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Changing to Meet God’s Will

As I read the passage below, I was reminded of two Christian songs with a similar theme. In Reach sings about the Manner of Man in their 1993 song. Meanwhile, a few years later 4Him released the Measure of a Man. According to John, repentance refers to changing the inner man so that Christians can meet God’s will for their lives. Change begins internally and can lead to an external transformation as acts of contrition are lived out by faith.

Remember then from what heights you have fallen. Repent (change the inner man to meet God’s will) and do the works you did previously [when first you knew the Lord], or else I will visit you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you change your mind and repent, Revelation 2:5.

When you move to a new town, it’s easy to miss a turn even when you’re following directions on a phone. This lack of knowledge often leads to u-turns when the road allows it. From a spiritual perspective, rarely do I follow the tugging on my heart to act, give or help someone in need. Until you’re willing to change the inner man deep inside of you, being introduced to and meeting God’s will is put on hold.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

The apostle Paul goes into further details about discovering God’s will for your life in the passage above. Most churches use a spiritual gifts test to help their members begin this process. Meeting God’s will begins with a transformed mind which is renewed through scripture. Anyone who repents by confessing your sins, follows this with acts of contrition and begins to align their lives with God’s will is on their way to changing your inner person to meet God’s will.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 93: Something Changed

One of the aspects that I miss about modern music is the lack of quality soundtracks found in current films. I grew up in the 1980’s where music and scenes complimented one another in a perfect manner. Perhaps, this explains why today’s song spoke to my heart in the 2006 movie the Ultimate Gift. Parts of Joseph Campbell’s the Heroes Journey is apparent as Jason Stevens played by Drew Fuller experiences a dramatic transformation as he seeks to fulfill the hopes of his dead grandfather Red.

For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but [it came to me] through a [direct] revelation [given] by Jesus Christ (the Messiah), Galatians 1:12.

As the credits start to roll to signal the end of the Ultimate Gift, Sara Groves song Something Changes begins. Flashbacks are used to illustrate the journey Jason Stevens went on and the man that he has become. The key to faith is that conviction, guilt or a gnawing discontentment deep inside our hearts realizing that something has to change. Sara sings about overcoming doubt and pain to become the person that God wants you to do. May this song and movie urge you to be transformed by faith.

by Jay Mankus

Treasuring God’s Word

One author of the Bible compares the Old Testament with a lamp for your feet and light to guide your steps, Psalm 119:105. Jesus compares the Bible to living water in John 4:13-15. Building upon the concept first introduced in Psalm 1:2-3. When I began to treasure the words in the Bible in college, a transformation started to begin. While I still have plenty of blots and blemishes, finding life in God’s Word will result in eternal treasures.

But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity). By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him: Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as [d]a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself, 1 John 2:5-6.

One of the members of Jesus’ inner circle, learned to treasure God’s Word. However, in the first century, John only had parts of the Old Testament available to read. Despite this lack of access, John must have clinged to all everything that Jesus taught him. This explains the words in the passage above as those who abide in God follow that same Spirit that guided Jesus.

Only you be strong and very courageous, that you may do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart out of your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe and do according to all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall deal wisely and have good [b]success, Joshua 1:7-8.

The concept of treasuring God’s Word began with one of Israel’s forefathers. As Moses passed the torch to Joshua, the passage above provides the instruction for all of the Israelites to follow as they prepared to enter into God’s promised land. To avoid going astray spiritually, Joshua called everyone to meditate on God’s Word day and night. If you follow Joshua’s advice today, you will treasure the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

A Spiritual Makeover for Troubled Souls

A makeover is a complete transformation or remodeling of something. The two most common usages apply to an individual’s physical appearance or the complete renovation of a house. Whether due to age, deterioration and or erosion, makeovers may be necessary to extend life. This may be in the form of altering one’s diet and exercise so that healthy foods and working out will promote a spiritual makeover.

And also the Holy Spirit adds His testimony to us [in confirmation of this]. For having said, 16 This is the agreement (testament, covenant) that I will set up and conclude with them after those days, says the Lord: I will imprint My laws upon their hearts, and I will inscribe them on their minds (on their inmost thoughts and understanding), Hebrews 10:15-16.

The author of Hebrews eludes to an internal change that takes place through the power of the Holy Spirit. To those who experienced this transformation in the first century shared their testimonies. One of the ways sinners alter their wayward habits is by meditating on God’s laws, Joshua 1:8. When this spiritual discipline is done with a sincere heart, minds begin shift from selfish toward eternity. As mindsets begin to change, thoughts and understanding set the stage for a spiritual makeover.

 I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

The apostle Paul illustrates this transformation in the passage above. Whenever you stop living for yourself and start living for a higher calling, earthly bodies can begin to make this transition. Yet, a spiritual makeover can’t occur until you stop conforming to the patterns of this world. Just like Jesus encouraged his followers to emulate the beatitudes, spiritual transformation is an ongoing process as Christians seek to find out God’s will for your life. Unfortunately, change takes time as trial and error will close one door while opening another. It is on this journey where spiritual makeovers near completion.

by Jay Mankus

A Faith Graft

Sir Archibald Hector McIndoe was a pioneering New Zealand plastic surgeon. While serving in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, McIndoe greatly improved the treatment and rehabilitation of badly burned soldiers. This research set the stage for the very first skin graft performed on Jordan Welborn. Skin grafts are a surgical procedure in which a piece of healthy skin is transplanted to a new part of the body.

Consequently, from now on we estimate and regard no one from a [purely] human point of view [in terms of natural standards of value]. [No] even though we once did estimate Christ from a human viewpoint and as a man, yet now [we have such knowledge of Him that] we know Him no longer [in terms of the flesh], 2 Corinthians 5:16.

One of my former high school students was in a freak skate boarding accident. Due to the severe damage done to his leg, numerous skin grafts were performed just to save his leg. This was the first time that I heard about search this type of operation. After two years of physical therapy, this teenager was finally able to resume a somewhat normal life. Sometimes it takes a worst case scenario to begin seeking a faith graft.

Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! – 2 Corinthians 5:17

The difference between a faith and skin graft is that a relationship with God is planted firmly. Instead of moving skin from one place to another, Jesus is established, interwoven within your heart and soul. This transformation takes time for the new creature in Christ to replace your old self. As individuals draw near to God in prayer and worship, a faith graft is conceived. The more you read and study the Bible, faith becomes natural.

by Jay Mankus

Inactive, Missing Something or Unplugged?

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you, John 14:6.

When I read the New Testament, I see a Holy Spirit that is far greater than modern times. The seminary I attended nearly two decades ago used the rationale of a special anointing limited to first century Christians. According to Acts 2, the Day of Pentecost enabled apostles and disciples of Jesus to speak in foreign tongues, restoring communication barriers created during the building of the Tower of Babel. When these apostles and disciples passed away, this special anointing of the Holy Spirit disappeared.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come, John 16:13.

The one problem with this theory is that Jesus never mentions 2 different outpourings of the Holy Spirit. Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to a counselor, guide and helper. While certain denominations get caught up in debating the validity of speaking in tongues, perhaps the lack of a powerful Spirit lies within. Maybe a lack of spiritual fruit is a symptom of a far greater problem. From my perspective, the Holy Spirit’s full potential has been minimized due to one of three scenarios. Either I am idle, inactive in my faith, missing something like a post baptism transformation or I am unplugged, relying on my human nature instead?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law, Galatians 5:22-23.

The apostle Paul confronts this issue in a letter to the church at Galatia. According to Paul, there are two invisible forces at work: the Holy Spirit and Sinful Nature. During a letter to the church at Rome, Paul suggests that your mindset will dictate which force you will follow. Until modern believers dedicate themselves to practicing first century spiritual disciplines, the Holy Spirit will remain a unrecognized force. If only I could tap into this power, my camouflaged faith will be unveiled. May this blog inspire other believers to develop a spiritual hunger for God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Trying to Heal a Defiled Heart

If you maintain a burdensome schedule each week, finding time to take an honest assessment of your life isn’t easy to do.  Most busy people press on. ignoring any signs, symptoms or traces of trouble.  When a state of emergency was issued for Delaware during the fourth snow storm in March, I was forced to slow down, unable to go to work.  After reading the passage below, an overwhelming sense of guilt struck my soul, exposing a defiled heart.

After He called the people to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen [carefully] to Me, all of you, [hear] and understand [what I am saying]: there is nothing outside a man [such as food] which by going into him can defile him [morally or spiritually]; but the things which come out of [the heart of] a man are what defile and dishonor him. 16 [If anyone has ears to hear, let him he}” Mark 7:15-16.

As a former high school teacher, I gave my students some sort of assessment every 3 weeks.  Homework, papers, quizzes and exams were given during each unit to reveal the degree of comprehension.  Unfortunately, after graduating from high school or college, adults rarely think about assessing their faith like educators.  This lack of reflection often hides glaring issues.  As for me, a lack of candor has brought to light a defiled heart.

For there is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit. 44 For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit. For figs are not picked from thorn bushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a briar bush. 45 The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart, Luke 6:43-45.

According to Jesus, your choice of language provides immediate feedback to what’s in your heart.  If you find yourself using coarse joking, put downs or sarcasm, this serves as a warning of a heart in grave condition.  In order to take a positive step forward, confession is the best place to start, James 5:16.  If your language does not improve, finding an accountability partner can help turn your life around.  While transformation takes time, meditating on Bible verses, prayer and fasting are all honorable steps toward healing a defiled heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Prisoner of Your Own Appetite

A typical prisoner is held behind bars or in certain circumstances can be placed under house arrest.  This fate is a result of breaking the law, caught by authorities or brought in for questioning and possibly held overnight as a possible suspect of a crime.  Unfortunately, many people find themselves held hostage by an invisible force.  Beyond the physical realm, demons, powers of darkness and evil spirits are on the prowl, seeking to pounce upon weakened souls, 1 Peter 5:8.  Anyone who lacks self-discipline could be the next victim, a prisoner of your own appetite.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace, Romans 8:5-6.

According to the apostle Paul, the human flesh has a mind of it’s own.  Like a stubborn child, the sinful nature is in a constant state of want.  I can picture an infant screaming for food or toddler throwing a temper tantrum.  These fits of rage are signs of the flesh at an early stage of development.  As time goes by, outbursts only intensive, especially when lust within human hearts goes unsatisfied.  The more the average person feeds these cravings, the flesh can get out of control.  When selfishness is unleashed, even the strong may find themselves a prisoner of their own appetite.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God, Romans 8:7-8.

If you read between the lines of Romans 8, Paul is imploring burdened souls that you don’t have to do this anyone.  You don’t have to continue living in bondage to your sinful nature.  However, transformation begins within your mind.  Like any enemy, whispers of doubt consume those attempting to break free.  Thus, if you are serious about changing, you must ignore whispers from the Devil.  In this transitional period, you will likely experience withdraw, internal pressure to return to pleasing your flesh.  Yet, if you seek an accountability relationship, devote your life to prayer and submit to God, freedom is within your reach.  The journey is long, but don’t give up hope until victory arrives.

by Jay Mankus

Oops I Did It Again

My co-worker and I had an interesting conversation last night.  This discussion centered around whether or not people can actually change.  Trying to be open minded, we disagreed on one’s ability to overcome previous addictions, bad habits and poor character.  While I try to be optimistic, hoping that people reach their full potential, human nature has a way of reverting individuals back to childish ways.  This pattern tends to lead the guilty to confess, “oops I did it again.”

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out, Romans 7:18.

Based upon previous experiences, Harvey tends to believe that people never change.  Although there will be initial signs of transformation, positive steps in the right direction usually do not last.  Sooner or later, bad habits return, ensnaring many in life long addictions.  This reality is supported by the words of the apostle Paul in a letter to the church of Rome.  While it’s unclear what aspect of life this passage is referring to, Paul shares his own internal struggle with fleshly desires.  Since Paul doesn’t declare victory, it’s possible that this apostle fought a losing battle with temptation for years.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My belief in the ability to change lies in the passage above.  I spent many years as a child and teenager saying, “oops I did it again.”  Yet, the apostle Paul provides a blueprint above for anyone feeling defeated.  In order to succeed, you must expect the unexpected.  In this context, temptations are lurking around every corner, luring you to appease your fleshly desire.  However, if you want to resist, be alert, looking for an escape route.  Until you reach this point, any little victories will be short lived.  Therefore, if you want to put your childish ways behind you, 1 Corinthians 13:11, ask God for discernment so that change will occur with one good decision at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

Forcing a Code of Ethics without Faith

There are certain things in life that you should have seen coming if you were paying attention.  Although  I wasn’t alive at the time, the United States Supreme Court’s June 25, 1962 decision in Engel vs. Vitale should have raised a red flag.  According to these judges, praying for character, integrity and morality within students violated the First Amendment by constituting an establishment of religion.  This interpretation set the stage for the Bible, God and the principles America’s founding fathers established to be rejected by public education.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

Fifty five years later, right and wrong has been turned upside down.  At some point in the last twenty five years, absolutes recorded in the Bible have been demonized, referred to as bigoted, homophobic and racist.  While some religious leaders have attempted to win this debate, others have gone down in a blaze of glory, destroyed by hypocrisy and secrets sins that were brought to light.  The byproducts of this losing battle is that marriage is no longer just between a man and woman, gender is something that must be neutral and bathrooms should be open for interpretation.  In other words, if it feel right, just do it.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

For those of you still wondering, what the hell is wrong with this country; the answer is simple.  Higher education, school boards and elite members of the media are forcing a code of ethics upon their citizens.  To a certain extent, the government believes it takes a village to raise a family.  This explains why Michelle Obama wanted to force school lunch programs to push fruits and vegetables.  However, these government officials are now doing the same thing atheists complained about in 1962.  The problem to this current ideology is forcing individuals to do something they don’t want to will not result in permanent change.  Sure, you can attack, bully and pressure people for a while.  Yet, genuine transformation only occurs through conviction, faith and inspiration.  May this blog reverse this current trend so that God’s Word can breathe new life into those who truly want to change by becoming more like Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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