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Promote Your Progress and Joy

Advance, boost, contribute to, develop, encourage, and further are words associated with promote. While modern promoters often serve as agents for professional athletes, one of the basic responsibilities for a Christian is to promote faith. Although this sounds easy to do, sharing the Bible with individuals who are hostile to God, Romans 8:7, can be thankless. However, if you see the big picture, winning souls, joy overflows when you lead someone into a personal relationship with Jesus.

Since I am convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and stay by you all, to promote your progress and joy in believing, Philippians 1:25.

While writing to a church that he helped build, Paul expresses his allegiance to Philippi. This commitment involves promoting their spiritual progress and joy of believing in Jesus. To an apostle, preaching and sharing the Gospel is the most important thing in the world. While there are other sources of good news that exist, to Paul, nothing compares to Jesus. This concept inspired the words of Philippians 4:6-7, as the peace of God surpasses all understanding.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the Church at Rome. As faith is promoted, God fills Christians with hope, peace, and joy. As individuals begin to discover and fulfill God’s will for your life, this joy can overflow, bubbling over out of an abundance. Yet, when progress is put on hold, joy can quickly disappear. Like a car put in neutral, idle Christians lose their spiritual momentum. Therefore, if you want to get back on track, promote spiritual progress and the joy from faith in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Enterprises of Darkness

The origins of darkness can be traced back to the Bible. Apart from its literal meaning, darkness is symbolic of evil in the Bible. George Lucas introduced the world to a new element of darkness in the 1977 Star Wars film. Using a battle between good and evil, Darth Vader’s character is a byproduct of giving into the dark side. Sounding the warning alarm in the New Testament, the apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter, Romans 7, to the consequences of living in darkness.

Take no part in and have no fellowship with the fruitless deeds and enterprises of darkness, but instead [let your lives be soin contrast as to] expose and reprove and convict them. For it is a shame even to speak of or mention the things that [such people] practice in secret, Ephesians 5:11-12.

When darkness becomes a way of life, individuals pursue what the apostle Paul refers to as enterprises of darkness. This undertaking often takes the form of an activity, endeavor, or venture. While Lucas speaks of “following the force,” the Bible urges followers of Jesus to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25. If you choose the latter, souls will finds themselves slip sliding away, joining other wayward individuals in an enterprise of darkness.

[The Father] has delivered and drawn us to Himself out of the control and the dominion of darkness and has transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, Colossians 1:13.

If you do find yourself on the opposite side of God, hope is provided in the passage above. When your life does spin out of control, there is a deliverer who can lift you out of darkness. However, words are meaningless unless you are willing to change. Until acts of contrition display glimpses of light, dominion’s of darkness will continue to reign. Therefore, if you do come to your senses, Jesus is waiting for you with open arms to begin an enterprise inspired by God’s light, John 3:16-17.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Become Despondent Through Fear

Living out a Christian faith can be oppressive, tedious, and seemingly without end of obstacles. Furthermore, when things don’t go the way you expect or think, it’s not uncommon to suffer from depression. When confidence is lost or hope slips away, fear can suck the joy out of life. Like a golfer who is all over the place during their round, there are many days where you have to grind everything out.

In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear). 13 So I ask you not to lose heart [not to faint or become despondent through fear] at what I am suffering in your behalf. [Rather glory in it] for it is an honor to you, Ephesians 3:12-13.

Whatever optimistic message you have received about a new life in Christ, every day has a new set of challenges. If you let your guard down, become over confident or don’t have enough prayer cover, extreme discouragement may not be too far behind. Unpleasant emotions are a byproduct of fear, caused by a belief that someone or something is a threat. This is where faith must rise to the occasion, opening the door for boldness and courage to shine through.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

Apparently, despondency was an issue in the first century as the apostle Paul writes a similar message to two different congregations. The context of the passage above refers to you reap what you sow. If your mind is constantly fixated on fear, you will become worn down by despondent thoughts. Therefore, if you want to rise above your circumstances, approach God with a humble heart, expecting blessings for those who belong to the household of faith.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus: The Master of All Trades

While attending a youth ministry trade school following college, I read a book entitled The Master of all Trades. The author used miracles performed by Jesus in the Gospel of John as a case study. When I studied each of these accounts, I realized that Jesus was proving his mastery over a series of elements. Although I can’t remember the author’s name or find the book online, this comparison provides a clear illustration that Jesus indeed is the master of all trades.

Eight Miracles In The Gospel Of John  

  1. Water Into Wine John 2:1-11
  2. Healing the official’s son John 4:43-54.
  3. The Healing at the Pool of Bethesda John 5:1-9 
  4. The Feeding of the 5000 John 6:1-14.
  5. Walking on the Water (John 6:16-25).
  6. The Man Born Blind (John 9:1-41).
  7. Raising Lazarus From The Dead (John 11:1-44).
  8. Casting net into sea catching 153 fishes (John 21:5-8).

When Jesus turns water into wine, he defies the laws of science and reveals his mastery over quality. In the process of healing an official’s son, Jesus conquers distance by healing this boy from afar. While visiting an invalid at a pool, lingering with this condition for thirty-eight years, Jesus shows his mastery over time. During the feeding of the 5000, Jesus shows his ability to overcome the odds, able to provide no matter how great the quantity. In a storm, Jesus walks on water to highlight his power over the elements on the earth.

There are also many other signs and miracles which Jesus performed in the presence of the disciples which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written (recorded) in order that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ (the Anointed One), the Son of God, and that through believing and cleaving to and trusting and relying upon Him you may have life through (in) His name [through Who He is], John 20:30-31.

At the end of John’s gospel, it’s clear that thousands of miracles performed by Jesus were left out of the Bible. John merely selects 8 that illustrate Jesus’ mastery of all trades. The final 3 give hope to those who seem to be in an irrevocable situation. Whether you’ve been without one of your 5 key senses from birth, on the verge of death, or failing miserably in your career, Jesus has the power to alter your current situation. As long as you believe, the master of all trades can do wonders for you and your family.

by Jay Mankus

Open Up the Doors

The expression “open doors” is mentioned 180 times in the Bible. Many of these passages pertain to closed doors as opportunities to act quickly fade away. Bible scholars indicate that open doors signify communication and agreement. As doors begin to close or in some cases slam shut, the opposite is true. This is the foundation of the meaning of open doors in the Bible.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:9.

Depending upon how your day, week or month is going, you may not have the energy to respond to the invitation of an opened door. If you’ve had a bad run of luck, a negative thought life may lead you to think, “well what’s the point anyway?” The longer you wait for God’s invitation, doubt will replace confidence. Before a spirit of defeat sets in, the apostle Paul encourages members of the Church at Galatia to hang in there by not giving up hope.

So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:10.

The most famous passage on open doors occurs in Revelation 3:20-21. The door described here is unique, only containing a door knob/handle on one side. Since God’s side of the door is missing a handle, the only thing the Lord can do to get our attention is to knock. Thus, if you’re distracted or not paying attention, you will miss the opportunities God gives you daily to act. Therefore, open up the door as soon as God begins to knock.

by Jay Mankus

Open My Eyes Through Faith

Paul Baloche was sitting in a pew, listening to his pastor pray for the congregation. Upon hearing the expression “Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord, that we may see you,” Baloche was inspired to write a song. Baloche’s soul was touched by the wisdom of this prayer request. As Paul Harvey once said on his radio broadcast, “and now you know The Rest of the Story.”

When the water in the bottle was all gone, Hagar caused the youth to lie down under one of the shrubs. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about a bowshot, for she said, Let me not see the death of the lad. And as she sat down opposite him, he lifted up his voice and wept and she raised her voice and wept, Genesis 21:15-16.

After Sarah convinced Abraham to cast out one of his maid servants, Hagar and Ishmael were forced into the wilderness to find a new place to live. When Hagar ran out of water, she lost hope, laying down her child in the shade under a shrub. Unsure of what to do next, Hagar found an appropriate place to weep and cry out to the Lord. Sensing death was near, the Lord sent an angel to encourage Hagar. Despite being consumed by despair, the Lord opened Hagar’s eyes to a miracle, an empty bottle now filled with water.

And God heard the voice of the youth, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the youth where he is. Arise, raise up the youth and support him with your hand, for I intend to make him a great nation. 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the [empty] bottle with water and caused the youth to drink, Genesis 21:17-19.

The Coronavirus has forced the world to view life through a new lens and perspective. The idea of sitting down with friends inside a restaurant seems like a foreign concept today. Yet, sometime in the near future, the fears of COVID-19 will pass, replaced by a new concern, fear or worry. However, as long as desperate hearts cry out to the Lord in prayer, your eyes will be opened to see all the good things God provides, James 1:17. This is my prayer for 2021 that eyes will be opened through faith in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Starting Over in 2021

ξεκινώντας από την αρχή is the Greek word for starting over. Meanwhile, the Latin expression for starting over is iterum incipi. When translated literally into English this refers to again, a second time. As 2020 is thankfully ushered out for good, it’s time to hit the reset button. While no one knows for sure how long the Coronavirus will stick around, starting over with a blank canvas gives me hope of a brighter future.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome, Jeremiah 29:11.

Despite earning a nickname as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah 9:1 and Jeremiah 13:17, there is a glimpse of positive news. In the passage above, the Lord finally gives Jeremiah a message of hope. These future plans includes blessings, dreams and a final outcome worth waiting for. Therefore, if you still haven’t gotten over the worst pandemic in the last century, the Bible provides some encouraging news.

Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; 31 But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired, Isaiah 40:30-31.

Another Old Testament prophet provides an analogy that most adults can relate to. Between the spread of Covid-19, forced closures of businesses and the stress of trying to stay alive, 2020 has worn out countless souls. Thus, as many have lost their energy and joy for life, it’s time to place your faith in God’s hands again. Just as eaglets trusted their parents renew their strength, it’s time to place your faith in God to start over in 2021.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Leave God on the Outside Looking In

One of the greatest lies the Devil perpetuates today is that God is going to punish you, This implanted thought causes some to give up hope, believing that they will never be good enough for God. Subsequently, those who develop and embrace this ungodly belief will keep God at a distance. Rather than accept the biblical fact that God disciplines those who He loves, a barrier is built up over time, keeping God on the outside looking in.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude], Revelation 3:19.

While on the island of Patmos, one of Jesus’ disciples has a vision of what a relationship with God is like. Instead of barging into our rooms to examine what you’ve done wrong, God is patiently waiting to be welcomed inside. Eager to get your attention, God has a way of knocking on certain aspects of your life. Like leaving a trail a bread crumbs, the Lord has a way of providing signals to let you know He’s only a pray away. Nonetheless, Jesus will remain outside in the cold until you let him into your heart, Romans 10:9-10.

Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:20.

Unfortunately, human timing and God’s timing often clash. When you’re ready to open up and become vulnerable, something immediately interrupts you from God. Meanwhile, you may be busy, consumed by what you are working on, leaving little or no time for a spiritual conversation. Most human beings don’t do this on purpose, but way too many individuals go through life leaving God on the outside looking in. May this blog inspire you to make room in your busy schedule for Jesus this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

So That Hope Survives

Ambition, aspiration, cravings, dreams, longings and yearnings are all associated with hope. When theses desires begin to slip away, individuals have to fight with determination so that hope survives. Whenever your confidence is shaken by defeat, failure or a loss, hope is like a dim light surrounded by darkness, ready to be snuffed out by unforeseen events.

But we belong to the day; therefore, let us be sober and put on the breastplate (corslet) of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation, 1 Thessalonians 5:8.

In a letter to a community with a troubled pass, Paul reminds this church that Christians are children of the light. Thus, as the Devil continues to bring and drag up skeletons from your past, don’t let doubt creep into your mind. The longer negative thoughts continue to linger, the closer the enemy comes to achieving his goal, John 10:10.

For God has not appointed us to [incur His] wrath [He did not select us to condemn us], but [that we might] obtain [His] salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah), 1 Thessalonians 5:9.

The apostle Paul flips the script in the passage above. Instead of always being on defense, Paul takes up the Sword of the Spirit to go on offense, reminding believers of the ultimate prize. God’s end game is salvation, the opportunity to be reunited with Jesus in heaven. Hope is like an exit sign in the distance, the only way to God, John 14:6. When darkness blocks your path from this doorway, hope is what keep souls alive, surviving to live another day.

by Jay Mankus

Lone Survivor

Bruce Willis played David Dunn in the 2000 film Unbreakable. As the film begins, Dunn’s marriage is falling apart, taking the train to New York for an interview. Upon his return, the train derails and Dunn is the lone survivor. Little did David know that this was no accident, a plot by Elijah Price played by Samuel L. Jackson to see if his polar opposite existed.

And the Sabeans swooped down upon them and took away [the animals]. Indeed, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you, Job 1:15.

In the passage above and below, Job suggests that no matter how great an accident or natural disaster, there is usually at least one survivor. This individual often served as a reporter, recounting exactly what happened and when. After God allowed Satan to inflict Job’s family with a series of tribulations, a lone survivor brings back the bad news to Job.

While he was yet speaking, there came also another and said, The fire of God (lightning) has fallen from the heavens and has burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you, Job 1:16.

If there are no positive signs of surviving a trial, hope can be lost. Unless you begin to experience a victory or victories, confidence disappears. As doubt enters your mind, thoughts can wander from fear to panic and even suicide. Thus, if you want to overcome your current crisis, remember the hidden remnant that the Lord sustains, 1 Kings 19:18. This knowledge serves as a promise to help the hopeless survive and see another day.

by Jay Mankus

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