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Recognizing God as Your Ally

The term ally is often associated with foreign policy. When a country or state is at odds with an adversary, leaders will reach out to like minded nations to form a verbal or written allegiance. These politically formed allies become partners by cooperating in times of need, participating in joint military operations and supporting one another when unforeseen events arise. Faithful allies become colleagues, friends and helpers to make the world a better place to live.

But some Jews arrived there from Antioch and Iconium; and having persuaded the people and won them over, they stoned Paul and [afterward] dragged him out of the town, thinking that he was dead. But the disciples formed a circle about him, and he got up and went back into the town; and on the morrow he went on with Barnabas to Derbe, Acts 14:19-20.

While on trial for his faith, the apostle Paul refers God as his ally. When you take a look at the numerous times Paul’s life was in danger, the Lord always sent an angel, believer or concerned citizen to come the rescue. In the passage above, Paul was stoned, left for dead by his accusers. Instead of accepting that Paul would die, the disciples formed a circle around Paul to prevent any further attacks. Although Luke doesn’t mention prayer, I’m sure one, several or all of these godly men hoped and prayed for a speedy recovery, to restore Paul’s health quickly.

[But] to this day I have had the help which comes from God [as my ally], and so I stand here testifying to small and great alike, asserting nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses declared would come to pass, Acts 26:22.

Paul’s testimony in the passage above makes me wonder if I truly view God as my ally. While I see God as my friend and Savior, genuine allies cooperate with or help one another in a particular activity. This particular activity would be fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:8, by using my God given gifts. Similar to American allies, I go through periods where I am missing due to in action. The flesh, a.k.a. the sinful nature has a way of persuading distracted souls to become self-centered, breaking your allegiance to God. Paul devotes two chapters of the Bible to this, Romans 7 and 8. May this blog inspire you to rekindle your relationship with God by becoming a better ally with the Creator of the universe.

by Jay Mankus

Serve or Be Served… The Latter is More Enticing

When professional athletes struggle to reach their full potential, videos are examined to see what bad habits or flawed fundamentals are present.  Unfortunately, in life most people don’t have film to examine.  Rather, individuals are forced to rely on friends, self reflection or therapists to turn floundering careers around.

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap, Galatians 6:7.

One of the forces at work which determines positive or negative results in the Sowing Principle.  What comes around goes around is an earthly way to describe the biblical expression: you reap what you sow.  Essentially, if you serve others, the Lord will honor this decision by sending unexpected blessings in times of need.  Meanwhile, if the idea of being served by others entices you, the rewards for this choice will be temporary; resulting in a permanent void inside of your heart.

“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.

Jesus explains this concept to his followers in the verse above.  In the Parable of the Sower found in Matthew 13, Jesus uses the imagery of a harvest to illustrate this principle.  Those who are planted within a fertile soil, environment, production increases.  Thus, if you reach a point in life where you are disciplined, grounded and serving others with your God given gifts, it’s possible to experience bountiful blessings.  Yet, if you feed your sinful nature, pursuing selfish desires, temporary pleasures will quickly vanish leaving a trail of heart break.  The choice is yours.

by Jay Mankus

Pin the Detail or Be the Donkey

As a coach whose youth baseball team has lost 13 in a row without a win this season, I’ve run out of words to say.  Pregame, in game and post game speeches have been ineffective as the losses continue to mount.  Unless I point each player toward the details they are failing to address, I’ll be the donkey in pain.

Whether its running through first base, charging soft hit balls or following through on every throw, children will never develop the instincts to be a great ball player until they practice like they want to play.  Athletic talent only takes individuals so far.  Once you reach a certain age, repetition is necessary or hungrier teammates will surpass your God given ability.  Catching, hitting and throwing involves reps, technique and situational drills to prepare players for the heat of the moment during a game.  If you pin the details into the minds of youth, the less likely brain cramps will occur in the form of mental mistakes.

In the game of life, there are plenty of life skills absent from youth, adolescents and adults.  If knowledge isn’t applied, information will be lost and maturity will be stunted.  James 1:2-4 highlights the drive required to become a complete and all-around citizen.  Tests occur on the field of life to teach souls to persevere and not to give up despite how many times you lose.  These experiences produces life lessons that lead to maturity.  If you follow the words of Galatians 6:9-10, a harvest of success is waiting for you down the road.  Focus on the details or in the end you will be the donkey!

by Jay Mankus

 

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