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Tag Archives: Prayer

Divided from the Will of God

The Bible refers to the concept of God having a plan for your life. From Old Testament prophets who write about future plans, Jeremiah 29:11, to the apostle Paul who suggests you can know God’s will, Romans 12:2, callings occur daily. This might be in the form of a convicted conscience, heart felt desire, some sort of dream or inspirational message. Meanwhile, first century Christians believed that each individual was born with a specific gift, personality or talent, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. This spiritual gift is directly linked or tied to God’s will for your life. If God is the Potter, Romans 9:20-21, the will of God is an ongoing process as clay is molded and shaped, Philippians 1:6.

And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made {loaves of} bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:3-4.

Before beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus withdrew into the wilderness to spiritually prepare himself for this 3 year journey. Understanding the threats He would face, Jesus fasted and prayed to clarify God’s plan like which twelve men to choose to become his disciples. At the conclusion of these preparations, the Devil attempted to separate Jesus from the will of His heavenly father. Jesus had the power to fulfill each request, but what the Devil was asking is outside of God’s will. Each tempting situation was geared toward a specific area of Jesus’ life. Physical hunger, mental acuity, and spiritual obedience. These 3 types of scenarios represent how individuals are tempted daily, aimed at separating human beings from the will of God.

And he said to Him, If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, He will give His angels charge over you, and they will bear you up on their hands, lest you strike your foot against a stone. Jesus said to him, On the other hand, it is written also, You shall not tempt, test thoroughly, or try exceedingly the Lord your God, Matthew 4:6-7.

The apostle Paul unlocks the key to overcoming temptation in 1 Corinthians 10:13. When confronted by the father of lies, John 8:44, Jesus kept looking for the way out. To overcome hunger, Jesus relied on the Word of God, quoting a verse from the Torah. To escape a dare which He was able to demonstrate, Jesus uses the Bible to correct the Devil’s misuse of Scripture. After gaining authority over the earth, Ephesians 2:2, the Devil offers this to Jesus. However, this request is directly opposed to the first commandment. Thus, Jesus finds the way out each time, refusing to deviate from God’s plan.

Again, the devil took Him up on a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory (the splendor, magnificence, preeminence, and excellence) of them. And he said to Him, These things, all taken together, I will give You, if You will prostrate Yourself before me and do homage and worship me. 10 Then Jesus said to him, Begone, Satan! For it has been written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him alone shall you serve.

Every human being has a weakness, sinful tendencies that they have a hard time resisting, Romans 7:15-17. As the ruler of the air, the Devil doesn’t need drones or hidden cameras, he sees and knows our weaknesses. Perhaps, this explains why so many former Christians have abandoned their faith, prodigals who have yet to come to their senses. Each decision you make has a blessing or consequence. Good choices keep you on track, but poor decisions cause you to drift further and further away from God. Freewill gives you the freedom to do whatever you want. However, at what point will you consider God’s calling, plan and will for your life? Whatever you decide, hold on to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

How to Overcome a Common Flaw

The origin of the phrase ‘Ignorance is bliss’ can be traced back to an English poet. Thomas Gray’s Ode was composed in 1742, reminiscing about his schooldays at Eton College. While knowledge is power, students who graduate from college often develop a superiority complex. When adults who think they know everything re-enter society as so called experts, there is a danger that these individuals will forget the common flaw that all human beings share.

Since all have sinned and are falling short of the honor and glory which God bestows and receives, Romans 3:23.

The apostle Paul addresses this flaw in a letter to the church at Rome. Back in Romans 3:10, Paul quotes the Old Testament. This passage clearly states that there is no one righteous, not even one in a trillion. This flaw prevents the driven, disciplined and focused from honoring and glorifying God daily. This sinful nature is within our DNA. Subsequently, as embryos are conceived, no one can escape this imperfection.

[All] are justified and made upright and in right standing with God, freely and gratuitously by His grace (His unmerited favor and mercy), through the redemption which is [provided] in Christ Jesus, 25 Whom God put forward [before the eyes of all] as a mercy seat and propitiation by His blood [the cleansing and life-giving sacrifice of atonement and reconciliation, to be received] through faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in His divine forbearance He had passed over and ignored former sins without punishment, Romans 3:24-25.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul explains how faith can help overcome this flaw. While God’s grace is unmerited, redemption is possible by placing your faith in Jesus Christ. This acknowledgement is based upon the fact that Jesus was the perfect lamb, free from sin, who was crucified on a cross, died, buried and rose from the dead. Just as God passed over the homes of Jews during the first Passover in Egypt who marked their doors with blood, God will forgive sinners who trust in Jesus. Romans 10:9-11 provides a prayer to help anyone overcome their sinful nature.

by Jay Mankus

These are the Times that Try Men’s Soul

In order to make sense of the chaos and vast trials dealt by 2020, you have to go back in time. If you don’t learn from hints left behind by historians, you’ll fall prey to future lies, schemes and uprisings. Thomas Paine was an English-born American political activist, philosopher, theorist, and revolutionary. Paine authored two of most influential pamphlets at the start of the American Revolution. Paine’s work inspired the patriots in 1776 to declare independence from Great Britain.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might, Deuteronomy 6:5.

Two of my favorite quotes from Thomas Paine are listed below. “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph”. “These are the times that try men’s souls.” Common Sense challenged the authority of the British government and the royal monarchy. The plain language that Paine uses spoke to the common people of America to openly ask for independence from Great Britain. These words were like the spark that ignited states to commence the American Revolution.

Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die, Ezekiel 18:4.

Fast forward nearly 250 years, the death of George Floyd has spawned a new movement. Whether out of compassion, fear or guilt, many Americans have donated to, joined or participated in Black Lives Matters protests. Citizens across the country in all 50 states have come out to support this cause. Yet, actions speak louder than words. Will Planned Parenthood representatives begin to convince African American woman not to have an abortion? Is defunding the police really the answer? Yes, Thomas Paine was right, “these are the times that try men’s souls.” I pray to the Lord that God will save and restore America before this country is torn apart.

by Jay Mankus

Falling into Silence Makes It Impossible to Survive

Depression has a way of isolating yourself from the people who care about you the most. Looking back on my own life, I began to withdraw from my friends when I entered Hanby Junior High School. Instead of allowing those who reached out to me in, I secluded myself even further. When I wanted to be miserable, I could suck the life out of an entire room, bringing everyone around me down.

When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long, Psalm 32:3.

After committing adultery with Bathsheba, King David took a vacation from God. Instead of telling the truth when Bathsheba missed her period, David sent for Uriah, Bathsheba’s husband, to comeback from war to be reunited. When Uriah refused to sleep with his wife, David went to plan C, giving an order to abandon Uriah on the front line, resulting in his death. As each day passed, this silence made it impossible for David to survive spiritually.

For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! – Psalm 32:4

Guilt consumed David like high humidity on a hot summer day. The longer David put off confessing his sins, the lonelier his soul became. Psalm 32 and Psalm 51 highlight the emotions built up inside David’s heart. As soon as David realized his silence from God needed to broken, the door for reconciliation was opened. The next time you feel like running away from confrontation, remember David’s prayer to end his distance and silence from God.

by Jay Mankus

When the Zoo Invades Your Neighborhood

Chartered by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania on March 21, 1859, the Philadelphia Zoo became the United States’ first zoo. Construction was delayed by the American Civil War, pushing back the opening until July 1, 1874. Something about visiting a zoo is intriguing to children. My first exposure to animals began at the Edison Park petting zoo in New Jersey. From there, my parents took me to the Philadelphia Zoo as well as the safari at Six Flags Great Adventure. When you drive through in a car without any gates to contain the animals, close calls will big animals can be frightening.

Let every person be loyally subject to the governing (civil) authorities. For there is no authority except from God [by His permission, His sanction], and those that exist do so by God’s appointment, Romans 13:1.

Since the unnecessary death of George Floyd on May 25th, protests have taken place in all 50 states. In the wake of Floyd’s death, police killings of black Americans spawned organized protests that turned violent as police departments were targeted. When stand down orders were given by city, state, and local officials, riots and looting began. Instead of remaining within urban areas, Black Lives Matter moved to the suburbs, to white affluent neighborhoods like Beverly Hills, California. Famous stores in Santa Monica, California were broken into and looted, sending the message that no town is safe.

Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged [in divine order]. And those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves [receiving the penalty due them], Romans 13:2.

As a teenager, James Clay lived in a trailer park in Missouri that everyone called Franklin Park. James recounts. “I felt like I loved the people there, but that love just didn’t seem to matter to them at all.” The inspiration behind his song Franklin Park, Clay realized that bringing them to the Lord was all he could do. Everything else was beyond his control. This song relates to modern day events as progressive ideas are encouraging individuals to challenge authority. When boundaries are challenged and crossed, it’s like having a zoo invade your neighborhood. After one of the most violent fourth of July weekends in recent history, it’s time to unite, not fight. May James Clay’s song urge communities to love and pray for their neighbors.

by Jay Mankus

What’s Going on Beneath the Surface in America?

It doesn’t take Captain Obvious to reveal that 2020 will go down as one of the worst years of this century. Just like 1918 was marred by the Spanish Flu pandemic, the Coronavirus is changing the way that people live today. Depending upon what the future spread of this virus, hand shakes, hugs and other personal displays of affection may be a thing of the past. This is just one of the under lying currents going on beneath the surface.

But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief [of the celestial] princes, came to help me, for I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I have come to make you understand what is to befall your people in the latter days, for the vision is for [many] days yet to come, Daniel 10:13-14.

Prior to the Soviet Union’s occupation of Lithuania in 1940, the citizens of this country were religious. My father was born and raised in the Roman Catholic as the forces of communism began to attack institutions of faith. During the Soviet’s occupation of Lithuania, religious symbols began to disappear. Traces of absolute truth began to vanish from Lithuania in an attempt to fundamentally change my father’s country. The more I study history and talk to my father, I fear the same forces are at work in America.

For the desires of the flesh are opposed to the [Holy] Spirit, and the [desires of the] Spirit are opposed to the flesh (godless human nature); for these are antagonistic to each other [continually withstanding and in conflict with each other], so that you are not free but are prevented from doing what you desire to do, Galatians 5:17.

According to an Old Testament leader, demonic strongholds exist throughout the earth. These powers of darkness often control major cities, filling the minds of citizens with ungodly beliefs. Daniel encounters a demonic force that he calls the Prince of Persia. Held captive for nearly a month, Daniel needed the arch angel Michael to come to his aid. Meanwhile, the apostle Paul refers to the internal battle within human souls as a war between the flesh and God’s Spirit. These a just a few of the factors going on beneath the surface that are attempting to radically change the United States of America. May the prayers of the saints reverse this trend.

by Jay Mankus

When You Need to be Encouraged

I tend to be a positive person, trying to stay optimistic about life. However, over the past week, a wave of depression has come crashing upon the shores of my life. Like a rogue wave that comes out of no where, I wasn’t prepared to deal with this emotional undertow. As I attempt to regain my balance so that I’m not swept away by this strong current, I find myself in need of encouragement.

When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! – Psalm 32:3-4

I’m definitely not the first to experience such a strange week nor will I be the last to undergo what the Bible calls a trial. In the passage above, a series of bad choices causes King David to be overwhelmed by guilt. The longer David waited to confess his careless errors and mistakes to God, the worse he feels. As each day passed without acknowledging his sin, David’s strength was sapped like humidity from a summer heatwave.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:5-6.

Jesus’ earthly brother reveals that earthly trials take the form of waves of doubt. Once fully developed, these spiritual storms contain a billowing surge that keeps coming. When you add the wind. conditions only get worse. According to James, when you find yourself stuck in one of these systems, call out to God in prayer to receive wisdom to get you through. While each storm varies, James 1:12 provides hope for those who hold on to Jesus until your storm passes.

by Jay Mankus

When You Need to be Propped Up

A farmer developed an unusual way of ending his prayer at church. Whenever called upon to close Sunday’s service in prayer, this farmer opted to skip the typically Amen. Instead, this man of God would close using the phrase, “God prop us up on our leaning side.” Curious, the senior pastor wanted to understand the meaning of this expression. This was conceived after noticing an old barn on his property began to lean to one side. To avoid losing this barn, the farmer braced it on one to secure it’s future.

[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality, Jude 1:23.

In the 17th chapter of Exodus, Moses recalls a memorable battle. Instead of fighting, Moses delegates this task to his successor Joshua. According to Exodus 17:9-10, Moses played the role of cheerleader, holding up the rod of God. As long as Moses arms were held high, Israel was winning. However, as soon as Moses’ arms grew weak, Amalek prevailed. To ensure a victory, the Lord sent Aaron and Hur to prop up Moses’ arms. This is another form of being propped up.

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—Jude 1:24.

Due to our fallen nature, Romans 3:11, every human being has a tendency to lean toward the sinful nature, Galatians 5:19-21. Instead of continuing leaning until you stumble and fall, Jude provides an alternative. Just as the apostle Paul urges believers to set your heart and mind and things above, Jude wants us to prop others up before they fall over. The more you focus your attention on helping other, the less likely you’ll find yourself indulging your sinful nature. The next time you see someone leaning, ask God to prop them up on their leaning side.

by Jay Mankus

The Dangers of Moral Narcissism

There are vast degrees of self-righteousness that exist in today’s culture. However, a term that dates back to 1979 is replacing self-righteous; what Christopher Lasch refers to as moral narcissism. This moral superiority is conceived from a sense that one’s beliefs, ideals, and affiliations are of greater virtue than those of the average person. Moral narcissists can range from obnoxious religious leaders, perfectionists seeking piety to sanctimonious members of the media. If you are not part of an important, powerful or significant group, expect to be looked down upon from one of these individuals who practice symbolism over substance.

He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [that they were upright and in right standing with God] and scorned and made nothing of all the rest of men: 10 Two men went up into the temple [enclosure] to pray, the one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector, Luke 18:9-10.

During a first century conversation, Jesus uses prayer as way to highlight the difference between the humble and self-righteous. In this illustration, Jesus compares a Pharisee to a tax collector. To set the scene, Pharisees were considered devout religious leaders, respected by the Jewish community. Meanwhile, tax collectors were often corrupt, tied with prostitutes at the bottom of the least desired occupations of their day. This background reflects how each approaches the Lord in prayer. As long as moral narcissists express how much they care publicly, following through with their convictions isn’t as important.

The Pharisee took his stand ostentatiously and began to pray thus before and with himself: God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—extortioners (robbers), swindlers [unrighteous in heart and life], adulterers—or even like this tax collector here. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I gain. 13 But the tax collector, [merely] standing at a distance, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but kept striking his breast, saying, O God, be favorable (be gracious, be merciful) to me, the especially wicked sinner that I am! – Luke 18:11-13.

Becoming self-righteous blinds individuals from their own spiritual condition. When you think too highly of yourself, subtle sins are ignored and overlooked. Instead of looking inward, moral narcissists compare themselves to lesser human beings as a means to feel better about their life. This mindset is a breeding ground for lukewarm spirits. Anyone who continues down this path are in spiritual danger, drifting closer to hell. The only way to snap out of this state is by acknowledging sin. May this parable serve as a warning to those hindered by a big ego, hypocrisy or smugness.

by Jay Mankus

Speak to Me Outside of Church

Prior to the Coronavirus cancelling worship services across the country, only 20% of Americans regularly attended church. Before being quarantined, this steady decline in attendance suggests that many Christians haven’t made church a priority, finding other things to do on Saturday and Sunday. According to a 2018 Outreach Magazine article, only the state of Hawaii saw a recent increase in worship attendance. If absence makes the heart grow fonder, perhaps this time away from church will conceive a hunger to join and become an active member in a local church.

My son, if you will receive my words and treasure up my commandments within you, Making your ear attentive to skillful and godly Wisdom and inclining and directing your heart and mind to understanding [applying all your powers to the quest for it]; Yes, if you cry out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, If you seek [Wisdom] as for silver and search for skillful and godly Wisdom as for hidden treasures, Then you will understand the reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of [our omniscient] God, Proverbs 2:1-5.

As for now, believers are going to have to find an alternative, an avenue for God to speak to you outside of church. Reading the Bible daily is a logical step in this direction. In the passage above, Solomon is pleading with his children. Instead of trying to find joy and pleasure in the world, dust off this book and begin listening to the living Word of God. Open your heart and mind to these truths, embracing and treasuring these spiritual nuggets. The next transition is putting these words into practice by applying biblical principles through your actions, behavior and speech.

If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you, John 15:7.

This process will require prayer; lots of it. Since there isn’t a band, chorus and musician to lead you in worship, you can rely on your favorite internet site to enhance your prayer. Several years ago I was introduced to the concept of Soaking in the Spirit. This occurs by laying down in a room, closing your eyes and clearing your mind from stress of life while listening to worship music. The goal is to empty your mind of all the garbage that you have collected over time and ask God to remove and replace it with songs of praise. The attached song, a spontaneous worship montage by Kari Jobe is what I use when I want God to speak to me outside of church.

by Jay Mankus

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