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I Can’t Help Myself

My father was born in Lithuania.  As immigrants from certain Europeans countries began to migrate to the United States, stereotypes began to develop.  Whether it was the era, how my dad was raised or specific mannerisms, my father tended to be stoic unless he was angry.  Meanwhile, my mom who grew up in Hershey, Pennsylvania wasn’t afraid to wear her emotions on her sleeve.  Like any child, I exhibit a combination of qualities from each of my parents.  Nonetheless, whenever my heart is moved or touched by something special, I can’t help myself, easily brought to tears.

As He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers who stood at a distance; 13 and they raised their voices and called out, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean, Luke 17:12-14.

During the first century, Jews and Samaritans were enemies as hatred and resentment spilled over from the past.  This tension began when Israel was divided into two kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judea in the south.  The north whose second capital was relocated upon a hillside in Samaria often did what was right in their own eyes.  The southern kingdom remained more true to God as some kings reminded citizens of their spiritual heritage.  The main issues between Jews and Samaritans began during 722 B.C. when Assyria conquered Israel and took most of its people into captivity.  The byproduct of this siege led to intermarriages between Gentiles and Israelites.  Thus, Samaritans earned the reputation of being only half Jewish, labeled and ridiculed for centuries.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; 16 and he lay face downward at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. He was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten [of you] cleansed? Where are the [other] nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to give thanks and praise to God, except this foreigner?” – Luke 17:15-18

Recognizing this portion in history, Jesus is shocked by how little appreciation is shown to God by 9 Jewish lepers.  On the other hand, the Samaritan leper is overwhelmed after being healed.  According to a first century doctor, this man couldn’t help himself, praising God over and over again.  Sometimes in life, stereotypes influence how people act, behave and interact with others.  Yet, when you slow down and look around to see the numerous minor miracles in your life, you too can model the thanksgiving demonstrated by this Samaritan leper.  May the example of this first century man inspire you to develop a new outlook on life in 2019.

by Jay Mankus

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Cry After Cry…God Comes to the Rescue

When people cry, there could be several reasons.  Cries of joy, tears of pain, touched by words, moved by a kind act or mourning after someone dies.  In the famous Aesop fable, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, this story refers to individuals who try to gain attention with impure motives.  As for this person, God will not come to their aid immediately, Isaiah 1:15.

However, Psalm 106:44 suggests that a heart felt cry is heard by the Lord.  Although you may not receive a reply right away, God’s timing is perfect, Ecclesiastes 3:10-11.  Cry after cry is duly noted by God, observing the distress that you and I go through over the course of a week, month or year.  Subsequently, each earnest plea is rewarded with a sign, word of encouragement or by a person sent to ease your pain.

According to the Bible, there will be no tears in heaven, Revelation 7:17.  Yet, until then, disappointment is a daily reality while calling earth home.  In your struggle to stay positive, Ephesians 6:12, don’t try to do this all on your own.  Rather, cry out to the Lord, following in the footsteps of David, Psalm 4:1, so that God will come to the rescue.

by Jay Mankus

 

Brought to Tears

 

From time to time, even the stoic have moments where they can’t hold back their tears.  Depending upon how you were raised as a child, you are either less or more likely to cry based upon the principles instilled within you by parents.  However, when confronted by the past, death or disappointment, any of these elements of pain can trigger the flood gates to open.

I tend to go through arid periods, numb to the emotions deep inside my soul.   Although, I do experience an annual rainy season, when the lyrics to a song, a touching scene or I am moved by a conservation, unleashing a steady flow of tear drops.  May be this is why the Holy Spirit inspired Solomon to say “a sad face is good for the heart” within Ecclesiastes, made famous by the Choir’s 1988 song from their Chase the Kangaroo album.

This is where we find Joseph, son of Israel in Genesis 45:1-2.  Moved by Judah’s plea,  suggesting that coming home without Benjamin, the youngest boy in the family, will likely result in the death of his father, Genesis 44:18-34.  Afraid that his childish act of toying with his brothers out of vengeance will cause his own father to die of a broken heart, Joseph finally relents.  Possibly holding a grudge, mistreated by them 20 years earlier, wailing aloud serves as a source of healing.  Once he composes himself, Joseph conveys God’s plan to his brothers in Genesis 45:3-8, brought to tears by God’s providence.

by Jay Mankus

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