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When Will You Find Peace?

On June 7, 1972, the North Vietnamese Army the South Vietnamese town of Trang Bang. One of the tactics used by the North Vietnamese Army was to hide among the villagers because it helped avoid airstrikes and artillery. While there were videos of the beginning of the Vietnam War, one picture shocked the U.S. public about the terror of the Vietnam war. This photo was of a 9 year old girl who soon became known as the “Napalm Girl”.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:6-7.

This one gut-wrenching photograph illustrated the complete opposite of peace. Nearly a half century later, war has taken on new forms. Following protests and rioting in 2020 across the United States, some neighborhoods have become a war zone with violence breaking out nearly every weekend. As concerned citizens come to grips this wave of unrest, many troubled souls are wondering, “when will I find peace?”

Now may the Lord of peace Himself grant you His peace (the peace of His kingdom) at all times and in all ways [under all circumstances and conditions, whatever comes]. The Lord [be] with you all, 2 Thessalonians 3:16.

The apostle Paul provides advice for anyone searching for peace in the passages above. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by anxiety and worry, Paul suggests that prayer should be used as a hedge of protection. Whatever you are facing or about to go through, lift up these concerns to God. Meanwhile, give thanks for all circumstances, good, bad or indifferent so that peace of God will begin to provide tranquility and assurance to your soul. As you practice Paul’s advice, may you find the peace of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Act as An Umpire to Regain Control

The expression umpire is found 5 times in the Bible. One is used by Job in the Old Testament; the other 4 are found in the New Testament. The apostle Paul uses umpire in back to back chapters in Colossians. The first references an individual who abuses their power like a modern day Major League Baseball ump on a power trip seeking to throw out as many players and managers as possible.

Let no one defraud you by acting as an umpire and declaring you unworthy and disqualifying you for the prize, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions [he claims] he has seen, vainly puffed up by his sensuous notions and inflated by his unspiritual thoughts and fleshly conceit, Colossians 2:18.

Less than a chapter later, Paul compares an umpire to a first century official at a Track and Field competition. In the off years of the original Greek Olympics, the Corinthian Games gave world class athletes a chance to compete. The context of the passage below refers to someone who maintains control by properly officiating each event. Any judgment call that is made must be backed up by a clear understanding to settle any disputes from a competitor.

And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ’s] one body you were also called [to live]. And be thankful (appreciative), [giving praise to God always], Colossians 3:15.

According to the apostle Paul, the ideal umpire is one that allows the peace of Christ to rule in their hearts. When souls are in perfect harmony with the Holy Spirit, Christians will be able to maintain control in a world that tends to spin out of control. When believers think of and see the big picture of the body of Christ, you can stabilize any circumstances and situations that you encounter. Therefore, the next time tempers begin to flare, act as an umpire to regain control of a highly contested situation.

by Jay Mankus

When a Joy Ride is Interrupted by Stress

The term joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. When you add similar expressions such as “joyful” and “joyous”, joy is mentioned over 200 times. While the phrase joyride refers to a ride taken for pleasure, usually in an automobile, a New York City judge derived this term in the context of stealing cars or reckless driving. Nonetheless, when a joyous occasion rejuvenates your soul, lives glide through days with a positive mindset.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4:4-6.

Unfortunately, moments of joy are often rudely interrupted by stress and worry. There are 40 different passages in the Bible that address the topic of stress and hard times. Meanwhile, worry is used 38 times in the Bible. One of the greatest examples of a joy ride being interrupted by stress is found in Matthew 16. Peter goes from being praised by Jesus in verses 17 and 18 to being rebuked moments later in Matthew 16:22, “get behind me Satan.”

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:7-8.

During a letter written to Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul felt the need to encourage those overwhelmed by stress and worry. Instead of allowing the enemy to ruin your days of joy, Paul provide advice to stay positive. When you can’t find anything in your life to be thankful for, rejoice in the Lord. Pray for a forbearing spirit so that anxiety, uncontrollable circumstances and stress will roll off your back. The next time your joy is interrupted, let the peace of Christ settle you down.

by Jay Mankus

Finally Home

Movies with a happy ending often bring a tear to my eyes.  However, in life, sometimes people give up hope of living happily ever after.  As individuals struggle to keep a good paying job, marriages are suffering, on the verge of fading.  The matrimony vows of for better or for worse are usually forgotten, erased from memories when things don’t turn out for the good.

Until yesterday, I was worried about myself, my home and where my family and I would live in the future.  With bleak, broken dreams and disappointment on the horizon, my life was on the verge of collapse.  Crying out to the Lord day after day, God finally answered my prayers yesterday.  Lost, displaced and unsure if I would ever find a new occupational home, I now have a sense I am finally home with Amazon.

Like the peace of Christ mentioned in Philippians 4:6-7, God has released all my burdens, concerns and worries about finances.  Psalm 130:3-4 expresses the joy one receives when forgiven, staked to a new homestead and leash on life.  Nothing in the Bible illustrates this point more than Luke 15:17-24, the conclusion of the prodigal son.  Like this immature child, everyone makes mistakes, poor decisions and acts selfishly.  However, there is a God in heaven, waiting on the front porch for your return.  Come to your senses now so that you will experience the pleasure of finally being home!

by Jay Mankus

The Prayer of An Afflicted Man

Psalm 102 credits the author of this chapter to an afflicted man.  The term afflict means to badly affect, cause problems or make miserable.  In life, several variables can influence individuals to become bothered, distressed or troubled.  Depending upon the degree to which circumstances and or events inflict pain, people often rely on prayer as a last resort.

Thus, the words of Psalm 102:1-9 relate to one’s emotions, desperately crying out to God for Him to make sense of your situation.  Like the powerful scene in Forrest Gump, sometimes there aren’t enough rocks to throw, unleashing the bitterness deep inside of Jenny’s heart toward her father.  Unfortunately, most of us are persuaded by the devil to blame God for failures in life.  According to Ephesians 4:27, similar decisions allow the devil to have a foothold, making matters worse instead of better.

Since affliction is a common occurrence, Psalm 102 is a great outline to use for prayer.  Verse 17 promises that God will respond to the prayer of the destitute, answering their plea.  Therefore, the next time you experience signs of affliction, remember the words of this Psalm.  Whether you are a man or a woman, pour out your heart to God so that your pain will be replaced by the peace of Christ!

by Jay Mankus

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