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Tag Archives: The Bible

Iniquities That Drown Out My Prayers

“So when you spread out your hands [in prayer, pleading for My help], I will hide My eyes from you; Yes, even though you offer many prayers,
I will not be listening. Your hands are full of blood! “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Get your evil deeds out of My sight. Stop doing evil, Isaiah 1:15-16.

How many times a day are you forced to listen to boring conversations? Co-workers may have to endure colleagues who love to talk and never shut up. Meanwhile, students have to sit through hour long lectures, often pretending to be entertained just to get a good grade. While some people crave intimate dialogue, others simply embrace the sound of silence.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save, Nor His ear so impaired that it cannot hear. But your wickedness has separated you from your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear, Isaiah 59:1-2.

From God’s perspective, billions of prayers are lifted up to heaven daily. Trying to sort through all of these requires an act of God as it is. Nonetheless, how many of these prayers are genuine, impure or selfish? Isaiah comments on disingenuous prayers. According to this Old Testament prophet, prayers aren’t designed as an escape plan or get well wish. Rather, God has specific expectations that requires a contrite heart.

“For the eyes of the Lord are [looking favorably] upon the righteous (the upright), And His ears are attentive to their prayer (eager to answer), But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil,” 1 Peter 3:12.

Thus, if your prayer life is like mine, you will experience days, weeks and months of prayers that go unanswered. According to the Bible, iniquities drown out your prayers. An iniquity is considered grossly unfair behavior, deemed criminal, foul or immoral. Essentially what God is trying to say to anyone before they pray, “get your act together, clean up your life up and stop doing evil things.” Unless acts of contrition supersede your prayers, the presence of iniquities will continue to drown out your prayers.

by Jay Mankus

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Fruit Inspectors

Quality Control is a system for verifying and maintaining a desired level of quality for a product.  Companies accomplish this through careful planning, use of proper equipment, continued inspection, and a corrective plan of action.  The roots of Total Quality Management can be traced back to the early 1920’s when statistical theory was first applied to product quality control.  By the 1940’s, Japan further developed quality control resulting in prosperous manufacturers especially in the automobile industry in the years that followed.

“Beware of the false prophets, [teachers] who come to you dressed as sheep [appearing gentle and innocent], but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them [that is, by their contrived doctrine and self-focus]. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? – Matthew 7:15-16

The Bible refers to a different kind of quality control system.  Jesus urges listeners of his Sermon on the Mount to become fruit inspectors.  Instead of determining the quality of a specific fruit, Jesus wants individuals to discern, examine and observe other human beings.  Afraid of counterfeit, fake and phony people deceiving honest souls, Jesus compares fruit to the content of someone’s character.  Like a mentor steering his students in the right direction, Jesus reveals what to look for when encountering any religious teacher.

Even so, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the unhealthy tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore, by their fruit you will recognize them [as false prophets], Matthew 7:17-20.

In the passage above, Jesus provides guidelines to follow for fruit inspectors.  The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the church of Thessalonica.  During a visit to Berea, Paul was impressed by a culture of fairness, not jumping to any conclusions.  Paul references their example by encouraging others to test everything that you hear with the Bible to see if it’s true, 1 Thessalonians 5:21-22.  Quality fruit inspectors examine the facts, hold on to what is good and discard everything else.  May this blueprint allow you to perfect your ability to become a skilled fruit inspector.

by Jay Mankus

Save Your Strength

During the course of your life, you will encounter at least one extreme circumstance. The Bible refers to these events as trials, unforeseen periods that will rock your world. Unexpected things that boggle the mind temporary or permanently interrupt individuals from a wonderful life. How you respond to these situations will impact the rest of your life on earth.

Because of the surpassing greatness and extraordinary nature of the revelations [which I received from God], for this reason, to keep me from thinking of myself as important, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan, to torment and harass me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might leave me; 2 Corinthians 12:7-8.

According to the passage above, one first century man began to suffer from a rare physical ailment. The apostle Paul compares his pain to a thorn in the flesh. Perhaps some sort of barb, prickly plant or spike resulted in an infection. However, Paul also implies that this condition might have a spiritual connection. Either Satan received permission from God to torment Paul like the Old Testament case of Job or this the accident that led to this wound was used by God to humble Paul.

But He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My lovingkindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” Therefore, I will all the more gladly boast in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ [may completely enfold me and] may dwell in me, 2 Corinthians 12:9.

At some point, Paul pleaded with the Lord in prayer, asking God to remove this pain from his life. Instead of receiving an answer to this prayer, a whisper from the Holy Spirit brought an unusual message, “save your strength.” From a human perspective, maybe this eludes to worry which serves no particular purpose. However, God unlocks a powerful message about life, the more you trust in God the less you will rely on human effort. Therefore, if you want to experience the power of Christ, save you strength.

by Jay Mankus

Having a Foot on Both Sides of the Fence

The term “on the fence” became a popular expression beginning in 1828.  The original context was applied by Carl Schurz, insisting on political independence, rather than appeal to everyone by sitting on both sides of an issue.  Not much has changed in the last 2 centuries as politicians have perfected the art of straddling hot button topics with one foot on either side of an argument.  In an attempt to dodge what individuals really believe, vague comments seek to win the approval of as many voters as possible.

To understand a proverb and a figure [of speech] or an enigma with its interpretation, And the words of the wise and their riddles [that require reflection].  The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline, Proverbs 1:6-7.

From a spiritual perspective, the fence represents biblical principles.  On one side of this divider is the Bible designed to keep evil out by instilling commands, decrees and precepts from God.  This land is based upon a higher calling, to use abilities, gifts and talents to glorify God.  The opposite side consists of assumptions, elementary theories and worldly traditions.  This region encourages self gratification, indulgence and promotion.  These areas are polar opposites unless you want to fit in like a chameleon.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ, Colossians 2:8.

The book of Proverbs is designed to shed light on this issue.  As an earthly father looking back on his life, King Solomon attempts to bestow wisdom upon one of his sons.  Like any worried parent, Solomon sees the evil within the world that gradually bewitches, deceives and poisons the minds of teenagers.  Thus, Solomon wrestles to pen the exact words to keep his children on the right side of this invisible fence.  May the fear of the Lord serve as a guiding light to ensure that your own offspring follows the narrow path detailed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

The Mind of a Murderer

The Investigation Discovery Channel began airing in 1996.  Twenty years later, the ID channel has inspired a series of programming based upon finding the killer of unsolved cases.  Recent shows like Snapped examines the mind of a murderer.  This phenomena has influenced Headline News to develop the Making of a Murderer to add to their late night murder mysteries.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

According to the Bible, a murder ruined the earth’s first family as jealousy led the oldest son Cain to kill his younger brother Able.  In the earliest days on earth, God walked and talked with Adam and Eve.  Apparently, God approached Cain before this act of murder occurred.  Like a parent warning their child, God warned Cain of his jealous heart, seeing his displeasure and frustration.  Unfortunately, the thought of getting rid of his brother had already conceived, only a matter of time before these thoughts inspired an evil action.

Then the owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will have respect for him.’ 14 But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves, saying, ‘This [man] is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance will be ours.’ 15 So they threw the son out of the vineyard and killed him, Luke 20:13-15a.

During a first century parable, Jesus reveals the mind of a murderer.  A group of tenants thought if they killed the owner’s only son, these men would be in line to receive his inheritance.  This flawed decision did not take into account one obvious fact: God is all-knowing and sees every deed committed by human beings.  While some may appear to get away with a crime or murder, sooner or later individuals will be brought to justice either on earth or in the afterlife.

“You have heard that it was said to the men of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and ‘Whoever murders shall be guilty before the court.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who continues to be angry with his brother or harbors malice against him shall be guilty before the court; and whoever speaks [contemptuously and insultingly] to his brother, Raca (You empty-headed idiot)!’ shall be guilty before the supreme court (Sanhedrin); and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of the fiery hell, Matthew 5:21-22. 

Jesus expounds upon this concept in his Sermon on the Mount.  In the passage above, Jesus compares hatred with murder.  Hatred is an emotion that influences how you act.  The more people allow anger to dwell and grow within them, human beings will begin to act, behave and do things out of the ordinary.  Under extreme conditions, the mind of a murderer becomes more than a thought.  In view of this danger, it’s essential to take every thought captive by making them obedient to Christ.  This practice can reverse evil desires implanted by the Devil.

by Jay Mankus

 

Weather or Not?

Whenever I go on vacation, I try to check weather forecasts prior to leaving.  Depending upon the site you choose, you can research temperature up to ten days or hour by hour.  Usually, this helps me know what clothes to pack.  Unfortunately, just because a network has the most sophisticated technology in the world doesn’t make their anchors weather experts.  Anyone with a weather radar channel or doppler program open can see weather systems approaching.  However, unless you understand what you seeing on a screen, the exact forecast will always be in doubt.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me? – Psalm 56:3-4

This past weekend I had planned a family ski trip in the Poconos, two hours north in Pennsylvania.  The early projections called for heavy snow Saturday, causing me to alter my initial plans.  To make matters worse, the state of Pennsylvania issued a state of emergency at noon Saturday.  Two days of skiing at Camelback Mountain turned into one, but snow didn’t start falling until five in the afternoon.  Right on the ice/snow line, estimations ranged from three to twelve inches.  To a certain extent, my families plans were held hostage by an ever changing weather report.

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love, 1 John 4:18.

In times of doubt and indecision, individuals are forced to rely on common sense.  When you aren’t able to decide which way to go or turn, the Bible introduces the concept of trusting God.  You may take the information provided like a weather forecast, but God’s Spirit, Galatians 5:25, can direct you like it did for the apostle Paul during the first century.  Perhaps, this explains why the translators of the King James Bible use the term Holy Ghost to describe the Holy Spirit.  This invisible force serves as a counselor, a guiding hand during times of darkness.  Whether or not forecasts are correct, trusting God can turn cloudy or foggy mornings into an ideal day on the slopes.  Sometimes the weather is merely a state of mind.  When trust is present, fear is replaced by a loving appreciation for God.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

From Spiritual Blindness to Humility

Spiritual blindness is a grievous condition experienced by those who do not believe in God, Jesus Christ, and His Word, the Bible. This state is often brought on by a popular view that God is all loving, preventing this spiritual being from sending human beings to hell. Spiritual blindness can also be contracted by the self-righteous. This occurs when religious individuals begin to compare themselves to less spiritual people. This comparison elevates their own self-esteem while lulling souls into a false sense of security.

He also told this parable to some people who trusted in themselves and were confident that they were righteous [posing outwardly as upright and in right standing with God], and who viewed others with contempt: Luke 18:9.

During the first century, Jesus attempted to expose the spiritual blindness of religious leaders by using a parable.  This analogy compared one outstanding citizen, a Pharisee with a stellar reputation to a tax collector, the most corrupt and dishonest occupations at the time.  Jesus made his point by noticing the prayer habits of these two men.  This so called good guy exalted himself without any acknowledgement, gratitude or praise for the Lord above.  Meanwhile, the social misfit, hated by society, did not feel worthy to look up to heaven.  Rather, this tax collector beat his chest, disgusted by the spiritual condition of his soul.

The Pharisee stood [ostentatiously] and began praying to himself [in a self-righteous way, saying]: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like the rest of men—swindlers, unjust (dishonest), adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing at a distance, would not even raise his eyes toward heaven, but was striking his chest [in humility and repentance], saying, ‘God, be merciful and gracious to me, the [especially wicked] sinner [that I am]!’– Luke 18:11-13.

Life is full of cycles. phases and transitional periods.  During these ups and downs, God humbles the proud and lifts up the meek.  The hardest part of these emotional experiences is remembering where you came from.  In the darkest days of Job’s trials, this broken man once said, “from ashes to ashes and dust to dust.”  This confession reflects upon God creating Adam out of the dust only to return to the ground following his death.  When human beings recognize the frailty of life, a mist that appears for a while then quickly vanishes, this should move the spiritually blind to humility.  May this painful reality prompt acts of faith to get your life in order this year.

by Jay Mankus

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