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Tag Archives: favor

Grace or No Grace

One of the best illustrations I heard for grace comes in the form of an acronym.  God’s riches at Christ’s expense.  The concept of grace refers to free and unmerited favor; something you didn’t earn or deserve.  The apostle Paul suggests there may be an occasional exemption made for a good person, but grace isn’t grace without a sacrifice.

Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die, Romans 5:7.

The beauty of grace comes in the form of the surprise.  You could be having the worst day of your life, on the verge of becoming a prodigal or set on rebellion.  No matter the candidate, God’s grace falls upon the worthy and unworthy.  This is where the human mind struggles to grasp this concept as the grace which people extend on earth is often based upon results.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us, Romans 5:8.

This mindset produces the thought, “grace or no grace.”  This selfish desire turns selective, forgiving those whom you like while holding grudges against those you despise.  Human nature feeds this desire as grace is only offered to family, friends and the deserving.  May the words of the passage above guide hearts and minds in the right direction, to love and forgive others just as Jesus did for you and me.

by Jay Mankus

The Will to Move On

When I was sixteen, a doctor told me I would never run again.  After tearing all the tendons in my left ankle, the bone twisted 90 degrees in the wrong direction.  The best case scenario given to me prior to my operation was that I would walk with a limp after placing a screw to hold this bone in place.  Despite the obstacles I faced, the prayers of the saints gave me the faith to move on.

And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; Mark 16:17.

By the time I reached my 21st birthday, stuttering was the next trial standing in my way of expressing myself verbally.  Attacks would come out of no where, causing me to lose my breath and confidence to speak.  One evening, a college roommate named Mike had a vision as I walked into our apartment.  Hanging out with a few believers from church, a circle engulfed me as these men began to lay hands on me.  The prayers proclaimed pleaded with God to free me permanently from stuttering.  Subsequently, God gave me the will to persevere.

“While you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus,” Acts 4:30.

My latest dilemma may be my greatest to date, a bout with glaucoma.  Once again, the odds are not on my side nor is science in my favor.  Yet, I serve a God who has raised the dead, cured the sick and given sight to the blind.  The mystery of the unknown will be tough to handle.  Nonetheless, I trust in a living God who has performed miracles in the past.  Therefore, I stand in awe, leaning on God’s grace who provides the will to move on.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Joseph Parallel

The logical individual thinks life should be a series of straight lines from point A to point B and so on.  While everyone may experience progress and natural progressions at times, life is full of detours, road blocks and phases of construction.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a period of transition, remember the Joseph parallel.

And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it, Genesis 37:23-24.

Joseph son of Jacob, had high expectations, receiving dreams and visions of the life God intended.  However, envy, jealousy and pride led Joseph down a path of disappointment.  Despite a series of heartbreaks, Joseph remained optimistic, leading to favor from God and man.  Apparently, Joseph didn’t care how long it took to fulfill God’s will.  Rather, Joseph kept plugging away at life until God opened doors that he was ready to walk through.

And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.  But Jehovah was with Joseph, and showed kindness unto him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison, Genesis 39:20-21.

As I look at my own life, its not that different from Joseph.  However, when I experience trials I spent too much questioning God instead of making the best of each situation.  Subsequently, I have wasted countless days, weeks and years complaining instead of currying God’s favor.  In view of Joseph’s parallel, I need to be transformed, embracing hardships like James 1:2-4.  Although the Lord is waiting to bless his children, too many are having pity parties instead of taking God’s hand in faith.  May the Joseph parallel broaden your perspective and inspire you to keep serving the Lord until you reach your final destination.

by Jay Mankus

Now and Then

Its hard to believe that on this day twenty years ago I married Leanne Marie Wagner.  Having a wedding in Chicago two days after Thanksgiving can be risky, at the mercy of the weather.   An unwelcomed winter storm could have arrived at any time, but on November 25th, 1995 the Lord was on our side, blessing us with sun and a fifty degree day.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord, Proverbs 18:22.

Most wedding vows include the phrase “for better or for worse.”  This term appears within the marriage service section of the Common Book of Prayer.  Published in 1549, the concept of persevering with a marriage til death due us part can be traced back to the late 1300’s.  Unfortunately, sticking with your spouse throughout one’s life get’s harder and harder as modern cultures have accepted and embrace divorce as a viable option.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, Ephesians 5:25.

While premarital counseling is a good place to start, you’re never really fully prepared for marriage.  The intimacy of marriage reveals all of your imperfections, leaving individuals vulnerable, at the mercy of your mate.  In addition, time has a way of adding weight, losing luster and deteriorating parts of your body.  Anyone can be in love on their honeymoon, but true love takes an unyielding will.  Thus, now and then, I vow to keep my promise to my wife Leanne until death due us part.

by Jay Mankus

 

You Can’t Have Favor Without the But

The idea of taking a short cut is enticing, saving time and effort.  However, if this risk doesn’t pay off, unfortunate souls are left to swim in a pool of disappointment.  When success becomes a distant memory, blame is often shifted to the big Guy upstairs.  Nonetheless, you can’t experience the favor of God until you display the but.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. – Daniel 1:8

For those of you have who been disenfranchised by faith, you need to draw your attention toward a teenager from Israel.  Despite living through the fall of Judah to Babylon, Daniel remained faithful to the values instilled in him by his parents.  When encouraged to abandon the practices of his youth, Daniel resolved not to defile himself.  God did not bless this young man until the but prompted Daniel to take a stand.

Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel – Daniel 1:9.

Years prior to this event, one of the forefathers of faith helped connect the dots to the hand of God.  According to Moses, obedience is the first step to obtaining the Lord’s favor, Deuteronomy 28:1.   Yet, unless the commands of the Bible are carefully followed, favor will be unattainable.  In modern times, developing a Matthew 6:33 mindset is a great starting point, opening the door for one to receive God’s daily bread.  May this blog help you see the but comes first before God’s favor.

by Jay Mankus

 

Faith Beyond Comprehension

Before the first rain drop touched earth, mankind had lost touch with God.  Like a New Year’s Celebration, out with the old and in with the new, boundaries were eliminated.  This mentality is described in Genesis 6:1-6, causing the Lord grief.  In an age of wickedness, Noah found favor with the Lord.  Unlike Adam and Eve, Noah actually did everything the Lord commanded, Genesis 6:22.  Building an ark the size of a football prior to the existence of rain, now that’s faith beyond comprehension.

Abraham was an old man when the Lord came calling.  The thought of a nation as massive as the sand on the seashore must have been enticing, Genesis 12:1-3.  However, there’s just one problem, elderly men don’t have children with elderly women.  As time ticked away year by year, most people would have given up, quit and called it a life.  Just as a doctor once confirmed in Luke 1:37, “nothing is impossible with God” so Abraham held on until his first child was born.

Today, skepticism abounds, with countless souls disappointed by lies, hypocrisy and unbelievable promises.  Although in their hearts they want to believe, troubled minds hardly ever come around to faith, side tracked by doubt.  Perhaps the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:18-2:16 still serves as a stumbling block to the wise.  A fool doesn’t have much to lose whereas the wise have their reputation to hold on to.   Regardless of the barriers that are present, may Christ like lives and transformed saints shine light into a dark world so that faith can be embraced by the lost.

by Jay Mankus

Prayers of Change

For the  helpless, hurting and poor, change is something that can’t come soon enough.  These desperate souls are searching for the secret to getting God’s attention to alter their circumstances.  When waiting becomes excruciating, what should you say to obtain prayers of change?

In the days of the Old Testament, the heart and its spiritual condition directly influenced God’s response to mankind, Isaiah 1:15-18.  Meanwhile, the mind is a terrible thing to waste, especially when doubt blocks faith from taking root, Matthew 21:18-22.  If you don’t believe God can transform your situation, miracles will cease to exist.  Thus, what can I do to be heard?

History provides a benchmark, a series of success stories in life.  When you desire wisdom, pray to possess the knowledge of Solomon.  If discernment is what you need, ask for the insight of the sons of Issachar.  Is it faith that you lack, claim the double portion the Lord gave Elisha.  Do you struggle to love?  Lean on Jesus to fill this void.  Finally, if the favor of God seems distant, persist in prayer to experience the blessings of Joseph.  May the words of Matthew 7:7-12 inspire you to offer up prayers for change.

by Jay Mankus