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Tag Archives: obedience

When Justification Goes Too Far

One of my junior high teachers used a familiar saying to address students who were about the cross an invisible line.  Interrupting just before individuals earned a detention, promptly exclaiming, “that’s far enough.”  Unfortunately, obedience and respect appear to be at an all time low.  Instead, excuses, justification and victimization now reign.

Then Eli’hu the son of Bar’achel the Buzite, of the family of Ram, became angry. He was angry at Job because he justified himself rather than God; Job 32:2.

While listening to a heated discussion, a young man felt compelled to share his own two cents.  Apparently, Job was lacking humility.  Instead of accepting the hardship dealt by God, Job began to justify his own actions.  Maybe Job did not do anything to receive the ordeals sent his way, but Elihu felt that Job is disrespecting God.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21.

One of the greatest examples of justification occurs while watching replays of penalties in sports.  Most of the time athletes complain to officials, “I never touched them.”  Yet, replays often reveal guilt.  In real life, no one is without fault.  All have sinned.  Thus, if justification continues, countless individuals will deny and reject the only One who will come to their rescue, Jesus Christ the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

 

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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

A Year Without Church

Before his tragic death in a plane crash, Keith Green created the song Asleep in the Night.  Although the original context refers to someone sleeping in, missing church on Easter Sunday, this song applies to my current dilemma.  Due to my grave yard work schedule, I can’t seem to get my lazy butt out of bed on Sunday morning.  Subsequently, 2016 can be described as a year without church, the fewest weeks I’ve ever attended.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living, Luke 15:13”

I wish I had a decent excuse, but what good would that do.  Like any other sin, missing church involves a lack of discipline, choosing laziness over obedience.  Instead of receiving God’s blessings of fellowship, praise and words of inspiration, I have become like the prodigal who continues to move in the wrong decision.  Hopefully, I will come to my senses soon so that I can spent 2017 in the house of God.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you,” Luke 15:17-18.

When you miss a day praying or reading the Bible, you can’t get it back.  Sure, you might try to do twice the praying or reading the next day to make yourself feel better, but the truth is something else was more important to you on the days you tuned out God.  Part of me still sees the Lord from an Old Testament perspective, one of judgement and wrath.  Yet, the New Testament opens the door on a loving God, desperately waiting for his children to give Him the attention He is worthy of.  May you learn from the errors of my way by visiting a local church regularly and invest time at home daily with the living God of the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

An Absentee Christian

This state usually begins with a logical excuse.  Perhaps, you’re traveling, on vacation or under the weather so you decide to skip church.  Like any other form of compromise, the second time is always easier, sleeping in after a long week at work.  If this pattern continues, it won’t be long until you become an absentee Christian.

For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.  For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out, Romans 7:18.

In election years, the phrase absentee voters is a common term.  This applies to students going out of state to attend college or someone who spends weeks on the road for business trips.  If you plan ahead, anyone can request an absentee ballot which you can fill out and mail to insure your vote counts.  Unfortunately, absentee Christians tend to be wayward souls who don’t have a church home, have lost faith or are caught somewhere in between.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

When I awoke this morning, I can’t deny the truth any longer, I have become an absentee Christian.  Sure, I could use my recent surgery and night work schedule as an excuse, but God isn’t pleased with my lack of obedience.  All I can do is follow the example set by Jesus’ earthly brother, to publicly confess my sins so that healing will come quickly.  As for now, I’m a humbled absentee Christian trying to get back where the Lord wants me to be.

by Jay Mankus

 

What’s Behind Blessings and Curses?

There is something fascinating behind the lives of the rich and famous.  If you have ever had the opportunity to visit resorts, visit wealthy neighborhoods or vacation in exquisite destinations, its amazing what money can buy.  Yet, one has to wonder, what has led to the accumulation of mass possessions?  While the answers vary, discipline, hard work and persistence are involved.  However, at some point the blessing of God must be considered.

The LORD‘s curse is on the house of the wicked, but he blesses the home of the righteous, Proverbs 3:33.

During my 10 years as a high school teacher, I spent numerous hours developing curriculum.  One of the most intriguing chapters I taught was based upon an 18th century case study.  A pastor’s family and criminal were placed side by side, examining the descendants of each for 2 generations.  The findings revealed the pastor’s children, grandchildren and great grandchildren went on to pursue higher education, serve the military and become self-sufficient.  Meanwhile, this alcoholic turned criminal gave birth to needy individuals, costing local, state and the federation government over 1 million dollars.

You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, Exodus 20:5.

Few people fail to recognize the conditional relationship crafted into the 10 commandments.  Growing up Catholic the verse above was omitted from CCD, similar to Sunday School in evangelical churches.  This passage suggests that God will not allow those people who chose to ignore God’s principles to prosper.  Unfortunately, modern sermons highlight the loving God of the New Testament, often canceling out the teachings of the Old Testament.  Yet, behind blessings and curses, you reap what you sow, leading to one or the other.  In view of this truth, choose obedience today.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Recipe for Disaster

Thomas Gray is the first to pen the phrase ignorance is bliss.  Ignorance refers to disregard, insensitivity or being obtuse.  Meanwhile, bliss is like experiencing euphoria, joy and paradise.  However, when you put the two together, it can be a recipe for disaster.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance, 1 Peter 1:14.

In today’s progressive culture, if you’ve not open to non biblical ideas, you are considered ignorant.  Yet, this same movement seeks heaven without following the guidelines left behind by Jesus.  Sure, children make mistakes; its all part of growing up, to live and learn.  However, at some point, you have to mature by taking responsibility for your actions.

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me, 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Despite being an adult, I suffer from days of ignorance.  These moments are marked by disobedience, not caring about this or that rule.  Unfortunately, these periods open the door for evil, forgetting right from wrong or simply rejecting that which you know to be true.  This recipe for disaster must be avoided at all cost before addiction poisons your soul.   Therefore, before its too late, ask the Lord to draw you back into obedience.

by Jay Mankus

Get Rid of It

As a child, there were always a couple of things I dreaded.  Whether it was cleaning my room, doing homework or eating vegetables, my parents nagged me into obedience.  However, unless you are married or have a significant other, the older you get, the less you will hear people say, “get rid of it.”

So get rid of all evil behavior. Be done with all deceit, hypocrisy, jealousy, and all unkind speech, 1 Peter 2:1.

This was not the case in the first century.  As a growing number of Gentiles came to faith in Christ, apostles began to share a common message.  Prior to any exposure to religion, most individuals follow in the ways of their ancestors or parents.  Yet, entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is like being reborn.  Therefore, drastic changes to your life must be made if you want to experience spiritual fruit.

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves, Galatians 5:16.

Peter talks about purging yourself from the impurities of life.  Meanwhile, the apostle Paul provides more specific instructions, using the Holy Spirit as a guide for life.  Although any type of change is difficult, obedience to these two passages will result in future blessings.  Thus, whether you like it or not, parents are usually right, so get rid of those things which drag you down while there is still time.

by Jay Mankus