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Tag Archives: righteousness

Look Up, Look Within and Look Around

The current culture that exists encourages individuals to point their finger at everyone but themselves.  This mentality enables blame to become attached to innocent people.  Cable news, social media and talk radio often defends the guilty while accusing those who share an alternative worldview.  Instead of continuing down this road, perhaps its time to look up by using prayer to ask God why?

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you, Matthew 6:33.

If you don’t receive a definitive answer, maybe its time to look within.  When things don’t go your way, you may be the person responsible.  This is where accountability comes into play.  If you surround yourself with yes people, you might not ever hear the honest truth.  After any fall in life, God uses humility to teach sinners to learn from mistakes from the past.

For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened, Matthew 7:8.

One thing God is teaching me is to avoid becoming self absorbed.  I tend to get so focused on what I am doing that I ignore the needs of others.  To correct this bad habit, change begins by looking up for divine intervention.  When insight arrives, personal reflection may be required to alter your direction in life if necessary.  Finally, as individuals begin to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, its much easier to look around to see where God want you to be.

by Jay Mankus

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All These Things

Prior to beginning his ministry on earth, Jesus faced three temptations during a forty day fast.  The first was physical as the Devil attacked the human bodies dependence on food.  According to Matthew 4:4, relying on the spiritual, the Bible, strengthens minds.  Yet, seeking God is much more than overcoming temporary pleasures.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, Matthew 6:33.

Not giving up, Satan fought back, testing Jesus to see if He was willing to use God’s power for his own glory.  The request was not impossible.  Jesus could have called on angels to save His life.  This mental temptation feeds on pride, daring souls to prove the Devil wrong.   Instead of participating in this folly by lowering God’s standards, Jesus quotes scripture to expose the Devil’s cunning plot.  The key to righteousness is remaining humble, wrestling with desires of the sinful nature to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own, Matthew 6:34.

The final obstacle Jesus overcame was devotion, who will you worship?  The Father of Lies continues to make empty promises today, deceiving the uneducated daily.  Knowing and practicing foundational biblical truths is the last step of obedience before you can experience the promise of Matthew 6:33.  Although young men stumble and fall, seeking God and his righteousness must be your top authority.  Until this occurs, all these things are just a fantasy.  However, when you cross this threshold, following in the footsteps of Christ, the Lord will begin to provide in supernatural ways.

by Jay Mankus

You Have to Seek Before You Can Peak

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s San Bernardino shooting leaving 14 dead and another 21 others wounded, responses poured out in the form of thoughts and prayers.  As 2016 Republican Presidential candidates turned to God for help, democratic leaders used this tragedy to drum up support for gun control and the elimination of the second amendment.  Perhaps, this political difference caused a New York journalist to write, “God isn’t fixing this.”  Unfortunately, the author of this quote doesn’t know one of the most basic Bible principles, you have to seek before you can peak ahead.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, Matthew 6:33.

During one of the most famous sermons ever recorded, Jesus spends a chapter in Matthew 6 explaining the concept of spiritual etiquette.  Like the present, first century inhabitants were searching for results as well as credit once things improved.  Thus, Jesus brings up proper and improper attitudes and motives.  Listing a few current examples, Jesus exposes the impure.  Essentially, Jesus suggests that prayer, fasting and money won’t change you current situation.  Rather, as soon as individuals make the decision to seek God first, everything else will begin to fall into place within this life.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own, Matthew 6:34.

Unfortunately, the Name and Claim It Crowd, also known as the Prosperity Gospel, have overlooked one crucial word, righteousness.  God’s nature can not exist without it.  Thus, as Christians leave a negative imprint on society, members of the media are doubting the Lord’s ability to fix America’s decaying morality.  True progress lies in an unswerving devotion to trust God for daily bread, basic essentials to survive.  While this mental state is possible to achieve, few have the faith to endure the storms of life.  Therefore, the next time someone tries to limit God’s power, remember you have to seek before you can peek at the blessings the Lord has in store for you in the future, Proverbs 3:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

The Injustice of Righteousness

Righteousness is a guiding virtue, a moral compass which leads individuals to a higher calling.  Although hiccups and slip ups will occur, God’s grace will wipe away the stains of sin.  Unfortunately, when the day of judgment comes, the Bible suggests there will be more souls in hell than heaven.  Subsequently, those standing outside the pearly gates will likely complain about the injustice of righteousness.

Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them, Mark 4:25.

Life on earth is just as unfair as the afterlife.  According to Jesus, the wealthy will continue to have while what little the poor possesses will be taken away.  This is one of those passages of the Bible which leaves more questions than answers.  The outsiders, anyone who does not believe in Jesus, John 14:6, and progressives won’t be pleased by Jesus’ comment.  The modern day Robinhood’s might consider this teaching to be an injustice of righteousness.

He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything, Mark 4:34.

Being left out of anything isn’t a pleasant feeling.  Whether its high school, work or a social network, everyone has experienced being the odd person out.  Denial, exclusion and rejection are forms of trials meant to toughen you up, James 1:2-4.  Nonetheless, you can’t change the facts inside of God’s Word.  In view of these truths, chose life so when your time is up, there will be no one else to blame, Deuteronomy 30:15-18.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Enough Syndrome

Whether its the persistent increase of consumer prices or decline in the purchasing power of the dollar, most families and individuals understand how difficult it is to get ahead in this financial climate.  The majority fluctuate between not enough and just enough, making sacrifices to break even monthly.  Meanwhile, the blessed, talented and wealthy are fortunate to experience a more than enough income, reaching a place of security few can comprehend.

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” – Acts 20:35

Prior to the bursting of the dot.com bubble on Wall Street, my wife and I made investments in two of the highest earning mutual funds in the world.  Thinking these were going to continue to rise in value and not wanting to pay the taxes for selling them, we elected to put less money down on our first house instead of cashing out to pay for our home in full.  This decision made sense until 2001 when the market tanked, flushing 60,000 dollars in paper money down the toilet.  Ever since this day, I know the anguish of the “Enough Syndrome,” living under the curse of not enough.

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. – Deuteronomy 8:18

From a spiritual perspective, the Jews were led by God through 3 similar phases in life.  During 400 years of slavery in Egypt, not enough was par for the course, an accepted way of life.  Upon their departure, able to pillage Egypt following the plague of the First Born, Israel spent 40 years in the Wilderness, graduating up to a just enough status as God provided manna, quail and water to meet their daily needs.  Finally, the promise of a land filled with milk and honey was fulfilled, giving birth to a generation who tasted more than enough.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. – Matthew 6:33-34

Wherever you may be on this financial spectrum, remember the words of Job 1:21, “the Lord gives and takes away.”  Through the good times and the bad, there is a lesson to be learned.  At the end of each day, try to find and reflect on the positive things in your life, Philippians 4:8-9.  No matter how hard it may be, trust in the Lord to help you move from the months of not enough to years of more than enough!

by Jay Mankus

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

If you believe everything happens for a reason, then my first full time teaching position after college was a blessing in disguise.  Tucked away in the Monongahela National Forest, I spent the Spring Semester of 1993 counseling, teaching and tutoring junior high students who were considered career underachievers.  The learning never stopped, continuing through breakfast, lunch and dinner.  My only true break was for 40 minutes, from 12:20-1:00 pm, Monday thru Friday.  Titled 20/20 Time, students and teachers spent 40 minutes in solitude either on a hillside, in the valley or along the banks of a stream.  The goal of this exercise was to spend 20 minutes reflecting and 20 writing.  To my amazement, I developed a love for journaling; eventually inspiring 12 songs that formed my first album, A Simple Confession.

For those of us who love food, eating is like a race to see who can devour a meal the fastest.  Yet, for businessmen, savvy entrepreneurs and relational individuals, meals are maximized to get work done, explore new opportunities or develop permanent meaningful lasting relationships.  Prior to the rise in youth sports, families spent 30-60 minutes a day at their kitchen table talking .  Now, some households eat out breakfast, lunch and dinner, working meals around busy schedules.  Although hunger is a natural part of the body, appetites can vary from delicacies to worldly obsessions.  Realizing this truth, Jesus introduced a new concept for his listeners to digest, “hunger and thirst for righteousness,” Matthew 5:6.

The Psalms of the Bible illuminate how to hunger and thirst after righteousness.  Beginning in Psalm 1:1-3, the author compares this type of individual with an evergreen, a tree that stays green throughout the year.  Known as conifers, the key to this tree is its root system.  When planted near a creek, river or stream, daily nutrients are widely available.  The spiritual dimension to this analogy can be found in Joshua 1:8, where meditating on the Bible day and night results in a similar outcome.  Therefore, if you want to maximize your own meals, start by consuming the Word of God before every breakfast, lunch and dinner.  If this concept takes ahold of your heart, soul and mind, then will resemble the tree in Psalm 1.  This leads me to the chorus from one of the first songs the Holy Spirit inspired me to write, Psalm 1.

“I want to be the tree, down by the river”

“I want to be the tree, down by the bank”

“I want to be the tree, that walks and talks like Jesus”

“Reaching out for nourishment by staying in God’s Word.”

by Jay Mankus

 

Guilty Until Proven Innocent

Depending upon who you listen to or believe, many revisionist historians blame Christianity for the demise of great empires of the past.  Quite contrary, often its the lack of morality, either absent from followers of Jesus or invisible from societies which contribute to the fall of once great nations.  You don’t have to go any further than America’s current view of their justice system.  In the eyes of the media, you are now guilty until proven innocent.

Names like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, NFL stars accused of domestic violence, are guinea pigs on this slippery slope.  While the facts may not support their innocence, cable news networks and radio talk shows have already made up their minds.  Who needs a jury anyway?  In the court of public opinion, the decision is clear, guilty as charged!

Psalm 103:6-8 speaks up for any citizen who has been through under the bus.  The Lord hears the cries of the oppressed, bringing justice and working righteousness in the midst of despair.  God’s love is not distant, introduced to Moses and passed on through generations by reminding earth’s residents of His compassion, love and mercy.  Although, the evidence may not look good for anyone accused of a crime, don’t forget that in the America that I remember, you are innocent until proven guilty.

by Jay Mankus