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Spiritual Enrichment

Enrichment is the action of enhancing or improving the quality or value of something. This term is often association with increasing the proportion of a particular isotope in an element. During the cold war, the Soviet Union and United States began competing to see who could stock pile the most nuclear weapons. The enrichment of uranium using the U-235 isotope makes it possible for use in a nuclear reactor or weapon.

I thank my God at all times for you because of the grace (the favor and spiritual blessing) of God which was bestowed on you in Christ Jesus, 1 Corinthians 1:4.

In the opening of his first letter to the church of Corinth, Paul introduces the concept of spiritual enrichment. This process is made possible by God’s grace who is willing to give sinners multiple second chances. Indirectly referencing John 3:16-17, Jesus’ death and resurrection gives a breath of life to the hopeless. This free gift isn’t forced upon individuals. Rather, for those who accept Jesus into their hearts, Romans 10:9-10, favor in the form of spiritual blessings enriches lives.

[So] that in Him in every respect you were enriched, in full power and readiness of speech [to speak of your faith] and complete knowledge and illumination [to give you full insight into its meaning]. 1 Corinthians 1:5.

One of the ways modern Christians are enriched is through giving, sharing and serving others. Whether you give blood in this time of need, share any excess that you may have to the needy or serve in a local food bank, these are ways to enrich others. As the Coronavirus continues to plague the United States and the rest of the world, may God open your eyes to daily opportunities to spiritually enrich family, friends and neighbors.

by Jay Mankus

Did You See That?

In her 1990 song From a Distance, Bette Midler suggests that God is watching us from a distance. This song from the Some People’s Lives album spoke to my heart. Reaching number one on the Adult Contemporary chart, the lyrics of From a Distance connected with average people, stirring and touching souls. Based upon the passage below, Bette was right.

And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent. 43 And He called His disciples [to Him] and said to them, Truly and surely I tell you, this widow, [she who is] poverty-stricken, has put in more than all those contributing to the treasury, Mark 12:42-43.

John Mark references a mundane event, watching people place their offering to God. According to Mark, Jesus sat directly opposite of where individuals placed their tithe for the temple treasury. While the disciples were paying careful attention to what the rich gave, Jesus had his eyes on the poor. Although the expression was not used by Jesus at the time, modern translations support a comment like, “did you see that?”

For they all threw in out of their abundance; but she, out of her deep poverty, has put in everything that she had—[even] all she had on which to live, Mark 12:44.

While in college, I attended several retreats, especially my last two years. Usually, there was some sort of love offering for the guest speaker Sunday morning. On a few occasions, I emptied my wallet of $5 or $10, forgoing a meal or two before arriving back at campus. However, this widow had nothing to fall back on, trusting God to supernaturally provide her next meal. Whenever faith like this is demonstrated, it’s worth mentioning.

by Jay Mankus

One Raspberry

At one of the Holocaust museums, a special poem highlights the poverty that existed during this time period. Gerda Weissmann Klein details this specific act of kindness. After being dragged away from their homes and escorted to concentration camps, one individual found a fresh raspberry, placing it inside their pocket. Instead of fulfilling their hunger pains, this raspberry was offered as a gift to a friend.

And Jesus sat down opposite the treasury and saw how the crowd was casting money into the treasury. Many rich [people] were throwing in large sums. 42 And a widow who was poverty-stricken came and put in two copper mites [the smallest of coins], which together make half of a cent, Mark 12:41-42.

Earlier in the first century, Jesus witnessed a similar act of kindness. While most onlookers were eager to see what the rich were giving, Jesus watched a widow give everything she possessed. Broke, homeless and lonely without a family to take care of her needs, this widow understood the concept of daily bread. It’s unclear if this woman was present at the Sermon on the Mount of Olives, but she trusted that God would somehow provide her next meal.

Give us this day our daily bread, Matthew 6:11.

As the Coronavirus continues to close businesses, restaurants and stores across the country, sources of income are vanishing. Meanwhile, church services are being cancelled as pastors are live streaming sermons in front of a few people. As wealth is disappearing while the Stock Market continues to plummet, tithing is limited to online donations. This current crisis is forcing individuals to rethink their giving practices. Are you going to hold on to what you have in your pocket or raid your spare change jar to give? Whatever you decide, may the One Raspberry poem inspire you to give what you have to meet someone else’s needs.

by Jay Mankus

How Happiness Happens

A recent survey found that only 1 out 3 Americans are truly happy with their current life. While this feeling of contentment is a temporary state, only a third of those who participated were found to be joyful and satisfied. This makes me wonder, how does happiness happen? How can individuals use the beginning of a new year and decade to turn their frown around?

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you,” Luke 6:38.

Best selling author Max Lucado’s newest book provides biblical insight to explain How Happiness Happens. While watching Fox and Friends over my Christmas Break, I caught Lucado’s interview to promo his latest project. Based upon this brief segment, Lucado draws upon Jesus’ teaching on giving, “it’s better to give than receive.”

One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered, Proverbs 11:24-25.

King Solomon provides another perspective on giving in the passage above. It’s unclear if Solomon is speaking about his own life or merely referring to the sowing principle. Regardless of this context, those who learn to freely give without expecting something in return will be blessed by God and others. As 2020 commences tomorrow, my prayer is that you may begin to understand how happiness happens.

by Jay Mankus

Picking Up the Pieces to Another Broken Dream

A college student used a sign during the taping of ESPN’s College Game Day in Ames, Iowa before Iowa State faced their state rival Iowa in football on September 18th, 2019. Carson King was merely a thirsty college student looking for handout when he displayed the sign “Busch Light Supply Needs Replenished.” Carson had the foresight to place his Venmo handle on this sign. This stunt seeking 15 minutes of fame snowballed into thousands of dollars pouring into his account. At some point, God changed his heart, making a million dollar donation toward a local Children’s hospital.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.

Rather than ending like a fairy tale, an article written by a reporter for the Des Moines Post brought up a stain from King’s past. This reporter discovered racists and inappropriate social media posts when Carson was a teenager. Known as the Cancel Culture movement, King’s posts from his past caused Anheuser-Busch InBev to cut ties with King. According to the Des Moines Post, racist tweets inspired this hit piece on Carson. Despite all of Carson’s recent good efforts to restore his reputation, a couple of foolish posts from his past has derailed a dream month in the spotlight.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest, Matthew 11:28.

What happened to Carson King should serve as a warning to any young person who is about to send something inappropriate. Whether it’s think before you tweet or re-examine your words before you hit send, make sure you are careful about the message you are sending. In my 7 years of blogging, I have had to delete, edit and put on hold a topic that I wanted to write about. Sometimes emotions can make you too blunt or express unfiltered thoughts. To avoid picking up the pieces to another broken dream, be careful that loose lips don’t sink ships; goals you want to accomplish in life. While there will always be unforeseen roadblocks, lean on God to guide your future steps.

by Jay Mankus

Explaining the Absence of the Holy Spirit

In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul reveals how God dishes out a variety of spiritual gifts.  These special abilities are given out by the grace of God.  Some of these are ordinary such as giving, serving or teaching.  Other talents are extraordinary, fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Unfortunately, spiritual gifts like healing, prophecy and speaking in tongues often elicit jealousy in those that don’t possess a supernatural gift.

Now there are [distinctive] varieties of spiritual gifts [special abilities given by the grace and extraordinary power of the Holy Spirit operating in believers], but it is the same Spirit [who grants them and empowers believers]. And there are [distinctive] varieties of ministries and service, but it is the same Lord [who is served]. And there are [distinctive] ways of working [to accomplish things], but it is the same God who produces all things in all believers [inspiring, energizing, and empowering them]. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit [the spiritual illumination and the enabling of the Holy Spirit] for the common good, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7.

To address issues like envy, the apostle Paul writes a similar letter to the church at Rome.  In the passage below, Paul compares spiritual gifts to a church body with many parts.  Apart or own their own, a spiritual gift glorifies individuals, not God.  However, when individuals submit to God by joining a local congregation, your gift makes a difference by filling a spiritual hole.  The purpose of any spiritual gift is to serve God by offering your body as a living sacrifice.  While certain gifts will always overshadow your gift, hearts and minds need to stay focused on the common good.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully, Romans 12:4-8.

Jesus and first century church leaders warned about counterfeit, fake and imposters who come in the name of Jesus.  These individuals still exist today, often perpetrating frauds on those who watch on television or attend a rally.  When truth exposes these people like Steve Martin in a Leap of Faith, modern churches are harmed by these spiritual stains.  Whenever spiritual gifts are used to glorify self, the Holy Spirit will move to another area, region or country.  While most people wish they had another spiritual gift, for now God seeks humble servants willing to be the hands and feet of Christ today.  The dedicated, faithful and obedient persevere during spiritual droughts, hopeful that the presence of the Holy Spirit will return when God’s timing is right.

by Jay Mankus

A God Without Discrimination

Whenever two or more individuals attempt to co-exist, there will always be conflict, disagreements and differences in opinions.  Whether you examine relationships like Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel or Samson and Delilah, blame, jealousy and manipulation are bound to occur.  Unfortunately, the fallen nature of mankind usually leads to some sort of discrimination.

God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us, Acts 15:8. 

In the history of America, considered one of the greatest countries in modern times, it too possesses sins against humanity.  A Civil War divided slave owners from the north who saw a day when slaves would be free.  For years woman weren’t given the opportunity to vote and youth were discarded like trash prior to child labor laws.  Each century has brought a new dilemma, with discrimination of some sort always at the forefront.

He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith, Acts 15:9.

During the middle of the first century as the church grew in size, cultural tensions arose to the surface.  Jewish Christians expected new converts to follow in the practices of Judaism.  Meanwhile, sects like the Judaizers began to add circumcision as a requirement to salvation.  This religious discrimination brought on a whole new sort of troubles.  Yet, as the apostles came together to discuss this matter, one thing was for certain.  Early Christians followed a God who did not discriminate, reuniting individuals through faith.

by Jay Mankus

The Christmas Jar

A little over a decade ago, Jason Wright and his family wanted to do something for those less fortunate at Christmas.  After bouncing some ideas around, they came up with a jar to collect loose change.  As the holiday season approached, the contents inside this Christmas Jar would be given away to someone in need.  When the money was donated in person, this left an last impression, inspiring the book A Christmas Jar.

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.

Ten years later, this simple tradition has spawned Christmas miracles.  As empty jars are placed on kitchen tables in January, the Christmas spirit is no longer limited to one month.  Rather, now families are emptying their pockets daily, thinking of others throughout the year.  These amazing testimonies can be read at christmasjars.blogspot.com.  Perhaps this book may inspire you to create your own Christmas tradition.

Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you, Luke 6:38.

Prior to blogs, emails and texting, I spent several hours each week writing letters.  As a poor college student, this was one of the few ways I could use my gift in an inexpensive way.  At the peak of letter writing, I corresponded with 50 friends across the country.  Beside replying to letters I received, I also reached out to those I hadn’t heard from, sometimes writing three times before receiving a letter in return.  My Christmas miracle occurred when a letter came to a friend after a series of tragedies in her life.  The Lord used my letter to touch her heart and comfort her soul.  This is why its essential to extend a helping hand at Christmas because you never know the impact that one act of kindness can do to transform a life.

by Jay Mankus

Blessings, Giving and the Mystery of Multiplication

According to John 20:30-31, Jesus performed numerous miracles daily.  An eye witness to thousands of these jaw dropping events, John suggests you would need an entire library devoted to this topic if this were necessary.  Nonetheless, only one of Jesus’ miracles is included within each of the four gospels, the feeding of the 5,000.  After further examination of this encounter, principles of blessings, giving and multiplication exist.

Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written, John 21:25.

The context of the feeding of the 5,000 starts with an all day teaching session.  Consumed by the message on his heart, Jesus loses track of time.  Trying to intervene, the disciples suggest sending everyone home before it gets dark.  Turning the tables of his team, Jesus commands, “give them something to eat.”  Perplexed, the math didn’t add up: 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread for 5,000 men excluding woman and children.

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over, Matthew 14:20.

The author of Hebrews suggests blessings are accompanied by faith.  Without faith, the disciples would not have been able to approach the crowds with their baskets of food.  First, Jesus blessed the fish and bread like saying grace.  Most Hollywood interpretations portray a scene with Jesus’ blessing/prayer resulting in a pile of bread and fish.  A recent sermon I heard claims that this multiplication occurred after each disciple gave food to those who were hungry.  This perspective believes that as the disciples got down to their very last scrap of bread and fish, a miraculous multiplication took place.  Thus, when blessings are passed on to the less fortunate in faith, the power of multiplication can be unleashed.  Trust and obey.

by Jay Mankus

When Life Stops Giving and Starts Taking Away

I recently overheard a conversation between an elderly couple.  Looking back at life, one made an interesting observation.  Coping with a string of funerals to attend, a trend developed.  “When you reach a certain age, life stops giving and starts taking away.”

And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”- Job 1:21

According to the family tree recorded in the book of Genesis, the aging process was slowed down, allowing the first generation of descendants on earth to live for over 900 years.  This was made possible by some sort of canopy, shielding bodies from the sun’s rays.  Prior to original sin, God designed human being to live forever.  Yet, the wickedness of mankind led God to limit life expectancy to 120 years after the flood.

Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”- Genesis 6:3

Subsequently, as childhood leads to adolescence, years fly by before you know it.  Thus, like a turning point, births and weddings are replaced by funerals.  From a worldly perspective, death is an unpleasant reality, where life stops giving and starts taking away.  In view of this fact, its essential to make a reservation for eternity, 1 John 5:13.  May the promise of Romans 10:9-10 show you the way to heaven’s gates.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

 

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