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Tag Archives: mind

Don’t Overlook God’s Providence

Immediately following the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites fled into the desert.  When Pharaoh changed his mind, Moses led God’s people to the banks of the Red Sea.  Against all odds, the Lord enabled Moses to part this body of water before collapsing upon and swallowing up the Egyptian army.  After witnessing this miracle, any event that follows would be obscure.  Thus, when God magically sent bread, manna from heaven, the Jews slowly began to overlook the obvious.

And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the Israelites no longer had manna, but they ate some of the produce of the land of Canaan during that year, Joshua 5:12.

Like any human being, time has a way of changing your perspective.  Initial awe, excitement and joy can fade when everything that follows is small in comparison.  Perhaps, this explains Jesus comment to one if his disciples, “blessed are those do not see me yet believe.”  The testimony of followers of Jesus immediately following his resurrection should have been enough.  Yet, doubt prevented Thomas from believing, needing to see with his own eyes.  When you live with a miracle worker every day for three years, at some point you begin to over look the obvious, expecting greater things.

Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me],” John 20:29.

As holiday shoppers rush through life to get their Christmas preparations in order, it’s hard to keep track of daily mundane responsibilities.  Meanwhile, subtle miracles are glanced over as God provides this or that without any praise or thanks.  Unfortunately, I tend to be the type of person who allows themselves to be pushed to the limit, on the verge of mental exhaustion weekly.  Thus, instead of seeing subtle signs of God’s providence, I have ignored the obvious.  I guess I need to follow the advice of the Psalmist by being still before God, Psalm 46:10.  When you do, you will stop overlooking the obvious by observing the hand of God over your life.

by Jay Mankus

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When God Has a Change in Plans

Back in 2016, I had emergency eye surgery in my right eye to prevent glaucoma from escalating.  After this operation, my surgeon informed me of a cataract that would need to be addressed in the future.  The initial goal was to wait a year then have cataract surgery.  However, this got pushed back until yesterday or least that’s what I thought.  When my blood pressure went from 130 over 80 Tuesday morning to 177 over 130 Thursday morning, God had a change of plans.  This procedure that involved six months of planning was abruptly cancelled.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

The older I get, the more analytical I become, pondering the reason for this delay.  Could I have died during this operation?  Did God prevent an accident from occurring?  Can God heal my eye supernaturally foregoing the need for this procedure?  Or did God want me to become painfully aware of a more pressing health need in my life?  As I ask these questions to God, I am still awaiting a clear response.  Nonetheless, King Solomon prepared the nation of Israel by warning people of God’s ability to alter, change or redirect your path.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand, Proverbs 19:21.

Currently, I find myself perplexed, essentially placed on bed rest until my blood pressure returns to a more normal level.  A few weeks before my senior year of college began, I broke my foot playing sand volleyball.  Instead of enjoying the final weeks of summer, I laid in bed, elevating my foot to reduce the swelling.  Five years ago a sledding accident resulted in 2 broken ribs and a collapsed lung, forced to take a medical leave of absence from work for five weeks.  When God quickly changes your plans, it’s not fun.  Yet, as I lie around in bed for a few days, I have time to reflect.  As I do, this is God’s way of reintroducing me to his plans, not mine.  Thus, I sit here quietly, listening intently and writing down for others in a blog what I am learning as I go through this tryin time in life.

by Jay Mankus

God is Watching Over You

If anyone had a reason to doubt and question God, it was Job, a character in one of the oldest books of the Bible.  After his children died in a storm similar to a tornado, Job contracted boils all over his body.  Old Testament rationale associated the bad things that happened to individuals as a sign of punishment from God.  Thus, as bystanders stood by watching the trials that besieged Job, even three of Job’s best friends began to doubt his innocence.

“Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a ruler or a teacher like Him?” – Job 36:22

Feeling abandoned, one thought came to Job’s mind, God is watching over you.  While Job’s wife wanted him to curse God and die, his years of spending time with God enabled common sense to prevail.  Just as Jacob physically wrestled with God, Job struggled to comprehend what was happening to him.  This spiritual tussle inspired Job to record these events within an Old Testament book.  The worse things get in life, God has a way of humbling people to the point desperately trusting the Lord with your heart, soul and mind.

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps Israel.  Will neither slumber [briefly] nor sleep [soundly].  The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand, Psalm 121:3-5.

The Psalmist describes how God specifically watches over human beings.  Shepherds gave thanks for not twisting their ankle despite walking along rocky terrain.  Meanwhile, others sang about God’s never ending protection, watching over us like the old Bette Midler song From a Distance.  Finally, God is like a keeper, a shepherd guiding sheep around danger, a shade of protection in times of trouble.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in the midst of adversity, remember the invisible guardian in the heavens above who is watching over you and me.

by Jay Mankus

Tasteless

Shortly after I got married, I began to play disc golf regularly.  During a round at Brandywine Creek State Park, my friend Dave and I threw a couple of discs into high grass.  Prior to the rise in Lyme Disease cases, checking for ticks never entered my mind.  Oddly enough, each of us contracted this debilitating condition.  While on vacation in Montana, my skin revealed the classic bullet, an obvious sign of Lyme Disease.  Unfortunately, Dave’s condition went undiagnosed for months.  Although Dave eventually recovered, he permanently lost his sense of taste.

“Therefore, salt is good; but if salt has become tasteless, with what will it be seasoned? – Luke 14:34

A first century doctor refers to a spiritual condition in the passage above.  Jesus uses the analogy of expired salt to illustrate this point.  Tasteless salt is similar to a Christian who does not practice the principles of the Bible.  According to Jesus, disciples should add spiritual flavor to the lives of outsiders, those unfamiliar with the concept of Christianity.  When believers blend into the world like chameleons, Jesus refers to these individuals as tasteless.

It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown away. He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words,” Luke 14:35.

Sometimes the truth hurts, especially when you are called out by a co-worker, friend or mentor.  In this case, unsalted Christians are useless, like trash needing to be thrown away.  When joking around with my sons, my video game skills are often described as trash.  Since I know this to be true, rarely practicing, I can laugh along with my children.  However, when Jesus calls lukewarm believers tasteless and trash, this is no laughing matter.  If this blog finds you struggling and unproductive in your faith, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to refuel by studying the Bible daily, praying and seeking to worship God seven days a week.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus’ Goal

 

When modern writers recount the first century life of Jesus, the human side of Jesus is often neglected.  According to the author of a New Testament book, Jesus is able to sympathize with and understands temptation and human weaknesses.  Hebrews 4:15-16 details how Jesus was tempted in every way just as individuals are today, yet did not sin.  Despite possessing emotional, mental and physical urges, Jesus never lost sight of his goal.

And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox [that sly, cowardly man], ‘Listen carefully: I cast out demons and perform healings today and tomorrow, and on the third day I reach My goal,’ Luke 13:32.

During a heated exchange with Pharisees, a few disgruntled religious leaders spilled the beans, Herod Antipas wanted to kill Jesus.  This plot was not hidden from Jesus, aware from the very beginning of the fate that he must endure.  In response to this warning, Jesus tells these Pharisees to give Herod a message.  The phrase third day could have duel meanings, I’ll be arriving in three days after confronting demons and healing those possessed.  Or the third day serves as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ resurrection following his death on a cross.

Nevertheless I must travel on today and tomorrow and the day after that—for it cannot be that a prophet would die outside of Jerusalem. 34 [O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones [to death] those [messengers] who are sent to her [by God]! How often I have wanted to gather your children together [around Me], just as a hen gathers her young under her wings, but you were not willing! – Luke 13:33-34

The closer Jesus got to Jerusalem, the more sentimental he became, broken inside by the masses who would soon cheer for his crucifixion.  Knowing the future is like a double edged sword, a powerful tool to have, but painful, unable to stop that which was destined to be.  Nonetheless, as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest, Jesus foregoes any thoughts for self preservation by yielding to God’s will, Matthew 26:39.  Jesus’ ultimate goal is clear, “seek and to save that which was lost,” Luke 19:10 by dying and rising from the dead.  May the Holy Spirit speak to your heart so that you too may know your purpose for being born.

by Jay Mankus

Forcing Aside Unbelief

As a former teacher, there is nothing like a great open ended question to promote discussion.  Unfortunately, peer pressure deters many from asking the thought on their mind, afraid of what others may think.  When Jesus visited an obscure town during the first century, an un-named person was not denied, eager to discover if it’s possible to escape God’s judgment and wrath.

And someone asked Him, “Lord, will only a few be saved [from the penalties of the last judgment]?” And He said to them, Luke 13:23.

Jesus responds with an interesting comment in the passage below.  The two greatest obstacles to human beings is unbelief and the attractive nature of sin.  My initial response was Jesus has it backwards, the attraction to temptation should be first.  Yet, based upon the order, unbelief is the reason why people give into and indulge sinful desires.  Thus, Jesus urged this audience to force aside unbelief.

“Strive to enter through the narrow door [force aside unbelief and the attractions of sin]; for many, I tell you, will try to enter [by their own works] and will not be able,” Luke 13:24.

Based upon the content of 1 John 2:15-17, Jesus taught his disciples the importance of fellowship.  When you have fellowship with God, communing in prayer, study and worship, spiritual light in the form of right and wrong will be revealed to you.  However, if you participate in fellowship with the world, unbelief will open your eyes to lust and sensual cravings of the flesh.  Therefore, unless you force aside unbelief via the Holy Spirit, you will be vulnerable to the attractions of sin.  May this blog inspire you to seek the narrow path, Matthew 7:13-14.

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

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