RSS Feed

Tag Archives: gifts

Making Room for God’s Servants

Churches, temples and other places of worship ask their members to pitch in.  This typically involves gifts, offerings and tithes to help maintain buildings, ministry needs and running costs.  Yet, in the early days of any congregation, sacrifices and time are crucial.  Those who see the big picture often make room for God’s servants.

She said to her husband, “I know that this man who often comes our way is a holy man of God.  Let’s make a small room on the roof and put in it a bed and a table, a chair and a lamp for him. Then he can stay there whenever he comes to us,” 2 Kings 4:9-10.

In the Old Testament, there’s an account of a woman who came up with a selfless idea.  Not wanting to act alone, she shared this with her husband, convincing him to put an addition on their home.  When construction was completed, she left on open invitation to the prophet Elisha to stay whenever he was in the area.  This act of kindness was repaid by the Lord.

“About this time next year,” Elisha said, “you will hold a son in your arms.” “No, my lord!” she objected. “Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!” – 2 Kings 4:16

The symbolism of a barren woman in the Bible represents a lack of blessing from God.  Meanwhile, those who give birth to multiple children are deemed to have God’s favor.  The context of the passage above suggests this woman was well beyond the age of child bearing.  Despite this fact, Elisha promises the impossible, the miracle of a future son.  While not every kind act of repaid in full, the Lord honors those who make room for God’s servants.

by Jay Mankus

 

Discovering Talents Within

Few people know that I wanted to be an artist in 9th grade.  Earlier on in high school, my electives were drawing courses to see if I had potential to pursue this desire.  Unfortunately, the older I became, my artistic gift vanished.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them, 1 Corinthians 12:4.

While doing yard work today I had an epiphany.  The artist within still exists, just in an unlikely form.  Although I may be one of the worst Pictionary drawers of all time, landscaping has become my new tapestry.  Thus, I have turned my back yard into a nine hole par 3 course with 6 different pin locations.  After re-sculpting a pot bunker, I can enjoy this with my children all summer long.

To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,1 Corinthians 12:8.

According to the apostle Paul, each individual possesses talents within.  However, the Holy Spirit is the vessel that helps people reveal these hidden gifts.  Time, trials and a willing heart will eventually bring spiritual gifts to the surface.  Therefore, if you’re growing impatient or feel like the Lord can’t use you, pray for insight to discover your talents within.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Cry of the Ungrateful

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard,” Matthew 20:1

Any time you get your hopes up, there is always the possibility for disappointment.   Expectations can be a dangerous thing, especially when this breeds impure motives.  Whenever you bring an earthly mindset into an untimely trial, the cry of the ungrateful is conceived.

So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.  When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner, Matthew 20:10-11.

In the parable of the workers in the Vineyard, Jesus addresses the cry of the ungrateful.  Human nature leads one to believe that those who work harder or longer will receive more than newcomers.  However, Jesus dismisses this comparison of those by using the analogy of heaven.  Though the apostle Paul does refer to eternal crowns, receiving  the gift of eternal life should lead to a thankful heart.

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?  Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you,” Matthew 20:13-14.

As difficult as it was for some of these workers to get over the fact that each was paid the some wage despite the amount of hours in the vineyard, there is a truth to embrace.  The solution to overcoming an ungrateful spirit is developing a heart like Barnabas.  Despite his reputation of an encourager, Acts 4:36-37, the apostle Paul possessed far greater God given talents.  Instead of blocking his way, Barnabas moved aside so that Paul’s gifts could be fanned into flame.  Therefore, don’t allow jealousy to give birth to an ungrateful heart.  Rather, in humility consider others more important than yourself.

by Jay Mankus

 

He’s Not One of Us

In this age of multiculturalism, you might assume communities, groups and schools would be welcoming to outsiders.  However, cliques tend to form quickly like a defense mechanism, afraid of trusting a stranger until they prove their loyalty.  Thus, classmates, co-workers and transients tend to judge a person like a book, by the outside cover.

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us,” Mark 9:38.

The disciples were no different.  Perhaps jealousy played a role in their actions, fearful another individual’s gifts might impress Jesus more than their own talents.  Insecure, at least a few of the disciples thought someone was trying to move in on their turf.  Correcting their flawed mindset, Jesus encourages his followers to get behind others who fight and stand for the same cause.

“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us, Mark 9:39-40.”

As a son of an immigrant, I remember the stories my father shared about coming to this country, learning English and embracing America as a melting pot.  Unfortunately, I run into people daily who come to this country without ever integrating, keeping to themselves and speaking their native language daily.  Without any sense of unity, this trend will continue to form a great divide as foreign cultures profess, “they’re not one of us!”  Don’t give into this mindset.  Rather, support those who make a stand for a worthy cause, especially soldiers of the cross.

by Jay Mankus

The Hands of God

Stephen King has written a plethora of books, several of which have become classic films.  Taking horror in a new direction, King’s 1994 mini-series entitled the Stand portrays an end of days film in America.  Following a biological outbreak, only 10 percent of the population survive with the righteous calling the heartland home.  Meanwhile, those tempted by evil make their way to Las Vegas.  In the end, the Hand of God comes down to rescue the saints from a nuclear bomb.

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them, Acts 13:2.”

Throughout history, God’s hands have been invisible, mysteriously protecting faithful Israelites.  Accounts abound within the Old Testament.  Noah and his family escaped the flood.  Abraham and Lot fled Sodom and Gomorrah before its demise.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego survived a fiery furnace and Daniel spent a night in a lion’s den, without harm.  Are these merely coincidences or the hands of God?

So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off, Acts 13:3.

According to the New Testament, God’s hands are extended from heaven through his followers.  When the elders laid hands on people, discernment, gifts and wisdom are imparted.  Similar to a prayer circle, believers expect God to do great things.  Without faith, even Jesus could not perform miracles in his home town.  Yet, when a concert of prayer is formed around a person in need, the hands of God are more than a legend; His power become a reality to those who receive this blessing.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Tough Act to Follow

Depending upon your hobbies, interests or occupation, sooner or later you will meet your match, someone’s whose gifts, knowledge and or skills far surpass that which you possess.  Those who are teachable may welcome this, yet the confident and prideful might grow to resent this individual.  If you were the rising star and someone starts to outshine you, its a tough act to follow.

Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), Acts 4:36.

Whenever humility causes my bubble to burst, I look to a man from Cyprus who displayed the proper attitude and maturity.  On the surface, Barnabas appears to be someone who didn’t care about his ranking or status in society.  When he recognized the potential in a newly converted Saul, Barnabas was the only apostle to extend a loving hand.  Early on, Barnabas was the guy, mentioned first by Luke until chapter 13.  Whether it was his commitment level, personality or God’s will, Saul who became Paul surpasses Barnabas, playing second fiddle for the remainder of Acts.  Despite a major dispute over a potential missionary partner, Barnabas and Paul remained friends throughout their lives.

But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus, Acts 9:27.

As talented people enter your life, don’t allow jealousy to ruin these relationships.  Rather, emulate the example of Barnabas by embracing, helping and welcoming others to reach their full potential.  While you may not taste the same success of your colleagues, accept the role God has given you.  Although most want to be like Paul, the center of attention, unless there was a humble Barnabas to come along aside to nurture his new found faith, Paul would have never impacted the world as he did.  Play the role God has intended for you, Romans 12:1-2 and let those destined to be stars shine bright.

by Jay Mankus

Sunken Treasure

After viewing ESPN’s latest 30 for 30 presentation Rand University featuring Randy Moss, I was struck by the mentality possessed by citizens of Rand, West Virginia.  According to Sam Singleton Jr, dreams stop after high school for those who call Rand home.  Regardless of how gifted you are, few make it pass the 7 Eleven, the only convenience store in town, known as Rand University.  This is where shining stars become sunken treasures.

Although Randy Moss and Bobbie Howard did overcome the odds to make it to the National Football League, they are the exception to this rule.  Enrollment at Rand University begins with a few 6 packs here or a joint there.  Once blinded by addiction, apathy or both, the students in Rand become stuck, unable to escape the grips of invisible demonic forces.  Subsequently, dreams sink to the bottom of the ocean, where hope is nothing more than fool’s gold.

From a spiritual perspective, there are many towns like Rand, places where aspirations die.  If you pull back the third dimension, you will find generational curses and sins of the father blocking success, Exodus 20:3-5.  Unfortunately. Sam Singleton is merely a casualty of this spiritual war, Ephesians 6:12.  If you want to avoid becoming a sunken treasure of untapped potential, make sure you are prepared, Ephesians 6:13-20, with the armor of God to shield yourself from future attacks.

by Jay Mankus

 

%d bloggers like this: