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Tag Archives: farming

Living Under Satan’s Yoke

In the context of farming, yokes are a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. This devise unite donkeys, oxen or mules to work together. As a pet owner, if I didn’t have my dog on a collar, harness or leash, she would run free, wandering aimlessly through my neighborhood. This is a positive example of a yoke.

For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

On the flip side, yokes have a negative connotation. Groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have put touring Circus’ out of business. Banning previously legal practices has made it impossible to safely control wild animals used in traveling Circuses. From a spiritual sense, one of Jesus’ disciples compares the Devil to a lion on the prowl, searching for his next victim, 1 Peter 5:8. When human beings lose control of their flesh, Satan uses your sinful nature to oppress you. Bondage is how souls begin to be held captive, living under Satan’s yoke.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

In the passage below, Jesus eludes to spiritual yokes. Some people are burdened by religious practices that focus on traditions rather than a relationship with God. Jesus hates seeing individuals weighed down by the worries of life. Thus, the process toward healing is laid out above by laying down your burdens at the feet of Jesus. Some try to fix their problems on their own, but only Jesus can provide permanent healing. If this blog finds you worn out by being under Satan’s yoke, come to Jesus on your knees, using prayer as a vehicle for change.

by Jay Mankus

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Unplowed Ground to Cover

The phrase unplowed ground refers to fallow ground. This comes from the Hebrew word nir meaning tillable but untilled ground. In the passage below, the prophet Hosea is talking about land that could be productive, but for whatever reason has not been broken up, tilled, plowed, and prepared for planting. To anyone who is willing to take an honest assessment of their life, everyone has unplowed ground to cover.

Sow with a view to righteousness [that righteousness, like seed, may germinate]; Reap in accordance with mercy and lovingkindness.
Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek
and search diligently for the Lord [and to long for His blessing] until He comes to rain righteousness and His gift of salvation on you. You have plowed and planted wickedness, you have reaped the [willful] injustice [of oppressors], you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and your chariots, and in your many warriors, Hosea 10:12-13.

In the film Facing the Giants, a janitor stops by to tell a high school football coach on the verge of being fired something God put on his heart. After sharing this rhema, a message from the Bible, the janitor recalls a story about two farmers. During a severe drought, both farmers prayed for rain, but only one went out to his fields to prepare his land. If you expect God to help you cover the unplowed areas of your life, faith should inspire action.

Since by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a sincere love of the believers, [see that you] love one another from the heart [always unselfishly seeking the best for one another], 23 for you have been born again [that is, reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] not of seed which is perishable but [from that which is] imperishable and immortal, that is, through the living and everlasting word of God, 1 Peter 1:22-23.

One of Jesus’ disciples refers to an imperishable seed. This analogy represents the living Word of God, the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 details the power of the Bible, calling the words in this book as living and active. Each time individuals open up these pages to read, souls are convicted and inspired to cover unplowed ground. Therefore, if you want to experience a physical and spiritual harvest, let God’s principles renew and transform your mind. As you do, God will sow seeds within newly tilled areas.

by Jay Mankus

The Place of the Unknown

Getting lost can take on many forms.  Your GPS device of choice may lead you astray.  The place where you are in life is puzzling with few who have experienced this or understand.  Meanwhile, the various stages of parenting can be challenging, often unsure of what to do next.  These are just some examples of entering the place of the unknown.

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them, Matthew 13:15.

Jesus uses a parable based upon farming to describe the place of the unknown.  One of the reasons why people are in the dark spiritually is due to calloused hearts.  This condition is fueled by stubbornness, preventing individuals from picking up subtle clues from God.  This lack of clarity, discernment and insight hinders people from escaping darkness.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path, Matthew 13:19.

The conditions, environment and surroundings in which you live often dictate the direction you will go in life.  While there are always exceptions to this rule, soil types restrict the overall harvest of farmers.  Obstructions like rocks, sticker bushes and weeds entangle the healthy.  Careless acts can damage, harm or uproot spiritual foundations.  In view of this hazardous threat, may the power of the Holy Spirit inspire believers to seek fertile soil for the soul.  By doing this, you will discover the way out of the place of the unknown.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Thorns of Life

 

When speaking to someone was impossible, Jesus became an engaging figure, using stories to captivate his audience.  Like tiny little morsels, Jesus’ parables contain a wealth of knowledge about life.  On this particular Sabbath in Matthew 13:1-9, the crowds grew so extensive that Jesus entered a boat just off shore, sitting down as his followers gathered around the beach to listen.

 

As he continued, Jesus had the farmers in the palm of his hands, speaking about the different terrains each encounters.  Since cursing the land in Genesis 3:17-18, finding ideal conditions was rare, leaving compacted, rocky and weed infested areas to grow crops.  God’s words in Genesis foreshadowed current conditions with painful toil resulting in thorns, thistles and some plants to eat, Matthew 13:22.

 

Within my own yard, I see the thorns of life more than ever before.  It seems like the older I get, briar patches of worry begin to choke the joy out of life.  Meanwhile, sticker bushes leave marks, wounds to my soul, often tearing my heart in the wrong direction.  Thistles have become like sand on the seashore, sticking like burrs, embedding within my body like a parasite.  If I don’t seek spiritual medical attention soon, even my mind is in danger of being poisoned like Peter, Matthew 16:23.

Unfortunately, these thorns aren’t going anywhere until Jesus returns.  Therefore, you must use your Bible as a spiritual Farmers Almanac, getting clued in daily about impending droughts, famine or trials.  Although you have no control over the soil, you can place yourself into a healthier social environment.  Change is hard, but its a step in God’s direction.  May the Holy Spirit serve as a spiritual Round Up to stop, thorns, thistles and weeds of life before they wrap around your soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Envy of Cain

When envy is present within the hearts and minds of individuals, jealousy usually isn’t far off.  Envy and jealousy often feed off of one another breeding the other feeling.  Envy arises deep inside the human soul, aroused by someone else’s material possessions, personality or unique gifts resulting in a spirit of discontent and resentment.  On the other  hand, jealousy is the emotion one experiences when someone thinks they are about to be replaced by the flavor of the month, leading to apprehension and fear.  This is where you find Cain within the pages of Genesis 4.

Cain was the prized baby, the first born boy on planet earth.  As an infant, his mom and dad waited on every cry and whimper.  Like modern parents returning from a hospital, both are clueless, not sure how to handle or respond to this new creature who has entered their life.  As for Cain, every thing was peachy keen until Abel arrived onto the scene.  Cain was now longer the main attraction, forced to share time with his baby brother.  If this wasn’t enough to bear, Cain realized how much harder farming was compared to shepherding, Abel’s occupation.  Then, God had to go and play favorites, rejecting Cain’s weak offering, but extremely pleased by the fat portions brought by Abel, Genesis 4:3-5.  These ingredients conceived the envy of Cain.

Before I studied the definitions of envy and jealousy, I never imagined either of these 2 acts of the sinful nature, Galatians 5:19-21, stirred inside my heart.  However, as I read the numerous definitions and examples of each on the internet, I saw signs of the envy of Cain within me.  Whether you are a coach, teacher or hard working employee, there is always someone quicker, smarter and more appealing than you.  Thus, you need to learn to be content in the areas God has gifted you.  If you don’t, you are giving the devil an open door for the envy of Cain to reside within you, Ephesians 4:25-27.  Therefore, lean on the the grace, forgiveness and mercy of God to purge yourself of any traces of envy or jealousy.

by Jay Mankus

Treasures Beneath The Surface

Ric Savage is living proof that sometimes real treasure exists in your own backyard.  This former professional wrestler is now the star of Spike TV’s reality show, American Digger.  Using history like a treasure map, Ric’s team travels across the country in search of valuable pieces of Americana.  However, before he can dig, Ric must receive permission from home owners, offering to split his profits.  The rest of a typical episode contains the quest to uncover hidden gems using medal detectors or modern technology to locate treasures behind the surface.

Unfortunately, most treasure stories don’t have a happy ending.  Such is the tale of a farmer who sold all his possessions to search for diamonds.  Like a gold rush, this man was inspired to leave his family behind in America to fulfill a lifelong dream of striking it rich.  Tired of just making enough to survive, he longed to provide a better life for his wife and children.  Thus, off he went, first to South Africa, then to India and finally to a mine is Spain.  In a moment of despair, he jumped into a raging river, drowning; never tasting success.

 [image of Conwell sitting]

Meanwhile, the man this farmer sold his property to continued to farm, yet he began to uncover a rocky patch of soil.  To protect his plow, this man placed the larger rocks on his mantel, above a fireplace.  When a local priest paid a visit to the new resident, welcoming him to the community, he was shocked by these large rocks.  After an initial exchange, the priest asked the man where he had found these unusual rocks.  Nonchalantly, he replied, “they are all over this property”.  Astonished, the priest replied, “do you know what you have?”  Curious, the man answers, “No, what are they?”  As a former jeweler prior to attending seminary, the priest responds, “you have unearthed acres of diamonds!”  This story inspired Russell Conwell’s famous speech, Acres of Diamonds.  Russell’s success as a minister and writer led him to found Temple University in Philadelphia.

Life often plays cruel tricks on us, like this dead farmer.  The one thing he longed for in life was right in his own backyard, beneath the surface.  Sometimes, before you make rash decisions, you have to consider the cost, Luke 14:28-33.  While Satan may lead you to believe the grass is greener on the other side of your fence, God has surrounded you with living treasures: family, friends and possessions.  Therefore, don’t leave your land until the Holy Spirit has helped you unearth treasures within, 1 Corinthians 12:11.  As I continue to search for full time employment, I pray that God will help me dig deep enough to find that diamond in a rough economy.

by Jay Mankus

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