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Tag Archives: praying

Pushing and Shoving

Pushing and shoving are often associated with a heated argument, fight or skirmish.  When tempers flare, maintaining self-control is a difficult task.  In my half century on earth, I have only been involved in two fights.  While eating lunch in junior high, someone called my name, I stood up and then was blind sided by a punch, dropping to the floor immediately.  A few years later, I was defending a younger neighbor who was black from a high school student who wanted to beat him up.  Although I didn’t want to fight, I stepped in to protect my friend.

But as Jesus went, the people were crowding against Him [almost crushing Him], Luke 8:42b.

The Bible refers to a difficult kind of pushing and shoving.  The passage above would be equivalent to a modern day outdoor rock concert, with fans trying to get as close as possible to their favorite member of a band on stage.  Although its unclear, I’m assuming the disciples served as body guards, attempting to hold the masses back from crushing Jesus.  Nonetheless, these desperate souls did whatever was necessary to touch Jesus while he passed by.

And a woman who had [suffered from] a hemorrhage for twelve years [and had spent all her money on physicians], and could not be healed by anyone, 44 came up behind Him and touched the fringe of His outer robe, and immediately her bleeding stopped, Luke 8:43-44.

When people are hurting, ill or plagued by an unknown condition, there are different levels of urgency.  An initial diagnosis may be cause for concern, but some take no immediate action.  However, as symptoms intensify, hope turns into fear.  The woman in the passage above went from doctor to doctor, spending her life savings without any improvement.  This dire state prompted this woman to push and shove her way through a massive crowd of spectators until Jesus was in reach.  When you reach this point of desperation, cry out to Jesus so that healing and restoration becomes reality.

by Jay Mankus

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Pray at Lunchtime for the United States

The origin of praying for a meal has ties to the Old Testament and New Testament.  In the days of Israel, cup bearers were similar to modern day secret service agents.  Instead of serving as an armed guard, these men tested the food and wine for poisons.  If no one died, this meal was safe for the king to enjoy.  One of the most famous cup bearers is Nehemiah, who God used as a vessel to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem.  In the first century, the apostles gave thanks for each meal the Lord provided.  While the passage below does not detail the words spoken, praying before eating was a form of thanksgiving.

Having said this, he took bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all, and he broke it and began to eat, Acts 27:35.

Today, Christians continue this practice, folding their hands, closing their eyes and either silently or verbally expressing thanks to God for daily bread.  Just as Moses gave thanks for manna from heaven and quail via God, saying grace is an act of appreciation for the little things in life.  Unfortunately, praying at lunch has made national news recently for the wrong reason.  Brigadier General John Teichert who has a blog encouraging individuals to pray at lunchtime for the United States is being threatened by a lawsuit.  Attorney Michael Weinstein who trolls Christians on military bases recently said, “General Teichert should be doing time behind prison bars, not commanding a Wing wearing a general’s stars,”

Then all of them were encouraged and their spirits improved, and they also ate some food, Acts 27:36.

Luke provides the benefits of praying before a meal in the passage above.  Based upon the words used by Luke, saying grace can be moving as people pour out their hearts to God.  This specific prayer encouraged everyone in attendance as well as uplifting their spirits.  If public prayer for a meal could have this impact on a group of people, why is this attorney be so upset?  If prayer can inspire souls to act, what’s the big deal?  How is prayer hurting military bases and the men and women who serve this country?  Perhaps, if atheists, critics and skeptics begin to pray, this world would become a better place.  May the readers of this blog keep General Teichert in your prayers so that the power of prayer will continue to thrive in this country and throughout the world.

by Jay Mankus

Beware of the Weary Traveler

Drained, drowsy, exhausted, fatigued and spent are words associated with being tired and weary.  Depending upon your hobbies, occupation and physical fitness routine, energy can be released emotionally, mentally and physically.  Perhaps this is why the commandments reference loving God with all your heart, soul and mind.  Exercising each of these three aspects of the human body prevents the enemy, Satan, from snatching the good news of Jesus Christ from human hearts, Matthew 13:18-19.  The apostle Paul addresses this within 1 Thessalonians 5:23, urging his audience to prepare your spirit, soul and body for the second coming of Jesus.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up, Galatians 6:9.

Unfortunately, many good intentioned Christians use busyness as an excuse not to follow the advice of Jesus and Paul.  Yet, the longer any believer goes without praying, studying the Bible and worshipping God, the closer you get to the weary traveler.  This is a spiritual condition, not an actual person, where souls become vulnerable to demonic attacks.  Instead of resisting evil, weary travelers often contemplate forbidden fruits, entertain thoughts of doubt and open their minds to alternative lifestyles.  In the passage above, the apostle Paul urges his readers to hold on, press on and don’t give up on following the narrow path that leads to life, Matthew 7:13-14.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31.

In the days of the Old Testament, devout Jews grew weary of the ancient practices for seeking forgiveness.  Animals needed to be collected, trips to the temples planned and sacrifices made by a high priest to atone for the mistakes, rebellious acts and transgressions made by you and your family.  When you consider the blood, killing and smell left behind by this grueling tradition, its no wonder that Israelites in the days of the prophet Isaiah began to lose hope.  Receiving a vision from God, Isaiah compares the Lord to eaglets nurtured and raised by caring parents.  Thus, when you feel like you can’t go on any longer, let God carry you on wings like eagles.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

Today, a week doesn’t go by without news of a Christian falling from grace, caught in a surprising act of sin.  These tarnished believers often follow the pattern found in 2 Samuel 11:1-4.  Just because you are a man or woman after God’s own heart doesn’t make you immune to sin.  Rather, when the spirit of the weary traveler enters your soul, anything is possible.  Just ask King David who didn’t feel like going to work one day.  This decision led to idleness, boredom and a wandering spirit.  One thing led to another and suddenly a righteous man commits adultery, get’s another man’s wife pregnant and gives order to have her husband left behind and killed.  This Old Testament passage should serve as a wake up call to all Christians who are on the verge of entertaining the weary traveler.

by Jay Mankus

If I Don’t Do What God Calls Me to Do…What Does That Make Me?

In today’s softer, gentler climate, you don’t see many “in your face” personality types anymore.  These characters are often reserved for the military, personal trainers or professional sports.  Yet, during the first century, there was one man who didn’t care how you felt.  Rather, the apostle Paul was blunt, honest and serious in his letters to Christian congregations.  When you don’t do what God calls you to do, this lack of action causes you to be separated from God.

For sin, seizing its opportunity through the commandment, beguiled and completely deceived me, and using it as a weapon killed me [separating me from God], Romans 7:11.

Sin is like catching a spiritual cold.  If you don’t take medicine such as studying the Bible, praying and worshipping God, your condition will worsen.  This virus attacks individuals on two fronts, your body and mind.  Human bodies require boundaries, exercise and routines.  If you fail to make time for God daily, out of sight, out of mind will cause souls to place God and your faith on a shelf to collect dust.  Meanwhile, demons and evil spirits influence minds by planting seeds of doubt.  These thoughts if unchecked can kill your joy for life.

 For I do not understand my own actions [I am baffled and bewildered by them]. I do not practice what I want to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate [and yielding to my human nature, my worldliness—my sinful capacity]. 16 Now if I habitually do what I do not want to do, [that means] I agree with the Law, confessing that it is good (morally excellent). 17 So now [if that is the case, then] it is no longer I who do it [the disobedient thing which I despise], but the sin [nature] which lives in me, Romans 7:15-17.

In the passage above, Paul hints at what it is like to be addicted to a specific sin.  Whether this is cheating, cursing, eating unhealthy, indulging your flesh in unwholesome ways or lying, breaking any bad habit is difficult.  Making a drastic change requires will power that many people lack.  Thus, all too often sinners throw in the towel, quit and wave the white flag, surrendering to Satan.  If this blog finds you in a similar state, ask God for the resolve necessary to fight through your ordeal.  Lean on the promise of Romans 7:24-25 so that failure does not define your life.

by Jay Mankus

Change Your World

In the first century, one man set out to change the world.  This higher calling wasn’t rushed.  Nor did this man leave anything up to chance.  Rather, Jesus waited for the appointed time prior to selecting twelve disciples to lay a foundation for change.  Dotting his i’s and crossing his t’s, Jesus kept in step with the Holy Spirit to carry out the necessary Old Testament prophecies yet to be fulfilled.  Fasting, praying, being baptized, spreading goods news about the kingdom of God, training future leaders and surrendering to authorities set the stage for the climax.  As the crucifixion of a perfect lamb was about to be laid to rest in a tomb, a resurrection cancelled the written code the moment death was conquered, Colossians 2:13-15.  This one supernatural act has changed the world forever.

 “For God so [greatly] loved and dearly prized the world, that He [even] gave His [One and] only begotten Son, so that whoever believes and trusts in Him [as Savior] shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge and condemn the world [that is, to initiate the final judgment of the world], but that the world might be saved through Him, John 3:16-17.

The film Equalizer debuted In 2014, introducing a character who wanted to change the world one person at a time.  Denzel Washington plays Robert McCall, a retired CIA black ops operative using a local hardware store as his mission field.  When McCall sees injustices that occur within his spheres of influence, he acts immediately to accomplish the greater good.  After hours, during breaks or on the job interactions are used by Robert to develop relationships, challenging co-workers, customers and strangers to be the best you can be.  During one moving scene, Robert talks to a girl who is trapped by her pimp, unable to break free to fulfill her dream to become a singer.  Not wasting this opportunity, Robert exclaims, “change your world!”

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18.

Sometimes when you feel the urge to make a difference in this life, its hard to know where to start.  Depending upon the atmosphere, circumstances or environment, many good intentioned individuals can become overwhelmed before ever getting started.  Thus, changing your world for the better requires a joint effort.  From a spiritual perspective, ground work must by laid through fasting and prayer.  Like the building of an ministry team, when the timing is right God will raise up leaders to fill the gaps that exist.  Yet, while you are waiting for the world to change, don’t lose heart.  Rather, let faith guide you until agents for change arrive.  May the words of this attached scene from Equalizer inspire you to change your world beginning today.

by Jay Mankus

Whispers of Hope

If your voice tends to dominate or over power conversations, your ears will have a hard time hearing the whispers of others.  Breaths, murmurs and subtle tones will be drown out, oblivious to talkative souls.  Meanwhile, the down trodden, hurting and hopeless can become skeptical to any sort of good news.  Jaded hearts turn to sarcasm, laughing at any glimpses of hope.  Regardless of where you may be on this spectrum, a growing number of individuals ignore daily whispers of hope.

And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you, Psalm 39:7.

Like any distressed soul, its not uncommon to want to find someone who will listen to your frustrations.  Whether this is a co-worker, friend or neighbor, venting has a way of releasing any built up tension within you.  After sessions of complaining, ranting and unloading the stress weighing you down, periods of relief can be temporarily found.  In the Old Testament, David discovered a way to embrace whispers of hope.  Although living as a shepherd can be lonely, with few interaction with people, God is only a prayer away.  Thus, pouring our his heart to the Lord became a daily practice, waiting for his life to change for the better.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

The apostle Paul takes David’s concept to a new level in the passage above.  While praying enables individuals to cry out to God, reading the God allows the Holy Spirit to speak to your heart through whispers of hope.  Whenever Paul was depressed, discouraged or frustrated, reading the Old Testament provided encouragement and the inspiration to endure.  Since modern readers have the luxury of a completed Bible, the Old and New Testaments, studying the Bible is the best way to hear whispers of hope.  May this blog inspire you to live out Romans 10:17 as faith comes from listening and reading God’s Word.

by Jay Mankus

Finding A Shack to Meet with God

There isn’t anything that God asks individuals to do that his son Jesus didn’t already model on earth.  Apparently, spending time alone with God was so important that Jesus got up earning in the morning to meet with his heavenly father.  While this location is not mentioned by name it involves a secluded place, probably in the mountains outside of town.  If you want to emulate Christ in all ways the first step should be finding a shack, an isolated location to meet with God.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there, Mark 1:35.

In the 2017 film based upon the 2007 book written by William P. Young, the Shack contains a scene where the main character receives a invitation to meet God in a shack.  The only problem is that this is the place where Mack’s daughter was murdered.  Confiding in a friend, Mack is not sure if this mysterious card in the mail is a trap sent by the his daughter’s killer, a sick prank or God?  Afraid and curious, Mack ends up spending a weekend with God that transforms his life.

Simon [Peter] and his companions searched [everywhere, looking anxiously] for Him, 37 and they found Him and said, “Everybody is looking for You!”Mark 1:36-37

The passage above details the hindrance that awaits anyone hoping to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.  If you don’t wake up early enough or find a setting without distractions, your time with God will be interrupted.  Pastor Tommy Nelson of Denton Bible Church has a saying for any believer who rushes through their morning devotion.  Nelson refers to this as a spiritual spit bath, void of the living water.  In view of this analogy, if you want to celebrate and experience the abundant life of John 10:10, make your preparations today to find your shack to meet with God.

by Jay Mankus

 

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