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Tag Archives: blessings

When Your Mind Get’s in the Way

Depending upon how you were raised, parents give advice, guidance and warnings as you grow up.  Some of the common phrases of my generation were “think before you speak, open mouth insert foot” and simply “think.”  These words suggest that sometimes your mind gets in the way.

But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!”  – Numbers 13:31

In the Old Testament, God had promised Israel a new land flowing with milk and honey.  Before entering this place, Moses sent out a team to explore this region.  Known as the 12 Spies, only two brought back a positive report.  The other ten were misled by minds gripped with fear.  This first glance underestimated the power of God as their minds got in the way.

 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it,” Numbers 13:30.

In the end, the voices of Caleb and Joshua were silenced by the majority.  However, if you want to overcome doubt, leaders must raise their voices to convince the feeble and weak.  The next time you hear a crowd minimizing the power of God, step out in faith to persuade the masses.  If you don’t the human mind will get in the way, leaving you outside of the blessings God has in store for you.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

What Are We Praying for?

Frederick Douglass is a key figure featured every February during Black History month.  After escaping slavery in Maryland, Douglass completed his autobiography in 1845.  If you attended a public school, you probably never heard about this man’s great faith.  While talking to a friend earlier in the week, I was amazed to hear about his concept of prayer.  This made me wonder, what am I actually praying for?

How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word, Psalm 119:9.

Instead of praying for the obvious, God’s blessings on your family, friends and work, Douglass narrowed in on a few simple things.  First, as a slave, Frederick prayed that his master would not beat him.  From here, Frederick fervently asked the Lord to have mercy on him so that his service would please his master.  Within his autobiography, Douglass comments on how his master’s treated him.  Oddly enough, those who claimed to be Christians treated him the worse.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, Matthew 6:33.

Following this conversation, I was convicted, wondering how cruel I have treated others in this life.  Beyond the bubble that I live in, my actions are far from the grace, love and mercy Jesus demonstrated on earth.  Instead of treating prayer like some kind of Christmas wish list, perhaps it’s time to go back to the basics.  Whether this means using the Lord’s Prayer as a guide or quoting parts of Psalm 119, something has to change.  May this blog inspire you to put into practice Jesus’ words above, starting prayer by seeking God’s kingdom and righteous first.

by Jay Mankus

Serve or Be Served… The Latter is More Enticing

When professional athletes struggle to reach their full potential, videos are examined to see what bad habits or flawed fundamentals are present.  Unfortunately, in life most people don’t have film to examine.  Rather, individuals are forced to rely on friends, self reflection or therapists to turn floundering careers around.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap, Galatians 6:7.

One of the forces at work which determines positive or negative results in the Sowing Principle.  What comes around goes around is an earthly way to describe the biblical expression: you reap what you sow.  Essentially, if you serve others, the Lord will honor this decision by sending unexpected blessings in times of need.  Meanwhile, if the idea of being served by others entices you, the rewards for this choice will be temporary; resulting in a permanent void inside of your heart.

“Give and it will be given to you.  Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap.  For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” Luke 6:38.

Jesus explains this concept to his followers in the verse above.  In the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13, Jesus uses the imagery of a harvest to illustrate this principle.  Those who are planted within a fertile soil, environment, production increases.  Thus, if you reach a point in life where you are disciplined, grounded and serving others with your God given gifts, it’s possible to experience bountiful blessings.  Yet, if you feed your sinful nature, pursuing selfish desires, temporary pleasures will quickly vanish leaving a trail of heart break.  The choice is yours.

by Jay Mankus

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