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Tag Archives: God’s promised land

Be Ready to Punish Wayward Thoughts

Punishment is designed to inflict a penalty on someone or something. This form of a sanction serves as retribution for an offense, especially a transgression of a legal or moral code. If boundaries aren’t defined and standards not upheld, lawlessness will begin to run rampant. Thus, in the passage below the apostle Paul urges first century Christians to be ready to punish wayward thoughts.

[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One), 2 Corinthians 10:5.

This mentality is taking into account the spiritual dimension. While Solomon urged his sons to sharpen one another via accountability, Proverbs 27:17, spiritual discipline requires special weapons, 2 Corinthians 10:4. Instead of choosing a paddle that was once common to spank a child, spiritual weapons are meant to overthrow and destroy strongholds. Similar to the ancient practice of purging, taking thoughts captives takes effort.

Being in readiness to punish every [insubordinate for his] disobedience, when your own submission and obedience [as a church] are fully secured and complete, 2 Corinthians 10:6.

Just as teetotalers use abstinence to halt wayward thoughts, obedience to Christ is the force that keep weak bodies in check. Realizing that many Israelites were vulnerable to conforming to other beliefs and cultures, Joshua urges those ready to enter God’s Promised Land to meditate on the Torah day and night. These first five books of the Bible clearly define God’s expectations. Therefore, the best way to punish wayward thoughts is through the practice of Bible memorization to recall right from wrong.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming Periods of Darkness While Living in the Wilderness

Following the Exodus out of Egypt, Israel spent 40 years living in the wilderness. This time served as a transitional period before entering God’s promised land. While the Bible refers to a wilderness, in reality the Jews spent their days in the hot desert sun and nights surrounded by snakes and scorpions. Spending a week or weekend in the wilderness camping or hiking can be rejuvenating. However, living off the gird for an extended period of time requires a complete trust in God to provide daily bread.

And I will confirm with them a covenant of peace and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and [My people] shall dwell safely in the wilderness, desert, or pastureland and sleep [confidently] in the woods, Ezekiel 34:25.

Since the Coronavirus pandemic inflicted America in 2020, state mandated quarantines have separated family members, friends and neighbors. While some states have eased these restrictions during the month of May, I still haven’t been able to visit my parents. Due to speculation of a second wave of COVID-19 striking communities who don’t practice social distancing, these past 3 months have created a new type of wilderness, living inside your home most of the time. At some point faith has to trump fear, trusting God that life will soon return to a new but safe normal.

And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing, and I will cause the showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing [of good insured by God’s favor], Ezekiel 34:26.

In the sixth century before the birth of Christ, the prophet Ezekiel refers to a covenant of peace. For those of you struggling during this period of darkness and uncertainty, the verses above serve as a glimmer of hope. Ezekiel promises to keep those living in the wilderness safe from evil beasts. Meanwhile, Ezekiel refers to a hill of blessing, showering God’s people with grace and favor. While you may not sense peace at the moment, I pray that this biblical promise encourages you. When the wilderness is replaced by normalcy, perhaps you’ll have a better appreciation for the little things in life that we have all taken for granted.

by Jay Mankus

When You Put God First

Leadership refers to being in the position to guide a group of people.  Leadership roles vary from a boss, captain, head, principle or superior.  While some people are born with leadership skills, most individuals learn from a mentor.  This process often begins as a teenager, continuing throughout life as you take the baton before its your turn to handoff to someone else.  During the exodus out of Egypt, Joshua was waiting in the wings until replacing Moses as the leader of Israel.

He said, “No; rather I have come now as captain of the army of the Lord.” Then Joshua fell with his face toward the earth and bowed down, and said to him, “What does my lord have to say to his servant?” – Joshua 5:14

The goal at hand in these days was to enter God’s promised land.  The obstacle, facing a land of giants protected by a mighty wall surrounding Jericho.  As captain of the army of the Lord, Joshua doesn’t exhibit an earthly style of leadership.  Rather, Joshua is overwhelmed by the presence of God, falling prostrate to the ground, bowing on his knees.  Perhaps, Joshua is uncertain, not sure what to do.  Thus, Joshua seeks God’s counsel, eagerly waiting for direction.

The captain of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, because the place where you are standing is holy (set apart to the Lord).” And Joshua did so, Joshua 5:15.

In the passage above, Joshua is merely modeling what Moses taught him.  Back in Exodus 3, an angel of the Lord first appeared to Moses in a burning bush.  Just Moses took off his sandals, obedient to the Word of the Lord, Joshua does the same, acknowledging this holy ground.  According to Jesus, when you put God first by seeking after righteousness, Matthew 6:33-34, all these things will be given unto you.  The testimony of Joshua is living proof as the walls of Jericho turned to rubble with the blast of seven trumpets in Joshua 6.  Whatever you do in life, don’t forget to put God first.

by Jay Mankus

Recounting the Stages of Your Journey

Back in 2007, I took my family on a month long vacation to see the Grand Canyon.  This trip took several years of planning and saving, but it was worth every penny spent.  From Skyline Caverns, Shenandoah National Park, the Great Smokey Mountains and the Ozarks, this was merely an appetizer before for the main course.  Along way, dining in restaurants across the south western part of the United States was fascinating and surreal.  This journey opened my eyes to the beauty of God’s creation within each of the 20 plus states I visited.  Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave in New Mexico, the Indian Rock Cave and Trail near Fairfield Bay Arkansas, the Painted Desert in Arizona and Wind Caves National Park in South Dakota are must see destinations if you travel via car or RV.  My one bit of advice is that you can’t see everything so pick a couple of places and savor each day you have while site seeing.

Moses recorded their points of departure, as the Lord commanded, stage by stage; and these are their journeys according to their points of departure, Numbers 33:2.

In the passage above, Moses recounts the journey Israel made from the Exodus out of Egypt to the Jordan River, waiting to enter God’s promised land.  Earlier in this Old Testament book, Moses records the numbers of people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who make this trek.  Without modern equipment like moving vans and paved roads, the staging of half a million people was no easy task.  Yet, with the Lord’s help along with the elders, Israel was on the verge of seeing one of God’s promises fulfilled.  To a certain extent, recounting your previous steps helps you in the future if you face a similar project or task.  Failing to develop this sort of practice may result in repeating the same mistakes of your past.

You have heard of my career and former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to hunt down and persecute the church of God extensively and [with fanatical zeal] tried [my best] to destroy it. 14 And [you have heard how] I surpassed many of my contemporaries among my countrymen in [my advanced study of the laws of] Judaism, as I was extremely loyal to the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had chosen me and set me apart before I was born, and called me through His grace, was pleased, Galatians 1:13-15.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul recounts the stages of his spiritual journey.  Paul refers to three aspects of his life: before Christ, his conversion experience and how the Holy Spirit has changed his life since beginning a relationship with God.  While this may be obvious to you, Paul realizes that everyone’s journey is different.  Sometimes you succeed and other tests you fail miserably.  Yet, its important to be real, reflecting upon the good and bad.  If the journeys of Christians are perfect, the average person will feel unworthy, unattracted to faith in Christ.  However, when believers publicly confess and share their shortcomings, James 5:16, healing can begin.  While most people want to put on a good front, the world is hungry for honesty.  Therefore, don’t miss out on the teachable moments the Lord gives you each day to recount the stages of your spiritual journey by sharing your testimony.

by Jay Mankus

Where Did I Go Wrong?

Life tends to be a series of choices which lead you to the place where you end up.  Sure, accidents, illness and tragedy may be the exception to this rule, but it doesn’t take much to take the wrong path.  Compromise starts off subtle, lulling souls to sleep spiritually.  Before you know you have a problem, its often too late as people are left to ponder, “where did I go wrong?”

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot, Romans 8:7.

Some might argue that its impossible to know if you are exactly where God wants you to be.  Meanwhile, others claim the conscience was designed into every human being to regulate your soul.  Yet, if your mind isn’t right, thoughts can become hostile to God.  Whenever anyone drifts off course from the path God desires you to take, Satan can use your own mind against you to justify false actions and behaviors.  Thus, determining where you went astray can be more difficult than it seems.

And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord,” Joshua 24:15.

As Joshua leads a new generation into God’s promised land, it was fitting to urge Israel to consider who they are willing to serve.  The blessings are out there, fruits for those who remain on the straight and narrow.  Yet, the sooner you recognize where you went wrong, the quicker you will find reconciliation.  Therefore, I’m calling all prodigals to come to their senses to find forgiveness, hope and the peace of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

Jehovah Rapha

Israel spent 400 years in Egypt as slaves, enduring harsher conditions the longer they stayed.  When the timing was right, God chose Moses, a man with a severe speech impediment to represent Israel before Pharaoh.  Initially, Moses rejected God’s calling, as the Lord sends along his brother Aaron to address Egypt’s leader.  Although its not mentioned, Moses slowly takes control of these daily meetings with Pharaoh.  The absence of stammering suggests God healed Moses of his stuttering.

He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you,” Exodus 15:26.

Through Moses’ personal experience, set from from stuttering, the term Jehovah Rapha was coined.  This name for God means the Lord who heals.  After being eyewitnesses of the Passover, Israel saw the hand of God at work, passing over their doors to kill first born Egyptians.  The passage above serves as a reminder to work just happened as well as a call to action to carefully follow God’s commands while waiting to receive God’s promised land.

God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

Today, healing is one of those prayers and wants the sick desperately seek.  Yet, for those who have prayed for healing and sit helplessly waiting around to watch loved ones die, its hard to keep the faith.  While Jehovah Rapha is still actively at work, some never see the fruit of time on their knees.  Despite a lack of results, believers can not forget the words of Moses in Exodus 15:26.  Healing doesn’t always come instantaneously.  Rather, wounds take time to close.  When you back is against the door, cry out to Jehovah Rapha to mend your heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Power of Diligence

A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a talk show about the impact mojies and texting is having on the English language.  Initially, I was unfazed, not seeing the connection between the two.  However, the more I think about it, social outlets like Instagram and Twitter are enabling slang to steal the power of words.

We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized, Hebrews 6:11.

Subsequently, dynamic vocabulary is fading away, becoming extinct like dinosaurs of the past.  One of these terms is diligence, referring to an attentiveness, motivated by vigor to carry something to completion.  This trait once made the United States a great nation, igniting the Industrial Revolution.  Yet for now, those who possess this quality is limited.

We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised, Hebrews 6:12.

According to the author of Hebrews, those who lack diligence tend to fall prey to laziness.  The solution to this potential snag is to imitate the faith of Israel, willing to wait up to 400 years before finally possessing God’s promised land.  When diligence is exhibited in the hearts and minds of individuals, God’s promises don’t feel so far away.  Yet, when doubt causes God’s people to lose hope, the fruits of diligence disappear.  Therefore, the next time an urge to walk away from your dreams arises, fight back with the power of diligence.

by Jay Mankus

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