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The Sacred Appointment

There are certain appointments in life that children learn to hate early in life. The trip to the dentist office when the doctor discovers your first cavity. The visit to an Emergency Room late at night which results in several follow up appointments. A routine checkup that seems annoying at the time but uncovers a terminal or rare condition. Yet not every appointment brings bad news.

But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [[o]permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in (live in, never depart from) Him [being [p]rooted in Him, knit to Him], just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do], 1 John 2:27.

In the passage above, one of Jesus’ former disciples refers to a sacred appointment. This unction as John calls it is when an elder or priest anoints someone with oil. Apostles in the book of Acts had a tendency to anoint missionaries or spiritual leaders prior to a special trip. While modern anointings are often associated with healing services, this is something special about this sacred appointment.

And when they had appointed and ordained elders for them in each church with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in Whom they had come to believe [being full of joyful trust that He is the Christ, the Messiah], Acts 14:23.

The passage above highlights one of these anointings. According to Luke, prayer and fasting were always part of this sacred appointment. In other similar passages, the laying on of hands was done by church leaders as a form of spiritual protection. One of the secrets to Job’s spiritual strength was the hedge of protection placed around him by the Lord, Job 1:10. If you are fortunate enough to ever be part of one of these ceremonies, may you embrace this spiritual anointing.

by Jay Mankus

From Shallow to Saved

Shallow people often exhibit a superficial nature due to emptiness, ignorance, and or a tendency to be self-absorbed. Looking back at my adolescence, my bout with stuttering and stammering severely stunted my ability to communicate with my peers. Subsequently, I withdrew from society and hid my pain, so I didn’t embarrass myself in public. Meanwhile, I suppressed my feelings by focusing solely on sports which I began to excel at as I entered high school.

And as He was going into one village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance. 13 And they raised up their voices and called, Jesus, Master, take pity and have mercy on us! – Luke 17:12-13

Following the decree in Leviticus 13:43-46, the ten lepers in today’s passage were forced into quarantine, banned from entering their village until their leprosy was healed. Whenever a healthy person approached, the Jewish law called for each man to proclaim, “I am unclean.” Jesus didn’t come to judge these lepers, but to free them from their contagious disease. Upon hearing the good news of being healed, perhaps the other 9 lepers were too shallow to thank Jesus for this new lease on life.

Then Jesus asked, Were not [all] ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to [d]recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien? 19 And He said to him, Get up and go on your way. Your faith (your trust and confidence that spring from your belief in God) has restored you to health, Luke 17:17-19

When I was in high school, I acted like the 9 lepers who failed to give thanks and praise to God. I was so consumed by what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go that I neglected the Lord. Rather than open my eyes to all the blessings in my life, my shallow nature prevented me from appreciating the obvious. Yet, when I made the decision to make Jesus my Lord and Savior in college, Romans 10:9-11, I was transformed from shallow to saved. A few years later, God completely healed me of my stuttering like the ten lepers who experienced their own miraculous healing.

by Jay Mankus

A Gratitude Adjustment

In this age of the Coronavirus, inflation and war with Russia invading Ukraine, gratitude has been pushed to the back of the line. When the world you are living in is literally falling apart, it’s hard to acknowledge the positive aspects of life. Watching breaking news stories on cable only makes me even more depressed. Before any sense of appreciation disappears completely in 2022, a gratitude adjustment is essential to keep hope alive.

Then one of them, upon seeing that he was cured, turned back, [c]recognizing and thanking and praising God with a loud voice; 16 And he fell prostrate at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. And he was a Samaritan, Luke 17:15-16.

Today’s passage comes from a first century physician. Instead of giving medical details of how these ten lepers were healed, Luke appears to be baffled. Based upon the end of verse 14, “as they went, they were cured and made clean,” the anticipation in the minds of these ten men played a crucial role. While nine walked faster and faster as if racing to see who could get to the priest first, one leper stopped, looked down and realized that he was miraculously healed.

Then Jesus asked, Were not [all] ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to [d]recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien? – Luke 17:17-18

Perhaps the other nine men were so eager to resume a normal life that they forgot to thank Jesus. Meanwhile, the Samaritan leper, who already understood what it felt like to be under appreciated in life was moved by God. Jesus was sent to call the Jews back to repentance, not the Samaritans. However, like the Samaritan woman at a well in John 4, a spirit of gratitude filled each of their hearts. When you slow down enough in life to see where you’ve been and what God has done, gratitude is the first step toward healing and happiness.

by Jay Mankus

As You Draw Near to God

Drawing near to God is one of those topics where you will find numerous how to books. Based upon personal experiences, some authors have broken down drawing near to God with 7 specific steps. Other Christian writers have used the Bible to create a formula for drawing near to God. If these individuals haven’t had success in their attempts to draw near to God, these books wouldn’t exist.

[As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins]. 10 Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant], James 4:9-10.

The best way I know to figure out how to draw near to God is by examining what Jesus did. According to Mark 1:35, Jesus was an early riser who went for a walk first thing in the morning. Apparently, Jesus was searching for a quiet place without any distractions. Once the ideal spot was found, Jesus fell to his knees and began to pray. Based upon Mark 1:36-39, drawing near to God brought Jesus clarity, focus and, vision about where to go and what to do daily.

Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by [b]that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water. 23 So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the [c]hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word, Hebrews 10:22-23.

In the passage above, one New Testament author reveals the mindset you should have as you begin to draw near to God. One of Jesus disciples compares God to the Father of light who knows everything that you’ve ever done, 1 John 1:6-8. Therefore, if you want to draw near to God like you never have before, start by confessing and verbalizing your shortcomings and failures. Once you unload all of these burdens like Matthew 11:28-30, healing will come to those who draw near to God, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

Carrying the Burdens of Others this Year

One of Daniel’s friends from college received an urgent call from his mother a few weeks ago. Cristian’s father was taken to the hospital, battling for his life. Carrying the burden of his friend, Daniel jumped in his car and drove Cristian to Connecticut, only stopping for gas and food. While they were able to make it in time, the Coronavirus claimed another victim. This is one burden that other believers should carry.

Brethren, if any person is overtaken in misconduct or sin of any sort, you who are spiritual [who are responsive to and controlled by the Spirit] should set him right and restore and reinstate him, without any sense of superiority and with all gentleness, keeping an attentive eye on yourself, lest you should be tempted also. Bear (endure, carry) one another’s burdens and [a]troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete [b]what is lacking [in your obedience to it], Galatians 6:1-2.

I was introduced to concept of carrying the burdens of others while on a mission trip in college. One evening I took a walk with two friends. After a brief moment of small talk, a spirit of confession fell upon all three of us. Before the night was over, each of us shared secrets sins that we had kept buried deep inside of our hearts. This special conversation helped me realized the importance of laying our burdens at the feet of the cross, Matthew 11:28-30.

Clothe yourselves therefore, as God’s own chosen ones (His own picked representatives), [who are] purified and holy and well-beloved [by God Himself, by putting on behavior marked by] tenderhearted pity and mercy, kind feeling, a lowly opinion of yourselves, gentle ways, [and] patience [which is tireless and long-suffering, and has the power to endure whatever comes, with good temper]. 13 Be gentle and forbearing with one another and, if one has a difference (a grievance or complaint) against another, readily pardoning each other; even as the Lord has [freely] forgiven you, so must you also [forgive], Colossians 3:12-13.

Most people don’t bare their soul the first time you meet. Rather, healing takes time by becoming a consistent source of compassion. Instead of telling others that you know how they feel, the best thing you can do is listen attentively. As you develop and demonstrate the biblical qualities listed in the passage above, hurting people will open up when the timing is right. Until this day arrive, continue to carry the burdens of others this year.

by Jay Mankus

How Can You Love Your Neighbor When You Hate The Person You’ve Become?

Clive Staples Lewis was an atheist and British writer before becoming a lay theologian. C.S. Lewis once contemplated the concept of loving your neighbor. The following quote reveals his thoughts. You are told to love your neighbor as yourself. How do you love yourself? When I look into my own mind, I find that I do not love myself by thinking myself a dear old chap or having affectionate feelings.” This same dilemma exists today as how can you love your neighbor when many people don’t like the person they’ve become.

Teacher, which [e]kind of commandment is great and important (the principal kind) in the Law? [Some commandments are light—which are heavy?] 37 And He replied to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (intellect), Matthew 22:36-37.

Following a series of parables, Jesus is asked by a religious leader a spiritual question. “What’s the most important commandment?” Instead of de-emphasizing the other 9 from the most essential, Jesus divides the commandments into two parts. The first 4 commandments are based upon loving God with the final 6 focused on loving your neighbor. When Christians began to love God with all their hearts, soul and mind, the practice of religion turns into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

This is the great (most important, principal) and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as [you do] yourself. 40 These two commandments [f]sum up and upon them depend all the Law and the Prophets, Matthew 22:38-40.

When hearts grow cold, love stops naturally flowing out of human beings. If faith is not revived or resuscitated, this lack of love can slowly turn into self hatred for oneself. When sources for love dry up, there is no positivity that bubbles over on to the people you interact with daily. The longer this subtle decay continues, there is no inspiration to love friends and family. The key to loving your neighbor is to tap into the love of God, John 3:16-17. As individuals begin to feel and sense God’s love, desires to pass this on to others is restored. Unfortunately, healing take time. Just hang in there long enough for restoration to ignite your heart with the love of God.

by Jay Mankus

The Haves and Have Nots

The expression “the haves and have nots” dates back to the 17th century. One of the initial usages was based upon your socio-economic status. This superficial characterization focused on anyone who was living in poverty or did not have much money. As the wealthy flashed signs of their wealth while looking down on the less fortunate, the haves and the have nots was conceived.

To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit; To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit; 1 Corinthians 12:8-9.

The apostle Paul created his own list of the haves and have nots in the first century. However, the context of this list was based upon spiritual gifts given to Christians within the Church at Corinth. Some individuals received special powers such as healing, prophecy and the ability to perform miracles. Apparently, these talents were going to some of their heads, looking down upon people with lesser gifts such as giving, hospitality and service.

To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight ([c]the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. 11 All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses, 1 Corinthians 12:10-11.

Not much has changed over the past 2000 years. Occupations like doctors, lawyers, and scientists are held in high esteem while those forced to work in blue collared jobs are looked down upon. Regardless of how others view you, God wants Christians to focus on what they have, not what you don’t. Part of life is figuring out what you’re the best at and where you fit in. Once your spiritual gift is revealed to you, the rest of life should be spent looking for opportunities to apply your gift. Fan into flame what you have so that your life impacts the have nots.

by Jay Mankus

Mind Games

As a teenage boy, I wasn’t charismatic or eloquent. I struggled to maintain a B average and entered high school at 5 feet tall and 100 pounds. While competing in sports was my first love, attractive females began to get my attention. Unfortunately, I was so small and quiet, that I was invisible when other guys were around. Subsequently, dating was something that I longed for, but was unable find someone that liked me more than a friend.

For the weapons of our warfare are not physical [weapons of flesh and blood], but they are mighty before God for the overthrow and destruction of strongholds, [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 10:4-5.

What made matters worse was a severe speech impediment. When I opened my mouth, I never knew if I was going to embarrass myself in class or actually spit something out. I could visualize what I wanted to say, but my mind would play tricks on me. The longer this condition persisted, I began to develop an ungodly belief that I would never be able to share what was in my heart and on my mind.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

After entering into a personal relationship with Jesus as a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to the promises of the Bible. When I learned about my own internal struggles in Galatians 5:16-18, the miracles of Jesus gave me hope. My prayers began to focus on healing my stuttering so that this mind game would end. Twenty years after my condition was first diagnosed, the power of the Holy Spirit finally broke through. While the Devil still tries to remind me of my past, the Bible has steadied my faith as this spiritual mind game continues today.

by Jay Mankus

When Fears are Replaced by Faith

Everyone has a personality with some more dominant than others. Personality is the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character. While the outgoing tend to be more blunt, the shy leave subtle reminders to get your attention. This could be an exaggerated cough, specific body language or a certain facial expression to signal a need for help.

And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, Keep all the commandments with which I charge you today. And on the day when you pass over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall set up great stones and cover them with plaster, Deuteronomy 27:1-2.

As Moses was about to hand over leadership responsibilities to Joshua, God used his writing of Deuteronomy to serve as a not so subtle reminder. According to Exodus 4:10-12, Moses was reluctant to be the verbal communicator for Israel. Apparently, Moses possessed a speech impediment, likely some form of stammering or stuttering. As someone who struggled with stuttering for two decades, whenever I opened my mouth, I never knew for sure what would come out.

And you shall write on them all the words of this law when you have passed over, that you may go into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, Deuteronomy 27:3.

Instead of looking at the power of His God, Moses could only see as far as his disability. This lack of faith irritated the Lord, sending his brother Aaron to be the voice piece of God until Moses developed the courage to face his fear. While Exodus does not speak of a healing, Moses began to find his voice during the Ten Plagues. If human beings could simply catch a glimpse of God’s healing power, fears would quickly fade, replaced by faith.

by Jay Mankus

God’s First Patient in Need of Mental Health

The summer of 2021 has brought back a sense of normalcy for those who have endured and survived the Coronavirus. Yet, a series of professional athletes from multiple sports have confessed an internal struggle that few people rarely verbalize. As golf and tennis stars have failed to meet and surpass their own expectations, depression, emotional distress and a lack of confidence has taken a toll on players like Naomi Osaka and Bubba Watson.

And Abel brought of the firstborn of his flock and of the fat portions. And the Lord had respect and regard for Abel and for his offering, But for Cain and his offering He had no respect or regard. So Cain was exceedingly angry and indignant, and he looked sad and depressed, Genesis 4:4-5.

After his parents were kicked out of the Garden of Eden, Cain was forced to farm on less fertile land. In fulfillment of the punishment placed upon Adam for his disobedience, Genesis 3:17, trying to plant crops in an arid climate made Cain’s trade increasingly difficult. To make matters worse, Cain’s little brother Abel was prospering as a shepherd. When a root of bitterness grew within Cain’s heart, God tried to intervene with a face to face conversation.

And the Lord said to Cain, Why are you angry? And why do you look sad and depressed and dejected? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you, but you must master it. And Cain said to his brother, Let us go out to the field. And when they were in the field, Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him. And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? – Genesis 4:6-9

As earth’s first mental health session began in the passage above, Cain wasn’t very happy with what God was suggesting. Apparently, God could sense the envy and jealousy brewing within Cain’s heart. As this festered, evil thoughts entered into Cain’s mind. Instead of pushing back the idea of murder, the Devil convinced Cain to follow in his father’s footsteps of disobedience. Don’t wait until it’s too late to to break the sins of your parents, Exodus 20:5. Don’t be afraid to pour out your heart publicly so that healing and restoration can begin, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

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