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Delight or Affliction?

Tired of negativity and pessimism within society?  Ready for the tide to turn in your direction this year?  Well, the answer can be found in the center of the Bible.

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. – Psalm 119:92

The various distractions you encounter can easily shift one’s attention away from the positive aspects in life.  Thus, the saying misery loves company becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy.  If minds continue to dwell on afflictions, the desire to live will fade, resulting in a state of pity heading toward the road to destruction, Matthew 7:13.

Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. – Psalm 37:4

However, if you begin to cling to the promises of the Bible, drawing near to the Lord, affliction will be replaced with peace, Job 22:21.  While you can’t control the hand you are dealt in life, you are responsible for your attitude.  Therefore, you can choose to embrace God’s laws or endure affliction.  May your feet find the path that leads to delight.

Direct me in the path of your commands, for there I find delight. – Psalm 119:35

by Jay Mankus

When Your Soul is Weary

As the newness of 2015 wears off, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it won’t be long until you experience a tired and weary soul.  Whether its the cold and rainy weather on the East Coast or a lack of sunlight to brighten my day, it took less than a week for me to reach this state.  Looking for a boost of energy, the Psalmist provides a message of hope.

My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. – Psalm 119:28

The secret to overcoming this condition begins with searching for answers in the right place.  Although advisers, counselors and friends may offer meaningful advice, there is one book that is living and active, Hebrews 4:12.  When opened, the Bible possesses spiritual natural power to replace sorrow with faith, Romans 10:17.  The more individuals begin to listen, mediate and study principles of truth inside, Joshua 1:8, souls become revitalized.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ. – Romans 10:17

In his farewell address as Israel’s leader, Moses simplifies the choices you have when you become weary in Deuteronomy 30:15.  You can either spend your time on earth doing things that invigorate your life or focus on the negative, resulting in a slow death to your soul.  Though you may be tempted by bitterness to complain, be wise in your response to suffering, 1 Peter 3:17-18.  May God’s promises in the Bible lift you up whenever you face a tired and weary soul.

Turn my heart toward your statutes and not toward selfish gain.  Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. – Psalm 119:36-37

by Jay Mankus

Exhausted

Maybe its me, but the older I become, the harder it is to possess energy.  On certain days of the week, just getting out of bed is an accomplishment, wondering if I want to repeat the endless cycle pf work.  Unless you begin to tap into a higher power,exhaustion is a likely destination.

Fatigue is a byproduct of exhaustion, the result of mental and physical exertion.  Perhaps, this may explain God’s establishment of the Sabbath.  When a driven person goes extended periods without rest, souls will eventually run out of steam.  Subsequently, drain, lethargy and weariness become a reality for those who try to live apart from God, John 15:1-5.

Repetition is a key element of teaching.  Human nature causes most students to forget what they have been taught.  Likewise, authors of the Bible practice this same principle, regularly reminding its readers of past events.  Without being aware of history, individuals will often repeat previous mistakes.  Therefore, if you want to avoid extended periods of exhaustion, pray the words of Psalm 109:22 to lift you out of states of drowsiness.

by Jay Mankus

The Cleansing of the Soul

The Greek philosopher Plato referred to the soul as a psyche with 3 parts: reason, high spirited and appetite.  Modern definitions suggest the soul is the essence of who you are, personification or something connected to the heart and mind.  However you envision the soul, one thing is clear, sooner or later a cleansing will be necessary.

If a car needs their cooling system flushed every 50,000 to 75,000 miles, then why would individuals go years without cleansing their soul.  The Message Bible provides a modern illustration of what it means to be purge your soul from the stresses of life.  Listen to Jesus as he addresses wounded souls:   28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

An Old Testament prophet recounts a similar procedure within Isaiah 1:12-20.  The situation recorded takes us behind the scenes to God’s perspective.  Exposing the flaws of mankind, impure motives abound, preventing the Lord from answering prayers for forgiveness.  Yet, when honest lips take the initiative, the cleansing process can commence.  Nonetheless, words are meaningless unless acts of contrition follow.  Therefore, if you truly want transgressions of the past flushed out of your body, practice the words of Isaiah 1:16-18 and you too can experience a cleansing of your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Coasting on Cruise Control

If you’re traveling cross country in a car or planning a long day trip, the invention of cruise control is a nice luxury.  Although vacation traffic may limit your opportunities, open highways, especially at night, provide a chance for drivers to rest their legs.  With only a few weeks of summer remaining, try to get away for a little R & R coasting on cruise control.

From a spiritual perspective, coasting through life is something that you want to avoid.  Unfortunately, there is where I find myself, using a busy work schedule as an excuse.  Somewhere in the last month, I’ve lost my spiritual mojo.  As a result, my devotional time is sporadic, prayer life lame and influx of the Holy Spirit is wading.  Like the classic line from Star Trek, I feel like Captain Kirk’s frequently request to Scotty, “I need more power!”

Regardless of your circumstances, sooner or later everyone grows tired, Isaiah 40:29-31.  When you reach your breaking point, find yourself exhausted or wake up spiritually numb, God saw this coming.  In these days of desperation, running on empty, you might find yourself crying uncle, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.  While coasting on cruise control led you to this state, yielding to the Lord will help you rise up from the ashes of despair.  Fan into flame 2 Timothy 1:7 so that the only coasting you do in life is driving in the country.

by Jay Mankus

 

Forgotten Commandments

History has a habit of uncovering relics from the past.  Caves hid the Dead Sea Scrolls until 1946 when 981 texts written in Aramaic, Greek and Hebrews were discovered over a 10 year period.  However, there are always things in plain sight which get overlooked, neglected by those too busy to slow down.

As I opened Leviticus 19 today, I stumbled upon an expanded version of the 10 commandments.  Although some of the passages are subtle reminders, God conveys to Moses the whys to keeping decrees and laws.  These biblical nuggets offer common sense, direction and a foundation for faith.  Nonetheless, unless you accept and practice these precepts, you will be vulnerable to straying off course.

There are several reasons why commandments are forgotten.  First, the Bible offends those comfortable with how they are living, reluctant to change.  Second, people don’t like to be told that they are wrong, especially if there are eternal consequences.  Third, since truth has become relative, everyone has their own take on right and wrong.  In the end, Leviticus 19 serves as a wake up call, to alert those sleep walking through life.  May the words of Scripture breathe life into sleepy, tired and weary souls.

by Jay Mankus

When Silence Kills

As human beings enter life on earth, God places certain instincts within babies, crying to get their mother’s attention.  Once talking commences, whining is replaced by mine, ooh and wanna.  Born inside of every child since Adam and Eve, the sinful nature is at war with silence.  If gratifications aren’t instantly met, silence can kill inclinations to be self-absorbed, training infants in the way they should go. Proverbs 22:6.

On the other hand, silence also separates individuals from God, Romans 3:23, as sin establishes a barrier deeper than the grand canyon, Romans 6:23.  Created to be in communion with the Lord and mankind, silence often steal, kills and destroys faith.  If this wall isn’t broken or lifted, souls will die void of any hope, joy or love.  Perhaps, someone or something is blocking this line, muffling God’s still small voice, 1 Kings 19:12-13.

No one is immune to silence, especially when prayers lifted up to heaven go unanswered.  Waiting is one thing I detest, rather pointless to a person in desperate need of answers.  Yet, despite my feelings, there are clues left behind by in the Bible which shouldn’t surprise me.  According to a servant of God who was sawed in two for his faith, silence is a way of life, Isaiah 40:27-31.  As Israel complained to this prophet, God reveals a message of hope to those still waiting in the dark for a response.    Therefore, if you are like me, scratching your head, trying to make sense life’s trials, may silence kill any hint of impatience within you, replaced by spiritual strength from the only One who can breathe life into a tired and weary soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Greatest Closer of All Time

To close refers to someone or something that is finished, like turning a page, closing the door or finalizing a deal to complete what you started.  In baseball, a closer is suppose to end a game, seal the deal and hold the lead so that victory is preserved.  Names such as Mariano Rivera, Dennis Eckersley and Lee Smith come to my mind as the greatest ever.  However, you don’t have to play baseball to be the greatest closer of all time.

According to Psalm 37:39-40, the Lord must be considered into this conversation.  Although distant at times, God fulfills His promise to deliver, rescue and save those who trust in Him.  The Bible is filled with testimonials of the Lord’s attributes as a closer, Philippians 1:6.  One unidentified witness claims faith is the main obstacle which is preventing many from coming to this conclusion, Hebrews 11:6.  Just when you thought Jesus was going to let you down, He escaped the grips of death to save all of mankind from sin, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

In this current age of instant information, negative stories often steal the headlines, highlighting the demise of a once famous star.  When the spotlight is turned off, passing the torch to the next best candidate, father time has a rather cruel way of pushing elite individuals to the curb.  Despite this harsh reality, Jesus remains the same, Hebrews 13:8.  Therefore, if you’re tired of letting victories slip through your fingers, turn to the greatest closer of all time, who has secured an eternal place for His followers, John 14:1-3.

Please feel free to share anything you need a “closer” for or a prayer request.

by Jay Mankus

Why is God Taking so… Long?

In this day and age, waiting is like praying for patience, nobody wants to do it.  The essence of waiting involves one of two options: either stay where you are or delay your plans until something happens.  However, if you’re not in a safe place common sense will urge you to move.  Meanwhile, if you don’t know what you’re looking for, you might overlook the obvious sign God has provided.

In Psalm 22:1, David’s prayer mirrors Jesus’ words in Matthew 27:46.  David went from the out house as a lonely shepherd, living in country fields under the stars to the penthouse, anointed as the next king of Israel in 1 Samuel 16:13.  However, the catch was David had to wait until Saul’s death until this dream became a reality.  A whirl wind took David to the king’s palace as a servant to the king, playing his harp, to a battle field, defeating Goliath and to a cave fleeing the wrath a jealous king, literally running for his life.  This is the context in which David felt forsaken and forgotten, unable to wait any longer.

Meanwhile, Jesus spent 6 hours hanging from a cross before his death.  Without any pain killers, Jesus endured excruciating  pain as 3 modern railroad sized spikes went through each hand and both ankles.  If this wasn’t bad enough, insults and mocking followed, carrying on for hours.  Grasping for air to breath, having a conversation to share his final words was exhausting.  Thus, God the Father went silent, allowing His Son to finish the task that Jesus was sent to earth to complete, Luke 19:10.  Not able to wait any longer, Jesus gave up his spirit, succumbing to the natural forces of life.

Perhaps, Hebrews 12:4 was placed into the pages of the Bible for impatient people on earth.  Despite the trials you encounter in life, God reminds mankind that at least you didn’t have to shed your blood on a cross.  With this subtle reminder, may God fill you with the spirit of Isaiah 40:28-31.  If you find yourself tired, weary and lacking understanding, may the wings of eagles lift you up as wait on God.  In your weakness of impatience, God is strong, carrying you periodically when you can’t tarry on, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.  Although I don’t know why God is taking so long to reveal His plan to me, I am clinging to His promise of a brighter future, Jeremiah 29:11.

by Jay Mankus

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