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Tag Archives: the devil

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

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Christmas for Dummies

Every year pastors, preachers and teachers are expected to come up with a fresh and new perspective of Christmas for their congregations.  On some occasions this goal is achieved.  Yet, many sermons crash and burn, wasting weeks of preparation making the simple complex.  In reality, Christmas is the mass of Christ, a day of remembrance, thanksgiving and worship.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost,” Luke 19:10. 

In a summary of a conversation with a tax collector, Jesus provides a Christmas for Dummies answer.  The context of the passage above refers to the fall of mankind, also known as original sin.  God gave Adam and Eve just one rule in the Garden of Eden, You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die,” Genesis 3:2.  When lust entered into Eve’s heart, she influenced her husband Adam to ignore God’s law, taking and eating fruit.  This act of disobedience enabled sin to enter the world, resulted in expulsion from the garden, severed an intimate relationship with God and gave Satan authority and dominion over the earth.  Jesus’ birth came to seek and save what was lost back here.

“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” Genesis 3:15.

During an exchange with one of his fallen angels, God prophecies for the first time about the need to send his one and only son, John 3:16.  If you have seen the Passion of the Christ, this symbolism is played out while Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, stomping on the head of a serpent at the end of his prayer.  While Satan convinces first century religious leaders to execute Jesus’ crucifixion, the resurrection served as a check mate moment, foiling forever any demonic attempts to change the spiritual course of history.  However, this is one catch.

In which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, Ephesians 2:2.

God allows the Devil, aka Satan to retain his former angelic powers that he possessed while serving as the archangel Lucifer.  When you add this fact to a confession by one of Jesus’ disciples, Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour-1 Peter 5:8, this threat is real.  This why evil continues to exist on earth.  Therefore, while Jesus has his own birthday on our calendar, the ongoing spiritual war does not stop.  The fight for the eternal destiny of souls is a fierce battle, taking many innocent individuals to their graves.  While singing Christmas carols today in church may inspire or move you, make sure you guard your heart and mind, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, so that the hope of Christmas will not be lost again.

by Jay Mankus

Let the Weeding Begin

 

Unless you love a freshly manicured yard or need the money, not many people get excited about doing yard work.  Beside heat and humidity, keeping up with rampant weeds that overtake a garden can be demoralizing.  You may spend an entire weekend pulling up every invasive plant only to see others re-emerge in it’s place a few days later.  While using weed killer products like Roundup is an option, most of the modern products are so watered down that there isn’t enough chemicals inside to permanent remove these nuisances of the neighborhood.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, Matthew 13:41.

Jesus introduces an new concept of weeding during a private meeting with his disciples.  Unable to figure out the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus begins to reveal the symbolism of this story.  According to the passage above, at the end of this age Jesus will command the angels to weed out all negative influences on earth.  These forces are demonic, evil and unruly spirits who have led astray willing participants.  Unfortunately, this process won’t begin until Jesus’ second coming, leaving vessels of the Devil that create chaos.  This dark power eventually filled Stephen Paddock, taking the lives of 58 innocent victims.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

While individuals wait for the weeding to begin, many people like me have a lot to clean up.  Time, weariness and unkempt souls have led everyone to do something dishonorable.  Although these actions vary in degree, hearts should develop a sense of urgency to get right with God.  Instead of judging others, perhaps a little soul searching may reveal areas of decay in desperate need of healing.  Therefore, as evil continues to flourish, it’s time to commence your own spiritual weeding so that through the Holy Spirit you will become an honorable vessel ready to serve your Creator.  Let the weeding begin.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Split Decision

In the context of boxing, split decisions occur when judges view a contest from opposing points of view.  Unlike unanimous decisions where there is a clear victor, contestants may sway judges by a great comeback or regaining control of a fight.  While modern technology and social media use round by round scorecards today, no one knows what the judges think until the final results are announced at the end of each bout.

 Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand, Matthew 12:25.

Throughout the course of each day, arguments tend to result in split decisions depending upon your worldview.  These disagreements can create divisive debates that divide rather than unite.  After President Trump’s comments last Friday in Alabama about National Football players kneeling during the national anthem, professional athletes, owners and most of the media created a firestorm.  After these attacks went viral, citizens from the heartland, Nascar and veterans chimed in to support their president.  A week later, a split decision still exists, with convincing arguments on both sides.

 And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges, Matthew 12:27.

During the first century, another controversy began to brew.  The Pharisees felt like Jesus was making a power play, introducing a new concept to Judaism.  This teaching was heresy in the eyes of religious leaders.  Jealous of Jesus’ ability to heal, a rumor spread about Jesus working behind the scenes with the Devil to fool everyone.  Using logic, Jesus began to poke holes in their theory, responding with the two passages above.  These words remind me of today’s current debate over standing or kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem.  In the end, if America doesn’t come to a point where people agree to disagree, the end will be in sight.  Therefore, the next time you attempt to play the role of judge and jury, take a step back and let God be the ultimate judge.

by Jay Mankus

 

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

When You Can’t Figure Out Life On Your Own

Before Samuel Morse invented the telegraph and the International Code that bears his name, creative people have always found ways to secretly communicate.  In the first century, Jesus spoke in parables to convey nuggets of truth.  These interesting stories illustrate important facts about life.  However, these allegories are meant to make people think, pondering the hidden meaning within each parable.  This style of communication often dumbfounded Jesus’ own disciples, seeking private meetings to make sure they correctly interpreted and understood what Jesus was trying to say.  Unfortunately, when you can’t figure out life on your own, Jesus isn’t around anymore to ask in person.

On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners,” Matthew 9:12-13.

After healing a paralyzed man in his home town, Jesus shares the passage above.  The first part of this verse makes sense, the sick need a doctor as the healthy have either learned to self medicate or don’t have a life threatening condition that requires immediate attention.  The second comment requires further thought, Jesus desires mercy, not sacrifice.  Since Jesus is likely addressing the Pharisees who witnessed this miracle, sacrifice can be seen as a form of teetotalism.  Following a set of rules perfectly will always result in failure, disappointment or frustration.  Realizing the limitations of the human body, Jesus urges individuals to offer mercy to all, even for those who don’t deserve it.  While this may not be exactly what Jesus means, it’s a good place to start.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need, Hebrews 4:16.

The author of Hebrews builds upon desiring mercy.  Without mercy, you can’t comprehend grace.  Thus, when sinners are forgiven, especially those who deserve punishment, the human mind struggles to fathom this concept.  Meanwhile, those who go and learn what Jesus means are able to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.  However, when you can’t figure life out on your own, Jesus promised to leave behind a counselor, John 16:13.  This invisible presence will guide you through periods of darkness.  Sometimes you might think God’s Spirit has left you, but it’s likely the Devil trying to convince you otherwise.  Press on and don’t give up as the Holy Spirit is waiting to help you figure out the mysteries in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

I’m Not A Lost Cause

In my early years, I suffered from bouts of depression.  Unable to clearly communicate to others due to stuttering only complicated this issue.  While in junior high, I considered suicide as a viable option.  I guess at some point the Devil convinced me that my life was a lost cause.

For the Lord will be your confidence and will keep your foot from being caught, Proverbs 3:26.

One of the ways to escape depression is through regaining confidence.  Unfortunately for me, I was volatile, fluctuating between cocky and worthless.  Since the only thing I had going for me early on in life was sports, I lived and died with each game or result.  This type of emotional roller coaster wasn’t healthy as I lacked the substance necessary to endure for the long haul.

Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, 2 Corinthians 3:5.

In the lyrics of Remedy Drive’s song Resuscitate Me, there is a line which reminds individuals like me that my life is not a lost cause.  Rather, when you enter into a relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, purpose and meaning is found.  Instead of living a self serving life focused on a “what about me mentality,” Jesus takes lost sheep and shows them the way, John 14:6.  Join me on this journey to convey to others “you’re not a lost cause.”

by Jay Mankus