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Blessed More than Ever Before

Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. These attitudes to strive for while on earth each begin with the word blessed. Jesus suggests that those who demonstrate or possess these qualities will be filled with peace and prosperity. These 9 traits are realistic goals depending upon your DNA and personality type. However, you won’t have every spiritual gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Nonetheless, once these hidden talents are revealed to you, blessings come as these gifts are put into action, 2 Timothy 1:6.

Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. 20 But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, Matthew 6:19-21.

In the second chapter of his sermon, Jesus turns his attention toward motives. While probing human hearts, Jesus calls his followers to look inward to examine where you stand. Using treasures in the context of priorities, Jesus wants to know if your focus is on the eternal or temporary? Jesus suggests if your heart is in the right spot, the Lord will provide everything you need for life, Matthew 6:33. However, if you are distracted by fame, fortune or temporary pleasures, blessings will be replaced with a spirit of emptiness.

Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it, Malachi 3:8-10.

An Old Testament prophet adds a new dimension to the source of blessings. According to Malachi, blessings are directly linked to the tithe individuals give to their local church. Those who withhold their income by giving less than ten percent of their salary will experience limited blessings. Malachi refers to this lack of trust as a way people defraud God. However, if you come to a point in your life when you acknowledge that everything you have is a gift from God, hearts are drawn toward tithing. Therefore, if you want to see the storehouses in heaven open up before your very eyes, make 2021 the year you began giving back to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

When a Resident is Not Present

When government officials began their regional lock downs in late March of 2020, the state of Delaware deemed my position as essential. Thus, as many were forced to stay at home, I ventured out on to barren streets to get to work on time. As several of my co-workers decided to opt out, afraid of catching Covid-19, I spent most of my shifts working solo, creating a large back log. While I was blessed with countless opportunities to work overtime, I became a resident who was not present in my community. To avoid getting sick, I stayed in bed as long as possible to prepare myself mentally for another night of work.

Making the very most of the time [buying up each opportunity], because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is, Ephesians 5:16-17.

While visiting the Church at Ephesus, the apostle Paul noticed a group of Christians who attended church regularly, but the presence of a living faith was absent. Based upon his numerous missionary journeys, fruits of the Holy Spirit easily visible in other churches was missing from Ephesian Christians. Based upon the passage above, there was an apathy, complacency and lack of urgency within the hearts and minds of believers. The solution to this void was to become filled with the Holy Spirit. This leads Paul to make an interesting analogy. Instead of getting drunk during celebrations, this fullness should occur daily.

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the [Holy] Spirit. 19 Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices [[e]and instruments] and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, Ephesians 5:18-19.

This spiritual infusion begins by reading the Word of God, Romans 10:17. As Christians dust off the covers of their Bible, encouragement, hope, and inspiration is found in these living pages. Yet, becoming filled up with the Holy Spirit starts when individuals enter into a personal relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10. From here, local churches come into play through fellowship with other believers, Acts 2:42-47. If you try to skip one of these steps like I did in 2020, you’ll become a resident who is not present, void of any signs of spiritual life. If you want to make a difference in 2021, make sure you take the time to become filled with God’s Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Remaining Positive in a World Full of Bad News

I find myself turning the channel quicker and quicker each time I stop by to get a quick news update. My ears have developed a sharp antenna, recognizing intros to the latest hit piece slandering President Trump. As cable news anchors eagerly await comments from their guest panelists, I’m already channel searching, trying to something apolitical to watch. Unfortunately, even sporting events are becoming a haven for politics.

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.

In the passage above, Lamentations reveals Judah’s pathetic condition following the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem. This collection of poetic laments flowed out of broken hearts following the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 Before Christ. In the midst of this devastating news, many wore their emotions on their sleeves. Perhaps, the Coronavirus in 2020 serves as a painful reminder of how blessed and good life was prior to this pandemic.

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. 23 They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness. 24 The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him, Lamentations 3:21-24.

While many might want to go back in time to experience handshakes and hugs, public displays of affection will have to wait for now. Yet, within this misery and isolation, God has not changed. Although our circumstances are different, the Lord still offers grace, mercy and loving kindness. Thus, despite living in a world full of bad news, God is my hope and strength. May the biblical promise above give you the faith to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

Surviving These Days of Uncertainty

Everyone has a tipping point. This occurs when an evolving situation leads to a critical point, resulting in a new and irreversible development. Human beings can only handle so much until feelings boil over and erupt. For the African American community, the death of George Floyd ignited raw emotions that no longer could be kept within. One month later, tensions continue to be volatile as some peaceful protests have turned cities across the United States into riot zones.

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace and confidence. In the world you have tribulation and trials and distress and frustration; but be of good cheer [take courage; be confident, certain, undaunted]! For I have overcome the world. [I have deprived it of power to harm you and have conquered it for you], John 16:33.

When I look to the Bible to find answers for my concerns, Jesus has a way of providing comfort. While talking to his disciples about the future, Jesus refers to the fate of his followers. Instead of painting a rosy picture of a blessed and happy ending, life is filled with distress, frustrations and trials. If you want to survive these days of uncertainty, Jesus encourages individuals to be courageous and undaunted. Before completing his comments, Jesus reminds his disciples that He has overcome the world.

[Some] women received again their dead by a resurrection. Others were tortured to death with clubs, refusing to accept release [offered on the terms of denying their faith], so that they might be resurrected to a better life. 36 Others had to suffer the trial of mocking and scourging and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned to death; they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith]; they were sawn asunder; they were slaughtered by the sword; [while they were alive] they had to go about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated—Hebrews 11:35-37.

The author of Hebrews takes Jesus’ words to the next level. The context of the passage above is at the end of a chapter known as the Hall of Faith. Instead of naming every worthy member of this spiritual family, the author highlights the cost of faith. Rather than bow down to the world in an attempt to be accepted and fit in, these saints were willing to die for their beliefs and convictions. When the Marxist’s mob run out of statues to topple, recent reports suggest that historic churches may be next on their list. If your house of worship is targeted, what are you going to do? May God help us all to get through these days of uncertainty with wisdom.

by Jay Mankus

Choose Your Attitude… Change Your Life

Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life is a popular name for a self help book. Similar to the popular title, You are What You Think, which I read as a college student. Author Robert Jeffries took his 1992 book and turned this into a 2020 sermon series for his First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas. Since most states have banned churches from meeting together for worship, Change Your Attitude, Change Your Life is now available to watch. The Pathway to Victory airs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network on Sunday morning 10:00 EST.

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves], Philippians 2:14.

The book definition of attitude is a settled way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, typically one that is reflected in a person’s behavior. Attitudes often serve as a frame of mind, school of thought and vantage point about how you see life. Depending upon which individuals you surround yourself with, perspectives will form and shape various beliefs. If the Bible is excluded from your point of reference, attitudes can turn sour quickly, void of God’s promises.

That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, Philippians 2:15.

The church of Philippi is sometimes referred to Paul’s favorite church, blessed and grateful for their spiritual growth and progress. Yet, Paul still saw flaws and weaknesses within these individuals. Based upon the passages above, attitude, complaining and grumbling appears to have been a common problem. This forces Paul to remind his readers of the ideal, standing out like shining stars, full of the light of Christ. While there is a temptation to blend into your surroundings, God calls Christians to a higher standard. If you change your attitude to that of Christ, a changed life is possible to achieve via the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

The Instruction Manual for Spiritual Gifts

As a former high school Bible teacher, one of my classes introduced the concept of spiritual gifts. After a short lesson, students took a spiritual gifts test to uncover hidden talents. Unfortunately, the humble and meek scored lower overall than the rest of my classes. Meanwhile, the confident often gave themselves higher marks during this self evaluation and spiritual inventory. Depending upon your mood, your score will fluctuate. This fundamental flaw with these types of tests doesn’t always highlight or reveal your strengths and spiritual weaknesses.

[Let your] love be sincere (a real thing); hate what is evil [loathe all ungodliness, turn in horror from wickedness], but hold fast to that which is good. 10 Love one another with brotherly affection [as members of one family], giving precedence and showing honor to one another. 11 Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:9-11.

The passage above is similar to words written to the Church at Corinth. Instead of using an instruction manual style format, Paul completes his list of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11. In the following chapter, a disclaimer is added to prevent the blessed and more gifted from boasting. Paul doesn’t hold back suggesting that spiritual gifts and talents are worthless unless accompanied by love, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. To make sure all believers are on the same page, Paul defines biblical love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Paul’s letter to Roman Christians uses a different approach, blending and weaving love with spiritual gifts.

Contribute to the needs of God’s people [sharing in the necessities of the saints]; pursue the practice of hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you [who are cruel in their attitude toward you]; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief]. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty (snobbish, high-minded, exclusive), but readily adjust yourself to [people, things] and give yourselves to humble tasks. Never overestimate yourself or be wise in your own conceits, Romans 12:13-16.

Perhaps, while visiting Rome, Paul witnessed some disturbing behavior, far from the example Jesus set during his three year ministry on earth. Thus, Paul felt compelled to use Romans 12 as the Instruction Manual for Spiritual Gifts. Directions include sincerity, loathing anything to do with ungodliness, loving each member of the church like family and maintaining a passion to serve the Lord. In the passage above, it’s almost as if Paul is referencing or quoting parts of the Sermon on the Mount to reinforce the need to love and pray for your enemies. If you follow Paul’s advice in this chapter, you will stand out like a city on a hill and the salt of the earth. May this blog inspire you to identity and fan into flame your spiritual gift(s).

by Jay Mankus

So You Think That You are in Control?

As a struggling perfectionist, I like to think that I can accomplish whatever I set my heart and mind on. Although I am blessed to have succeeded in achieving many of my goals in life, the older I become, the more I seem to experience failure. With defeat comes doubt, making the idea of victory a foreign concept. Meanwhile, just when I think I am heading in the right direction, God throws me a curve. While fasting and praying this week, it’s safe to say that I am not in control.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul uses a sports analogy, referencing the Corinthians Games, a famous Track & Field competition. The only problem with athletics is the finality of it all as there is only one winner. Everyone else who falls short ends up a loser, often disappointed by the outcome. In a world of over 7 billion inhabitants, there is always some better than you, eventually taking your championship, crown or title. No matter how hard you train, you can’t control the determination of someone else who wants it more than you.

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

Boxers and runners daily seek to push their bodies to the limits. This desire enables the world’s greatest athletes to break records every year. Yet, you can only go so far as the human flesh has it’s breaking point. In the passage above, the apostle Paul adds a spiritual element to this discussion. This comes to a climax in another letter, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, where Paul realizes, “in my weakness Christ is strongest.” Therefore, as the spiritually mature acknowledge that they are not in control, God’s power will fall upon you.

by Jay Mankus

How Happiness Happens

A recent survey found that only 1 out 3 Americans are truly happy with their current life. While this feeling of contentment is a temporary state, only a third of those who participated were found to be joyful and satisfied. This makes me wonder, how does happiness happen? How can individuals use the beginning of a new year and decade to turn their frown around?

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” Luke 6:38.

Best selling author Max Lucado’s newest book provides biblical insight to explain How Happiness Happens. While watching Fox and Friends over my Christmas Break, I caught Lucado’s interview to promo his latest project. Based upon this brief segment, Lucado draws upon Jesus’ teaching on giving, “it’s better to give than receive.”

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered, Proverbs 11:24-25.

King Solomon provides another perspective on giving in the passage above. It’s unclear if Solomon is speaking about his own life or merely referring to the sowing principle. Regardless of this context, those who learn to freely give without expecting something in return will be blessed by God and others. As 2020 commences tomorrow, my prayer is that you may begin to understand how happiness happens.

by Jay Mankus

A Man of Few Words

Bitterness, covetous, discontent, envy and resentment are words associated with jealousy.  A day doesn’t pass without me envious of individuals blessed with a great personality.  Some people are never at a loss with words, always knowing what to say and when.  Although I spent a decade teaching high school students, day to day conversions have never come easy for me.  While I may a desire to be the life of the party, I am normally a man of few words.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer, Psalm 19:14.

Perhaps, this loss for words goes back to my childhood, born with a severe speech impediment.  Beside being teased, the act of opening my mouth was an adventure.  I never knew when I was going to stutter, but when I started I couldn’t verbalize a coherent word.  These experiences led me to shy away from talking, afraid of another stuttering spasm that often triggered me to hyperventilate.  This embarrassing past has influenced me to become a man of few words.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him, Colossians 3:17.

Yet, one man’s weakness has yielded a hidden treasure.  Instead of speaking, the Lord had another plan for my life.  With a few mentors in high school who just happened to be teachers, a seed was planted for the love of communicating.  As the years past, poetry led to short stories and song writing.  From here, doors opened to publish a monthly news letter which led to a staff writer position.  As words continued to flow from within, a man who spoke few words can’t stop thinking of new topics to write about daily.  Thus, as I post my 2700th blog today, I have come to terms with my own limitations.  It’s okay to be a man of few words as long as I Express Myself for God.

by Jay Mankus

Fulfilling the Common Good

Good is one of those words that is overused.  As absolutes are becoming replaced by opinions fueled by cable news and talk radio, what is good and what is bad varies.  In the days of the Old Testament, Judges began to do what was right in their own eyes, removing the Bible as a measuring stick.  Similar to modern day humanism, anything that feels natural is deemed good.  On the other hand, anything that results in unpleasant experiences is considered bad.  Those who adopt this mentality place self seeking endeavors above the common good.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

During the first century, there was some confusion due to how God was allocating spiritual gifts among church members.  Apparently, jealousy distracted Christians from accomplishing the common good for society.  People who were blessed with special abilities that demonstrated God’s extraordinary powers were placed in higher esteem that those with more traditional gifts like discernment and hospitality.  This rift within Corinth inspired the apostle Paul to remind believers that without displaying love, spiritual gifts are meaningless, 1 Corinthians 13:1-3.

“Each of us… must rededicate ourselves to serving the common good.  Our individual fates are linked, our futures intertwined.  And if we act in that knowledge and in that spirit, together, as the Bible says, we can move mountains,” President Jimmy Carter 1978.

Jimmy Carter is the last evangelical Christian to hold the presidency of the United States.  Although most Americans would refer to the Carter presidency as a failure, this man has held a higher calling.  Known for his service to Habitat for Humanity, founded in his home state of Georgia, Carter has embraced the concept of providing homes for the homeless.  While most former presidents end up going on book tours, concentrate on speaking engagements or traveling the world, Carter volunteered his time to build homes.  The quote above serves as a great example of what it means to fulfill the common good.  Just as the city of Babel came together with a common purpose to erect a tower, Christian’s united under one spirit can move mountains.

by Jay Mankus

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