RSS Feed

Tag Archives: generosity

Jesus, Joy, and Generosity

Before I became a Christian, there were several individuals that I met which stood out to me. I couldn’t figure out what it was about these people, but each of them possessed an inner peace. One winter night during my sophomore year of high school, a man in a wheel chair gave the keynote address to an audience full of athletes. By the time Skip Wilkins reached the conclusion of his testimony, I wanted what he had inside of his heart, Jesus.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it [b]overflows), John 10:9-10.

Joy isn’t a feeling that comes and goes. Rather, joy is a state of mind that is fueled by the hope of eternal life, 1 John 5:13. Yet, joy isn’t a recognizable attribute in every Christian. Your degree of commitment to the Lord will affect what spiritual fruit if any that is naturally displayed every day. Yet, free will causes many college students to partake in their own prodigal like experiences. Subsequently, until human beings hit rock bottom or when common sense returns, joy will be absent.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope. 14 Personally I am satisfied about you, my brethren, that you yourselves are rich in goodness, amply filled with all [spiritual] knowledge and competent to admonish and counsel and instruct one another also, Romans 15:13-14.

The goal of any Christian is to put everything together so that a personal relationship with Jesus yields joy and generosity. The apostle Paul refers to this in the passage above. When anyone reaches this state, an assurance in God spreads hope to your heart. For those that continue their journey with God, joy and peace comes from a spiritual understanding of God’s promises, Philippians 4:6-7. As you draw near to God, may the love of Jesus result in joy and generosity.

by Jay Mankus

When Wolves Attempt To Imitate Sheep

At the end of Acts chapter 4, Luke tells a story about a generous man in a local church. A man named Joseph who earned the reputation as an encourager felt compelled to sell a field that belonged to him. After receiving the payment in full, Joseph whose name is eventually changed to Barnabas places this money at the feet of the apostles. News of this generosity spread throughout the Christianity community.

Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet. But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and [secretly] keep back for yourself some of the proceeds [from the sale] of the land? – Acts 5:1-3

Based upon the passages above and below, two wolves attempted to infiltrate the local church. Ananias and Sapphira appear to be regular attenders who wanted to be recognized like Barnabas. Instead of doing something for the right reason, hidden motives are exposed by lying to leaders of the church. Each are given the chance to come clean, to admit their scheme to receive public praise and recognition. Yet, these wolves didn’t possess a personal relationship with Jesus. Thus, this couple was playing the game called church, merely going through the motions.

Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me whether you sold your land for so much?” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” Then Peter said to her, “How could you two have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also,” Acts 5:7-9.

Whether you are talking about a church, family or neighborhood, there is always one person who plays the role of chief gossiper. This individual knows all the details, dirt and latest rumor going around. While not everything may be true, this person revels in being in the know. Unfortunately, God sees right through counterfeit, fake and phony faith. Some put on a good act, fool lots of people and pretend to be part of God’s family. Yet, in the end, unless you possess a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-10, a wolf in sheep’s clothing will always be exposed.

by Jay Mankus

Closing Your Eyes on the Poor

Poverty is something you can be born into, forced into by extreme conditions or reached by a series of bad decisions.  Upon graduating from college, I went into social work.  I spent two days a week as a youth director at a church in Rising Sun, Maryland and the rest of my time as a Program Coordinator for the Methodist Action Plan in the inner city of Wilmington, Delaware.  I made just enough to eat and put gas in my car.  To save money I slept on a couch in my sister’s basement for 6 months.  Essentially, I was poor, unable to fulfill my goals in life on my own.  When my church home Cornerstone heard of my plight, a love offering was taken prior to my departure for a youth ministry trade school.  Without any previous conversation, this gift was exactly what I needed to attend this school.

Those who give to the poor will lack nothing, but those who close their eyes to them receive many curses, Proverbs 28:27.

A little over a year later, I remembered this act of generosity striving to pay it forward.  Thus, when the church I was serving in turned away a homeless college student, I offered the couch in my apartment.  Although, this was an inconvenience to me, the Bible instructs followers to lend a helping hand.  I’m not sure if this lack of privacy led to my decision to leave youth ministry six months later, but I have become jaded.  This negative experience has led me to become selfish, putting my family first.  In the process, I have begun closing my eyes to the poor.

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver, 2 Corinthians 9:7.

If acknowledging a flaw is the first step to recovery, then I must confess that I have turned a blind eye to the poor and needy.  Instead of stopping to listen and lend a helping hand, I pretend that I don’t see those pandering at various intersections.  The Lord has a firm warning to those who ignore the poor.  Solomon suggests curses will follow those who continue to avoid the needy.  May the Holy Spirit help people like me trying to break the bad habit of closing my eyes on the poor.

by Jay Mankus

 

Don’t Go There

During my childhood, it was common for neighbors to dare or double dare you to do something against your parents will.  Using the phrase, “what’s wrong, are you chicken,” the darer attempted to use peer pressure to push you beyond your limits.  Depending upon the ego of an individual, those unable to swallow their pride were shamed into doing the unthinkable.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? – Acts 5:3

Early in the first century, a couple tried to duplicate the generosity of a giving man called Barnabas.  Hoping to obtain the same fame and popularity, Ananias and Sapphira decided to exaggerate, lie and stretch the truth.  After donating money to the church from a piece of property that was sold, the actual amount was hidden, giving a fake appearance.  Revealed to him by the Holy Spirit, Peter responds, “I can’t believe you went there!”

Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” – Acts 5:4

Whether you are challenged, dared or tempted to do something, there are certain things that are off limits.  Lying to the Holy Spirit is one of these domains.  If politicians dropped dead each time they lied, there wouldn’t be enough to serve in office.  Nonetheless, this unusual story in the Bible is used as a teachable moment, a warning to the genuine, not to go there.  Since everything usually happens for a reason, may this event in history prevent you from blatantly sinning against God or the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

A Beautiful Place to Beg

According to an April 2015 study, 1.75 million Americans are homeless.  This stat doesn’t include the unemployed, hungry or those on the verge of losing their permanent shelter.  While its not ideal, some are forced to beg, creating card board signs, standing at busy intersections hoping for enough generosity and or pity to get through the day.

Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts, Acts 3:2.

Prior to intersections, the poor would sit or stand at gates, where travelers walk in and out of large cities.  The disciples had their own encounters with beggars and leave it to Peter to provide an unusual yet powerful message.  Beginning with a bit of sarcasm, likely in response to his wardrobe, “do you see what I’m wearing?”  Unable to offer money, Peter offers this crippled beggar a slice of the supernatural.

So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.  Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk,” Acts 3:5-6.

Reaching out to or relating to the poor is not one of my strengths.  Yet, when I’ve tasted poverty, I was able to see the other side, walking in the steps of the helpless.  If or when you arrive, don’t be ashamed for in your weakness Christ is strong.  In fact, Jesus told his followers on a few occasions, “you don’t have because you haven’t asked.”  Therefore, the next tell you call out to the Lord in prayer, remember, this is a beautiful place to beg.

by Jay Mankus

On the Other Side of the Street

One of the cliches I heard way too often growing up was, “if the shoe fits wear it.”  I’m still not exactly sure where this phrase originated or what it’s intended purpose served, yet I have learned to distinguish my strengths from my weaknesses over time.  When it comes to death, dying, injuries and wheelchairs, I’m at a loss, leaving me uncomfortable and unqualified to handle these environments.

Perhaps, this may explain why God forced me to visit the other side of the street last week.  When you reach a certain age, suffer a debilitating  injury or endure an accident, these individuals all share something in common, they are helpless.  As you enter this arena, self sufficiency is no longer an option with souls needing another person to help them up, take their hand and nurture them back to health.  Normally a quick healer, this is mostly foreign to me except for a few broken bones here and a surgery there.

In biblical times, there were no nursing homes or retirement centers to spend your final years on earth.  Your destiny was determined by your family, their generosity and wealth necessary to provide affordable care.  As the modern family dissolves into some type of dysfunctional reality television show, its no wonder that the amount of beggars and homeless continue to increase, showing up at most busy intersections where I live.  Abandoned by their families, friends and employers, these desperate people are like prodigal sons and daughters waiting for their father to welcome them back home.  Until this day, those living on the other side of the street which need prayers, support and a helping hand to get them back on the road to recovery.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: