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Tag Archives: conviction

Not Just a Guess

I have grown to appreciate the Amplified Bible this year.  While this translation of Scripture can be confusing upon first sight, this version gives you a full perspective of the context in which each book and verse was written.  Although you may choose to use your favorite commentary while studying the Bible, I don’t have to guess when I read the Amplified Bible.  What makes this version unique is that all the possibly translations from Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew into English are provided in italics.

Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses], Hebrews 11:1.

Given the title of the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11 records the triumphs of faith throughout the history of the Bible.  This chapter details godly men and women who walked by faith, not by sight.  These individuals did not guess.  Rather, each was filled with an assurance not of this world.  Like a deed to a title, hope was divinely guaranteed by promises made throughout the Old Testament.  This conviction directed, guided and steered these souls to spiritual heights that the world still struggles to comprehend.

By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible, Hebrews 11:3.

The greatest feature of any faith is the enduring confidence that one possesses.  While doubts will appear from time to time, those who have decided to follow Jesus are often filled with divine power.  This inherent trust arrives during periods of hardship and trials, sending hope on dark days.  According to the apostle Paul, faith begins when people hear or read the Bible, Romans 10:17.  If you’re tired of going through life guessing, may the Holy Spirit nudge you to take a leap of faith.  God willing, you will soon possess the confidence mentioned in 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

You Might Want to Check This Out

Whenever a student enters their first semester of high school or college, transitioning to this next level can be difficult.  Some professors and teachers understand this, providing subtle hints during lectures.  The more serious might exclaim, “what aren’t you writing this down.”  Meanwhile, savvy veterans tend to be more entertaining, coughing in gest “this seems like a good test question,” winking to anyone paying attention.  Ultimately, I learned that anytime facts, information or statistics were repeated, it was something I should definitely study.

If your hand causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It is better for you to enter life crippled, than to have two hands and go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:43-44.

During a first century speech to his disciples, Jesus repeats the same sentence almost verbatim three times.  The subtext above this passage in my Bible reads Dire Warnings,  I don’t mean to be Captain Obvious, but you might want to check into this beginning with Mark 9:44.  Since the previous verse mentions hell, this statement refers to an eternal reality.  From a literal stand point, Jesus highlights a constant gnawing on human flesh in a place without any escape from fire.  Jesus’ dire warning is to scare souls straight from this state of eternal suffering.

If your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It would be better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell, 46 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:45-46

Jesus’ advice to avoid this destination is through the Old Testament practice of purging.  While Jesus isn’t telling people to physical remove parts of your body, the actual call to action refers to removing the source of temptation within your life.  For an alcoholic its getting rid of any beverages that might cause you to stumble.  Those addicted to pornographic must place filters on computers, cancel mail subscriptions and remove all magazines that promotes lust.  Everyone has a weakness.  There is no such thing as a superman or super woman.  Rather, each must meditate, pray and act immediately upon conviction so that any traces of temptation are removed.  May you be successful in this constant battle to avoid the wrong eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Law of Attraction

The Law of Attraction states: I attract to myself, whatever I give my focus, attention, or energy to; whether wanted or unwanted.  When this term is mentioned, there are two other alternative theories.  One refers to electrostatics dealing with the attraction and repulsion of electric charges.  Another is related to the law above, but credits self-fulfilled prophecies where individuals are influenced by anxiety, doubt or worry.  By dwelling on ungodly beliefs such as I’m going to get sick, fail or get into an accident, these thoughts become reality.  Thus, the law of attraction uses positive and negative thinking to shape what will come to be in the future.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed, Mark 1:32.

This same principle can be applied to the spiritual life.  Faith is dependent upon conviction, desire and hunger to draw near to God.  Those who possess this spiritual attraction will find the time to pray, study the Bible and worship the Lord.  When earthly distractions get in the way, attention is steered in other directions resulting in changed priorities.  The closer you get to God, the more the Holy Spirit exposes your imperfections like the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 1:15, claiming to be the greatest sinner of all.  Meanwhile, the further you drift apart from God, the better you feel, relying on justification and rationalization to approve of your actions.

The whole town gathered at the door, 34 and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was, Mark 1:33-34.

Jesus’ first miracle, turning water into wine during a wedding reception in Cana often overshadow others that followed.  After Jesus cast out a demon within a Capernaum synagogue, the people were amazed.  According to John Mark, the entire town gathered outside of Simon Peter’s house.  The passage above illustrates the law of attraction, drawn to Jesus like groupies flocking to catch a glimpse of their favorite celebrity, professional athlete or rock star.  However, in this case Jesus takes the time to cure the sick, drive out demons and heal others with various ailments.  May this blog speak to your heart as your strive to become like the citizens of Capernaum, eager to wait upon the Lord to be healed.

by Jay Mankus

 

Sins in the Dark Brought to Light

If you were asleep the past couple months, you missed a life long worth of scandals.  Every day stories are breaking about affairs, inappropriate relations or sexual assaults.  Whether you’re a celebrity, member of the media or school teacher, transgressions committed in darkness have been brought to the light.  I’m not sure why this is occurring all at once, but perhaps a spirit of confession has inspired guilty consciences to come clean.

Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy, Proverbs 28:13.

Despite the powerful messages recorded in the Bible, each was written by fallen individuals.  Abraham had a tendency to lie rather than trust God.  David committed adultery, got a married woman pregnant then gave orders to have her husband killed.  Peter talked a good game, but when push came to shove, he publicly denied knowing Jesus three times.  One of the mysterious ways God works is through convicting hearts of actions in direct conflict with biblical principles.  Those who conceal that which is hidden will not prosper.

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld, John 20:23.

Through all the dirty laundry that is aired regularly, I do see one positive outcome of this ugly part of American history.  The only way to truly heal is through the act of penance.  While attending seminary, I took a class called Revival and Revivalism.  This course studied the Great Awakenings and it’s impact on Great Britain and the United States.  Surprisingly, each was started by young people bearing their souls in public, revealing deeds of darkness of their past.  This act of honesty stirred hearts to do the same.  While America may seem like it’s falling apart, perhaps sins in the dark brought to light may serve as inspiration to ignite another great awakening.

by Jay Mankus

 

It’s Time To Drop Your Own Stone

One aspect of human nature is an inclination to pile on.  Whether this is criticizing, joking or teasing, when everyone is doing it, your conscience may be confused.  Despite sensing that this behavior is wrong, the temptation to make fun of someone no one likes often promotes a knee jerk reaction.  At the end of the day, the desire to conform influenced you to cast a stone that inflicted pain.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”  – John 8:3-5

Old Testament law can be construed as harsh, with no room for grace.  One day the religious leaders tried to ensnare Jesus, putting him in position to oversee the death of a woman caught in adultery.  The passage above gives a brief summary on the context, seeing if Jesus would fulfill the law of Moses.  Instead of talking, Jesus bent down to begin writing in the sand with his finger.  Although the content is unknown, whatever was drawn began to convict hearts.

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her,”  John 8:7.

To avoid knee jerk reactions on this day, Jesus posed a question for everyone in the crowd to consider.  If you think this woman is guilty, go ahead, pick up your stone and throw it.  However, if sin is living in you, you could be next?  According to the remainder of this passage, little by little, individuals dropped their stone and went home.  Perhaps, twitter followers, negative people and those who have a tendency to overblow situations need this reminder.  Maybe you will come to the same conclusion I recently did.  It’s time to drop your own stone.

by Jay Mankus

 

Understanding Evil

As someone who has grown to love history, you can likely predict what will happen in the future based upon previous events.  Although past civilizations may have possessed good intentions, the temptation for control, fame and power has a way to side track the most disciplined individuals.  Subsequently, enticement opens the door for evil to corrupt formerly innocent souls.  This shocking reality is where understanding evil begins.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time, Genesis 6:5.

In the years leading up to the biblical flood, a spirit of wickedness spread throughout the earth.  While specific acts aren’t mentioned, murder, violence and war are assumed based upon the accounts within Genesis 4.  As human beings gave into every kind of inclinations, cravings, desires and feelings, hearts became set on evil.  Without any voice of truth holding people accountable, humanism was conceived by doing what’s right in your own eyes.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

Today, a similar culture exists where absolutes are considered old-fashioned, stale and not worth the hassle to follow.  When rules become lax in any society, integrity, morality and values tend to decline.  If this trend continues for years or decades, you can easily recognize this in day to day interactions.  This environment allows evil to enter souls through compromise.  When confronted by an authority figure, evil is often discarded by justifying and rationalizing behavior.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs, 1 Timothy 6:10.

When it comes to explaining the New York City terrorist attack with a dump truck, some are inspired by extreme religious beliefs.  Mass shootings like in Las Vegas and the small church outside of San Antonio, Texas typically reveal some sort of troubled past.  Like a fuse waiting to go off, evil takes over at some point, paralyzing the human conscience.  This sets the stage for disaster.  Until conviction, truth and revival return, evil will continue to reign throughout segments of society.  Only when souls ask God to return can evil be defeated.  May the presence of evil today inspire individuals to open their hearts to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Forcing a Code of Ethics without Faith

There are certain things in life that you should have seen coming if you were paying attention.  Although  I wasn’t alive at the time, the United States Supreme Court’s June 25, 1962 decision in Engel vs. Vitale should have raised a red flag.  According to these judges, praying for character, integrity and morality within students violated the First Amendment by constituting an establishment of religion.  This interpretation set the stage for the Bible, God and the principles America’s founding fathers established to be rejected by public education.

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ, Romans 10:17.

Fifty five years later, right and wrong has been turned upside down.  At some point in the last twenty five years, absolutes recorded in the Bible have been demonized, referred to as bigoted, homophobic and racist.  While some religious leaders have attempted to win this debate, others have gone down in a blaze of glory, destroyed by hypocrisy and secrets sins that were brought to light.  The byproducts of this losing battle is that marriage is no longer just between a man and woman, gender is something that must be neutral and bathrooms should be open for interpretation.  In other words, if it feel right, just do it.

And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him, Hebrews 11:6.

For those of you still wondering, what the hell is wrong with this country; the answer is simple.  Higher education, school boards and elite members of the media are forcing a code of ethics upon their citizens.  To a certain extent, the government believes it takes a village to raise a family.  This explains why Michelle Obama wanted to force school lunch programs to push fruits and vegetables.  However, these government officials are now doing the same thing atheists complained about in 1962.  The problem to this current ideology is forcing individuals to do something they don’t want to will not result in permanent change.  Sure, you can attack, bully and pressure people for a while.  Yet, genuine transformation only occurs through conviction, faith and inspiration.  May this blog reverse this current trend so that God’s Word can breathe new life into those who truly want to change by becoming more like Christ.

by Jay Mankus