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Lord It’s Been So Long

If you’re not careful, life can be like a white water rafting trip. Once you’re on the river, there is danger lurking around every corner. Depending upon the classification and level of rapids, each one can come fast and furious. Unless there is some sort of break in between for your mind to relax, there will be no rest for the weary. Anyone who finds themselves on a wild ride may be so focused on survival that taking time to spend with God is like a blip on a radar screen.

Moses sent them to scout out the land of Canaan, and said to them, Get up this way by the South (the Negeb) and go up into the hill country,18 And see what the land is and whether the people who dwell there are strong or weak, few or many,19 And whether the land they live in is good or bad, and whether the cities they dwell in are camps or strongholds, 20 And what the land is, whether it is fat or lean, whether there is timber on it or not. And be of good courage and bring some of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the first ripe grapes, Numbers 13:17-20.

In his 1993 song, Power and Promise, Brett Williams uses the phrase, “Lord It’s Been So Long.” The context of these lyrics date back to Moses waiting to enter God’s Promise Land. In the second stanza, Williams refers back to the anguish Mary felt while her brother Lazarus was dead for 3 days. When signs of God’s power or presence is absent, invisible to your eyes, staying optimistic in times of trouble is difficult. This is where faith comes into play.

Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? Anyone who walks about in the daytime does not stumble, because he sees [by] the light of this world. 10 But if anyone walks about in the night, he does stumble, because there is no light in him [the light is lacking to him]. 11 He said these things, and then added, Our friend Lazarus is at rest and sleeping; but I am going there that I may awaken him out of his sleep, John 11:9-11.

However, when basic spiritual routines like going to church, reading the Bible or praying stop occurring, God fades from your memory. While the Coronavirus may have been an excuse for some to use in 2020, it’s time to reconnect. The imagery of Luke 15:20 pictures the Lord as a concerned parent, patiently waiting on the front porch for prodigals to come home. Until lost souls come to their senses, this reconciliation is put on hold. Therefore, if you find yourself distant from God, today as good as any day to open up by saying, “Lord, it’s been so long.”

by Jay Mankus

When You Need to be Encouraged

I tend to be a positive person, trying to stay optimistic about life. However, over the past week, a wave of depression has come crashing upon the shores of my life. Like a rogue wave that comes out of no where, I wasn’t prepared to deal with this emotional undertow. As I attempt to regain my balance so that I’m not swept away by this strong current, I find myself in need of encouragement.

When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! – Psalm 32:3-4

I’m definitely not the first to experience such a strange week nor will I be the last to undergo what the Bible calls a trial. In the passage above, a series of bad choices causes King David to be overwhelmed by guilt. The longer David waited to confess his careless errors and mistakes to God, the worse he feels. As each day passed without acknowledging his sin, David’s strength was sapped like humidity from a summer heatwave.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:5-6.

Jesus’ earthly brother reveals that earthly trials take the form of waves of doubt. Once fully developed, these spiritual storms contain a billowing surge that keeps coming. When you add the wind. conditions only get worse. According to James, when you find yourself stuck in one of these systems, call out to God in prayer to receive wisdom to get you through. While each storm varies, James 1:12 provides hope for those who hold on to Jesus until your storm passes.

by Jay Mankus

Beyond Measure

As I child, I enjoyed counting rare coins that my parents collected.  Placing our families spare change into a large jar located on a counter next to the main entrance, this giant piggy bank usually took a month or so to fill.  Once full, each coin was sorted on our kitchen table, separating the regular quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies from the valuable ones based upon dates and where each was minted.   Before the internet, large navy blue notebooks provided collectors with important informing above a coin sized filling system to hold each valuable coin, carefully pressed into place by my father.  Since I was the youngest, I was relegated the task of sorting the least valuable, but most common.  Though my family didn’t have much in my early years, we were frugal, savoring every penny.

Since Australia, Canada and New Zealand have recently phased out their version of the penny, American coin enthusiasts fear its days are numbered.  The cost of inflation might persuade leaders to discontinue the penny as it costs more to make than its actual worth.  If the penny is taken out of circulation, citizens, government officials and retailers are going have to develop a new way of measuring currency or simply round items up to the nearest nickel.  Since the days of 50 cent gas, 25 cent meals and 15 cent movie theater tickets are in our rear view mirror, the penny is on the verge of extinction.

During the days when Pharaoh reigned over Egypt, there was a 7 year period of bountiful harvests.  As a result, store houses went built around the fields in each city of Egypt, overseen by the governor Joseph.  According to Genesis 41:49, the yield from each area throughout the country was so plentiful, Joseph stopped counting since it was beyond measure.  This planning saved countless lives, serving as a security blanket during one of the worst 7 year drought Egypt ever faced.  Without Joseph’s insight from God, millions of people from the Middle East might have starved to death.

Whenever times are going well, people often forget to stop and give thanks to the Lord for their daily bread.  Success can result in pride, causing one to give yourself more credit than you deserve.  Yet, when famine or trials strike unexpectedly, God is usually the first to be blamed.  Instead of taking responsibility or blaming yourself for missing obvious signs from the Lord, the sinful mind distorts your perspective, Romans 8:5-8.  Beyond the measurements human beings make as well as previous judgments made by others, don’t forgot the James 1:17 principle.  Come to the realization that God is beyond measure; seeing yourself as a humble servant, trying to find your place in this world, Job 42:1-6.

by Jay Mankus

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