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Tag Archives: faith

If You Can Not Stand the Heat…Get Out of the Kitchen

Harry S. Truman coined the phrase “if you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen” in 1942. The context of this expression refers to heat as those things in life that bother you. The kitchen is symbolic of the entire situation, the source of the heat, prone to boiling over. Over the years, stand has been replace with handle, yet the overall meaning hasn’t changed.

Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort or fall into various temptations. Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience. But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing, James 1:2-4.

Perhaps, Jesus relayed a similar message to first century believers. The passage above was written by Jesus’ earthly brother, likely quoting something said or taught. Life isn’t designed to remain in a cool, air conditioned unit. Rather, God uses the heat provided by hardships to stretch your comfort zone. These difficult encounters provide opportunities for growth, exposing your flawed, vulnerable and weak areas in life.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, So that [the genuineness] of your faith may be tested, [your faith] which is infinitely more precious than the perishable gold which is tested and purified by fire. [This proving of your faith is intended] to redound to [your] praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) is revealed, 1 Peter 1:6-7.

One of Jesus’ disciples compares life to a furnace, serving as a purifying process, like a kiln to a potter. If you aren’t tested by out of control circumstances, you won’t know what you were capable of or can handle. Thus, as unpleasant as these events may be, trials and tribulations play a big part in life, serving as mechanisms to build character, endurance and a steadfast spirit. Therefore, the next time God turns up the heat on you, embrace the moment until your assignment is complete.

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

Make Sure That You are Knocking on the Right Door

Long before the days of cell and telephones, if you wanted to talk to someone you would go over to where they lived or write a letter. If this desired individual lived close by or in a nearby neighborhood, walking over to knock on the front door was a common practice. In the days of my youth, I regularly rode my bike or walked over to a friends’ house. On a couple of occasions, usually at night, I knocked on the wrong door. These embarrassing moments were short lived by quickly getting directions to where I needed to go.

When he, at a glance, became aware of this [comprehending all the elements of the case], he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark, where a large number were assembled together and were praying. 13 And when he knocked at the gate of the porch, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14 And recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she failed to open the gate, but ran in and told the people that Peter was standing before the porch gate, Acts 12:12-14.

However, sometimes you are at the right place, but are surprised by who answers the door. Perhaps, a friend, relative or visiting neighbor greets you. Following a period of awkwardness, you are able to enjoy a time of fellowship. During the first century, Peter was at the right house, but the residents inside didn’t believe their maid. Rhoda opened the front gate, but not the front door, running inside to tell everyone the great news. Despite their pedigree of faith, a house of unbelieving souls doubted Rhoda until a persistent Peter kept knocking until he was finally let inside.

They said to her, You are crazy! But she persistently and strongly and confidently affirmed that it was the truth. They said, It is his angel! 16 But meanwhile Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the gate and saw him, they were amazed, Acts 12:15-16.

Near the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus compares praying to knocking on a door, Matthew 7:7-8. Jesus expounds upon this analogy with a three step process: asking, seeking and knocking. Everyone has probably experienced a moment of prayer where God seemed distant. Yet, when doubts begin to creep into your thoughts, Jesus urges believers to press on by continuing to seek God. Finally, if the Lord hasn’t clearly answered your request, keep knocking on God’s door like the persistent widow, Luke 18:1-8, until justice arrives. In today’s scenario, fasting and praying until a cure for the Coronavirus is found.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming the Coronavirus Mountain

If you listen to cable news, scan social media or regularly follow Twitter, fear is spread daily about the Coronavirus. When the CDC updates their numbers of new cases and death toll every afternoon, panic can set in at anytime. Trying to fight this invisible disease can overwhelm even optimistic souls. Thus, the more contagious and deadly the Coronavirus becomes. it’s like trying to climb the Mt. Everest in Himalayan Mountains by yourself, without any assistance.

And Peter remembered and said to Him, Master, look! The fig tree which You doomed has withered away! 22 And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly], Mark 11:21-22.

Beside being called a Jewish Rabbi, Jesus was an amazing teacher, using visual aids to illustrate spiritual truths. Earlier in the day, Jesus was hoping to rely on a fig tree to satisfy his hunger. Upon further review, this tree was barren. Seizing the moment, Jesus cursed this tree which withered immediately. This act wasn’t done for selfish ambition. Rather, Jesus wanted to demonstrate the power of prayer. To show the spiritual potential for those who believe in God.

23 Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. 24 For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it], Mark 1:23-24.

In his book Relentless, John Tess shares his battle with cancer. Given 18 months to live with a rare form of prostrate cancer, this disease was relentless, coming back time after time. Three years into his struggle to survive, one verse from the Bible transformed John’s perspective. Mark 1:23 uses a mountain to convey that obstacles face individuals daily. The only way to conquer and overcome these barriers is through prayer. May God give you the faith to believe that fasting and prayer will result in developing a cure for Coronavirus.

by Jay Mankus

How Serious are You?

Serious is defined as demanding careful consideration or application. While a perfectionist will attempt to do everything seriously, most individuals will show various degrees of concern. Those things near and dear to your heart will likely draw more attention. Meanwhile, lesser priorities will tend to receive a more carefree approach. As the Coronavirus continues to spread, this pandemic is forcing individuals to rethink the way that people live their daily lives.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, prosperous, and enviable) is the man who walks and lives not in the counsel of the ungodly [following their advice, their plans and purposes], nor stands [submissive and inactive] in the path where sinners walk, nor sits down [to relax and rest] where the scornful [and the mockers] gather. But his delight and desire are in the law of the Lord, and on His law (the precepts, the instructions, the teachings of God) he habitually meditates (ponders and studies) by day and by night, Psalm 1:1-2.

Depending upon the circumstance, fear can either be healthy or unhealthy. From a biblical perspective, fear of the Lord separates a novice from a fully devoted Christ follower. While fear is often used in a negative context, fearing God refers to a holy reverence. Thus, developing this mindset is like showing a daily allegiance to Jesus through your actions. Holy fear steers those serious about their faith away from compromising and tempting situations toward obedience. In today’s context, practicing social distancing until COVID-19 fades or dies out completely.

Blessed (happy, fortunate, to be envied) is everyone who fears, reveres, and worships the Lord, who walks in His ways and lives according to His commandments, Psalm 128:1.

According to the Psalmist, fear and worship go hand and hand. While being a serious Christian doesn’t guarantee success, the more you walk in the Lord’s ways, the less likely you will stumble and fall. Anyone who demonstrates a healthy fear of the Lord will tend to purge addiction, bad habits and influences of sin from their life. At the present time, only God knows how long the Coronavirus will last. Yet, those who take this threat seriously, will likely live to see another day and God willing, a prosperous future.

by Jay Mankus

Aglow and Burning with Passion

The Sermon on the Mount serves as a collection of ideas for followers of Jesus. At the end of the first chapter of this famous speech, Jesus suggests that all Christians should strive for perfection, Matthew 5:48. The passage below inspired the childhood song “This Little Light of Mine.” In other words, God expects believers to stand out, aglow and burning with passion.

You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste (its strength, its quality), how can its saltness be restored? It is not good for anything any longer but to be thrown out and trodden underfoot by men. 14 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven, Matthew 5:13-16.

The apostle Paul adds a new dimension to this concept in his letter to the Church at Rome. Paul implies that spiritual gifts should be offered to others with a spirit of love. Building upon Romans 12:1, part of offering your bodies as a spiritual act of worship involves a passion and zeal for service. When aglow and burning in the Spirit, any desire to hide your faith departs.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord, Romans 12:11.

Upon reading the passage above last week, Harry Dixon Loes’ song has a new meaning for me as an adult. While I don’t always feel like sharing my faith, staying aglow is essential. If you allow your spiritual fire for God to grow dim, darkness will surround you. Therefore, before the Holy Spirit fades, pass on the love of Jesus with the gifts, personality or talents bestowed upon you. Like the old camp fire song declares, Pass It On!

by Jay Mankus

Show Up, Stand Up and Speak Out

Showing up on time for appointments, meetings and work reflects where your priorities lie. Whenever you find yourself becoming careless, slipping a little or stuck in unhealthy patterns, others begin to lose hope in you. Thus, showing up is only half the battle, the initial stages of earning the trust of others. When showing up becomes a habit, a building block is laid, a foundation for future things to come.

All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that any person, be it man or woman, who shall go into the inner court to the king without being called shall be put to death; there is but one law for him, except [him] to whom the king shall hold out the golden scepter, that he may live. But I have not been called to come to the king for these thirty days, Esther 4:11 .

In the first Psalm, the Psalmist suggests blessings arise from avoiding the temptation to touch, taste or indulge in forbidden behavior. When you fail to stand up for what is right, you run the risk of falling prey to subtle forms of compromise, Psalm 1:1. Stepping, standing and sitting is symbolic of daily actions. Depending upon your spiritual state of mind, you may be vulnerable to conform to peer pressure.

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, Esther 5:1-2.

When you wake up to a new day, only God knows if you are going to turn away from your faith. Although you may experience periods of confidence like Peter, it doesn’t take much to go from walking on water to drowning in doubt, Matthew 14:27-31. Thus, if you find yourself being lured into a false sense of security, stay humble and meek. Putting everything together takes time, prayer and resolve to show, up, stand up and speak up,

Then Queen Esther said, If I have found favor in your sight, O king and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me at my petition and my people at my request. For we are sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, slain, and wiped out of existence! But if we had been sold for bondmen and bondwomen, I would have held my tongue, for our affliction is not to be compared with the damage this will do to the king, Esther 7:3-4.

The passages in today’s blog reveal the progress Esther made as queen. Despite being ignored by the king for over a month, Esther kept showing up day after day recognizing the time she was living in. Willing to risk death, Esther’s courage grew daily, standing up for the nation of Israel. When the time arrived to finally speak, Esther’s boldness was rewarded. May the testimony of Esther inspire all of us to show up, stand up and speak up for the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

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