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Tag Archives: meditate

The Hunger

Appetites and thirst are an internal signal that our bodies want food and drink.  When it’s hot thirst drives individuals to stay hydrated.  Meanwhile, when you miss a meal, hunger pains may persuade you to binge, raid the refrigerator or order take out to satisfy this desire.  However, God designed human beings with a soul, craving a different kind of hunger.

After He had gone without food for forty days and forty nights, He became hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” But Jesus replied, “It is written and forever remains written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God,’” Matthew 4:2-4.

As Jesus prepared for his three year ministry on earth, a fast was performed to focus solely on God.  In this vulnerable state, the Devil tempted Jesus with food, hoping Jesus’ physical need for food would override his spiritual preparations.  Instead, Jesus reminds the Devil that God desires human beings to meditate on God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:7-8.  While food satisfies the stomach, spiritual nuggets fuel the soul.

For the [pagan] Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; [but do not worry,] for your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also, Matthew 6:32-33.

During a segment on worry, Jesus uses common sense to illustrate how God provides.  This portion of the Sermon on the Mount focuses on the proper attitude individuals should possess.  Instead of being consumed by worry, believers should develop a spiritual hunger for righteousness.  When God and the Bible become your main priority on earth, everything else falls naturally into place.  While hunger pains may come and go, may the hunger for God keep your soul satisfied daily.

by Jay Mankus

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Falling Farther Away

The Freefall is an amusement ride developed by Giovanola. Two generations of this ride were designed and marketed throughout the world by the Swiss company Intamin.  The first series of Freefall rides can be identified by the angled supports at the base of the lift tower.  The second generation were identical, but the tower’s base structure on these variants did not taper outward.  The Freefall ride went out of style near the end of the 1999’s, replaced by new technology such as the Gyro Drop and compressed air tower rides.  What I learned last week is that you don’t have to go to an amusement park to experience falling.

For [it is impossible to restore to repentance] those who have once been enlightened [spiritually] and who have tasted and consciously experienced the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted and consciously experienced the good word of God and the powers of the age (world) to come, and then have fallen away—it is impossible to bring them back again to repentance, since they again nail the Son of God on the cross [for as far as they are concerned, they are treating the death of Christ as if they were not saved by it], and are holding Him up again to public disgrace, Hebrews 6:4-6.

The author of Hebrews suggests that when individuals enter into a personal relationship with God, the Holy Spirit elevates and lifts up your faith.  Spiritual enlightenment gives people access to a heavenly gift, tasting the fruits of the Holy Spirit.  However, if you look back down at your former life, tempted to return, you can expect a great fall.  Modern terminology refers to this as back sliding away from God to indulge in temporary pleasures of the world.  To those who change their course, the passage above compares this behavior to crucifying Jesus on the cross over and over again.  At some point, you have to snap out of this spiritual free fall before its to late.

For if we go on willfully and deliberately sinning after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice [to atone] for our sins [that is, no further offering to anticipate], 27 but a kind of awful and terrifying expectation of [divine] judgment and the fury of a fire and burning wrath which will consume the adversaries [those who put themselves in opposition to God], Hebrews 10:26-27.

Five chapters later, the author of Hebrews unveils the fate of those falling farther away from God.  The imagery above suggests that some people will just barely get into heaven, by the skin of their pants.  Just prior to any spiritual freefall is marked by idleness, a lack of concentration, direction and guidance.  A disciple of Jesus refers to this as lukewarm, losing your love and passion for Jesus.  If believers do not feed and meditate upon the Word of God, it won’t be long before hearts, minds and souls begin to look back, over the edge toward the world.  Jesus compares this behavior to a farmer who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back, Luke 9:62.  If you want to save yourself from anguish, pain and suffering, fix your eyes on Jesus to avoid future free falls, Hebrews 12:1-2.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Opening Your Mind to Understanding the Bible

The element of a person that enables them to become aware of the world and their experiences is the mind. According to a recent study, the average person only uses 10 % of their brain at a time. Thus, human beings are only operating at a tenth of their full potential. In the 2014 film, Scarlett Johansson plays Lucy, a woman who becomes part of a secret case study. After a special drug is created by scientists, this pill enables Lucy’s mind to reach maximum capacity. This movie illustrates what it would be like if human beings could tap into the other 90% of their mind.

Then He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you, everything which has been written about Me in the Law of Moses and the [writings of the] Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled,” Luke 24:44.

During a seven mile walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, Jesus participates in a conversation that transforms the lives of a couple of his disciples. Based upon the context of the passage above, Jesus’ true identity is hidden until reaching Emmaus. Although the time is not mentioned, this discussion likely occurs over several hours, reflecting upon the events of the Passion Week, the final days of Jesus’ earthly life prior to his resurrection. Apparently, Jesus makes these men think, quoting Moses, Old Testament prophets and the book of Psalms. By the time this conversation concludes, minds are opened to fully understanding the Bible.

Then He opened their minds to [help them] understand the Scriptures, Luke 24:45.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in several of his letters to first century Christians. Paul encourages the church at Rome to renew their minds by meditating upon the Scriptures, Romans 12:1-2. To those in Colosse, Paul focuses on setting minds on things above. The context refers to putting to death your sinful nature by setting your mind on eternal causes, Colossians 3:1-17. Perhaps, Paul borrowed this from Joshua who urged the nation of Israel to mediate on God’s Word day and night. As modern individuals emulate this ancient practice, you too can have your mind opened up to the full meaning of the Holy Bible. May this blog inspire you to begin your own journey into examining and studying the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

The Protector of the Soul

A soul is the essence of who you are as a human being. Others compare this to an emotional sense able to serve as a moral compass. Synonyms include ego, psyche and spirit. This embodiment takes on a persona of it’s own based upon the decisions that you make in life.

You who love the Lord, hate evil; He protects the souls of His godly ones (believers), He rescues them from the hand of the wicked, Psalm 97:10.

According to the Psalmist, the Lord is the protector of souls. However, there is a prerequisite, a set of guidelines to ensure your own safety. The first is common sense, love the Lord and hate evil. This is accomplished through making godly choices by listening to convictions. As individuals follow the light, that which is right, darkness is exposed sharpening one’s conscience.

Light is sown [like seed] for the righteous and illuminates their path,
And [irrepressible] joy [is spread] for the upright in heart [who delight in His favor and protection], Psalm 97:11.

The Psalmist uses an analogy of a seed which is dependent upon light and water to grow. Based upon the context above, the seed for righteousness is the Word of God. As souls meditate on the principles within the Bible day and night, Joshua 1:8, an irrepressible joy is found. For those who hide God’s Word in their heart, favor is secured by the protector of souls.

by Jay Mankus

Seeing God

My first exposure to the true meaning in the Bible came through two college courses.  Biblical and Classical Literature began by reading all 66 books of the Bible and ended with several classics like Beowulf.  My second class, the Bible as Literature wasn’t as interesting.  While examining the symbolism of the Bible with other ancient stories was educational, I don’t think my college professor went to seminary.  These experiences taught me not to read too much into literature.  Rather, take each piece in its original historical context.  Perhaps, this may explain why Joshua urged readers of the Bible to meditate on God’s laws day and night so that important details are not missed or neglected.

“Blessed [anticipating God’s presence, spiritually mature] are the pure in heart [those with integrity, moral courage, and godly character], for they will see God,” Matthew 5:8.

In the first century, a spiritual leader entered the scene as a vivid story teller, using analogies called parables to captivate an audience.  In the passage above, Jesus lists a series of beatitudes.  According to Jesus, any individual who pursues these spiritual ambitions will be blessed by God.  If anyone wants to develop a pure heart, three traits are necessary: godly character, integrity and moral courage.  These values are a mindset, steps toward becoming spiritually mature.  For those who stay the course, seeing God work in your life won’t be a concept that you read in a book.  Rather, your eyes will be opened to the movement of the Holy Spirit altering, changing and transforming your life.

Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is, 1 John 3:2.

A disciple of Jesus makes an interesting connection in the passage above.  As children, babies cling to their parents, relying on their mother’s milk for food and father’s leadership for direction.  Jesus welcomed little children in his ministry, eager to bless, hold and interact with them.  Yet, when children grow up, innocence is lost as negative adults begin to verbally squash a teenager’s dreams.  John tells first century adults to live in anticipation of God’s promises in the Bible.  Live by faith like children expecting to walk hand and hand with God in heaven.  The key to making this a reality is developing a pure heart.  As hearts become aligned with God’s will, you will see God move in America.

by Jay Mankus

You Might Want to Check This Out

Whenever a student enters their first semester of high school or college, transitioning to this next level can be difficult.  Some professors and teachers understand this, providing subtle hints during lectures.  The more serious might exclaim, “what aren’t you writing this down.”  Meanwhile, savvy veterans tend to be more entertaining, coughing in gest “this seems like a good test question,” winking to anyone paying attention.  Ultimately, I learned that anytime facts, information or statistics were repeated, it was something I should definitely study.

If your hand causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It is better for you to enter life crippled, than to have two hands and go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, 44 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:43-44.

During a first century speech to his disciples, Jesus repeats the same sentence almost verbatim three times.  The subtext above this passage in my Bible reads Dire Warnings,  I don’t mean to be Captain Obvious, but you might want to check into this beginning with Mark 9:44.  Since the previous verse mentions hell, this statement refers to an eternal reality.  From a literal stand point, Jesus highlights a constant gnawing on human flesh in a place without any escape from fire.  Jesus’ dire warning is to scare souls straight from this state of eternal suffering.

If your foot causes you to stumble and sin, cut it off [that is, remove yourself from the source of temptation]! It would be better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and be thrown into hell, 46 [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not put out.] – Mark 9:45-46

Jesus’ advice to avoid this destination is through the Old Testament practice of purging.  While Jesus isn’t telling people to physical remove parts of your body, the actual call to action refers to removing the source of temptation within your life.  For an alcoholic its getting rid of any beverages that might cause you to stumble.  Those addicted to pornographic must place filters on computers, cancel mail subscriptions and remove all magazines that promotes lust.  Everyone has a weakness.  There is no such thing as a superman or super woman.  Rather, each must meditate, pray and act immediately upon conviction so that any traces of temptation are removed.  May you be successful in this constant battle to avoid the wrong eternal destination.

by Jay Mankus

 

A Faith Without Hesitation

In 1985 Michael J. Fox plays Marty McFly, a high school student who becomes friends with a mad scientist played by Christopher Lloyd.  When Doc Brown creates a time machine out of a Delorean, Michael J. Fox races into the past to save his friends life in Back to the Future.  When his interactions alter the course of his families history, Marty has to convince his father George who is a teenager at the time to ask his mother Lorraine to the dance where they first kissed.  After a band member gets hurt, Marty steps in to set the mood so that this moment occurs.  Before leaving to return to the future, Marty shares a song that hadn’t been introduced to this generation, referring to this as an oldie, but goodie.

I assure you and most solemnly say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone [just one grain, never more]. But if it dies, it produces much grain and yields a harvest, John 12:24.

One of Jesus’ disciples recalls a special message within his gospel.  During Passion Week, Jesus’ final week on earth before suffering, dying on a cross and rising again, the passage above was first spoken.  Jesus is providing a foreshadowing of his future fate.  While the disciples were oblivious to this comment at the time, Jesus knew this was his destiny, John 3:16-17.  Just as a grain of wheat must die to yield a harvest, the son of God paid the price for all of mankind’s sin, Colossians 2:13-15.  This is a promise for all generations.

The one who loves his life [eventually] loses it [through death], but the one who hates his life in this world [and is concerned with pleasing God] will keep it for life eternal. 26 If anyone serves Me, he must [continue to faithfully] follow Me [without hesitation, holding steadfastly to Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]; and wherever I am [in heaven’s glory], there will My servant be also. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him, John 12:25-26.

In the passage above, Jesus explains the way to eternal life.  However, this theory goes against what people are taught, from early education to pursuing a career.  Like the line in the movie Cars “turn right to go left,” Jesus proclaims those who hate life on earth will keep it in heaven.  Initially, this concept is hard to grasp.  Yet, as you meditate, pondering these words, its clear you have to give before you receive.  Until you develop a servant’s heart, putting others before yourself, human nature will pull you toward pleasing your selfish desires.  Thus, as Easter Sunday approaches, may you long for a faith without hesitation, holding steadfast to God’s promises in the Bible no matter what happens in this life.

by Jay Mankus

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