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Doubting God’s Ability to Intervene

Doubt has a tendency to deteriorate one’s confidence. People who doubt on a regular basis experience uncertainty. This uneasy feeling intensifies when you see things you can’t control. Meanwhile, if things don’t go according to plan, you may begin to wonder why God is allowing this to happen to you. If conditions or situations don’t improve, it won’t be long until you doubt God’s ability to intervene.

Then King David answered, Call Bathsheba. And she came into the king’s presence and stood before him. 29 And the king took an oath and said, As the Lord lives, Who has redeemed my soul out of all distress, 1 Kings 1:28-29.

This lack of confidence in an invisible God isn’t rare. Rather, anyone who seeks to become self-reliant may end up finding substitutes for God. Sigmund Freud refers to the Hero Complex which is an inherent desire and compulsion to help people. Yet, as these individuals attempt to become a super human being, it often leads to their own demise. Desire, inspiration and motivation only lasts so long.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of [b]the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, James 1:5-7.

Subsequently, this is where one must remember historical accounts of past miracles performed by God and His followers. In the passage above, the earthly brother of Jesus places faith into a storm at sea. Life can erode faith as the winds increase, causing waves to grow higher and stronger. However, as souls become distressed by external forces, this is where faith must intervene. When Christians access the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4, belief in God’s ability to intervene is restored and intensifies.

by Jay Mankus

Embrace Holy Fervor

Since I wasn’t a good student early on in high school, I poured my heart and soul into sports. Whether I was running cross country, swimming, playing baseball or golf, I developed a fervor for greatness. I may have not been the most athletic and physically gifted individual, but I wanted to win more than most of my peers. While I didn’t have much of a social life, I didn’t care as long as I improved daily.

But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live [f]by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him, Hebrews 10:38.

This is the type of passion the Bible refers to in the passage above. Faith provides a similar adrenaline rush that I experienced as an athlete. However, this conviction comes from the power of the Holy Spirit. Rather than seek to become a winner in a competition, faith is a driving force to deepen my personal relationship with Jesus. When God becomes who you seek to delight, holy fervor is conceived.

A time will come, however, indeed it is already here, when the true (genuine) worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth (reality); for the Father is seeking just such people as these as His worshipers. 24 God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality), John 4:23-24.

During a conversation with a Samaritan woman, Jesus reveals how a desire for truth can give birth to holy fervor. Despite the flaws in this recently divorced woman’s life, a fire began to burn deep within her heart as Jesus spoke. This is the same sensation I experienced as a freshman in college when I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to make Jesus the Lord of my life. Regardless of what happens this holiday season, make room for Jesus so that you may embrace holy fervor.

by Jay Mankus

Are You Able?

The first organized sport that I played after moving to Delaware was basketball. Unlike baseball which is more of an individual sport when you’re batting, I learned that you needed all five players on the court to be on the same page. If someone forgot their position and role, the play our coach called didn’t work. During a timeout, I can remember one of the coaches asking, “are you able to do this?”

And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, But for [a]Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed, Genesis 4:4-5.

According to Moses, Able was the second child born on earth to Adam and Eve. While his older brother Cain followed in his father’s footsteps as a farmer, Able decided to become a shepherd. Perhaps Cain was pressured by dad to carry on the family business. Whatever the reason, Abel seemed to delight in his new trade. This contentment inside of Able made Cain envious and jealous.

[Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking, Hebrews 11:4.

This internal struggle forced God to intervene in Genesis 4:5-7. Apparently, God approached Cain and spoke to him about what was going on. Commenting about his depressed appearance, God asks an open-ended question. “Are you able to master the sinful thoughts crouching at the front door of your soul?” This question is repeated every time human beings are confronted by a tempting situation today. The next time you find yourself in a similar state as Cain, are you able to overcome sinful desires?

by Jay Mankus

Whenever You Move… Don’t Trouble Your Mind with the Unknown

Moving is one of those events in life that provides a chance for a fresh start. Yet, when a move is beyond your control, saying goodbye to close friends and neighbors can be extremely difficult. I moved a few times as a child with the second from New Jersey to Delaware. While it was hard to leave my baseball friends, the neighborhood in Wilmington my parents moved into became like a second family to me.

[Urged on] by faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went forth to a place which he was destined to receive as an inheritance; and he went, although he did not know or trouble his mind about where he was to go, Hebrews 11:8.

While reading the Bible earlier in the week, I was reminded of Abram’s move from Haran. Genesis 12:1-3 details God’s conversation with Abram, similar to a calling from God or tugging on your heart that you might experience today. Abram was 75 years old when he left everything that he knew to start a new life with his nephew Lot. Faith enabled Abram to enter the unknown of a foreign land.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

Sometime in the summer of 2022 I’ll be moving to South Carolina. This will be my first move in nearly 25 years. Yet, if I listen to the advice found in the Bible, I shouldn’t trouble my mind about the unknown. Nor should I allow anxieties of making new friends concern me. The best thing I can do is lift up all my worries to God in prayer. I don’t know what the future holds, but I am seeking a peace that transcends all understanding as I wait for this day to come.

by Jay Mankus

From I Can’t to God Can

For most of my childhood, I was extremely negative. As accidents happened over and over again, I developed a low sense of esteem. When you add to this a severe speech impediment, my thoughts quickly filled my mind with a I Can’t mentality. This doom and gloom became a self fulfilling prophecy as accidents, disappoint and failure followed me for more than a decade.

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears, and delivers them out of all their distress and troubles. 18 The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent. 19 Many evils confront the [consistently] righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all, Psalm 34:17-19.

While I didn’t recognize this at the time, God began to send strong Christians into my life. My 8th grade Science teacher was like a modern day Jesus who daily lived out the Bible. As I reached high school, I was invited to attend the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, but I kept saying no. I guess I was too cool for God. Yet, ungodly beliefs like “I’m not good enough” or I’ll never amount to anything” separated me from God.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. 13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who [g]infuses inner strength into me; I am [h]self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency], Philippians 4:12-13.

By the middle of my sophomore year of high school, I became addicted to Jesus. As I started to attend Bible Studies with other Christian athletes, the negativity which once consumed me began to fade away. Subsequently, when a spiritual mentor introduced me to the passage above, I started to shed my I Can’t mindset. Following an amazing FCA summer camp experience, I was transformed from I Can’t to God can.

by Jay Mankus

The Just Shall Live by Faith

Just refers to behaving according to what is morally right and fair. Yet, when I think of just, I envision someone justifying why they do what they do. Since I’m not an analytical person, I rarely contemplate the why in my daily life. Perhaps, this is due to a tendency to rely on feelings, what my heart is telling me to do or say. I don’t consider myself to be just. Rather, I follow my convictions with the Holy Spirit the wind beneath my wings as Bette Midler once sang.

But the just shall live by faith [My righteous servant shall live [f]by his conviction respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things, and holy fervor born of faith and conjoined with it]; and if he draws back and shrinks in fear, My soul has no delight or pleasure in him, Hebrews 10:38.

In the passage above, the author of one New Testament book examines how faith regulates the life of a Christian. Or should I say, what an active faith resembles. Beneath the surface, conviction from human consciences was designed by God to keep danger out by staying within the boundaries laid out in the Old Testament. When faith is great, fear shrinks as a holy fervor inspires individuals to pursue things that delight the Lord.

But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by faith preserve the soul, Hebrews 10:39.

Unfortunately, when human consciences become seared by actively indulging fleshly desires, it’s hard to go back to your life prior to becoming a prodigal. Sin has a way of entertaining you longer than expected, but leaves you feeling empty. This is the misery King David wrote about in Psalm 32:3-4. Before the darkness destroys what you have, respect your relationship with God. If you don’t have one, don’t delay so that you may begin the journey of the just who live by faith, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

A Fresh and New Way to Live

No matter how hard I try every year, at some point my life becomes stale. There are various reasons for this condition such as low energy, frustration due to a lack of progress and a lack of vision for the future. While my intentions are to seize each day that the Lord gives me, hope and optimism seem to fade quickly when things don’t go my way. Subsequently, I need to change this unhealthy pattern.

Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, 20 By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh, Hebrews 10:19-20.

The author of Hebrews provides a plan for a fresh and new way to live. This begins by reflecting upon what Jesus did for the Jewish faith. Instead of being separated from God due to sinful tendencies, Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection 3 days later opened the door for sinners. Thus, you no longer need to travel to a temple so that a priest can offer a sacrifice for your sins. Rather, God’s grace has provided new access which was once limited to only high priests.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

An entire chapter of famous Jewish leaders illustrates what made these individuals different, Hebrews 11. On each occasion faith was the difference, trusting in an invisible God. The blood of Jesus has transformed the way New Testament Christians live, 1 Peter 3:18. Furthermore, once you make a public profession of faith, Romans 10:9-11, you have access to the power of the Holy Spirit which provides everything you need for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4. This is the fresh and new way to live, available to all who believe.

by Jay Mankus

Preserving Your Soul During COVID-19

Prior to modern electricity and appliances, there wasn’t a way to store a large quantity of food. Back in the first century, salt was used to extend the life of and preserve meat. Since all living things require water and cannot grow in the absence of it, salt dries out food and prevents bacteria from growing. In the passage below, Jesus uses salt as a way to add flavor. However, instead of referring to food, Christians should add flavor to the lives of the people you come in contact with daily.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men, Matthew 5:13.

Unfortunately, as the weight of the worries in this world take a toll on human souls, you may not feel like passing on God’s love. The apostle Paul writes about this state of mind in Philippians 2:1-4. When you let yourself get run down, you lose the ability to help other people effectively. If you ever find yourself struggling to get through each day, you need to take time to renew and revive your own soul. Then and only then will you be able to preserve the lives of others.

But our way is not that of those who draw back to eternal misery (perdition) and are utterly destroyed, but we are of those who believe [who cleave to and trust in and rely on God through Jesus Christ, the Messiah] and by faith preserve the soul, Hebrews 10:39.

In the last passage leading up to the Bible’s version of the Hall of Fame, Hebrews 11, the author eludes to individuals who left their faith. At some point in life, these Christians abandoned their new life in Christ to indulge the addictions, bad habits, cravings and desires of their past. To avoid making the same mistakes of these wayward believers, the author points to heroes of the Christian faith. By examining and studying the choices that they made, you will be able to preserve your soul in the future regardless how long COVID-19 continues to last.

by Jay Mankus

Discovering Your Divine Purpose in 2021

Purpose is like a pulse that provides a reason to get out of bed every day. The book definition of purpose is the reason for which something is done, created or for which something exists. In a letter to the Church of Philippi, the apostle Paul makes a fascinating statement. For a Christian, there is a divine purpose that God began in you as a child and desires for you to carry this on to completion.

By faith we understand that the worlds [during the successive ages] were framed (fashioned, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose) by the word of God, so that what we see was not made out of things which are visible, Hebrews 11:3.

Paul said what? What signal and signs did I miss? Did I blow God off? Was I so consumed by my own life that I was oblivious to the people God sent into my life? Looking back at my teenage years, I certainly took several detours and wrong turns. I resisted God on numerous occasions until my nervous breakdown in high school. I may not have wandered around for 40 years like Israel, but I was still stubborn for 2 decades.

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.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s never too late to discover your divine purpose. Using an analogy from Romans 9:19-29, God is a heavenly potter and we are the clay. Since a piece of art takes time to create, discovering this divine purpose begins with a spiritual transformation. Along the way, the Bible is like a giant jigsaw puzzle. The move you read and study God’s Word, this purpose starts to come into focus, beginning with the borders. From here, the Holy Spirit serves as a counselor to lead the way.

by Jay Mankus

A Lament for Covid 19

A lament is a passionate expression of grief and sorrow. One Old Testament writer developed the nickname of the weeping prophet. Unfortunately, every time Jeremiah seemed to receive a message from the Lord, it made him cry or brought sadness to Israel. Perhaps, this was the inspiration for the Book of Lamentations. Whatever the reason, certain events like Covid-19 bring a similar cry for help today.

And I say, Perished is my strength and my expectation from the Lord. 19 [O Lord] remember [earnestly] my affliction and my misery, my wandering and my outcast state, the wormwood and the gall. 20 My soul has them continually in remembrance and is bowed down within me, Lamentations 3:18-20.

Since the Coronavirus struck the United States in 2020, more than 770,000 lives have been snuffed out by this deadly plague. Despite having access to vaccines in 2021, Covid 19 has now taken more lives in the United States this year than 2020, 386,233 and counting. You would think that as more Americans get vaccinated the death toll would steadily decline, but this is not the case.

But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: 22 It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not, Lamentations 3:21-22.

When science doesn’t have the answers or a cure, Jesus is the last line of defense. In the passage above, Jeremiah takes a dire situation and changes his perspective. Instead of focusing on what can’t be done, Jeremiah remembers all the past miracles performed by God in the Bible. Despite how bleak your future may be, hold on to Jesus as you lament to the Lord for a real cure for Covid 19.

by Jay Mankus

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