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God Knows the Right Time to Turn a Bad Situation Around

Every January, several churches across the United States participate in some sort of a fast to begin the new year. Some focus on a Daniel Fast where members of congregations eat fruits and vegetables, drink water and pray to draw near to God. Others observe a strict fast for a week, weeks or entire month, praying for direction, vision and confirming God’s will. In the Old Testament, queen Esther asks members of the Jewish community to fast and pray for her so that she will receive the right words to communicate to the king.

Then Mordecai told them to return this answer to Esther, Do not flatter yourself that you shall escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion? 15 Then Esther told them to give this answer to Mordecai, 16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me; and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I also and my maids will fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish, Esther 4:13-16.

Esther receives an answer to prayer, called to throw a banquet for the king and Haman. However, just as she is about to ask the king what she wants, Esther loses her train of thought. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit told her that the timing was not right. While stalling, waiting for a word from the Lord, Esther waits to reveal her concern one more day, deciding to throw another banquet tomorrow. While slightly puzzled, the king accepts Esther’s request. While unnamed people continued to fast and pray, the Lord used insomnia to keep the king up late that night. As a servant reads accounts to the king, he learns about an unrewarded act by Mordecai. This story turned a bad situation around at the right time.

On the third day [of the fast] Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the royal or inner court of the king’s palace opposite his [throne room]. The king was sitting on his throne, facing the main entrance of the palace. And when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, she obtained favor in his sight, and he held out to [her] the golden scepter that was in his hand. So Esther drew near and touched the tip of the scepter. Then the king said to her, What will you have, Queen Esther? What is your request? It shall be given you, even to the half of the kingdom. And Esther said, If it seems good to the king, let the king and Haman come this day to the dinner that I have prepared for the king, Esther 5:1-4.

For such a time is this is one of the most quoted passages from the Old Testament. Yet, if it wasn’t for this three day fast, where depressed souls poured out their hearts to God in prayer, this story of the Bible probably doesn’t happen. There is a crucial lesson to learn from this biblical account. If you ever find yourself stuck in a bad situation, fasting and prayer can turn your situation around. However, you need to call upon others, to form a concert of prayer with an expectation that God knows the right time to turn your situation around. What are you waiting for? The beginning of 2020 is as good of a time as any to fast and pray for God’s calling.

by Jay Mankus

The Scattering

Leave it to adults to make the simple things in life complex.  Some where along the way, age has a way of corrupting the innocence of youth.  Time tends to change people for the worse.  Subsequently, the joy of life often loses its luster, replaced by hardened hearts that result in misery.  This is where the scattering begins.

A time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, Ecclesiastes 3:5.

When individuals seek to expand their comfort zone, grow spiritually or engage in learning new things, this development does not go unnoticed by others.  These areas of interest provide direction, guidance and vision for each new day.  However, when these practices are postponed, stop and cease to exist, a subtle transition occurs.  Even those with good intentions may be shocked one day when you wake up, wondering how far you have strayed from these habits.

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters,” Luke 11:23.

I think this is what Jesus means by the verse above.  Human beings were created to gather, celebrating and sharing the good news of a Messiah who can save and forgive you from your sins.  Discipline, hard work and worldly pursuits only go so far.  Those who try to live life on their own can only fake happiness for so long until the void in your heart leaves you feeling empty again and again.  Possessing a “what’s in it for me mindset” results in the scattering of mankind.  Yet, the cure to this condition is found in the Holy Spirit, leading you to begin gathering for Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Cure to an Eroding Soul

Whether you call it depression, a funk or unhappiness, whenever things start going in the wrong direction, it’s hard to snap yourself out of it.  Sometimes a vacation, getting away from the mundane will do the trick.  Other people try to allot time from busy schedules for activities which bring them joy.  If these attempts fail, your condition likely involves an eroding soul.

After dwelling upon my current situation, I tried to back track to ascertain where this all began.  I only had to go back a few months to discover that my life has become void of goals, planning and vision.  Subsequently, I am aimlessly wandering without any direction, purpose or vigor for life.  To stop the bleeding so to speak, I must begin to reconsider my priorities, restructure my schedule and seek discernment from God.

The prophet Hosea proclaimed that people without wisdom or vision will perish, Hosea 4:6.  Modern motivational speakers claim, “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail!”  Meanwhile, a tiny voice in my head suggests that if I invest my time in what I was created to do, I will once again be able to say, “it is well with my soul.”  If you find yourself in a similar stage in life, may the Lord answer your cry for help by healing your eroding soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

Is Anything Sacred Anymore?

Dedicated, devoted and revered are words often associated with individuals who appear connected with God, demonstrating faith on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, as I look around, searching for a cause to believe in and get behind, few seem to contain a spirit of holiness.  In view of this, I wonder if anything is sacred anymore?

As one of the patriarchs of Israel, Moses had an open line of communication with God, retreating up to Mount Sinai, seeking advice, direction and guidance for the Jewish people.  During one of these face to face encounters, the Lord reminded Moses of an essential weekly discipline.  Leviticus 23:2 introduces a list of sacred assemblies appointed by God, the first taking place on the Sabbath, Saturday for Jews and Sunday for Christians.

This day of worship should not be celebrated alone.  Rather, resting from work for 24 hours should be replaced by congregations of like minded believers eager to honor a living God.  Although illness or vacation may result in missing a few services throughout the year, don’t allow guilt or regret to interfere with your praise.  When God’s children begin to live out the words  of Psalm 150, sacred assemblies can unite souls and God willing, usher in revival.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

A Day Away Can Lead to Years of Regret

If you take my life as exhibit A, its scary how easy it is to ruin a routine.  After nearly 6 months of developing a disciplined Bible reading and prayer time before work, I decided to take yesterday off.  While driving in my car, a thought crossed my mind, “a day away from God can lead to years of regret.”

During my tenure as a high school teacher, I participated in several seminars related to life skills.  I recall one evening at Black Rock Retreat Center as the key note speaker spoke about choices.  Essentially his message concentrated on Ideas have consequences.  Thus, as one’s world view is formed, the choices you make influence your actions, behavior and the words that you choose.  Whether you’re talking about running, working out or spending time with God, a day away can lead to years of regret.

As I look back on my life, distractions reflect where your heart is, Matthew 6:19-22.  When eating, sleeping and watching television becomes more important than the Lord, my priorities have swayed in the wrong direction.  If I let this occurrence become a pattern, regret is a likely fate.  Therefore, whenever you start to slip sliding away from God, react quickly before a spiritual slumber sets in.  In your weakness, Christ can be strong, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12, but you must surrender to obtain the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Forgotten Commandments

History has a habit of uncovering relics from the past.  Caves hid the Dead Sea Scrolls until 1946 when 981 texts written in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrews were discovered over a 10 year period.  However, there are always things in plain sight which get overlooked, neglected by those too busy to slow down.

As I opened Leviticus 19 today, I stumbled upon an expanded version of the 10 commandments.  Although some of the passages are subtle reminders, God conveys to Moses the whys to keeping decrees and laws.  These biblical nuggets offer common sense, direction and a foundation for faith.  Nonetheless, unless you accept and practice these precepts, you will be vulnerable to straying off course.

There are several reasons why commandments are forgotten.  First, the Bible offends those comfortable with how they are living, reluctant to change.  Second, people don’t like to be told that they are wrong, especially if there are eternal consequences.  Third, since truth has become relative, everyone has their own take on right and wrong.  In the end, Leviticus 19 serves as a wake up call, to alert those sleep walking through life.  May the words of Scripture breathe life into sleepy, tired and weary souls.

by Jay Mankus

There is No One Else to Blame

Sometimes, if you don’t succeed initially, the second time you attempt it is a charm.  Such is the case for Howard Jones, whose rerecording of the song No One is to Blame produced by Phil Collins peaked at #4 of the Billboard Hot 100.  If failure causes you to quit prematurely on any goal or task, there is no one else to blame but yourself.

Despite this reality, people are still following in the footsteps of Adam, looking for someone to be the scapegoat.  “Surely its someone else, not me,” brushing off responsibility by passing the buck to God and his wife, Genesis 3:12.  Subsequently, lame excuses linger, grasping at straws to point the blame in another direction.

In the end, there is no escape clause as the Bible is clear, Romans 1:18-20.  Between sunrise and sunset, God’s invisible qualities are on display.  Thus, the onus is on you, to take ownership of the choices you make.  Therefore, the next time you make a mistake, don’t look around to pass judgment for there is no one else to blame.

by Jay Mankus

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