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When the Enemy Perverts Silence

In the Christmas Classic, It’s a Wonderful Life, Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, who scrambles to locate $8000 which his cousin Billy misplaced at the bank.  Retracing his uncles steps, George runs into Mr. Potter played by Lionel Barrymore at the bank.  Instead of handing George the money that he found wrapped in a newspaper, Potter accuses George of various crimes.  This dilemma leads George to pray for a miracle.  When he receives is a right hook to the face at his local hangout, George turns to suicide as a logical solution to his problems.  When prayers lifted up to God go unanswered, Satan replaces this silence with perverted whispers in the minds of human beings.

And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light, 2 Corinthians 11:14.

During one of his visits to what is now modern day Greece, the apostle Paul seems to have uncovered some type of demonic activity going on in or around Corinth.  Just like Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies, Satan has a history that does not include the dark side.  Anakin Skywalker followed the force, on pace to become the next Jedi.  Likewise Satan, known as Lucifer was an arch angel, one of God’s most magnificent creations.  At some point, this fact went to his head, wanting to glorify himself.  Despite being kicked out of heaven, this ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, didn’t lose his angelic powers.  Thus, Satan is able to disguise himself as a vessel of light.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

If there is a word that best describes the Devil today its relentless.  This demonic entity is always scheming, using lust and temptation as open doors to come into and ruin lives.  Murders aren’t on the rise just because of crime, drugs and hatred.  Rather, when broken, desperate and lost souls continue to experience silence after cries for help, the enemy perverts silence.  According to Isaiah 1:15, God is silent when individuals fail to repent.  Any type of addiction furthers distance between you and God.  If you want to end this silence, follow the blueprint within Isaiah 1:16-17.  As genuine confession and acts of penance follow, God promises grace, forgiveness and healing.  Don’t let the Devil’s deception to continue to ruin lives of loved ones.  Rather, fast, pray and worship the Lord so that evil will be exposed and brought to the light.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Christmas for Dummies

Every year pastors, preachers and teachers are expected to come up with a fresh and new perspective of Christmas for their congregations.  On some occasions this goal is achieved.  Yet, many sermons crash and burn, wasting weeks of preparation making the simple complex.  In reality, Christmas is the mass of Christ, a day of remembrance, thanksgiving and worship.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” Luke 19:10. 

In a summary of a conversation with a tax collector, Jesus provides a Christmas for Dummies answer.  The context of the passage above refers to the fall of mankind, also known as original sin.  God gave Adam and Eve just one rule in the Garden of Eden, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die,” Genesis 3:2.  When lust entered into Eve’s heart, she influenced her husband Adam to ignore God’s law, taking and eating fruit.  This act of disobedience enabled sin to enter the world, resulted in expulsion from the garden, severed an intimate relationship with God and gave Satan authority and dominion over the earth.  Jesus’ birth came to seek and save what was lost back here.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” Genesis 3:15.

During an exchange with one of his fallen angels, God prophecies for the first time about the need to send his one and only son, John 3:16.  If you have seen the Passion of the Christ, this symbolism is played out while Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, stomping on the head of a serpent at the end of his prayer.  While Satan convinces first century religious leaders to execute Jesus’ crucifixion, the resurrection served as a check mate moment, foiling forever any demonic attempts to change the spiritual course of history.  However, this is one catch.

In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2.

God allows the Devil, aka Satan to retain his former angelic powers that he possessed while serving as the archangel Lucifer.  When you add this fact to a confession by one of Jesus’ disciples, Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour-1 Peter 5:8, this threat is real.  This why evil continues to exist on earth.  Therefore, while Jesus has his own birthday on our calendar, the ongoing spiritual war does not stop.  The fight for the eternal destiny of souls is a fierce battle, taking many innocent individuals to their graves.  While singing Christmas carols today in church may inspire or move you, make sure you guard your heart and mind, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, so that the hope of Christmas will not be lost again.

by Jay Mankus

Undaunted

Earlier in the week, I watched a documentary on near death experiences.  Similar to an episode of Project Afterlife, Destination America examined the experiences of two individuals who flat lined, then came back to life.  During these interviews, the man and woman describe their moments hovering above their bodies and the heaven and hell like encounters that followed.  Rarely do people get second chances at life, but for those granted a special exception, perspectives on life radically change.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen, Hebrews 13:20-21.

While I don’t recall the exact title, this show tried to help others understand unsolved mysteries about life.  The man selected for this episode was a neuro surgeon, spending a large portion of his career saving the lives of others.  In this scenario, the roles were reversed as his life slipped slowly away after several seizures.  His recollections of the afterlife altered the path of his new life.  This surgeon recalls a place similar to the accounts of hell in the Bible.  Dark, alone and filled with a constant eerie noise, it didn’t take long for panic to set in.  Upon waking up days later, his wife and son could see the fear in his eyes.  Like the reality show Scared Straight, this man didn’t need to go to prison to quickly turn his life over to God.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

Meanwhile, the woman who was in a car accident, went through a much more pleasant experience.  Like scenes from the I Saw Heaven, this individual is reunited with family members who had died and gone to heaven.  She details one conversation, the last before waking up in the hospital.  An aunt tells this woman that her work on earth is not finished.  The Lord is sending you back to complete the purpose and will God has for you.  “Live fearlessly,” undaunted by the barriers and obstacles that exist.  After hearing this message, I feel like this applies to all believers, hoping to please God.  May this testimony inspire you to go through life undaunted, trusting in angels, divine intervention and God’s power to cross the finish line on earth.

by Jay Mankus

When Healing is Complicated

Teetotalism is a term related to the Bible that is rarely spoken today.  This word refers to a strict adherence to the Old Testament.  By the first century, Pharisees and other religious leaders added several human stipulations to existing laws.  One of these limitations prohibited individuals from physical exertion on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath.  Subsequently, any type of exercise could be construed as breaking the law.  This interpretation prompted the zealous to avoid going out of their way to help someone on Saturday, even if it meant healing or saving a life.

Then Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”  At once the man was cured; he picked up his mat and walked.  The day on which this took place was a Sabbath, John 5:7-8.

This is the dilemma which confronted Jesus every week, to heal or not to heal.  Despite public pressure to conform to these man made regulations, Jesus fulfilled the will of his heavenly father.  In the passage above, a man had been an invalid for 38 years.  Visiting a healing pool, these waters were believed to have mystical powers.  Those who had been cured, healed or set free from physical infirmities gave credit to angels who came down to stir the waters.  The first person to enter the pool was healed.  Unfortunately, this invalid was never fast enough, sitting and waiting, year after year, watching others become cleansed and made new.  The sight of this pitiful man inspired Jesus to have compassion, reach out and perform a miracle.

And so the Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It is the Sabbath; the law forbids you to carry your mat.”  But he replied, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk,’ ” John 5:9-10.

In the passage above, you can see how teetotalism blinds someone’s perspective of God.  Instead of rejoicing with this fully healed man, religious leaders were trying to discover who brought the Sabbath rules and why.  This mindset doesn’t make any sense, especially in the sight of an amazing miracle.  Nonetheless, human traditions created by powerful leaders attempted the steal the joy on this special occasion.  Today, similar rules have been established by government officials.  Whether it’s prayer, reading the Bible or sharing your faith, you have to consider the cost.  To heal or not to heal, to help or not to help and to pray or not to pray?  In the end, if your heart is in the right place, you will follow the prompting of the Holy Spirit by fulfilling God’s will for your life on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Let the Weeding Begin

 

Unless you love a freshly manicured yard or need the money, not many people get excited about doing yard work.  Beside heat and humidity, keeping up with rampant weeds that overtake a garden can be demoralizing.  You may spend an entire weekend pulling up every invasive plant only to see others re-emerge in it’s place a few days later.  While using weed killer products like Roundup is an option, most of the modern products are so watered down that there isn’t enough chemicals inside to permanent remove these nuisances of the neighborhood.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, Matthew 13:41.

Jesus introduces an new concept of weeding during a private meeting with his disciples.  Unable to figure out the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus begins to reveal the symbolism of this story.  According to the passage above, at the end of this age Jesus will command the angels to weed out all negative influences on earth.  These forces are demonic, evil and unruly spirits who have led astray willing participants.  Unfortunately, this process won’t begin until Jesus’ second coming, leaving vessels of the Devil that create chaos.  This dark power eventually filled Stephen Paddock, taking the lives of 58 innocent victims.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

While individuals wait for the weeding to begin, many people like me have a lot to clean up.  Time, weariness and unkempt souls have led everyone to do something dishonorable.  Although these actions vary in degree, hearts should develop a sense of urgency to get right with God.  Instead of judging others, perhaps a little soul searching may reveal areas of decay in desperate need of healing.  Therefore, as evil continues to flourish, it’s time to commence your own spiritual weeding so that through the Holy Spirit you will become an honorable vessel ready to serve your Creator.  Let the weeding begin.

by Jay Mankus

 

Three Ways God Saves Us From Ourselves

Young people can be naïve, unaware of the dangers that lurk outside of their comfort zones.  Thus, when individuals turn eighteen or twenty one, a thirst for freedom causes many to enter situations that result in a free fall.  This is where God steps in, swooping down like an eagle to save an eaglet who still doesn’t know how to fly on their own.  Unfortunately, the average person fails to recognize, see or thank the invisible presence who saves us regularly.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; Isaiah 40:31.

When you do earn your wings, there are other factors in life that can halt your growth in a split second.  The apostle Paul compares the Christian life to a marathon.  For those of you who experienced running in some capacity, everyone sooner or later hits a mental wall.  When you do reach this point, human nature tells you to stop, rest a while or simply quit, never to run again.  As soon as this whisper arrives, God intervenes sending angels, the Holy Spirit or other runners to encourage you to keep going until you cross the finish line.  This second sign also goes unnoticed as many participates fail to acknowledge God’s hand, saving you from defeat or failure.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint, Isaiah 40:31.

The final way God saves us from ourselves is through our perspective of trials and tribulations.  Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, perfection does not exist.  There is no perfect family, job, neighborhood or state.  Each has it’s frustrating, irritable and negative influences.  Those who seek perfection in any aspect of life will always be disappointed.  Therefore, if situations won’t change, God has to transform your attitude of unpleasant experiences in life.  This process is like sanctification, taking a lifetime to complete.  Yet, only those who trust in the Lord and lean not in their own understanding will see life through the eyes of Christ.  As you stand in the storm clouds of life, may God save you by adopting the attitude and mind of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Aliens, Demons and UFO’s

Depending upon your cable or satellite provider, if you channel surf long enough, you will probably find some sort of show dealing with alien’s, demons or UFO’s.  Destination America, History, Learning and Science channels regular air content related to these subjects.  I have spent months contemplating how to address this issue.  Based upon a chapter in Genesis, I believe there is a connection that might begin to illuminate this controversial topic.

When human beings began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of humans were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose, Genesis 6:1-2.

The passage above is one of the most debated in the Bible possessing three possible explanations.  The first hypothesis of the phrase sons of God refers to angels or minor deities.  When angelic beings left heaven to reproduce with earthly females, a civilization of giants was born inspiring the gods and goddess of Ancient Greece.  The second refers to an aristocratic class of rulers who married ordinary woman to create an elite society.  These men were inspired by the desire to make a name for themselves similar to those behind the building of the Tower of Babel.  Finally, the sons of God are aliens from another world who took earthly females as their wives.  This final view may explain advanced technology discovered by archeologists within the ruins of ancient civilizations.

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown, Genesis 6:4.

Since I am not a Bible scholar, I won’t declare which of these theories is correct, but I do know that this unusual breeding gave birth to giants on earth.  After this unnatural relationship began, God’s displeasure led to a global flood which served as a do over with Noah and his eight family members the sole survivors.  Unfortunately, there are some things in life that people can only speculate about until the answers are provided in heaven.  However, what act was so vile that God was willing to destroy the inhabitants of his prized creation?  This my friends is the ten million dollar question.

by Jay Mankus