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The Royalty of Loyalty

What is royalty? Is it diplomats, heads of state, or members of the royal family in England? While royalties are a sum of money paid to authors, composers and real estate agents, royalty is designated specifically for people of royal blood or descent. In the Old Testament, Jonathon was the son of King Saul, Israel’s first king. If his father didn’t deviate from God’s commands, Jonathon would have been next in line to become king.

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life. Saul took David that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life, 1 Samuel 18:1-3.

Meanwhile, loyalty are actions that naturally flow out of one’s character. These attributes are highlighted by allegiance, devotion, dependability and faithfulness. Rarely, does an individual possess both royalty and loyalty. However, in the case of Jonathon, he cared more about protecting his best friend’s life than becoming Israel’s second king. As soon as Jonathon saw that David was a man after God’s own heart, they developed a strong bond.

But on the morrow, the second day after the new moon, David’s place was empty; and Saul said to Jonathan his son, Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today? 28 And Jonathan answered, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, Let me go, I pray, for our family holds a sacrifice in the city and my brother commanded me to be there. Now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers. That is why he has not come to the king’s table, 1 Samuel 20:27-29.

When King Saul became consumed with jealousy, he sought take David’s life. This tested Jonathon’s loyalty, serving as a mediator to protect and stand up for his friend. Unfortunately, Saul was so blinded by his hatred of David that he lost the ability to be reasonable. Despite this rising tension within the royal family, Jonathon never forgot about the covenant he made with David. This display of love makes Jonathon the royalty of loyalty.

by Jay Mankus

All I Need to Be

If you are a counselor, parent or teacher, there will always be questions that you will not be able to answer.  Some may be too personal, others beyond your realm of expertise or foreign to what you have experienced in life.  Thus, you may have to send an individual off to another adult, co-worker or friend.  However, when it comes to your own children, you should be able to point them in the right direction to ascertain all they need to be.

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart, Psalm 37:4.

As the youngest child, David was relegated to the role of a shepherd, overseeing the family herd.  There wasn’t much time to consider anything else as David often slept in the fields with his sheep.  This experience swayed David to rely on the Lord at an early age, trusting God to hold back bears, wolves and any other wild animal from devouring his sheep.  During boring days and lonely nights, David learned to delight himself in the Lord.  As he pondered all that he needed to be, God rewarded David’s faithfulness with the desires of his heart.

A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want, Psalm 23:1.

Reflecting back on previous encounters, David had a revelation, switching places with God.  Instead of taking credit for years of dedication and hard work, David saw the hand of God over his sheep.  Thus, he was no longer in charge.  Rather, the Lord had become his shepherd with David serving as a sheep, listening to God’s voice for direction.  This role reversal prepared David for what was to come later in life.  If today’s blog finds you struggling to figure out all you need to be in life, delight yourself in Jesus and the Great Shepherd will lead you to greener pastures that will ultimately refresh your soul, Psalm 23:2.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Brand New Day

If I didn’t put Lamentations at the end of the passage below, these words could have spoken or written by any disgruntled individual today.  Whenever anyone endures a stretch of bad breaks, failure and sadness, it feels as if God is punishing you for some unknown reason.  As a child I attended a church that over emphasized the Old Testament, painting a different picture of God from the New Testament.  Thus, I grew up without a limited perspective of God’s true character and nature, seeing the Lord as a disciplinarian, judge and punisher for those who do evil.

I am the man who has seen affliction by the rod of the Lord’s wrath.  He has driven me away and made me walk in darkness rather than light; indeed, he has turned his hand against me again and again, all day long, Lamentations 3:1-3.

The book of Lamentations has one of the most interesting chapters in the Bible.  The prophet Jeremiah begins by expressing the anguish of his depression.  This remorse continues like a tirade of complaining for twenty verses.  After letting all of his emotions out in the form of recorded words, Jeremiah transitions to the positive.  Despite how bad things may look, Jeremiah recalls a message of hope from the Torah, another name for the first five books of the Bible.  This promise altered his mood, bringing to light that each new day serves as a fresh start on life.

Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, Lamentations 3:21-23.

While you can’t reset life like a video game without removing the consequences, altering your attitude is a good place to start.  The hardest part of any complete transformation is learning how to forgive yourself.  This is even more difficult for those who possess a quest for perfection.  While God forgives and forgets, casting your sins as far as the east is from the west, the Devil uses guilt to haunt your mind by bringing up secret scars.  For most of my life, I have fought a losing battle, overlooking God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy, distracted by past failures.  After hearing a song from the group Firefight earlier in the week, I know the course of action I must take; viewing each morning as a Brand New Day.

by Jay Mankus

Earning the Anointing

Sometimes the Bible doesn’t make sense when you read it.  Although, the puzzling questions can often be explained by a better understanding of the context in which a passage takes place.  If you examine famous anointings in the Old Testament, there are one of two scenarios that take place.  Either individuals had to wait an extended period prior to the fulfillment of the anointing or people earned the right to be blessed by God due to years of faithful service.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God, Ephesians 2:8.

Prior to his anointing as the next king of Israel, God prepared David while serving as a shepherd in the fields.  Elisha spent a decade as a farmer and servant to Elijah before receiving a double portion of faith.  Meanwhile, Ruth endured the pain and poverty of a widow before being rescued by her kinsman redeemer.  While salvation can not be earned, faithfulness opens the door to receive a special anointing from God.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart,” 1 Samuel 16:7.

Anointings can be like following sports.  At the beginning of any season, its hard to tell who will win the championship.  Yet, as time goes by dedication, hard work and perseverance separates contenders from pretenders.  In the same way, God sees the hearts of individuals.  Since appearances can be deceiving, God examines hearts and souls to see who has earned the right to be anointed and or blessed by the Lord.  May your faith be rewarded.

by Jay Mankus

 

Conditions of God’s Favor

The expression “knowing just enough to be dangerous” applies to the Bible as well.  Whether its a casual reader, individuals who like to study the Bible occasionally or a young student of the Word, its easy to make false pretenses.  One of the more common mistakes occur when people think they can bow their head without confession or repentance, snap their fingers as if to say abracadabra and expect God favor’s to immediately arrive at their door steps.

My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart, for they will prolong your life many years and bring you peace and prosperity, Proverbs 3:1-2.

As king of Israel, God blessed Solomon with infinite wisdom, after pleasing God with his response in 1 Kings 3.  This discernment and insight is the foundation for Proverbs 3.  Solomon urges his son to do more than listen; rather keep biblical commands in his heart.  In addition, the spiritual fruit of love and faithfulness must be displayed, adorned like fine jewelry.  These core fruits of the spirit must take hold inside your heart until God’s favor falls upon you.

Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man, Proverbs 3:3-4.

For those in the process of this journey or just beginning, this does not mean God’s won’t answer prayers or reveal himself to you.  Rather, the conditions must be right for favor to be released.  When a soul embraces the steps below, God’s favor is no longer a wish; its reality.

1. Put Jesus words into action daily after your reading the Bible each day.

2. Meditate day and night on God’s commands so your heart absorbs them.

3. Put to death any aspect of the sinful nature preventing you from love.

4. Resolve to follow Jesus through thick and thin, displaying faithfulness.

by Jay Mankus

Images of God

My only attempts at having a pet as a child were failures.  Inspired by the movie Lassie, my parents bought a collie.  Unfortunately, I treated our dog like a horse, regularly jumping on her back and riding her like a pony.  It wasn’t long before my parents found Trickxie a new home.  Another endeavor involved fish, but their life expectancy did not last long in my tank.

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he, Deuteronomy 32:4.

When I got married, I gave pets another chance, taking care of cats and horses on a farm.  After moving to Delaware, my wife convinced me to purchase a cat and dog.  Although each pet has its own pros and cons, I’m beginning to see the value of sharing a house with animals.  Ultimately, the majority of pets what to be with you.

That they may know that you alone, whose name is the Lord, are the Most High over all the earth, Psalm 83:18.

Today, while doing yard work, my dog Autumn cried when I wasn’t in the backyard.  Although she can’t talk, her howls is a subtle way of saying, “I want to be with you.”  In the same way, Jesus is yearning for individuals to spend time with Him.  However, the Lord doesn’t force, prod or push us to set aside this time.  Nonetheless, one of the images of God that I learned today is for human beings to draw near to God through prayer, worship and Bible study.

by Jay Mankus

Hope on Trial

An optimist will view hope as expecting the bright side with rose colored glasses.  Meanwhile, the pessimist will suggest hope is a pipe dream, some sort of utopia that no longer exists.  Thus, whenever an actor, actress or politician expresses reliance on an unseen God, hope is put on trial.

And now it is because of my hope in what God has promised our ancestors that I am on trial today, Acts 26:6.

When asked to address charges made by the Jewish officials, the apostle Paul suggests that his trial is based upon his hope in God’s promises.  Unable to recognize Jesus as their Messiah and Savior of the world, tradition prevented religious leaders of Paul’s day from seeing the fulfillment of the Old Testament Scriptures.  Thus, his new found faith was put on trial.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, Deuteronomy 31:6.

To keep hope alive today from being put to death, the faith community must take hold of the words of Moses.  Despite what your critics may say, cling to this promise of God going with you throughout life.  Therefore, do not give up this fight, to protect hope.  Rather, lean on God’s faithfulness by living out your faith daily.

by Jay Mankus

A Wall of Remembrance

The American rock band the Cars once sang, Let the Good Times Roll.  Debuting in 1978 as a single, Good Times Roll is synonymous with joyous occasions in life.  While these moments may not happen that often, those who experience a season of blessings don’t want it to end.  Unfortunately, when the tides change in the form of disappointment, hardships and trials, its important to create a wall of remembrance.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

In the 2015 film War Room, Miss Clara uses this concept to remind her of all the prayers the Lord has answered.  Whenever discouragement tried to steal her joy in life, Miss Clara found comfort and encouragement from God’s previous faithfulness.  These reflections from your past serve as a point of reference.  Therefore, whenever the good times disappear, dates, letters and pictures of transformed individuals can keep hope alive.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him, James 1:12.

During the first mission trips I ever served on, I was introduced to the concept of care cards.  Team members were encouraged to write notes to anyone who said something or did something that was noteworthy over the course of each day.  These cards were placed into individual mail boxes that were only accessible on your trip home.  When I became a youth pastor, I implemented this on two service projects that I oversaw.  When depression caused me to lose faith, I started my own wall of remembrance in my bedroom.  While 2016 is still in its infancy, perhaps its time to start your own wall to remind you of God’s goodness.

by Jay Mankus

Kissing Your Past Goodbye

In the Bourne Identity series, Matt Damon plays a special ops agent who has forgotten his past.  Suffering from amnesia, Damon searches for clues to figure out who he is.  Little by little, flashes of his memory returns, yet numerous passports with different names makes this quest even more difficult.  Two films later in the Bourne Ultimatum, a sympathetic agent reveals his true identity, David Webb.  However, it was David who agreed to kiss his past goodbye.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Acts 3:19.

In the real world, there isn’t a day that goes by without someone making a mistake, saying something regretful or wasting a perfectly good day.  No matter what happy face, facade or front that you may put on, imperfections permeate throughout the human body.  Exercise can mask obvious blemishes, but a hidden cancer of the soul exists without any cure.  Thus, whether you believe in God or not, the promise of a fresh start is alluring, worth further investigation.

Because of the LORD‘s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, Lamentations 3:22-23.

Whether you have a friend forgive you, experience reconciliation in a broken relationship from your past or commit to starting over from scratch, these events produce peace.  When these interactions are verbal, confession tends to bind people together in perfect harmony.  Perhaps this spirit inspired the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30, “come to me who are tired and weary for I will give you rest.”  Therefore, if you are desperate for a new lease on life, come to Jesus to kiss the pain of your past goodbye.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

After the Morning Has Broken

Busted, cracked, fractured, ruptured and smashed are all indications that someone or something is broken.  Though goods and items usually reveal obvious signs of damage, human beings are better at hiding their pain.  Unfortunately, the scars of the past prevent some from ever seeing another sunrise.

My heart is not proud, Lord, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. – Psalm 131:1

Humility is a vessel God uses to bring arrogant individuals back to earth.  Whenever anyone becomes too puffed up in their minds, trials will arise to regain the proper perspective.  If this is achieved, souls will begin to discover the meaning behind Cat Stevens 1972 hit Morning has Broken.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23

Whether this blog finds you depressed or sky high, each time the morning has broken to commence another day, this symbolizes a second chance at life.  Since the Lord keeps no records of wrongs, 1 Corinthians 13:5, everyone get’s a fresh start, with the slate wiped clean daily.  In view of this, thank God for every time you experience the dawn of a new day!

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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