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When You Can’t Be Trusted

When I was in first grade, I spent a week at my Uncle Eddy’s beach house. Each night my whole family walked to a local ice cream parlor for dessert. On one of our last nights there, I begged my parents to allow me to carry the money. At this time in history, $10 was enough to buy a family of five a waffle cone. I don’t remember if I had a hole in my pocket or simply dropped this bill along the way. Whatever happened, I lost the money and lost the trust of my family on the same night.

He who is faithful in a very little [thing] is faithful also in much, and he who is dishonest and unjust in a very little [thing] is dishonest and unjust also in much. 11 Therefore if you have not been faithful in the [case of] unrighteous mammon (deceitful riches, money, possessions), who will entrust to you the true riches? 12 And if you have not proved faithful in that which belongs to another [whether God or man], who will give you that which is your own [that is, the true riches]? – Luke 16:10-12

One of Jesus’ most famous stories is the Parable of the Talents, Matthew 25:14-30. This is just one of a series of parables that Jesus shares to illustrate what the kingdom of heaven will be like. Meanwhile, Luke records the Parable of the Shrewd Manager. The latter story refers to an individual who had let things slide over time. Like a business on the verge of bankruptcy, this man is forced to act swiftly before losing everything. The moral of this parable is if you can’t be trusted in the little things, God won’t trust you with greater responsibilities in this life.

And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, Master, you entrusted two talents to me; here I have gained two talents more. 23 His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [e]blessedness) which your master enjoys. 24 He who had received one talent also came forward, saying, Master, I knew you to be a harsh and hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you had not winnowed [the grain]. 25 So I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is your own, Matthew 25:22-25.

The Parable of the Talents is based upon integrity, doing what’s right when no one is looking. Three servants are left in charge of their master’s finances while he is away, not given a specific time table of his return. While a silver talent is equivalent to  $3,924 and a gold talent $228,900, the point of this story is to seize each day on earth by using your God given gifts. If you are wasting these talents or afraid to fail, this is when God will lose faith in you. Since it’s never too late to change, fan into flame your God given gifts today, 2 Timothy 1:6, before the Lord calls you home.

by Jay Mankus

The Counterfeit Idol

Idols are an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. This person or thing is greatly admired, loved, or revered. Meanwhile, counterfeits are made in exact imitation of something valuable or important with the intention to deceive or defraud others. In the manufacturing world, counterfeiters have become masters at making duplicates of high end products that appear to be authentic.

Then He told them a parable, saying, The land of a rich man was fertile and yielded plentifully. 17 And he considered and debated within himself, What shall I do? I have no place [in which] to gather together my harvest. 18 And he said, I will do this: I will pull down my storehouses and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain or produce and my goods. 19 And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many good things laid up, [enough] for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself merrily, Luke 12:16-19.

From a biblical perspective, Jesus conveys a parable that opens up conversation for a counterfeit idol. Whenever an individual through dedication and hard work builds a successful business, there is a temptation to ease up by relying on past performances. While money in itself is not bad, the love of money is the root of all evil, 1 Timothy 6:10. Jesus warns about allowing money to darken your soul, Matthew 6:19-24.

But God said to him, You fool! This very night they [the messengers of God] will demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be? 21 So it is with the one who continues to lay up and hoard possessions for himself and is not rich [in his relation] to God [this is how he fares]. 22 And [Jesus] said to His disciples, Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious and troubled [with cares] about your life, as to what you will [have to] eat; or about your body, as to what you will [have to] wear. 23 For life is more than food, and the body [more] than clothes. 24 Observe and consider the ravens; for they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn; and [yet] God feeds them. Of how much more worth are you than the birds! – Luke 12:20-24

When greed takes over someone’s life, minds are blinded by the source of all wealth, Malachi 3:9-10. Instead of solely trusting God to provide, Proverbs 3:5-6, greed makes someone believe that they can make money on their own. If success continues, greed becomes the counterfeit idol, feeding the cravings of those hungry for control, money and power. “If your body has been infiltrated by darkness, how great is that darkness,” Matthew 6:23. This is what makes greed the counterfeit idol. Let the light of God’s Word expose this darkness.

by Jay Mankus

Buyer’s Remorse

An impulse purchase can lead to a feeling of regret, typically one regarded as unnecessary or extravagant. The car you always wanted, the cell phone to keep up with the Joneses or the dream property where you want to retire. This second guessing often comes back to a lack of money, buying something that you feel like you deserve, yet can’t afford.

And after they had gone out, they said to one another, This man is doing nothing deserving of death or [even] of imprisonment. And Agrippa said to Festus, This man could have been set at liberty if he had not appealed to Caesar, Acts 26:31-32.

Buyer’s remorse may cross over into poor decision’s that you have made in the past. When the apostle Paul’s trial was on the verge of being held in Jerusalem in front of a biased Jewish court, Paul appealed to Caesar as a citizen of Rome. While this decision seemed logical at the time, Paul would have been set free after King Agrippa heard Paul’s testimony.

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

Buyer’s remorse can also be a sign of conviction, a way of God leading you back to where you need to be spiritually. As much as I hate to admit it, many of the things that I desire and plan for are far from the Lord’s will. Just as King Solomon wrote in the passage above, what you think in your mind often strays from the Lord’s purpose. Thus, I must confess that buyer’s remorse exposes earthly treasures as temporary pleasures that do not satisfy human souls. May this blog inspire you to seek things above to avoid future bouts with buyer’s remorse.

by Jay Mankus

The Disappearance of Praise

In this progressive age, claiming there is only one God is unacceptable. Anyone who celebrates, embraces or promotes Christianity is often stigmatized. Those who hold Judeo Christian values are often labeled bigots, homophobes or racists by members of the media who subscribe to post-modernism. Perhaps, this may be a major factor to the disappearance of praise.

Then he seized the man’s right hand with a firm grip and raised him up. And at once his feet and ankles became strong and steady, and with a leap he stood up and began to walk; and he went into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God; Acts 3:7-9.

During the first century, encountering beggars was not uncommon. Just as busy street corners today attract individuals searching for some spare change, the crippled, lame and poor were waiting for a handout. Sitting outside the temple gates, one man wanted money but received something far greater, the ability to walk. When observers realized this man had been healed, everyone began to praise the Lord.

And they recognized him as the very man who usually sat begging for coins at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with wonder and amazement and were mystified at what had happened to him, Acts 3:10.

Despite giving God the credit for healing this crippled man, negativity has gradually drown out praise. Instead of focusing on the positive by thanking God for the little things, human beings have been stirred into a tizzy by social media. Others remain mystified, confused by how God can heal one person while bad things continue to happen to good people. This painful reality likely hushes the degree and volume of praise. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I pray that public praise for God will make a revival again.

by Jay Mankus

Past Due

The phrase past due is an accounting term that refers to past the date on which a payment should have been made.  Those notices appear in the mail or as an email to warn customers of their violation.  This reminder is like a courtesy call, a method to encourage individuals to immediately pay the amount owed.  Yet, money is not the only that is past due.

With my mouth I will give great thanks to the Lord; I will praise him in the midst of the throng, Psalm 109:30.

The most obvious past due response is thanks.  While American’s celebrate Thanksgiving every November, I often forget to thank the people who have helped me along the way.  Giving thanks shouldn’t be just an annual event.  Rather, thanksgiving should be a daily practice, slowing down enough to verbally share how much you appreciate your friends, family and co-workers.  Similar to Billy Joel’s song Honesty, thanksgiving can be such a lonely word.

Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name, Hebrews 13:15.

The second response that is past due is praise.  The Psalmist suggests that human beings were created to praise God, Psalm 150.  Prior to entering into a relationship with God, Romans 10:9-10, I was selfish and self-seeking.  Yet, when Jesus came into my life, I began to see the connection between blessings and God, James 1:17.  The earthly brother of Jesus wrote about this claiming that every good and perfect thing on earth comes down from heaven.  Although money may get the most attention in life, don’t forget to praise and thank God this holiday season.

by Jay Mankus

 

What Do You Value…Show Me Your Money

Rod Tidwell is a fictional character played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire.  Tidwell is a veteran wide receiver in the National Football League who is about to become a free agent, looking for one final contract to secure his families financial security.  Tom Cruise plays a hot shot sports agent who is fired from the firm he helped built.  Thus, Cruise is left with one client, Tidwell, whose main request is “show me the money.”

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for [the hands of] the righteous, Proverbs 13.22.

As part of a small group Bible Study, my wife and I have to create a detailed budget to track where our money is being spent.  Upon completion, this spreadsheet will reveal what each of us value in life.  While the majority of our paychecks are spent on a mortgage, food and utilities, other interests will be unveiled by previous expenses.  I am not sure what the final results will uncover, but I am sure there are areas like fast food and golf that need to be reduced in the future.

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.  The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender, Proverbs 22:6-7.

According to the Bible, King Solomon is one of the richest and wisest to walk the face of the earth.  Thus, as this man shares some advice about financial matters in the passages above, its important to reflect upon this information.  Solomon places an emphasis on leaving a financial legacy for your children and grandchildren.  As this process is ongoing, Solomon urges individuals to educate your children about money.  Whether this is through allowances, chores or saving money, these practices help shape what your offspring value in life.  In other words, Solomon is asking what do you value?   If you want to know, show your spouse where your money is being spent.

by Jay Mankus

Let the Weeding Begin

 

Unless you love a freshly manicured yard or need the money, not many people get excited about doing yard work.  Beside heat and humidity, keeping up with rampant weeds that overtake a garden can be demoralizing.  You may spend an entire weekend pulling up every invasive plant only to see others re-emerge in it’s place a few days later.  While using weed killer products like Roundup is an option, most of the modern products are so watered down that there isn’t enough chemicals inside to permanent remove these nuisances of the neighborhood.

The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil, Matthew 13:41.

Jesus introduces an new concept of weeding during a private meeting with his disciples.  Unable to figure out the meaning of the Parable of the Weeds, Jesus begins to reveal the symbolism of this story.  According to the passage above, at the end of this age Jesus will command the angels to weed out all negative influences on earth.  These forces are demonic, evil and unruly spirits who have led astray willing participants.  Unfortunately, this process won’t begin until Jesus’ second coming, leaving vessels of the Devil that create chaos.  This dark power eventually filled Stephen Paddock, taking the lives of 58 innocent victims.

Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work, 2 Timothy 2:21.

While individuals wait for the weeding to begin, many people like me have a lot to clean up.  Time, weariness and unkempt souls have led everyone to do something dishonorable.  Although these actions vary in degree, hearts should develop a sense of urgency to get right with God.  Instead of judging others, perhaps a little soul searching may reveal areas of decay in desperate need of healing.  Therefore, as evil continues to flourish, it’s time to commence your own spiritual weeding so that through the Holy Spirit you will become an honorable vessel ready to serve your Creator.  Let the weeding begin.

by Jay Mankus

 

Pierced with Many Griefs

The term pierce refers to a foreign object which accesses, enters or penetrates someone’s body.  This can be by choice for those who enjoy earrings or nose rings.  Meanwhile, sometimes piercings can occur without your permission, unexpected and without warning.  This is what the apostle Paul refers to as being pierced with many griefs.

For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs, 1 Timothy 6:10.

If every day is like a box of chocolates without any labels, nobody knows for sure what you are going to bite into and taste.  Therefore, preparations must be made to guard yourself against invisible piercings to your soul.  According to the passage above, contentment is a good place to start.  This should prevent individuals from the love of money which causes people to lose sight of the giver of life.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows, James 1:17.

When you don’t get the results that you want in life, disappointment can be like a blow to the stomach, knocking the wind out of you.  While the unfortunate are often stuck in misery.  The influential, powerful or wealthy tend to purchase the outcome that they want.  Perhaps this is the root of all evil, especially when people attempt to supersede the will of God.  Whatever the apostle Paul means by this verse in the Bible, don’t forget to ask the Lord for strength when the piercing of many griefs come knocking on your door.

by Jay Mankus

You Have to Seek Before You Can Peak

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s San Bernardino shooting leaving 14 dead and another 21 others wounded, responses poured out in the form of thoughts and prayers.  As 2016 Republican Presidential candidates turned to God for help, democratic leaders used this tragedy to drum up support for gun control and the elimination of the second amendment.  Perhaps, this political difference caused a New York journalist to write, “God isn’t fixing this.”  Unfortunately, the author of this quote doesn’t know one of the most basic Bible principles, you have to seek before you can peak ahead.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well, Matthew 6:33.

During one of the most famous sermons ever recorded, Jesus spends a chapter in Matthew 6 explaining the concept of spiritual etiquette.  Like the present, first century inhabitants were searching for results as well as credit once things improved.  Thus, Jesus brings up proper and improper attitudes and motives.  Listing a few current examples, Jesus exposes the impure.  Essentially, Jesus suggests that prayer, fasting and money won’t change you current situation.  Rather, as soon as individuals make the decision to seek God first, everything else will begin to fall into place within this life.

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own, Matthew 6:34.

Unfortunately, the Name and Claim It Crowd, also known as the Prosperity Gospel, have overlooked one crucial word, righteousness.  God’s nature can not exist without it.  Thus, as Christians leave a negative imprint on society, members of the media are doubting the Lord’s ability to fix America’s decaying morality.  True progress lies in an unswerving devotion to trust God for daily bread, basic essentials to survive.  While this mental state is possible to achieve, few have the faith to endure the storms of life.  Therefore, the next time someone tries to limit God’s power, remember you have to seek before you can peek at the blessings the Lord has in store for you in the future, Proverbs 3:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

How Do You Make Money Last?

One of the most famous passages in the Bible pertaining to money is found in 2 Kings.  An apprentice of Elisha dies, leaving behind a widow and two sons in debt.  As creditors are eager to collect the overdue interest, this woman seeks out wisdom from the prophets.  Probably feeling foolish initially, she follows their directions, filling up jars of oil one at a time.  In fact based upon Elisha’s words, this oil would flow until she ran out of jars.  Although not money, the Lord supernaturally provided oil until her debts were paid off in full.

When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing, 2 Kings 4:6.

My grandmother possessed similar wisdom as an immigrant to this country.  A survivor of World War II, she displayed frugality to her children despite how strange it may appear to today.  First, she placed plastic over every couch, sofa and mattress to ensure it would last.  Second, each spring she planted a large garden on the side of the house to lessen the cost of groceries.  Finally, to avoid going into debt, she opted to walk to work rather than drive a car, finding a nursing position at a hospital in town.  Looking back, my grandmother was the queen of stretching money as far as it could go.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it, Malachi 3:10.

Today, the times may not be as bleak, yet expenses continue to mount.  Added necessities such as cell phone bills, cable, the internet and insurances tend to suck up monthly pay checks before you or a savings account has a chance to enjoy it.  Subsequently, budgets are created to promote discipline and good spending habits.  Yet, even this can’t make money last.  Beside finding the dream job or a position with ample pay, the answer lies in the principle of tithing.  Somehow and someway, as individuals begin to give back to God the first fruits He deserves, an unexplainable miracle occurs, God provides.  Whatever your financial situation may be, may God reveal to you storehouses in heaven as you fully tithe.

by Jay Mankus

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