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Tag Archives: blessings

The Hidden Years of Jesus

In the life of a Jew, adulthood begins at age twelve.  A ceremony known as a Bar-mitzvah for boys and Bat-mitzvah for girls commences this stage in life.  Luke 2 provides the only glimpse of Jesus’ life as a boy during his Bar-mitzvah.  Following this event, there are 18 years of silence known as the hidden years of Jesus.

And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart, Luke 2:51.

Despite this gap of missing time, there are a few things we know about Jesus.  First, Jesus continued in the ways of his earthly father Joseph as a carpenter.  According to Luke, Jesus remained an obedient son, providing for his mother Mary after Joseph’s death.  The next time Jesus appears in the Bible is in the day of John the Baptist who prepared the way for Jesus’ earthly ministry.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man, Luke 2:52.

There are 3 qualities that highlight the missing years of Jesus,  First, Jesus grew in wisdom by daily taking time alone to pray with his heavenly father.  Second, Jesus’ actions, constant care and nurturing words magnified his stature as a godly man.  Finally, as Jesus keep in step with the Holy Spirit, God favor remained on Jesus in the form of daily blessings.  All these things prepared Jesus for the accounts portrayed in the four gospels which transformed the lives of 11 disciples.

by Jay Mankus

Blessed, Fortunate or Normal

I spent last night eating dinner at my parents house.  Beside the normal topics of conversation, I began ask about cousins I haven’t heard from or seen in years.  Unfortunately, each relative’s update included a similar pattern, ending with disappointment, divorce or unfulfilled potential.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19. 

Like anything in life, there is a temptation to compare yourself with others.  While my life hasn’t been perfect or void of adversity, I feel quite fortunate and blessed.  Up to this point, the Lord has provided daily bread, a sense of accomplishment and passion to pursue my dreams.  Then again, maybe I’m just normal, making the most of what God has given me.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, James 1:17.

When you study what the Bible says about blessings, you have to be careful not to take verses out of context.  The apostle writes to Philippians after surviving an earthquake and seeing the hand of God in allowing trials to occur.  Meanwhile, the brother of Jesus reflects upon how God is in control, despite how bad your current situation may be.  Nonetheless, when you have experienced a good and decent life, you’re either blessed, fortunate, normal or a little bit of all three.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

It’s Just Good to Be Alive

In this political age, if a news story doesn’t fit the progressive agenda, its either buried in the back pages of a newspaper, overlooked for something more news worthy or skipped completely.  Human interest stories are usually saved for the Olympics, great fillers for down time during a broadcast.  Thus, many amazing events are never told and forgotten by time.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it, Matthew 16:25.

For this very reason, I feel compelled to share a miracle that I witnessed yesterday.  Ninety nine percent of the time I watch a sporting event, my main concern is the final score.  Did my team win?  How did they play?  Who is living up to their potential and who’s struggling?  Yet, after talking to a couple on the sixth hole at Odessa National, I came to the conclusion that it’s just good to be alive.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” John 6:35.

As St. George’s played St. Elizabeth in golf, this may be the first time ever in high school history that a cancer survivor played with a teammate who has juvenile diabetes.  Quincy battled for his life last year while my son Daniel lived despite having a blood sugar level over one thousand last August.  While their journey’s have been different, Quincy’s father taught me an important lesson.  Winning or losing isn’t what matters in life.  Rather, when you see two boys walking down the fairway together, it’s a blessing to just be alive.

by Jay Mankus

The Disappointments in Life

If birds of a feather flock together, then misery does love company.  Playing the victim card allows individuals to dwell upon their disappointments in life.  Like the shark encounters scene in Jaws, people often engage in stories to one up the other.  The ultimate goal is to seek pity from others, to buy your sob story.

And you sent widows away empty-handed and broke the strength of the fatherless, Job 22:9.

When you read the account of Job’s trials within the first two chapters of his book, its hard to find someone who has endured such heartache.  After three friends come to support Job, each begin to wonder why would God allow all these horrible things happen to such a great guy.  The more each reflected upon Job’s disappointments in life, their reasoning changes.   Supportive friends, soon became critics, urging Job to confess a hidden sin at the core of his hardships.  Surely, this must be the reason for disappointment.

That is why snares are all around you, why sudden peril terrifies you, Job 22:10.

The one mistake Job does make is blaming God for all his troubles.  I guess Job fell into the trap most do, believing life is suppose to be full of blessings once you commit your life to God.  Unfortunately, the contrary is true as difficult times serve as a refining process.  Tests create an environment to promote growth, maturity and perseverance.  Therefore, the next time disappointment comes your way, consider it a pure joy, James 1:2-4.  Developing this mindset will prevent you from blaming God as well as make you a complete person.

by Jay Mankus

Under Appreciated

As I race to complete my movie script for Hollywood’s premiere screen writers competition, I was recently overwhelmed by a wave of emotions.  While retracing my steps through my days in high school, I was struck by how good my life has been.  The reason for this joy are the countless individuals I have crossed paths with.  Unfortunately, when I was younger immaturity prevented me from appreciating the friends who touched my life.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God, Colossians 3:16.

In the rat race called life, its easy to lose sight on what’s important.  Whether its pursuing a career, chasing a dream or providing for your family, special moments can be overlooked.  Anxiety, stress and worry prevent people from seeing the blessings God has provided.  If you continue on this path, distracted by the negative aspects in life, you will follow in my footsteps, under appreciating special individuals.

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace, Numbers 6:24-26.

Apathy is an invisible force which attributes to under appreciation.  Like a spell cast on an unwilling soul, boredom and laziness prey on selfish desires.  Unless you become alert, by keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, you could become the next victim.  In view of this, may the Lord give you a heart of appreciation so that those around you will receive the thanks that they deserve.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Someone Else Needs This More Than You

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I received new insight about the hand of God in adversity.  I caught a glimpse of a woman reflecting upon her childhood.  After making the cheer leading squad as a 7th grader, she was cut in 8th grade.  Sobbing in her room that night, the words her father shared transformed her perspective about life.  “Honey, you had a great time last year and you’re a confident person.  Perhaps, there is another girl who is struggling with her self esteem and needs to be a cheer leader more than you.”

A person’s steps are directed by the LORD.  How then can anyone understand their own way? – Proverbs 20:24

A former colleague of mine were reminiscing yesterday at Starbucks about our years in teaching.  Some days were good, others bad and there were many that didn’t make much sense at all.  Maybe this is what Solomon is implying in the passage above.  While individuals may think they are in control,  the Lord throws the occasional curve ball in to mix things up, directing people closer to where God wants you to be.

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that,” James 4:14-15.

From the time I entered high school to my days in graduate school, every job that I applied for I got.  For some reason, God blessed me over and over again like the favor of Joseph in the Old Testament.  Yet, when I moved back to Delaware, God has sprinkled in failure more than once.  While this could be due to my age, a lack of dedication or a faith that is slipping, there is one good logical explanation for all the pain that I have endured.  Someone else needed what I wanted more than me.

by Jay Mankus

 

After You Fail A Test

Nobody likes to funk a test.  Sometimes you don’t understand a topic.  Perhaps, you missed time from class, feeling lost upon your return.  Whatever the scenario, tests reveal where you are, what you know and what you need to do to get where you want to be in life.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

A few weeks ago I took a test following my eye surgery.  To my surprise, vision in both of my eyes diminished to the point that I could read any of the letters on the first and easiest line.  Shocked by these results, I realized that a lack of sleep was contributing to my poor vision.  Subsequently, I altered my schedule to rest my eyes as much as possible.  After today’s examination I regained full vision in my left eye and improved slightly in my surgically repaired eye.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:22.

I don’t what the future holds for my vision.  God willing I will be able to complete the 3 movie scripts that I am working on while I can still see.  My goal is to sell these to Hollywood and retire with plans to write one script per year.  Yet, for now I must remain steadfast, trusting in the Lord during these days of adversity.  Whatever the outcome, even if it means failing a test along the way, strive to receive the crown of life promised in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus