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Tag Archives: overcoming trials

Στόχο: Finding a New Target in 2020

Στόχο is the Greek word for target. When translated into English, this term could apply to aim, destination, goal or landing place. As individuals celebrate New Year’s Eve, minds and thoughts will begin to turn their attention toward a new year. Once all of the celebrations have ended, determined souls will search for a new target in 2020.

And they said to me, The remnant there in the province who escaped exile are in great trouble and reproach; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its [fortified] gates are destroyed by fire. When I heard this, I sat down and wept and mourned for days and fasted and prayed [constantly] before the God of heaven, Nehemiah 1:3-4.

Unfortunately, sometimes your future may be blurred, clouded or uncertain due to unforeseen events. Accidents, failing health or trials can prove to be too much for one person to bear. Whenever you experience a devastating, horrific or troubling circumstance, follow in the footsteps of Nehemiah. After receiving news of Jerusalem vulnerability, this man fell to his knees, fasting and praying for a plan to rebuild this wall.

Let Your ear now be attentive and Your eyes open to listen to the prayer of Your servant which I pray before You day and night for the Israelites, Your servants, confessing the sins of the Israelites which we have sinned against You. Yes, I and my father’s house have sinned. We have acted very corruptly against You and have not kept the commandments, statutes, and ordinances which You commanded Your servant Moses, Nehemiah 1:6-7.

Before focusing on a solution, Nehemiah acknowledges the sins of Israel which brought this fate upon Jerusalem. Before any new target can be discovered in 2020, everyone needs to get right with God. As prayers are lifted up, hearts unload their pain and minds begin to think clear again, conditions will improve for a new vision to be seen. May the beginning of this year inspire you to pave the way for a new target to be located.

by Jay Mankus

Taking a Turn for the Worse

The expression “taking a turn for the worse” often applies to someone’s health. Whenever an individual experiences an accident, battles cancer or recovers from a major operation, conditions can improve or deteriorate at a moments notice. When a celebrity, former president or icon makes headlines due to a medical condition, the words taking a turn for the worse is a polite way of saying that this person is about to die.

But the high places were not removed. Yet Asa’s heart was blameless with the Lord all his days, 1 Kings 15:14.

The Bible refers to a different kind of taking a turn for the worse. Solomon refers to human hearts as the wellspring of life, Proverbs 4:23. Thus, when spiritual leaders take a turn for the worse, their hearts grow cold. This condition may be attributed to backsliding, busyness, a lack of time spent praying, worshiping or studying the Bible daily. As individuals slowly drift apart from God, hearts lose their excitement, fire and passion for serving the Lord.

And many false prophets will rise up and deceive and lead many into error. 12 And the love of the great body of people will grow cold because of the multiplied lawlessness and iniquity, Matthew 24:11-12.

In the first century, Jesus makes a prediction about the future. As deception and error occur, persuaded by false prophets, the love of many will grow cold. Hearts that grow cold will pursue lawlessness and iniquity. In the case of King Asa, he failed to remove altars, idols and temples dedicated to secular gods and goddess. This inaction eventually led future Jews astray. To avoid a similar fate, refuel your heart with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25 so that your spiritual life doesn’t take a turn for the worse.

by Jay Mankus

The Glitch that Makes You Great

A glitch is defined as an irregularity or malfunction that suddenly appears. Synonyms include breakdown, defect and flaws that are often noticeable. When any type of glitch is revealed within a human being, embarrassment, humility and a loss in self-esteem follow. If this glitch becomes a major weakness in your life, how can this glitch become a strength?

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn (a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted, 2 Corinthians 12:7.

Within a letter written to members of the church at Corinth, the apostle Paul unveils a secret scar. It’s unclear whether this is an addiction, chronic illness or some form of demonic oppression. Whatever the reason, this condition hampered Paul’s ability to function daily. While you may not consider this imperfection a glitch, Paul is forced to rely on God to get through each day.

Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

In the first century, there was only one spiritual leader who matched Paul’s charisma. Acts 18:24 mentions Apollos, described as cultured, eloquent and well versed. Other passages in the New Testament suggest that Apollos became a great preacher, far superior than Paul. This inferiority complex led Paul to turn his attention toward writing. While Apollos’ sermons have been forgotten, Paul’s words in his letters live on in the pages of the Bible.

So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:10.

Growing up in New Jersey, stuttering became my glitch. While the apostle Paul endured a thorn in his flesh, I battled a silent tongue. Although my heart and mind had plenty of things that I wanted to express, nothing coherent came out of my mouth. This 21 year struggle turned my attention to writing, developing a love and passion for this new hobby. If it wasn’t for my own glitch, stuttering, this blog wouldn’t exist. Thus, this is how the Lord transformed my glitch from a weakness into a strength. May the power of the Holy Spirit speak so your heart to help you see the glitch that makes you great in God’s eyes.

by Jay Mankus

Letting Things Roll Off Your Back

Mammals such as otters and seals have very greasy fur which serves as protection from becoming water logged. Meanwhile, waterfowl such as ducks possess greasy feathers which enables beads of water to roll off their backs. This is where the saying “let things roll off your back” is derived. This simile is an expression of encouragement urging a friend not to let criticism, disappointing news or hardship bother them.

One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid anymore, but go on speaking and do not be silent; Acts 18:9.

During the apostle Paul’s second missionary journey, a mob of unbelieving Jews began to follow him from city to city. These individuals disrupted his teaching and made threats upon his life. By the time Paul reached Corinth, modern day Greece, stressed consumed his soul. One night the Lord appeared in a vision, urging Paul to let things roll off his back. Continue doing what I called you to do, keep speaking without fear.

For I am with you, and no one will attack you in order to hurt you, because I have many people in this city.” 11 So he settled there for a year and six months, teaching them the word of God [concerning eternal salvation through faith in Christ], Acts 18:10-11.

Based upon the promise above, God placed a remnant of believers in Corinth. Some of these individuals such as Gallio were in leadership positions to shield Paul from harm. Subsequently, Paul experienced 18 months of blessings, peace and spiritual revival. Paul sent 4 letters to the church of Corinth, 2 of which are found in the New Testament. When you let things roll off your back like Paul, the possibilities are endless.

by Jay Mankus

Scaring the Crap Out of You

As a teenager, I gravitated toward horror movies.  While I may have been living on the edge, witnessing thousands of hours of unwholesome images resulted in several nightmares.  Unfortunately, the scariest scenes often filled me with a rush of adrenaline leading me to continue this hobby throughout college.  I know this is strange, but there is something thrilling about being scared to death.  Not literally of course, but sitting on the edge of your seat, waiting for the next frightening death to occur.

They drank the wine and praised the gods of gold and silver, of bronze, iron, wood and stone. Suddenly the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and began writing opposite the lampstand on [a well-lit area of] the plaster of the wall of the king’s palace, and the king saw the part of the hand that did the writing, Daniel 5:4-5.

The term scaring the crap out of you comes from the Bible.  King Belshazzar was throwing a party for a thousand guests.  As this evening wore on, many became drunk on wine, laughing and staying stupid things like a frat party.  While under the influence, seeing fingers of a man writing on a wall probably started out as a hallucination.  However, the longer this continued, the king and his guests found themselves in a terrifying scenario.  According to the passage below, this event caused the king to crap and or wet himself.

Then the color and the [drunken] hilarious brightness of the king’s face was changed, and his [terrifying] thoughts troubled and alarmed him; the joints and muscles of his hips and back gave way and his knees smote together, Daniel 5:6.

Outside of the Bible. accidents, disease and illness can scare the crap out of any human being.  When a human life is on the verge of death, souls are awakened by this painful reality.  While not everyone drinks, life has a way of numbing hearts to the point that you don’t care about the frailty of life.  This form of apathy is dangerous, especially if it continues for several years.  Thus, don’t be surprised when God allows you to endure a trial so that fear is used to revive and renew your soul.

by Jay Mankus

Upset: Dejection or Motivation?

When individuals do not experience a desired outcome, a wave of emotions come forth. As reality sets in, the finality of failure can be unsettling. In the context of sports, when the better team on paper with more talent loses, this is considered an upset. When players walk off a court or field staring defeat in the face, there are two logical options: dejection or motivation.

More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

Like any grieving process, souls initially become dejected. Depression, despair and unhappiness are like bumps in the road toward healing. However, if you don’t experience a moral victory or taste success soon, hearts can become heavy. Glimmers of hope are like rays of sunshine to help people realize that they are going to make it through another storm.

But Jesus looked at them and said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.

Anyone who hates to lose will find some sort of motivation to avoid a similar fate. After getting cut from his high school basketball team, Michael Jordan went on to earn a college scholarship, make the NBA and become one of the greatest players of all time. Instead of dwelling on self pity fueled by dejection, motivation can bring you out of desolation. Like Jesus said while talking to his disciples, “anything is possible with God.”

by Jay Mankus

Responding to Criticism

Censure, denunciation and reproof are examples of criticism. Whenever condemnation comes your way, it’s not pleasant. Some of the accusations made against you may not be credible. Yet, how you respond to criticism will dictate how others will react to you.

A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor, Proverbs 29:23.

After a series of severe tribulations, three of Job’s friends jumped to the same conclusion. Using Old Testament logic, these men associated bad things as a curse from God. In their eyes, Job must have done something wrong to have all of his children die and become inflicted with boils. The book of Job is filled with criticism followed by Job’s response.

Whoever is partner with a thief hates his own life; He hears the curse [when swearing an oath to testify], but discloses nothing [and commits perjury by omission]. The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe, Proverbs 29:25.

King Solomon provides advice to individuals facing the hot seat known as criticism. When attacked, human nature relies on pride to defend yourself. Instead of allowing a knee jerk response to come out of your mouth, Solomon encourages individuals to embrace rebukes. Everyone has room for improvement, subtle imperfections that need to be worked out. Thus, the next time you receive critical comments, ask the Lord how these words can be used to benefit you in the future.

by Jay Mankus

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