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Tag Archives: The Bible

When Something’s Gotta Give

Depending upon where you reside, you might come in contact with individuals who exhibit alarming qualities.  Some people go through life pretending to possess certain beliefs, principles and virtues.  Unfortunately, these qualities are rarely demonstrated, cheap words void of action, behavior or any semblance of consistency.  To successfully confront these type of people, you have to speak in hypothetical terms.  Like a client during a session with a psychologist claiming they have a friend who has an issue, when in reality they are the person in the story.  Thus, you have to carefully approach certain situations in question with kid gloves.

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!  He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”  Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul, 2 Samuel 12:5-7.

This is the strategy the prophet Nathan takes in the passage above.  Nathan knew King David, a former shepherd, would respond to injustice committed against one of his previous occupations.  This story spoke to David, enraged by what the awful outcome.  Like a fisherman using the perfect bait for a specific fish, David bought the hypothetical analogy hook, line and sinker.  The illustration uncovered David’s act adultery with Bathsheba, the killing of her husband and eventual marriage.  When truth reveals the darkness of sin, something’s gotta give.

But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him, John 11:10.

As more and more people grow up without attending church, this upcoming generation uses the amoral excuse, not knowing right from wrong.  The Bible uses darkness or night as imagery to explain illustrate those who attempt to avoid following or live by rules in this life.  However, you can only be amoral for so long, Romans 1:2o.  According to the apostle Paul, there are countless invisible qualities that daily reflect the presence of God.  These signs like a sunrise, sunset or rainbow shine light into the darkness of this world.  Sooner or later, God will send someone into your life to challenge, convict or inspire you to come clean by confessing previous transgressions.  The next time light magnifies a blatant flaw in your life, something’s gotta give.  When it does, choose repentance over rebellion.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

A Casual Perspective of Grace

Every once in a while I will come across a troubling passage in the Bible.  Separated by a couple of chapters, the author of Hebrews appears to be calling out some Jews who had developed a casual perspective of grace.  Since the culprits are not identified, you can only speculate based upon the context below.  Apparently, some individuals developed a mindset that sinning was okay, especially since God promises to forgive you.

It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

The problem with this mentality is that justification and rationalization often replaces penance.  The purpose of confession is to express a contrite heart by avoiding making the same mistake you made the day before.  Unfortunately, a casual perspective of grace usually leads to deliberate sin.  Willing participants begin to think, “we’ll if God is gong to forgive me anyway, I might as well enjoy myself.”  Believing this lie from the Devil can corrupt souls.

If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God, Hebrews 10:26-27.

In case anyone skipped over the author’s initial warning in chapter 6, this message is repeated 4 chapters later.  Sometimes the fear of God serves as a last resort, the only thing holding you back from indulging the sinful nature.  However, anyone who becomes spiritually dead due to an addictive behavior can become numb to change.  Thus, unless a friend, loved one or spiritual mentor intervenes, a casual perspective of grace can lead to eternal separation from God.  If this blog finds you hanging by a thread, reach out for help so that healing and restoration can begin.

by Jay Mankus

Friends Along the Way

As a child, there was nothing like a sleep over, especially if it meant going away with a friend or neighbor’s family.  High school brought class trips, spending a day or weekend on a field trip.  College introduced the concept of road trips, going some where at the spur of a moment, chilling and hanging with buddies.  For those who marry, weddings result in Honeymoons and if kids arrive, family vacations in the future.  Ultimately, as you go through life alone or with a significant other, each day serves as an opportunity to become friends along the way.

After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, Luke 8:1.

If you use the Bible as a source, Jesus lived in relative obscurity, serving as a carpenter in Nazareth.  Single and living with his mother, Jesus wasn’t searching for a woman or seeking to build his business.  Rather, Jesus was waiting until the Holy Spirit revealed the ideal time to begin his earthly ministry.  When this moment arrived, Jesus spent a majority of his time on the road, traveling from town to town with his twelve disciples.  As people began to receive healing, experience miracles and transform their lives, a bond developed between Jesus and his followers.  I guess you can say Jesus was a model for finding friends along the way in life.

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told the parable of the Sower, Luke 8:4.

As I look back on the past 6 years of my writing, there is only one earthly person I can credit for my progress.  Spencer Saints who has his own travel blog entitled Friends Along the Way, Friendsalongtheway.org, is the person who encouraged me to pursue a writing career.  Through the years, Spencer introduced me to a writer’s group, started his own and steered me in the right direction as I began to write movie scripts.  We all meet friends along the way in life, but few express how they feel before they are gone.  May this blog inspire you to reach out to those who have helped you along the way, especially during the bleak moments in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

Taking as Many People with You as Possible

During a visit to the city of Corinth, the apostle Paul discovered a passionate group of sports fans.  Instead of modern sports like basketball or football, Corinthians embraced Track and Field as host of a Summer Olympics type of annual event.  Thus, Paul felt compelled to use words in one of his letters that appealed to this culture.  Within 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul compares evangelism with a race, hoping to win as many people as possible to Jesus Christ.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell, Matthew 10:28.

Years earlier, Jesus reveals an interesting concept to his disciples in the passage above.  While speaking about persecution, Jesus provides a heavenly perspective to a common event followers of Christ will encounter.  Human nature tends to make individuals fearful of what other people think of you.  However, Jesus warns the disciples about worrying about the wrong thing.  Rather, be on guard against the Devil, the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, who uses temptation to ensnare souls toward a life in hell, eternally separated from God.

Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time, 1 Timothy 2:6.

The Bible is filled with promises about life and the future.  John 3:16-17 reveals why God the Father sent his son Jesus to earth.  Upon completing God’s will for his life on earth, Jesus gave himself up as a ransom, paying the price for the sins of mankind.  This selfless act made it possible for fallen creatures to have a place in heaven, John 14:1-4.  Thus, anyone who makes their eternal reservation, 1 John 5:13, should want to take as many people with you as possible.  May the hope of a new year inspire souls to fulfill the great commission, Mark 16:15-16 so that the afterlife will serve as a great big family reunion in the sky.

by Jay Mankus

What Do You Think?

Jesus uses an array of conversational methods to promote discussion in the Bible.  Prior to sharing the Parable of the Two Sons, Jesus asked the chief priest and elders a simple question, “what do you think?”  Like an individual in a court room on trial, Jesus flips the script, playing the role of a prosecutor.  Instead of being tested by religious leaders, Jesus uses a hypothetical scenario to examine whether these so called scholars understood the nature of God.

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’  “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went,” Matthew 21:28-29.

As a parent with three children, this parable is relative, a common occurrence.  When a chore is not completed around the house, my wife or I will remind our son or daughter to do this.  If another day goes by without any action, my son Daniel tends to come up with some sort of excuse.  Sometimes he’s honest, saying,”I didn’t feel like it.”  In reality, when tasks around the house aren’t completed, this isn’t a priority, but what do you think?

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.  “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you,” Matthew 21:30-31.

When I read this parable yesterday, my initial thoughts were that both sons are at fault.  One said no, changed his mind and completed this job, fueled by guilt.  Meanwhile, the second son gives lip service without any action.  According to the easy key listed above, the first son is the wrong answer, but what do you think?  This passage of the Bible serves as a good ice breaker or debate question.  Sometimes, Jesus wants people to mull over, ponder and think over portions of the Bible.  You may even feel compelled to ask a friend, elders or a pastor before you reach a final position.  Nonetheless, don’t be afraid to ask others, “what do you think?”

by Jay Mankus

I Don’t Know How He Does It

The thought of patience is foreign to me.  I have a short fuse, easily enraged by obstacles that get in my way, slow me down or become a burden to me in any manner.  So when I read the Bible, the command to love, be patient and kind seems impossible to achieve.  The idea of forgiving and loving enemies is hard to comprehend.  Nonetheless, when religious leaders and the people who followed Jesus turned on him, shouting for death by crucifixion, this Man practiced what He preached.  Moments from death, Jesus cried out to his heavenly father, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”  I don’t know how He did this?

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8.

The context of the passage above shines light on the nature of God.  Anyone can talk a good game, pretend to be good person or use money to influence the general public.  However, if you don’t display love, all of your gifts and talents are meaningless.  The apostle Paul uses the analogy of a clanging symbol to prove his point.  You may be an amazing musician, but without love you are nothing.  Perhaps, people inside of church at Corinth were forgetting the purpose of being a Christian, becoming Christ like is all aspects of life.  Essentially, Paul was trying to prove a point, this is not how you do it.

Let all that you do be done in love, 1 Corinthians 16:14.

Today, many believers fail miserably, unable to love, display patience or be kind.  Part of this failure is due to a departure of complete trust in God.  Rather, the temptation to be self-reliant has trumped faith.  Instead of undergoing a subtle spiritual transformation, the world is winning, with compromise after compromise.  If the apostle Paul struggled to defeat temptation, Romans 7:14-18, everyone will face a similar fate.  In the meantime, yield to God, surrendering control of your life.  When you do, the mercy God displayed for you can flow outwardly toward others.  While I still don’t know how Jesus loved the unlovable, let all that you do be inspired by love.

by Jay Mankus

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