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Hearty Hospitality

I must admit, I’ve never thought of hospitality in terms of hearty. Hearty is often associated with a Campbell Chunky Soup commercial. Based upon Luke’s account in the passage below, it’s unclear if Publius was simply in a good mood, lonely and eager to entertain strangers or this man possessed a boisterous personality. Whatever the reason, 276 shipwreck survivors were accepted and welcomed by this wealthy man.

In the vicinity of that place there were estates belonging to the head man of the island, named Publius, who accepted and welcomed and entertained us with hearty hospitality for three days, Acts 28:7.

Synonyms of hearty include animated, cheerful, dynamic, exuberant and jovial. When I see someone in a great mood, this usually only last a day or two. This could be contributed to the birth of a child, an engagement or promotion. The hardest part of any good news is maintaining a positive attitude when bad news, failure or hardship arise. Human effort can only take you so far in life. This is where a personal relationship with God helps stabilize once wayward souls, living on a roller coaster of emotions.

Do not forget or neglect or refuse to extend hospitality to strangers [in the brotherhood—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for through it some have entertained angels without knowing it, Hebrews 13:2.

The author of Hebrews adds another dimension to hearty hospitality. Perhaps, the passage above is warning against being selective in your hospitality. During a sermon on the Mount of Olives, Jesus calls Christians to go the extra mile, not just helping those who help you. Hearty hospitality involves throwing a News Year Eve party on a normal day of the week. Bringing this same energy and passion is a way to celebrate life. While you may not possess the gift of hospitality, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord should celebrate their salvation daily, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

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The Proximity of Your Relationship

Proximity is nearness in space and time. In the context of a relationship, proximity can include accessibility, closeness, presence or vicinity. Depending upon an individual’s personal desire and feelings, proximity will draw near or withdraw and fade away. As love is conceived within human hearts, couples will marry to ensure that proximity is never an issue again.

And we have the prophetic word [made] firmer still. You will do well to pay close attention to it as to a lamp shining in a dismal (squalid and dark) place, until the day breaks through [the gloom] and the Morning Star rises comes into being) in your hearts. [Yet] first [you must] understand this, that no prophecy of Scripture is [a matter] of any personal or private or special interpretation (loosening, solving), 2 Peter 1:19-20.

Moses makes an intriguing correlation about proximity in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 28 suggests that your proximity to God will influence how blessed or cursed your life will be on earth. Those who closely listen to God’s voice by carefully obeying God’s commandments will be rewarded with blessings. These blessings are dependent upon one’s ability to heed God’s calling via the Holy Spirit. This fact should make all believers eager to reside in close proximity with God.

For no prophecy ever originated because some man willed it [to do so—it never came by human impulse], but men spoke from God who were borne along (moved and impelled) by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:21.

Unfortunately, earthly distractions, human impulses and temporary pleasures cause me to weekly leave God’s presence and wander away from the Lord. The further I drift, replacing my time with God for self fulfilling practices, blessings disappear. Instead, trials in the form of curses often block and prevent me from drawing near to God again. Although no one wants to accept that they are living under a curse, disobedience to the biblical commands, decrees and principles will result in unfortunate events. May this blog inspire you to improve your proximity with God by drawing near the Lord to praise and worship the Great I Am daily.

by Jay Mankus

The Ocean Raging Inside of Me

Depending upon how your parents were raised, you will likely reflect these traits. My father who was born in Lithuania is your prototypical European stoic, taught to greet others with a handshake. Meanwhile, my mother grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania where offering a hug was a common manner to greet a friend or family member. Like any teenager, I went through a series of phases where I wore my emotions on my sleeves until I began to hold everything in as the ocean raging inside of my soul intensified.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls,] Matthew 11:28.

When Jesus addressed a first century crowd in the passage above, He understood that it’s unhealthy to go through life living in isolation. No matter how mentally tough you are, everyone reaches a breaking point. To avoid being weighed down by heavy burdens on your soul, Jesus promises to give you rest. His only request is to lay your burdens at the foot of the cross. Jesus wants to part the seas raging inside of your soul. God doesn’t want to see broken hearts crippled by this internal battle.

Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls. For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne, Matthew 11:29-30.

In their 2013 song the Oceans from the Other Side album, Tonight Alive sings about this internal struggle. While you may seem fine externally, internal strife can paralyze souls as each day becomes a struggle. If you are honest with yourself, everyone has inner demons, secrets that you are afraid of being exposed. Yet, until you implement Jesus’ request from above, freedom is just an empty word. Thus, if you want fast acting relief, try the spiritual Rolaids, Jesus, to calm the raging oceans inside of you.

by Jay Mankus

Why You Should Avoid Jumping to Conclusions

Whenever I have a negative experience with an associate, co-worker or friend, my curious nature wants to know why. Did I do something wrong? Did I offend someone? Or does this individual simply not like me? These are the thoughts that go through my head daily. However, after reading the Bible today, I learned a valuable lesson on why you should avoid jumping to conclusion.

Now Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and he was laying them on the fire when a viper crawled out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand. When the natives saw the little animal hanging from his hand, they said to one another, Doubtless this man is a murderer, for though he has been saved from the sea, Justice [the goddess of avenging] has not permitted that he should live, Acts 28:3-4.

A first century ship in route to Rome ran aground off the coast of Malta. On a cold rainy winter day, 276 people abandoned ship, floating or swimming to shore. When natives of the island saw this event take place, a fire was started to bring warmth to wet and shivering bodies. The apostle Paul felt compelled to help out, gathering sticks when a baby viper snake attached itself to his arm. Gossip and murmurs began to spread around the campfire, perceiving Paul as a murderer was who escaped a ship wreck only to die on this island.

Then [Paul simply] shook off the small creature into the fire and suffered no evil effects. However, they were waiting, expecting him to swell up or suddenly drop dead; but when they had watched him a long time and saw nothing fatal or harmful come to him, they changed their minds and kept saying over and over that he was a god, Acts 28:5-6.

Aware of the deadly poison of vipers, the locals were waiting for Paul’s arm to swell up and then die. When this didn’t happen and Paul suffered no ill effects, another conclusion was made, a polar opposite of the first. From a murderer to a god; these are too extremes. This illustration proves the point not to jump to conclusions. While you may be eager to know what influenced someone to do this or that, only God knows the ultimate reason. Thus, the next time you see something from afar, sort out the facts first to ensure that you reach a logical conclusion.

by Jay Mankus

Unusual and Remarkable Kindness

When my parents moved from New Jersey in 1977, Delaware was considered part of the south. As a boy struggling with stuttering, the southern hospitality bestowed upon me eased my concerns about making new friends. This unusual and remarkable kindness did not fade away, remaining as long as I lived in this neighborhood. However, when I moved back to Delaware in the late 1990’s, the influences of nearby large metropolitan cities has slowly erased southern hospitality. While you will cross paths with kind people, unusual and remarkable acts are rare.

And the natives showed us unusual and remarkable kindness, for they kindled a fire and welcomed and received us all, since it had begun to rain and was cold, Acts 28:2.

After enduring a northeaster for two weeks at sea, all 276 passengers made it to shore before their ship was lost. While on the island of Malta, Luke makes an interesting observation. It’s unclear if the island natives developed an unfair reputation or they went the extra mile for these helpless souls, but they were overwhelmed by Malta’s kindness. Despite a cold and rainy day, a large fire was started to provide warmth. While this tribe may not have ever heard of the parable of the Good Samaritan, their actions were in line with God’s love.

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil, Luke 6:35.

In this age of social media where eyes are fixated on cell phones, electronic devices or game consoles, experiencing unusual or remarkable kindness is uncommon. Perhaps, this is a direct result of inaction, forgetting to practice loving and praying for your enemies. Sure, when you go to a restaurant, you will find talented hosts and hostesses that make dining out worth your time and money. Yet, when motives are impure, the golden rule of treating others as you want to be treated can disappear. May this blog inspire you to strive to live out God’s love through unusual and remarkable acts of kindness.

by Jay Mankus

Why Did You Do It?

A strange string of current events in my local newspaper has caused me to wonder, “why did you do it?” One couple turned their hotel room into a drug dealing center. Another adult male thought it was a good idea to fill his home with a number of bombs recently uncovered in connection with a local explosion. As I was writing this blog, I heard the news update that the latest school shooter just shot five classmates and himself on his birthday. If this teenage shooter dies, no one will know for sure, why did you do it?

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, Genesis 3:1-4.

The only logical conclusion that makes sense to me is that all of these individuals were deceived by the Devil in some manner or form. While they didn’t have a face to face conversation like Eve in the Garden of Eden, some type of justification and rationalization process occurred within their minds before acting out. Whispers of evil and possibly a desire for 15 seconds of fame has overruled the human conscience. Thus, free will was exercised to do the opposite of what many were taught.

For those who are according to the flesh and are controlled by its unholy desires set their minds on and pursue those things which gratify the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit and are controlled by the desires of the Spirit set their minds on and seek those things which gratify the [Holy] Spirit, Romans 8:5.

The Bible’s rationale to explain sinful acts is the mental war between the human flesh and Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to his own struggle to do that which is right. This battle is detailed in Romans 7, followed by the spiritual connection in Romans 8 as sinful minds are hostile to God. Thus, as souls straddle the fence between right and wrong, the longer you allow enticement to reside in your mind, the easier it become to pull the trigger, indulging in wrongful acts. May this latest incident turn the attention toward mental health and not just guns.

by Jay Mankus

Acts 29

The title of today’s blog is a trick question. While I was a young Christian in college listening to a motivational speaker, he asked the audience to open their Bibles and turn to Acts 29. Most of the room was flipping through the beginning of the New Testament, unable to find this page or chapter. This search continued for several minutes until one bold individual spoke out, “there is no chapter 29, Acts only has 28 chapters.”

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:8.

This pop quiz left many in the room embarrassed. As the speaker began his lesson, this opening question served two purposes. First, this man urged believers to become better students of God’s Word. Second, to view life in terms of an unfinished chapter of the Bible where God uses modern Christians to fulfill the great commission, Acts 1:8. This 60 minute speech made a long lasting impact on my life, instilling a desire to ascertain God’s will for my own life, Romans 12:1-2.

Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:2.

To prepare for today’s blog, I did a search for Acts 29 for fun to see what I would find. To my surprise, Acts 29 is a diverse, global family of church planters who seek to carry on the work of the apostle Paul. This ministry is characterized by theological clarity, cultural engagement, and missional innovation as churches are planted throughout the world. One of my searches located beliefs and theories that Acts 29 is simply missing. Since Acts 28 does not reveal the outcome of Paul’s trial in Rome, common sense suggests there must be another chapter. Whatever the reason for this abrupt ending, may this blog inspire you to seize each day with a renewed desire to fulfill the great commission.

by Jay Mankus

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