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Tag Archives: blessings

Not Just a Coincidence

Any well written drama includes a series of simultaneous events which peak the interest of viewers. Whether you are talking about a crime scene investigation, court case or murder mystery, things that happen at the same time are designed to lump the innocent in with the guilty individual or party. Following the clues, evidence and facts take an audience in an unexpected direction which ultimately exonerates the falsely accused while exposing who is to blame.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God, Deuteronomy 28:1-2.

While driving home from work earlier in the week, the Holy Spirit opened my mind to something that I regularly overlook. Like James Stewart’s character (George Bailey) in It’s a Wonderful Life, my life is full of blessings. Despite a normal amount of disappointments, failures and trying times, the Lord has watched over my family and friends. Instead of thanking God for all the visible and invisible blessings in my life, I dismiss many of these occurrences to fate, luck and natural events.

But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city and cursed shall you be in the field, Deuteronomy 28:15-16.

The lesson God is trying to teach me is that this isn’t just a coincidence. Rather, the principles of Deuteronomy 28 are being played out daily. Listening to and obeying God results in favor in the form of accomplishments, blessings and success. Meanwhile, those who fail to accept, embrace or listen to the Bible’s teaching will suffer a series of setbacks. God uses humility to reunite lost and troubled souls with their Creator. Therefore, the next time you think about ignoring God’s omnipresence on earth, remember that blessings and curses is not a coincidence.

by Jay Mankus

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Is Losing a Game Worth Staining Your Reputation?

To avid sports fans, winning and losing a college or professional football game is the difference between life and death.  If you visit campus or a city the day after a victory, excitement, joy and passion are present.  Meanwhile, following a loss, bitterness, disappointment and misery reign as local talk radio stations turn into a Monday Morning Quarterback therapy session.  While working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for two years, I experienced these highs and lows daily.  As I look back at this period in my life, I wonder if losing a game is worth getting so upset that you stain your own reputation.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,
3 A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

The Bible prepares individuals for coping with losing in the passage above.  A wise Old Testament king recognizes the need to look at life in a philosophical manner.  There is a time for everything in life, this includes winning and losing.  Depending upon the circumstance or situation, people will be brought to tears or lifted up by encouraging news.  This endless cycle is a painful reminder of trials awaiting you in life.  Thus, the better prepared you are for the future, the less likely you will allow a loss to stain your reputation.

Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, so that when His glory [full of radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may also rejoice with triumph [exultantly], 1 Peter 4:11-12.

One of Jesus’ former disciples adds to Solomon’s teaching.  In practical terms, Peter warns believers in Jesus to expect the unexpected.  Unfortunately, some modern television evangelists are painting a picture that if you become a Christian by placing your faith in Christ, all your troubles and worries will disappear.  Meanwhile, other biblical teachers overemphasize blessings by de-emphasizing earthly trials.  Subsequently, new converts are amazed and bewildered by weekly ordeals.  This likely explains why some avid sports fans will allow a devastating loss to stain their reputation.

by Jay Mankus

What People Do to Become Accepted

Beside my accolades as an athlete, I spent most of high school living in relative obscurity. When I became a Christian in the middle of my sophomore year, a majority of my friends were members of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. During a conversion with one of my coaches as a senior, I discovered that several of my peers labeled me as a freak, holy roller and loner who didn’t know how to have fun. Perhaps, this perception inspired me to become accepted once I entered college at the University of Delaware.

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak,” Matthew 26:41.

During a summer vacation to Tampa, Florida, I bought a socially acceptable muscle shirt. While this tank top was white, there was a character with shades and cigarette in one hand. The caption on this shirt was Too Cool. By wearing this on the day I moved into my dorm, I received several positive comments. Although the message on this shirt contradicted everything that I believed in at this time, I cared more about being accepted than serving as a light for Christ. This is what I did to become accepted.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My plan worked as became one of the four horseman. My nickname was derived from my tank top, J.L. Cool. I guess you can say I made the most of my first semester in college, getting special invites to several parties even some to fraternities that I didn’t belong to or join. This was a wild ride, indulging in deeds of darkness while my lure and popularity spread across campus. When the second semester began, nearly half of my floor in Lane flunked out. Consumed by dread, guilt and shame, a winter retreat provided an opportunity for me to get my life right with God. While my testimony has a happy ending, only God knows the blessings that I missed out on by wanting to become socially accepted.

by Jay Mankus

Letting Things Roll Off Your Back

Mammals such as otters and seals have very greasy fur which serves as protection from becoming water logged. Meanwhile, waterfowl such as ducks possess greasy feathers which enables beads of water to roll off their backs. This is where the saying “let things roll off your back” is derived. This simile is an expression of encouragement urging a friend not to let criticism, disappointing news or hardship bother them.

One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid anymore, but go on speaking and do not be silent; Acts 18:9.

During the apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, a mob of unbelieving Jews began to follow him from city to city. These individuals disrupted his teaching and made threats upon his life. By the time Paul reached Corinth, modern day Greece, stressed consumed his soul. One night the Lord appeared in a vision, urging Paul to let things roll off his back. Continue doing what I called you to do, keep speaking without fear.

For I am with you, and no one will attack you in order to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So he settled there for a year and six months, teaching them the word of God [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ], Acts 18:10-11.

Based upon the promise above, God placed a remnant of believers in Corinth. Some of these individuals such as Gallio were in leadership positions to shield Paul from harm. Subsequently, Paul experienced 18 months of blessings, peace and spiritual revival. Paul sent 4 letters to the church of Corinth, 2 of which are found in the New Testament. When you let things roll off your back like Paul, the possibilities are endless.

by Jay Mankus

Recognizing Distractions Early Before It’s Too Late

There is a strange phenomena that occurs when individuals are about to draw close to God.  The apostle Paul points to the spiritual realm to explain distractions, interruptions and unexplained events, Ephesians 6:12.  According to Paul, the devil’s strategy includes three waves.  The first enables certain rulers to rise to power such as judges, kings and political leaders.  This wave is reinforced by worldly forces, areas, regions and territories under demonic oppression where evil is allowed to reign.  Finally, there are spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly realm fueled by demons, minions and strongmen to execute Satan’s schemes on earth.

It happened that as we were on our way to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination [that is, a demonic spirit claiming to foretell the future and discover hidden knowledge], and she brought her owners a good profit by fortune-telling. 17 She followed after Paul and us and kept screaming and shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God! They are proclaiming to you the way of salvation!” – Acts 16:16-17

Using this criteria, Luke details an example from Paul’s ministry while visiting Philippi.  While on his way to participate in a prayer and worship service, a slave girl was sent to distract Paul.  Apparently, a demonic spirit recognized that Paul’s missionary team were servants of the most high God.  Just as spirits hounded Jesus, this revealed truth caused a slave girl to interrupt Paul’s message of salvation to Europe for several days, regularly screaming and shouting as Paul tried to preach.  According to Luke, this gradually wore Paul down, annoyed by this constant distraction.  When Paul rebuked this spirit, the owners of this slave girl complained to the chief magistrates, convincing law enforcement to imprison Paul and Silas.

She continued doing this for several days. Then Paul, being greatly annoyed and worn out, turned and said to the spirit [inside her], “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ [as His representative] to come out of her!” And it came out at that very moment, Acts 16:18.

While in prison, Paul and Silas could have been distracted by anger, bitterness and injustice.  Yet, prayers of the saints strengthened these men, turning this setback into a golden opportunity.  How you may ask?  Well, Paul and Silas transformed their prison cell into a worship service.  As Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns, a great earthquake rocked Philippi.  When this quake opened the doors to each cell, some would have taken this as a sign from God to escape.  However, Paul demonstrated amazing leadership, convincing all the prisoners to stay put; saving the life of the jailor who was about to kill himself, the fate he would have faced if any prisoner escaped.  These are the blessings that await those who recognize spiritual distractions early before it’s too late..

by Jay Mankus

Rains from Heaven

While farmers pray for rain each summer to nurture freshly planted crops, vacationers hope for clear sunny skies until nightfall.  Meanwhile, those who reside in the path of previous hurricanes or tornado alley, plead with God to save their home, lives and town.  From God’s perspective, every day prayers lifted up to heaven often contradict one another.  Subsequently, rain sent from heaven will bless some while serving as a curse to others.

Yet He did not leave Himself without some witness [as evidence of Himself], in that He kept constantly doing good things and showing you kindness, and giving you rains from heaven and productive seasons, filling your hearts with food and happiness,” Acts 14:17.

After healing a man crippled from birth, eyewitnesses of this miracle exalted Paul and Barnabas to god-like status.  Instead of receiving this praise, Paul reveals the source of his power, pointing to heaven.  Evidence of God’s presence can be seen daily if you are watching closely.  Unfortunately, many have become oblivious, too focused on their own lives to thank the Lord for rains sent from heaven.

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above; it comes down from the Father of lights [the Creator and Sustainer of the heavens], in whom there is no variation [no rising or setting] or shadow cast by His turning [for He is perfect and never changes]. 18 It was of His own will that He gave us birth [as His children] by the word of truth, so that we would be a kind of first fruits of His creatures [a prime example of what He created to be set apart to Himself—sanctified, made holy for His divine purposes], James 1:17-18.

An earthly brother came to realize this fact following Jesus’ resurrection.  Perhaps, the passage above is a culmination of a private conversation prior to Jesus ascending into heaven.  If only negative people who try to bring you down would grasp the concept that every perfect gift comes from above.  Embracing this mindset would transform families, neighborhoods and workplaces.  Yet, for now, the best way to keep this message alive is by pointing to rain sent from heaven.

by Jay Mankus

The Comfort and Encouragement of the Holy Spirit

A first century doctor makes an interesting observation about the Holy Spirit.  While initially described as the Holy Ghost in the original King James version of the Bible, Luke describes the feeling and sense new believers experienced following their baptism.  Despite being an invisible force, those who walked with God daily received an inner peace in the form of comfort and encouragement.  When I read the passage below for the first time, I pondered “what does it mean to walk in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit?”

So the church throughout Judea and Galilee and Samaria enjoyed peace [without persecution], being built up [in wisdom, virtue, and faith]; and walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit, it continued to grow [in numbers], Acts 9:31.

The term walking with God is found 62 times in the Bible.  One of the first references of this phrase occurs in the passage below, a command from God to Abram to activate his faith by arising and walking to fulfill God’s calling.  While Adam and Eve walked and talked with God in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 5:22 mentions that Enoch walked faithfully with God.  Subsequently, Enoch was spared death, taken up into heaven like Elijah.  Perhaps, this shines light on the comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit.

Arise, walk (make a thorough reconnaissance) around in the land, through its length and its width, for I will give it to you.” 18 Then Abram broke camp and moved his tent, and came and settled by the [grove of the great] terebinths (oak trees) of Mamre [the Amorite], which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to [honor] the Lord, Genesis 13:17-18.

The comfort and encouragement of the Holy Spirit could also originate from teachings from Moses.  Deuteronomy 28 lists acts that result in blessings and curses from God.  The blessing list lasts 14 verses, followed by 54 verses on curses due to acts of disobedience.  Common sense tells me that if you are walking with God or as the apostle Paul puts it in Galatians 5:25, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, blessings will abound.  Moses states in Deuteronomy 28:2 that” all these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you pay attention to the voice of the Lord your God.”  Therefore, as individuals walk with God, blessings will bring comfort and encouragement to ensure believers that you are on the right track.

by Jay Mankus

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