RSS Feed

Tag Archives: shepherd

When the Spiritual Dimension Changes

Jesus uses a parable to illustrate the spiritual dimension in John 10:1-10. Jesus lays out a series of characters from a shepherd, a thief and a watchman. Eluding to a wolf in sheep’s clothing, Jesus urges his audience of the need for sheep to know the voice of their shepherd. When the spiritual dimension changes, Satan uses his angel like abilities as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2, seeking to steal your hope, kill your dreams and destroy your life.

Therefore, rejecting all falsity and being done now with it, let everyone express the truth with his neighbor, for we are all parts of one body and members one of another. 26 When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down, Ephesians 4:25-26.

The apostle Paul takes a more practical approach to the spiritual dimension. While Jesus uses the analogy of a shepherd leading his sheep into a pen, Paul focuses on how individuals give the Devil opportunities to enter their life by the choices that you make. Anytime someone does not resolve their issue with a neighbor or spouse before the sunsets, this opens the door for the spiritual dimension to create havoc in your life.

Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. 28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need, Ephesians 4:27-28.

Whenever anger is allowed to fester overnight, roots of bitterness are conceived within human hearts. Subsequently, when the sun rises on a new day, this pent up frustration brews until the spiritual dimension changes. It only takes one conflict, hardship or trial for what’s inside of a trouble soul to be unleashed upon an innocent victim. This is exactly why Paul warns Christians against giving the Devil a foothold, a crack to come crashing through an opened door to ruin another life.

by Jay Mankus

A Precaution for Your Safety

There are 43 accounts in the Bible where God is described as a shepherd. One of the reasons for this illustration is that human beings tend to wander away from God. These lost sheep spend months, years, and decades on their own, going through life without someone to protect them. To guard against wolf attacks in the middle of the night, this blog serves as a precaution for your own safety.

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust, Psalm 4:8.

A first century doctor devotes an entire chapter of his gospel to the lost. Luke shares three stories of a Lost Sheep, a Lost Coin and a Lost Soul. The Parable of the Lost Sheep illustrates the steps that God takes to reach out to individuals who wander away from their Shepherd. The Lost Coin highlights the determination it takes to find something valuable when you lose it. Finally, the Prodigal Son is a cautionary tale of what happens when rebellion clouds your judgment.

For the rest, my brethren, delight yourselves in the Lord and continue to rejoice that you are in Him. To keep writing to you [over and over] of the same things is not irksome to me, and it is [a precaution] for your safety, Philippians 3:1.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul explains the reason for his letter. Paul doesn’t want to nag this new church into following Jesus via peer pressure. Rather, Paul wants these believers to remember the delight and joy of entering into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps, some of these members were quick learners while others were forgetful, falling back to the way that they lived prior to knowing Jesus. Instead of taking things for granted, Paul wants to make sure that no believer is left behind.

by Jay Mankus

Slip Proof

The oldest surviving shoes date back around 10,000 years. Similar to these scandals made out of rope, Roman soldiers wore scandals with thick spikes on the bottom of their soles. These were designed to allow athletic soldiers’ to dig in and take a firm stance so that each could defend their position without slipping. Roman soldiers were each expected to defend a six foot perimeter. Without these spikes, charging attackers would be able to break through this line of defense.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places, Psalm 18:33.

Depending upon your occupation, slip proof shoes are necessary to keep you safe, preventing potential work related injuries. Chefs, construction workers, and professional athletes have a wide variety of options of slip proof footwear to choose from today. Modern safety shoes are designed to prevent slips and falls. Each brand is rated by dry static coefficient, a ratio of the force of friction between two objects and the force that presses them together. As a former cross country runner, finding the right sneaker is crucial for preventing blisters.

He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber, Psalm 121:3.

The Psalmist writes about the spiritual element of slip proof. The first passage is written by David, reflecting upon the rocky terrain that he endured as a shepherd. David realized that when he put the Lord first, trusting solely in God, he never twisted or turned an ankle. The passage above is part of a song, giving thanks to the Lord for providing a firm foundation, slip proof. Although circumstances constantly change, trusting in the Lord provides a daily constant so that modern believers can feel slip proof for the rest of their lives.

by Jay Mankus

The Spark that Makes Dreams Come True

Modern plows are large farming structures that implement one or more blades fixed in a frame drawn by a tractor. These expensive pieces of equipment are essential for farmers who own hundreds of acres of land. Back in biblical days, this technology wasn’t available, forced to rely on horses, mules or oxen. These animal driven plows were used for cutting furrows in the soil and turning it over, to prepare for the planting of crops.

Do I say this only on human authority and as a man reasons? Does not the Law endorse the same principle? For in the Law of Moses it is written, You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the corn. Is it [only] for oxen that God cares? – 1 Corinthians 9:8-9

As the first son of Adam, Cain found farming to be a thankless trade. This likely explains why Abel decides to become a shepherd, moving his flock once the land became arid. Abel’s initial success combined with Cain’s struggles sowed a seed of jealousy within Cain’s heart. This is the exact opposite thought that the apostle Paul suggests in a letter to the church of Corinth. When you begin to plow, you should expect God to bless your effort as long as you give 100%.

Or does He speak certainly and entirely for our sakes? [Assuredly] it is written for our sakes, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher ought to thresh in expectation of partaking of the harvest. 11 If we have sown [the seed of] spiritual good among you, [is it too] much if we reap from your material benefits? – 1 Corinthians 9:10-11

Paul seems to be referring to self fulfilled prophecies. If you think you are going to have a bad day, the probability increases that a bad day will come. However, if you remember how God has provided for you in the past, you’ll be more optimistic about plowing in hope of a productive harvest. Therefore, if you want to claim God’s promises in the Bible, faith is the spark that makes dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

The Presence of Jesus in the Old Testament

Foreshadowing is an indication of what is to come. When plan A failed, allowing Adam and Eve to have free reign of the Garden and Eden except for the Tree of Knowledge, God uses imagery to introduce plan B. The apostle Paul explains the science of God in Romans 5:12-21. What Adam failed to do, being obedient to God, Jesus is sent several thousand years later to seek and to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel, Genesis 3:15.

In the second book of the Bible, the Lord raises up a man named Moses to be the voice of God for Israel. The only problem was Moses suffered from a severe speech impediment, Exodus 4:10. Despite getting frustrated with Moses’ lack of faith, God sends Aaron to speak on his behalf until Moses finds the courage to confront Pharaoh. The only way to survive an angel of death was to sacrifice a perfect lamb, without blemishes. Then sprinkle it’s blood above and upon your door posts. This lamb is symbolic of Jesus.

And you shall eat it thus: [as fully prepared for a journey] your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord’s Passover. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment [proving their helplessness]. I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be for a token or sign to you upon [the doorposts of] the houses where you are, [that] when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall be upon you to destroy you when I smite the land of Egypt, Exodus 12:11-13.

Seven hundred years prior to the birth of Christ, a seer named Isaiah prophesied about Jesus’ birth, life and death. Isaiah 53:1-10 compares Jesus to a shepherd laying his life down for his sheep. The disciple who Jesus loved echoes this in John 10:1-11. While the Old Testament does show the wrath of God poured out upon the disobedient, the presence of Jesus sets the stage for God’s unconditional love in the New Testament. May this blog remind you of the numerous promises of God that have been fulfilled and those yet still to come.

by Jay Mankus

Fence Jumping

Before the days of gated communities and security cameras, home owners erected fences to keep people off their property.  Animals lovers added big guard dogs to scare off potential trespassers.  Despite these obvious warnings, if these obstacles meant saving time through a short cut, I was willing to take the risk as a teenager.  Depending upon who was with me at the time, we would approach cautiously and look in every direction to see if it was safe.  When the timing was right, my friends and I jumped the fence, ran and cleared the other side.

The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out, John 10:2-3.

The Bible refers to a different kind of fence, a shepherd’s pen.  Early in the morning, first century shepherds led their sheep to a pasture to graze during the day, leading them with his staff.  Before night fall, the shepherd would count each one before placing them back into a pen for the night.  However, his work was not done, often sleeping outside overnight to protect his sheep from potential fence jumpers, wild animals hoping to get a free meal.

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it, Matthew 7:14.

Today, fence jumpers still exist.  Some do so to escape a troubled past, hoping to find a new life on the other side.  Some find the grass greener on the opposing side of their fence.  A combination of discontentment and jealousy entice these people to consider exchanging one fence for another.  Meanwhile, others try to find the easiest way possible through life, even if it means cutting some corners here and there.  According to Jesus, only a few enter through the eternal gate that leads to life.  While countless attempt to jump this fence, no one has or will ever be successful.  Therefore, if you want to enter this place you must listen for and to the Shepherd to lead you to the gate of heaven.

by Jay Mankus

Hireling, Servant or Friend?

The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep.  So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. – John 10:12

Depending upon your desire, energy or level of commitment, you will likely fall into one of 3 categories.  The unmotivated will fall into a hireling classification, doing things because its a job.  Those who enjoy their place of employment will likely transform into a servant, taking ownership of the business where they work.  Finally, the friend goes one step further, placing their heart and soul into what they do daily.

The greatest among you will be your servant. – Matthew 23:11

The hardest part of any career is uncertainty, when the dedication you pour forth is not rewarded, going unnoticed.  Unless you receive some sort of compliment, encouragement or raise, some may give up before experiencing the fruits of their labor.  Thus, maintaining a positive attitude can be difficult, often coming to a point where you begin to think, “what’s the point anyway?”  Even the most devoted servant needs a pat on the back to keep them going.

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. – John 15:15

According to Jesus, there is a difference between a servant and friend.  When someone becomes all in, surrendering a what’s in it for me mentality, they turn the corner.  This devotion sees the big picture, doing what’s best for their heavenly Father.  “For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it, ” Matthew 16:25.  May the Holy Spirit lead to from a hireling, beyond the serving phase to a friend in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

To the Next Generation

When I was your age, I had to walk to school both ways up hill.  This mantra is repeated to each new generation, worded slightly different to drive home the point, “you have it so much easier than I did.”   Whether this is exaggerated, somewhat true or simply a ploy to illicit guilt, the next generation is waiting for a positive message.

A humble shepherd understood this concept, passed over as an after thought by his own father, 1 Samuel 16:2-11.  If there is one lesson everyone can learn, don’t judge someone based upon their physical features, impressive or not.  Rather, the heart holds the key to greatness, 1 Samuel 16:7.  However, unless you speak from the heart, Luke 6:45, no one will know for sure who they should follow.

David verbalizes his beliefs in Psalm 71:14-18.  Recognizing that not everyone shares the same faith, the king felt led by God to express what his eyes have seen.  Instead of regurgitating the same old mantra, David was inspired to pass onto the next generation a message of hope.  Therefore, if you know the truth, don’t withhold this information.  Rather, boldly proclaim the marvelous acts of a risen Messiah to the next generation, 1 Corinthians 5:54-58.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Sheep Without A Shepherd

If you’ve ever gone to a mall to people watch, it doesn’t take long to see who knows where they are going and who is lost, trying to find their way.  Whether you’re driving a car, searching for something you’ve misplaced or walking on a unmarked trail, everyone from time to time experiences the pain of loss.  In the midst of this crisis, a sense of helplessness paralyzes souls, making it obvious that no matter hard one tries, you can’t save yourself.

While traveling throughout towns and villages, Jesus observed the crowd of individuals following him.  Watching intently, tears began to swell up in his eyes, as Jesus saw this group as sheep without a shepherd, Matthew 9:35-36.  They were looking for something more in life, hoping that Jesus had the answer.  Like sheep aimlessly roaming the countryside, hungry hearts longed for meaning to life.

Today, the silent majority wonders when their Shepherd will return.  As chaos abounds, modern sheep have been led astray by false prophets, hypocritical leaders and the twisting of the Bible.  Exiting the church after high school or during college, pessimistic sheep are searching for alternative means to enter heaven’s gate.  Although some turn back, coming to their senses like the prodigal in Luke 15, a growing number remain sheep without a shepherd.

by Jay Mankus

 

What Did He Know that Others Didn’t?

According to Webster, confidence is a feeling or belief that someone is good, possessing the ability to succeed.  Although this may be confused with cockiness, success is a state of mind, ushering individuals toward pleasant places.  Apparently hidden within the words of Psalm 16 are clues to the meaning of life, left behind by a man who possessed a heart of gold.  However, its worth pursuing, what did David know that other kings of Israel never grasped?

Some how David understood the teachings of Jesus without ever meeting him.  If you don’t believe me, take for instance the words of Psalm 16:2 and John 15:4.  While Jesus is using a parable about a vine, gardener and branches, David came to this conclusion on his own.  Meanwhile, the concept of Psalm 16:11 and John 10:10 are nearly identical minus the portion about the thief called the devil.  Sure, David was a shepherd prior to becoming king and Jesus was a shepherd for lost people, Luke 19:10, but who communicated these spiritual truths to David.

Despite his complaining, disappointment and frustration from seeing the wicked prosper, God used prophets, the words of the Old Testament and a still small voice, known today as the Holy Spirit to bring David to a place of spiritual maturity.  The king recognized failures often occurred when he relied on his strength and wisdom.  Furthermore, David had reached an age where he began to see answered prayers, blessings and miracles from time spent on his knees.  Thus, the path of life, his purpose for being born and taste of the abundant life filled this king with a blessed assurance.  May you come to a place like David where God is real and his promises are fulfilled!

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: