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Tag Archives: New Year resolutions

Filling Up Your Cup to the Brim

In this age of calorie counting and weight watching, favorite drinks vary. Whether it’s alcoholic beverages, energy drinks, specialty coffees or a glass of water, the amount of calories will dictate what you decide and how many you will drink. Depending upon how well your New Year Resolutions are going so far, good choices and self-control will shape your beverage of choice. Yet, the Bible refers to filling up a different kind of cup.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over, Psalm 23:5.

The context of the passage above refers to what David as a shepherd had to do daily to meet the needs of his sheep. Since sheep don’t eat or drink when they are stressed, oil is applied by shepherds to each sheep, serving as a bug repellent. Once sheep feel safe and comfortably, water containers are filled to the brim, overflowing so that their noses don’t get stuck. Like a glass of milk before going to bed, drinking this water was the last thing sheep did before falling asleep for David.

Jesus answered her, All who drink of this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life, John 4:13-14.

In a conversation with a Samaritan woman, Jesus brings up the concept of living water. On a hot summer day, in the middle of a desert, a drink of water is refreshing. However, Jesus is talking about eternal life, a living water that will extend far beyond your life on earth. To individuals who enter a personal relationship with Jesus, John 14:6, reading the Bible is like filling your spiritual cup up to the brim, Psalm 1:3. If you want to experience the abundant life, John 10:10, take time daily to drink God’s Word.

by Jay Mankus

Coming Back Stronger in 2021

As the National Football League ends their 2020 regular season this weekend, 18 teams will miss the playoffs. After having high hopes at the start of 2020, these coaches and players have failed to win the necessary amount of games to earn a postseason birth. While 14 teams will advance with their eyes on a Super Bowl Championship, the remaining teams will turn their attention to the off-season. As fan bases start to play the “what if” game in their minds, owners and general managers will begin to sit down to ascertain what went wrong and why?.

For it is easier for a camel to enter through a needle’s eye than [for] a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. 26 And those who heard it said, Then who can be saved? 27 But He said, What is impossible with men is possible with God, Luke 18:25-27.

You don’t have to be part of a professional organization to have aspirations to come back stronger in 2021. Depending upon your age, career and occupation, you either spent a lot of time at work or most of your time stuck on home. Perhaps, some of you began a new hobby in 2020, revealing a hidden gift or talent. Meanwhile, others may feel like you wasted too much time in front of a television, eager to break this habit in 2021. Thus, as a New Year approaches, make sure whatever resolution(s) you do make for 2021 are centered around coming back better and stronger this year.

And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.

The only resolution that I kept in 2020 was making Jesus more of a priority. Using Mark 1:35 as a model, the first thing that I did when I came home from work in the morning was read the Bible and pray using a journal. I was diligent for most of the year, keeping this vow nearly every week. Instead of rushing through my quiet time to get it done, I had several spiritual breakthroughs. This led to some of the most profitable days I have had writing. While I don’t know what 2021 has in store for me, I do know that the Lord will provide everything I need for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

by Jay Mankus

When You Are Powerless to Act… Try a Different Kind of Fast (the Esther Fast)

Every January fitness centers across the country are filled with individuals trying to recover from poor diets, a lack of exercise or extra weight that seems impossible to shed. By the end of winter, many who fail to see any change, progress or signs of transformation give up on their New Year Resolutions. Meanwhile, Christians who develop bad spiritual habits fight a similar battle. When reading the Bible becomes rare, praying feels more like a chore or getting up for worship doesn’t happen, you can reach a state where you feel powerless to act.

Then Mordecai told them to return this answer to Esther, Do not flatter yourself that you shall escape in the king’s palace any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance shall arise for the Jews from elsewhere, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows but that you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this and for this very occasion? – Esther 4:13-14

There are several examples in the Bible where broken hearted individuals, who felt powerless to act, began to fast and pray for God to intervene. Unfortunately, sometimes I find myself so out of shape spiritually that I don’t have the commitment, focus and strength to follow in the footsteps of Daniel, Nehemiah and Moses. Yet, there is another option. The Book of Esther provides a different kind of fast. Instead of fasting and praying quietly on your own, Esther urges every Jew to fast for three days for her. The goal of this fast was to provide Esther with the words needed to persuade King Ahasuerus to overturn Haman’s decree to kill all the Jews.

Then Esther told them to give this answer to Mordecai, 16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me; and neither eat nor drink for three days, night or day. I also and my maids will fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law; and if I perish, I perish. 17 So Mordecai went away and did all that Esther had commanded him, Esther 4:15-17.

This was a life or death matter. From Esther’s perspective, she wasn’t able to fast, not wanting to insult the king by not eating the food prepared for her each day. Thus, Esther was forced to rely on God’s people to intervene, praying for a miracle, the right words to say or justice to prevail. Imagine if local churches, communities and followers of Christ began Esther Fasts each week, focusing on a needy cause, person or soul? When you are powerless to act, don’t be afraid to reach out for help by requesting others to fast and pray for you. I pray that the concept of a Esther Fast will take root in 2020, awakening souls, renewing faith and energizing the body of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Stronger Than You Think

Like any start to a new year, the longer you make it in fulfilling resolutions on the calendar, confidence and optimism grows.  Those who use hope as a catalyst for change begin to see the fruits of their rededication toward accomplishing goals in life.  Signs of progress make successful individuals appear stronger than you think.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

Unfortunately, most people don’t make it through the first week before breaking one of their vows.  Diets are ruined by leftover treats from Christmas and New Years.  Exercise programs are put on hold after you pull a muscle, over doing it after your first few work outs.  Meanwhile, those attempting to cease bad habits from their past are lulled back, unable to escape addictive behavior.  These poor souls seem weaker than the rest, plagued by one bad decision after the other.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words, Romans 8:26.

According to the apostle Paul, there is a solution for those of us who have already failed miserably in fulfilling New Year Resolutions.  In your time of need or moment of weakness, pray.  As you slow down by crying out to God, ask for the Holy Spirit’s intervention.  When you do, the Lord will replace blank ideas with the right course of action.  This is where blind faith pays off, trusting in God to guide you through failure so that victory becomes a certainty.

by Jay Mankus

 

Lulling Yourself to Sleep

There is an epidemic occurring across America and throughout the world.  At the beginning of every New Year, conviction, consciences and desperation lead many to make resolutions for change.  Unfortunately, like a diet that never makes it beyond the first week, a lack of action is lulling many to sleep.

Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 1 Corinthians 15:51.

This week I found myself saying the same thing day after day, “I need to do this or that.”  Comfortably numb by bad habits, I feel paralyzed, unable to apply that which I desire.  Anyone who attempts to become transformed externally without a changed heart will regularly experience failure.  The passage above suggests that individuals need to die to one’s self before a resurrected life takes shape.

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do, Romans 7:15.

Despite an amazing ministry on earth, even the apostle Paul could not defeat all of his inner demons.  2 Corinthians 12:7-12 refers to some sort of illness, medical condition or addiction which Paul count not overcome.  While I often feel held captive by a poor daily routine, I’m tired of being lulled to sleep.  Before you fret any longer, call out to Jesus to set yourself free from a mundane life so that through the power of the resurrection you might achieve new heights in 2017.

by Jay Mankus

21 Seconds to Pray

During my confirmation process in the Catholic Church in 8th grade, I studied the Lord’s prayer, also known as the Our Father.  According to author Dr. Mark Rutland, it takes the average person 21 seconds to pray this prayer.  After twenty years of using the Lord’s prayer as a foundation for prayer, Dr. Rutland believes that you can change your world if individuals begin to devote 21 seconds to prayer daily.

“This, then, is how you should pray: “ ’Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven,” Matthew 6:9-10.

Keeping a journal during this extended period, Mark began to see the impact Jesus’ words had on his prayer life.  Gradually, his heart, soul and mind were transformed by this basic, yet powerful prayer outline inspiring his book 21 Seconds to Change Your World.  While the average person struggles to pay attention or remain focused, 21 seconds is less than most commercials on television.  Therefore, why not make a resolution for 2016 to commit 21 seconds to prayer each day.

Give us today our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one, Matthew 6:11-13.

Even when people draw near to God, prayer can be foreign to many.  Feeling asleep on my pillow in college was a nightly tradition, not getting far before I dosed off.  However, 21 seconds is realistic, a good starting point for novice prayers.  Therefore, I don’t have a good excuse to say I was too busy, didn’t feel well or was too tired.  Rather, now is a great time to start 2016 off on the right foot with 21 seconds to pray.

by Jay Mankus

 

To Fast or Not to Fast?

In recent years, January 1st signifies the beginning of 21 day fasts for a growing number of churches across America.  Depending upon the congregation, this could mean a …

1) Daniel Fast: Eating vegetables and water based upon the events of Daniel 1:11-14.

2) Media Fast: Replacing listening and viewing habits for 3 weeks with Bible Study, prayer and soaking in worship music.

3) Traditional Fast: Limiting your diet to liquids, with stricter fasts allowing only water.

Before you jump into any commitment, you might want to consider the advice of Solomon.

When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. – Ecclesiastes 5:4

My advice is to take a more realistic approach.  If fasting is new to you or something you haven’t done in years, ease yourself into 21 days of fasting.  I recommend skipping 1 meal per day, the first week.  If your body is up for the challenge, limit your eating to one meal per day the second week.  However, if you find yourself gorging each meal, you might want to focus on skipping one meal per day the entire 21 days.  Make a vow you can keep, then honor it.

When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven. – Nehemiah 1:4

As for what to expect, the lack of food can make individuals grumpy.  Those with medical conditions may need to opt for a Media Fast to avoid health concerns.  Beyond the pain, the insight one receives from fasting can be life altering.  While fasting during my days of teaching, several messages of discernment came to me through the power of the Holy Spirit.  In addition, your perspective of food will change as fasting will heighten your sense of taste.  In the end, the choice is up to you: to fast or not to fast?

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Drifting Off Course

It’s hard to believe that after a first weeks, most of my New Year resolutions have gone up in smoke as I drift off course, not following several of my goals for 2014.  My workout sessions didn’t last a week, eating healthy never got off the ground and others high hopes faded from the enthusiasm of a clean slate.  As I drove to work this morning, my biggest disappointment is the lack of leadership I have displayed in charting out a new course for the future.

Life as many of you know, involves ebbs and flows, highs and lows and periods of coasting where I find myself presently.  Caught in a state of transition, I’m not sure what I should commit to, where to invest my time and how my current financial position will be impacted by Obama Care and an economy propped up by a mirage.  In moment’s like this, true leaders blaze a new trail, see light beyond the darkness and become a rock of faith for their family.

In my current condition, this is impossible.  Fortunately, history reveals a message of optimism for those of you who have drifted off course.  Matthew 19:16-20 shares a story about a young man who on the surface appeared to have his act together.  Jesus, realizing this individual was trying on his own to earn eternal life, throws a curve ball sending the man away sad and causing his own disciples to question their own faith.  However, the point of this encounter is to teach the masses that with God, all things are possible, Matthew 19:25-26.  May this news turn your day and year around!

by Jay Mankus

A Fellow Without a Ship

While driving to this year’s New Year’s Eve party alone after work, my mind searched for an ideal atmosphere in 2014.  Ultimately, I am longing for a healthy balance between family and fellowship with friends.  Unfortunately, previous good intentions and new year resolution’s quickly faded early on, resulting in loneliness like a fellow without a ship.

Although I love spending time with others, my occupation, a spirit of perfectionism and a lack of energy has sucked a special ingredient from my soul.  Subsequently, I have drifted farther away from the people I need to make me whole again on the inside.  Like the Titanic, sinking into the sea, many of my close acquaintances have gone in multiple directions following the demise of Red Lion Christian Academy and Evangelical Free Church.  Fighting for spiritual life boats, in need of their own aid and healing, currents of blame, misunderstandings and theology have led me to run aground, stranded without a ship to call home.

In view of this state, I am praying for real change in 2014, not just words but the discipline to make this a reality, 2 Timothy 1:7.  As a result, my priorities must be reshuffled, adjusted to meet this goal.  Like anything that is good, this won’t happen overnight, requiring patience and perseverance.  However, by grace through faith, Ephesians 2:8, may God turn this fellow without a ship into a creature of habit starving for fellowship.

by Jay Mankus

A New Year’s Invitation to a 2014 Case Study

According to a December 2009 article in the Examiner, the origin of New Year resolutions began with the Babylonians about 4,000 years ago.  Although Babylon celebrated New Year’s on March 23rd, farmers celebrated the beginning of Spring with goals for their upcoming harvest.  This concept has caught on in America as vows to diet, enjoy life and get ahead in 2014 have already begun.  In view of this, I am offering an invitation to anyone interested in being part of a 12 week Case Study, from January to the end of March.

 
 The purpose of this event is to develop Bible Study leaders and encourage discipleship within a small group setting.  I am searching for volunteers who fit the criteria listed below.

1) Anyone who wants to start a Bible Study in their neighborhood for people interested in God or seeking answers to life.

2) Youth pastors who are looking to disciple students to become future leaders in their community.

3) New or small churches seeking to develop a small group Bible Study model throughout their church family.

4) People with the gift of hospitality, willing to host a series of 12 week Bible Studies in 2014.

5) Writers with a background in curriculum development willing to give input while leading their own 12 week study.

6) Godly men, women or couples looking to instill a biblical worldview within their family and friends.

7) Individuals with the gift of evangelism who are willing to recruit unsaved friends to attend a 12 week study.

While I may have excluded some people, my goal is to select 12 leaders across the country to participate in a 12 week journey where people can encounter Extra Ordinary Faith.  Those chosen will receive a complete Power Point Presentation which includes teaching notes, links and you tubes of music videos and movie clips.  My only expectations in return are comments, criticism and ideas to help me assess what changes need to be made before I try to publish this material.

The test group of Extra Ordinary Faith is running now through December 2nd and will also be involved in 2014 as we try to perfect the current curriculum.  Based upon the first 6 weeks, Bible Study ranges from 45 minutes up to 75 minutes depending upon the size and talkative nature of the group.  My recommendation is to have a 15 minute window, giving busy individuals time to arrive, while serving as fellowship for those can can come early.  Although some discussions may flow over a few minutes, try to keep a consistent schedule, reserving a set hour for each Bible Study.

If the Holy Spirit places an urging on your heart, please contact me in a private message on my Facebook page (Jay Mankus) or send me an email at jlmankus@aol.com.  For those selected, please devote time in December to fasting and prayer so that the Holy Spirit will lead you to ask the right people.  Before you set a specific day and time, try to evaluate the best for all members of your group, realizing it probably won’t be right for everyone.  From there, trust God to provide a harvest of people, Matthew 9:37-38.

by Jay Mankus

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