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Tag Archives: baptism

From That Time On

There were a series of events which took placed before Jesus began his earthly ministry.  Since the prophets of the Old Testament wrote about these specific details, Jesus waited patiently until this day arrived.  Following his baptism, John’s imprisonment and move to the Land of Zebulun and Naphtali, everything was set for Jesus to put God’s plan into action.

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near,” Matthew 4:17.

According to the verse above, Jesus’ message was clear, repent for the kingdom of God is near.  To avoid over kill, Matthew writes this statement once as a simple reminder, from that time on.  Whether Jesus was addressing a large crowd, a small group or speaking one on one, repentance played a crucial role.  This term refers to turning 180 degrees away from addiction, bad habits and unwholesome desires toward the grace and mercy of God.

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

During a public conversation heard by several eyewitnesses, Jesus makes a remarkable admission.  Prior to meeting with a repentant tax collector, Jesus reveals his purpose for coming down to earth.  The statement above refers to seeking and saving that which Adam lost in the Garden of Eden.  This is two fold: the authority stolen by Satan and intimacy which Adam and Eve shared with God, walking and talking together day.  If you ever lose your way, don’t forget Jesus’ simply message: repent for the kingdom of heaven is near.

by Jay Mankus

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The Point of the Cross

In the Old Testament, initial commandments, laws and principles were passed down through word of mouth from one generation to the next.  Until Moses arrived upon the scene, there was no written word of God.  As one of the forefathers of Israel, God spoke directly to Moses, usually in the mountains on either Mount Horeb and or Sinai.  One of the messages delivered to Moses is that there is no forgiveness without the shedding of blood.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life, Leviticus 17:11.

In the early first century, Jesus built an earthly ministry using disciples.  Prior to his death of the cross, Jesus revealed the purpose for his human sacrifice.  Befuddled by Jesus words, many of his followers thought he would become an earthly king.  Thus, it wasn’t until resurrection Sunday when the disciples began to connect the dots.  The apostle Paul writes several of his epistles about the point of the cross.  Jesus who had no sin became sin for us so that in Christ, we might become the righteous of God.

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world, 1 John 2:2.

An entire chapter of 1 Corinthians is devoted to Jesus’ relationship to the cross.   According to 1 Corinthians 15, Jesus conquered sin and death with his resurrection.  In a letter to the church at Colosse, Paul talks about how Christians are buried with Christ in their baptism and raised with Him through the resurrection.  So what is the point of the cross?   Life begins at the cross, Matthew 16:24-26, as you deny yourself, take up the cross and follow Jesus as a servant and vessel of love.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did My Fervor Go?

As a child, there was nothing like the anticipation of opening presents under a Christmas tree.  I must confess that sometimes I snuck down stairs in the middle of the night just to see what was in my stocking.  On a couple of occasions I dozed off under our tree, before going back up to my bed so I wouldn’t be seen.  Unfortunately, somewhere between adolescence and adulthood, I lost my fervor for life.

Apollos had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John, Acts 18:25.

One of the more interesting characters of the Bible is a man named Apollos who first met Paul during a trip to Ephesus.  Although this man from Alexandria was an outsider, his passion for God made up for his limited knowledge.  To a certain extent, I see a lot of Apollos in me during my early years in youth ministry.  I didn’t possess the theological background that most youth pastors acquire, yet my determination and fervor was strong.  Yet, when I left the ministry for good 5 years ago, my fire has dimmed.

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23.

Previous mentors would suggest that I haven’t re-fueled, not spending enough time in Bible study, prayer or worship.  Other friends might lean to a lack of commitment, fellowship and service to a local church.  While this advice may be true, the most logical reason for losing my fervor is a lack of joy.  When you’re a perfectionist, its hard to enjoy the little things in life.  Thus, as I continue to search for answers, I cling to a life verse from high school.  Whatever I do in the future, I must devote my heart to serving the Lord.  If you find yourself in a similar state this year, may the Lord show you the way to rekindle your fervor for life.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Tell Anyone?

The notion that Jesus doesn’t what individuals to tell others what He did for you flies in the face of the great commission, Mark 16:15-17.  Context and timing plays a crucial role in understanding Jesus words to healed souls.  Nonetheless, Jesus regularly finished several of his healing encounters with “don’t tell anyone.”

Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t even go into the village,” Mark 8:26.

Perhaps, there are exceptions to this rule as in the passage in Mark 8.  Afraid of crowds curtailing his ability to minister, Jesus likely wanted anyone healed, first to go home and tell his family what God had done.  Since faith is personal, like a baptism where individuals make a public profession of an inner faith, testifying about a healing encourages those nearest and dearest to you to believe.  In addition, Jesus didn’t want faith to become a fad, cool today and passe tomorrow.

Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you,” Mark 5:19.

While words can be beneficial, showing your faith by your actions is more valuable than anything you could say.  The beginning of the Sermon on the Mount emphasizes the need to shine the light of Christ inside of you, adding flavor to the lives of those whom you come in contact with and meet.  Therefore, Jesus doesn’t want people of faith to be silent.  Rather, whenever you have the opportunity, Ephesians 5:14-16, let your light shine before mankind.

by Jay Mankus

Secrets of the Heart

If you are a keen observer, subtle signs like body language may get your attention.  Others who are good listeners can detect clues, hidden signals individuals are trying to express without being obvious.  Such is the case of the Psalmist; author of Psalm 119.

I seek you with all my heart; do not let me stray from your commands. – Psalm 119:10.

This passage suggests that good intentions can be derailed by an impure heart.  Human efforts only take you so far as a disease has been passed on into DNA, resulting in generations of imperfect people.  The weeping prophet did not hold anything back in his warnings to the nation of Israel, calling the heart deceitful above all things, Jeremiah 17:9-10.

10 As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one. – Romans 3

While the heart is the well-spring of life, Proverbs 4:23, its fragile and vulnerable.  Harsh words can cut like a knife, leaving spiritual wounds deep inside an innocent soul.  For this reason, Jesus urged his followers to become born again, receiving a heart transplant through the indwelling of a Mighty Counselor, John 3:3-5.  Even if you experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the heart still needs further protection, Ephesians 6:12-18.  Therefore, as you uncover secrets of the heart, lean on God’s grace until the cleansing of your heart, sanctification, is complete.

by Jay Mankus

The Great Fortune Teller

crystal ball photo: Crystal Ball Crystal_ball.jpg

Modern fortune tellers rely on crystal balls, horoscopes, psychics and tarot cards to predict information about a person’s life.  At the turn of the first century, there was a girl from Philippi, a city on the north shores of the Aegean Sea, who possessed a powerful spirit.  According to Acts 16:16, she was purchased by a group of businessmen who greatly profited from her ability to predict the future.  While unknown, apparently this young girl was tired of being enslaved, reaching out to the apostle Paul by interrupting his ministry, Acts 16:17.  Thus, Paul was left with no choice, casting out the demon within her along with this special ability, Acts 16:18-19.  Although this girl was delivered from her bondage, Paul and Silas received a night in the slammer for their efforts, putting the slave owners out of the fortune telling business, Acts 16:19.

Today, fortune telling is considered taboo for many Christians to discuss, especially within evangelical circles.  By squashing debate on this topic within churches, people are overlooking the greatest fortune teller of all time.  In the gospel of Mark alone, Jesus is a perfect 21 for 21 without counting the same category twice.  The Holy Spirit, poured out upon Jesus during his baptism in Mark 1:12 enabled God’s son to read hearts, minds, motives and thoughts.  In addition, Jesus predicted betrayals, conversations, foresaw shortcomings, future events and reactions of his disciples and religious leaders.  A prophet may be perceived as getting lucky if they go lets say 3 for 3 on predictions.  Yet, once you foretell 21 future events exactly as they occur, luck is taken out of the equation.

I think one of the main reasons the Bible is under attack by college professors, scrutinized by the media and considered obsolete by Naturalistic Scholars is due to fear from within that Scripture does foretell the future.  Based upon Revelation 20:7-15, in the end, Satan loses, the Book of life will be opened, each person will be judged according to what they have done on earth and God’s sheep will be separated from the goats who will spend eternity in hell.  Though only the Father knows the date, year and time of day, Mark 13:32, the future is pretty obvious.  Use your talents that the Master has given you on this earth while you still have time, Matthew 25:14-30, before Jesus’ eminent return.

by Jay Mankus

Fortune Telling References:

Mark 2:8-11, 18-20, Mark 4:37-40, Mark 5:36-41, Mark 6:4-6, 38-44, 48-52, Mark 7:6-13, Mark 8:16-21, 31-32, Mark 9:17-29, 31-32, Mark 10:22, 32-35, 41, Mark 11:1-7, 17, Mark 12:38-40, Mark 13:32, Mark 14:6-9, 12-16, 18-21, 24-25, Mark 14:30-31, 42, 62, 66-72.  All verses are from the New International Version of the Bible.