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So That Hope Survives

Ambition, aspiration, cravings, dreams, longings and yearnings are all associated with hope. When theses desires begin to slip away, individuals have to fight with determination so that hope survives. Whenever your confidence is shaken by defeat, failure or a loss, hope is like a dim light surrounded by darkness, ready to be snuffed out by unforeseen events.

But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

In a letter to a community with a troubled pass, Paul reminds this church that Christians are children of the light. Thus, as the Devil continues to bring and drag up skeletons from your past, don’t let doubt creep into your mind. The longer negative thoughts continue to linger, the closer the enemy comes to achieving his goal, John 10:10.

For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

The apostle Paul flips the script in the passage above. Instead of always being on defense, Paul takes up the Sword of the Spirit to go on offense, reminding believers of the ultimate prize. God’s end game is salvation, the opportunity to be reunited with Jesus in heaven. Hope is like an exit sign in the distance, the only way to God, John 14:6. When darkness blocks your path from this doorway, hope is what keep souls alive, surviving to live another day.

by Jay Mankus

The Original Food Bank

I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat.  If I send them home hungry, they will collapse on the way, because some of them have come a long distance, Mark 8:2-3.

The concept of a food bank can be traced back to the days of Pharaoh under the leadership of Joseph.  Serving as the Secretary of Agriculture and blessed with visions of a coming drought, Joseph rose to second in command of Egypt developing a surplus of food to prepare for seven years of famine.  Humanitarians of the past inspired the creation of the world’s first food bank in 1967, founded in the United States and now there are several throughout the globe.

His disciples answered, “But where in this remote place can anyone get enough bread to feed them? “How many loaves do you have?” Jesus asked. “Seven,” they replied, Mark 8:4-5.

However, there is one person who can be credited as the original food bank.  Jesus was constantly observant of others, thinking of their well being.  This mentality motivated Jesus to get his twelve disciples involved in this process.  Like any selfish person, they wanted to pass the buck, letting someone else provide assistance.  Pressing the issue, Jesus asked a simple question, “what do you have to give?”

The people ate and were satisfied. Afterward the disciples picked up seven basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over, Mark 8:8.

Today, countless needy people exist wherever you may live.  Unfortunately, most that possess the means don’t have the ambition, drive and time to reach out to souls who are hungry and thirsty.  I’m just as guilty as the next person, distracted by my own wants and needs.  Despite this reality, we all have something give.  Therefore, the next time you have some spare change, time or resources to share, follow in the footsteps of Jesus who is the original food bank.

by Jay Mankus

 

Pawns of the Devil

According to Webster, a pawn is someone used by others for their own purpose.  Pawns vary from a dupe to a puppet and in extreme conditions, a hostage.  When you consider Jesus’ insight in John 10:10, there are 3 stages to pawns of the Devil.  Initially, time is used to steal children away from God.  To further this separation, ambitions, dreams and goals are plucked, one by one, killing any hopes of emotional, physical and spiritual prosperity.  Finally, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, lives are destroyed figuratively and literally.

Pawn #1 is subtle, using amusement, entertainment and obsessions to lure committed followers off the narrow road.  Throw in a little compromise, enjoyment and worldly pleasures and before long, priorities began to change.  One of the signs of Satan’s success is a lukewarm spirit, causing souls to lose focus of what’s truly important in life.  Add an onslaught of trials and those pure in heart wander into uncharted waters, opening their eyes to a whole new world like Eve.  If you look across the fence long enough, you might find yourself on the other side.

Pawn #2 is merely a byproduct of time.  Once temptation begins to dig its claws deep into hearts and minds, the outcome shouldn’t be surprising.  Spiritual neglect is replaced by bad habits, careless behavior and loose lips.  The presence of a disciplined life is a distantly memory, kicked to the curb by fleshly desires.  Hooked, lined and sinking fast, the light of Christ fades into addictions of darkness.  At some point, individuals become puppets of the Devil, accomplishing his will through a hypocritical and tainted testimony.

Unless intervention occurs, Pawn #3 resembles a tsunami.  The first wave starts by destroying marriages and or relationships near and dear to your heart.  Isolated, the second wave brings financial ramifications as consumption, gambling and waste make their way to your shores.  Just when you think the storm has subsided, the surge is relentless building in size and wrath.  If you survive, a pitiful soul remains, a shell of the person you were before the pawns of the Devil entered your life.  For those still standing, remember the words of Peter, a failure himself, resist the devil by keeping the faith, 1 Peter 5:8-9.  May this revelation encourage hearts to draw near to the One true God, 1 Timothy 2:4.

by Jay Mankus

When Dreams Fade Away

Children tend to grow up with wild imaginations, dreaming of becoming a doctor, professional athlete or a wealthy entrepreneur.  However, as time ticks away, ambition is often replaced by more realistic goals.  Sure, dreams still exist in your mind, but negativity, pessimism and tough luck cause dreams to fade away from your memory.

A few years ago, I was passionate about completing my first novel.  Before I typed a word, vivid ideas rushed into my head, inspiring my will to complete this May 15th, a deadline for a major contest in Hollywood.  Unfortunately, a long cold spring, filled with racing to see all 3 of my children play sports has drained my desire to do anything.   With May in the rear view mirror, a spark for finishing this book needs to be rekindled before my thoughts vanish.

Sometimes, the Bible seems too good to be true, as readers silently murmur, “yeah right?”  Nonetheless, a weeping prophet writes of a special day in Jeremiah 29:11.  When the day of doubt sets, there is hope of prosperity.  If you’ve lost the will to carry on, don’t quit yet.  Cling to the promise of Galatians 6:9-10 so that like Walt Disney once said, “one day your dreams will come true!”

by Jay Mankus

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