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Tag Archives: devotion

From a Great American Melting Pot to Toxicity Boiling Over

School Hose Rock was an educational campaign geared toward children, kids and teenagers watching cartoons every Saturday morning. The Great American Melting Pot commercial was a successful slogan to embrace immigrants who came to America to start a new life in this country. School House Rock ads were a series of educational songs which ran for 12 years from 1973 to 1985.

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, Proverbs 1:5.

Unfortunately, the introduction of social media in 1997 has gradually turned a great American melting pot into toxic sites boiling over with hatred. Twitter has the become a cesspool of bitterness with other liberal sites not that far behind, allowing false accusations, lies and slander to continue daily. This atmosphere and climate has created a feeding frenzy for anti-conservative beliefs to spread.

An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge, Proverbs 18:15.

Perhaps, the only way to reverse this ominous trend is reminding millennials of the School House Rock campaign. Meanwhile, the public educational system needs to abandon Common Core by returning to an emphasis on reading, writing and arithmetic. In addition, institutions of higher education must reverse course from its current protesting and victimology agenda. When classrooms return to places of learning, toxicity can be defeated if hearts and minds are devoted to prayer.

by Jay Mankus

Cutting the Ties with Your Past

In 1982, Don Henley released Dirty Laundry, a single from the I Can’t Stand Still album. This former number one hit refers to personal and private affairs that individuals do not want made public. Unfortunately, sooner or later this truth usually gets out via gossip or rumors. Even when some of these deeds of darkness are untrue, dirty laundry can permanently damage or ruin reputations.

As it is written and forever remains written, “There is none righteous [none that meets God’s standard], not even one,” Romans 3:10.

The apostle Paul brings up the topic of dirty laundry in a letter to the church at Rome. Paul quotes the Old Testament making it obvious that no one is righteous, not even one. Based upon the context in Romans 2, Christians in Rome began to compare themselves with pagans, prodigals and sinners. The passage above deflates any hopes for self-righteous, a painful reminder of mankind’s inability to always do what is right.

So put to death and deprive of power the evil longings of your earthly body [with its sensual, self-centered instincts] immorality, impurity, sinful passion, evil desire, and greed, which is [a kind of] idolatry [because it replaces your devotion to God]. Because of these [sinful] things the [divine] wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience [those who fail to listen and who routinely and obstinately disregard God’s precepts], and in these [sinful things] you also once walked, when you were habitually living in them [without the knowledge of Christ], Colossians 3:5-7.

During a letter written to the church at Colosse, Paul urges readers to cut ties with their past, by stop indulging the sinful nature. In the beginning of chapter 3, Paul insists that the only way to truly be free is by first cutting ties with your past. Then, as you do this, you must replace your sinful nature by putting on Christ. Beside arming yourself with God’s armor, Ephesians 6:12-18, your heart and mind must be aligned with Christ. Until this spiritual discipline is exercised, you will never be able to fully cut ties with your past.

by Jay Mankus

Moving from Have to Toward Thank You

The Emancipation Proclamation was announced by president Abraham Lincoln on September 22, 1862.  This document which freed slaves and criminalized future slave owners became law on January 1st, 1863.  Unfortunately, the news of this decree did not reach Texas for another year, keeping many African Americans enslaved well beyond this date.  When freedom finally arrived, individuals were able to move from have to toward thank you.

No longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord, Philemon 1:16.

During the first century, a man named Onesimus was a slave owner, overseeing a young man named Philemon.  Serving as a slave prepared Philemon to be a faithful servant of Paul.  Based upon the passage above, Paul came to see Philemon as a brother in Christ, not a slave.  Thus, Paul’s recognized his devotion behind to scenes to ensure the success of Paul’s missionary journeys.  Philemon moved beyond having to do something because he was forced to by Onesimus.  Rather, Philemon’s work was inspired by a spirit of thanksgiving.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you, 1 Thessalonians 5:18.

When anyone decides to leave their former way of life to follow Jesus, this transition doesn’t always mesh well.  Attitudes, behavior and habits are hard to break, especially for those who become addicted to harmful things.  Understanding grace, mercy and forgiveness seem easy, but where a have to desire enters this equation, joy can be lost.  Christians shouldn’t go the church, pray and read the Bible because they think they have to.  Rather, these spiritual disciplines should be done out of a spirit of gratitude, remembering that you have been saved by grace through faith.  May this blog convince you to move from a have to mentality toward a thankful heart.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Kenosis

The season of Lent ends this week.  This religious ceremony begins Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras concludes.  Since Lent lasts forty days, human nature offers individuals one last day to indulge your fleshly desires in the form of Fat Tuesday.  This Catholic tradition was designed to give Christians time to spiritually prepare themselves for Easter, giving up meat on Fridays during these six weeks.  The goal of this spiritual season is to empty yourself, to deny self so that you become more like Christ.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” Luke 9:23.

The Bible uses a Greek term to describe a similar process.  Kenosis refers to the renunciation of the divine nature in part by Christ based upon the virgin birth of his mother Mary, conceived by the Holy Spirit.  In layman terms, kenosis is the relinquishment of divine attributes by Jesus Christ in becoming human.  To avoid any type of addiction to the sinful nature, Christians should strive to do the opposite, replacing selfish desires by making room for God.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, Galatians 2:20.

The apostle Paul highlights this process in the verse above.    Starting over spiritually requires drastic measures, crossing out your own selfish ambitions with a devotion and passion to serve the Lord.  Although changes are hard to make permanently, this is where faith comes into the equation.  May the reality of Jesus’ resurrection inspire depressed individuals with a new sense of hope for transformation.  As Easter draws near, don’t be afraid to give your life over to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Cure to the Second Glance

Every month I receive a hundred or so comments on posted blogs.  The one which has received the most feed back is the Second Glance.  Inspired by the Casting Crowns’ song Slow Fade, this devotion eludes to the temptation to go beyond appreciating beauty toward lust.  While reading the book of Job today, I believe I have stumbled upon a cure to the Second Glance.

“I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a young woman,” Job 31:1.

In the midst of struggling to comprehend God’s hand in the death of his children and a deteriorating body, Job changes his attention toward devotion to his wife.  As part of a wedding vow or personal commitment to his spouse, Job promises to avoid taking a second glance at other women.  Although this may seem old fashion, I’m sure this decision prevented another woman from interfering with his marriage.

If my steps have turned from the path, if my heart has been led by my eyes, or if my hands have been defiled, then may others eat what I have sown, and may my crops be uprooted, Job 31:7-8.

Depending upon your personality, spheres of influence and upbringing, everyone has a different way of dealing with situations.  Free spirits are vulnerable to becoming loose canons, expressing whatever comes to their minds.  Meanwhile the disciplined are often rigid, strict and practice teetotalism, zealous in the enforcement of rules.  Most people fall somewhere in between, a hybrid of sorts.  Yet, in the end, it comes down to a will to love.  The passage above details the passion necessary to fight the urge to take another peek.  If you are truly set on overcoming lust, add accountability, Bible Study and a will to love to your daily prayers and routine.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Put it Down and Turn if Off

As I was about to pray this morning, I began to remember several things I needed to do.  This and that and oh by the way became one distraction after another.  Before I went any further I heard a whisper that grabbed my attention, “put it down and turn it off.”

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed, Mark 1:35.

Maybe I am the only one who struggles with this, but if I don’t start the day off by reading the Bible and prayer, my schedule usually fills up quickly.  Thus, the moment I start a project around the house or turn on the television, time with the Lord becomes a distant memory.

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come,” Mark 1:38.

Perhaps, this may explain the events of Mark 1.  Jesus recognized the distractions awaiting individuals each day.  To avoid getting sidetracked, following the crowd or failing to go where God wants you to be, a quiet time is a great way to become plugged into the Holy Spirit.  Therefore, the next time you feel the urge to put God on hold, put what you’re doing down, turn off the television or your phone and be still before the Almighty God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

All These Things

Prior to beginning his ministry on earth, Jesus faced three temptations during a forty day fast.  The first was physical as the Devil attacked the human bodies dependence on food.  According to Matthew 4:4, relying on the spiritual, the Bible, strengthens minds.  Yet, seeking God is much more than overcoming temporary pleasures.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, Matthew 6:33.

Not giving up, Satan fought back, testing Jesus to see if He was willing to use God’s power for his own glory.  The request was not impossible.  Jesus could have called on angels to save His life.  This mental temptation feeds on pride, daring souls to prove the Devil wrong.   Instead of participating in this folly by lowering God’s standards, Jesus quotes scripture to expose the Devil’s cunning plot.  The key to righteousness is remaining humble, wrestling with desires of the sinful nature to keep in step with the Holy Spirit.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own, Matthew 6:34.

The final obstacle Jesus overcame was devotion, who will you worship?  The Father of Lies continues to make empty promises today, deceiving the uneducated daily.  Knowing and practicing foundational biblical truths is the last step of obedience before you can experience the promise of Matthew 6:33.  Although young men stumble and fall, seeking God and his righteousness must be your top authority.  Until this occurs, all these things are just a fantasy.  However, when you cross this threshold, following in the footsteps of Christ, the Lord will begin to provide in supernatural ways.

by Jay Mankus

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