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Tag Archives: New Years

The Shedding of Sin

All snakes go through the process of shedding their skin. Every two to four times a year, shedding skin allows further growth of a snakes’ scales. Since older skin doesn’t grow while snakes grow, a new skin starts forming below the old one. Just as a snake needs to shed its skin to develop to its full adult size, Christians must shed sin to mature and become the person God wants you to be.

Just think of Him Who endured from sinners such grievous opposition and bitter hostility against Himself [reckon up and consider it all in comparison with your trials], so that you may not grow weary or exhausted, losing heart and relaxing and fainting in your minds, Hebrews 12:3.

As the Hall of Faith ends, Hebrews 11, the author of Hebrews uses the imagery of saints in heaven looking down upon modern day Christians. As human beings participate in the marathon called life, you will reach moments where you will need to start shedding the things that weigh you down. Just like a snake which sheds their skin, Christian must start shedding sins of their past and present.

You have not yet struggled and fought agonizingly against sin, nor have you yet resisted and withstood to the point of pouring out your [own] blood, Hebrews 12:4.

As another new year draws near, resolutions will be made to lose weight, start exercising and begin doing what you’ve always wanted to do. Breaking the chains of addiction, bad habits and poor choices can be grueling. Yet, as you start shedding sinful desires, you don’t have to die on a cross like Jesus. Nonetheless, in order to reach your full potential, the shedding of sin is part of the process as Christians seek to further God’s kingdom on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Cancelling Your Debts This Christmas

Most Americans are currently in debt, owing more money than what they have or make. According to a recent survey, 81.5% of millennials, 80.9% of baby boomers, and 79.9% of Gen Xers possess some sort of outstanding debt. To make matters worse, guilt will drive many to buy Christmas presents that they can’t afford as an act of love. However, going into greater financial ruin just to impress your children, family members or significant other isn’t worth it. Instead of waiting for New Years to start a list of resolutions, it’s time to cancel your debts this Christmas.

Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a human king who wished to settle accounts with his attendants.24 When he began the accounting, one was brought to him who owed him 10,000 talents [probably about $10,000,000], 25 And because he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and his children and everything that he possessed, and payment to be made, Matthew 18:23-25.

In the passage above and below, Jesus begins the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Using the amount of the debt above based upon the income from a first century worker, this man would have had to work more than 100 years to pay this off which wasn’t possible. Recognizing the dire condition of his servant’s debt, the master took pity by cancelling the entire amount. Similar to the modern expression “Pay it Forward,” the man who had his debt forgiven, failed to practice the same mercy when someone owed him money. Unfortunately, this world is full of individuals who say the right thing, but rarely practice what they preach.

So the attendant fell on his knees, begging him, Have patience with me and I will pay you everything. 27 And his master’s heart was moved with compassion, and he released him and forgave him [cancelling] the debt, Matthew 18:26-27.

As the weight of buying presents this Christmas begins to burden your soul, think of creative ways to display your love and affection. The artists and creative may be inspired to make gifts rather than purchase them. Others may be compelled to downsize their number of gifts to one per family member or institute a secret Santa for a group so only one large gift needs to be bought. Whatever you decide, the sooner you get your finances in order, the quicker you’ll be able to find peace this Christmas. In the context of forgiveness, make sure you follow the example of the master in the parable above so that past trespasses against you will be cancelled for good this Christmas, Matthew 6:14-15.

by Jay Mankus

When You Lose the Desire to Sing

Over the course of my life, there were several years that I never wanted to end as I was having the time of my life. Other years can be best described by “blah, ho hum or nothing special.” However, as December begins and a New Year approaches, most Americans are ready now to turn the page on 2020. Between the Coronavirus, countless deaths, a troubled economy and whatever else you have endured, finding something to sing about is tough.

By the rivers of Babylon, there we [captives] sat down, yes, we wept when we [earnestly] remembered Zion [the city of our God imprinted on our hearts]. On the willow trees in the midst of [Babylon] we hung our harps, Psalm 137:1-2.

The Psalmist writes about a similar period in his own life. The forced detention of Jews to Babylonia following the conquest of the kingdom of Judah began in 598. This exile would last a total of 12 years, removing the wind beneath the wings of this harp player. After being removed from their beloved land, musicians lost their desire to play an instrument. Subsequently, harps were abandoned, hung in nearby willow trees in Babylon.

For there they who led us captive required of us a song with words, and our tormentors and they who wasted us required of us mirth, saying, Sing us one of the songs of Zion. How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land? If I forget you, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget its skill [with the harp]. Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth if I remember you not, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy! – Psalm 137:3-6.

People listen to music for a variety of reasons. Some listen as a form of entertainment, others to pass the time or seek inspiration from a particular song or genre of music. While music can sooth human souls as in the case of King Saul in 1 Samuel 16, depressing music can plant troubling thoughts. Whenever I am depressed, I rely on certain songs to uplift my mood. Yet, when you lose the desire to sing, come to Jesus to lighten your load, Matthew 11:28-30.

by Jay Mankus

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