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Tag Archives: Sermon on the Mount

A Remedy For Rushing to Judgment

Before his fall from grace, Bill Crosby was a talented comedian for decades.  One of my favorite stand up acts was his line about having babies.  This particular act was based upon the lack of smell from a newborn’s poo.  His facial expressions change as soon as odor begins to develop over time.  Unfortunately, there are many adults who still don’t believe that their poo stinks.

Does he not see my ways and count my every step? – Job 31:4

During a time of reflection, Job came to a painful reality in life, God sees all of our mistakes.  Nothing is hidden from his sight according to the author of Hebrews 4:13.  Even on a good day, missteps add up, accumulating daily.  This realization should make the most outspoken humbled, dropping the stones about to cast judgment on others, John 8:7.

If I have walked with falsehood or my foot has hurried after deceit—Job 31:5

One of the remedies to avoid rushing to judgment was revealed by Jesus to first century followers during his famous Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7.  During a section on judgment, Jesus urges listeners to take the plank out of your own eyes first.  This analogy is symbolic of things which block or cloud your perspective of a situation.  Therefore, the next time you have an urge to rush to judgment, get this area in your own right first before you add your own two cents.

by Jay Mankus

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Measuring Your Treasures

There are various youthanisms which exist about measuring riches.  Some claim he who dies with the most toys wins.  Meanwhile, the eternalist states you can’t take it with you.  Others believe beauty is the eye of the beholder.  These distinctions force individuals to begin to measure their own personal treasures in life.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal, Matthew 6:20.

During his sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus makes a connection between treasure and the human heart.  Priorities dictate how you ultimately invest your time while on earth.  Although some treasures appear to be worth the journey, often your soul experiences fools gold, disappointed in the end.  To avoid future heartache, Jesus encourages his followers to seek treasures that are eternal.

But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! – Matthew 6:24

Within any treasure quest, greed often comes into play.  This desire is portrayed as darkness that can influence your heart.  Anyone who allows darkness to linger is in danger of inviting a spiritual poison into your heart.  Sure, everyone wants to have cake and eat it too.  Yet, at some point you have to determine what you are chasing after.  Since you can’t serve two masters, measure your treasures carefully.

by Jay Mankus

Will You Pass the Love Test

For those of you who enjoy taking cup cake classes in school, searching for an easy A, the Bible contains some difficult challenges.  Depending upon how self critical you are, the words of scripture expose darkness with light.  Subsequently, no matter how good of a person you may be, its surprising how many people fail the Bible’s love test.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen, 1 John 4:20.

The one whom Jesus loved opens up this short quiz.  When all other disciples abandoned Jesus following his arrest, John stood by his side at the cross where he died.  What John heard on this day sent shock waves to what he believed about love.  Despite being beaten, mocked and tortured, Jesus cried out, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”  This statement inspired question number one.

1. Is there anyone you despise, hate or treat with contempt?

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 6:14-15.

The second participant chimes as from an unique perspective.  Serving as a tax collector, Levi also known as Matthew worked in one of the most corrupt occupations of his day.  During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he mentions prostitutes on the same level with tax collectors.  Thus, its highly possible that Matthew made many enemies, cheating and stealing money from hard working citizens.  With this in mind, forgiveness is something that Matthew sought, touched by Jesus’ words above.

2. Have you forgiven everyone who has hurt you or is there a grudge you are currently holding on to?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these,” Mark 12:30-31.

Finally, John Mark is an individual who initially left the mission field, letting down the apostle Paul.  Yet, over time Mark matured, eventually winning back the respect he lost with Paul.  This transformation was made possible with the words shared by Jesus above.  The context of this question involved a trap with Pharisees attempting to trick Jesus into de-emphasizing one of the 10 commandments.  Yet, his words essentially summarize the first four with one comment and the final six with his second statement setting up the final question.

3. Where is your love for God currently and are you following the golden rule in your interactions with others?

If you failed this test like me, may God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy lift you up and fill you with a heart willing to bear with, embrace and love one another.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Dreams and Destiny Intersect

Working at Amazon, I come across thousands of books annually with interesting titles.  One book that I own is entitled, You Are What You Speak.  While I haven’t read this book from cover to cover, its premise claims the words you choose influences the person you become.  For example, the more positive your outlook, the better your chances improve on reaching your dreams and goals in life.  Meanwhile, the more pessimistic you get, the less likely your dreams and destiny will ever intersect.

Saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer,” Exodus 15:26.

In a world losing honesty and integrity, Moses shares an important message to Israel during the Exodus out of Egypt.  Moses doesn’t guess or speculate, he writes with certainty.  If you want to avoid the same fate as Pharaoh’s people, be diligent in listening to the voice of the Lord.  Moses isn’t out of his mind, rather he is leading the way toward healing, safety and security in this life.  When you keep God’s commandments, you are laying a fertile foundation for faith to take root.

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

In the middle of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he references Moses indirectly.  Yet, Jesus lays out a blue print for those who long for a place where dreams and destiny intersect.  Instead of creating a shopping list of prayers to present before God, Jesus sets out the priorities needed to receive God’s blessings.  First, seek out God’s kingdom as you pursue righteousness.  Once faith becomes a life style, then daily bread and many more things will be provided supernaturally from God.  Although I haven’t reached this place yet, I long for the day when my dreams and destiny intersect.

by Jay Mankus

Fact Checkers

Sometimes you find yourself stuck in a place with no where else to go.  You may be in a room full of people with whom you disagree, a guest at a table taking part if a foreign topic of conversation or at a restaurant with a television on airing an opinion that floors you.  This is the setting that I found myself in, forced to observe CNN analysts pick apart Melania Trump’s speech like gossiping teenage girls tearing apart their enemies.  Its ironic that these same fact checkers have been asleep the last 7 years, turning a blind eye to the current administration that they worship.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged, Matthew 7:1.”

While everyone is entitled to their opinions, the fact is no one is worthy enough to cast the first stone.  Sure, the average American citizen has their moment of integrity, doing the right thing when no one is looking, but how long does this stage of conviction last?  If enough individuals stood up for fairness, justice and righteousness, police officers would be needed as much as they are today.  The sad reality of these times is the media is exempt from scrutiny for the most part, trashing whoever or whatever movement that gets in their way.  Just ask Tea Party members who are marginalized despite their impressive grass roots movement.

For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, Matthew 7:2.

The only positive step forward is to put into practice the closing remarks of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount.  The next time you have the urge to criticize, condemn or complain, take the plank out of your own eyes first.  Perhaps, once you’ve gotten your life in order, there will be opportunities to correct others.  Yet, for now its time to look into the mirror and see what’s out of place within us.  The closer one gets to God, the greater sin appears, causing the apostle Paul to suggest “he’s the greatest sinner of all.”  Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, meaning the further away you slide, the better you feel about yourself.  May a spirit of conviction fall upon future fact checkers before any further words roll off their tongue.  Look within before you point out the flaws in others.

by Jay Mankus

 

Where Are Your Footprints Leading?

For those of you who have pets, it doesn’t take much for a kitten, puppy or other new member of the family to reap havoc.  Like any child who knows their in trouble, sometimes animals try to hide their mess.  In this case, all you have to do is follow visible signs of destruction before you reach the guilty party.  Yet, child and pets aren’t alone as even adults have moments of weakness, sending a poor message by taking steps in the wrong direction.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth, 1 John 1:6.

Unfortunately, grown ups tend to make life much more complicated than it is.  Subsequently, sometimes its important to simplify life, going back to the basics.  The Bible kids classic song Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See is a great place to start.  These lyrics warn individuals of the lasting consequences of walking in darkness.  Tasting forbidden fruit, lusting for someone or something or crossing the line known as sin, could become a life style if you’re not careful.

“The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.   But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! Matthew 6:22-23

In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus shares the correlation between your eyes and sin.  Essentially, eyes are a lamp created to guide and direct people throughout life.  However, if used inappropriately, these beacons of light can become a source for evil.  Thus, whether you are young or old, Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See still applies.  In view of this choose wisely and if you make mistakes along the way, repent quickly.  May the footprints that you leave on earth point souls to the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Reactions Without Responsibility

Any parent who loses a child to a drunk driver, victim of a crime or family member of a relative fatally shot wants to see justice prevail.  In the heat of the moment, especially after receiving this bad news, emotions can cause harsh reactions.  Yet, in America people are suppose to be innocent until proven guilty.  Sure, it would be nice if the court systems could speed up this process.  However, until individuals have their day in court, its irresponsible to incite violence, rush to judgment or use social media to encourage others to seek revenge.

How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? – Matthew 7:4

In the hours following the unfortunate shooting deaths of African Americans by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, reactions in the media were fast and furious.  Apparently, some people took black leaders, politicians and twitter posts literally.  Subsequently, now there are six dead police officers in 2 states, several more wounded and public servants have been betrayed by the citizens they are paid to protect.  The response by celebrities to the initial two deaths is a clear indication that reactions have consequences.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye, Matthew 7:5.

America has come to a cross roads, on the verge of a racial divide.  The leadership and message provided by Dr. Martin Luther King has either been forgotten or is absent from this current generation.  In view of this dire situation, its time for personal responsibility, realizing that everyone is imperfect.  During his sermon on the Mount Jesus encouraged followers to get their own lives in order before criticizing or judging other people.  The same truth applies to Americans today.  Therefore, the next time you have an urge to lash out, over react or post complaints on social media, remember these words of Jesus.  If put into practice, God’s Word can begin to transform lives one soul at a time.

by Jay Mankus