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Tag Archives: the Sermon on the Mount

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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The Purging of the Second Glance

The concept of the second glance was first introduced by Jesus during his first century teaching simply known as the Sermon on the Mount.  Speaking to common citizens with many in attendance the poor and middle class, Jesus gave a brief history of the Ten Commandments.  Instead putting his listeners to sleep, Jesus make a shocking revelation.  Lusting at someone in your heart as a second glance is equivalent to committing adultery.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’  But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” Matthew 5:27-28.

Gasps, murmurs and whispers likely echoed throughout this crowd.  Meanwhile, a spirit of conviction struck the pure in heart, exposing the guilt of unwholesome stares of their past.  Hidden from view, hearts began to acknowledge the truth from Jesus’ statement.  Instantaneously, minds connected the dots from appreciating one’s beauty to lustful stares which give birth to fascination and impure thoughts.  Although everyone heard the message, it’s likely that only some believed the act of a second glance broke the  seventh commandment.

“If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.  And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell,” Matthew 5:29-30.

Jesus provides the cure to the second glance in the verse above.  Quoting from the Old Testament, Jesus urges his audience to purge that which influences you to sin.  Indirectly, Jesus is referring to masturbation, pornography and voyeurism.  While this advice seems rather harsh, Jesus wants individuals to remove the atmosphere, bad habits, conditions and images that promote sin.  For me this spiritual house cleaning took years to completely scourge from my life.  If you truly want to purge yourself from the second glance, I highly recommend reading Restoring the Foundations: An Integrated Approach to Healing.  This book will help you connect the dots, setting in motion the path to healing.  Remain steadfast on your journey toward freedom.

by Jay Mankus

Fulfilling The Roman Mile

The New Testament and the Roman Empire intersect during the first century.  As Romans expanded their control, Jews were forced to adhere with two different sets of law.  Beside the Torah, the first five books of the Old Testament, non-Roman citizens needed to comply with Roman law or else face punishment.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles, Matthew 5:41.

One law required a Jew to carry a Roman’s belongings or possessions for a Roman mile if asked to do so.  A Roman mile is one thousands paces, equivalent to 1,000 yards, or 660 yards shorter than a modern day mile.  During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus encourages his audience to do more than a Roman mile, going above and beyond what a Roman citizen asks you to do.

Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you, Matthew 5:42.

Jesus didn’t ask his followers to do anything without first modeling it within his own life.  Several New Testament passages refer to Jesus as a servant of God, laying down his life for others.  Jesus understood that preaching and theology doesn’t convince non-believers to enter into a personal relationship with God.  Rather, lives are transformed when the love of God is displayed daily through a spirit of servant-hood.  Therefore, if you want to leave a lasting legacy on earth, emulate the Roman mile by giving of yourself to those who ask, need or appear to require some sort of help.  This is what Jesus means by going the extra mile.

by Jay Mankus

 

Hijacking Controversial

At the top and bottom of every hour, news updates distinguish the important issues from the trivial.  These sound bytes shape the daily talking points found on the front page of national publications.  Yet, who decides this information, what measuring stick is used and how is content filtered?  If you read between the lines, it appears that some entity, group or individual is hijacking controversial.

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

While the definition of controversial refers to giving rise to public disagreement, the media is slanting this term based upon a secular worldview.  Subsequently, anything related to Trump must be controversial.  As if trying to alter thoughts, poison minds and scare the uninformed, this strategy has been successful up to this date in time.  However, in this age of social media controlled by political outsiders, perhaps controversial will be set free.

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.

Like any person who ages, I have changed with the times.  In some areas I have become more conservative and liberal in others.  Yet, I don’t go out of my way to define others who share different beliefs as controversial.  In his sermon on the Mount, Jesus reminded his audience about the danger of judging others.  May this practical advice change the current tide to release controversial back to its original intent.  And by doing so, the world will end up becoming a more pleasant place to reside.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Engulfed by Darkness

Living on the East Coast for most of my life, I’ve lived through my share of hurricanes.  Most skirt along the shoreline, often drifting off to sea.  Yet, the eye wall of Hurricane Floyd went right over my state, engulfing Delaware in darkness.  Floodwaters remained in my backyard for nearly a month.  After any storm, people are forced to pick up the pieces, making the best of what remains of their earthly possessions.

To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace, Luke 1:79.

The purpose of the Bible is to shine light on the darkness that exists in this world.  In fact, the gospel provides light to those currently stuck in darkness.  Sometimes darkness is self-inflicted due to poor choices or decisions made in life.  However, there are times when innocent children or gullible adults are deceived, led into darkness and can not escape its grips.  To those lost in the dark, God has given human beings a conscience and the Holy Spirit to break free from the chains of sin.

But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him, John 11:10.

Meanwhile, Jesus isn’t afraid to point out imposters.  Those who embrace darkness or walk in its ways does not possess the light.  According to a piece from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19-24 refers to eyes being the lamp of the body.  Jesus ponders, “if the eyes are bad, how great in the darkness within?”  Everyone is going to sin and fall short of God’s glory, but careless glances of the eye can corrupt the soul.  Therefore, be careful not to participate in the second glance or you too may become engulfed by darkness.

by Jay Mankus

Seeking God First…Maybe Second…Actually Third

Good intentions and reality are two different things.  My daily routine is a good example of this paradox.  My goal to seek God first daily doesn’t always work out as I plan.  Most days God falls out of the top spot, sliding down to second, third or lower.  How I spend or waste time will ultimately reveal where my heart and mind is.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows, Galatians 6:7.

The apostle Paul was never known to beat around the bush.  Thus, his words serve as a wake up call, putting my own actions on trial.  Despite what the world may believe, God can’t be fooled.  Receiving blessings isn’t automatic.  Rather, what comes around, goes around as individuals reap what they sow.  Therefore, the lower I place God in my priorities, the less I can expect from the Lord in return.

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

Despite my failure, Jesus did leave a blue print to help people get back on track.  During the Sermon on the Mount, two things must happen before one can achieve God’s favor.  First, serving others, with eternity in mind must come first.  In addition, individuals should hunger and thirst for righteousness, eager to draw closer and closer to God.  Only when these two principles are carried out, will individuals begin to experience daily bread, like manna from heaven entering your life.  Until then, resolve to seek Jesus first.

by Jay Mankus

 

On the Other Side of the Fence

As cultures change, so does the vocabulary.  When you retrace the records of past societies, sometimes its difficult to understand where people are coming from.  However, if you can decipher practices by comparing and translating them into modern terms, history begins to makes sense.  This leads me to a portion of the Sermon on the Mount.

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you, Matthew 6:14.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus refers to trespassing.  Today, boundary lines are drawn by stakes, fences or marked by do not trespass signs.  Borders serve as markers, clearly defining where you are allowed to go and what is forbidden.  However, curiosity, human nature and sin living inside of hearts cause individuals to venture over to the other side of the fence.  Jesus’ words highlight the inevitability of people trespassing against other individuals.

But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses, Matthew 6:15.

The question is not whether you will do this, but how will you respond.  According to the context of the Lord’s Prayer, forgiveness is conditional.  Sure, no one wants to be violated by having someone trespass against your body, home or possessions.  Nonetheless, part of life is letting go, forgiving and forgetting.  Therefore, the next time you trespass on the other side of the fence or are trespassed upon, immediately confess your sin or ask God to give you a heart full of grace and forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus