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Tag Archives: Judah

I Can’t Help Myself

My father was born in Lithuania.  As immigrants from certain Europeans countries began to migrate to the United States, stereotypes began to develop.  Whether it was the era, how my dad was raised or specific mannerisms, my father tended to be stoic unless he was angry.  Meanwhile, my mom who grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania wasn’t afraid to wear her emotions on her sleeve.  Like any child, I exhibit a combination of qualities from each of my parents.  Nonetheless, whenever my heart is moved or touched by something special, I can’t help myself, easily brought to tears.

As He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance; 13 and they raised their voices and called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean, Luke 17:12-14.

During the first century, Jews and Samaritans were enemies as hatred and resentment spilled over from the past.  This tension began when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judea in the south.  The north whose second capital was relocated upon a hillside in Samaria often did what was right in their own eyes.  The southern kingdom remained more true to God as some kings reminded citizens of their spiritual heritage.  The main issues between Jews and Samaritans began during 722 B.C. when Assyria conquered Israel and took most of its people into captivity.  The byproduct of this siege led to intermarriages between Gentiles and Israelites.  Thus, Samaritans earned the reputation of being only half Jewish, labeled and ridiculed for centuries.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; 16 and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:15-18

Recognizing this portion in history, Jesus is shocked by how little appreciation is shown to God by 9 Jewish lepers.  On the other hand, the Samaritan leper is overwhelmed after being healed.  According to a first century doctor, this man couldn’t help himself, praising God over and over again.  Sometimes in life, stereotypes influence how people act, behave and interact with others.  Yet, when you slow down and look around to see the numerous minor miracles in your life, you too can model the thanksgiving demonstrated by this Samaritan leper.  May the example of this first century man inspire you to develop a new outlook on life in 2019.

by Jay Mankus

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You Can’t Have Favor Without the But

The idea of taking a short cut is enticing, saving time and effort.  However, if this risk doesn’t pay off, unfortunate souls are left to swim in a pool of disappointment.  When success becomes a distant memory, blame is often shifted to the big Guy upstairs.  Nonetheless, you can’t experience the favor of God until you display the but.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. – Daniel 1:8

For those of you have who been disenfranchised by faith, you need to draw your attention toward a teenager from Israel.  Despite living through the fall of Judah to Babylon, Daniel remained faithful to the values instilled in him by his parents.  When encouraged to abandon the practices of his youth, Daniel resolved not to defile himself.  God did not bless this young man until the but prompted Daniel to take a stand.

Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel – Daniel 1:9.

Years prior to this event, one of the forefathers of faith helped connect the dots to the hand of God.  According to Moses, obedience is the first step to obtaining the Lord’s favor, Deuteronomy 28:1.   Yet, unless the commands of the Bible are carefully followed, favor will be unattainable.  In modern times, developing a Matthew 6:33 mindset is a great starting point, opening the door for one to receive God’s daily bread.  May this blog help you see the but comes first before God’s favor.

by Jay Mankus

 

Just say No… Go Against the Flow

Richard Evans was the pioneer of the slogan “just say no” as a Social Psychology professor at the University of Houston in the 1970’s.  Supported by the National Institutes of Health, this concept was geared at attacking substance abuse inspired by Woodstock that cultivated a generation of sex, drugs and rock and roll.  By the 1980’s, first lady Nancy Reagan added premarital sex and violence to this slogan, becoming a champion of the just say no movement.

Meanwhile, at the beginning of the first century, one man blazed a new trail, going against the flow like no one ever before or since.  Similar to America’s Civil War, Samaritans occupied northern Israel with Judah dwelling in the South.  Following captivity by the Assyrians and Babylonians, Samaritans embraced foreign gods as well as intermarrying Gentiles.  Subsequently, when Jewish leaders made plans to reunite both kingdoms, the Samaritans did everything in their power to undermine this attempt.  Bitterness, hatred and tension carried over for 500 years until Jesus arrived onto the scene.

In John 4, the disciples avoided Samaria like the plague, taking the belt way around town.  However, Jesus didn’t let peer pressure ruin God’s will, going against the flow to wait for a Samaritan in need.  Despite committing social suicide, Jesus begins a conversation with an adulterous woman at a well.  Led by the Holy Spirit, Jesus takes a casual talk into the spiritual realm.  Before the day is over, this carpenter leads several individuals to place their trust in God.  If you just say no to the world, by going against the flow, who knows how many lives you can alter for eternity?  The world is waiting for you, Matthew 9:37, to lead be example.  Please share how you’re making a difference.

by Jay Mankus

 

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