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Tag Archives: Israel

It’s How Well Your Faith Lasts

John Deere came up with a catchy slogan a few years ago to increase sales of their newest riding mower.  “It’s not how fast you mow; it’s how well you mow fast” commercials took on a life of their own, evolving over time.  This branding of a product has led to name recognition, accomplishing the goal of John Deere’s advertising campaign.

He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field, Matthew 13:31.

In the first century, there was another individual who was well ahead of his time.  Speaking to crowds using parables, Jesus painted such a vivid picture with his stories that his words left a lasting impression.  Instead of using a used car salesman approach, Jesus related everything to heaven in plain and simple terms.  In the parable of the Mustard Seed, Jesus wanted everyone in the crowd to realize, “it’s not how big you are; it’s how well your faith lasts.”

Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches,” Matthew 13:32.

Back in the days of the prophet Samuel, human nature compelled the nation of Israel to seek a leader who was handsome, strong and wise.  Thus, the Jews rejected God as their king, turning to man in the form of Saul.  Not much has changed several thousand years later as appearance, stature and size trumps what is in your heart.  To avoid repeating the past mistakes of history, make sure your main priority in life is that your faith lasts.

by Jay Mankus

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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

 

 

 

 

The End of Innocence

As I look around, listen and observe modern culture, I feel like a foreigner living in a strange land.  Maybe I lived a sheltered life up to this point in time?  Yet, the anger expressed, constant acts of disrespect displayed and vulgar vocabulary casually verbalized daily signal the end of innocence.

The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble, Proverbs 16:4.

I’m clearly not the first to suggest this.  During the glory years of the nation of Israel, Solomon recognized similar signs.  After reflecting upon why this may be occurring, King Solomon came to the conclusion that everything happens for a reason.  Perhaps, these social cycles serve as a transitional period like the cleansing of the tides in the ocean.

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today, Genesis 50:20.

Despite how bleak the future looks on the surface, it’s important to remember the words from Joseph above.  Although his brothers meant to harm him through an act of revenge, God allowed this to occur to lead Joseph to the land of Egypt.  Once the timing was ideal, the Lord elevated Joseph to second in command, preparing the region for seven years of famine.  As you experience turbulent times in life, may the Lord give you the foresight to remain optimistic whatever the situation.  Use the end of innocence as an opportunity to shine the light of Christ into the darkness of this age.

by Jay Mankus

From Bad to Unbearable

There is an old cliché of going from bad to worse.  However, in some circumstances individuals experience unbearable conditions.  Sometimes this occurs due to an accident, illness or trial.  Whenever you encounter one of these extremes, faith and perseverance are essential to survive.

“You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw.  But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God,’ Exodus 5:7-8.

During Israel’s 400 years of slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh took out his frustrations on the Hebrew servants.  Beginning in Exodus 5, the quota of work remained the same, but the workers were forced to now collect straw to make bricks.  This decision was like the last straw forcing God’s hand to ramp up the plagues on Pharaoh.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

One of Jesus’ brothers records a mindset necessary to overcome harsh periods in life.  Unfortunately, it’s one of those things that when most people hear it you reply, “yeah right.”  Nonetheless, staying positive is half the battle.  Any type of negativity can poison minds resulting in an avalanche of doubt.  Therefore, the next time things go from bad to worse in your life, consider it a pure joy so that those who endure will receive the crown of life.

by Jay Mankus

My Daily Bread

The concept of daily bread was introduced to Israel following the exodus out of Egypt.  What was meant to be a short journey into the promised land, became a 40 year journey in the wilderness.  To survive the extreme conditions of the desert, God sent manna 6 days a week, daily bread for hungry souls.  When some began to grumble, the Lord sent quail to satisfy starving stomachs.  When people become helpless, God provides daily bread for life.

I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food, Job 23:12.

During his preparation prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus withdrew into a desert.  Although, this region may have differed from the trek the Israelites took, fasting and prayer fueled Jesus.  Thus, as the devil approached with his twisting of the truth, Jesus was aimed with the right attitude.  Subsequently, when hunger pains began to surface, Jesus understood bread only takes you so far.  Rather, God’s Word is daily bread which makes you whole.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,’ Matthew 4:3-4.

One of the reasons this world appears to be upside down is that many are looking for love in all the wrong places.  Hunger is being satisfied by earthly pleasures.  Yet, this choice is similar to eating sugar instead of a healthy meal.  Subsequently, many lack the spiritual protein found in studying the Word of God.  If individuals would only turn to trusting in the Lord, feasting on daily bread could turn your life around.  Choose the true breakfast of champions, meditating of the Bible daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Lost Opportunities

While listening to a sermon last weekend, a spirit of guilt began to consume me.  Like a movie playing within my mind, highlights of the person I could have been flashed before me.  Yet, a lack of faith, money and resources has caused me to chose a different path.  Part of me wants to make the most of what God has given me, but for now all I can see is a bunch of lost opportunities.

From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem, Acts 13:13.

I guess you call this a crisis of faith or a mid-life crisis.  Either way I feel like I could do so much more with my life, but have lost the desire and passion to fulfill my potential.  In the book of Acts, Luke writes about someone who becomes homesick, leaving the mission field to return home.  This same individual eventually won back the apostle Paul’s trust and wrote the Gospel of Mark.  Since I am not a finished project, perhaps there is still hope for me.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil, Ephesians 5:15-16.

After reviewing the Old Testament, I am reminded of the long detour taken by Israel on their way to the Promised Land.  A trip that was suppose to take a little over a month ended up lasting for 40 years.  This past failure helps me realize that I am not alone.  Though I don’t feel any better, this example provides insight about how disobedience disrupts your journey.  While lost opportunities will bring future disappointment, there is still time for a U-Turn here and there to arrive at the place where God wants me to be.

by Jay Mankus

Hurry Up and Wait

Sometimes parents have a bad sense of timing.  Whether its getting a child out of bed for school, making it in time for church or an event, our sense of time doesn’t always match with the actual time.  Subsequently, there are days where quick reactions from children result in hurry up and wait for parents to get into their vehicle.

Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river, Joshua 3:8.

There are moments in time when God uses a similar strategy.  During the Passover, the Lord instructed Israel through Moses to leave Egypt in haste.  This was the hurry up part of the equation.  The waiting part involved entering a promised land which the hearts and minds of Israel were not ready for yet.  However, when God’s followers step out in faith like the passage above, the only thing remaining is to wait for a miracle.

And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap, Joshua 3:13.

The hardest part of trusting an invisible God involves risking embarrassment and failure.  What makes matters worse is that the Lord does not honor a lukewarm spirit.  To step out in faith requires a full commitment, yielding to the God above.  If the priests did not enter the Jordan River with the ark, the promised land would merely be a dream today.  Nonetheless, this simple act of obedience set the stage for divine intervention.  If this blog finds you becoming impatient with God and the road He has chosen for you, may this hurry up and wait example from history give you hope that the Lord hasn’t run out of miracles.

by Jay Mankus