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Turning Distress into Rest

If you’ve ever had one of those days; then you know how I felt last night when I came home.  Restless, my frustrations began to boil over, spewing out venom fueled by annoyance and irritation.  Replaying this in my mind, over and over again, I allowed distress to interrupt my ability to sleep.

Like a scene from a horror movie, I sensed the clutches of demons taking over my mind, inspired by hatred and revenge.  Before I let my thoughts get out of control, I cried out to the Lord, rebuking the images racing through my head, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5.  This tug of war went on for nearly 15 minutes, drifting back and forth, with huge momentum swings.  Finally, as the noises around me started to dissipate, God turned my distress into rest.

When I awoke the next day, I stumbled across Psalm 107:6.   “Then, they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and he (God) delivered them from their distress.”  Perhaps, a coincidence?  I don’t think so!  Rather, I believe the Lord let this night of turmoil occur so that I could remind the world that God can turn distress into rest, a deep peaceful sleep.

by Jay Mankus

How Many Times Does God Have to Bail Us Out?

Depending upon where you live, different phrases express the trouble that you are in.  Perhaps, you’re caught in a pickle, in the dog house, down the stream without a paddle or stuck in a precarious situation.  However you want to say it, it won’t be long before fate places you into a predicament where only God can bail us out.

Some of you may be like Joseph from the Bible, the envy of your family.  Thus, jealousy causes siblings to gang up on you, tease you or inflict emotional scars.  You press on only to find yourself falsely accused of someone else’s wrong doing.  As your reputation takes a hit, time and trust is the only thing you can do repair others opinions of you.  Despite the trials you endure, the Lord’s favor is upon you, showering you with blessings from heaven.

Unfortunately, most people fall into a different category, leaning more toward the prodigal son.  Curious, stubborn and unwilling to change, a series of poor choices results in a downward spiral.  By now, temptation is long gone, replaced by addiction, bad habits or cravings for temporary pleasures.  Call it human nature or self-realization, but until you come to your senses, Luke 15:17, you still think you can save yourself.  If this slide continues to the bottom of the barrel in life, your cries for help become more genuine, “help me Lord?”

How many times does God have to bail us out?   According to Matthew 18:21-22, forgiveness is suppose to be limitless.  If you reach out for help, God will extend hands of grace.  Therefore, whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, Romans 10:9-13.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

If These Walls Could Speak?

Building walls of protection is nothing new.  The Berlin Wall, Great Wall of China and Western Wall in Israel were established as defense mechanisms.  These structures served as a hiding place as well as a refuge, either to keep enemies out or prevent other civilians from corrupting the ideology shared by those who call this places home.

Beyond the vision of a human eye, another wall exists.  This one surrounds the heart, protecting individuals from becoming vulnerable, hurt or both.  The greater the pain from the past, the larger the barrier erected.  Like a facade, unveiling what lies behind this inclosure isn’t easy.  Layer by layer must be removed carefully or else souls will clam up, refusing to convey genuine concerns, emotions or thoughts.

According to a famous prophet, the heart is a mysterious organ, Jeremiah 17:9-10.  Regardless of how cautious someone is, when the heart speaks don’t be surprised by what you hear.  Deceitfulness has taken hearts captive, a condition that is beyond cure.  Therefore, if famous historic walls could speak, sin might be the topic of conversation.  In view of this grave condition, set your heart on things above, Colossians 3:1-3, so that hell will wear off as heaven takes center stage.

by Jay Mankus

Cry After Cry…God Comes to the Rescue

When people cry, there could be several reasons.  Cries of joy, tears of pain, touched by words, moved by a kind act or mourning after someone dies.  In the famous Aesop fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, this story refers to individuals who try to gain attention with impure motives.  As for this person, God will not come to their aid immediately, Isaiah 1:15.

However, Psalm 106:44 suggests that a heart felt cry is heard by the Lord.  Although you may not receive a reply right away, God’s timing is perfect, Ecclesiastes 3:10-11.  Cry after cry is duly noted by God, observing the distress that you and I go through over the course of a week, month or year.  Subsequently, each earnest plea is rewarded with a sign, word of encouragement or by a person sent to ease your pain.

According to the Bible, there will be no tears in heaven, Revelation 7:17.  Yet, until then, disappointment is a daily reality while calling earth home.  In your struggle to stay positive, Ephesians 6:12, don’t try to do this all on your own.  Rather, cry out to the Lord, following in the footsteps of David, Psalm 4:1, so that God will come to the rescue.

by Jay Mankus

 

Not Without A Price

Novelist Orson Scott Card made a interesting observation in regards to sacrifice.  “Happiness is not a life without pain, but rather is life in which pain is traded for a worthy price.”  Whether you are referring to freedom of speech, defending a just cause or standing up for what you believe, nothing is accomplished with a cost.

Perhaps, your reputation takes a hit, attacked by those with opposing views.  Or friendships are estranged as your worldview comes in direct conflict with a person you care about.  Either way, actions, choices and decisions will create enemies, hatred or jealousy.  What you need to determine is… is it worth the price?

When becoming of disciple of Jesus became popular, motives for following were mixed.  Some wanted to join because it was cool, others for the fame and a few for the right reasons.  Thus, Jesus set the bar high in Luke 9:57-62, causing many to quit, unable to pay the price.  Whether you are excelling as an athlete, student or servant, to become the greatest in anything takes unswerving devotion.  May you consider the costs, make up your mind and take a leap of faith, paying the price today to achieve a better tomorrow.

by Jay Mankus

From Songs of Praise and Promises to Doubt

One of my favorite Vince Lombardi’s quote is”Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”  However, if Vince’s team, the Green Bay Packers, did not respond to the vision he cast, Super Bowls would have been lost and his fame erased from history.  In a flash, when success is not achieved, songs of praise and promises often turn toward doubt and in football cries for FIRE the coach escalate.

At the pinnacle of the Egyptian Empire, a new king forget what Joseph had done to save their citizens from 7 years of famine, Exodus 1:8-10.  Thus, 400 years of slavery ensued.  Once finally freed, the Jews witnessed of one the greatest miracles ever recorded, Psalm 106:9-11.  A spontaneous celebration of singing praises to God followed, inspiring a new devout belief.  Nonetheless, as time widdled away, promises of faith faded from the memories of those who saw the Red Sea part in two.
Not much has changed since the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years.  People still experience a roller coaster of emotions, drawing near to God, then falling away.  Perhaps, there is a lesson from the past, one which involves clinging to the promises of God.   Despite what you may endure, fight through or see, God’s faithfulness never ceases, Psalm 106:8.  Since the Lord does not let go, press on to sing songs of praise like the apostle Paul in Acts 16:26, until the power of the Holy Spirit breaks through any walls of doubt that remain.
by Jay Mankus

Empty Again

The saying, “absence makes the heart grow fonder” first appeared in 1602, published within Francis Davison’s Poetical Rhapsody.  This expression applies to several aspects in life.  Thus, while working nights since July, I began to miss some of the television shows I use to watch with my family.  Until Saturday, a marathon to check up on a few of my favorites, I forgot how empty entertainment can leave a soul, void of any significant meaning.

Although spending an entire day as a couch potato sounds appealing, boredom is a likely destination despite how many channels your cable or dish company provides.  According to Philippians 2:4, every human does need to be refreshed, before they can be of any benefit to others.  Yet, indulging in comedies, movies and sitcoms provide temporary pleasure before fading fast.  If you choose this path, emptiness is unavoidable.

Subsequently, individuals need to look in a different direction to experience a complete restoration.  Emptiness can be replaced by practicing Romans 12:1-2, leading to a transformed mind.  Depending upon your own desire, devotion and discipline, the timing on this change varies.  Whether you’re listening to or reading the Bible, Romans 10:17, faith will not disappoint, making the empty feel whole once again.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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