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Setting the Table

Prior to fast food dinners out, setting the table was a daily chore delegated by parents to teach their children about how to properly prepare before each meal.  Beyond laying out table arrangements, this term has been adopted by other avenues.  Baseball uses this analogy to encourage players to get into scoring position so that power hitters can drive them home.  After reading a passage of the Bible today, this saying also relates to a spiritual principle.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet: “I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way,” Mark 1:2.

If you want to change the hearts, minds and souls of other people, a foundation must be set.  There needs to be a beacon of light, pointing the way through their actions, behavior and words.  Although I never thought of it in this manner, John the Baptist set the table for Jesus.  Inspired by a chance to come clean, purge bad habits and verbally profess their shortcomings, John developed a large following who sought forgiveness.  Despite his success, John recognized that he was only a small piece to life’s puzzle, ready to pass the baton to the Savior of the world.

I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit,” Mark 1:8.

Hidden within John’s words is the realization that his ministry was temporary, unable to permanently change individuals.  However, the real Messiah will offer an invisible power called the Holy Ghost in the King’s James Version.  While the power of sin will continue to cause the masses to fall prey to addiction, character flaws and poor decisions.  The hope of the Holy Spirit provides an anointing that can lead to freedom.  May the Lord’s prayer in Matthew 6:9-15 lead you to usher in heaven while living on earth as you set the table for future generations of faith.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Origin of Blessings

The concept of blessings is a central focus of God’s covenant relationship beginning in the book of Genesis.  This term is mentioned over 600 times in the Old Testament.  Following the fall of human beings in the Garden of Eden, God countered the curse of Genesis 3:14-17 with a promise of blessings to Abraham and his descendents, Genesis 12:3.  However, this promise comes with a condition of obedience and if individuals stray from these commands this pattern can be reversed in the form of curses, Deuteronomy 27-28.

The Psalmist provides more concrete examples of blessings as well as how one arrives at becoming blessed.  The foundation of blessings derives from a blameless state, Psalm 119:1.  This process is achieved over time keeping the Bible’s statutes, seeking God with all your heart and walking in the ways of the Lord, Psalm 119:2.  To arrive at this desired goal, though perfection is unattainable, careful attention must be paid to decrees, avoiding short cuts and eliminating wrong from the equation, Psalm 119:3-4.  Passing the torch from one forefather, Moses, to another, advice has been passed on to maintain blessings, Joshua 1:8.

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.Joshua 1:8

Today, there are various beliefs, opinions and views on why someone is successful or not.  Yet, history contains examples of people, families and nations that were blessed over time as well as countless who experienced one disappointment after another.  Although the thought of being blessed by God is exciting, the work that goes along with this commitment can be exhausting.  Human nature causes even the strong to get side tracked and wander away from the truth.  Therefore, if you want to find God’s favor in 2015, follow the steps mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:1-2, Matthew 6:33-34 and Galatians 5:25.  Go with God and the Lord will walk by your side.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

by Jay Mankus

 

Self-Respect or Victimology

While working out last week at a local fitness center, I couldn’t help but over hear a serious conversation.  Discussing the recent Grand Jury verdict of Darren Wilson, each had a different perspective.  The woman spoke about the importance of having self-respect.  Meanwhile, the man played the victim, blaming the police and slavery for his woes.

Although I don’t have the clout of a minority, my father is an immigrant to this country.  Starting from scratch in upstate New York, excuses weren’t in his vocabulary.  Pushed by his mother, my dad earned his way into an Ivy League College and the Warner School of Business.  My father is living proof that if you develop discipline, self-respect and work hard, anything is possible.

On the other side of the spectrum, are those who play the victim card.  Adam and Eve emulated this endless circle after getting caught red handed with a half-eaten apple.  According to Moses, Adam blamed Eve, indirectly throwing God under the bus, “the woman you put me here with,” Genesis 3:12.  Not willing to take the fall, Eve redirected sole responsibility to the serpent, “he deceived me,” Genesis 3:13.  Subsequently, a generation of victims has been born.

Today, socioeconomics often play a vital role in the worldview you hold.  However, that doesn’t mean individuals can’t have a dream of a better life.  Although many fail, self-respect is a foundation for keeping hope alive.  Self-pity doesn’t solve any problems, its only an excuse to be held down by negativity.  Therefore, if you want to experience a slice of heaven on earth, turn in your victim card for faith in the Lord, Psalm 115:11.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Deliver Us From Evil

The fast pace of life can cause individuals to overlook the obvious.  In a rush to keep up with the bills, stress has blinded me from an important biblical truth.  According to Jesus, one of the things you should pray for on a daily basis is protection from evil, Matthew 6:13.  The outline what Christians refer to as the Lord’s Prayer or Our Father suggests evil is a by product of giving into temptation.  Perhaps this might explain the apostle Paul’s warning in Ephesians 4:26-27.

Whether you tend to follow directions, live on the fence or like to play the role of a rebel, evil is on the other side of the door called temptation.  Good intentions don’t mean a thing unless you walk with the king, 1 John 2:7.  Words are meaningless without action as many, me included, need a heart transplant to our feet from evil, Psalm 51:10-11.  If anyone thinks you can walk in the dark and just turn on the light whenever you want is fooling yourself.  Compromise will derail souls, convincing minds to believe in lies, 2 Corinthians 614.

If there as anything communities, families or schools can do to create a hedge of protection is to ask God to deliver us from evil.  However, this must be combined with the James 5:16 principle as confession lays a foundation for spiritual change.  God doesn’t honor lukewarm prayers.  Rather, by putting your heart, soul and mind into prayer, cry out to the Lord, believing your prayers will be answered, Matthew 21:21-22.  May the Holy Spirit fill you with perseverance to stay motivated to fight this unseen battle, Galatians 5:16-18.

by Jay Mankus

 

It’s Not a Coincidence

Depending upon who you listen to, trust or watch, everyone seems to have an opinion today.  Whether its regarding current events, life’s problems or politics, worldviews influence what you ultimately believe.  This process forms a foundation, a conscience that inspires individuals to fight for, speak out against and encourage others to become like minded.  However, when you embrace biblical principles, the true blessings you will find is not a coincidence.

According to God, there is a connection between honoring your parents and living a long life, Exodus 20:12.  Essentially, if you vow to cherish, respect and maintain a good name for your parents, life expectancy should increase.  While there are exceptions, people whose life is stolen by a drunk driver, disease or unexpected accident, God does fulfill this promise for the rest.  If you’re not happy with the current state of your soul, begin to put Jesus’ words into practice, Matthew 7:24-27, so that your house will be prepared to endure future storms.

On the other side of the spectrum, if you take a long look at the breakdown of families, violence within inner cities and the growth of gangs, inspired by gangsta wanna be’s, life is snuffed out way too soon.  Street corners, schools and playgrounds are no longer safe places.  Perhaps this trend could be turned around if only individuals would begin to honor their father and mother.  Sure, there are other factors which have contributed to this cultural decay, yet it’s not a coincidence when life is protected, saved or extended by those who commit to loving their neighbor as themselves.

by Jay Mankus

When It Rains… It Pours

On the surface, some people appear to have bad luck.  If its not one thing, another quickly turns for the worse.  Unfortunately, too many of us on earth know the expression, “when it rains, its pours.”

Trials don’t wait for a convenient time to show up.  Rather, out of the blue and unannounced, these disappointing events inflict anguish, heartache and sorrow.  Like a snow ball thrown off of a mountain, avalanches form creating a wall of destruction headed toward innocent bystanders.  These freaks of nature don’t stop until its energy has been exhausted.

Similar to a fire drill, Christians should be prepared for the next hurricane.  However, spiritual storms aren’t limited to a few months out of the year.  Instead, every day pop up thunderstorms are possible, ripping the foundations out from those not ready, Matthew 7:24-27.  May the promise of Psalm 34:18 encourage anyone who is currently stuck in stationary showers that don’t seem to be letting up.  Hang in there, don’t give up and cling to the Lord, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

The Source of Confidence

Credence, self-assurance and trust are all words synonymous with confidence.  Whether you’re an individual, duo or team, confidence leads people to rely on their partner and or talents.  However, when success is allusive, levels of belief tend to diminish, fade and shrink.

According to Psalm 71:5, the Lord is the source of confidence.  When your own confidence becomes shattered, God puts the hope back into desperate souls.  Whether this is David or some other author, its apparent faith begins at an early age.  This seems to be a principle passed onto King Solomon, mentioned in Proverbs 22:6.  Thus, confidence is taught, trained by godly mentors so that a biblical foundation is established.

Today, imperfect people make it hard to trust anyone.  The danger of placing someone in high regards takes your eyes off of the Creator, gazing your eyes toward a flawed creation.  Don’t allow yourself to fall into this trap.  When your life begins to fall apart, lean on the Lord, Philippians 4:13, to be your source of strength to regain confidence.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for the Harvest

At the end of the growing season, the harvest is the day of reckoning, the process of collecting mature crops from fields.  Once complete, farmers will be able to calculate their bounty and compare it with previous seasons.  The harvest festival, the celebration of the end of the growing season, has evolved into a national holiday Americans call Thanksgiving.  Like a child waiting to unwrap their first present on Christmas morning, the harvest is an adult version of collecting the fruits of hard labor throughout the Spring and Summer.  However, the toughest part remains the waiting.

The Bible speaks to farmers throughout the New Testament, relaying analogies of farming to illustrate biblical truth.  Matthew 9:37-38 refers to the struggles of finding good help.  Either people are too busy or lazy to lend a helping hand, forcing more responsibility upon a few dedicated individuals.  Jesus relied on parables like Matthew 20:1-16 to urge citizens to get involved before the day of harvest is over.  While some can take more credit than others, the pay is the same for everyone.  As farming communities continue to search for reliable workers, Jesus is waiting on his followers to become participants in a spiritual harvest.

Yet, it took a music director from the Old Testament to reveal the secret to experiencing this type of harvest.  According to Psalm 67:3-5, spiritual harvests are conceived through the praise of mankind.  As individuals, families and nations begin to shout for joy, a foundation is established.  This sets the stage for Psalm 67:6, yielding a spiritual harvest like Moses’ promise to Israel in Deuteronomy 28:2.  Therefore, if you find yourself waiting for the harvest, let the praise of the Lord commence.

by Jay Mankus

 

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