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The Royalty of Loyalty

What is royalty? Is it diplomats, heads of state, or members of the royal family in England? While royalties are a sum of money paid to authors, composers and real estate agents, royalty is designated specifically for people of royal blood or descent. In the Old Testament, Jonathon was the son of King Saul, Israel’s first king. If his father didn’t deviate from God’s commands, Jonathon would have been next in line to become king.

When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own life. Saul took David that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own life, 1 Samuel 18:1-3.

Meanwhile, loyalty are actions that naturally flow out of one’s character. These attributes are highlighted by allegiance, devotion, dependability and faithfulness. Rarely, does an individual possess both royalty and loyalty. However, in the case of Jonathon, he cared more about protecting his best friend’s life than becoming Israel’s second king. As soon as Jonathon saw that David was a man after God’s own heart, they developed a strong bond.

But on the morrow, the second day after the new moon, David’s place was empty; and Saul said to Jonathan his son, Why has not the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today? 28 And Jonathan answered, David earnestly asked leave of me to go to Bethlehem. 29 He said, Let me go, I pray, for our family holds a sacrifice in the city and my brother commanded me to be there. Now, if I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away and see my brothers. That is why he has not come to the king’s table, 1 Samuel 20:27-29.

When King Saul became consumed with jealousy, he sought take David’s life. This tested Jonathon’s loyalty, serving as a mediator to protect and stand up for his friend. Unfortunately, Saul was so blinded by his hatred of David that he lost the ability to be reasonable. Despite this rising tension within the royal family, Jonathon never forgot about the covenant he made with David. This display of love makes Jonathon the royalty of loyalty.

by Jay Mankus

Bringing to Light the Secret Things

Biblical context helps prevent wrong interpretations of Scripture. When you make assumptions about a specific verse in the Bible, you have to view each individual passage like one piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Context allows you to place similar pieces together. The more pieces you have connected, the clearer your understanding becomes of the Bible. The term theology refers to the science of God. The more you read and study the Bible, the full meaning of a passage comes into focus.

So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts. Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God, 1 Corinthians 4:5.

In the passage above, Paul is writing to members of Corinth who had a tendency to jump to conclusions. A spiritual leader named Apollos became a fan favorite, like the church whose attendance drops whenever the senior pastor isn’t preaching. Thus, Paul encourages first century Christians to avoid making premature decisions. Give outsiders a chance, an opportunity to demonstrate and sow spiritual fruit. While not everyone will be eloquent, Christ living within hearts make leaders great.

When we were living in the flesh (mere physical lives), the sinful passions that were awakened and aroused up by [what] the Law [makes sin] were constantly operating in our natural powers (in our bodily organs, in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh), so that we bore fruit for death. But now we are discharged from the Law and have terminated all intercourse with it, having died to what once restrained and held us captive. So now we serve not under [obedience to] the old code of written regulations, but [under obedience to the promptings] of the Spirit in newness [of life], Romans 7:5-6.

One chapter unveils the issue raging within human souls. The apostle Paul pours out his heart in Romans 7, explaining the invisible tug of war that exists within each person. Bringing to light the secret things, Paul exposes sinful passions that arouse sensitive appetites. When you connect the passage above to Galatians 5:16-17, this internal spiritual war comes to life. Like feeding a beast, the more you give into selfish desires, the less room there is for the Holy Spirit to operate. Therefore, if you want to follow the prompting of God’s spirit, hearts and minds must be fixed on things above, Colossians 3:1-4.

by Jay Mankus

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

Speak to Me Outside of Church

Prior to the Coronavirus cancelling worship services across the country, only 20% of Americans regularly attended church. Before being quarantined, this steady decline in attendance suggests that many Christians haven’t made church a priority, finding other things to do on Saturday and Sunday. According to a 2018 Outreach Magazine article, only the state of Hawaii saw a recent increase in worship attendance. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, perhaps this time away from church will conceive a hunger to join and become an active member in a local church.

My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it]; Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures, Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God, Proverbs 2:1-5.

As for now, believers are going to have to find an alternative, an avenue for God to speak to you outside of church. Reading the Bible daily is a logical step in this direction. In the passage above, Solomon is pleading with his children. Instead of trying to find joy and pleasure in the world, dust off this book and begin listening to the living Word of God. Open your heart and mind to these truths, embracing and treasuring these spiritual nuggets. The next transition is putting these words into practice by applying biblical principles through your actions, behavior and speech.

If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you, John 15:7.

This process will require prayer; lots of it. Since there isn’t a band, chorus and musician to lead you in worship, you can rely on your favorite internet site to enhance your prayer. Several years ago I was introduced to the concept of Soaking in the Spirit. This occurs by laying down in a room, closing your eyes and clearing your mind from stress of life while listening to worship music. The goal is to empty your mind of all the garbage that you have collected over time and ask God to remove and replace it with songs of praise. The attached song, a spontaneous worship montage by Kari Jobe is what I use when I want God to speak to me outside of church.

by Jay Mankus

Summoned by God

If you have ever been forced to take a day or week for jury duty, you understand what it means to be summoned. Typically, you receive a letter in the mail from a county or state, requesting your presence to serve. If you are an eyewitness to an accident or crime, you may be asked to testify to what you have seen. Or if you have ever received a parking or speeding ticket, you will be summoned to either pay a fine or appeal in court. These types of summons are unpleasant, a day or days that you want to forget.

So Saul died for his breach of faith. He broke faith with the Lord in that he did not keep the command of the Lord, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance. He did not seek guidance from the Lord. Therefore the Lord put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse, 1 Chronicles 10:13-14.

From a spiritual perspective, some of you have been summoned by God. Spiritual summons can occur at any place or time, usually when you least expect it. When I was child, I had a reoccurring nightmare, dreaming of dying night after night for nearly two years. After falling off a cliff, I woke up just as I hit the ground. I still don’t know why this keep happening, but this caused me the contemplate the concept of eternity. To randomly be born on earth only to die didn’t make sense to me.

Paul, summoned by the will and purpose of God to be an apostle (special messenger) of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes, 1 Corinthians 1:1.

What I didn’t realize is this silent summons conceived in me a desire to know God. Through the Fellowship of Christian of Athletes in high school and college, I was summoned to receive Jesus into my heart as Savior and friend. After back sliding during my first semester in college at the University of Delaware, I was summoned to return. Through the power of Holy Spirit, a fire was ignited within my soul to make Jesus the Lord of my life. Over the past 35 years, I haven’t always been obedient to each summons from God, straying from time to time. Nonetheless, I’m still living and learning, hoping that I am faithful to my next calling in life.

by Jay Mankus

A Tuesday After the Masters

Since the 2020 Masters has been postponed due to the Coronavirus, all that golf fans have are reruns of previous tournaments to watch this weekend. Hoping to catch an old broadcast last night, I ended up watching a portion of Feherty featuring Bernard Langer. During this interview, Langer spoke of the emptiness following his first major victory, the 1985 Masters. Following a practice round at Hilton Head, South Carolina with Bobby Clampett, Langer was invited to attend a Bible Study on Tuesday night.

Now there was a certain man among the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler (a leader, an authority) among the Jews,Who came to Jesus at night and said to Him, Rabbi, we know and are certain that You have come from God [as] a Teacher; for no one can do these signs (these wonderworks, these miracles—and produce the proofs) that You do unless God is with him. Jesus answered him, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again (anew, from above), he cannot ever see (know, be acquainted with, and experience) the kingdom of God, John 3:1-3.

After consulting with his wife, the Langer’s decided to go, listening to the PGA Tour’s chaplain speak about Nicodemus. As this message was proclaimed, Bernard related to Nicodemus, sensing that there was something more to life, but he didn’t know what it was. This Tuesday following the Master’s sowed for seed in Langer’s heart, a spiritual hunger to become born again. Although his decision to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior waited, months later Bernard finally yielded over control of his life.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

After a sarcastic comment in John 3:4, Nicodemus shuts up, listening to the most famous verse in the Bible, up close and in person. Just like Bernard Langer, this encounter gradually changed Nick’s life. Based upon bread crumbs left behind by this disciple in John 7:50-52 and John 19:39, Nicodemus became a follower of Jesus, no longer ashamed to be associated with him. As the clock strikes midnight to announce Easter morning, you don’t need to attend a service to accept Jesus into your life, Romans 10:9-10. If you haven’t made this decision, don’t let this opportunity slip away.

by Jay Mankus

Irrevocable

Irrevocable is defined as not able to be changed, reversed, or recovered. The context of this term involves absolute, final and unalterable results. Once a decision is made by God, whether it’s a calling, eternal destiny or spiritual gift, this is permanent. The apostle Paul’s usage of irrevocable in the passage below supports the theological belief, “once saved always saved.”

For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. [He never withdraws them when once they are given, and He does not change His mind about those to whom He gives His grace or to whom He sends His call,] Romans 11:29.

Paul is eluding to the sovereign will of God in this portion of his letter to the church at Rome. Feeling compelled to re-enforce the covenant of grace, Paul assures first century followers of Christ that God’s promises never change. Whatever God purposes is never reversed or revoked. Thus, this verse serves as a form of assurance to encourage anyone filled with concern, doubts or uncertainty.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved at heart. So the Lord said, I will destroy, blot out, and wipe away mankind, whom I have created from the face of the ground—not only man, [but] the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air—for it grieves Me and makes Me regretful that I have made them. But Noah found grace (favor) in the eyes of the Lord, Genesis 6:5-8.

The Old Testament provides a complete picture of God’s true character. Prior to the great flood in Genesis, wickedness spread throughout the earth. Just like during the era of Judges, individuals began to do what was right in their own eyes. As God watched from heaven, His heart was broken. Instead of destroying every human being, Noah found favor in God’s eyes. When the Lord sought to destroy the residents of Sodom and Gomorrah, the prayers of Abraham in Genesis 18 persuaded God to save the righteous. When everything is put together, you may not always understand the mind of God, but his call and gifts are irrevocable.

by Jay Mankus

A Spirit of Attitude

There are two common Greek words used to describe attitude in the Bible. Diáthesi̱ refers to disposition or mood while stási̱ points to body language and posture. If you are observant, attitude naturally flows out of individuals. Joy can’t be contained while depression sucks the life out of battered souls. Some wear their emotions on their sleeves, the reserved try to say even keeled and others are comfortably numb, jaded by previous trials in life.

A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones, Proverbs 17:22.

King Solomon suggests that attitude is a choice. You can focus on the positive by looking at life with a half glass full mindset. Or you can be a party pooper, allowing depression to bring you down and everyone else around you. Thus, the attitude of one person filters down to impact your sphere of influence. Neighborhoods, schools and work environments are at the mercy of attitudes. Depending upon the response, whether good or bad, strong attitudes can alter hearts, minds and souls.

As it is written, God gave them a spirit (an attitude) of stupor, eyes that should not see and ears that should not hear, [that has continued] down to this very day, Romans 11:8.

Perhaps, this explains the apostle Paul’s comment in the passage above. It’s not uncommon for individuals to experience periods of insensibility. When the negativity of another person’s attitude impacts your perspective, a state of near-unconsciousness can blind you from the truth. To overcome this spiritual stupor, Paul urges first century believers to set their heart and minds on things above, Colossians 3:1-4. The best way to fight poisonous attitudes is by developing a spiritual attitude fueled by the power of the Holy Spirit. The more you meditate upon the Bible, your attitude can spread joy to others, like good medicine for the soul.

by Jay Mankus

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How Bad Do You Want It?

To excel at a high level, many athletes join travel teams at an early age to maximize their full potential. Depending upon an individual’s commitment, desire and overall talent, coaches will push these rising stars to new heights. Parents will continue to fork over thousands of dollars each year with the goal of eventually earning a full college scholarship. The end result often relies on how bad do these student athletes want to compete at the next level.

Teacher, which 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.

From a spiritual perspective, God uses free will to reveal who wants it more. Instead of forcing the earth to comply, God introduced the Ten Commandments to the nation of Israel in Exodus 20. The birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ opened the door for Gentiles to be welcomed into God’s family. For anyone who wants to excel spiritually, Jesus summarizes a primary goal: love God with all your heart, soul and mind.

Do you not know that your body is the temple (the very sanctuary) of the Holy Spirit Who lives within you, Whom you have received [as a Gift] from God? You are not your own, 20 You were bought with a price [purchased with a preciousness and paid for, made His own]. So then, honor God and bring glory to Him in your body, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.

In a letter to the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul adds another element to how bad do you want to draw near to God. Paul suggests that human bodies are on loan from God. Thus, if you want to reach your full potential as a believer, treating your body as a living temple of God is essential. Those who want it more spiritually will separate themselves via fruits of the spirit. Since talk is cheap, time will tell how bad you want to please God?

by Jay Mankus

A Foretaste of the Blissful Things to Come

In the passage below, the apostle Paul points out that the Holy Spirit isn’t limited to Christians and Jews. Rather, God’s Spirit now extends to Gentiles who believe by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. The term first fruits likely refers to the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit poured out on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-4. Meanwhile, the foretaste of things to come is symbolic of the grace of God communicated to all in conversion.

And not only the creation, but we ourselves too, who have and enjoy the firstfruits of the [Holy] Spirit [a foretaste of the blissful things to come] groan inwardly as we wait for the redemption of our bodies [from sensuality and the grave, which will reveal] our adoption (our manifestation as God’s sons), Romans 8:23.

One of my former pastors explained grace as God’s riches at Christ’s expense. However, as Paul explains in the passage below, grace is invisible. Thus, as individuals begin to adjust their practices following their conversion from worldly pleasures toward eternal treasures, this transition is rarely smooth. Initial confessions of sin are refreshing, like receiving a shower of grace from heaven. Yet, when you begin to commit the same sinful act day after day, grace is cheapened and hope can be lost.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? – Romans 8:24

In a letter to the church of Corinth, Paul pours out his heart during a moment of weakness, 2 Corinthians 12:7-12. Like anyone who is experiencing a spiritual free fall, the conviction of the Holy Spirit is overwhelming. Perhaps, Paul’s plea to God is merely asking the Lord, “why do I have to go through this?” Nonetheless, each Christian goes through a process known as sanctifying grace. This form of grace makes a soul acceptable and justified before God. Despite whatever hardships that you endure, may you recognize the foretaste of grace that will be completed before you meet your creator in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

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