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Tag Archives: Reading the Bible

The Cure for a Troubled Mind

A troubled mind is like being a parent at a little league game. One error leads to another as a ground ball in the infield ends up becoming an inside the park homeroom. Great for the hitter who never stops running and gut-wrenching for the fielding team. As a former coach, I once watched my catcher not know the rule for a dropped third strike with the bases loaded. Electing to throw the ball to first rather than step on home plate, he airmailed first by 10 feet. As my right fielder loafed to the ball, all 4 runners scored.

Remember [earnestly] also your Creator [that you are not your own, but His property now] in the days of your youth, before the evil days come or the years draw near when you will say [of physical pleasures], I have no enjoyment in them—Ecclesiastes 12:1.

King Solomon suggests that troubled minds are a byproduct of forgetting God. I find this to be true in my own life when a go a few days without reading the Bible or praying. Rather than keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, I begin to feed my earthly desires, Romans 8:5-8. The apostle Paul goes on to explain in chapter 8 that a carnal mind can’t not please God. This points to the spiritual frustration within Cain in Genesis 4:5-8. Cain’s troubled mind made him to act out rather than submit to fruits of the Spirit.

Nevertheless, God was not pleased with the great majority of them, for they were overthrown and strewn down along [the ground] in the wilderness. Now these things are examples (warnings and admonitions) for us not to desire or crave or covet or lust after evil and carnal things as they did, 1 Corinthians 10:5-6.

The apostle Paul uses history as a way to prevent yourself from making the same mistakes over and over again in life. Providing a brief summary of Israel’s past failures, Paul claims that these serve as warnings to not crave, covet or indulge your sinful nature. Denzel Washington uses a nearby field in Gettysburg in the film Remember the Titans to communicate to his players, “if we don’t learn from this battle, we too will be destroyed.” Thus, the cure for a troubled mind is seeking daily reminders from the Bible on how to live.

by Jay Mankus

When War Broke Out in Heaven

Reading the Bible can be like watching a movie with drama and suspense. There are moments where scenes abruptly end, forcing you to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Such is the case of the war that broke out in heaven. There are pieces of this event scattered throughout the Old and New Testament leading to the archangel Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels banished from heaven, expelled to earth.

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels went forth to battle with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought, Revelation 12:7.

Isaiah 14:12-19 speak of Lucifer’s fall from grace. Lucifer appears in the Garden of Eden as a serpent, like a king cobra but able to speak like Balaam’s donkey. Based upon Genesis 1-2, Adam was given authority over the earth which served as a demotion in Lucifer’s eyes. Based upon words of Matthew 4:5-11, the tempter received the authority lost by Adam which is supported by Ephesians 2:2.

But they were defeated, and there was no room found for them in heaven any longer. And the huge dragon was cast down and out—that age-old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, he who is the seducer (deceiver) of all humanity the world over; he was forced out and down to the earth, and his angels were flung out along with him, Revelation 12:8-9.

Ezekiel 28:17 reveals Lucifer’s departure from heaven as does Luke 10:18. The war itself appears to be as Lucifer exercised his freewill which opposed God’s plan. Perhaps each of the temptations Jesus faced shines light on why Lucifer rebelled and what caused other angels to follow. Whatever the reason, John has a quick vision which summarizes when war broke out in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

The Prayers of God’s People

If you make studying the Bible a daily goal, human nature will cause you to skip a few days due to sheer exhaustion, a busy schedule or neglect. Yet, if you persist by making this practice a spiritual discipline, I can guarantee that you will learn something new every day. While local churches were closed due to Covid 19, reading the Bible is what kept me going spiritually.

And this is the confidence (the assurance, the privilege of boldness) which we have in Him: [we are sure] that if we ask anything (make any request) according to His will (in agreement with His own plan), He listens to and hears us, 1 John 5:14.

My latest insight came in the form of the passage below. While John’s words appear to be similar to the imagery of a first century doctor in Luke 15:8-10, Revelation highlights the prayers of God’s people. Meanwhile, Luke focuses on rejoicing angels in heaven who celebrate when anyone on earth repents by entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

And when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders [[e]of the heavenly Sanhedrin] prostrated themselves before the Lamb. Each was holding a harp (lute or guitar), and they had golden bowls full of incense (fragrant spices and gums for burning), which are the prayers of God’s people (the saints), Revelation 5:8.

Apparently, heavenly prayers of those who have passed away and are looking down on earth, Hebrews 12:1, use Old Testament practices found in the Torah. Just as high priests of Israel participated in wave offerings, Numbers 18:11, heavenly music plays as the prayers of God’s saints are offered up daily. May this vision provided by John from heaven inspire you to continue to offer up requests to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

Forgetting the Divine Word

Amnesia is a condition where individuals develop an inability to recall facts or previous experiences. This can be brought on by a brain injury, fatigue, repression, shock, trauma, or illnesses like lyme disease. From a spiritual perspective, amnesia can be induced by addiction, bad habits and a series of poor choices. Once sin entangles a life, this can cause a Christian to forget God’s word.

And have you [completely] forgotten the divine word of appeal and encouragement in which you are reasoned with and addressed as sons? My son, do not think lightly or scorn to submit to the correction and discipline of the Lord, nor lose courage and give up and faint when you are reproved or corrected by Him; Hebrews 12:5.

Whenever a busy week approaches, I try to maintain my daily schedule of reading the Bible and praying. Yet, at least once a month a packed schedule causes me to put my time with God on hold. Since I tend to be extremely focused on what I’m doing, I’m become so engrossed on the present that I forget about God. The longer I put off spending time with the Lord, I forget the Divine Word.

But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:14-15.

The earthly brother of James gives an honest perspective of how and why Christians forget the Bible. When tempted by earthly pleasures or treasures, it’s not uncommon to have lapses in judgement. Whether you’re Edmund meeting the witch for the first time in the Chronicles of Narnia or Peter in public following Jesus’ arrest, enticement and peer pressure is hard to overcome. Yet, if you want to overcome any temptation, open up the Bible so that you don’t forget the Divine Word this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

Collecting Dust or Fanning into Flame?

My work desk is located directly under a flat sorter. Prior to the new cleaning regulations brought on by COVID 19, parts of my desk would collect black dust particles. One of my responsibilities is to test movies for defects on our Blu-Ray Player. However, since my building has transitioned toward an apparel site, I may test a few each year which causes our flat screen station to collect dust like it’s in a coal mine.

Moreover, as they go about from house to house, they learn to be idlers, and not only idlers, but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say and talking of things they should not mention, 1 Timothy 5:13.

From a spiritual perspective, when you stop moving, there are a series of side effects. When I become inactive, I immediately gain weight. Beyond the physical, if I’m not involved in an activity or group, my social life and skills are stunted. Meanwhile, if I stop reading the Bible and pray, my whole nature and personality changes, taking a turn for the worse as a human being.

That is why I would remind you to stir up (rekindle the embers of, fan the flame of, and keep burning) the [gracious] gift of God, [the inner fire] that is in you by means of the laying on of my hands [[c]with those of the elders at your ordination]. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:6-7.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul writes a letter to a teenage pastor named Timothy. Paul’s advice is geared toward taking action. This internal fire refers to spiritual gifts and talents within every person. Paul’s goal is to unlock these abilities by fanning them into flame. Whether you like it or not, you have two options: remain idle or get busy living? May the Holy Spirit ignite your faith so you begin shine.

by Jay Mankus

Created, Connected and Called

If you’re not careful, life can become like a never ending roller coaster with corkscrews, free falls and upside down loops that make you dizzy. When your feet hit the pavement after immediately getting off this ride, it may take a couple of minutes before you can walk in a straight line again. On the surface, an amusement ride may look harmless, but the thrill that follows can affect your body for the rest of the day. Whenever you experience this uneasy feeling, all you want to do is find a seat. hoping that you’ll recover quickly.

Do not blush or be ashamed then, to testify to and for our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for His sake, but [[d]with me] take your share of the suffering [to which the preaching] of the Gospel [may expose you, and do it] in the power of God. [For it is He] Who delivered and saved us and called us with a calling in itself holy and leading to holiness [to a life of consecration, a vocation of holiness]; [He did it] not because of anything of merit that we have done, but because of and to further His own purpose and grace (unmerited favor) which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began [eternal ages ago], 2 Timothy 1:8-9.

From a spiritual perspective, one of Satan’s schemes to disconnect you from God. Like a long distance relationship that falls apart over time, separation causes you to forget what drew you together. Likewise, if you go a couple of days, weeks or a month with reading the Bible, spiritual qualities which once flowed naturally out of you begin to evaporate. If this persists, Christians may forgot who created them, faith will start to crack and the calling you once received from God can become like a distant memory.

We are assured and know that [[j]God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew [of whom He was [k]aware and [l]loved beforehand], He also destined from the beginning [foreordaining them] to be molded into the image of His Son [and share inwardly His likeness], that He might become the firstborn among many brethren. 30 And those whom He thus foreordained, He also called; and those whom He called, He also justified (acquitted, made righteous, putting them into right standing with Himself). And those whom He justified, He also glorified [raising them to a heavenly dignity and condition or state of being], Romans 8:28-30.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul touches on God’s persistence throughout life. Like the loving Father portrayed by Jesus in the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, God is waiting for you to return. Just as front porches once served as ways to pass the time each summer, God is the parent in a rocking chair waiting for you to come home. When you do, minds will be refreshed by your heavenly Creator. Hearts will start to sense the Holy Spirit drawing you closer to reconnect with God. Finally, as you reflect upon the Bible and pray, God’s will and purpose will be revealed so you can continue this life long journey known as faith.

by Jay Mankus

Spiritual Aerobics

Aerobics is a vigorous exercise designed to strengthen the heart and lungs. Besides running, swimming and walking which most of you can do by yourself at home or in your neighborhood, there are an unlimited supply of videos on aerobics. Whether you follow along to a workout video or you tube, there are numerous ways to get back into and stay in shape. However, if you keep putting this off day after day, you’ll lose all motivation for physical exercise.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but [only] one receives the prize? So run [your race] that you may lay hold [of the prize] and make it yours. 25 Now every athlete who goes into training conducts himself temperately and restricts himself in all things. They do it to win a wreath that will soon wither, but we [do it to receive a crown of eternal blessedness] that cannot wither. 26 Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit], 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

The apostle Paul introduces readers to the concept of spiritual aerobics. Using the host city of the Isthmian Games as a backdrop, a prestigious track and field event held during the off years of the Olympics, Paul references the strict training of these athletes. Spiritual aerobics is designed to strengthen your heart, soul and mind. Whether you’re reading the Bible, praying or participating in a worship service, these exercises energize your spiritual life.

Therefore then, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us, Looking away [from all that will distract] to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith [giving the first incentive for our belief] and is also its Finisher [bringing it to maturity and perfection]. He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:1-12.

The author of Hebrews takes spiritual aerobics to the next level, comparing this to running a marathon. I once ran 15 miles in an afternoon training for my senior year of cross country in high school. While one of my teammates easily cruised through the final few miles, I struggled to finish as my legs got heavier and heavier with each stride. The key to spiritual aerobics is unloading and throwing off anything that is holding you back or slowing you down. Instead of dreading the race called life, keep your head up and fix your eyes on Jesus so you will find the strength to make it to the finish line.

by Jay Mankus

Filling Up Your Cup to the Brim

In this age of calorie counting and weight watching, favorite drinks vary. Whether it’s alcoholic beverages, energy drinks, specialty coffees or a glass of water, the amount of calories will dictate what you decide and how many you will drink. Depending upon how well your New Year Resolutions are going so far, good choices and self-control will shape your beverage of choice. Yet, the Bible refers to filling up a different kind of cup.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over, Psalm 23:5.

The context of the passage above refers to what David as a shepherd had to do daily to meet the needs of his sheep. Since sheep don’t eat or drink when they are stressed, oil is applied by shepherds to each sheep, serving as a bug repellent. Once sheep feel safe and comfortably, water containers are filled to the brim, overflowing so that their noses don’t get stuck. Like a glass of milk before going to bed, drinking this water was the last thing sheep did before falling asleep for David.

Jesus answered her, All who drink of this water will be thirsty again. 14 But whoever takes a drink of the water that I will give him shall never, no never, be thirsty any more. But the water that I will give him shall become a spring of water welling up (flowing, bubbling) [continually] within him unto (into, for) eternal life, John 4:13-14.

In a conversation with a Samaritan woman, Jesus brings up the concept of living water. On a hot summer day, in the middle of a desert, a drink of water is refreshing. However, Jesus is talking about eternal life, a living water that will extend far beyond your life on earth. To individuals who enter a personal relationship with Jesus, John 14:6, reading the Bible is like filling your spiritual cup up to the brim, Psalm 1:3. If you want to experience the abundant life, John 10:10, take time daily to drink God’s Word.

by Jay Mankus

Coming Back Stronger in 2021

As the National Football League ends their 2020 regular season this weekend, 18 teams will miss the playoffs. After having high hopes at the start of 2020, these coaches and players have failed to win the necessary amount of games to earn a postseason birth. While 14 teams will advance with their eyes on a Super Bowl Championship, the remaining teams will turn their attention to the off-season. As fan bases start to play the “what if” game in their minds, owners and general managers will begin to sit down to ascertain what went wrong and why?.

For it is easier for a camel to enter through a needle’s eye than [for] a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. 26 And those who heard it said, Then who can be saved? 27 But He said, What is impossible with men is possible with God, Luke 18:25-27.

You don’t have to be part of a professional organization to have aspirations to come back stronger in 2021. Depending upon your age, career and occupation, you either spent a lot of time at work or most of your time stuck on home. Perhaps, some of you began a new hobby in 2020, revealing a hidden gift or talent. Meanwhile, others may feel like you wasted too much time in front of a television, eager to break this habit in 2021. Thus, as a New Year approaches, make sure whatever resolution(s) you do make for 2021 are centered around coming back better and stronger this year.

And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:19.

The only resolution that I kept in 2020 was making Jesus more of a priority. Using Mark 1:35 as a model, the first thing that I did when I came home from work in the morning was read the Bible and pray using a journal. I was diligent for most of the year, keeping this vow nearly every week. Instead of rushing through my quiet time to get it done, I had several spiritual breakthroughs. This led to some of the most profitable days I have had writing. While I don’t know what 2021 has in store for me, I do know that the Lord will provide everything I need for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

by Jay Mankus

Shekinah

From time to time, I will open up the Bible and read something that I have never seen before. Yesterday, I came across the theological term Shekinah. The translation of the Bible that I have relied upon most of my life, the NIV (New International Version), translates this word into English. This skipping over of Shekinah makes me feels cheated, unaware of the glory of the divine presence until this week.

For they are Israelites, and to them belong God’s adoption [as a nation] and the glorious Presence (Shekinah). With them were the special covenants made, to them was the Law given. To them [the temple] worship was revealed and [God’s own] promises announced, Romans 9:4.

The original Hebrew term šekīnah was Romanized to become Shekinah. The English transliteration of this term denotes the dwelling or settling of the divine presence of God. According to the apostle Paul, this was revealed to Roman Christians in the temple as believers were worshipping the Lord. My awareness of this expression from rabbinic literature has inspired me to seek Shekinah as I worship the Lord going forward.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship, Romans 12:1.

Three chapters later, the apostle Paul provides instructions on how to achieve Shekinah. Worship shouldn’t be limited to a building on Sunday. Rather, worship should be a constant state of mind, seeking to become a living sacrifice devoted to God. While this is an objective goal to pursue, the book of Psalm is filled with acts of worship. Whatever advice from the Bible that you follow, make sure this includes bowing down and kneeling before the Lord, Psalm 95:6, waiting for Shekinah to arrive.

by Jay Mankus

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