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Tag Archives: God’s grace

Following in the Footsteps of Judas

As one of my college professors once proclaimed, “If you don’t know history, it is bound to repeat itself with the next generation.”  While reading the passage below, I began to wonder, what caused a disciple of Jesus to fall from God’s grace?  How could someone who spent nearly three years with Jesus betray Him in such a manner.  This topic requires further attention so that others do not follow in the footsteps of Judas.

And immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man. Seize him and lead him away under guard.” And when he came, he went up to him at once and said, “Rabbi!” And he kissed him, Mark 14:43-45.

According to John 12, Judas Iscariot served as the money changer.  In modern terms, Judas was the treasurer of the 12 disciples.  Whenever individuals donated to Jesus’ ministry, Judas was responsible for collecting and distributing this money to pay for food and travel during this three year span.  While it’s not mentioned, anyone healed by Jesus would have felt compelled to give something exchange for each miracle performed.  Although not everyone possessed money, the wealthy likely contributed a handsome sum.  As gifts and tithes started pouring in, Judas began to help himself like a corrupt politician.

But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it, John 12:4-6.

Based upon the passage above, careless use of expensive perfume set Judas off.  Enraged by a prostitute wasting this by anointing Jesus, Judas’ bitterness opened the door for the Devil to enter.  During the Last Supper in the Upper Room, Jesus confronts Judas, referring to him as the Devil.  This public rebuke in front of his peers pushed Judas over the edge, making a deal with religious leaders in exchange for money to hand Jesus over to them.  Whenever individuals allow greed, money or selfishness to influence decisions, integrity is lost.  If you want to avoid this slippery slope, take heed of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:19-24.  Failing to do so may lead to following in the footsteps of Judas Iscariot.

by Jay Mankus

Grace or No Grace

One of the best illustrations I heard for grace comes in the form of an acronym.  God’s riches at Christ’s expense.  The concept of grace refers to free and unmerited favor; something you didn’t earn or deserve.  The apostle Paul suggests there may be an occasional exemption made for a good person, but grace isn’t grace without a sacrifice.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die, Romans 5:7.

The beauty of grace comes in the form of the surprise.  You could be having the worst day of your life, on the verge of becoming a prodigal or set on rebellion.  No matter the candidate, God’s grace falls upon the worthy and unworthy.  This is where the human mind struggles to grasp this concept as the grace which people extend on earth is often based upon results.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

This mindset produces the thought, “grace or no grace.”  This selfish desire turns selective, forgiving those whom you like while holding grudges against those you despise.  Human nature feeds this desire as grace is only offered to family, friends and the deserving.  May the words of the passage above guide hearts and minds in the right direction, to love and forgive others just as Jesus did for you and me.

by Jay Mankus

The Real Deal

During an Olympic boxing match, the favorite to win the gold medal was disqualified.  Critics of this decision in the media labeled it as “the Raw Deal.”  This nickname stuck with this boxer for a period of time.  However, when Evander Holyfield became the heavy weight champion of the world, he urged his followers professing, “I’m the real deal,” not the raw deal anymore.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

Since this nickname was adopted, others have come forward in various areas of life to claim, “no I’m the real deal.”  The Hardees fast food chain even introduced a value meal called the Real Deal after the former heavy weight champ.  Yet, what separate Evander from most boxers is his devout and vocal testimony of his faith in Christ.  Like any believer he has stumbled and fallen, but God’s grace seals the deal to the promises within the Bible.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

Well before Evander Holyfield was born, the authors of the Bible introduced a spiritual real deal.  The apostle Paul refers to a gift from God.  The context is based upon the fact that the sinful actions of mankind deserve death.  Yet, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost, Luke 19:10.  The disciple whom Jesus loved takes this concept one step further, claiming you can know for sure.  While many will claim to be the real deal, put your hope, faith and trust in that which is eternal.

by Jay Mankus


A Spiritual Cleansing

Everyone has some sort of daily routine.  When you get up, shower and grab something to eat or drink is often choreographed.  Some do this without thinking, a natural state to prepare one’s self for the weekly grind called life.  Occasionally, you will come across a human interest story, something unique yet interesting.  Today’s blog was inspired by an Old Testament custom.

His sons used to hold feasts in their homes on their birthdays, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them, Job 1:4.

Following the birthday of his ten children or one of his grandchildren, Job began to observe a special time of prayer.  Pleading on behalf of his children, Job offered up a sacrifice for each of his family members according to the book of Leviticus.  This time of intercession involved publicly confessing potential sins one of his children may have committed in word, thought or deed.  Before closing with a customary Amen, this act served as a spiritual cleansing to honor, please and revere God.

When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would make arrangements for them to be purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom, Job 1:5.

Despite what you may think of the trials Job endured, this spiritual act of worship is something that should be reenacted today.  Everyone has their flaws, some greater than others.  Nonetheless, what if mothers and fathers began to take time out of their busy schedules to beg for God’s grace and mercy?  If applied in the form of a prayer, walking through the rooms of each family member, God would transform individuals one home at a time.  Join me in this quest to revive souls through a regular spiritual cleansing.

by Jay Mankus


Faking Holiness

If your life was placed on a chart or graph, there would be peaks and valleys with plateaus somewhere in between.  High points mark periods of success and victories within life.  The low areas represent failures where doubt and disappointment often attack your soul.  Unfortunately, human nature causes many to assign blame for their valleys rather than finding fault from within.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

Since salaries and wages are normally based upon the services or work provided, its easy to say, “look what I did.”  Yet, the apostle Paul reminds individuals that salvation is not based upon human efforts.  Rather, God’s grace opens the door to eternity, providing access to the undeserving like me.  Sure, I can put on a good face, pretending to be a godly Christian.  Nonetheless, I find myself going through the motions way too often, lukewarm and faking holiness.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

During my recent Daniel Fast, conviction of this fact has consumed me.  Despite my flaws, I am thankful for the passage above.  Jesus died for imperfect people like me, a demonstration of God’s agape love.  May those of you who reach a similar low point embrace biblical promises by accepting God’s free gift by faith.  Don’t pretend to have things all together.  Rather, confess your sins and pray for healing so that reconciliation will begin.

by Jay Mankus

No More Excuses

As a parent, it doesn’t take long for children to figure you out.  Ideally, you should be an example, positive and a role model.  Yet, when you have a bad day, start to fall away from God or have a weak moment you can’t run and hide.  You have to face the truth, a sinner who has fallen short of God’s glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst, 1 Timothy 1:15.

The apostle Paul is one of those unlikely individuals the Lord calls out of darkness into the light to do great things for God.  Yet, despite his successful earthly ministry, mentoring of young pastors like Timothy and many miracles performed, Paul was haunted by his past.  Whether it was his guilt of giving the order to have the apostle Stephen killed or persecuting Christians prior to his conversion, Paul recognized the error of his former ways.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them, James 4:17.

Sure, Paul could have blamed his upbringing as a Jewish zealot.  Yet, like other followers of Christ the conviction of the Holy Spirit exposes human imperfections.  Other believers, pastors or words of the Bible make this point painfully clear.  There are no more excuses, rational explanations or scapegoats.  Rather, sins of inaction are just as guilty as those who commit harmful acts.  Therefore, don’t run from the truth, accept it as a prodigal child in desperate need of God’s grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

The Will to Move On

When I was sixteen, a doctor told me I would never run again.  After tearing all the tendons in my left ankle, the bone twisted 90 degrees in the wrong direction.  The best case scenario given to me prior to my operation was that I would walk with a limp after placing a screw to hold this bone in place.  Despite the obstacles I faced, the prayers of the saints gave me the faith to move on.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; Mark 16:17.

By the time I reached my 21st birthday, stuttering was the next trial standing in my way of expressing myself verbally.  Attacks would come out of no where, causing me to lose my breath and confidence to speak.  One evening, a college roommate named Mike had a vision as I walked into our apartment.  Hanging out with a few believers from church, a circle engulfed me as these men began to lay hands on me.  The prayers proclaimed pleaded with God to free me permanently from stuttering.  Subsequently, God gave me the will to persevere.

“While you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus,” Acts 4:30.

My latest dilemma may be my greatest to date, a bout with glaucoma.  Once again, the odds are not on my side nor is science in my favor.  Yet, I serve a God who has raised the dead, cured the sick and given sight to the blind.  The mystery of the unknown will be tough to handle.  Nonetheless, I trust in a living God who has performed miracles in the past.  Therefore, I stand in awe, leaning on God’s grace who provides the will to move on.

by Jay Mankus