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Tag Archives: freewill

Never Be The Same

There are moments in life that serve as life altering experiences.  Whether this is a decision to begin a new career, relationship or adapt to an unexpected event, your life will never be the same.  Like a fork in a road, you have to decide the path your life will take.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me, John 15:4.

The Christian Group Red sing about this on their Innocence and Instinct album.  The context of the song Never Be the Same refers to entering into a relationship with Jesus.  Unlike any other earthly experience, God’s love is unconditional.  For anyone who has been burned, disappointed or let down by unfulfilled promises, this concept is hard to grasp.

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.

Yet, any prodigal who has come to their senses, God’s timing serves as a saving grace.  While modern church leaders attempt to manufacture this setting through long drawn out altar calls, the desperate will run to God.  After the emotion of God’s forgiveness fades, the hard part is setting time aside daily to maintain this connection.  You can’t force anyone into a relationship that they have no interest in.  However, if freewill is allowed to run it’s course freely, new Christians will never be the same.

by Jay Mankus

Running Out of Safe Places

When I was younger, a parents mentality was much different.  Summers were spent outside exploring the woods in the neighborhood with other boys.  The concept of terrorism wasn’t even a thought.  Sure, there were boundaries, areas or places to avoid, but the friends in my development had plenty of safe places to play.

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go, Joshua 1:9.

When you fast forward to modern times, parents don’t have the luxury of a generation ago.  Today, concerts, malls and schools have been targets of terrorism.  Some are motivated by a chance for 15 minutes of fame.  Meanwhile, others have been deceived by evil to attack areas once thought to be safe.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety, Psalm 4:8.

In the midst of terror, God is the only one who can restore peace.  The element of freewill has ushered in a new era of turmoil, not knowing the next safe space to be targeted.  Yet, when chaos subsides the only source of hope is Jesus.  Therefore, don’t allow the frenzy stirred up by the media to dictate your mood.  Rather, cry out to the Lord in prayer so that you may dwell in safety.

by Jay Mankus

 

Freewill, Destruction and Restoration

One of the best visual illustrations of freewill can found in the last book of the Bible.  While on the Island of Patmos, John compares freewill to a door with a special feature.  This door does not have a handle on God’s side.  Thus, God can call and knock, hoping individuals will hear His voice, but only you can let God in.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me, Revelation 3:20.

Unfortunately, disobedience is a common response to God’s calling.  According to the apostle Paul, people have a tendency to set their hearts and minds on the flesh.  Those who become distracted by the world regularly ignore, reject or put God on hold.  Jesus warned his followers of falling into this pattern, referring to a broad road that leads to destruction.  Moses in his farewell address simplifies this concept by proclaiming that each day individuals have the opportunity to select life or death by the choices you make.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires, Romans 8:5.

Fortunately, those who mess up by sinning are given a second chance.  Lamentations 3 provides a promise for those longing for forgiveness as God’s grace is available day after day.  Therefore, when you utilize freewill, opting for disobedience over obedience, there is hope for those who are facing destruction.  Yet, God is not holding your hand, forcing you to do what is right.  The choice is yours.  In view of this, lean of God’s mercy the next time you fall down, followed by acts of contrition as a sign of penance.  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

When Bitterness Leads to Violence

There are certain events in life that leave a taste of bitterness.  Such is the case of Samson when his father in law gave the woman he loved to another man.  While the rock group Def Leppard sings about how love bites, Samson’s experience brings a whole new perspective to this saying.  Subsequently, Samson verbalizes his displeasure vowing to seek revenge.

Samson said to them, “This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them,” Judges 15:3.

In the heat of the moment, justifying your actions is easy to do.  Like Samson, certain offenses make individuals believe that they have the right to retaliate.  Thus, this selfish act by a father ignited anger with Samson to get even with the Philistines.  Without anyone around to calm him down, Samson lived the rest of his life with a heart set on violence.

The Lord tests the righteous, but his soul hates the wicked and the one who loves violence, Psalm 11:5.

When freewill is exercised on a daily basis, there are innocent victims.  Caught in the cross hairs, these unfortunate souls are left to wonder, “what did I do to deserve this?”  How these people respond will dictate their final destination?  Therefore, guard yourself against the root of bitterness.  Rather, pray that the love will give you a spirit of forgiveness to prevent you from lashing out at those whom do you wrong.

by Jay Mankus

When Sin is Consensual

It seems like every year there is some famous professional athlete, Hollywood star or politician involved in a scandal.  Cable news, the tabloids and twitter often explode over battles between he said, she said.  In the end, it takes two to tango, reaching a state where sin is consensual.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! – 1 Corinthians 10:12

From a spiritual perspective, every day if like walking through a room with multiple doors.  On the way out, sometimes you might chose the wrong door, ending up in a bathroom or closet.  When danger arrives on the scene, those who stick around to see what will happen might just be an accomplice to sin.

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

According to the apostle Paul, God provides an emergency exit for every sort of temptation.  This isn’t like the game show Let’s Make a Deal, having a choice between door number one, two or three.  Rather, the Lord has provided every human being with a conscience to follow the way out.  Conviction, guilt and uneasiness serve as a global positioning system to avoid evil.

But each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. – James 1:14

Nonetheless, the moment freewill is exercised, opting to indulge your fantasies, sin is consensual.  Instead of heeding the warning signs, enticement draws people toward temporary pleasures.  One of Jesus’ disciples uses the analogy of a fish lured out of hiding toward an attractive bait.  While some fish may see the attached hook, the grips of lust is too powerful.  This is where desire trumps common sense, leading saints and sinners to do the unthinkable.  The next time temptation calls your name, listen for God’s still small voice to find the way out of a difficult situation.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

What Tables Would Jesus Turn Over Today?

The final 7 days of Jesus’ earthly life is often referred to as Passion Week.  Beginning on Monday, Jesus experienced several different emotions.  While approaching Jerusalem, Jewish broken down in tears, having compassion on lost people, unable to discern what was about to happen.  A few hours later, Jesus is enraged by a temple corrupted by the world, becoming more like a flea market than a house of worship.  The Bible claims Jesus turned over tables, trying to eliminate impure motives from this holy place.

When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be a house of prayer’; but you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’ ”                  Luke 19:45-46

According to the Bible, God sees all things.  If today was the beginning of his final week on earth, I wonder if Jesus would respond in a similar manner.  How much compassion would be displayed?  What anger would be demonstrated and where else beside the temple would Jesus target?  Although its just a hunch, I believe Jesus would go into the house of saints, throwing idols off their shelves, trying to purge believers from their worldly ways.  After this visit, Christians must decide for themselves, relying on freewill to determine, “who will I follow?”

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:13

One of the greatest misconceptions about Christianity is that God forces individuals to do this or do that.  Essentially, the Lord gives freedom, like Adam and Eve in the Garden with just one rule to follow.  Although the fall of mankind has complicated life, each day involves choices, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.  According to Moses, good choices lead to life and bad ones to death.  Therefore, if you want to honor God and avoid from having the tables turned over in your own temple, the body, choose the narrow path today, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Different Kind of Free

Paradise didn’t last long until temptation entered the conversation.  Since Adam and Eve were caught red handed with forbidden fruit in their possession, freedom has gone down hill.  Sure, freewill still exists, yet a different kind of free is necessary to escape guilt, shame and regret.

In their 2003 hit song Different Kind of Free, Zoe Girl raises this question.  Despite the pain of historic blunders, the future does hold the key to obtain a spiritual freedom.  While the world is busy keeping score, 1 Corinthians 13:4, God hits the reset button every morning, Lamentations 3:22-23.  The focus shouldn’t be on whether or not the Lord will forgive you for your transgressions in life.  Rather, will you let go of failure to forgive yourself or are you going to continue to beat yourself over previous mistakes?

The New Testament expresses a kinder and gentler God, full of grace and love, Romans 5:8.  Instead of shedding blood to atone for every time you mess up, the Lord has sent a different kind of high priest, Hebrews 4:15-16.  To replace this Jewish tradition, a human was led to the slaughter to die once and for all, 1 Peter 4:1.  Although no one deserves a second chance, a different kind of free is now available through Jesus, John 3:3-17.  Don’t wait to taste this everlasting fruit, Psalm 34:8.

by Jay Mankus