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Tag Archives: baptism

Change Your World

In the first century, one man set out to change the world.  This higher calling wasn’t rushed.  Nor did this man leave anything up to chance.  Rather, Jesus waited for the appointed time prior to selecting twelve disciples to lay a foundation for change.  Dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s, Jesus kept in step with the Holy Spirit to carry out the necessary Old Testament prophecies yet to be fulfilled.  Fasting, praying, being baptized, spreading goods news about the kingdom of God, training future leaders and surrendering to authorities set the stage for the climax.  As the crucifixion of a perfect lamb was about to be laid to rest in a tomb, a resurrection cancelled the written code the moment death was conquered, Colossians 2:13-15.  This one supernatural act has changed the world forever.

 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him, John 3:16-17.

The film Equalizer debuted In 2014, introducing a character who wanted to change the world one person at a time.  Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a retired CIA black ops operative using a local hardware store as his mission field.  When McCall sees injustices that occur within his spheres of influence, he acts immediately to accomplish the greater good.  After hours, during breaks or on the job interactions are used by Robert to develop relationships, challenging co-workers, customers and strangers to be the best you can be.  During one moving scene, Robert talks to a girl who is trapped by her pimp, unable to break free to fulfill her dream to become a singer.  Not wasting this opportunity, Robert exclaims, “change your world!”

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Sometimes when you feel the urge to make a difference in this life, its hard to know where to start.  Depending upon the atmosphere, circumstances or environment, many good intentioned individuals can become overwhelmed before ever getting started.  Thus, changing your world for the better requires a joint effort.  From a spiritual perspective, ground work must by laid through fasting and prayer.  Like the building of an ministry team, when the timing is right God will raise up leaders to fill the gaps that exist.  Yet, while you are waiting for the world to change, don’t lose heart.  Rather, let faith guide you until agents for change arrive.  May the words of this attached scene from Equalizer inspire you to change your world beginning today.

by Jay Mankus

Genuine Confessions of Faith

In the middle of the 16th century, a man from Scotland left his mark on history.  John Knox became a minister, theologian and writer.  This devotion led to the founding of the Presbyterian Church of Scotland.  While living in exile in France, Knox was licensed to work in the Church of England, influenced the theology within the Book of Common Prayer and helped write the Confession of Faith.  John Knox emulated the words of the apostle Paul below, living out his faith daily.

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame, Romans 10:9-11.

In the first century, baptism and confessions of faith went hand and hand.  The term baptism refers to a public expression of an inner faith.  Before ascending into heaven, Jesus exhorted his disciples to follow 3 main commands.  This speech is referred to as the Great Commission.  The first instruction is to go and make disciples by introducing new people to the good news of Jesus Christ, Romans 6:23.  Immediately following this confession, new converts were baptized.  Finally, as faith is activated, the Holy Spirit is awakened within hearts, minds and souls.

And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, Acts 2:38.

One of the common mistakes new Christians make is rededicating their lives numerous times.  While confession should be a daily practice via prayer, God desires individuals to exercise repentance.  Essentially, the Lord wants human beings to make a 180 degree U-turn, away from sin and toward God.  Theologians introduced the phrase contrition to help explain God’s expectations.  Confession doesn’t mean a thing unless you take steps to refrain from mistakes of your past.  Thus, if you want to be a beacon of light, make sure your confessions of faith are followed by fruits of the Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

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

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