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Unsullied Minds

The United Negro College Fund recognized in 1972 that a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Just as an athlete stretches and trains to improve, minds need to be challenged and pushed daily to learn. One of Jesus’ disciples made it his objective to stir up unsullied minds. This was accomplished by reminding first century Christians of Jesus’ teaching over the course of his earthly ministry. Yet, if idleness sets in, minds will forget the biblical truths in the Bible.

Beloved, I am now writing you this second letter. In [both of] them I have stirred up your unsullied (sincere) mind by way of remembrance, That you should recall the predictions of the holy (consecrated, dedicated) prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior [given] through your apostles (His special messengers), 2 Peter 3:1-2.

From time to time, I’ll stay up way past midnight writing until inspiration fades and words disappear. If I try to press on, it’s not uncommon to hit a wall mentally. When your body and mind grow tired, recalling important details that you want to communicate come to a grinding halt. There are 253 different passages in the Bible to call readers to remember a specific message of the past. This large number of reminders suggests that human minds are forgetful.

If then you have been raised with Christ [to a new life, thus sharing His resurrection from the dead], aim at and seek the [rich, eternal treasures] that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. And set your minds and keep them set on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth. For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God, Colossians 3:1-3.

Perhaps this explains the words of the apostle Paul in the passage above. The only way to maintain sincere and unsullied minds is by participating in a spiritual exercise. Like a form of mediation, dwelling on God’s Word day and night, Joshua 1:6-8, provides spiritual clarity. When you set your heart and mind on things above, your perspective on life and this world will change. If you want to stay focused, daily Bible Study and prayer will result in unsullied minds.

by Jay Mankus

Offer Up a Sacrifice of Praise in 2022

The apostle Paul builds upon what he learned from Jewish religious leaders in Romans 12:1-2. Rather than offer up a living animal up to God to atone for sin, Paul urges followers of Jesus to offer up their bodies as a living sacrifice. This post resurrection calling is a way to please God. Yet, this spiritual exercise yields insight such as what God’s will is for your life.

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name, Hebrews 13:15.

Until you receive clarity about your purpose and future callings, the author of Hebrews provides similar advice in the passage above. Marie Barnett experienced this while writing the words to the song This is the Air We Breathe. Barnett recalls how these words spontaneously came out during a Sunday evening service at the Mission Viejo Vineyard in Southern California.

I am as a wonder and surprise to many, but You are my strong refuge. My mouth shall be filled with Your praise and with Your honor all the day. Cast me not off nor send me away in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent and my powers fail, Psalm 71:7-9.

The book of Psalms is filled with commands to praise the Lord. One Psalmist declares that human beings were designed to praise God. Perhaps, this is the key to discovering God’s will for your life in 2022. The more you pour out your soul with praise to the Great I Am, mysteries about your future will be unveiled like Marie Barnett’s testimony. Therefore, offer up a sacrifice of praise in 2022 as you’ll never know where worship will lead you until you weekly celebrate the only living God.

by Jay Mankus

Unfinished

Every once in a while, I will get ahead of myself. Instead of finishing strong, I will celebrate too early, before an outcome has been determined. This premature response often causes individuals to take their foot of the gas, coasting the final portion of a contest, day or game. Whether arrogance, overconfidence or pride is to blame, victory tends to slip out of your hands as you try to run out the clock.

For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, And have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, Hebrews 6:4-5.

The author of Hebrews writes about a similar mindset, Christians who want to fast forward to heaven. Although a specific person is not mentioned, it appears that first century converts from Judaism to Christianity became complacent. Instead of growing closer to God day after day, spiritual exercise was replaced by a casual faith. One of Jesus’ disciples refers to this condition as a lukewarm spirit in the first century.

If they then deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance—[it is impossible] to bring them back to repentance, for (because, while, as long as) they nail upon the cross the Son of God afresh [as far as they are concerned] and are holding [Him] up to contempt and shame and public disgrace, Hebrews 6:6.

Those who allow this trend to continue end up an unfinished product, not fulfilling God’s calling, plan or will. The words used in the passage above imply a stubborn heart has resulted in a lack of urgency. Like a scene from the 1993 film Groundhog Day, souls keep falling prey to temptation, committing sins over and over again. If want to break free from this addictive pattern, it’s time to invite Jesus to become the Lord of your life so that unfinished areas are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Pressured to Make a Change

As my oldest son James completes his final semester at Liberty University, I have become one of his guinea pigs. Part of his current Exercise Science class involves serving as a personal trainer for his parents, Leanne and I. After filling out a questionnaire, doing a stress test over the course of one week and checking my blood pressure, heart rate and pulse daily, James has designed a workout schedule based upon our physical states.

If you point out these instructions to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished [through study] on the words of the faith and of the good [Christian] doctrine which you have closely followed, 1 Timothy 4:6.

Unfortunately, my last few measurements of blood pressure were off the charts. Before I could exercise week one, I needed to be placed back on high blood pressure medication. Once my blood pressure readings return to normal, I can begin to get back into shape. However, this harsh reality is God’s way of opening my eyes to how badly I have taken care of my body. After initially watching my diet early in 2019, I having given into junk food.

But have nothing to do with irreverent folklore and silly myths. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness [keeping yourself spiritually fit]. For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything and in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and for the life to come, 1 Timothy 4:7-8.

As I reflect upon my current condition, a lack of balance in my life is to blame. In a letter to a teenager pastor, the apostle Paul writes about a good minister’s discipline. Without using the term balance, Paul urges Timothy to make time for physical and spiritual exercise. While Paul places more emphasis on spiritual growth, physical training does play a valuable role. Thus, as I struggle to regain my health, I guess you can say that this experience has pressured me into making a change for the better.

by Jay Mankus

Waiting for Good Things to Come

Waiting is contrary to human nature.  When you see something that you like or want, the concept of waiting seems pointless.  Yet, as I look back on my on life, there are certain things that I wasn’t ready to possess.  A lack of maturity, given something instead of earning it and forcing the issue are all contributing factors.  Perhaps, waiting is a tool God uses to prepare individuals for the future.

The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him, Lamentations 3:25.

When you don’t have the financial means to afford a place to live, food to eat or resources like a vehicle, even atheists may offer up prayers for their current situation to improve.  If there is no one on earth to lean on, its only natural to look up the heavens and hope for better days.  The Bible encourages souls to seek God instead of seeking alternative routes or taking short cuts.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:14

David compares waiting to a spiritual exercise like working out.  Waiting requires a gut check, seeing if you have what it takes to stick it out.  This process involves concentration, focus and a willingness to finish what you start.  Those who receive what they have been waiting for tend to appreciate what they now have.  Therefore, if you want to pursue a noble cause, trust God as you wait for good things to come.

by Jay Mankus

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