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Tag Archives: reputations

The Intrinsically Good and Evil

One day Jesus was disturbed as he observed religious leaders judging other individuals.  Outraged by this display of self-righteousness, Jesus compares unfair judgments to the principle of sowing and reaping.  Warning the Pharisees in the crowd, Jesus explains that the standard by which you judge others will be measured, applied to you in return.  Immediately following this statement, Jesus transitions into a discussion about what is intrinsically good and evil.

For each tree is known and identified by its own fruit. For figs are not picked from thorn bushes, nor is a cluster of grapes picked from a briar bush, Luke 6:44.

Using a parable to prove his point, Jesus refers to humans beings as fruit bearing trees.  Essentially, what Jesus is saying in paraphrased form, “if you want to encapsulate who someone is, pay attention to the fruit which they bear on a daily basis.”  Some will produce excessive fruit, others will have sporadic growth seasons and a few won’t bear anything at all.  As you interact with society, brushing up against, coming in contact with and experiencing what different people have to offer, reputations will be developed and formed either good or bad.

The [intrinsically] good man produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure [stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil man produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for his mouth speaks from the overflow of his heart, Luke 6:45.

The climax of Jesus’ teaching comes in the passage above, mouths speak out of the overflow of human hearts.  Thus, if you listen carefully, you can hear for yourself what is intrinsically good or evil.  The next time you listen to a conversation, observe a discussion or watch a report on cable news, your ears should be able to pick up something based upon the content.  Are these words good, honorable and moral?  Or has a bruised and wounded heart spewed depravity, hatred and wickedness?  While you can’t control what others say, you can cry out to Jesus to mend any part of a broken heart.  As this healing process begins, you should begin to recognize subtle changes in your vocabulary.  May the Holy Spirit transform your life to display that which is intrinsically good.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for a New Name

Benedict Arnold, John Wilkes Booth and Bernie Madoff are names associated with a negative connotation.  Poor choices in life led each to develop a bad reputation.  Unfortunately, when individuals commit an unwholesome act, many are unable to break free from the consequences of actions.  Thus, even today, many are waiting for a new name.

Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children, Genesis 32:11.

Once formed in high school or college, infamous nicknames can haunt people for years.  Indecent acts may result in being labeled as easy, loose or a whore.  Those who tend to exaggerate become known as liars, losing the trust of their peers.  While a few may be able to alter this stigma, most are stuck with the shame of their past.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome,” Genesis 32:28.

In Genesis 32, Jacob has an encounter with God.  Known as cunning, a deceiver and for being a momma’s boy, the Lord knew this character would not be a positive influence going forward to lead his chosen people.  Thus, following a night of wrestling, Jacob held on for dear life, earning him the name Israel.  In the same manner, those who enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-10, are given a fresh start.  Therefore, if you’re waiting for a new name, hit the reset button today to receiving the free gift of eternal life.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Great Vindication

Absolve, exonerate and uphold are terms associated with vindication.  Unfortunately, print media and cable television often run stories with gossip, innuendos and rumors without complete assurance of the facts.  Thus, when uncovered evidence disproves false accusations, the damage has already been done.  By the time an apology is made, reputations are usually ruined, tattered by the piling on of public opinion.

No weapon that is fashioned against you shall succeed, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, declares the Lord. – Isaiah 54:17

In the spiritual realm, nothing is hidden from God, Hebrews 4:13.  Any flaw, mistake or trespass is exposed, revealing the imperfections of human beings like jars of clay, 2 Corinthians 4:7.  There is no one who is righteous, for all have fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3:9-12.  Despite this lowly state, sinners have an advocate in their corner, gaining access to the great vindication through grace, Ephesians 2:8.

For the LORD will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants. – Psalm 135:14

Although critics, enemies and naysayers will always exist, the Lord promises that a day will come when his people will be vindicated.  While scoffers may hurt your feelings, God’s compassion and forgiveness will wipe away your tears.  In the end, you will get the last laugh for trusting in an invisible God.  Therefore, put aside your fears and reservations by approaching the throne of grace with a humble heart.  This will lead you to the great vindication.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

True Remorse

The proud have a history of taking pride in their comfortable position.  With confidence not an issue, this personality trait tends to blind individuals from the actual state of their soul.  Consistent with first century Pharisees, these people ignore their own flaws, using comparison to enhance their self-esteem.  If necessary, personal attacks are used, putting down lesser humans beings to protect their status in society, Romans 2:1.

Meanwhile, the insecure take the fall, allowing the elites to push them around.  Unable to hide their emotions, depression, sadness and tears reveal the pain in their hearts. Call it being naive, yet faking their pitiful condition seems wrong.  Thus, humility reigns, displaying true remorse for the sins they’ve committed and the idleness preventing change.  Like tax collectors and prostitutes of the past, crowds flee, not wanting to be associated with those who have tarnished their reputations.

Not much has changed since Jesus first shared the parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32.  Two thousand years later, a sequel is being played out with a different cast of characters.  Most play the role of the older brother, yelling, “I told you so,” casting judgement on those caught in the act of sin.  The less popular actor, stumbles and falls until they reach the bottom of the barrel.  Unfortunately, it usually takes the pain of embarrassment to admit fault.  May anyone struggling to find your way come to your senses soon so that true remorse will be rewarded by God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy.

by Jay Mankus

 

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Before God’s Presence Appears

Most Americans have become spoiled, expecting a response at the snap of their fingers.  Subsequently, when people go out to eat, go to a show or make a significant purchase, they want perfection.  When disappointed by a product or service, heads will roll and reputations will be harmed if these individuals don’t get their way.  If this is how a growing number of citizens are responding, its no wonder God is waiting to appear until faith and actions coexist.

The book of Leviticus consists of a conversation God had with Moses while on Mount Sinai in Exodus.  As I recently read through Leviticus, a pattern forms throughout the first 8 chapters, “God said to Moses.”  Following these instructions, Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord told Moses.  However, it wasn’t until Leviticus 9:4 before God’s presence appears before Israel.  Thus, this passage suggests God is waiting for his children to carefully follow the Bible’s commands prior to being accompanied by blessings, Deuteronomy 28:2.

While some may say, “what are you waiting for,” others are trying to twist the Bible to conform to their own beliefs.  As for me, a lack of results makes the obvious seem clear once again, “be doers of the word, not just hearers,” Matthew 7:24-27.  Once I realign my priorities to Matthew 6:33, God promises to provide for my daily needs.  Therefore, if you are hungry and thirsty to experience God’s presence, listen to words of Jesus like Aaron followed Moses.

Let us know when you’ve encountered God’s presence.

by Jay Mankus

 

Lurking in Darkness

The term lurking means to remain hidden, waiting for the perfect time to ambush someone or something.  Whether an animal is preying on a lesser member of the food chain or a bully picks on a weaker individual, each attack if often unexpected, catching the victim off guard.  As a result, predators remain active today, searching for those alone, separated from society, lurking in darkness waiting to pounce on an innocent soul, 1 Peter 5:8.

Unlike Hollywood, the devil doesn’t have horns, a pitch fork or has steam coming out of his ears.  Rather, this spiritual creature is as sly as a serpent, slithering up on someone without any hints or warnings.    Like a chameleon, Satan is able to duplicate angelic acts, 2 Corinthians 11:14-15, similar to the magicians during the days of Pharaoh, Exodus 7:11.  Thus, when you hear in the news of another saint giving into temptation, committing the unthinkable act, the great deceiver was likely the root cause, convincing minds that wrong is right or okay.

You and I aren’t immune as any misstep can lead to a decision that will ruin your reputation.  While David beat Goliath once, devilish Goliath’s are nearly undefeated, dragging their victims into sin, one compromise at a time.  Its no wonder the apostle Paul includes 1 Corinthians 10:11-12 as a precursor to prevent anyone from becoming overconfident.   As the mysteries of the future will be played out tomorrow, make sure that you are ready for enemies who continue to lurk in darkness, Ephesians 6:11.  Remember great is He who is in you than he who is in the world, Romans 8:38-39.

by Jay Mankus

Twisting Words

The game of Twister is classic interactive board game of bending your body in all sorts of positions.  Before Ice Breakers were a common teaching aid, Twister was a great activity for getting to know a group of people.  Men in Black II even devotes a scene of their movie to this game as the light of Zartha passes time with aliens.  However, when words are twisted toward your direction, pain can be felt beneath the surface of your body, affecting your heart and deflating your soul.

Exodus 23:8 introduces the Israelites to God’s vision for social justice.  Although its normal to embrace likable individuals, God warns human being against showing favoritism.  If practiced, justice can be perverted when allegiances are made, opening the door for bribes.  This temptation blinds society from the truth as political talking points are exchanged in place of integrity.  As a result, the words of the righteous are twisted, becoming campaign slogans, trashing reputations for a chance at re-election or taking control of power in Washington DC.

There was a time not so long ago that liars were called out, held accountable for the words they have spoken.  I guess when the Bible is replaced by social agendas, right and wrong have turned to gray and opinions elevated to a fact status.  Its’ no wonder Jesus said in his day, “you have ears but do not hear and eyes, but do not see!”  May this blog cause people to stop, reflect and think about their lives.  Through God’s grace, may twisting words cease, replaced by words of love, joy and peace, 1 Corinthians 13:13.

by Jay Mankus

On the Other Side of the Door

Deep inside a broken heart, desperation moves an individual to a closed door.  On the verge of change, an action is required to remove the burden from an unclean woman.  Contemplating what to say, faith leads her to turn the knob, hoping to leave the nightmares of the past behind, outside for good.  With a jar of perfume in hand, she risks embarrassment, passing shocked faces on the way before approaching Jesus.

by emilysincerely.wordpress.com

Inquiring minds begin to gossip in the corners of Lazarus’ house.  Dressed to invoke sinful thoughts, this prostitute opens up a pint of pure nard, kneeling beside Jesus.  Oblivious to judgmental hearts and wandering eyes, this woman came to do what she felt compelled to do, wash Jesus’ feet.  Using her long hair as a towel, she humbles herself before the son of God, adding fuel to an already tarnished reputation, giving religious leaders enough justification to put their plans for crucifixion into motion.

This encounter in John 12:1-11 is like a scene from a play, lived out every day in communities, schools and the workplace throughout the country.  When a person wants to change their identity, God is willing, yet his people often allow prejudices to keep their hearts from forgiving and forgetting, Matthew 6:14-15.  Although freedom exists on the other side of the door, Revelation 3:20, welcoming arms may not be receptive to your conversion.  May the Barnabas’ of this generation serve as a voice of reason, greeting anyone who turns the knob to get to the other side of the door, Acts 9:26-28.

by Jay Mankus

I Really Mean It This Time

 
 If you have lived on earth long enough, then you’ve probably known or met someone who says one thing but does the complete opposite.  Everyone has flaws, yet some stick out more than others, especially when an individual earns a reputation for embellishing, exaggerating or lying.  Unfortunately, compulsive acts become like an addiction, like a second nature to someone who promises, “I really mean it this time.”

Pharaoh, king of Egypt appears to have developed this undesirable trait in Exodus 8:26-28.  In the midst of each plague sent by God, Pharaoh cried uncle, urging Moses to pray for him to remove the trial facing his empire.  However, as soon as each ceased, Pharaoh changed his mind as God continued to harden his heart, Exodus 9:33-35.  This pattern of sin went on for several weeks until Pharaoh finally refused to meet face to face with Moses anymore, Exodus 10:27-29.

 
If I was Moses, I would have given up on Pharaoh, realizing that trying to agree with him was a lost cause.  Some of you reading this may have a living co-worker, friend or relative who possess similar traits.  Whenever you face this real life scenario, all you can do is try to apply Jesus’ advice from Matthew 5:43-48.  Loving those who love you doesn’t require any effort.  Instead, God wants you to love and pray for those people who let you down time after time by saying, “I really mean it this time!”  Forgive others as Jesus has forgiven you, Colossians 3:13.

by Jay Mankus

The Pain of Sin

Since the garden of Eden, the consequences of sin have left people in agony.  Guilt has become like a nightmare that won’t go away, often overwhelming your soul.  Meanwhile, shame isn’t far behind, leaving a trail of disappointment, embarrassment, and tattered reputations in its wake.  If this wasn’t enough, the fear of punishment and rejection bombard an individual’s mind, wishing they did not partaken in sin.

Regardless of how moral you claim to be, everyone has had a 2 Samuel 11 moment.  One second you are thinking about others, then boredom leads to idleness, from here aimless wandering leads your heart into the presence of sin.  These momentary lapses in judgments are common, except the time they last.  The sooner a person comes to their senses, the softer the blow you have to endure.  However, if you choose to go on a binge of rebellion like King David, adultery, lying and murder will flush your legacy right down the toilet.

When a man after God’s own heart sins, 1 Samuel 16:7, no one is exempt from the power of temptation.  Psalm 38:1-11 serves as a confessional for David, describing the pain sin has left behind within his soul.  This crippling state should inspire Christians to follow the words of 1 Peter 5:8-9, who also struggled with this pain, swallowing his pride after publicly denying Jesus 3 times.  Submit to God, resist the devil and the pain of sin can become a distant memory, James 4:7-8.

by Jay Mankus

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