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The Prayer of Jesus

When Jesus is mentioned in the context of prayer, the Lord’s Prayer/Our Father comes to mind.  Yet, I recently heard a pastor give a sermon on Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible.  The point he was trying to make is if you take the words of Psalm 119 and apply them as a prayer, this is what God desires for you.

How can a young person stay on the path of purity?  By living according to your word, Psalm 119:9.

The Lord’s Prayer teaches individuals to begin prayer by acknowledging and praising the God of heaven and earth.  Prayer is meant to draw you toward God’s will; not a Christmas wish list to seek selfish desires.  The Psalmist compliments prayer, revealing the path to purity.  Anyone who strives to live according to the Bible moves closer to fulfilling the prayer of Jesus.

Give us today our daily bread, Matthew 6:11.

One of the most overlooked passages in the Sermon on the Mount is the verse above.  While it’s simplistic in nature, Jesus stresses one vital aspect about prayer, take life one day at a time as tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.  The World Health Organization proves this point as 153,424 die each day.  If you want to know and follow God’s will, read, study and meditate upon Psalm 119.  As individuals turn their attention to biblical principles, the prayer of Jesus will transform your life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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Blind and Toothless

Jewish law detailed in the Old Testament is clear and concise.  “An eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth annd life for a life” doesn’t leave any grey area.  Yet, when asked about his opinion on biblical law Gandhi provided a classic quote.  “If this law was applied literally everyone would be blind and toothless.”

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ, John 1:17.

Today, lawyers have crafted escape clauses and discovered loopholes to help clients avoid punishment.  When you combine this with activist judges who view the United States Constitution as a living documents, law now evolves as society changes.  This lack of consistency often results in chaos within classrooms, communities and work places.

What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet,” Romans 7:7.

Whenever someone is caught breaking a rule, knee jerk reactions tend to reply with something like “I didn’t know.”  The purpose of rules is to prevent individuals from using the amoral card, not informed on right from wrong.  Yet, laws without grace breeds teetotalism, the point Gandhi eludes to above.  Therefore, two things are necessary to avoid a blind and toothless society.  First, slow down long enough to read, reflect and meditate on the Bible.  Then, when you go beyond the boundaries God has set, confess, repent and turn to God in prayer for forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

Overwhelmed by Priorities

Every day when I arise from sleep, my mind is overwhelmed by the choices at hand.  Do I read?  Should I write?  Perhaps I need to work out?  Maybe hitting the snooze button and rolling over is my best option.  Either way, the choices you make will dictate the path your life takes.

For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. – Luke 12:34

Like most years, my New Years Resolutions are being modified as desires to lose weight, eat healthy and draw closer to God have fallen short.  Sometimes I feel as if I am in a tug of war, pulled in a direction I don’t want to go, yet over time I submit, dragged to a new low.  By enduring these trials, I am beginning to comprehend the words of the apostle Paul as he explains how the sinful nature can influence one’s priorities.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. – Romans 7:15

When Jeremiah opened his mouth to Israel, negative messages usually came forth.  Thus, this servant of God was nicknamed the weeping prophet.  If you too feel depressed, frustrated or lost, there are some promises in the Bible to cling to.  Lamentations 3:20-24 suggests God’s forgiveness is new every morning.  Therefore, if you fail to keep the priorities that you hold dear, may God’s grace lift you up each time you fall.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Pumping Iron: A Spiritual Guide to Working Out

The addition of Hans and Franz to State Farm’s Discount Double Check slogan has infused life into this ad campaign.  Known for their saying on SNL, “I want to pump you up,” Hans and Franz played by Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealson have become icons in today’s pop culture.  However, long before these two were ever born, another writer crafted a spiritual blueprint for pumping iron.

Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. – Psalm 119:98

The warm up to working out spiritually begins with the commands inside of the Bible.  When you read, reflect and mediate on God’s principles, you are exercising your mind.  Subsequently, over time, through a daily workout routine, you can become wiser than your enemies if you commit to spending time in God’s gym, the Word.

I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. – Psalm 119:99

Following this warm up, an extensive study using commentaries, historical references and examining the meaning of Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic phrases is like pumping iron.  Not like something that happens overnight, this discipline takes time to develop.  However, if you are faithful, spiritual muscles will blossom in the form of insight, becoming equal to and perhaps surpassing your teachers in life.

I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts. – Psalm 119:100.

Finally, the cool down requires practicing what you learn daily, Matthew 7:24.  Unless you apply God’s Word, spiritual muscles will disappear into a fat and lazy soul.  Therefore, if you want to become the Hans and Franz of the Bible, obey the Lord’s precepts and in God’s timing, you will have more understanding than the elders.  God is waiting to pump you up; the only question is, are you willing to make the Lord a priority to see the results you desire, Matthew 6:33-34?

by Jay Mankus

A Team Without Players

The competitor inside of me yearns to win, doing what it takes to bring a team into the winners circle.  Yet, what do you do when you find yourself a part of a team without any players?  Sure, you might have some individuals who can make a play or two, but you can’t expect each teammate to be perfect when they don’t possess essential skills to succeed.  This is where I find myself this baseball season.

Like a high school student who can’t add, read or write, some where along the way young people get neglected, promoted and pushed ahead without meeting appropriate standards.  Currently, the NBA is seeing a similar dilemma as phenoms are great one on one players, but most don’t know how to move, set picks or space the floor when they don’t have the ball.  Whether this is rooted in a lack of discipline, poor coaching or selfishness, every sport is in jeopardy of becoming a team without players.

Patience is a vital attribute while you wait to experience victory for the first time all season.  Teachable pupils is also important to keep morale from slipping toward doubt, constantly correcting errors, mistakes and poor habits as they occur.  The best thing you can do is live out Colossians 3:17, maintaining a positive attitude like a beacon of hope for sad faces.  Until you taste the joy of victory, keep your head up as you make strides to develop players for the future.

What advice do you have for coaches who have inherited a team without players?

by Jay Mankus

 

If God Used Logic…We’d All Be Dead!

Throughout the course of history, a series of cycles retrieve, add to and reinvent old theories about the Bible.  Gnostics build upon the teachings of Simon Magus in Acts 8:9-19 with modern theories like the Jesus Seminars and Da Vinci Code.  Meanwhile, books like the Secret take biblical principles out of their proper context by blending these truths with metaphysics and self-help methodology.  Despite what so called experts may claim, the Bible continues to be an annual best selling book about the creation of earth, the fall of man and restoration of life through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  If you read and study this book you will soon discover, if God used logic, we’d all be dead!

If you were God, how would you respond when your only rule, Genesis 2:16-17,  is quickly broken by your second created being, the first child born on this planet becomes a murderer, Genesis 4, and a few generations later, the only person worth saving is Noah.  Meanwhile, the flood is immediately forgotten by the people of Babel in Genesis 11, your only leader, Abraham, is a habitual liar, Genesis 20:1-2, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were given over to shameful lusts, Romans 1:26-27.  Like a frustrated parent whose children never listen to them, if God used logic, the earth would have been destroyed once and for all in Genesis 19:29.

Fortunately, for all of mankind, God is love, 1 Corinthians 13.  Logically, God should have given up on us years ago, but He loved us so much that God gave us His one and only son, John 3:16-17.  Despite the wages of sin, Jesus paved a new way toward heaven in Romans 6:23.  Jesus left a final reminder of God’s love with his best friend on earth, John.  According to 1 John 3:16-20′ true love today is found today by living out the love of Jesus.  Like the classic country song by Crossway, “Thank God I’m not Jesus!”  Come alive by following the apostle Paul advice in Galatians 2:20.

by Jay Mankus