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The Parable of the Unknown

A young native American was tracking prey at the base of a mountain when he came across an undamaged egg which fell out of a nearby eagles’ nest. After trying to place this egg back where it belonged, the ledge was too steep to climb while holding this egg. Instead of abandoning this egg, this boy found a similar vacant nest closer to camp. Approaching quietly, this boy carefully placed this egg next to three addition eggs.

A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot, Proverbs 14:30.

Several weeks later, all four eggs hatched. Instead of being the ugly duckling, the eaglet stood out among the other three flightless cormorants. As his adopted mother taught him to swim, another bird caught his eye, flying and soaring high above this lake. As the eagle above gracefully glided in the air, the swimming eagle became jealous, wishing he could fly instead of just swimming. While the others were natural swimmers, this eaglet struggled to find his way through life.

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life, Psalm 119:93.

This parable that I recently heard struck a nerve. Sometimes I am so focused on how gifted other people are that I forget my own blessings, gifts and talents. Meanwhile, when I spend too much time focusing on what I want or need, I neglect God’s expectations for me as a Christian. When there is no one else around to point you in the right direction like the adopted eaglet, the Bible is available to show you the way. May you follow in the footsteps of Joshua 1:8, meditating on God’s Word day and night.

by Jay Mankus

The Power of the WORD

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus first used the term Logos 600 years before Jesus’ birth. Heraclitus was searching for a term to designate the divine reason or plan which coordinates a changing universe. As written in the Greek Lexicon, λογόs refers to a word uttered by a living voice that embodies a concept or idea. This is the term that the disciple whom Jesus loved uses in the opening chapter of his gospel.

So shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth: it shall not return to Me void [without producing any effect, useless], but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it, Isaiah 55:11.

John gets right to his point in the opening verse, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” Unlike any other human being, Jesus resided in heaven prior to being conceived by the Holy Spirit in the womb of Mary. Subsequently, John introduces the concept of the trinity, three personalities within one supreme God. Thus, the creator of the universe came down to earth to bring light to an ever darkening world as a living WORD.

Every Scripture is God-breathed (given by His inspiration) and profitable for instruction, for reproof and conviction of sin, for correction of error and discipline in obedience, [and] for training in righteousness (in holy living, in conformity to God’s will in thought, purpose, and action), So that the man of God may be complete and proficient, well fitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work, 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

In his second letter to a teenage pastor, the apostle Paul explains how the Bible was God inspired over several thousand years. The author of Hebrews refers to this book as living and active, like a double edged sword which allows a soldier to move from a defensive to offensive position in one motion. Isaiah, who was sawed in two for his faith, understood the power of God’s Word as described in the passage above. However, the greatest aspect of the Bible is that each time you open these living pages a new message is received, a fresh perspective on life. As you study the Bible in 2020, may you feel and sense the presence of the power of the WORD.

by Jay Mankus

The Way Maker

The 1920’s has been described as the Jazz Age or roaring twenties. This decade of prosperity was marred by the Great Depression which began in August of 1929. Nineteen hundred years earlier, Jesus brought an era of spiritual enlightenment. This was accomplished by turning people’s attention away from following a set of rules, the Torah, to entering into a personal relationship with God. However, even his twelve disciples were often left in the dark, unclear of what Jesus meant by following the way.

And when (if) I go and make ready a place for you, I will come back again and will take you to Myself, that where I am you may be also. And [to the place] where I am going, you know the way, John 14:3-4.

The disciple whom Jesus loved reflects upon these words after Jesus’ crucifixion, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven. John had plenty of time for reflection while living in exile on the Island of Patmos. Jesus spent the last three years of his life on earth pouring his heart and soul into twelve men. Little by little, Jesus showed this motley crew how to live, pray and serve mankind. Despite witnessing numerous miracles daily, a couple of disciples still doubted Jesus and couldn’t fully comprehend the way.

Thomas said to Him, Lord, we do not know where You are going, so how can we know the way? Jesus said to him, I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father except by (through) Me. If you had known Me [had learned to recognize Me], you would also have known My Father. From now on, you know Him and have seen Him. Philip said to Him, Lord, show us the Father [cause us to see the Father—that is all we ask]; then we shall be satisfied, John 14:5-8.

Thomas and Philip are identified in the passage above, living by sight, not by faith. During a Sermon of the Mount of Olives, Jesus compares the way to two roads, a super highway and a narrow path. Prior to his arrest, Jesus often ruffled the feathers of religious leaders, referring to an inner temple, not the place of worship in Jerusalem. The Bible, especially the four gospels, provides clues for modern believers who seek a similar path, the Way. May this blog conceive a burning desire for you to follow the Way Maker, also a song by Mandisa.

by Jay Mankus

Angels of Deliverance

Deliverance is the action that results in being rescued or set free. Synonyms include emancipation, liberation, redemption and salvation. This term suggests that a group, individuals or a nation is undergoing a dire situation. These predicaments are often so severe that saving yourself isn’t impossible. Thus, there will be moments in life where everyone will need some sort of divine intervention. For those who turn to God when your back is against the wall so to speak, the Bible refers to angels of deliverance.

My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand [the side not carrying a shield], Psalm 121:2-5.

Although the Psalmist does not mention angels by name, God’s nature is revealed in the passage above. This song of ascent reflects upon previous times where the Lord helped either directly or indirectly. As a shepherd, David credits God for overseeing his steps despite walking over hilly terrain, Psalm 18:36. Meanwhile, while you are sleeping, guardian angels are assigned to watch over you day and night, Psalm 91:11. Angel stories continue today as believers share how God shielded them from harm.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:10-11.

In the New Testament, Jesus reveals who you need deliverance from, an invisible thief who seeks to steal, kill and destroy souls. Using the analogy of a good shepherd fighting off attacks from wolves, Jesus uncovers God’s plan for deliverance. Predicting his death on a cross, Jesus’ sinless life and sacrifice was necessary to restore that which Adam lost, Luke 19:10. After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven, the Holy Spirit was sent to earth along with angels to ensure that deliverance continues today.

by Jay Mankus

No Strings Attached

The expression “no strings attached” is directly tied to 18th century fabric merchants. Whenever a defect was discovered during a project, merchants would mark flaws in woven cloth by tying small strings to the bottom of the bolts at the locations where flaws were present. Instead of deceiving someone before a purchase was completed, buyers were made aware of any imperfections by these strings attached.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life, John 3:16.

Over the past 300 years, this symbolic act of honesty has disappeared. Instead, modern advertisements, commercials and infomercials contain a long list of fine print at the conclusion of their sales pitch. This content is included to cover and protect entrepreneurs from lawsuits and liability. Thus, strings attached have been replaced by label warnings in modern times. Making a decision to determine the genuine merchants from scammers gets harder and more difficult each year.

For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:17.

If you have ever been burned by a purchase, exposed to carcinogens or deceived by unread fine print, hearts have become skeptical. Past experiences have caused many to wonder, “okay, what’s the catch? What am I not seeing? Where are the strings attached?” This is where the Bible provides a breakthrough, a promise that sounds too good to be true. After embracing the gospel 35 years ago, the only thing that ruins this message are pastors who communicate an inaccurate description of what it takes to live in this world, but not of it. May this blog resonate with your soul.

by Jay Mankus

I Could Use a Little Help Down Here

Newscaster Evan Baxter played by comedian Steve Carell leaves Buffalo, New York behind when he wins a seat in Congress. Yet, as Evan moves to Washington D.C. with his family, no one could imagine God’s request, played by Morgan Freeman, for this rising star. This is the background for the 2007 film Evan Almighty where a series of God instances leaves this amateur to commit political suicide, confessing God’s calling to build an ark. My favorite scene occurs when Baxter initially struggles to get his new project going, crying out to God, ” I could use a little help down here.”

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. 27 And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple, Luke 14:25-27.

I usually don’t agree with Hollywood’s portrayal of a biblical truths, especially after their epic flop of Noah in 2014. However, the Almighty films beginning with Bruce Almighty starring Jim Carrey in 2003 and the most recent Evan Almighty, provide a more accurate view of God’s character. After God purchases additional lots and provides all of the supplies to build an ark, Evan agrees to complete this task, unaware of why or when this boat will be needed. This is where many Americans find themselves, unsure if what they are currently doing is worth completing. “Should I move on or keep my word by finishing what I started?”

“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? 29 For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, 30 saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’ 31 “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples, Luke 14:28-33.

The gospel of Luke refers to 72 other disciples, servants of God, but not part of Jesus’ inner circle. At some point, Jesus challenged those who were eager to become followers. Combining common sense, tough love and wisdom from heaven, Jesus doesn’t want people to regret making a decision. Luke 9:57-62 highlights three different conversations that Jesus had with individuals who weren’t fully committed. Thus, each turned back, going on with the rest of their life. As 2020 quickly heads toward February, maybe it’s time for you take a moment to reflect. Are you doing God’s will? Are you uncertain about your career, college or future plans? Before you feel overwhelmed by life, don’t forget to ask God daily like Evan, ” I could use a little help down here.”

by Jay Mankus

Learning to View Life Through God's Eyes

Feeling empty is a common occurrence as disappointment by how a day, month or year turns out can lead to depression. Whenever expectations aren’t met, individuals tend to wonder, “what went wrong? What did I do to deserve this?” Meanwhile, if a friend, family member or neighbor seems to be blessed over and over again, envy and jealousy enter the equation. If this sums up your first few weeks of this new year, perhaps its time to learn how to view life through God’s eyes.

When the water in the bottle was all gone, Hagar caused the youth to lie down under one of the shrubs. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about a bowshot, for she said, Let me not see the death of the lad. And as she sat down opposite him, he lifted up his voice and wept and she raised her voice and wept. 17 And God heard the voice of the youth, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the youth where he is, Genesis 21:15-17.

In the passage of above, Hagar was abandoned, asked to leave by Sarah, left alone in the wilderness with her newborn son, Ishmael. Just when you think it can’t get any worse, Hagar ran out of water, placing her son in the shade before dropping to her knees to pray. Hagar reached a point in life where she ran out of options, with no one else to turn to but God. This state of devastation opened the door for God to intervene, sending an angel to comfort this young woman and her baby.

And the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, What have I done to you that you should strike me these three times? 29 And Balaam said to the donkey, Because you have ridiculed and provoked me! I wish there were a sword in my hand, for now I would kill you! 30 And the donkey said to Balaam, Am not I your donkey, upon which you have ridden all your life long until this day? Was I ever accustomed to do so to you? And he said, No. 31 Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the Angel of the Lord standing in the way with His sword drawn in His hand; and he bowed his head and fell on his face, Numbers 22:28-31.

While angelic encounters make for great drama, the presence of God is often overlooked in day to day events. The passage above illustrates how God can use animals and pets to save someone’s life. The old show “It’s a Miracle” on Pax Television contained several episodes showing how God used a cat or dog to rescue those in grave danger. If God can enable a donkey to speak, then the Lord has unlimited power to alter your current state of depression, sadness and unhappiness.

When the servant of the man of God rose early and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was around the city. Elisha’s servant said to him, Alas, my master! What shall we do? 16 [Elisha] answered, Fear not; for those with us are more than those with them. 17 Then Elisha prayed, Lord, I pray You, open his eyes that he may see. And the Lord opened the young man’s eyes, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha, 2 Kings 6:15-17.

The prophet Elijah introduces his understudy Elisha to the spiritual realm. While you may find your self in a situation where you are outnumbered physically, you need to open your eyes to what you currently can’t see. As God’s people pray, angels are ushered into action to serve as personal guardians on earth. Although you may never see one, they exist as the passage above illustrates. While you may not be satisfied by your current state of affairs, fast and pray so that you will learn to view life through God’s eyes.

by Jay Mankus

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