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Tag Archives: celebrate

Learning to Praise the Lord for the Little Things in Life

Anyone can handle blessings, like getting a hole in one on the first day of the New Year.  However, the moment you endure hardship, failure or loss, true character is revealed.  While relishing my hole in one stayed with me a couple of days, sudden disappointments put my faith to the test in the week that followed.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds – James 1:2.

As someone who use to riding an emotional roller coaster, celebrating the good before depression brings me back to earth, God is teaching me to remain even keel.  Thus, on New Year’s Day I took strides in the right direction, savoring the time with my children rather than feeding my own ego.  Whether I have a great or miserable day, praising the Lord for the little things like family, shelter and time spent together is crucial to prevent oneself from becoming burned out.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. – Philippians 4:8

The easy thing to do when trials strike is to cast blame, usually throwing God under the bus like Adam in the Garden.  Yet, with maturity comes perspective, seeing life’s events through the Lord’s eyes.   Upon hearing the news that his children died in an accident, Job replied, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Job 1:21.  Although I’m no where near the model Job set, I’m in the infant stages of learning to praise God for the little things in life.

by Jay Mankus

 

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The Infusion Called Grace

Like fine wine, you grow better with years doesn’t apply in the spiritual realm.  Although I wish this old saying was true, Romans 7:7-25 tells a different story.  Instead of improving in taste, the smell of sin causes believers to pray for an infusion of grace.

Birthdays are nice to celebrate, yet God’s main concern focuses on John 3:3-5, have you been reborn spiritually?   The sarcastic often respond like Nicodemus, “how can someone already born, fit back into their mother’s womb?”  While clever, God is not amused.  Jesus’ perspective of an infusion of grace can be found in John 3:16-17, illustrating a loving and patient God.

The reason why rebirth is essential according to the apostle Paul, Romans 5:1-2, faith is the key to gain access into the Lord’s infusion of grace.  Though undeserving, Jesus died, offering his life as an atoning sacrifice while we were still sinners, Romans 5:8.  In view of this goods news, tidings of great joy, lean on Jesus, Romans 10:9-10 to experience this infusion of grace.

by Jay Mankus

 

Is Anything Sacred Anymore?

Dedicated, devoted and revered are words often associated with individuals who appear connected with God, demonstrating faith on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, as I look around, searching for a cause to believe in and get behind, few seem to contain a spirit of holiness.  In view of this, I wonder if anything is sacred anymore?

As one of the patriarchs of Israel, Moses had an open line of communication with God, retreating up to Mount Sinai, seeking advice, direction and guidance for the Jewish people.  During one of these face to face encounters, the Lord reminded Moses of an essential weekly discipline.  Leviticus 23:2 introduces a list of sacred assemblies appointed by God, the first taking place on the Sabbath, Saturday for Jews and Sunday for Christians.

This day of worship should not be celebrated alone.  Rather, resting from work for 24 hours should be replaced by congregations of like minded believers eager to honor a living God.  Although illness or vacation may result in missing a few services throughout the year, don’t allow guilt or regret to interfere with your praise.  When God’s children begin to live out the words  of Psalm 150, sacred assemblies can unite souls and God willing, usher in revival.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Full Disclosure

As I celebrate my 900th post, its time for full disclosure.  When I began this blog back in February of 2012, I wasn’t sure how long I would continue to write.  Previous projects like Soul Improvements, a monthly news letter geared toward ministering to youth pastors, lasted only 3 years, put on hold as I began seminary.  Depending upon how long my next movie script takes to complete, only the Lord knows how long Express Yourself 4 Him will last.  For now I am relying on the Holy Spirit to guide my steps, Galatians 5:25, as I reflect on life and how it relates to God’s Word.

From a personal point of view, I wish I had the energy and more time to interact with my readers.  Especially since I recall the days of writing close to 500 letters per year, spending a majority of my down time with pen and paper.  Although stamps disappeared quickly, social interaction was high on my priority list.  Time, mental fatigue and work has taken its toll on my body.  Perhaps if eating habits improved, my energy level would rise, yet as my wife says often, “you’re not as young as you use to be.”  I pray that as 1000 posts approach, God will revitalize my soul to touch lives with my blog.

Living for Jesus in this age has become a challenge.  Between compromise, the decay of society and sin that is now socially acceptable, right and wrong has been turned upside down.    Subsequently, speaking the truth in love is seen as being narrow minded.  If the church allows the Bible to be replaced as America’s measuring stick, I’m afraid God’s favor will also be removed.  According to Moses in Leviticus 20:22, when God’s decrees and laws are rejected, the land will vomit you out.  In view of this, pray for revival before its too late to turn back from the point of no return.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why Losses Outweigh the Victories in Life

Earlier today, I began to feel like Job, pondering when my recent streak of trials will end.  While attending a friend’s concert this evening, enjoying the Raymond Lee Band, I sensed an answer coming from the Holy Spirit.  If victories out numbered losses, individuals would not learn essential life lessons.  Therefore, God allows losses to outweigh victories in life so that humility produces teachable moments.

As I read the book of Psalms, it appears King David does more complaining than celebrating.  In the tough times. people are forced into a corner, revealing their true character.  Behind the sadness and tears, rough circumstances leads troubled souls to trust in the Lord.  Without failure. you don’t truly appreciate the good things in life.

Perhaps, this is the main message of James 1:2-4.  After the storms of life fade from the horizon, souls are left to pick up the pieces.   Subsequently, wisdom is gained through maturity and perseverance.  Winning is nice, but sometimes victory hides flaws and imperfections.  Thus, the Lord places losses in life more than victories so that Jesus’ power might be displayed in our weaknesses, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

by Jay Mankus

A Family Christmas

The origin of Christmas is based upon the words found in the gospel of Luke 2:1-7.  In a sense, the census issued by Caesar Augustus forced a family reunion of sorts.  However, in this case, “everyone went to his own town to register,” Luke 2:3, back to your home town where relatives were born and raised.  Thus, Mary and Joseph rode on a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem nicknamed the City of David creating the first Christmas traffic jam.

Like finding a cheap hotel in Dover, Delaware during Race Weekend, Joseph didn’t have a prayer.  With the odds stacked against him, Joseph begged, pleaded and sought out a hole in the wall motel.  This dive was filled with manure, cold drafts and the constant noise of animals.  Yet, in this desolate place, the world welcomed a Savior, who came to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.  When the shepherds arrived, the first Christmas concert was performed by angels, praising God for the miracle of life.

Today, Christmas has become a day where families reunite, if only for a day, meal or weekend.  Putting the past behind, its a time of reflection, thanksgiving and worship.  Despite the distractions of parades, sporting events and more shopping, Christmas wouldn’t be the same without family.  Maybe this is why death, divorce and orphans struggle to find peace on this sacred day.  Regardless of where this holiday may lead you in 2013, let me be the first to say, “Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!”

by Jay Mankus

Lost and Found

When I was in junior high, I lost my retainer walking home from a friends.  Although I should have had it in my mouth, I was a teenage boy who just happened to put this retainer in a pocket with a hole.  To make matters worse, it was late fall with large leaves everywhere on the ground.  As I retraced my steps, I had to get a rake, spending hours until dark searching and praying.  Unsuccessful, I went back early the next morning on Saturday, desperately hoping I didn’t have to tell my parents I lost a $300 dental piece.  On a whim and many prayers, I tripped over my retainer, uncovered all the debris and went home rejoicing.

In the gospel of Luke, a doctor devotes an entire chapter to the theme of lost and found.  Whether its a sheep that wandered off from its owner, a woman misplacing a valuable coin or a rebellious son who lost his moral compass, each parable illustrates the love of God the Father.  According to Luke 15:7, any time a sinner who has lost their way finds their way back to Jesus, angels celebrate in heaven rejoicing over a repentant soul.  Whenever the lost are found, fairy tale endings occur.

However, today there are more distractions to cause the curious to stray off course.  In fact, one may say the severity of temptations in this age may be greater than ever.  Nonetheless, you should not use disclaimers or create a built in excuse for sin.  Moreover, 1 Peter 2:11-12 is pertinent advice, warning the unprepared by the invisible war just in case anyone get’s too comfortable.  As for now, make sure pride doesn’t convince you to believe that you can be your own shepherd.  Follow the principles of Proverbs 3:5-6 and you will stay in communion with God.

by Jay Mankus