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Tag Archives: KIng Solomon

Understanding the Seasons of Change

According to Genesis 2:4-6, the earth’s atmosphere was initially like an open canopy. According to Moses, underground springs bubbled up from beneath the surface to water the earth. Prior to the flood, there was only one season with a tropical climate similar to a greenhouse effect. Before the heavens opened up to bring rain for the first time, the springs of the earth burst forth, Genesis 7:11. This passage suggests some sort of enormous volcanic eruption like the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park. As massive clouds of volcanic ash blocked out the sun, the first age began, setting in motion the four seasons that exist today.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted, A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

King Solomon provides a famous analogy about seasons of change in the passage above. Just as winter gives way to spring, spring introduces summer before summer fades to fall, the cycle is completed by a return to winter. Solomon refers to specific events that take place every year and throughout your life. Ecclesiastes 3:11 suggests that there is a time and place for everything. According to Solomon, God makes everything beautiful in His time as healing allows broken souls to mend and recover. Yet, for anyone undergoing an extremely difficult period in their life, understanding the seasons of change takes time.

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.

If discovering God’s will for your life can take a couple of decades, discerning the seasons of change involves deep thought and reflection. You may want to pursue a specific career or dream, but when failure causes you to change course, figuring out where to go next takes time. I still remember when I felt God calling me to become a golf professional, then a youth pastor followed by a Bible teacher and golf coach. Each time I thought, surely this is God’s will for my life until the seasons of change left me unemployed. One New Testament author gives great advice for understanding the seasons of change in Hebrews 12:1. If you treat life like a marathon, you have to push through the pain to run with perseverance so when the seasons do change, you’ll be ready to adjust and move on.

by Jay Mankus

What a Special Friend Can Do for You

Before the Coronavirus spread to the United States in the March of 2000, my daughter Lydia was thinking about ending her Pole Vaulting career. The 2020 Winter Track Season was blah; not progressing at pole vaulting or meeting any new friends. As a Field Event specialist, not part of any running events, it’s hard to experience the sense of being part of a team. This all changed when Lydia met Bree at the 2020 Winter Track State Meet.

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

Instead of dreading track, this instant friendship has transformed my daughter’s perspective of this sport. Bree has been like a big sister, introducing Lydia to everyone in the pole vaulting community. In her first two seasons, Lydia enjoyed pole vaulting, but she could live without it. Now that my daughter has been welcomed by the local pole vaulting community, a new desire to improve was conceived. When a special friend enters your life, these individuals take you to new heights, often pushing you closer toward self actualization.

No one has greater love [no one has shown stronger affection] than to lay down (give up) his own life for his friends, John 15:13.

In the Old Testament, King Solomon distinguishes the difference between having several acquaintances and a special friend. Genuine friends stick around when everyone else tends to leave during times of hardship. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ disciples refers to the sacrifices that friends make with the greatest being laying down their own life. We all need special friends like Bree. Looking back, if it wasn’t for Bree, Lydia probably would not have broken her school record which she now holds by herself at 9’6″.

by Jay Mankus

Comforted, Cheered, and Encouraged

The term encourage(d) appears 9 times in the King James Version of the Bible. In an age where negative news steals most of the headlines, most Americans are searching for hope. Some sort of cheer, inspiration or uplifting story that rallies troubled souls to keep moving forward. Life is hard enough as it is without critics and condemnation from haters on social media.

[For my concern is] that their hearts may be braced (comforted, cheered, and encouraged) as they are knit together in love, that they may come to have all the abounding wealth and blessings of assured conviction of understanding, and that they may become progressively more intimately acquainted with and may know more definitely and accurately and thoroughly that mystic secret of God, [which is] Christ (the Anointed One). In Him all the treasures of [divine] wisdom (comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God) and [all the riches of spiritual] knowledge and enlightenment are stored up and lie hidden, Colossians 2:2-3.

While writing a letter to members of the Church at Colosse, Paul gets sentimental in the passage above. Just as King Solomon warned Old Testament readers to guard their hearts, Proverbs 4:23, Paul urges believers to brace human hearts with comfort, cheer and encouragement. If the heart is the wellspring of life, protecting it all cost is essential. This is Paul’s prayer for the church that he helped plant during one of his missionary journeys.

Who died for us so that whether we are still alive or are dead [at Christ’s appearing], we might live together with Him and share His life. 11 Therefore encourage (admonish, exhort) one another and edify (strengthen and build up) one another, just as you are doing, 1 Thessalonians 5:10-11.

In one of two letters to the Church at Thessalonica, Paul reminds Christians of the hope that is in Jesus. Instead of dwelling on the negative side of mankind’s fallen, sinful nature, Paul shifts to the positive. Verses like John 3:16-17 and Romans 5:8, reinforces that Jesus died while we were still sinners. This is the good news of the gospel, 1 John 5:13, providing a reason to celebrate. This is why modern Christians should be comforted, cheerful and encouraged.

by Jay Mankus

Somewhere Between Desperation and Exasperation

My wife Leanne and I attended a new parent class at Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware 23 years ago. This month long class took place shortly before the birth of our oldest son, James. Besides knowing what to expect along the way, these sessions helped us develop a plan as first time parents. Setting goals is a good place to start, but once your child comes home for the hospital and your extended family leaves, most parents go through what I call somewhere between desperation and exasperation.

Thorns and snares are in the way of the obstinate and willful; he who guards himself will be far from them. Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it, Proverbs 22:5-6.

If one of the wisest individuals in the Bible struggled to be a father, imagine how hard it is to raise a child without some sort of support group. According to 1 Kings 11:3, King Solomon married 700 women and had an additional 300 concubines. If you have ever stayed at a hotel where one or two children keep running down the hall without their parents, think of Solomon’s castle full of disgruntled women and undisciplined children. Perhaps, this led Solomon to write the passage above, learning by trial and error to steer his offspring in the right direction.

Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord, Ephesians 6:4.

As James’ 23rd birthday approaches, it’s still just as difficult now for me to be a godly parent. While my two boys have moved on to college and grad school, raising a daughter has been a challenge. Being out of my comfort zone in 2021, I have to watch what I say and how I say it or I exasperate Lydia. The past few months have helped me realize that John Gray was correct: Men are from Mars. Woman are from Venus. As I find myself somewhere between desperation and exasperation, I am leaning on the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so that I can fulfill Proverbs 22:6 before my daughter graduates high school next spring.

by Jay Mankus

Sharpen or Shy Away

King Solomon compares relationships to the work of a blacksmith, Proverbs 27:17. Just as iron sharpens iron so that a farmer’s plow can dig through arid soil, human relationships need the same kind of attention. No one likes their flaws, imperfections, and weaknesses exposed, Romans 3:10-12, but if you want to reach self actualization, this painful process is necessary.

If your brother wrongs you, go and show him his fault, between you and him privately. If he listens to you, you have won back your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take along with you one or two others, so that every word may be confirmed and upheld by the testimony of two or three witnesses, Matthew 18:15-16.

One of Jesus’ disciples builds upon this concept in the context of a church. Whether you are wronged or a friend sins against you, the most mature manner to handle this is to meet privately with this individual. If you do and this person doesn’t listen, bring two responsible believers into this situation. If this rebellious soul isn’t willing to change, take this situation to your church so that a resolution can be found.

If he pays no attention to them [refusing to listen and obey], tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector. 18 Truly I tell you, whatever you forbid and declare to be improper and unlawful on earth must be what is already forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit and declare proper and lawful on earth must be what is already permitted in heaven, Matthew 18:17-18.

Unfortunately, most people shy away from conflict. Instead of being used by God to sharpen one’s faith, wayward offenders become dull, drifting away from God. If you really love someone, correcting and disciplining wrong actions is beneficial for both parties. Thus, each day you have the choice to sharpen or shy away. The next time you have the opportunity to act, remember the words of James 5:20.

by Jay Mankus

Swift Training

The term swift appears 38 times in the Bible. Swift refers to happening quickly or promptly. There are many circumstances in life that pop up without any warning. When you encounter these situations, there is often little or no time to react. Thus, this requires an immediate response, action that is instantaneous, rapid, and without delay. One of the most famous passages on this topic is Numbers 22:22-35, where the Lord allows Balaam’s donkey to talk or else he would have been killed by an angel of death.

Of the Gadites there went over to David to the stronghold in the wilderness men of might, men trained for war who could handle shield and spear, whose faces were like the faces of lions, and who were swift as gazelles on the mountains, 1 Chronicles 12:8.

Swift training often began with soldiers, prior to going off to war each spring, 2 Samuel 11:1. According to the passage above, Old Testament boot camps took place in the wilderness, likely in the desert where there was no snow in the winter. The three main criteria for swift training included handling a shield, spear, and being as quick as a gazelle. What set these individuals apart was an intensity which was on display with a glance at their face, possessing the eye of the tiger.

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol (the place of the dead), where you are going. 11 I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift nor the battle to the strong, neither is bread to the wise nor riches to men of intelligence and understanding nor favor to men of skill; but time and chance happen to them all, Ecclesiastes 9:10-11.

Yet, swift training isn’t limited to soldiers. King Solomon personalizes swift training to all members of the nation of Israel. Similar to the words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 1:5-6, there is an urgency to fan into flames your spiritual gift and talents. It appears that Paul quotes the passage above in Colossians 3:23, a call to put your heart and soul into your best qualities. When you take King Solomon’s words and apply this toward the church, 1 Corinthians 12:6-7, your unique and special gift should be swiftly applied daily.

by Jay Mankus

Terms of the Eternal and Timeless Purpose

Terms are a word or phrase used to describe a thing or to express a concept, especially in a particular kind of language or branch of study. In the context of the Bible, the Old Testament begins with Plan A, B, and C. Genesis begins with the creation of human beings, designed to become stewards of this newly formed planet. However, when this authority over the earth was lost in the Garden of Eden, a new plan was set into motion, Genesis 3:15. Plan B was briefly altered in Genesis 6:13 as God hit the reset button when desecration, a lust for power, and violence spread throughout the world. Plan C was forced to take a detour as well, Genesis 11:3-5 as human motivation did not coincide with the Lord’s grand design.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you [with abundant increase of favors] and make your name famous and distinguished, and you will be a blessing [dispensing good to others]. And I will bless those who bless you [who confer prosperity or happiness upon you] and curse him who curses or uses insolent language toward you; in you will all the families and kindred of the earth be blessed [and by you they will bless themselves], Genesis 12:2-3.

When the dust settled, the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose of God was re-established with Abraham and fulfilled by Jesus, John 3:16-17. However, when you try to understand the countless whys along the way, King Solomon says it best in Ecclesiastes 3:11. “God will make everything beautiful in His time.” Like an artist who spares no expense or time until their work is complete, the apostle Paul details the eternal and timeless purposes in Romans 8:28-29. Each individual life is a blank tapestry, prepared in advance by God, Philippians 1:6, brought to completion as you yield control of your life over to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. As Christians become recreated in Jesus, mindsets change to see yourself as one of God’s works in progress, Ephesians 2:10.

[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere. 11 This is in accordance with the terms of the eternal and timeless purpose which He has realized and carried into effect in [the person of] Christ Jesus our Lord, Ephesians 3:10-11.

Perhaps this explains the words of King Solomon, warning those who try to push God off to the side, Proverbs 19:21. No matter how frustrating it may be, God’s plans don’t always coincide with your heart’s desire, Proverbs 16:9. When your steps are altered, you have to realize that your time table is different from God’s. Like the process of sanctifying grace, this gradual change takes a lifetime to be completed. To follow these terms, perseverance is a necessary attribute if you want to finish what God began in you, Hebrews 12:1. While I don’t always comprehend or understand God’s eternal and timeless purposes, Christians are called to be faithful, not always successive. Whenever you are in this journey called life, make a decision to follow Jesus so you can become all that God wants you to be.

by Jay Mankus

I Owe So Off to Work I Go

The song ” Heigh-Ho ” comes from the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Written by Larry Morey with the melody and music created by Frank Churchill, Heigh-Ho is sung by six of the dwarfs. To pass the time while walking back and forth from work, Heigh-Ho serves as a distraction from the mundane aspects of life. In a recent sermon by Dr. Tony Evans, he put a new spin on this song with a parody entitled, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”

There are precious treasures and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a self-confident and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it, Proverbs 21:20.

The term foolish is used 71 times by King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs. While defining and illustrating wisdom to his sons, foolishness is used as an example of what not to do. In the passage above, Solomon points out that a lack of saving results in poverty. This analogy highlights that fools don’t appreciate what they have, often devouring everything all at once. Thus, unless some form of self-discipline is exercised, foolish choices will lead to debt and poverty.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender, Proverbs 22:7.

One chapter later, Solomon reveals the consequences of poor financial decisions. When individuals don’t pay off their credit cards each month or out spend what they make, you will become a slave to debt. Subsequently, Dr. Evan’s sermon becomes a reality as desperate people are forced to go to work to pay off their car, home, and or school debt. One of the way politicians stay in power is by promising their constituents government handouts. Instead of promoting rugged individualism, lifelong politicians want voters to be in need, a slave to debt, to insure their votes over and over again. Break this habit quickly so that financial freedom is achieved.

by Jay Mankus

Run into the Tower

As a former runner, my high school cross country coach used a series of different techniques to get our team into shape at the beginning of each season. One of my favorites is known as fartlek training. This intermixes walking, jogging, and sprinting. Depending upon the group you were placed in, the leader with a stop watch sets the pace and gives the command to switch every 2 to 5 minutes. Starting with power walking soon transitions into a steady jog until you go all out, as fast as you can go, until this cycle is repeated several times.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong, Proverbs 18:10.

King Solomon uses the Hebrew word לרוץ at the end of the passage above. Solomon could have used הליכה to command his children to walk into God’s strong tower. Another option was to זה מה שאני עושה, by elevating the sense of urgency to a jog. Rather, Solomon doesn’t want people to be apathetic or distracted. Thus, when you find yourself surrounded by a world filled with darkness, run toward to the Lord’s strong and safe tower. This level of urgency is found in those who are upright and in right standing with God.

The rich man’s wealth is his strong city, and as a high protecting wall in his own imagination and conceit, Proverbs 18:11.

Unfortunately, the gifted, talented, and wealthy often exchange God’s tower for a high wall that they build on their own. Solomon compares this type of person with conceited individuals who possess a great imagination. The apostle Paul refers to a similar character flaw in Galatians 6:7. While things may go well for you for a while, those who trust in themselves will eventually become worn out by living outside of God’s strong tower. In view of this spiritual reality, run into God’s tower.

by Jay Mankus

Partners in the Fellowship

The book definition of partner is a person who takes part in an undertaking with another or others, especially in a business or company with shared risks and profits. These relationships are often described as associates, colleagues, or teammates. When partners become intimate, terms such as soul mate are more appropriate as these individuals become focused on a common goal.

So then, those who are people of faith are blessed and made happy and favored by God [as partners in fellowship] with the believing and trusting Abraham, Lamentations 4:10.

Meanwhile, a fellowship is formed when multiple people form a friendly association based upon a shared interest. This joint venture often results in the establishment of a church, a safe place where people of faith can come together to reinforce their biblical beliefs. This is the context of the passage above as Jeremiah refers to the Jewish faith, partners in the fellowship due to their spiritual forefather Abraham.

Two are better than one, because they have a good [more satisfying] reward for their labor; 10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie down together, then they have warmth; but how can one be warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against him who is alone, two will withstand him. A threefold cord is not quickly broken, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12.

King Solomon illustrates the power of partners in the passage above. Solomon highlights the fact that there is power in numbers. Jehan Palsgrave was the first to record the expression “the more the merrier” in 1530. This mindset that the larger the number of participants, the greater the fun applies today in the context of a church. As one body with many parts, 1 Corinthians 12:1-7, with each possessing unique spiritual gifts, officially joining a church makes it possible to become partners in the Fellowship of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

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