RSS Feed

Something Greater Than the Temple

Traditions play an important role in life.  Religious traditions passed on by parents influence what you believe, especially early on in life.  During the first century, Pharisees displayed a holy reverence for Solomon’s Temple.  This passion for a physical place to worship the Lord soon became a stumbling block, limiting God’s power in their lives.  Subsequently, during one encounter with religious leaders Jesus refers to something greater than the temple.

 I tell you that something greater than the temple is here, Matthew 12:6.

Today’s Roman Catholic Church shares some of the practices of Judaism.  Modern priests play a similar role as great high priests in the Old Testament.  However, instead of sacrificing animals to forgive sins, confessionals are used to hear and forgive the sins of their congregation.  While there is a movement to encourage members to read and study the Bible on their own, traditions of the past have stunted spiritual growth.  Thus, the concept of a place greater than the temple is still foreign to many.

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

The apostle Paul understood what Jesus meant by something greater than the temple.  Shortly after Jesus’ crucifixion, an earthquake destroyed the temple that the Jews held in high esteem.  This event opened the door for a transformation to occur, from the temple into your own heart, Romans 10:9-10.  Thus, using a priest as a mediator between God and man was no longer necessary.  Instead, followers of God need to view their bodies as a living temple of the Holy Spirit.  When modern believers make this connection, the human heart becomes greater than the temple.

by Jay Mankus

Advertisements

Should We Be Expecting Anyone Else?

Whether you are an employee, novice or student, there is a hesitancy that exists within human beings.  This fear of the unknown inspires the question, “Am I on the right track?”  Until you receive confirmation, subtle doubts will linger.  This anxiety causes many to wonder, “should I be expecting someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor, Matthew 11:4-5.

Before John the Baptist is murdered in the first century, he was imprisoned.  Something within him sensed death was near.  Thus, in his last days on earth John sought the truth, hoping to receive assurance to his assumptions.  John sent some of his own disciples to Jesus to confirm if Jesus was indeed the Messiah spoken by the Old Testament prophets.  The passage above is Jesus’ response to John’s question.

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me, John 14:6.

A few years later, Jesus’ disciples developed a similar concern, not sure who their leader really was.  This uncertainty led to chatter between disciples, wondering if there was a connection between Jesus and God.  As Passion Week began, Jesus’ last week on earth prior to his crucifixion, he silences any remaining doubt with the passage above.  Surely, upon hearing the news that Jesus was the only way to God the Father resolved this life long question.  The answer is no!

by Jay Mankus

 

Nobody is Listening

Every once in a while people are blinded by pride.  This overconfidence within the minds of individuals results in losing touch with reality.  Subsequently, as someone wanders off on a tangent, the audience initially listening quickly tunes out.

Making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; Proverbs 2:2.

There is nothing worse as a teacher than to be so consumed with what you are saying that you fail to recognize no one is listening.  Despite what you thought to be a flawless lesson plan has turned into a snoozer as blank stares and sleeping students force you to figure out what went wrong.  Although it may be humbling, sometimes you have to be open to an honest assessment from students.  While some comments may be inspired from impure motives, you will find blunt answers that reveal why nobody is listening.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God,’ Revelation 2:7.

After sharing a parable, Jesus often used the saying, “let him who has ears hear.”  This spoke to the stubbornness within human hearts.  If you think you are right, then you become oblivious to those who possess an opposing point of view.  Many who heard the powerful illustrations of Jesus often left turning a deaf ear, continuing on the current path they were on.  Therefore, if you want to know the truth why nobody is listening, you have to be open to change as the Holy Spirit reveals the next step, Galatians 5:25, to take in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

If You Only Knew

My favorite place to visit during a decade of teaching was the teachers lounge.  Although this seems like a strange answer, it’s one of the few places faculty could go without being bombarded by questions, distracted by a student or interrupted by an upset parent.  This was a setting where staff let their guard down, sharing various burdens on their hearts.  I truly enjoyed the meaningful conversations I engaged in during my first couple of years teaching.  After a while, I began to ask others teachers about certain students, seeing if they had similar concerns or issues in their class.  During one such exchange, my eyes were opened to a situation that I never knew about.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

One of my students was a goof ball, sarcastic and usually a distraction to my classroom.  However, I was enlightened to the reason behind her behavior one afternoon.  Evidently, her parents marriage was falling apart, often left alone some nights with her older sister playing the role as parent.  One of my peers eventually said to me, “It’s a miracle that these children get to school on time daily.”  If I only knew this upfront, I probably would have been more understanding.  Yet, sometimes inappropriate behavior is merely a reaction to what’s going on at home.  This pain held deep inside of hearts, minds and souls often comes out in the form of emotional outbursts.  This cry for help often get’s overlooked by most teachers.

Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security, Jeremiah 33:6.

The most challenging class I dealt with were junior high students in West Virginia.  These students were intelligent, but due to issues at home hampered their overall achievement in school.  Selected by a new boarding school entitled the High Scope Institute for Ideas, I was chosen to counsel and teach these candidates.  Using an active learning environment, students were engaged with seminars and workshops.  In the middle of the day, tutoring sessions were held for those falling behind followed by team building exercises to encourage leaders to come forward.  This semester holds a special place in my heart as I lived with these students like a camp counselor.  Yet, one student began to act up near the end of the school year.  After threatening to kill another student, I had a heated exchange with him, throwing his bunk bed across the room.  Like Jesus turning the tables of money changers in the temple, my reaction struck a nerve, resulting in a tearful confession.  If I only knew how bad his family life was, my methods would have changed.  In view of this, don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  Rather, take the time to listen so that you can help those waiting to be healed from the pain of their past.

by Jay Mankus

 

Previews of Coming Attractions

If you get the chance to go to the movies, you will see a series of previews of coming attractions that will appear in theaters sometime in the near future.  This is an easy way to promote a return visit by wetting your appetite.  Following these trailers, visual images of food and drinks may entice you to break for the snack bar before the featured film begins.  However, as cable options continue to improve in the form of movies On Demand, families are waiting to watch films in the comfort of their own homes.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, Galatians 2:20.

While listening to a sermon last weekend, the pastor compared becoming a Christian to previews of coming attractions.  The point he was trying to make was that those who decide to follow Jesus are suppose to become more like Christ day by day.  The preview illustration refers to actions, behavior and words that should emulate the love of Jesus.  This transformation should result in noticeable differences.  Thus, the next time you encounter someone who has recently accepted Christ into their hearts as Lord and Savior, expect a kinder, gentler soul.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing,” John 15:5.

To keep this new life going, Jesus introduces an analogy to encourage individuals to continue growing spiritually.  The source for life is compared to a living vine.  Spiritual progress is made by remaining connected to this source.  However, anyone who get’s disconnected, unplugged or removed stops growing.  Anyone who decides to find life in anything else becomes idle and will eventually lose all momentum like a withering branch.  If you claim to be a Christian, what are you previewing?  Are you a hypocrite like me at times, displaying a watered down faith or are you bearing spiritual fruit daily?  May this sermon speak to you, serving as inspiration to get reconnected to the living vine, Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus

The Disowning

Behind the scenes, there is a strategic attempt to disown the founding fathers of America.  This progressive movement is seeking to disown any leader who was influenced by religious or spiritual principles.  At some point in time dealing with that which is offensive has become more important than doing the right thing.  Subsequently, college professors, educational curriculum and mainstream media pundits are disowning that which made America the greatest country in the world.

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven,” Matthew 10:32.

During my five years as a student at the University of Delaware, I was fortunate to meet several foreign exchange students.  Many came to America hoping to make something out of their lives, perhaps doing better than their own parents.  I got to know most of these individuals through Intervarsity Christian Fellowship which met every Friday night on campus.  Once I grew out of the party scene, I began to hunger for something more in life.  Thus, Bible studies, campus events and prayer groups allowed me to dig deeper, drawer closer to God while developing godly friendships.

“But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven,” Matthew 10:33.

One girl that I met was from South East Asia.  Before Spring Break, she wrote her parents, informing them that she had recently made a decision to follow Jesus Christ.  Excited to share this news, it took almost a month to receive a return letter.  However, when she opened it, the response was shocking, disowned by her own family with no place to go home to after the Spring semester ended. While friends reached out to console her, most of us didn’t know what to say.  Unable to comprehend why Buddhists responded in this way, I guess her parents felt betrayed by leaving the only faith they knew.  After some time of contemplation, a few days before final exams began this girl stepped into the path of an oncoming train, committing suicide.

“Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me,” Matthew 10:38.

While this was a tragic event, there is another which has eternal consequences.  Before sending his disciples out on a trial run, Jesus is blunt, clearing communicating his expectations.  There is no half-way for a follower of Jesus, you’re either all in or you’re not with God.  These high standards explain why so many turned away.  Today, there is public pressure to deny the Bible, it’s principles and teaching.  Those who do so are applauded and praised by the media.  However, this disowning fulfills Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:5.  Those who don’t deny Jesus face daily judgment, persecution and ridicule.  In the end, do you want to receive praise from mankind while being disowned by God?  Or do you endure hardship for the meantime, live as an outcast, yet receive recognition in heaven?  This is the dilemma of the disowning, where two worlds collide.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Not What You Say, but How You Say It

It doesn’t take much for a coach, parent or teacher to get under a teenager’s skin.  Sometimes the tone chosen is demeaning.  Others come across as pompous or smug, alienating the individual they are talking to.  Meanwhile, impatient adults have a tendency to take out their frustrations upon young people, creating an even greater generational gap.  This disconnect proves that it’s not always what you say, but how you say it.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

When you are reading a book, sometimes the context of previous events isn’t a hundred percent clear.  Thus, you are forced to go back to make sure you haven’t missed anything important.  In the passage above, you have to understand who Saul was before he changed his name to Paul.  This former Pharisee was a perfectionist, critical by nature, eager to point out flaws.  Therefore, the words Paul choses serves as a reminder to himself and his leaders within the church at Ephesus to focus on the positive, not the negative.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

While writing a letter to a teenager, Paul reveals an important truth about the Holy Spirit.  Although the world tends to emphasize imperfections, staying optimistic isn’t impossible.  Rather, one of the fruits of God’s spirit is self-control, the discipline to control your own tongue.  The language you choose to express daily is a conscious decision.  Unfortunately, many don’t realize the power of words.  Every coarse joke, put down and sarcastic remark influences others in a negative manner.  Therefore, make sure the next time you open your mouth, you think before speaking for it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

by Jay Mankus