned to look down, seeing which trails to explore and those to avoid.  Yet, as you exit chair lifts, you must keep your head up, fixed on what lurks ahead.  This prevents novices from making a wrong turn or venturing down a trail your not qualified to ski.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who by faith have testified to the truth of God’s absolute faithfulness], stripping off every unnecessary weight and the sin which so easily and cleverly entangles us, let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

A freak skiing accident ruined Molly Bloom’s chances of qualifying for the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.  This crash in her final run of Olympic qualifying for woman’s moguls, a combination of free style jumps and moguls, is depicted in the 2017 film Molly’s Game.  After this vicious wipeout, there are a series of flashbacks from Molly’s childhood.  One clip depicts Molly’s father played by Kevin Costner, pushing her to the limits as a teenager.  Costner’s character stresses one crucial point about skiing,”If you look down, that’s where you will go.”

[Looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith [the first incentive for our belief and the One who brings our faith to maturity], who for the joy [of accomplishing the goal] set before Him endured the cross,]disregarding the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God [revealing His deity, His authority, and the completion of His work], Hebrews 12:2.

This same concept applies to the spiritual realm.  The moment you begin to look at the obstacles in your path, anxiety, fear and worry can consume human souls.  Just as moguls, steep slopes and icy conditions affects how you ski, a lack of faith leads to poor decisions.  Thus, the Bible urges believers to fix your eyes on Jesus.  While everyone faces scary slopes in their future, God wants to be your trail guide, to navigate you through uncharted territories.  May this blog inspire you to look ahead, trusting God so that the thought of falling won’t paralyze you with fear.

by Jay Mankus

Putting on Price Tag on a Life

On the day before Palm Sunday, survivors of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting took center stage at protests across the country.  Fighting for stricter gun laws in America, students sitting on a stage in Washington D.C. placed visible price tags on their clothing.  According to reporters, these prices were suppose to symbolize the campaign contributions senator Marco Rubio has received from the National Riffle Association.  Suggesting this representative from Florida cares more about guns than children, this political stunt put a price tag on a life.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it, Matthew 16:25.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 1.21 million lives were ended prematurely in 2008.  The culprit of this suppressed killer were abortions performed in the United States.  Typically, two to four percent of these unwanted pregnancies are due to rape and incest.  Based upon a 2016 article written by Robert Johnston, 30 % of abortions occur due to socio-economic conditions.  The number one reason why abortions took place two years ago was for a quick fix, birth control.  This is the unseen price placed on unwanted babies in the United States.

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

One of the great things about living in America is free speech, having the freedom to protest.  This same thing applies to the spiritual realm, able to exercise free will.  During my wife Leanne’s third pregnancy, she had numerous complications.  After a false alarm visit to the emergency room, one doctor suggested that terminating my daughter’s life prematurely was the best option.  Without any hesitation, Leanne and I understood the gift of life is priceless.  Thirteen years later, my daughter Lydia is healthy, blessed and will play her first high school golf match on Tuesday.  May this blog remind you that you can’t put a price tag on life.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Gravational Pull Between Good and Evil

The invisible force that causes massive objects to pull other objects toward them is known as a gravitational pull.  When a professional athlete jumps into the air, the earth’s gravitational pull forces them back to the ground.  Early theologians developed the concept of dualism to help explain a similar pull between good and evil.  Dualism believes there are two independent powers behind everything that happens, one good and the other bad.  In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis states that the universe is the battlefield in which this endless war is fought.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the [sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts], Galatians 5:16.

Prior to introducing the concept of the armor of God to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes the gravitational pull between good and evil.  Unlike dualism, these invisible forces are clearly defined.  In the right corner, the Holy Spirit is a guiding light, directing, prompting and urging souls to choose obedience in accordance with biblical law.  Meanwhile, the sinful nature opposes God’s Spirit, using impulses, lust and temporary pleasures to entice individuals to break God’s law.  Angels and demons fight for souls in the spiritual realm, pulling hearts and minds in different directions.

For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do, Galatians 5:17.

One of the weapons the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, uses is misinformation.  Going back to the Garden of Eden, Lucifer planted doubt within the mind of Eve by suggesting, “did God really say that?”  Replacing truth with justification and rationalization, the gravitational pull of sin is hard to resist, James 1:13-15.  Meanwhile, the Lord uses confession, James 5:16, pouring out grace and mercy upon willing participants to pull people back into fellowship with God.  In view of this wrestling match between good and evil, keep in step with the Holy Spirit so that your eternal destination will be secured, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

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