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Tag Archives: hope

Distracted During the Season of Giving

The commercialization of Christmas has influenced how this religious holiday is now celebrated.  Advertisements appeal to humanistic tendencies, often suggesting that bigger is better.  Unfortunately, rarely do commercials address the price of these exotic gifts that few can afford.  Subsequently, in an attempt to impress those whom you love, it’s easy to become distracted during the season of giving.  Instead of getting excited, I dread all I need to do.

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn, Luke 2:7.

In modern terms, Jesus was born in a cheap bed and breakfast without a bed, room or special meal for Mary and Joseph.  This humble beginning would make most people ashamed, afraid to talk about the poverty Jesus was born into.  Nonetheless, this child of God altered the Jewish faith and gave hope to Gentiles, those born outside of God’s chosen people.  This child showed adults how to live, how to lead and ultimately, to lay down his life for mankind.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16.

One of the Bible’s most famous verses also details God the Father’s selfless act, sending his son to earth, to live, die and rise again to so others may have eternal life.  While it’s hard to ignore the never ending ads, don’t allow the pressure to out spend others this season ruin your Christmas spirit.  Rather, start each day in prayer, seeking God’s discernment for opportunities to help, serve and reach out to others in need this Christmas season.

by Jay Mankus

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Oops I Did It Again

My co-worker and I had an interesting conversation last night.  This discussion centered around whether or not people can actually change.  Trying to be open minded, we disagreed on one’s ability to overcome previous addictions, bad habits and poor character.  While I try to be optimistic, hoping that people reach their full potential, human nature has a way of reverting individuals back to childish ways.  This pattern tends to lead the guilty to confess, “oops I did it again.”

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out, Romans 7:18.

Based upon previous experiences, Harvey tends to believe that people never change.  Although there will be initial signs of transformation, positive steps in the right direction usually do not last.  Sooner or later, bad habits return, ensnaring many in life long addictions.  This reality is supported by the words of the apostle Paul in a letter to the church of Rome.  While it’s unclear what aspect of life this passage is referring to, Paul shares his own internal struggle with fleshly desires.  Since Paul doesn’t declare victory, it’s possible that this apostle fought a losing battle with temptation for years.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My belief in the ability to change lies in the passage above.  I spent many years as a child and teenager saying, “oops I did it again.”  Yet, the apostle Paul provides a blueprint above for anyone feeling defeated.  In order to succeed, you must expect the unexpected.  In this context, temptations are lurking around every corner, luring you to appease your fleshly desire.  However, if you want to resist, be alert, looking for an escape route.  Until you reach this point, any little victories will be short lived.  Therefore, if you want to put your childish ways behind you, 1 Corinthians 13:11, ask God for discernment so that change will occur with one good decision at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

Undaunted

Earlier in the week, I watched a documentary on near death experiences.  Similar to an episode of Project Afterlife, Destination America examined the experiences of two individuals who flat lined, then came back to life.  During these interviews, the man and woman describe their moments hovering above their bodies and the heaven and hell like encounters that followed.  Rarely do people get second chances at life, but for those granted a special exception, perspectives on life radically change.

Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen, Hebrews 13:20-21.

While I don’t recall the exact title, this show tried to help others understand unsolved mysteries about life.  The man selected for this episode was a neuro surgeon, spending a large portion of his career saving the lives of others.  In this scenario, the roles were reversed as his life slipped slowly away after several seizures.  His recollections of the afterlife altered the path of his new life.  This surgeon recalls a place similar to the accounts of hell in the Bible.  Dark, alone and filled with a constant eerie noise, it didn’t take long for panic to set in.  Upon waking up days later, his wife and son could see the fear in his eyes.  Like the reality show Scared Straight, this man didn’t need to go to prison to quickly turn his life over to God.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect, Romans 12:2.

Meanwhile, the woman who was in a car accident, went through a much more pleasant experience.  Like scenes from the I Saw Heaven, this individual is reunited with family members who had died and gone to heaven.  She details one conversation, the last before waking up in the hospital.  An aunt tells this woman that her work on earth is not finished.  The Lord is sending you back to complete the purpose and will God has for you.  “Live fearlessly,” undaunted by the barriers and obstacles that exist.  After hearing this message, I feel like this applies to all believers, hoping to please God.  May this testimony inspire you to go through life undaunted, trusting in angels, divine intervention and God’s power to cross the finish line on earth.

by Jay Mankus

How Long is this Going to Last?

Fifteen years is a little more than a third of my life to date.  Human beings go through a myriad of change over a decade and a half.  However, how would you respond if God promised you something and you didn’t receive this until fifteen years later.  The anticipation to see this fulfilled would be grueling.  The average person might become frustrated, impatient or may even lose hope.  The passage below written by David details his long wait between being anointed by Samuel as king and actually becoming king of Israel more than fifteen years later.  This nerve wrecking period brought David to his knees to pray.

My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! – Psalm 31:15

When it comes to driving a car, some possess the mindset “ride it until it dies.”  The only lemon I ever brought lasted a few months.  After a small leak in one of my hoses spilled on to the engine, this vehicle was toast, abandoned at a gas station in New Jersey.  Meanwhile, sometimes you are fortunate to possess a car that lasts much longer than it should.  Despite nearing the 200,000 mile mark, my Pontiac Vibe keeps ticking, approaching it’s fifteenth birthday.  Nonetheless, I don’t know how long this car is going to last.

For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night, Psalm 90:4.

In the passage above, a Psalmist makes an interesting statement about life.  This individual received some sort a vision of the past, connecting it with the future.  Unfortunately, most people place so much emphasis on time that they lose sight of the present.  While it would be nice to have knowledge of the future, savoring the here and now is a more noble cause.  Therefore, don’t allow anticipation to spoil your mood.  Rather, take life one day at a time so that wondering how long life is going to last doesn’t steal your hope, joy and peace.

by Jay Mankus

The Final Resting Place

At end of a grueling day, many people have a bed which serves as resting place.  The less fortunate may have to rely on a couch, sofa or floor to lay their heads.  Meanwhile, the homeless are forced to find an abandoned home, park bench or shelter to survive.  Whatever struggle you are forced to endure, everyone faces the same destination, a final resting place six feet under the earth.

And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it, Ecclesiastes 12:7.

Solomon provides insight to what happens to individuals after dying.  Just as God created Adam out of dust, one day human beings will return to this previous state.  Yet, this wise king adds a new dimension to death.  In the same way that Jesus gave up his spirit on the cross, this essence returns back to the Creator the moment you pass away.  This concept suggests that our lives are on loan from God, a temporary gift that lasts far too short.

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away, Revelation 21:4.

On Monday afternoon, I watched helplessly as my father in law was laid to rest.  As crying, grief and sobbing surrounded me, I came face to face with the grim reality of life.  As the casket was lowered six feet beneath the earth’s surface, this final resting place is permanent.  Yet, John the Revelator shines light on the hope which waits to those who call upon the name of the Lord.  The words in the passage above should serve as inspiration to get right with God before your hour glass of life runs out.  While your final resting place on earth will not change, there is time to secure your reservations for heaven now, 1 John 5:13.  May this blog encourage you to leave no doubt, Romans 10:9-10.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Three Ways God Saves Us From Ourselves

Young people can be naïve, unaware of the dangers that lurk outside of their comfort zones.  Thus, when individuals turn eighteen or twenty one, a thirst for freedom causes many to enter situations that result in a free fall.  This is where God steps in, swooping down like an eagle to save an eaglet who still doesn’t know how to fly on their own.  Unfortunately, the average person fails to recognize, see or thank the invisible presence who saves us regularly.

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; Isaiah 40:31.

When you do earn your wings, there are other factors in life that can halt your growth in a split second.  The apostle Paul compares the Christian life to a marathon.  For those of you who experienced running in some capacity, everyone sooner or later hits a mental wall.  When you do reach this point, human nature tells you to stop, rest a while or simply quit, never to run again.  As soon as this whisper arrives, God intervenes sending angels, the Holy Spirit or other runners to encourage you to keep going until you cross the finish line.  This second sign also goes unnoticed as many participates fail to acknowledge God’s hand, saving you from defeat or failure.

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint, Isaiah 40:31.

The final way God saves us from ourselves is through our perspective of trials and tribulations.  Since the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, perfection does not exist.  There is no perfect family, job, neighborhood or state.  Each has it’s frustrating, irritable and negative influences.  Those who seek perfection in any aspect of life will always be disappointed.  Therefore, if situations won’t change, God has to transform your attitude of unpleasant experiences in life.  This process is like sanctification, taking a lifetime to complete.  Yet, only those who trust in the Lord and lean not in their own understanding will see life through the eyes of Christ.  As you stand in the storm clouds of life, may God save you by adopting the attitude and mind of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Believing that You are Deserving

There is an insecurity that exists within human beings.  This fear plants doubt into the minds of the humbled, frustrated and unsuccessful.  Thus, many individuals go through life believing that they are not deserving.  This lack of confidence gives birth to a self-fulfilled prophecy as negativity becomes reality.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

Earlier in the week I caught an emotional interview on television.  While most of the media’s attention centered around the victims of the Las Vegas shooting, one professional golfer provided words of inspiration.  After losing his PGA card in 2016, Shawn Stefani was relegated to the Web.com Tour this year.  At the final event of the season, Shawn’s future as a professional golfer was up in the air.  On the bubble of earning a promotion to the PGA tour, Stefani’s had to play a solid final 18 holes to earn of one the 25 cards up for grabs.  After just making it by shooting 65, Shawn broke down in tears saying,”sometimes you have to believe that you are deserving.”

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope, Romans 15:13.

When circumstances in life don’t go your way, it’s hard to stay optimistic.  There is an expression in sports that refers to digging down deep while fighting adversity.  This same concept applies to life when individuals are placed into situations where you are forced to develop a will to survive or accept defeat.  It is during this struggle where desperate people need to begin to believe that yes, you are deserving to accomplish the dreams and goals in your heart.

by Jay Mankus