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Tag Archives: prodigal

Never Be The Same

There are moments in life that serve as life altering experiences.  Whether this is a decision to begin a new career, relationship or adapt to an unexpected event, your life will never be the same.  Like a fork in a road, you have to decide the path your life will take.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me, John 15:4.

The Christian Group Red sing about this on their Innocence and Instinct album.  The context of the song Never Be the Same refers to entering into a relationship with Jesus.  Unlike any other earthly experience, God’s love is unconditional.  For anyone who has been burned, disappointed or let down by unfulfilled promises, this concept is hard to grasp.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing, John 15:5.

Yet, any prodigal who has come to their senses, God’s timing serves as a saving grace.  While modern church leaders attempt to manufacture this setting through long drawn out altar calls, the desperate will run to God.  After the emotion of God’s forgiveness fades, the hard part is setting time aside daily to maintain this connection.  You can’t force anyone into a relationship that they have no interest in.  However, if freewill is allowed to run it’s course freely, new Christians will never be the same.

by Jay Mankus

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

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

 

 

No More Excuses

As a parent, it doesn’t take long for children to figure you out.  Ideally, you should be an example, positive and a role model.  Yet, when you have a bad day, start to fall away from God or have a weak moment you can’t run and hide.  You have to face the truth, a sinner who has fallen short of God’s glory.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst, 1 Timothy 1:15.

The apostle Paul is one of those unlikely individuals the Lord calls out of darkness into the light to do great things for God.  Yet, despite his successful earthly ministry, mentoring of young pastors like Timothy and many miracles performed, Paul was haunted by his past.  Whether it was his guilt of giving the order to have the apostle Stephen killed or persecuting Christians prior to his conversion, Paul recognized the error of his former ways.

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them, James 4:17.

Sure, Paul could have blamed his upbringing as a Jewish zealot.  Yet, like other followers of Christ the conviction of the Holy Spirit exposes human imperfections.  Other believers, pastors or words of the Bible make this point painfully clear.  There are no more excuses, rational explanations or scapegoats.  Rather, sins of inaction are just as guilty as those who commit harmful acts.  Therefore, don’t run from the truth, accept it as a prodigal child in desperate need of God’s grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

A Sinner’s Life

Since paradise was lost in the Garden of Eden, no one can escape the temptation to sin.  While some make better choices than others, a sinner’s life is like attending the school of hard knocks.  Living and learning from past mistakes has a learning curve with many struggling to avoid Satan’s snares.

All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one, Romans 3:12.

If you have the opportunity to travel the country or across the world, you begin to get a sense for what’s out there.  Along the way, you will rub shoulders with various groups of people, witnessing the good, the bad and the ugly.  During his missionary journey’s throughout the Middle East, the apostle Paul makes an interesting observation.  Similar to economic classes, Paul writes about the classification of sinners, separating typical offenders from those addicted.

The sins of some are obvious, reaching the place of judgment ahead of them; the sins of others trail behind them, 1 Timothy 5:24.

If actions speak louder than words, sins communicate the heart and the soul of individuals.  Although some may dabble in sin from time to time, others follow in the footsteps of the prodigal, continuing until they reach rock bottom.  When the sensations of temporary pleasures fade, sinners face an important decision, do I come to my senses or not?  How a sinner’s life ends is in your hands.  Therefore, may you heed the words of 1 John 1:6 so that darkness does not prematurely end your life and the reason why you were created.

by Jay Mankus

 

For Those Who Are Far Off

There is a misconception that the Bible is full of big words, too hard for the average person to understand.  While the historical context of each book requires research and dry reading from time to time, this best seller is fascinating.  Each time I open the pages, its nice to know that the message relates to those who are far off.

The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” – Acts 2:39

Since compromise was conceived in the Garden of Eden, defined boundaries have become easier to overlook.  In fact, modern cultures have taught young people to tests the limits, challenge authority and resist law enforcement.  This trend has infected souls, turning right from wrong into a series of gray areas.  The longer you go down this road, the further away you will drift away from the Lord.

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

I once believed God was like the tattle tail in class who always tried to get everyone in trouble.  However, when I look at the passage above, Jesus wants to help people not taunt or trash individuals.  Therefore, whether you are far off, acting like a prodigal or struggling to find your way, call out to the Lord and He will make your paths straight, Proverbs 3:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Love Beyond Comprehension

I must confess that I let the ways of the world get the best of me this past week.  Every time I watch cable news or listen to talk radio, I usually feel much worse than I did before I tuned in.  In addition, I tend to talk to the person on the other side, as if they can hear me, shouting out my beliefs and views.  In the end, the Lord doesn’t care what I, you or the media thinks as God is consumed with a love beyond comprehension.

“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?” – Luke 15:4

Driving home from work early this morning, the first song I heard on the radio was David Crowder’s version of How He Loves Us.  By the time the chorus arrived, all of my frustrations disappeared.  At this moment, I realized how futile it is to try to prove tno others that you’re right and everyone else is wrong.  Regardless of how individuals act, behave and live out their life, God’s love is like a hurricane, blowing souls back home.

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent, Luke 15:7.

The parable of the Lost Sheep illustrates God’s amazing love.  Whether you are a prodigal child, wandering nomad looking for a church to call home or a troubled soul, God is willing to send angels across this planet to open your eyes and soften your heart to receive eternal life, Romans 10:9-10.  In view of this, the next time a co-worker, family member or neighbor get’s on your nerves, say a prayer so that one day each annoying person will embrace a love beyond comprehension.

by Jay Mankus