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Summoned by God

If you have ever been forced to take a day or week for jury duty, you understand what it means to be summoned. Typically, you receive a letter in the mail from a county or state, requesting your presence to serve. If you are an eyewitness to an accident or crime, you may be asked to testify to what you have seen. Or if you have ever received a parking or speeding ticket, you will be summoned to either pay a fine or appeal in court. These types of summons are unpleasant, a day or days that you want to forget.

So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.

From a spiritual perspective, some of you have been summoned by God. Spiritual summons can occur at any place or time, usually when you least expect it. When I was child, I had a reoccurring nightmare, dreaming of dying night after night for nearly two years. After falling off a cliff, I woke up just as I hit the ground. I still don’t know why this keep happening, but this caused me the contemplate the concept of eternity. To randomly be born on earth only to die didn’t make sense to me.

Paul, summoned by the will and purpose of God to be an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1.

What I didn’t realize is this silent summons conceived in me a desire to know God. Through the Fellowship of Christian of Athletes in high school and college, I was summoned to receive Jesus into my heart as Savior and friend. After back sliding during my first semester in college at the University of Delaware, I was summoned to return. Through the power of Holy Spirit, a fire was ignited within my soul to make Jesus the Lord of my life. Over the past 35 years, I haven’t always been obedient to each summons from God, straying from time to time. Nonetheless, I’m still living and learning, hoping that I am faithful to my next calling in life.

by Jay Mankus

Having Your Mind in the Right Place

The United Negro College Fund was incorporated on April 25th, 1944. As World War II continued, this organization adopted the motto, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste.” As casualties piled up day after day, common sense recognized that this madness must come to an end. The founders of this non-profit must have realized the importance of having your mind in the right place.

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both [c]inclination and character], because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation], Isaiah 26:3.

While the world relies on education as its source to stimulate minds, the Bible provides a different perspective. The prophet Isaiah reminds the nation of Israel of God’s faithfulness. Peace of mind comes from confidence and hope that God will provide and take care of human needs. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul refers to the daily spiritual war between the human flesh and God’s spirit. Jesus told his disciples on the eve of his death, “the Spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Depending upon the state of your mind, your actions will follow.

For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose]. Now the mind of the flesh is death [both now and forever—because it pursues sin]; but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace [the spiritual well-being that comes from walking with God—both now and forever]; Romans 8:5-6.

Yesterday, I had one of those days, waking up late, rushing out of the house, hoping to get to work on time. A major accident that occurred in front of me insured that I was late. At this moment, my mind wasn’t in the right place. A few hours later when I reflected upon events earlier in the day, my mind was opened. If I was on time, I could have been part of this six car pile up. In a sense, God sheltered me from harm, a minor miracle that I failed to see until my mind was in the right place. How many others miracles and praises do we miss when our mind is on other things?

by Jay Mankus

Escaping a Head Down Eyes Straight Ahead Mentality

When you work in a building with two thousand people, you are bound to encounter an unpleasant conversation.  If you keep your head up, you might have a flashback of high school as you dodge people in a crowded hallway, with some not paying attention to those around them.  To avoid awkward situations, some may choose to keep their heads down, fixated on what lies ahead.  Unfortunately, this decision will cause individuals to miss out on opportunities to serve others.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do, James 1:22-25.

The author of the book of James was Jesus’ younger brother.  Since the Bible has an 18 year time gap between Jesus’ bar-mitz-vah and the beginning of his earthly ministry, we don’t know much about their relationship.  However, Mark 3:20-35 unveils a shocking comment from members of Jesus’ family with James a likely unnamed source.  After healing a demon possessed man, Jesus is accused of being mentally ill, using Satanic powers to drive out demons.  This type of judgement comes from a head down, eyes straight ahead mentality.  This mindset prevents individuals from recognizing the power of God at work in the lives of faithful servants.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-2.

Part of the passage above written by James serves as a confession.  James was immature, going through the motions without putting the Bible into practice.  At some point, James was convicted of his head down, eyes straight ahead life style.  The author of Hebrews provides the cure for this condition.  Using an analogy of a marathon, this advice encourages believers to run with perseverance, fixing your eyes on Jesus throughout the race called life.  As the Holy Spirit transforms your perspective, the Lord will begin to help you see that distractions are opportunities to serve God.  May this blog inspire you to slow down, look around and see how God can use you to serve others daily.

by Jay Mankus

 

Oops I Did It Again

My co-worker and I had an interesting conversation last night.  This discussion centered around whether or not people can actually change.  Trying to be open minded, we disagreed on one’s ability to overcome previous addictions, bad habits and poor character.  While I try to be optimistic, hoping that people reach their full potential, human nature has a way of reverting individuals back to childish ways.  This pattern tends to lead the guilty to confess, “oops I did it again.”

For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out, Romans 7:18.

Based upon previous experiences, Harvey tends to believe that people never change.  Although there will be initial signs of transformation, positive steps in the right direction usually do not last.  Sooner or later, bad habits return, ensnaring many in life long addictions.  This reality is supported by the words of the apostle Paul in a letter to the church of Rome.  While it’s unclear what aspect of life this passage is referring to, Paul shares his own internal struggle with fleshly desires.  Since Paul doesn’t declare victory, it’s possible that this apostle fought a losing battle with temptation for years.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

My belief in the ability to change lies in the passage above.  I spent many years as a child and teenager saying, “oops I did it again.”  Yet, the apostle Paul provides a blueprint above for anyone feeling defeated.  In order to succeed, you must expect the unexpected.  In this context, temptations are lurking around every corner, luring you to appease your fleshly desire.  However, if you want to resist, be alert, looking for an escape route.  Until you reach this point, any little victories will be short lived.  Therefore, if you want to put your childish ways behind you, 1 Corinthians 13:11, ask God for discernment so that change will occur with one good decision at a time.

by Jay Mankus

 

When People Expect More From God

Human nature has a way of making people feel more important than they actually are.  Whether you are talking about self-confidence, egos or pride, these traits can blind you from reality.  While Facebook uses terms like status as a way to express yourself, Jesus relied on stories to insure that first century citizens did not misconstrue God’s nature.

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius,” Matthew 20:9-10.

In the parable of the Workers in the Field, Jesus reveals a reality about heaven.  Just because you have been a faithful follower for months, years or decades does not mean your reward will be greater than those who came to faith later in life.  Rather, eternal life is what God promises to those who trust in the Lord.  Sure, the Bible does mention crowns bestowed upon those who faithfully serve God while on earth, but this should be like icing on a cake.

When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.  ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day,’ Matthew 20:11-12.

Unfortunately, many people make the mistake of equating earthly terms with eternity.  Thus, individuals are unable to comprehend the true nature of God.  Subsequently, people grumble like the passage above, disappointed when their expectations for God are no met.  Several of the thirty plus parables recorded in the Bible were spoken to realign human misconceptions with an accurate perception of heaven.  The next time you expect more from God, take some time to read the parables of Jesus so you won’t set yourself up for disappointment in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Skeletons of Your Past

Despite how perfect some individuals may act, behave and live out on a daily basis, everyone possesses imperfections.  These blemishes often result in a dark side with secret addictions, bad habits or unthinkable acts that would shock the average person.  This collection of scars accumulate into skeletons of your past.

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us, 1 John 1:8-10.

There was a time in American history where honesty was the best policy.  However, sometimes revealing a skeleton or two from your past can do permanent damage.  Recently. Pete Rose admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with a minor back in the 1970’s.  This confession sent shockwaves across the country, igniting outrage throughout social media.  Based upon the comments posted, it’s as if this was the worst act ever committed.

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh, Galatians 5:16.

The second aspect of confession is taking the steps toward the road to recovery.  Perhaps, this may explain the criticism of Rose over his lack of contrition for his previous transgressions.  Thus, if you want to experience healing from the skeletons of your past, you must learn to walk according to the Holy Spirit.  Based upon the apostle Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 10:13, God will provide a way out when temptations arrive.  In your journey toward healing, may the Lord guide you out of bondage to find freedom in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Going Through the Door

When I was younger, I weekly told a coach, parent and teacher, I can’t do it.  Trying to take the easy way out, sometimes I was given a pass.  Yet, this mindset leads to co-dependence.  If you want to grow up and mature, at some point you have to go through the door the Lord provides alone.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me, Revelation 3:20.

In the game show Let’s Make a Deal, current host Wayne Brady often gives contestants three doors to choose from.  One has a grand prize, the other a small prize and the final one a prank for a laugh.  The game of life is similar but decisions replace doors.  Choices are made daily which will shape the outcome of your life for the good or bad.  God doesn’t force individuals to do this or that.  Rather, freewill is offered to walk through the door of your choice.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

The apostle Paul wrote a letter to members of a church struggling to overcome specific sins.  Whether he is addressing addicts, bad habits or poor decisions, Paul provide a blue print for conquering addiction.  When tempted God always provides a way out.  Therefore, when evil desires, lust or sinful urges come knocking, walk through the door that the Lord provides.

by Jay Mankus

Mirror Mirror on the Wall Whose The Worst One of Them All

At some point in life, the older generation loses touch with societal trends.  I guess I have reached this stage in life, unable to keep up.  As Gen Xer’s like me give way to Millennials, one thing puzzles me.  Why is it that anyone who does not hold a secular worldview is demonized?  In fact, if you watch the news, late night comedy or political shows, these same individuals are made out to be the worst people on the face of the earth.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst, 1 Timothy 1:15.

From a spiritual perspective, conviction serves as a thermostat of the soul.  When the presence of a sin is made aware to individuals, there are three basic replies.  Confess and admit the error of your way, blame someone else or ignore it completely.  One of the catches to admission is that public scrutiny often follows can ruin your reputation.  Meanwhile, if you deny, deny, deny, your character and integrity will eventually be tarnished.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

In Biblical times, prostitutes and tax collectors were thought to be the scum of the earth.  Today, some might suggest lawyers and politicians are high on the list of the least respected people.  Yet, it doesn’t matter what other people say about you or believe.  There is only one judge, Christ the Lord.  Therefore, as soon as a sense of guilt churns in your heart. come to Jesus to confess you sins.  When you do, God is faithful in forgiving and forgetting, always full of grace despite how often or great your sin.

by Jay Mankus

 

Sorry

Every year terms are added to the dictionary to keep up with an ever changing vocabulary.  Meanwhile, other words are modified as cultural slang redefines ordinary phrases.  One such word is sorry which ironically means deplorable, an insult to Trump supporters.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9.

Growing up, sorry was something that the Fonz couldn’t say, often stuttering before completing a sentence.  Sure, its been decades since Happy Days was a prime time hit series, but watching television tends to distinguish one generation from the next.  Subsequently, sorry has lost its original intent.

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin, Psalm 32:5.

To confess any wrong doing tends to diffuse a tense situation.  Yet, this generation allows pride to get in the way, afraid of the consequences of coming clean.  Thus, instead of saying, “I’m sorry,” the blame game Adam began in the Garden of Eden continues.  Like a never ending game of Jumanji, true remorse has been abandoned.  May this blog inspire individuals to embrace a spirit of reconciliation and practice saying, “I’m sorry.”

by Jay Mankus

When the Conductor Arrives

In the absence of leadership, chaos often ensues.  Subsequently, if you want to get from point A to point B, you need to wait for a guide who you can trust.  While some grow impatient choosing someone without proven experience, the faithful wait it out despite the uncertainty.  Time has a way of straightening out unanswered questions, revealing glimpses of God’s providence.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

Without God’s direction, anyone can wander far from the life the Lord designed for you.  For reasons unknown, trials come and go unannounced, wearing on souls who are put through a series of tests.  In some ways, these unpleasant experiences serve as a way to nudge individuals closer to God’s will.  Yet, in trying to comprehend the whys, putting the pieces together to life’s mysteries, some lose faith.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose, Romans 8:28.

One of the roles Jesus plays is a conductor, leading his lost sheep in the right direction.  Like a maestro, God has a way of taking average people and bringing them together to make amazing music.  Unfortunately, when things don’t go your way, its hard to see God’s hand at work.  Thus, its vital to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, ready to jump on the train to heaven when the conductor arrives.

by Jay Mankus

 

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