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Tag Archives: Jesus

Escaping the Demon of Dread

 

Dread is one of those words rarely expressed verbally, but it’s affects are on display daily.  This inner fear causes individuals to anticipate something with great apprehension.  Synonyms include emotions such as anxious, terror and worry.  Whenever someone experiences overwhelming events, the demon of dread has a way of attaching itself to souls.  Unless you are prepared, things can snow ball out of control, inciting panic.  This is a normal day for those under the extreme burden of dread.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation,” Matthew 12:43-45. 

This reality isn’t just a rerun of some Halloween horror movie made by Hollywood.  Rather, anyone without discipline, faith or a set routine can experience this spirt like a black cloud that hovers over your life.  Dread influences minds, transforming a normal person into a miserable son of bitch, pardon my French.  If you overcome initial attacks, the passage above suggests demonic entities run in packs, feeding off of each other.  Even after sweeping your spiritual house clean, you are still not out of the woods.

And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer,” Mark 9:29.

Prior to his death and resurrection, Jesus sent out his disciples two by two.  The purpose of this exercise was to prepare these disciples for the future, life after Christ.  Similar to a trial basis, this gave Jesus a chance to see who would sink and who would swim.  Following this time on their own, Jesus had a question and answer session for disciples, serving as an evaluation of their journeys.  One team came across a demon that wouldn’t leave.  In response, Jesus replied, this kind can only be driven out by prayer.  Today, many people, including me are oppressed by dread.  While I am an amateur in the arena of demons, the only way to escape the demon of dread is through prayer.  May this advice lead you to find peace in the near future.  If necessary, fast and pray so that healing will arrive soon.

by Jay Mankus

 

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When People Expect More From God

Human nature has a way of making people feel more important than they actually are.  Whether you are talking about self-confidence, egos or pride, these traits can blind you from reality.  While Facebook uses terms like status as a way to express yourself, Jesus relied on stories to insure that first century citizens did not misconstrue God’s nature.

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius,” Matthew 20:9-10.

In the parable of the Workers in the Field, Jesus reveals a reality about heaven.  Just because you have been a faithful follower for months, years or decades does not mean your reward will be greater than those who came to faith later in life.  Rather, eternal life is what God promises to those who trust in the Lord.  Sure, the Bible does mention crowns bestowed upon those who faithfully serve God while on earth, but this should be like icing on a cake.

When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day,’ Matthew 20:11-12.

Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of equating earthly terms with eternity.  Thus, individuals are unable to comprehend the true nature of God.  Subsequently, people grumble like the passage above, disappointed when their expectations for God are no met.  Several of the thirty plus parables recorded in the Bible were spoken to realign human misconceptions with an accurate perception of heaven.  The next time you expect more from God, take some time to read the parables of Jesus so you won’t set yourself up for disappointment in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Go There or Else

There is a new movement emerging from members of the media, seeking to destroy naysayers, opponents and those possessing opposing worldviews.  This rush to judgment ignores the concept of innocent until proven guilty.  Instead of waiting until the facts to come out during a trial, the severity of recent accusations are more than enough to presume guilt.  Where did this mentality come from and what does the Bible say to address this issue?

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities, Psalm 103:10.

According to David, God does not treat human beings as they deserve.  According to Psalm 103:12, God’s love is infinite, “as far as the east is from the west.”  If God is willing to show forgiveness, grace and mercy to undeserving sinners, why is the mainstream media so quick to condemn.  Have the elite been offended by conservatives in the past?  Is this recent response some sort of pay back for previous hypocritical actions?  Whatever the reason, sometimes you have to use common sense by replying, “don’t go there.”

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”  Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times, Matthew 18:21-22.

There was an unspoken belief that forgiveness should be limited in the first century.  Sensing a good opportunity to address this topic, Jesus shares the parable of the Unmerciful Servant.  Attempting to shatter any stereotypes on forgiveness, Jesus illustrates God’s mercy on those who are unable to pay back earthly debts accrued over time.  God the Father bestows grace on those who beg for mercy.  Yet, lip service is disregarded unless individuals reciprocate mercy by doing to others as you want others to do unto you.  In other words, don’t go there or else.

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 6:14-15.

The or else part of this equation was addressed by Jesus earlier in the book of Matthew.  At the conclusion of the portion of Scripture known as the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father, Jesus emphasizes the conditional aspect of forgiveness.  Yes, I did say conditional, based upon how you treat other people.  In next chapter, Matthew 7 builds upon this concept proclaiming, ” the measure to which you judge others will be used against you.”  Therefore, despite whatever differences you may have against others, make sure your remember to live out the Golden Rule.  Don’t seek revenge or the grace of God will turn it’s back on you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The Visual Paradox

There are times in life when your eyes deceive you.  You will run into people who appear courteous and kind, yet fail to reveal their hidden agenda within.  This visual paradox keeps you from seeing reality; the truth about what is happetning.  These anomalies, conundrums and enigmas keep you in the dark.  This mystery often goes unsolved until it’s too late or the answers remain with those who kept silent, now buried and gone.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth, Psalm 145:18.

There is a new movement sweeping America that defies logic.  While I am not sure of it’s origin, diversity is the energy driving this political ideology.  When common sense pokes holes in this desire to embrace everyone, the media rises up to shut down opposing views.  On the surface, this message sounds like something Jesus would have said, “to love your neighbor as yourself.”  This mental paradox has placed many Christians in the middle, unsure if loving your neighbor includes terrorists who secretly want to kill you.

Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him, John 18:37-38.

In the first century, Jesus had his own set of enemies.  Jealous religious leaders believed Jesus was trying to usurp their political and religious power.  Subsequently, when Jesus didn’t conform to their worldview, plots to kill him began to surface.  Today, liberal leaders feel so strongly about secularism that if you don’t accept, adhere and embrace progressive ideas, you are pressured to deny your previous held beliefs.  At the college level, if you choose to exercise you first amendment rights by disagreeing, this visual paradox is exposed for what it is, an attempt to force a code of ethics upon individuals without conviction, faith or inspiration.

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, Ephesians 6:14.

The only successful way to combat this visual paradox is with truth.  If a roman soldier did not secure his belt, his armor would become vulnerable to a surprise attack.  Likewise, if individuals do not wear a belt, you could be caught with your pants falling down.  To avoid this fate, arm yourself with spiritual weapons by putting on the armor of God daily.  This discipline takes time and practice to apply.  Yet, if you are diligent, securing the belt of truth will prevent you from being deceived by similar visual paradoxes that emerge in the future.

by Jay Mankus

 

More Than A Mindset

There will always be people that you meet in life who think they know everything.  Whenever you interact with these individuals there is a tendency to hear comments such as “I know how you feel.”  Trying to relate to your situation, this mindset is flawed, clouded by arrogance, pride or narcissism.  In order to obtain a Christ like perspective, you must develop a balanced approached, more than merely a mindset.

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns,” Matthew 16:23.

During a meaningful conversation with his disciples, Jesus introduces expectations for those who desire to follow him.  Based upon the passage above, Peter possessed preconceived notions.  This mindset bred selfishness, preventing Peter from understanding the concerns of God.  Becoming a disciple is not just actions inspired by faith.  Rather, actions must work hand in hand as individuals consider the concerns of God by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me, Matthew 16:24.

There are 3 stages which must be completed before a genuine disciple produces spiritual fruit.  The initial step involves fulfilling Galatians 2:20, dying to self so that the concerns of God will replace selfish thoughts.  As this transformation begins to take shape, Jesus wants his followers to take up their cross.  Either this means to take ownership of your faith or to literally pick up the cross like Simon in Matthew 27:32.  Just like the saying there is no I in team, following Jesus refers to crossing out the I or me so that God’s kingdom becomes your sole priority.  This is the criteria Matthew details for a disciple which is more than a mindset.

by Jay Mankus

When the Timing is Right

If you watched the 2017 World Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros, you were not disappointed unless your team lost.  Nonetheless, winning this title in baseball is the pinnacle for major league ball players.  However, for one member of the winning Houston Astros, this wasn’t enough.  Similar to the final scene of the 1999 film For the Love of the Game, sometimes relationships are more important.  Thus, getting down on a knee, Carlos Correa proposed to his girl friend during the postgame festivities.  In his mind, the timing was right.

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” – Matthew 16:15

During the first century, Jesus arrived in Caesarea Philippi with his disciples.  Led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus felt it was time to have a serious conversation with his ministry team.  After discussing what others believed about him, Jesus wanted to know, “what about you?”  This question set the stage for Passion Week, Jesus’ final week on earth before his crucifixion.  Following Peter’s confession that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah, Jesus tried to prepare his disciples for the events of the future.  This information didn’t sit too well with Peter, who was unable to grasp the fact that Jesus was a heavenly king, not the earthly king of the Jews.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life, Matthew 16:21.

In life, the future is like a blank tapestry waiting to be painted.  Yet, some times you don’t have the materials necessary to start.  On other occasions, you have the tools, but you lack the vision necessary to complete this portrait.  As for me, I was attending a retreat in southern Indiana.  I had recently resigned from my youth ministry position and was unsure of what to do next.  Following a moving presentation, God impressed upon the need to ask my girl friend Leanne to marry me.  The next day, I drove to Chicago, took a twist tie that she gave me as part of a care package and proposed.  When the timing is right, step out in faith while you have the opportunity to act.  By doing this, you fulfill the words of Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

When Jesus Gives People a Reason to Leave

No matter when you were born, there will always be a culture, group or segment of society that is not welcome.  This perception begins through stereotypes, prejudging an entire race or nation based upon previous actions, beliefs and practices.  Such is the case of Canaan and Israel.  While Noah’s grandson gave birth to descendants who embraced evil, idolatry and wicked ways, God called Israel to be set apart from the rest of the world.  This tension continued during the first century when a needy woman approaches Jesus.

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”  He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel,” Matthew 15:23-24.

Based upon the passage above, a Canaanite woman appeared to have heard about Jesus’ healing powers.  Desperate to find help for her demon possessed daughter, this woman makes a scene in public, hoping to get Jesus’ attention.  Approaching on her knees, Jesus offers two interesting responses to this Canaanite woman’s request.  If you just read Jesus’ reply, he is blunt, initially disregarding her plea.  If you read between the lines, Jesus is giving her a reason to leave, to walk away without receiving an answer to her prayer.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”  “Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table,” Matthew 15:26-27.

The underlining theme of this passage is perseverance.  This woman refused to take no for an answer, doing everything in her power to convince Jesus to extend his power beyond the Jews.  She could have walked away disappointed upon hearing that Jesus came for the lost sheep of Israel.  Hanging on despite the initial response, Jesus’ second comment in the passage above would have sent most people away in tears.  Nonetheless, this woman showed resolve, coming back with a witty response to win Jesus over.  In the end, you have two choices in life: accept reality by walking away disappointed or persist until God answers your prayers.

by Jay Mankus