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Tag Archives: hope

Baby Steps

Baby steps are subtle advances in progress.  In the early months following birth, babies don’t possess the agility and strength to stand on their own.  However, as soon as infants begin to figure out how to crawl, many become like run away trains, difficult to catch.  From a spiritual point of view, the first baby step requires gaining access to God.  This occurs when individuals place their faith in Christ, Romans 10:9-10.

Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power], Romans 5:1-2.

According to the apostle Paul, the next step you should take is listening to and reading the Bible, Romans 10:17.  Paul felt so strongly about this baby step that he wrote a letter to one of his young pupils, a teenager named Timothy.  Like a stern teacher, Paul stresses the importance of studying to prove yourself as a workman for God.  Although the Bible is no longer a class or subject in public education, you must become a diligent student of the Word to handle it correctly.

Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth, 2 Timothy 2:15.

At some point along the way, everyone needs a mentor to guide you throughout life.  In his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis warns individuals against getting ahead of yourself.  As you set out to accomplish a goal, success is not defined by reaching the summit.  Rather, success is the process of arriving, one step at a time.  Therefore, if you fall away from God for a period of time, don’t try make amends all it once.  Rather, like an adult forced to learn how to walk all over again, take life one step at a time.

by Jay Mankus

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Revealing the Treasure Within

In the last decade, reality television shows have appealed to a desire to strike it rich.  Shows like Gold Rush, the Mystery of Oak Island and Treasure Hunters detail the journey average citizens take to find hidden treasure.  While some do uncover ancient coins, buried treasure and gold, many leave these show broke.  Perhaps, its time for individuals to stop ignoring the obvious, the treasure within your own heart.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also, Luke 12:34.

According to one of the wisest people in the Old Testament, human hearts are a well spring to life, Proverbs 4:23.  Depending upon which Bible commentary you prefer, each shares an unique perspective of what King Solomon truly means by this passage.  Solomon could be warning individuals against developing a proud heart which doomed Lucifer in Ezekiel 28:17.  Meanwhile, human nature is constantly pulling and tempting people to indulge their fleshly desires.  Thus, if you want to protect your heart, guard it carefully.

But the goal of our instruction is love [which springs] from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith, 1 Timothy 1:5.

During the first century, Jesus revealed that the words you speak come out of the overflow of your heart.  Anger, adoration, encouragement and envy will show itself by the tone and vocabulary that you choose daily.  Unfortunately, if you are like me, there is a lot more bad than good that comes out of me.  Thus, I am hesitant to reveal the treasure within.  While being open and honest is important, when God is missing from your conversation its a sign of an empty treasure, void of Jesus.  May the passage above give you hope, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to fill you with love so that any broken or wounded heart will be made whole.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Assurance or Insurance?

The term assurance refers to a positive declaration intended to give confidence.  In a biblical context, an assurance is a promise from God.  Certain passages of the Bible serve as guarantees, a pledge and vow to fulfill the hope for eternal life.  During a private meeting with his disciples, Jesus reveals his plans for the future.  According to the verse below, Jesus left earth following his death to prepare a room in heaven for his followers.  This message of assurance enables modern Christian to live by faith, not by sight.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you, John 14:2.

Meanwhile, insurance is a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for set payments.  If you want to drive, you need auto insurance.  Under Obama Care, the uninsured were fined, thereby forcing individuals to obtain health insurance even if they didn’t need or want it.  Insurance companies have convinced many Americans to buy more policies than what they actually need.

These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God [which represents all that Jesus Christ is and does], so that you will know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that you [already] have eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

In preparation for death, attorneys recommend creating a will so that you decide who will receive your remaining assets.  Shrewd insurance agents will offer clients term life insurance, the cheapest yet most beneficial for dying spouses.  However, from a spiritual perspective, the passage above is the only thing you need to know about eternal life.  If you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ before you die, you can know for certain that you will spend eternity in heaven.  This is the only assurance that you need about the afterlife.

by Jay Mankus

Only God Knows When Your Next Emergency Will Arrive

Nearly five years ago, I was finishing up a normal day of work at Amazon.  After bruising a rib during a sledding accident the week earlier, I wasn’t moving too well but felt fine.  Thirty minutes before the end of my shift, I sneezed.  A few minutes later, I started having trouble breathing.  I sat down, thinking everything would be fine.  Moments later I collapsed as a co-worker rushed to get a paramedic on site.  Before I knew, I was rushed to a hospital in the back of an ambulance, placed into a Cat-Scan machine to see what was wrong.  The diagnosis, two broken ribs and a partially collapse lung.

So Satan departed from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome boils and agonizingly painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And Job took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself, and he sat [down] among the ashes (rubbish heaps), Job 2:7-8.

In the aftermath of my emergency surgery, I was forced to take a leave of absence.  Despite a signed note from my doctors, I wasn’t cleared to return for five weeks.  This event caused a major financial strain as well as delaying a promotion for another five months.  Although my insurance covered most all my hospital bills, I owned over three thousand dollar for two ambulances, one to the hospital and the other to Christiana for my operation.  No matter how prepared you may be in life, only God knows when your next emergency will arrive.

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still cling to your integrity [and your faith and trust in God, without blaming Him]? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the [spiritually] foolish women speaks [ignorant and oblivious to God’s will]. Shall we indeed accept [only] good from God and not [also] accept adversity and disaster?” In [spite of] all this Job did not sin with [words from] his lips, Job 2:9-10.

My wife Leanne and I recently started a Dave Ramsey Financial Peace class.  This course covers financial planning topics throughout nine sessions.  While I can’t make any judgments from one week, the goal of this small group study is to prepare couples and families for financial emergencies.  In the passage above, Job and his wife argue following the death of their children in a horrific storm, possibly a tornado.  While Job’s wife had given up hope, Job’s relationship with God helped him remain optimistic.  Since only God knows the future, make sure you start planning for the future now so that you become a good steward of the resources God provides.

by Jay Mankus

Dueling Forces

Whether you accept this premise or not, there are dueling forces that exist on earth.  Previous illustrations have depicted an angel with wings whispering into one ear, with a demon urging individuals to do the exact opposite.  Former atheist C.S. Lewis referred to this invisible tug of war as dualism.  This theological term believes there are two equal and independent powers at the back of everything, one of them good and the other bad, and that this universe is the battlefield in which they fight out an endless war.

But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively without regard for God and His precepts], Galatians 5:16.

The apostle Paul applies spiritual elements to dualism in the passage above, revealing the Holy Spirit as the positive force and sinful nature as a series of negative impulses.  The presence of this spiritual battles make appreciating the little things in life difficult.  As soon as your heart is pierced by conviction, minds are bombarded by disparaging thoughts to diminish that which you should be thankful for.  Perhaps, this may explain the apostle Paul’s advice in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 about taking your thoughts captive.

For the sinful nature has its desire which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do, Galatians 5:17.

One of Satan’s objectives is to turn joyful Christians into cynical souls, void of any excitement, hope or life.  When cold water is poured out over a blazing fire, it does little to extinguish the flames.  However, as steady rains persist like Tropical Storm Florence, drenching tired and weary believers with a deluge of trials, it doesn’t take long for even the strong to become comfortably numb.  In view of this harsh reality, prepare your heart, soul and mind for the powers of darkness, Ephesians 6:12.  Submit to God, resist the Devil and let your faith become rooted in Christ so that future storms won’t hinder your ability to appreciate the little things in life.

by Jay Mankus

Living in a Shade of Gray

The term gray refers to a color intermediate between black and white.  This description highlights the distinction between right and wrong.  Some variations of gray may be closer to black with others leaning toward white.  However, when the sunsets and darkness emerges, determining one from the other becomes increasingly more difficult.  These conditions leave many today living in a shade of gray.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin, James 4:17.

The earthly brother of Jesus introduces the concept of sins of omission in the passage above.  Likely taught to him by his big brother, James adds a new level to what it means to sin against God.  While the Old Testament points to the ten commandments, the New Testament stresses becoming a doer of the Word of God.  Knowing the Bible is one thing, but if you don’t apply Jesus’ teaching, the apostle Paul refers to you an annoying distraction.  Thus, if you know what is the right thing to do and fail to do it, you are just as guilty as a blatant sinner.

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love [for others growing out of God’s love for me], then I have become only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal [just an annoying distraction]. And if I have the gift of prophecy [and speak a new message from God to the people], and understand all mysteries, and [possess] all knowledge; and if I have all [sufficient] faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love [reaching out to others], I am nothing, 1 Corinthians 13:1-2.

In her song Strangely Dim, Francesca Battistelli sings about how thoughts influence your perspective on life.  When you dwell on the negative, hope becomes strangely dim.  Yet, when you look to God by fixing your eyes upon Jesus, everything seems to fall into place.  Yet, temptation does not give up, using justification and rationalization to deceive you with shades of gray.  May this attached you tube and the words of my blog guide you through confusing times by clinging to God’s Word when you can’t distinguish between right and wrong.

by Jay Mankus

 

Breaking Free from Depression

There are seven common symptoms of depression.  Notable signs include crying spells, irritability and fatigue, withdrawing from loved ones.  The longer misery, sorrow and unhappiness persist, individuals lose hope that this condition state will ever improve.  While declines, recessions and slumps are a common pattern within society, breaking free from depression can be exhausting as you struggle to cling to the thought of improving.

 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation], Matthew 11:28.”

According to a 2015 study, 350 million of the world’s population is affected by some form of depression.  Eleven percent of adolescents will develop a depressive disorder by age 18.  Women are 70 percent more likely to experience depression in their lifetime than men.  Over 16 million Americans have had at least one major depressive episode.  Thirty percent of college students have reported feeling depressed which has disrupted their ability to function at school.  Finally, the estimated cost of depression in terms of loss of productivity at work and healthcare related costs in the United States is 80 billion dollars.

Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light,” Matthew 11:29-30.

If depression is this big of a deal, how can people break free?  Jesus encouraged first century followers to not hide their feelings.  Rather, let your emotions out by openly sharing how you feel to Jesus.  Those who remain silent, keeping everything within, build up tensions as this mounts like a heavy burden growing more intense with each passing each day.  Therefore, those who publicly confess their depression to God and others if available will begin to experience a comforted soul.  While some may need to seek professional help or make an appointment with a pastor, the sooner action is taken, the lighter your burden will become.

by Jay Mankus

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