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When I Get Around To It

Prior to the second week in March, busyness could be used as an excuse for not getting around to doing something that you deem important. Depending upon your normal work schedule, certain unexpected things can alter your list of priorities. When businesses, cities and states began to issue work at home orders if possible, priorities changed overnight. Instead of using time as a lame excuse, free time at home is what many households had until their states began to re-open.

But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right), and then all these things taken together will be given you besides, Matthew 6:33.

In the middle of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes some time to focus on motives and priorities. Unfortunately, the invisible forces of worry tend to distract individuals from what’s important in life. Instead of trusting God to provide daily bread, minds and thoughts often race out of control. By the time you find yourself in bed, what you didn’t get around to do is held off until tomorrow. Thus, for people like me, another opportunity to meet with God is missed.

And in the morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there He prayed, Mark 1:35.

Tired of rarely keeping my New Year resolutions, I have taken extreme measures to avoid skipping my daily time with God. Although I am not a morning person, I do have an advantage to practicing Jesus’ morning ritual. Since I work nights, I arrive home early 4 days a week. While I haven’t carried out my plan every day this year, I usually read a section of the Bible and pray before going to sleep. Instead of waiting until I get around to it, my first few moments at home in the morning are spent with God. Don’t fall prey to the when I get around to it trap. Meet with God right now!

by Jay Mankus

Did You See That?

In her 1990 song From a Distance, Bette Midler suggests that God is watching us from a distance. This song from the Some People’s Lives album spoke to my heart. Reaching number one on the Adult Contemporary chart, the lyrics of From a Distance connected with average people, stirring and touching souls. Based upon the passage below, Bette was right.

And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent. 43 And He called His disciples [to Him] and said to them, Truly and surely I tell you, this widow, [she who is] poverty-stricken, has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury, Mark 12:42-43.

John Mark references a mundane event, watching people place their offering to God. According to Mark, Jesus sat directly opposite of where individuals placed their tithe for the temple treasury. While the disciples were paying careful attention to what the rich gave, Jesus had his eyes on the poor. Although the expression was not used by Jesus at the time, modern translations support a comment like, “did you see that?”

For they all threw in out of their abundance; but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had—[even] all she had on which to live, Mark 12:44.

While in college, I attended several retreats, especially my last two years. Usually, there was some sort of love offering for the guest speaker Sunday morning. On a few occasions, I emptied my wallet of $5 or $10, forgoing a meal or two before arriving back at campus. However, this widow had nothing to fall back on, trusting God to supernaturally provide her next meal. Whenever faith like this is demonstrated, it’s worth mentioning.

by Jay Mankus

One Raspberry

At one of the Holocaust museums, a special poem highlights the poverty that existed during this time period. Gerda Weissmann Klein details this specific act of kindness. After being dragged away from their homes and escorted to concentration camps, one individual found a fresh raspberry, placing it inside their pocket. Instead of fulfilling their hunger pains, this raspberry was offered as a gift to a friend.

And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and saw how the crowd was casting money into the treasury. Many rich [people] were throwing in large sums. 42 And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent, Mark 12:41-42.

Earlier in the first century, Jesus witnessed a similar act of kindness. While most onlookers were eager to see what the rich were giving, Jesus watched a widow give everything she possessed. Broke, homeless and lonely without a family to take care of her needs, this widow understood the concept of daily bread. It’s unclear if this woman was present at the Sermon on the Mount of Olives, but she trusted that God would somehow provide her next meal.

Give us this day our daily bread, Matthew 6:11.

As the Coronavirus continues to close businesses, restaurants and stores across the country, sources of income are vanishing. Meanwhile, church services are being cancelled as pastors are live streaming sermons in front of a few people. As wealth is disappearing while the Stock Market continues to plummet, tithing is limited to online donations. This current crisis is forcing individuals to rethink their giving practices. Are you going to hold on to what you have in your pocket or raid your spare change jar to give? Whatever you decide, may the One Raspberry poem inspire you to give what you have to meet someone else’s needs.

by Jay Mankus

Pray at Lunchtime for the United States

The origin of praying for a meal has ties to the Old Testament and New Testament.  In the days of Israel, cup bearers were similar to modern day secret service agents.  Instead of serving as an armed guard, these men tested the food and wine for poisons.  If no one died, this meal was safe for the king to enjoy.  One of the most famous cup bearers is Nehemiah, who God used as a vessel to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  In the first century, the apostles gave thanks for each meal the Lord provided.  While the passage below does not detail the words spoken, praying before eating was a form of thanksgiving.

Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all, and he broke it and began to eat, Acts 27:35.

Today, Christians continue this practice, folding their hands, closing their eyes and either silently or verbally expressing thanks to God for daily bread.  Just as Moses gave thanks for manna from heaven and quail via God, saying grace is an act of appreciation for the little things in life.  Unfortunately, praying at lunch has made national news recently for the wrong reason.  Brigadier General John Teichert who has a blog encouraging individuals to pray at lunchtime for the United States is being threatened by a lawsuit.  Attorney Michael Weinstein who trolls Christians on military bases recently said, “General Teichert should be doing time behind prison bars, not commanding a Wing wearing a general’s stars,”

Then all of them were encouraged and their spirits improved, and they also ate some food, Acts 27:36.

Luke provides the benefits of praying before a meal in the passage above.  Based upon the words used by Luke, saying grace can be moving as people pour out their hearts to God.  This specific prayer encouraged everyone in attendance as well as uplifting their spirits.  If public prayer for a meal could have this impact on a group of people, why is this attorney be so upset?  If prayer can inspire souls to act, what’s the big deal?  How is prayer hurting military bases and the men and women who serve this country?  Perhaps, if atheists, critics and skeptics begin to pray, this world would become a better place.  May the readers of this blog keep General Teichert in your prayers so that the power of prayer will continue to thrive in this country and throughout the world.

by Jay Mankus

Do You Believe Me Now?

The idiom “seeing is believing” was first recorded in 1639.  This saying is based upon the words of Thomas, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples.  Based upon the passage below, Thomas doubted that Jesus could rise from the dead following his crucifixion.  Thomas developed a mindset that only physical or concrete evidence could convince him otherwise.  Unfortunately, this same thinking is prevalent today, keeping many in the dark, void of the faith necessary to believe in modern day miracles.

But Thomas, one of the twelve [disciples], who was called Didymus (the twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples kept telling him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the marks of the nails, and put my finger into the nail prints, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe,” John 20:24-25.

Thomas wasn’t the only disciple to experience a crisis of faith.  Apparently, several disciples did not believe the initial news that Jesus has risen from the dead.  Yet, these same men witnessed Jesus walk on water, turn water into wine and raise his friend Lazarus from the grave, cancelling a funeral in progress.  In addition, Peter, James and John watched Jesus transform into a heavenly figure, communicate with Elijah and Moses and cast demons out of formerly crazed individuals.  When seeing is believing becomes your motto for life, faith is powerless, preventing believers from ever experiencing the abundant life Jesus promises in John 10:10.

Now Jesus, having risen [from death] early on the first day of the week, appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom He had cast out seven demons. 10 She went and reported it to those who had been with Him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 When they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe it. 12 After that, He appeared in a different form to two of them as they were walking along the way to the country. 13 They returned [to Jerusalem] and told the others, but they did not believe them either, Mark 16:9-13.

Only three out of a thousand Americans make close to a million dollars per year.  Those who don’t have the education, experience or knowledge to earn this annual salary may enter contests, gamble or pursue gameshows to attempt to strike it rich.  For a few, this pursuit may become reality.  Yet, many will remain in their current situation, struggling to pay all of their bills while trying to put enough food on the table.  When Jesus was hungry, prayer and a few resources fed thousands of people.  With these previous miracles in mind, perhaps its time to believe in God’s power now so that tomorrow will bring daily bread, manna from heaven and a storehouse of blessings.

by Jay Mankus

Blessed, Fortunate or Normal

I spent last night eating dinner at my parents house.  Beside the normal topics of conversation, I began ask about cousins I haven’t heard from or seen in years.  Unfortunately, each relative’s update included a similar pattern, ending with disappointment, divorce or unfulfilled potential.

And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19. 

Like anything in life, there is a temptation to compare yourself with others.  While my life hasn’t been perfect or void of adversity, I feel quite fortunate and blessed.  Up to this point, the Lord has provided daily bread, a sense of accomplishment and passion to pursue my dreams.  Then again, maybe I’m just normal, making the most of what God has given me.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change, James 1:17.

When you study what the Bible says about blessings, you have to be careful not to take verses out of context.  The apostle writes to Philippians after surviving an earthquake and seeing the hand of God in allowing trials to occur.  Meanwhile, the brother of Jesus reflects upon how God is in control, despite how bad your current situation may be.  Nonetheless, when you have experienced a good and decent life, you’re either blessed, fortunate, normal or a little bit of all three.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

My Daily Bread

The concept of daily bread was introduced to Israel following the exodus out of Egypt.  What was meant to be a short journey into the promised land, became a 40 year journey in the wilderness.  To survive the extreme conditions of the desert, God sent manna 6 days a week, daily bread for hungry souls.  When some began to grumble, the Lord sent quail to satisfy starving stomachs.  When people become helpless, God provides daily bread for life.

I have not departed from the commandment of his lips; I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food, Job 23:12.

During his preparation prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus withdrew into a desert.  Although, this region may have differed from the trek the Israelites took, fasting and prayer fueled Jesus.  Thus, as the devil approached with his twisting of the truth, Jesus was aimed with the right attitude.  Subsequently, when hunger pains began to surface, Jesus understood bread only takes you so far.  Rather, God’s Word is daily bread which makes you whole.

The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God,’ Matthew 4:3-4.

One of the reasons this world appears to be upside down is that many are looking for love in all the wrong places.  Hunger is being satisfied by earthly pleasures.  Yet, this choice is similar to eating sugar instead of a healthy meal.  Subsequently, many lack the spiritual protein found in studying the Word of God.  If individuals would only turn to trusting in the Lord, feasting on daily bread could turn your life around.  Choose the true breakfast of champions, meditating of the Bible daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Fullness or Unfulfilled?

While many Americans may not be as wealthy as they wish, some local restaurants offer buffets, all you can eat when you are hungry.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the discipline to stop when I’m full.  Rather, I gorge myself, eating more in a one sitting than a child living in a third world nation eats in a week.  Thus, I find myself full, yet unfulfilled.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, Colossians 2:9.

I started 2016 losing 20 pounds in the month of January, only to regain 10 this past month.  The human body is tough to manage, craving food but making those who lack discipline to feel shame and regret.  God promises to provide daily bread, enough money to take care of and feed your family.  Yet, there must be something else as when I taste the pleasures of life I often leave empty and unsatisfied.

And in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority, Colossians 2:10.

The apostle Paul writes to members of the church in Corinth struggling with a similar issue.  The conclusion he draws is that no matter hard someone tries to possess an abundant life, its futile without Jesus.  In your quest to become full, many leave the faith unfulfilled.  Thus, if you ever reach this state, listen to words of the passage above.  Reach out to Christ in prayer and God can make you both full and fulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

The Difference in a Gift

In the Ultimate Gift, Drew Fuller plays Jason Stevens, a spoiled brat who has lived a life of luxury.  Despite his grandfather’s efforts to curtail this behavior, Red Stevens leaves his grandson an unusual inheritance, a series of tests.  Following the completion of each task, Jason receives the next challenge.  A different kind of gift, the goal of this exercise is to wean Jason off of his love of money.

Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God,” Matthew 19:24.

This passage of the Bible suggests its harder for the wealthy to enter heaven than the poor.  Speaking in hyperbole, Jesus references the area outside of city gates where camels would be tied up.  Based upon the context, an encounter with a rich young ruler, the rich tend to find assurance in their accumulated finances.  Thus, trusting in the Lord for salvation becomes more complicated as one amasses great wealth.

“They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on,” Mark 12:44.

During past experiences on mission trips in college, I was always amazed at the peace dirt poor individuals possess.  Shacks are appreciated like a mansion, thankful for every little possession.  Thus, when a person stricken by poverty offers up a gift, its usually out of the goodness in their hearts.  This offering probably won’t be gold or silver.  Yet, when moved by the Holy Spirit, the poor give, trusting that the Lord will provide their daily bread.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Another Unsolved Mystery of God’s Provisions

While attending a concert benefit for two organizations dear to my heart, Kay’s Kamp and Ashley’s Orphans, I was reminded of the miraculous accomplishments the Lord’s manifests.  Sponsored by the Raymond Lee Band and held at the Evervett Theater, the music led me to consider the stunning history of God’s provisions to needy charities throughout the world.  Fueled by prayer and inspired by the Holy Spirit, individuals continue to be touched, opening their purses and wallets giving to Christ centered causes.  Despite a struggling economy, the Lord knows how to raise funds to fulfill His will.

He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”- Matthew 17:20

Although a spectator tonight, I still can’t believe how the Lord provided daily bread for me and my family when I was the desperate one.  My home church in Delaware took up a love offering to pursue a career in youth ministry after graduating from college, cutting a check for the exact amount that I needed without any communication?  Years later, with my wife and I unemployed over a two year stretch, some how, some way, food, clothing and shelter was provided, filling in the gaps we couldn’t afford.  Subsequently, if its happened before, it will occur again as another unsolved mystery of God’s provisions.

By the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ;- Romans 15:19

Perhaps this blog finds you on the outside looking in, wondering when help will arrive.  A feeling of hopelessness is tough to overcome, especially if those who can offer support don’t know your needs.  Yet, this is where prayer can probe hearts, even when individuals are sleeping.  The Holy Spirit is living and active, able to touch the hearts of complete strangers, sending help in various unexpected forms.  While the world likes to search for tangible evidence for miracles on earth, I just chalk things up to another unsolved mystery of God’s provisions.

by Jay Mankus

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