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Tag Archives: Questioning God

Pushed to the Brink of Letting Go

Whenever your job description changes over night, an unsettling feeling may overwhelm your soul.  As you search for answers, your nerves may be calmed or a dysfunctional situation only gets worse.  Depending upon your state of mind, anger may brew, bitterness boil and frustration mount.  Yet, perhaps all this has happened to you, pushed to the brink by stress to let go of control by allowing God to take the reigns.

And [later] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept the flocks [of sheep and goats], but Cain cultivated the ground. And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no respect. So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and he looked annoyed and hostile, Genesis 4:2-5.

In the passage above, an older brother becomes jealous of his younger brother.  The long hours of farming gradually took a toll on Cain’s state of mind.  After coming home dirty and exhausted, Abel appeared to have a much better job and life.  However, when Cain was pushed to the brink, he chose to question God as detailed below.  This venting session provided Cain with advice on what to do next, toward an open door to escape temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

Anyone who is about to lose it emotionally needs to reflect upon the passage above.  Every day sin crouches at your door, waiting for foolish souls to welcome it in.  Unless you practice the self discipline referred to in 2 Timothy 1:6-7, sin will overpower you.  Thus, if you want to avoid the same fate of Cain, you must learn to control your body like a competitive athlete.  This pursuit results in a calm and well balanced mind.  Thus, if you are prepared, the next time you are pushed to the brink of frustration, letting go by trusting God will become a natural transition.

by Jay Mankus

A Form of Testing God

Massah is one of the locations which the Torah identifies as having been travelled through by the Israelites during their exodus out of Egypt.  While the list of visited stations in the Book of Numbers does not mention Massah, Exodus 17:7 refers to Massah and Meribah as the place where a quarrel began.  According to Moses, upon reaching Massah, Israelites lost faith and hope, questioning if God was really with them anymore.

“You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah,” Deuteronomy 6:16.

As Gentiles began to convert to Christianity and receive the Holy Spirit, Pharisees sought to add Jewish traditions to salvation.  This concept didn’t sit well with Simon, prompting Peter to stand up to address religious leaders gathered together at the Council of Jerusalem.  According to Luke, Peter eludes to Deuteronomy 6:16.  Adding circumcision to salvation is comparable to placing a yoke around the neck of the disciples.  Making circumcision mandatory for everyone would de-emphasize the grace of God and cause potential converts to change their mind.

Now then, why are you testing God by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to endure? – Acts 15:10

Today, not only do people lose faith in God, but sects of Christianity have added legalistic practices which often confuse young believers.  This atmosphere sets the stage for more people to test God, wanting some sort of sign or miracle for assurance.  Yet, faith is the exact opposite of these natural desires.  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen, Hebrews 11:1.  Subsequently, you may find yourself in the dark from time to time, but remember what happened at Massah so you don’t repeat the same mistakes of the past.

by Jay Mankus

 

Perplexed and Wondering

A week doesn’t go by without experiencing, hearing or witnessing something that baffles my mind. Certain events are puzzling, hard to grasp the meaning, purpose or reason for God allowing these things to occur. Without counsel, a friend or insight from a mentor, you might be left in the dark. Days may turn into weeks, months and years before clarity arrives.

While they were perplexed and wondering about this, suddenly, two men in dazzling clothing stood near them; Luke 24:4.

A group of woman were on their way to finish preparing Jesus’ body for his permanent resting place. Upon arriving, the door to his grave, a boulder protecting a cave entrance was rolled away. After going inside, Jesus’ body was gone, missing. Perplexed and wondering, these women were visited by two angels who appeared in dazzling clothes from heaven. At their greatest need for understanding, the Lord provided a message of hope.

Blessed [gratefully praised and adored] be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant and boundless mercy has caused us to be born again [that is, to be reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] to an ever-living hope and confident assurance through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3.

The resurrection gave first century individuals who let Jesus down prior to his death a second chance. This included Peter who denied knowing Jesus during his arrest and trial. While Jesus’ acts, miracles and words perplexed and caused his own disciples to wonder why, dying and rising from the dead fulfilled biblical prophecy. Thus, even though you may still have numerous questions you want to be answered, the resurrection of Jesus provides eternal security for those who believe this event occurred.

by Jay Mankus

When God Has a Change in Plans

Back in 2016, I had emergency eye surgery in my right eye to prevent glaucoma from escalating.  After this operation, my surgeon informed me of a cataract that would need to be addressed in the future.  The initial goal was to wait a year then have cataract surgery.  However, this got pushed back until yesterday or least that’s what I thought.  When my blood pressure went from 130 over 80 Tuesday morning to 177 over 130 Thursday morning, God had a change of plans.  This procedure that involved six months of planning was abruptly cancelled.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps, Proverbs 16:9.

The older I get, the more analytical I become, pondering the reason for this delay.  Could I have died during this operation?  Did God prevent an accident from occurring?  Can God heal my eye supernaturally foregoing the need for this procedure?  Or did God want me to become painfully aware of a more pressing health need in my life?  As I ask these questions to God, I am still awaiting a clear response.  Nonetheless, King Solomon prepared the nation of Israel by warning people of God’s ability to alter, change or redirect your path.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand, Proverbs 19:21.

Currently, I find myself perplexed, essentially placed on bed rest until my blood pressure returns to a more normal level.  A few weeks before my senior year of college began, I broke my foot playing sand volleyball.  Instead of enjoying the final weeks of summer, I laid in bed, elevating my foot to reduce the swelling.  Five years ago a sledding accident resulted in 2 broken ribs and a collapsed lung, forced to take a medical leave of absence from work for five weeks.  When God quickly changes your plans, it’s not fun.  Yet, as I lie around in bed for a few days, I have time to reflect.  As I do, this is God’s way of reintroducing me to his plans, not mine.  Thus, I sit here quietly, listening intently and writing down for others in a blog what I am learning as I go through this tryin time in life.

by Jay Mankus

God is Watching Over You

If anyone had a reason to doubt and question God, it was Job, a character in one of the oldest books of the Bible.  After his children died in a storm similar to a tornado, Job contracted boils all over his body.  Old Testament rationale associated the bad things that happened to individuals as a sign of punishment from God.  Thus, as bystanders stood by watching the trials that besieged Job, even three of Job’s best friends began to doubt his innocence.

“Behold, God is exalted in His power; Who is a ruler or a teacher like Him?” – Job 36:22

Feeling abandoned, one thought came to Job’s mind, God is watching over you.  While Job’s wife wanted him to curse God and die, his years of spending time with God enabled common sense to prevail.  Just as Jacob physically wrestled with God, Job struggled to comprehend what was happening to him.  This spiritual tussle inspired Job to record these events within an Old Testament book.  The worse things get in life, God has a way of humbling people to the point desperately trusting the Lord with your heart, soul and mind.

He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber.  Behold, He who keeps Israel.  Will neither slumber [briefly] nor sleep [soundly].  The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade on your right hand, Psalm 121:3-5.

The Psalmist describes how God specifically watches over human beings.  Shepherds gave thanks for not twisting their ankle despite walking along rocky terrain.  Meanwhile, others sang about God’s never ending protection, watching over us like the old Bette Midler song From a Distance.  Finally, God is like a keeper, a shepherd guiding sheep around danger, a shade of protection in times of trouble.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in the midst of adversity, remember the invisible guardian in the heavens above who is watching over you and me.

by Jay Mankus

Why Some Don’t Get Over the Hump?

There have been times in my life that I wanted to know, “why me Lord?”  Whenever you experience disappointment, failure or rejection, its not selfish to want understand why you have to endure yet another trial.  The Bible is full of servants questioning God for the hand each has been dealt.  Yet, I recently came across a passage which might explain why I haven’t gotten over the proverbial hump.

Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism, Colossians 3:25.

According to the apostle Paul, individuals are repaid for each wrong doing committed.  While the world is full of favoritism with many getting free passes on past transgressions, the Bible has a different standard to live by.  Subsequently, heartaches I have faced could be directly or indirectly related to prior poor choices made by me.  Whatever the reason for the rough stretches I have undergone, maybe I need to ask God for forgiveness before I point the blame toward heaven.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows, Galatians 6:7.

Perhaps, this is what the apostle Paul is referencing above.  A growing number of people pass the buck today, blaming others or situations instead of taking personal responsibility for their own actions.  Despite this attempt, God can’t be mocked.  Thus, until Christians recognize the sowing principle, they won’t be able to get over the hump.  When you come to this realization, practice the words of James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

The Joseph Parallel

The logical individual thinks life should be a series of straight lines from point A to point B and so on.  While everyone may experience progress and natural progressions at times, life is full of detours, road blocks and phases of construction.  Therefore, the next time you find yourself in a period of transition, remember the Joseph parallel.

And it came to pass, when Joseph was come unto his brethren, that they stripped Joseph of his coat, the coat of many colors that was on him; and they took him, and cast him into the pit: and the pit was empty, there was no water in it, Genesis 37:23-24.

Joseph son of Jacob, had high expectations, receiving dreams and visions of the life God intended.  However, envy, jealousy and pride led Joseph down a path of disappointment.  Despite a series of heartbreaks, Joseph remained optimistic, leading to favor from God and man.  Apparently, Joseph didn’t care how long it took to fulfill God’s will.  Rather, Joseph kept plugging away at life until God opened doors that he was ready to walk through.

And Joseph’s master took him, and put him into the prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were bound: and he was there in the prison.  But Jehovah was with Joseph, and showed kindness unto him, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison, Genesis 39:20-21.

As I look at my own life, its not that different from Joseph.  However, when I experience trials I spent too much questioning God instead of making the best of each situation.  Subsequently, I have wasted countless days, weeks and years complaining instead of currying God’s favor.  In view of Joseph’s parallel, I need to be transformed, embracing hardships like James 1:2-4.  Although the Lord is waiting to bless his children, too many are having pity parties instead of taking God’s hand in faith.  May the Joseph parallel broaden your perspective and inspire you to keep serving the Lord until you reach your final destination.

by Jay Mankus

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