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A Secret Truth

Mysteries tend to involve something that is difficult or impossible to understand or explain. Most children begin their lives stress free, trusting in their parents to provide for their needs. Depending upon their degree of maturity, parents tend to shield their young ones from the dangers of this world. Yet, according to the apostle Paul, human beings can not become partakers of eternal salvation based upon their own merit.

But I tell you this, brethren, flesh and blood cannot [become partakers of eternal salvation and] inherit or share in the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable (that which is decaying) inherit or share in the imperishable (the immortal), 1 Corinthians 15:50.

Following this warning to members at the Church of Corinth, Paul transitions toward a special mystery. Apparently, this secret truth was decreed by the counsel of God. This event is linked to the crucifixion of Jesus, allowed to continue despite Jesus’ innocence for a hidden purpose. This secret truth in unveiled at the end of chapter 15 of Paul’s letter. The sting of death was removed through resurrection of Jesus on Easter.

Take notice! I tell you a mystery (a secret truth, an event decreed by the hidden purpose or counsel of God). We shall not all fall asleep [in death], but we shall all be changed (transformed), 1 Corinthians 15:51.

Jesus spoke of this mystery during a late night conversation with a Pharisee, John 3:1-5. The concept of being born again didn’t make sense to Nicodemus despite his vast religious knowledge. After making a sarcastic comment, Nicodemus shuts up, intrigued by the words of John 3:16-17. Based upon the actions and words within John 7:50-52 and John 19:38-42, Nicodemus put his faith and trust in Jesus. To those of you who are still left in the dark, Romans 10:8-11 unlocks this secret truth.

by Jay Mankus

When You Reach the Top… There’s Nothing There

Shortly after the great flood depicted in Genesis 7:11-12, a new mindset began to form. Despite hitting the reset button, God could not prevent mankind from developing a desire to reach the heavens. Thus, like minded individuals began to congregate in the city of Babel. This idea inspired the construction of a great tower, seeking to reach the top of the world. Unfortunately, before this project was completed, a spirit of confusion was poured out upon Babel.

And they said, Come, let us build us a city and a tower whose top reaches into the sky, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the whole earth. 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, they are one people and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do, and now nothing they have imagined they can do will be impossible for them, Genesis 11:4-6.

Several thousands years later, order was restored on the Day of Pentecost. My initial question to this spiritual phenomena is why. Moses suggests that God was afraid that a united mankind could physically reach the heavens, making it to the top. Perhaps, an absence of trust and faith separated human beings from their true purpose on earth. Thus, Jesus’ ascension into heaven opens the door for an invisible presence to be introduced. To fulfill his promise in John 16:13, the Holy Spirit is unleashed in the middle of the first century.

And when the day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all assembled together in one place, 2 When suddenly there came a sound from heaven like the rushing of a violent tempest blast, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]. 5 Now there were then residing in Jerusalem Jews, devout and God-fearing men from every country under heaven. 6 And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together and they were astonished and bewildered, because each one heard them [the apostles] speaking in his own [particular] dialect, Acts 2:1-6.

When you ask world class athlete’s, business leaders and entrepreneurs about what it feels like to actually reach the top, considered the best in the world, responses are mixed. Some use this as an opportunity to retire on top. Others seek to become part of a destiny, hungry to set more records and reach new heights. However, many are filled with an emptiness as if to say, “is that it.” When accomplishments don’t fulfill the void in your heart, Jesus provides a spiritual alternative, John 10:10. May this season of Easter inspire you to replace your emptiness with purpose and meaning via faith.

by Jay Mankus

Reality Check

Reality is the state of things in the world as they actually exist. Reality includes the aggregate or sum of all that is real or existent within a system. This term is opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of what people hope for and want. Reality checks serve as a wake up call, an uneasy reminder of the obstacles that you must face and overcome. As Coronavirus cases grow, intensify and spread, returning to a normal life seems so far away.

So see to it that you do not reject Him or refuse to listen to and heed Him Who is speaking [to you now]. For if they [the Israelites] did not escape when they refused to listen and heed Him Who warned and divinely instructed them [here] on earth [revealing with heavenly warnings His will], how much less shall we escape if we reject and turn our backs on Him Who cautions and admonishes [us] from heaven? – Hebrews 12:25

In the passage above and below, the author brings up the topic of escaping God’s wrath. This section is introduced with an open ended question. How can you escape God’s wrath while turning your back on the creator of heaven? Going back in time, Moses’ encounter with God at Mount Sinai is revisited. When your life or the world has been shaken, who do you trust? How do you react, respond or what steps do you take to recover?

Then [at Mount Sinai] His voice shook the earth, but now He has given a promise: Yet once more I will shake and make tremble not only the earth but also the [starry] heavens. 27 Now this expression, Yet once more, indicates the final removal and transformation of all [that can be] shaken—that is, of that which has been created—in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue. 28 Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe; Hebrews 12:26-28.

There are numerous plagues mentioned throughout the Old Testament. Some were curses placed upon enemies of Israel. Other outbreaks were linked to disobedience as individuals began to do what was right in their own eyes. If modern day was part of biblical times, the Coronavirus would definitely be mentioned. However, you can’t live your life in fear. At some point you need to place your faith in a higher power or you will be consumed and paralyzed by fear. Therefore, may COVID-19 serve as a reality check, a reference point to get your life and faith in order.

by Jay Mankus

I Don’t Believe What You Believe

After writing for a couple of hours, I began channel surfing to pass some time. Thirty seconds later, I stumbled upon the early stages of Footloose. As a former teacher, the idea of a senior boy standing up for his beliefs appeals to me. One of my favorite scenes from this film occurs later on when a rebellious preacher’s daughter has a heart to heart talk with her father. Lori Singer plays Ariel who opens up about a belief system which differs her dad, Reverend Shaw played by John Lithgow.

Do not let your hearts be troubled (distressed, agitated). You believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely on God; believe in and adhere to and trust in and rely also on Me, John 14:1.

When Singer shares that “I don’t believe what you believe,” I am reminded of a former student. Jennifer was an atheist forced to attend a Christian school by her parents. What made this situation worse, her parents turned out to be hypocrites, following the motto ” do as I say, not as I do.” Initially, there was tension between Jennifer and I, often leading to heated debates. However, as time passed, I accepted Jennifer for where she was spiritually, sharing the love of Jesus whenever I could.

Jesus said to him, Because you have seen Me, Thomas, do you now believe (trust, have faith)? Blessed and happy and to be envied are those who have never seen Me and yet have believed and adhered to and trusted and relied on Me, John 20:29.

In this day and age, politics and religion are two of the most divisive topics in America. If you don’t hold or share a similar view of the media in these areas, expect criticism. Anyone who dares to think differently, get’s out of line or speaks out will be labeled as controversial, dangerous and unsafe. It’s too bad that most adults can’t come to their senses by being willing to accept what others believe. Perhaps, the words of Jesus above may permeate hearts so that love will lead to accepting what others believe until faith is conceived.

by Jay Mankus

Force or Faith?

My son Daniel and I spent the last 4 days visiting a couple of Christian colleges before his cross country season begins. The goal of this trip was to ascertain what atmosphere, climate and setting Daniel would feel most comfortable attending. To avoid embarrassing any of these schools, one institution is in South Carolina and the other in Tennessee. After taking the official tour, meeting with advisors and visiting with coaches, it was easy to compare and contrast the pros and cons.

Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight or understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

When you spend over 1,800 miles in a car together, there is plenty of time to evaluate what you like and dislike. One university was more restrictive, forcing students to follow a rigid set of rules. The other school of higher education encourages students toward taking the narrow road, Matthew 7:13-14. Instead of being forced to do this or that, free will in cooperation with discernment is applied to guide individuals to follow God’s will.

In all your ways know and acknowledge and recognize Him, and He will make your paths straight and smooth [removing obstacles that block your way], Proverbs 3:6.

While each school has some attractive assets and benefits, most people prefer being given a chance to be trusted. Although this philosophy of education opens the door for embarrassment, failure and potential expulsion, forcing teenagers to do something tends to result in rebellion. Since young people are unique, certain schools aren’t for everyone. Thus, as teenagers become adults, you have to decide do I need to be forced to obey or find an environment where faith is a personal choice?

by Jay Mankus

When Jesus Wants Your Lunch

Just prior to one of the most memorable miracles in the Bible, Jesus makes an unusual request. Testing the faith of Philip, Jesus asks his disciple to take an inventory of what food was on hand. As the crowds approached 5,000 men, excluding women and children, the disciples began to panic, urging Jesus to send the people home. Instead, 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish are taken from a little boy, requesting this lunch to be shared with the others.

“There is a little boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what are these for so many people?” 10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down [to eat].” Now [the ground] there was [covered with] an abundance of grass, so the men sat down, about 5,000 in number, John 6:9-10.

Perhaps, Jesus is trying to teach this boy a valuable life lesson. Until you are willing to give, you won’t receive the blessing that God has in store for you. Jesus took that which was offered, 5 loaves and 2 fish and blessed it. Whether everyone closed their eyes during this prayer or not, some how this offering miraculously multiplied filling the stomachs of several thousand people.

Then Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks, He distributed them to those who were seated; the same also with the fish, as much as they wanted. 12 When they had eaten enough, He said to His disciples, “Gather up the leftover pieces so that nothing will be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up, and they filled twelve large baskets with pieces from the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten, John 6:11-13.

An Old Testament prophet refers to robbing God in Malachi 3:8-12 by not offering a tithe in faith. This biblical terms eludes to the feeding of the 5000. Most boys aren’t going to share a big lunch with a crowd of strangers. Yet. as individuals learn to trust God to replace what they have freely given with the storehouses from heaven, miracles are unleashed. This blog is a prime example that the next time Jesus wants your lunch, be confident that the Lord will provide.

by Jay Mankus

Remember or Forget

The book of Deuteronomy serves as a repetition of God’s laws.  Essentially Deuteronomy is a second statement of Mosaic Law.  The need for human beings to remember suggests that individuals tend to forget.  Thus, Moses is inspired by God to repeat what was written in previous books to highlight what God fearing Jews should remember and obey.

God fed you manna in the wilderness, [a substance] which your fathers did not know, so that He might humble you [by dependence on Him] and that He might test you, to do good [things] for you at the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth, Deuteronomy 8:16-17. 

Chapter 8 serves as a brief summary of God’s faithfulness to his people while in the wilderness.  When the people were hungry, manna from heaven appeared to eat.  After individuals became tired of bread, the Lord sent quail as well to eat.  However, murmurs began to spread among the camp that some hearts were considering to trust in their own strength rather than rely solely on God.  This led Moses to draw a line in the sand, “it’s your choice to remember or forget.”

18 But you shall remember [with profound respect] the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore (solemnly promised) to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 And it shall come about if you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you will most certainly perish, Deuteronomy 8:18-19.

Each decision that you make has eternal consequences.  Remembering God through obedience results in blessings, seen and unseen.  On the other hand, those who slowly forget God will be punished via a series of curses meant to drive you back into the merciful hands of God.  Unfortunately, the longer you forget God, the harder it becomes to return.  For those who do, the spiritual baggage accrued takes months and even years to sort through.  In view of this, save yourself the heartache by remembering and obeying God’s Word daily.

by Jay Mankus

The Defaming of Faith

Defame refers to cast asperations on, malign or slander the reputation of someone. In this age of social media, it only takes one post, tweet or video to ruin years of faith, respect and trust. As individuals battle for control, power and supremacy, distortions, embellishment and lies will be made to elevate one’s status while tearing down others.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test you [that is, to test the quality of your faith], as though something strange or unusual were happening to you, 1 Peter 4:12.

From a spiritual perspective, there is a rise in naturalistic scholars, revisionist historians and secularism within America. When history does not enhance a particular worldview, events, facts and founding fathers are being defamed to delegitimize past accomplishments. Meanwhile, K-12 education is omitting significant influences such as the Magna Carta, the Pilgrim’s religion and role the ten commandments has played in establishing our justice system.

But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy. 14 If you are insulted and reviled for [bearing] the name of Christ, you are blessed [happy, with life-joy and comfort in God’s salvation regardless of your circumstances], because the Spirit of glory and of God is resting on you [and indwelling you—He whom they curse, you glorify], 1 Peter 4:13-14.

Whether you want to call this watering down or defaming, America has a rich Christian Heritage. Yet, due to political correctness traces of Christianity has vanished from public education. Meanwhile, other believers are afraid that if they speak up at work, their jobs or potential advancements will be terminated. However, Peter states that you shouldn’t be surprised by the defaming of faith. First century Christians embraced this as a badge of honor, a sign that their faith was alive and well. While nobody wants to endure hardship, trials in life are meant to strengthen and refine your faith.

by Jay Mankus

What Have I Been Doing?

The older that I get, each year seems to be a carbon copy of the last one.  I start off strong, eating healthy, exercising and spending regular time with God in January.  When spring arrives, I usually let some things slide, struggling with my diet and working out.  By the start of summer, my life resembles a house that hasn’t been cleaned for months.  As I was singing a worship song on Sunday, a spirit of conviction overwhelmed my soul.  Like a still small voice, the Holy Spirit asked, “what have you been doing the past few years?”

I was once alive without [knowledge of] the Law; but when the commandment came [and I understood its meaning], sin became alive and I died [since the Law sentenced me to death], Romans 7:9.

In the 1993 film Groundhog Day, Bill Murray plays Phil, a news reporter from Pittsburgh on assignment.  During his trip to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Murray get’s stuck in a blizzard, forced to stay another day.  Unfortunately, Murray is caught in a time gap, reliving Groundhog Day over and over again.  To a certain extent, I feel like Bill Murray’s character, trapped by time.  However, while Phil slowly learned to make the most of each day, I keep making the same mistakes year after year.  Like the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, I find myself stuck in a pattern of sin, unable to break free.

So I find it to be the law [of my inner self], that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. 22 For I joyfully delight in the law of God in my inner self [with my new nature], 23 but I see a different law and rule of action in the members of my body [in its appetites and desires], waging war against the law of my mind and subduing me and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is within my members, Romans 7:21-23.

Since I began working nights four years ago, attending church has been a difficult task due to my sleep schedule.  When I did miss a Sunday, I started watching a few pastors on TBN, the Trinity Broadcasting Network.  At some point, I thought I was strong enough to go without a congregation, attending church about once a month.  Yet, now I know I was misled by a rationalizing mind.  God designed human beings to be social creatures who thrive in a fellowship of believers.  Unfortunately, I was blinded, believing that I could exist apart from Christ’s body.  Boy… was I wrong!

Wretched and miserable man that I am! Who will [rescue me and] set me free from this body of death [this corrupt, mortal existence]? 25 Thanks be to God [for my deliverance] through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind serve the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [my human nature, my worldliness, my sinful capacity—I serve] the law of sin, Romans 7:24-25.

I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I do know the necessary course of action, reconnect and join a church.  As a former youth pastor, its hard to overlook all the flaws that I see when I visit a new church.  Nonetheless, I have to make a decision before the summer ends.  As I cope with my wretched state, at least deliverance is available to those who trust in Jesus Christ.  May this blog serve as a warning so that you don’t make the same mistake of trying to serve God without a church to call home.  If you don’t, you might find yourself pondering, “what have I been doing?”

by Jay Mankus

Reaching a State of Expectation

From time to time, I make the mistake of trying to make changes to my life without asking or seeking God’s help.  While determination, discipline and focus can be effective tools to alter bad habits, spiritual ruts and unhealthy patterns, human effort will only take you so far.  I guess this is human nature’s way of learning the hard way.  Whenever I reach a point of frustration, unsatisfied with the current state of my faith, responding to a convicted heart is the best place to start.

Even now the axe [of God’s judgment] is swinging toward the root of the trees; so every tree that does not produce good fruit is being cut down and thrown into the fire,” Luke 3:9.

In the first century, God sent a messenger to prepare the way for the coming of His son Jesus.  Known as John the Baptist, this prophet used the Old Testament practice of purging to pierce the hearts of his audience.  As individuals began to reflect upon their vast imperfections, many came forward to be baptized by John.  Uncertain of what to do next, soldiers and tax collectors consulted John on the proper acts of penitence to pursue.  This advice provided vision for these newly baptized souls, reaching a state of expectation, looking for opportunities to serve God each and every day..

The crowds asked him, “Then what are we to do?” 11 And John replied, “The man who has two tunics is to share with him who has none; and he who has food is to do the same.” 12 Even some tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked, “Teacher, what are we to do?” 13 And he told them, “Collect no more than the fixed amount you have been ordered to [collect].” 14 Some soldiers asked him, “And what about us, what are we to do?” And he replied to them, “Do not extort money from anyone or harass or blackmail anyone, and be satisfied with your wages,” Luke 3:10-14.

Belief without trust, faith without action and hypocritical words are some of the reasons Christian churches aren’t flourishing like the first century.  One of the main culprits for this spiritual stagnancy are believers void of any fruit, Galatians 5:22-23.  If Christians are suppose to be the light of the world but lack integrity no one will take them serious.  Meanwhile, if the church is suppose to be the salt of the earth but lose their saltiness, there is no flavor left to incite any kind of spiritual hunger.  Therefore, if you want to reverse this trend, let the words of John the Baptist inspire you to reach a state of expectation influenced by the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

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