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Blessed More than Ever Before

Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount with the Beatitudes. These attitudes to strive for while on earth each begin with the word blessed. Jesus suggests that those who demonstrate or possess these qualities will be filled with peace and prosperity. These 9 traits are realistic goals depending upon your DNA and personality type. However, you won’t have every spiritual gift mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:1-11. Nonetheless, once these hidden talents are revealed to you, blessings come as these gifts are put into action, 2 Timothy 1:6.

Do not gather and heap up and store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust and worm consume and destroy, and where thieves break through and steal. 20 But gather and heap up and store for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust nor worm consume and destroy, and where thieves do not break through and steal; 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also, Matthew 6:19-21.

In the second chapter of his sermon, Jesus turns his attention toward motives. While probing human hearts, Jesus calls his followers to look inward to examine where you stand. Using treasures in the context of priorities, Jesus wants to know if your focus is on the eternal or temporary? Jesus suggests if your heart is in the right spot, the Lord will provide everything you need for life, Matthew 6:33. However, if you are distracted by fame, fortune or temporary pleasures, blessings will be replaced with a spirit of emptiness.

Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it, Malachi 3:8-10.

An Old Testament prophet adds a new dimension to the source of blessings. According to Malachi, blessings are directly linked to the tithe individuals give to their local church. Those who withhold their income by giving less than ten percent of their salary will experience limited blessings. Malachi refers to this lack of trust as a way people defraud God. However, if you come to a point in your life when you acknowledge that everything you have is a gift from God, hearts are drawn toward tithing. Therefore, if you want to see the storehouses in heaven open up before your very eyes, make 2021 the year you began giving back to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Freedom, Frustration and Finality

In that day you will not [need to] ask Me about anything. I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name [as My representative], He will give you. 24 Until now you have not asked [the Father] for anything in My name; but now ask and keep on asking and you will receive, so that your joy may be full and complete, John 16:23-24.

One of the biblical definitions of freewill is the freedom to use a created will as a moral agent. For example, listen to what Jesus says about prayer in the passage above. Prior to the Holy Spirit, the disciples weren’t able tap into the power of prayer. Jesus makes the assumption that you don’t have because you haven’t asked. Perhaps, the prayer lives of these godly men had become bland, generic and stale, void of any specific requests.

You are jealous and covet [what others have] and your lust goes unfulfilled; so you murder. You are envious and cannot obtain [the object of your envy]; so you fight and battle. You do not have because you do not ask [it of God]. You ask [God for something] and do not receive it, because you ask with wrong motives [out of selfishness or with an unrighteous agenda], so that [when you get what you want] you may spend it on your [hedonistic] desires, James 4:2-3.

However, there is a catch. When you do offer up prayer requests to God, you may possess impure motives. The earthly brother of Jesus refers to agendas not of God which are denied. Thus, if you treat prayer as a wish list for self-promotion, unanswered prayers will follow. Being rejected by God will result in frustration, especially if you think the content of your prayers are offered up with a sincere heart. The only other logical explanation for unfilled prayers are aspirations, dreams and goals that don’t align with God’s will.

And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup [of divine wrath] from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done,” Luke 22:41-42.

An hour before his betrayal, Jesus cries out to his heavenly father, overcome by anguish and stress. This prayer is mentioned by each of the gospel authors. The interesting aspect of this prayer is that as time passes Jesus moves from freedom to frustration toward finality. Jesus begins by asking, “if it’s possible take this cup, your will from me.” Reflecting upon his words, Jesus alters his request to include “not mine but your will be done.” Before completing his prayer, Jesus accepts his fate, surrendering to God with the words, “thy will be done.” May Jesus’ prayer help you to transition from frustration toward finality by embracing God’s will for your life.

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

A Pedestal of Disappointment

There are certain individuals which possess gravitas, tempting family, friends and followers to place them up on a pedestal.  These dynamics personalities make it hard not to jump on the bandwagon as some become held in high regards as a cultural hero.  However, when you choose to place someone up on a pedestal, its a matter of time before you will experience disappointment.

According to Romans 3:23, no one is perfect.  Regardless of your efforts and motives, sooner or later will you fail, mess up or make a mistake.  This blunder often shatters the image of your fans, causing many to jump ship.  In the aftermath of sin, its difficult to come with terms with the failures of leaders.  The painful reality of this disappointment will make you think twice before placing another treasured soul on a pedestal.

The relational aspect of life makes people vulnerable to pain.  Perhaps, a growing number of adults are forgoing marriage to avoid the heartbreak of unfilled vows.  While you may believe this is a good idea, there is only One who is worth placing up on a pedestal, Hebrews 4:14-16.  Don’t blame the creator for imperfect people.  Rather, lift up the only One who is worthy to be praised, Romans 5:8.

by Jay Mankus

 

Ride Forth in Victory

Like the classic Queen song, We are the Champions, the thrill of victory is much sweeter than dealing with loss.  During my first season of coaching high school golf, I started 4-0 and finished 0-6.  Eight years later I saw an 8-1 team on the verge of making states, collapse down the stretch, going 1-5-1 missing states by a few percentage points.  While achieving victory on earth varies from person to person, you can ride forth in victory with confidence spiritually, 1 John 5:13.

According to the sons of Korah, 3 things as essential to secure victory, Psalm 45:4.

1. Truth

When Jesus spoke to a group of Jews during his last year on earth, he claimed that holding to his teaching leads to spiritual insight, John 8:31.  Jesus boldly proclaimed, “then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,” John 8:32.

2. Humility

The wisest man beside Jesus to walk the face of the earth is Solomon based upon rulings like 1 Kings 3:16-28.  After being blessed with fame, riches and power, Solomon learned the dangers of pride, Proverbs 11:2.  His advice to cope with this inclination is to fear the Lord, humbling yourself until honor is bestowed, Proverbs 15:33.

3. Righteousness

One of the most famous church hymns was inspired by Jesus’ sermon on the mount, Seek Ye First.  In the segment of his message on proper and improper motives, Jesus introduces the secret to eliminating worry.  When you come to the point in your life where you seek first God’s kingdom and righteous, the Lord promises to provide for all of your emotional, physical and spiritual needs.

May this teaching give you a blue print to ride forth in victory.  Let us know how your journey toward victory is going.

by Jay Mankus

A Life Perspective of Matthew 6:33

Looking back at the core principles my parents taught me, I learned 3 things lived out by my father: discipline, hard work and honoring the Sabbath.  As a son of an immigrant, my dad persevered as he learned English, eventually becoming a Ivy League student before entering the military.  His service to this country in the Army reinforced these attributes while his Roman Catholic background instilled in him a wholehearted effort to attend church wherever he was and whatever else he was doing.

Although the jealous may give circumstance or luck the credit, its clear that his successful career in sales, nice house at the beach and extended health is directly related to Matthew 6:33.  When an individual begins to seek God first by worshiping the Lord Sunday, starting each day in prayer or studying the Bible, these acts get God’s attention.  If these selfless acts continue with the right motives, the promise of daily bread and other blessings follow.  Sure, maybe my dad didn’t earn as much as he desired or reached the position of his dreams, but I see the fruits of his labor today.

While far from being perfect, I am trying to pass the baton to my own children so that they too may live a life of discipline, hard work and keeping God’s day holy.  Though the hypocrite in me may steer my kids off course from time to time, I can’t help but cling to Jesus promise within Matthew 6:33.  “But seek first his kingdom and his righteous and all these things (life, food, drink, clothes and health) will be given to you as well.”  Before 2014 speeds up too fast that you can’t catch up, take some time to slow down, Psalm 46:10, so that the hope of Matthew 6:33 may find you and your family.

by Jay Mankus

Squashing Any Attempts of Mutiny

When a teenager earns the trust of their parent or teacher, this individual often receives a little slack.  Depending upon their response to freedom, this teen will either acquire more or lose these privileges based upon their behavior.  The essence of trust is an assurance that when left alone, a person will continue to walk in credible and reliable ways, 1 Thessalonians 4:1-2.  If trust is broken or respect lost due to unforeseen acts bent on evil, authority figures can step in to squash any attempts at mutiny.

 

Near of end of Israel’s 400 years of slavery in Egypt, Pharaoh became paranoid once his magicians could no longer duplicate the plagues made by the power within Moses’ staff, Exodus 8:18-19.  In fact, the sight of Moses in Pharaoh’s presence became like bad news, probably thinking to himself, “okay, what’s the next plague God is going to send my way?”  While Pharaoh kept promising Moses that he would allow Israel to worship the Lord in the desert, in the back of his mind he doubted their motives, Exodus 10:8-11.  Ticked off by a 3 day plague of darkness, Pharaoh lost his cool, banishing Moses from his presence, Exodus 10:27-29.  As a last ditch effort to squash the mutiny he believed Israel was planning, Pharaoh threatened to kill Moses if he ever entered the king’s presence again.

Playing cards vector

One thing I have learned in life, if God is up to something, no human hand, leader or nation can hold back His power.  Unfortunately, God’s timing is different from man’s timing, Ecclesiastes 3:11, causing mankind to scratch their heads, confused by righteous causes that are squashed and evil which prospers.  However, in these moments of frustration, one must remember the wisdom of Job 42:1-6.  Therefore, as you make the best of the hand God has dealt you, don’t fold until you have planned the game of life with every ounce of your heart, Colossians 3:17.

by Jay Mankus

A Reasonable God

Behind the blunders, lies and mistakes, Abraham was an amazing leader based upon the account of Genesis 14:13-17.  This God given talent enabled Abraham to approach God with boldness.  As he interrupts the Lord several times in Genesis 18:20-33 as God’s plan is unveiled, this passage from the Bible proves that our heavenly father is a reasonable God.

Responding to Abraham’s pleas immediately, the Lord sends out 2 angels to spend the night in the town square of Sodom and Gomorrah.  All these 2 servants needed to find were 10 righteous, God fearing individuals, to cancel the threat of looming destruction of these 2 cities.  However, Lot persuades the angels to alter their plans, offering his home as shelter, Genesis 19:2-3.  One can only imagine Lot’s motives for this move, yet Genesis 19:4-5 clearly illustrates “Lust Gone Wild.”  With Lot, his wife and 2 daughters found, Abraham’s prayer came up 6 people short.

When you or I pray to God, we don’t have the luxury to see what is taking place in heaven.  Behind the scenes, God is commanding angels, sending guardian angels to our side and waiting for a spirit of obedience to fill the hearts of his children.  Nonetheless, when these conditions are not met, God will only act according to the Bible.  Isaiah 1:15-20 proves God will not hear our prayers until our hearts, motives and will changes.  Therefore, the next time you get angry at God or question His lack of concern toward your situation, ask yourself, “have I’ve meet the conditions necessary for blessings?”  When your daily life resembles Deuteronomy 28:1-2 and Malachi 3:10, you will find a reasonable God.

by Jay Mankus

The Great Fortune Teller

crystal ball photo: Crystal Ball Crystal_ball.jpg

Modern fortune tellers rely on crystal balls, horoscopes, psychics and tarot cards to predict information about a person’s life.  At the turn of the first century, there was a girl from Philippi, a city on the north shores of the Aegean Sea, who possessed a powerful spirit.  According to Acts 16:16, she was purchased by a group of businessmen who greatly profited from her ability to predict the future.  While unknown, apparently this young girl was tired of being enslaved, reaching out to the apostle Paul by interrupting his ministry, Acts 16:17.  Thus, Paul was left with no choice, casting out the demon within her along with this special ability, Acts 16:18-19.  Although this girl was delivered from her bondage, Paul and Silas received a night in the slammer for their efforts, putting the slave owners out of the fortune telling business, Acts 16:19.

Today, fortune telling is considered taboo for many Christians to discuss, especially within evangelical circles.  By squashing debate on this topic within churches, people are overlooking the greatest fortune teller of all time.  In the gospel of Mark alone, Jesus is a perfect 21 for 21 without counting the same category twice.  The Holy Spirit, poured out upon Jesus during his baptism in Mark 1:12 enabled God’s son to read hearts, minds, motives and thoughts.  In addition, Jesus predicted betrayals, conversations, foresaw shortcomings, future events and reactions of his disciples and religious leaders.  A prophet may be perceived as getting lucky if they go lets say 3 for 3 on predictions.  Yet, once you foretell 21 future events exactly as they occur, luck is taken out of the equation.

I think one of the main reasons the Bible is under attack by college professors, scrutinized by the media and considered obsolete by Naturalistic Scholars is due to fear from within that Scripture does foretell the future.  Based upon Revelation 20:7-15, in the end, Satan loses, the Book of life will be opened, each person will be judged according to what they have done on earth and God’s sheep will be separated from the goats who will spend eternity in hell.  Though only the Father knows the date, year and time of day, Mark 13:32, the future is pretty obvious.  Use your talents that the Master has given you on this earth while you still have time, Matthew 25:14-30, before Jesus’ eminent return.

by Jay Mankus

Fortune Telling References:

Mark 2:8-11, 18-20, Mark 4:37-40, Mark 5:36-41, Mark 6:4-6, 38-44, 48-52, Mark 7:6-13, Mark 8:16-21, 31-32, Mark 9:17-29, 31-32, Mark 10:22, 32-35, 41, Mark 11:1-7, 17, Mark 12:38-40, Mark 13:32, Mark 14:6-9, 12-16, 18-21, 24-25, Mark 14:30-31, 42, 62, 66-72.  All verses are from the New International Version of the Bible.

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