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Tag Archives: Israel

When Right is Wrong and Wrong is Right

In any social setting, there are preconceived thoughts based upon appearance, attire, background, education, intellect and wealth.  If character is excluded from this set of standards, people can be misled, confusing right from wrong and vice versa.  Like Samuel waiting to anoint one of Jesse’s sons as the next king of Israel, the heart is often overlooked.  While David’s brothers fit the physical features of a leader, David’s heart set him apart from his siblings.  Thus, Samuel told Jesse to call his youngest son from the fields, led by the Holy Spirit to anoint David.

Now there was a woman in the city who was [known as] a sinner; and when she found out that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume; 38 and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began wetting His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head, and [respectfully] kissed His feet [as an act signifying both affection and submission] and anointed them with the perfume, Luke 7:37-38.

Several hundred years later, another famous anointing took place.  Unfortunately, the disciples were fooled by the tarnished reputation of an unwelcomed guest.  To make matters worse, this woman broke and wasted a valuable vial of perfume.  The actual worth of this bottle was equivalent to nearly a years pay for a first century laborer.  This display blinded religious leaders from the true intentions of this woman.  Staring at the spilled perfume as if it was a load of cash blowing in the wind, the man who invited Jesus over to his house is offended by Jesus’ interaction with this prostitute.  Subsequently, in Simon’s eyes right is wrong and wrong is right.

Now when [Simon] the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this Man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of woman this is who is touching Him, that she is a [notorious] sinner [an outcast, devoted to sin],” Luke 7:39

Over reactions like Simon are carried out within homes every night in the 21st century.  Instead of seeing things for what they are, preconceived notions blind decent human beings from the truth.  Thus, knee jerk reactions lead to conflict, division and tension within Christian homes.  Perhaps, everyone needs to become more like Jesus, expecting the best in others regardless of past or present reputations.  May this passage of the Bible speak to your soul, opening your heart to forgive, forget and extend God’s grace and mercy to others.  If you don’t, you too may confuse right from wrong and wrong with right.

by Jay Mankus

The Burning of History

Nearly a year ago, a little known school in North Carolina made national news.  Richmond Early College High School near Rockingham decided to recall all 2017 yearbooks.  At first glance, I thought there may be a major defect, glitch or typo.  As I read deeper into this article, the culprit was a controversial slogan deemed hurtful, insensitive and racist.  All yearbooks were confiscated due to a quote used by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, “Build that wall.”

For I do not want you to be unaware, believers, that our fathers were all under the cloud [in which God’s presence went before them] and they all passed [miraculously and safely] through the [Red] Sea; And all [of them] were baptized into Moses [into his safekeeping as their leader] in the cloud and in the sea; and all [of them] ate the same spiritual food; and all [of them] drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not well-pleased with most of them, for they were scattered along the ground in the wilderness [because their lack of self-control led to disobedience which led to death], 1 Corinthians 10:1-5.

During a letter to an ancient Greek city, the apostle listed a series of mistakes made by the Israel.  Apparently, the Holy Spirit compelled Paul to bring up these misguided steps.  If you don’t learn from history, you become vulnerable to repeating these same errors.  However, if books are burned, hidden or taken off the shelves due to politically incorrect content, how will future generations learn from past and present sins.  In addition, if statues of Civil War heroes are destroyed or taken down, how can young people decipher the context of their lives in history.

Now these things [the warnings and admonitions] took place as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did. Do not be worshipers of handmade gods, as some of them were; just as it is written [in Scripture], “The people sat down to eat and drink [after sacrificing to the golden calf at Horeb], and stood up to play [indulging in immoral activities].” We must not indulge in [nor tolerate] sexual immorality, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand [suddenly] fell [dead] in a single day! We must not tempt the Lord [that is, test His patience, question His purpose or exploit His goodness], as some of them did—and they were killed by serpents. 10 And do not murmur [in unwarranted discontent], as some of them did—and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example and warning [to us]; they were written for our instruction [to admonish and equip us], upon whom the ends of the ages have come, 1 Corinthians 10:6-11.

Every year the Bible is one of the top selling books in America.  According to the author of Hebrews 4:12, this collection of 66 books has a special attraction.  These pages are living and active, having supernatural power to speak to hearts and minds each time you read.  Whenever individuals open the pages of the Bible, each chapter can admonish, equip and guide souls toward that which is good, right and true.  During the rise of Communism in Europe, Bibles were banned and confiscated along with crosses.  If Christians don’t stand up to defend, fight for and pray for truth, the burning of history will overtake America to erase the Judeo Christian values that this country was founded upon.  May this blog inspire hearts and minds to embrace history so that the future will be brighter than the past.

by Jay Mankus

 

Estranged

When love is absent, conditions can deteriorate.  If this negative climate persists, relationships can be torn apart.  By products of this atmosphere result in arguments, fights and misery.  Without reconciliation, family, friends and relatives can become estranged.  This tension creates a dysfunctional mood at an family gathering or reunion.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world, Ephesians 2:12.

The Bible refers to estranged in context of a relationship with God.  Any type of sin separates individuals from God.  In the Old Testament, Israel was given the Torah as a set of standards for life.  Breaking, cutting corners or slightly deviating from these laws is described as a willful act of disobedience.  Deuteronomy 28 contains a list of blessings for those who obey God, ending with a much longer list of consequences called curses.

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near, Hebrews 10:24-25.

A first century Jewish convert to Christianity wrote the book of Hebrews.  In the passage above, advice is provided to restore estranged relationships.  Accountability serves as a tool to sharpen one another spiritually.  While this takes place in the form as a Bible Study, prayer or sharing group, these fellowships promote healing and forgiveness.  If you find yourself in a relationship drifting away or falling apart, take steps now so that these precious bonds are not severed permanently.

by Jay Mankus

Just Give Me a Crumb

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is an opinioned woman, regularly sharing her beliefs with reporters.  During one press conference, Pelosi gave her initially thoughts on the 2017 Tax Reform Bill passed by Republicans in Congress.  Referring to the middle class, Pelosi compared $1000 bonuses given to blue collar workers as merely crumbs.  Since no democrat in the Senate voted for tax reform, Pelosi tried to discredit this impact on the growing American economy.

Now the woman was a Gentile (Greek), a Syrophoenician by nationality. And she kept pleading with Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 He was saying to her, “First let the children [of Israel] be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the pet dogs (non-Jews),” Mark 7:26-27.

The Bible has its own story about crumbs.  Whenever Jesus entered a city or town, he usually went to synagogues to teach Jews about the kingdom of God.  Based upon the Great Commission detailed in Acts 1:8, Jesus began his earthly ministry reaching out to God’s chosen people of the Old Testament first.  On some occasions, God fearing Gentiles, non-Jews, displayed more faith and zeal than everyone else.  The woman introduced in the passage above refused to take no for an answer, desperate to see her daughter healed.

But she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the pet dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer [reflecting your humility and faith], go [knowing that your request is granted]; the demon has left your daughter [permanently].” 30 And returning to her home, she found the child lying on the couch [relaxed and resting], the demon having gone, Mark 7:28-30.

The average person would have walked away unfulfilled after Jesus’ initial rejection.  Filled with persistence, this Syrophoenician woman was shrewd, giving a quick reply that even astonished Jesus.  Essentially, this Greek begged Jesus, pleading with him to just give her a crumb.  Recognizing the power of Jesus, even a crumb was enough to heal her demon possessed daughter.  May we all strive to follow in this godly woman’s footsteps, wrestling with God in prayer until the answer you are waiting on arrives.

by Jay Mankus

A Story of Persistence: The Untold Story of Tabassco Sauce

Avery Island is located on the Vermilion Bay, 3 miles from the Gulf of Mexico.  In the 1840’s, former Maryland banker Edmund McIIhenny moved to this island.  Hoping to live off the land, McIIhenny tried to plant various crops.  Unfortunately, the salt dome underneath the soil only yielded peppers.  During a famine in the 1850’s, most of the residents left, abandoning this island.  Trying to figure out what to do with all of these pepper plants, Edmund began to experiment.  By the 1860’s, McIIhenny developed a hot sauce which tasted good on everything that he eat.  Initially, collecting discarded cologne bottles left behind, Edmund shared his discovery with family and friends.  By 1868 Tabassco Sauce was marketed and sold to the public, using bottles from a New Orleans glass supplier.  Five generations later, Tabassco Sauce remains a household name across the country and throughout the world.

But now bring me a harpist.” While the harpist was playing, the hand of the LORD came on Elisha 16and he said, “This is what the LORD says: I will fill this valley with pools of water, 2 Kings 3:15-16.

During the reign of Jehoshaphat, Israel faced a similar famine.  Unsure what to do, the king brought in a reliable prophet to provide insight on what to do.  After requesting a musician for inspiration, Elisha received a clear message from God.  However, this command didn’t make sense initially, “dig a ditch.”  Perhaps Jehoshaphat asked for more specific instructions, but the gist of this advice was to start digging in the desert.  While Avery Island contains a salt dome, this desert floor revealed underground springs like Palm Springs, California.  This vital resource provided ample water for animals, cattle and everyone in the kingdom.  Instead of abandoning this region, God provided for Israel in their time of need.

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.

According to Jesus’ little brother, God uses trials to test the faith of human beings, James 1:2-6.  While most people talk a good game, you never know how you are going to react until you are thrust into turmoil.  Edmund McIIhenny could have left Avery Island like many of his former neighbors.  Jehoshaphat could have surrendered to an enemy in exchange for food and water.  Yet, both men persisted, sticking things out until each figured out and completed their purpose on earth.  McIIhenny waited almost 30 years before he realized why he came to Avery Island.  As you read this blog, maybe you are experiencing your own arid season, frustrated and on the verge of quitting.  Before you make any decision, remember the promise of James 1:12 so that a steadfast spirit will carry you on until you experience the fruits of persistence.

by Jay Mankus

When I Can’t Find My Way Out

Although you may not know or recognize it, everyone has their own kryptonite.  This weakness makes human beings limited, powerless or at best, vulnerable to attacks from the enemy.  For me, I can be directionally challenged, regularly losing my way.  Stubbornness only worsens my condition, trusting in myself instead of leaning on outside sources like modern technology.  Unfortunately, some people never make the necessary changes, unable to find their way out of addiction, bad habits or poor choices.

Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:6.

The author of the book of 1 Corinthians uses history as a way of understanding the past.  As the apostle Paul reflects upon the foundation of Israel as a nation, most died before ever seeing God’s promise fulfilled.  Whether ignorance, selfishness or a lack of vision was to blame, the majority did not please God.  Instead of appreciating manna from heaven, greed led souls to demand more.  God was treated like a grocery clerk at a check out line, praying for this or that without any regard for developing an intimate relationship.  Thus, the wilderness serves as a remainder of what not to do.

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.  So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:11-13.

What I fail to comprehend about the nature of God is that the Lord uses wilderness phases in life to prepare us for what’s next.  If you don’t adapt, learn or mature during these trials, you won’t be ready to succeed in the future.  While guarding angels are working behind the scenes to usher in the good things God has planned for us, Philippians 1:6, I often get in the way.  Impatience wants me to quickly skip ahead to the next journey in life before overcoming present obstacles.  Thus, it’s sad to say that I can’t find my way out, leaving me stuck living in the wilderness of broken dreams.  Perhaps, 1 Corinthians 10:13 contains the key, the missing link to take those living in defeat toward the door of victory.  May you endure this present life long enough so that the way out is revealed to you through whispers of the Holy Spirit.

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