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Forgiveness Opens the Door for Love

One of the barriers standing between forgiveness is stubborn hearts as certain individuals are unable to forgive or forget a previous transgression.  This unwillingness to let go of the pain inflicted shuts the door on the potential for love.  This reluctance sets the stage for bitterness, like an invisible poison that slowly kills relationships.  Unless there is a willingness to let God in to mend and repair fences, reconciliation is merely a dream.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I rebuke and discipline [showing them their faults and instructing them]; so be enthusiastic and repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, your sinful behavior—seek God’s will], Revelation 3:19.

In the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, John gives an honest assessment of seven churches.  While a few receive compliments, several are exposed for previous actions, beliefs and deeds.  Despite this list of flaws, John uses an analogy of a door to illustrate free will.  God is willing to offer forgiveness, yet souls must demonstrate an enthusiastic spirit of repentance.  Every day God is like an eager visitor, knocking on the door of your heart, but the Lord waits for your invitation.  There is no forced entry.

Behold, I stand at the door [of the church] and continually knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him (restore him), and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes [the world through believing that Jesus is the Son of God], I will grant to him [the privilege] to sit beside Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down beside My Father on His throne, Revelation 3:20-21.

At the end of this passage, God reveals another obstacle in the way of forgiveness.  Overcoming the world involves mindsets, philosophies and traditions that have become embraced by most of society.  This makes following God’s commandments, decrees and precepts that much more difficult.  Peer pressure only complicates any desires to seek God’s ways.  Free will is a daily exercise full of choices with the hope that you stay near enough so that you can hear God’s voice.  For those who fulfill this call, motivation comes as God forgives you.  Thus, as believers pay it forward, forgiveness opens the door for love to flow out of your heart, passed on to others.

by Jay Mankus


Why Do You Call Me Good?

Affirmations, compliments and encouragement used to be a common presence in daily conversations.  This positive vibe appears to be vanishing, replaced by sarcasm, witty comments and venting frustrations.  In some spheres of life, the word good is chosen as a means to gain favor.  A student seeking acceptance from a teacher will approach this special individual with kind speech to initiate a discussion.  In the passage below, this is exactly what occurs.

As He was leaving on His journey, a man ran up and knelt before Him and asked Him, “Good Teacher [You who are essentially good and morally perfect], what shall I do to inherit eternal life [that is, eternal salvation in the Messiah’s kingdom]?” – Mark 10:17

Perhaps Jesus perceived the motives of this rich young ruler changing the discourse by replying, “why do you call me good?”  While I don’t know how the rich acted in the first century, today wealthy people tend to get what they want.  Whether this means buying it, bribing or convincing others this decision will result in a financial gain in the future, money can be persuasive.  Whatever the reason, Jesus makes the point that being good won’t gain you access to heaven.

Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is [essentially] good [by nature] except God alone, Mark 10:18.

Jesus cautions this young man that human nature defaults to self.  The apostle Paul writes about this internal struggle in Galatians 5:16-18.  During a letter to the church of Rome, Paul shares about his own personal battle, Romans 7:13-15.  Despite Paul’s attempt to be good, he failed miserably, unable to control his sinful nature.  This experience likely inspired Paul to once confess, “I am the greatest sinner of all,” 1 Timothy 1:15.

Looking at him, Jesus felt a love (high regard, compassion) for him, and He said to him, “You lack one thing: go and sell all your property and give [the money] to the poor, and you will have [abundant] treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me [becoming My disciple, believing and trusting in Me and walking the same path of life that I walk].” 22 But the man was saddened at Jesus’ words, and he left grieving, because he owned much property and had many possessions [which he treasured more than his relationship with God], Mark 10:21-22.

After a brief comment about the last 6 commandments, Jesus addresses the main question of this rich young ruler, how do you inherit eternal life?  Jesus gives a three step action plan.  First, go sell your land and property.  Second, give the proceeds to the poor.  After this is complete, follow me by walking the same path as a servant.  While this reality can be distressing for any rich person, verse 22 provides the key to eternal life.  You must treasure your relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10, more than anything on earth.  Or as Matthew 6:33-34 once wrote, “seek first God and his righteousness.”  This is what makes someone good, but since no one is perfect God offers grace through faith in Christ as only way to heaven.

by Jay Mankus



The Hunger of Laborers

Part of the DNA within a man is found through their occupation.  Unfortunately, many struggle to find a job which compliments and highlights their God given talents.  Subsequently, when Christmas and holiday parties arrive in a few weeks, these conversations are often unpleasant, a constant reminder of one’s frustration of being an outcast, not where you feel like God wants you to be.

The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on, Proverbs 16:26.

If and when you find that ideal situation, you don’t need any motivation to get out of bed.  Rather, every day drives and motivates individuals, excited to pursue that path they are on.  Perhaps, this is what Solomon means by the hunger of laborers.  This state drives workers, providing a sense of purpose until their job or task is complete.  Anyone who has never experienced or tasted this sensation yearns for the day you find the perfect match.

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

For those of us who are a work in progress, the apostle Paul provides sound advice.  While on the journey called life, every deed and word count.  Therefore, dedicate your life to the Lord.  If you lose your way, remember the words of Hosea 4:6.  Since people perish without vision, set short term goals, serving as markers to lead your way.   God willing, you will one day find the hunger of laborers.

by Jay Mankus


That a Boy!

As the culture changes, so does the vocabulary.  Unfortunately, as a sense of loyalty diminishes, human beings are being discarded by employers, often finding a cheaper replacement.  I found out the hard way during my last year as a high school teacher.  In this climate, instead of hearing encouraging words like “that a boy,” criticism follows revealing a lack of appreciation.

With the help of Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written to you briefly, encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it, 1 Peter 5:12.

Trying to stay positive in these conditions can be difficult.  However, after reading a letter from the disciple Peter, I am reminded of the importance to use uplifting words.  Since most communications at a typical work place tends to be when you make a mistake, what would happen if people received a compliment once a week.  While each individual is different, most need to hear “that a boy or way to go” every so often to make sure they feel appreciated.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen, Ephesians 4:29.

Although I have my moments of negativity, these passages of the Bible bring me back to where I need to be.  Thus, despite how I feel, its vital to guard my mouth to avoid being part of the problem.  In view of this, don’t be afraid to be a voice of reason, building up those around you.  By exercising this principle, you will rejuvenate others who yearn to hear, “that a boy!”

by Jay Mankus


The Tug of War between Self-Esteem and Pride

On a level playing field, there isn’t much between winning and losing.  Whoever possesses confidence often comes out on top.  While talent does make a difference, self-esteem either strengthens or weakens individuals.  Too much success can go to your head, creating a false sense of security.  Thus, the tug of war between self-esteem and pride commences.

I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses, 2 Corinthians 12:5.

The psyche craves encouragement, wanting to receive positive feedback.  Although constructive criticism can be beneficial, compliments boast one’s self-esteem like a pat on the back.  Yet, balance must be achieved by surrounding yourself with people who are  honest, realistic and truthful.  Maintaining this atmosphere is crucial to keeping you from going back and forth between self-esteem and pride.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

Unfortunately, wounds to the soul leave most wallowing in self pity.  In a cruel world that can be unforgiving, recovering from any defeat is tough.  Perhaps, the words of apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians was meant to console and educate those with lost confidence.  Whenever you feel like you can’t go on, reach out to Jesus in prayer and God will provide the strength to carry on.  Subsequently, as the momentum turns in your favor don’t forget to thank the good Lord above so that pride doesn’t invade your soul.

by Jay Mankus



Don’t Take It Personally

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In an ideal setting, everyone would love to be admired, cherished and highly valued.  However, in a fallen world, with individuals daily carrying around dirty laundry and excess baggage, receiving a desired response is unlikely.  Therefore, if an act of kindness, gentle reply or word of encouragement goes unnoticed, don’t take it personally.  According to Exodus 7:3, sometimes God will harden a person’s heart, preventing individuals from being civil.

When Jesus first sent off his disciples in Matthew 10, taking off their preverbal training wheels, he tries to prepare these 12 men for what to expect in life.  Beginning in Matthew 10:17-23, you could probably hear a pin drop, likely caught off guard by the hatred Jesus predicted.  Maybe this is where Judas Iscariot began to get cold feet, thinking to himself, “I didn’t sign up for this!”  I guess you can assume Jesus is trying to separate the followers from leaders, using a similar strong message in Luke 14:25-27 to narrow down his core group.

Unfortunately, the old saying of “sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me” is a lie.  When I taught, I could have a dozen compliments from faculty and students, yet that one negative email from a parent is what I thought about, erasing all the good I received earlier in the day.  Criticism, harsh comments and tasteless remarks can get under your skin, leaving a heart torn in two.  When words feel like knife wounds, verbally poisoning your soul, take your burden to the Lord, Matthew 11:28.  May the words of Psalm 34:18-19 help you not to take future replies personally.

by Jay Mankus

Receiving Your Father’s Blessing

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In the past week, I have had several requests to write more about yearning for the favor of God.  I’ve had a few ideas, yet each stalled quickly, causing me to go back to the drawing board.  Then I read Genesis 49 yesterday, inspiring today’s title and prayer, that each of my readers may receive their father’s blessing.

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Not long after moving to Egypt, Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, gathered his sons to be in his presence prior to his death.  Beginning in Genesis 49:2, Jacob gives a verbal last will and testament in the form of blessings and curses.  Ending 26 verses later in Genesis 49:27, this is one of the most fascinating passages in the Bible, a foreshadowing of the good, bad and ugly future Israelites will experience.

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After the dust settled, there was probably several heart broken men.  Reuben was cursed, Simeon and Levi criticized for their tempers, Issachar had slavery to look forward to and Benjamin is projected to be a wolf.  Meanwhile, 5 others were given compliments per say as Zebulun’s descendants were promised the seaside, Dan people of justice, Gad a resilient fighter, Asher food fit for a king and Naphalti good looking children.  Judah and Joseph are the only 2 boys who received what I call a full blessing, each detailed in several verses compared to 1 or 2.

Unfortunately, the negativity of this current generation can be attributed somewhat due to a lack of father figures and or not hearing compliments from their father.  Anger, frustration and a spirit of perfectionism often keeps me and many other dads from taking time to praise their children.  Yes, kids do let parent’s down, but young people do need to be lifted up to restore what little confidence they possess.  As the apostle Paul urges believers in Galatians 6:9-10, share a word of encouragement while there is still time.  By doing this, may you receive your heavenly Father’s blessings.

by Jay Mankus

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