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The Reason to Forgive

Everyone has been burned, disappointed with or hurt by a close friend. Whether this was due to betrayal, growing apart or temptation bought on by human nature, there is no one righteous, not even one, Romans 3:9-12. When the shoe is on the other foot and you are the guilty one, remember the principle you reap what you sow. When you add this to Jesus’ teaching in the passage below, this is the reason to forgive.

And lead (bring) us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. 14 For if you forgive people their trespasses [their [g]reckless and willful sins, [h]leaving them, letting them go, and [i]giving up resentment], your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their trespasses [their [j]reckless and willful sins, [k]leaving them, letting them go, and [l]giving up resentment], neither will your Father forgive you your trespasses, Matthew 6:13-15.

As a child, forgiveness is a daily ordeal. Someone hurts your feelings, said something mean to you or as you get older, breaks your heart. If the words of Jeremiah 17:9 are any indication, life is filled with anguish, frustration, and pain. This is where children learn the hard way that it’s better to forgive rather than holding a grudge. The sooner you mend fences with friends, the better you’ll feel. Unfortunately, stubbornness often blocks the path toward peace.

Above all things have intense and unfailing love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins [forgives and [e]disregards the offenses of others], 1 Peter 4:8.

The words of the passage above might have been conceived in John 21:15-17. Peter is confronted by Jesus following his public denial. This conversation serves as a form of reconciliation as Jesus forgives Peter for his past sin. While the Lord’s Prayer is a basic prayer children learned in Sunday School classes, this is a great aid for forgiveness. As you reflect upon the past day, week, month or year, forgive those who have trespassed against you. If you want God to forgive you, this is the reason to forgive others.

by Jay Mankus

A Fresh and New Way to Live

No matter how hard I try every year, at some point my life becomes stale. There are various reasons for this condition such as low energy, frustration due to a lack of progress and a lack of vision for the future. While my intentions are to seize each day that the Lord gives me, hope and optimism seem to fade quickly when things don’t go my way. Subsequently, I need to change this unhealthy pattern.

Therefore, brethren, since we have full freedom and confidence to enter into the [Holy of] Holies [by the power and virtue] in the blood of Jesus, 20 By this fresh (new) and living way which He initiated and dedicated and opened for us through the separating curtain (veil of the Holy of Holies), that is, through His flesh, Hebrews 10:19-20.

The author of Hebrews provides a plan for a fresh and new way to live. This begins by reflecting upon what Jesus did for the Jewish faith. Instead of being separated from God due to sinful tendencies, Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection 3 days later opened the door for sinners. Thus, you no longer need to travel to a temple so that a priest can offer a sacrifice for your sins. Rather, God’s grace has provided new access which was once limited to only high priests.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1.

An entire chapter of famous Jewish leaders illustrates what made these individuals different, Hebrews 11. On each occasion faith was the difference, trusting in an invisible God. The blood of Jesus has transformed the way New Testament Christians live, 1 Peter 3:18. Furthermore, once you make a public profession of faith, Romans 10:9-11, you have access to the power of the Holy Spirit which provides everything you need for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4. This is the fresh and new way to live, available to all who believe.

by Jay Mankus

Think Differently

There is a big difference between guessing and knowing.  If you jump to conclusions or take someone’s word before doing your own research, you may end up being wrong.  Thus, its important expand your horizon by beginning to think differently.

Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way, Proverbs 19:2.

Solomon understood the difference between desire and knowledge.  Desire is often based upon emotions, causing individuals to follow their feelings.  Knowledge doesn’t occur overnight, as it takes time to develop.  Those who make decisions in haste without thinking things through often end up disappointed.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, Philippians 4:8.

The apostle Paul provides a blue print for thinking differently in the passage above.  Dwelling on the negative tends to lead individuals toward frustration.  Focusing your attention on the positive will uplift your spirits.  Therefore, don’t let circumstance, situations or trials dictate your mood.  Rather, think differently by concentrating on the positive aspects in this life.

by Jay Mankus

Frustration

Annoying, defeating and unfulfilled are words synonomous with frustration.  Whenever your expectations for something is not met, individuals can overreact.  This is often displayed in public through fits of rage, tantrums and wounded relationships.

The eyes of the LORD keep watch over knowledge, but he frustrates the words of the unfaithful, Proverbs 22:12.

According to King Solomon, the origin of frustration can be easily explained.  When people try to manufacture something outside of God’s will, attempting to bypass knowledge, the Lord steps in.  Thus, the unfaithful are thwarted resulting in a closed door, failure or rejection.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, Hebrews 10:26.

Meanwhile, the principle of sowing and reaping also applies, Galatians 6:7-8.  God is not going to bless or allow prosperity over the long haul to the unfaithful.  In view of this information, confess any wrong doing of the present and past.  Although frustration usually results in humility, a broken heart provides the environment for grace and forgiveness.  May disappointment and trials lead to a spirit of revival this Christmas season.

by Jay Mankus

 

After a Loss

Whether situations in this life or the actual grieving process following the loss of a life, neither is a pleasant experience.  In the moments afterward, raw emotions are stirred causing an individual to teeter between depression and frustration.  How you handle disappointment will influence the person you will become.

It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs, 1 Corinthians 13:5.

Last night I was a substitute baseball coach during the final scrimmage of the preseason.  Over matched by better athletes, competitors and talent, I think the final score was 24-0.  The game was called in the bottom of the third after the opposition stole home on 3 consecutive wild pitches.  Its bad enough to get beaten, but when you have to wave the white flag to surrender, its a hard pill to swallow.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, James 1:2.

During my final year in Chicago, I spent most of that time working for Michael Jordan Golf, serving as a sales associate before being promoted to Assistant Manager and Store Manager.  This allowed me to rub shoulders with people close to Michael.  While I never met him directly, no one hated to lose more than Michael.  Thus, he was relentless, coming back more determined than ever.  Although this has nothing to do with the Bible in particular, this is the mentality you should possess after a loss.

by Jay Mankus

 

When Someone Else Screws Up

When someone else screws up, there is a dark side within human beings that tends to come out.  Anger, disappointment and frustration converge to form a lethal combination.  If you don’t believe me, just spend a few minutes on twitter or any other social media outlet.  Words filled with venom trash, trample and attempt to ruin the life of those at fault.

But no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison, James 3:8.

A few nights ago in Philadelphia this atmosphere played out at the Wells Fargo Center.  When the Flyers gave up 6 consecutive goals, three in the third period, some fans began to throw bracelets on to the ice used as a pre-game ceremony to honor their former owner Ed Snider.  This behavior led to a delay of game, allowing the Washington Capitals to play the final seven minutes of the game on the power play.  In the heat of the moment, people justify their reactions, blaming it on the person or team that screwed up.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear, Ephesians 4:29.

In life, we’ve all been on the losing side, the weakest link or the person to blame.  When the shoe is on the other foot, its not fun being the scapegoat, the one everyone despises.  Thus, whether you are the hero or the chump, its vital to remember the words of the apostle Paul.  Stay positive during periods of failure is crucial to surviving these difficult times in life.  May the encouragement of others build up and give those who screw up the grace to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

The Energy Necessary for Making Peace

Sometimes who you are and how you are perceived can be miles from the truth.  Yet, anyone who seeks to leave a lasting legacy may be surprised by the impressions that you make.  Such was the case for chemist Alfred Bernard Nobel who spent most of his earthly life pursuing patents, the most famous of which is dynamite.  When a premature obituary was published in a local paper, Nobel was shocked by the comments summarizing his life.  This moment of conviction gave birth to the Nobel Peace Prize investing his accumulated wealth into the formation of this annual award.

Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord, Hebrews 12:14.

The author of Hebrews sets a similar high standard, urging readers to do everything in their power to make peace.  This includes what I call extra grace individuals who have the gift of gnawing away at your patience.  No exceptions are made as everyone is included.  The target to aim for is holiness, imitating the life and love of Jesus.  Despite whatever human emotions you may experience, the Holy Spirit is the energy necessary for making peace.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world, John 16:33.

I wish I could say that I have arrived or am well on my way, but that would be a lie.  Unfortunately, disappointment, frustration and pain from the past has a way of developing into holding or keeping grudges.  This current place doesn’t take any effort nor is it holy.  And yet, there is one who has overcome the world.  Therefore, I take comfort in knowing God still forgives.  My job is not complete nor is the journey finished.  So I press on, praying and searching for the energy necessary for making peace.

by Jay Mankus

The Long Road to Hope

The long road to hope begins with suffering.  Following the aftermath of original sin detailed in Genesis 3, a cursed was placed on this earth.  God’s creation of His perfect world was ruined, leading to a life of disappointment, frustration and suffering.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; Romans 8:3.

Despite the pain often inflicted, individuals have something to look forward to the longer you walk down this road.  While your ego and pride may take a beating, glimmers of hope surface along the way.  Thus, when the sun breaks through the clouds, maturity is not that far away.

Perseverance, character; and character, hope, Romans 8:4.

If you hang in there long enough, a sense of hope comes into focus.  Beyond whatever self pity remains, God’s love still shines, radiating day after day.  When you don’t have the strength to take another step, a spirit is sent by your side to lead you to the end of this road.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us, Romans 5:5.

The best way to describe God is like the scene in the Wizard of Oz.  Dorothy and her friends have been poisoned by a wicked witch, causing each to drift off to sleep, suddenly halting their journey.  Yet, snow is sent to awaken everyone so that they reach their final destination.  The Holy Spirit plays a similar role, the invisible force to help us persevere on the long road to hope.

by Jay Mankus

 

What Did I Do to Deserve This?

On October 21st, the 2015 World Long Driving Champion was crowned on the Golf Channel.  However, there was one competitor who should have been there, but God had another plan.  One of my former students, the starting center fielder for Liberty University at the time, began to dabble in long drive competitions.  During a round I played with Joseph, he drove over the first green, a 380 yard par 4.  On the second hole, his tee shot plugged by the 150 marker on a par 5.  Joseph Feeley was destined to contend for this championship, but the Lord took him home before ever finishing college.

If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king, Daniel 3:17.

Another friend had just received a full time job at a local university.  This meant his daughter’s final two years of tuition would be free along with an opportunity to complete his masters.  After years of frustration, things were finally coming together.  Then, out of the blue, within a two day period, my Christian brother lost his job and father to a heart attack.  In the weeks and months that followed, one of his initial thoughts was “what did I do to deserve this?”

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” – Daniel 6:16

When Daniel was thrown to a lion’s den, I wonder what was going through his mind?  On their way to being thrown into a fiery furnace, did Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego second guess their decision not to bow down and worship the god of Nebuchadnezzar?  At some point during a trial, human nature is bound to cause individuals to question God?  In the end, time is the great equalizer, providing insight to the how’s and why’s.  Yet, nothing is guaranteed, a waiting game until your last breath.  Thus, the next time you experience heartbreak hotel, seek the Lord for comfort, peace and understanding.

by Jay Mankus

 

Traces of Decay

As a car ages, there are certain subtle signs which convey a vehicle on its last legs.  Driveways become stained with oil, unusual noises will surface and acceleration pauses just a bit before finally kicking in.  Although modes of transportation can be lemons, there are plenty of what people call “old reliable” which get you where you need to go.  However, traces of decay should serve as a warning that it may be time to move on.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return, Genesis 3:19.

Meanwhile, human beings possess there own signals that they are about to breakdown.  Frustration, irritations and unhappy faces can be like taking a look under the hood.  While individuals can put on fake smiles, inside bitterness can erupt into a raging inferno.  On the other side of the spectrum, discontentment cause many to lose that loving feeling for life, slipping into periods of depression, despondence or isolation.  As these stages approach, intervention is essential before traces of decay turn into reality.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away, Revelation 21:4.

As for me, I find myself taking on a new persona when I get into my car.  Suddenly, I become perfect and all the drivers around me are idiots.  My commentary is relentless, lasting throughout my travels.  This self seeking nature is fueled by a desire to get home, abandoning the rules of the road like a politician during an election year.  Recently, these traces of decay have come to my attention, one of many stains of sin within my heart.  If you too are feeling like you’re going down the wrong road, may the Holy Spirit serve as a pit crew, cleaning up the messes you have made, one sin at a time.

by Jay Mankus

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