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Tag Archives: trust in the Lord

Conducive to the Soul’s Safety

Conducive is making a certain situation or outcome likely or possible. This is the context of the passage below as Peter is seeking to protect the souls of first century Christians. While there are no guarantees in life, you can put safeguards in place that are advantageous, beneficial, and useful for favorable results. If the soul is the essence of who you are, your heart is the well spring to life, Proverbs 4:23. This is why it’s necessary to consider the safety of your soul.

And consider that the long-suffering of our Lord [[e]His slowness in avenging wrongs and judging the world] is salvation ([f]that which is conducive to the soul’s safety), even as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the spiritual insight given him, 2 Peter 3:15.

Safety protocol are procedures and policies that are put in place by businesses, companies, and organizations to ensure that a safe environment exists and is maintained. Federal and state officials rely on OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to oversee the safety of workers. Yet, one of Jesus’ former disciples appears to be more concerned with spiritual safety in light of an enemy that is on the prowl, 1 Peter 5:8.

What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered in the ear, proclaim upon the housetops. 28 And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; but rather be afraid of Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell (Gehenna), Matthew 10:27-28.

Jesus compares this threat to a spiritual thief in John 10:10. Like a protective shepherd guarding their flock from wolves, Jesus doesn’t want anyone of his followers to get hurt. Unfortunately, the careless will fail to heed the warnings in the Bible. The Devil isn’t a fictional character who is powerless to harm you. Rather, this fallen angel possesses supernatural powers as the ruler of the air, Ephesians 2:2. Therefore, don’t flee in fear, but trust in the Lord and lean on the Spirit’s understanding to keep your soul safe.

by Jay Mankus

The Walkers Prayer

From 1983 to 1986, I ran over 1,000 miles on grass and pavement. Over the summer to prepare for the upcoming Cross Country season, I averaged running 30 miles per week with 150 miles for months when I felt ambitious. After a friend from college introduced me to a section of Psalm 18, I turned this verse into a prayer before I went for a jog. Yet, the context of the passage below is based upon a shepherd approaching rocky terrain. These words serve as a prayer to avoid twisting an ankle as you walk.

For who is God except the Lord? Or who is the Rock save our God, 32 The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect? – Psalm 18:31-32

Following a reconstructive surgery on my ankle during my junior year of high school, I was forced to wear a soft cast for five years. Whether I was going to school, off to practice or heading off for a run, this cast took a couple of minutes to slip on and tie the laces to secure my ankle. Before I finished tightening up this cast, I often said a silent prayer to God to protect my ankle from any major contact. If I ever overextended myself following my surgery, my left sock was soaked in blood at the end of the day.

He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places, Psalm 18:33.

There was a time when I took walking for granted. As a teenager and gifted athlete, I never thought about twisting my ankle unless I was going hiking on rocky terrain. Yet, my accident while running and subsequent surgery has forced me to place my faith and trust in the Lord whenever I go for a walk. If you do claim Psalm 18:33 as the Walkers Prayer before going outside, I can’t guarantee that you won’t slip. However, as you approach dangerous terrain, look down and watch each step so your feet are secure.

by Jay Mankus

Centered and Resting in God

The term centered refers to an individual who is well balanced, confident, and serene. Meanwhile, resting is the act of ceasing work in order to relax, refresh oneself, and recover. In the book of Genesis, God laid out a plan for Israelites to rest once a week. Rather than lay in bed all day, the Sabbath is a day of worship where believers are centered on and place their trust in the Lord that God is in control.

Through Him you believe in (adhere to, rely on) God, Who raised Him up from the dead and gave Him honor and glory, so that your faith and hope are [centered and rest] in God, 1 Peter 1:21.

One of my resolutions each year is to spend more time with God. While reading the Bible and prayer doesn’t guarantee that you’ll have a great day, it will improve your chances. I find that if I start my day by opening up the Bible first thing in the morning before I do anything else, my perspective is centered on God. Perhaps, this is what Jesus experienced in Mark 1:35-38, inspired to follow the Spirit’s calling.

For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors [f]peculiarly His own. 11 Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell], Hebrews 4:10-11.

As someone who weekly struggles with getting a full night of sleep, resting plays an integral role in my productivity. Anytime I wake up following a great night of sleep, I’m more energized and ready to go. Yet, if I stay up too late and barely get any sleep, I don’t get much done; if anything at all. This is why it’s important not only to be centered on God, but to rest in his strength as well, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

by Jay Mankus

The Guarantee of a Better Agreement

An agreement refers to harmony in accordance with an opinion or feeling. This occurs when two parties reach a position where a joint settlement is finalized. Prior to any agreement being made, there are often sacrifices made on either side. Unfortunately, human nature causes many individuals to fall short of the oath, promise or vow made. Whenever your heart is broken in this life, entering into any future agreement may be difficult, struggling with the concept of trusting someone.

In keeping with [the oath’s greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement [a more excellent and more advantageous covenant]. 23 [Again, the former successive line of priests] was made up of many, because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office]; 24 But He holds His priesthood unchangeably, because He lives on forever, Hebrews 7:22-24.

The author of one New Testament book refers to an eternal guarantee. Instead of relying on an Old Testament priest, the Bible introduces a stronger agreement. Rather than heading off to the temple to confess your sins so that a priest can offer a sacrifice up to God on your behalf, Jesus had a better plan. Fulfilling the prophecy in Genesis 3:15, Jesus became a perfect lamb to die once and for all sins past, present and future. Rising from the dead following his crucifixion assured the guarantee of a better agreement.

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. 11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed, Romans 10:9-11.

Typically, agreements are finalized with a hand shake, kiss or a financial commitment. Yet, the apostle Paul explains in the passage above how to enter into this spiritual agreement. This begins with the acknowledgement of your inability to religiously follow the Ten Commandments. Upon this confession, you are verbalizing your need for a personal Lord and Savior. Finally, as an act to seal and secure this guarantee, you must place your entire confidence and trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6. This is the guarantee of a better agreement.

by Jay Mankus

Seeking Shelter in the Wrong Place

The prophet Isaiah began his earthly ministry in 740 BC, the year of King Uzziah’s death.  As a true prophet of God, sometimes you have to convey unpopular messages.  Any prophet who waters down God’s warning or skips important details will lose God’s favor.  Subsequently, when Judah decided to make a treaty with Egypt by trusting in human leaders rather than God. Isaiah exposes the reason for this decision in the passage below.

“Woe (judgment is coming) to the rebellious children,” declares the Lord, “Who carry out a plan, but not Mine, and make an alliance [by pouring out a libation], but not of My Spirit, in order to add sin to sin; Isaiah 30:1.”

According to biblical historians, the prophet Isaiah was sawed in two, dying as a martyr.  Perhaps, years of blunt, convicting and negative prophecies led to Isaiah’s death.  Yet, when souls choose rebellion over obedience, this becomes a spiritual addiction that results in depravity.  Whenever sin is added to sin, human beings are silently telling God with their own actions that I don’t want you or need you right now.

Who proceed down to Egypt without consulting Me, to take refuge in the stronghold of Pharaoh and to take shelter in the shadow of Egypt!  3 “Therefore the safety and protection of Pharaoh will be your shame and the refuge in the shadow of Egypt, your humiliation and disgrace, Isaiah 30:1-3.

The final portion of the prophecy above is a foreshadowing of Judah’s captivity at the hands of the Babylonians.  If the new king of Judah would have consulted God first, history could have been changed.  Unfortunately, the human flesh has of mind of itself, leading religious followers to seek shelter in the wrong place.  Like a broken high school relationship, desperate times led some to rekindle old feelings.  However, this passage in Isaiah serves as a reminder to trust in the Lord and lean not on our own understanding, Proverbs 3:5-6.  When you do, God will direct your steps via the Holy Spirit to find a spiritual refuge of God’s choice.

by Jay Mankus

The Worry Meter

Joyce Meyer blames human nature for the cause of worry in an article on this topic.  Troubled and uneasy feelings haunt millions of Americans daily.  Demons, the devil and powers of darkness prey on these raw emotions, causing many to worry beyond what is reasonable.  When conditions are ripe, panic attacks come on suddenly, involving intense and often overwhelming fear.  Panic attacks can happen to anyone, yet multiple occurrences can be a sign of a panic disorder.  When you add anxiety to this condition, the anticipation of a stressful event or situation, the worry meter starts BEEPING intensely.

Jesus said to His disciples, “For this reason I tell you, do not worry about your life, as to what you will eat; or about your body, as to what you will wear,” Luke 12:22.

In the passage above, Jesus refers to three main sources of worry.  Depending upon how you want to classify daily concerns, food, health and clothing are basic essentials.  The poor may not know where their next meal will come from.  Those in debt may have to choose the cost of health care over hearty meals.  Teenagers may be forced to buy clothes at resale shops just to have money for other activities in high school.  In terms of worry, the amount of money available to you will often dictate the degree to which you become stressed.  Some concerns will be superficial, based upon social status.  Meanwhile, those without a place to call home will not rest until shelter is found.  No matter what your situation, an internal worry meter is tracking your emotions.

So it is for the one who continues to store up and hoard possessions for himself, and is not rich [in his relationship] toward God,” Luke 12:21.

The worry meter tends to reflect your relationship with God.  However, there is a catch, a glitch.  The closer you get to God, the more the Holy Spirit reveals your imperfections.  Thus, as some draw near to God, there is a hesitancy to get closer.  To avoid conviction, you may chose to go in the opposite direction, taking a break from God for a while.  Whatever your situation may be, Jesus wants his followers to become rooted in Christ, Philippians 2:6-7.  As your relationship with God improves, your level of worry should decline.  Trusting God and worry are reciprocal, polar opposites that work against one another.  If you want to reduce your own worry meter, the Bible offers solutions.  Solomon suggests to trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5-6.  Meanwhile, Jesus urges people to seek God first and his righteous, Matthew 6:33-34, then all the things you are worrying about will be given unto you.  May you put this advice into action so that the worry meter will quickly return to low levels.

by Jay Mankus

What are You Hiding From…Waiting For?

The concept of a superman was conceived into a fictional comic book character by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938.  Forty years later, Christopher Reeves starred in the movie, disguising himself as Clark Kent, a mild-mannered newspaper reporter at the Daily Planet.  Unsure of how or when to reveal his super powers, Clark waits until his adult life to introduce himself to the world.  Perhaps, Superman was afraid, not sure how he would be received.  This fear, although subtle as it might have been, prevented miraculous acts from being demonstrated daily.

Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, and his son Gideon was beating wheat in the wine press [instead of the threshing floor] to [hide it and] save it from the Midianites. 12 And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, “The Lord is with you, O brave man,” Judges 6:11-12.

Human beings can have fragile psyches, especially when confidence is lacking.  In the passage above, you find a mighty warrior working in a blue collar job.  Before Gideon became a famous Old Testament leader, he lived in relative obscurity.  Whether Gideon was hiding, waiting or uncertain about the next move to make in life, an angel of the Lord reminded him of his calling in life.  Gideon wasn’t just a hard working man, he was brave commander who needed a slight nudge from God.

Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said, “And we are coming with you.” So they went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. As morning was breaking, Jesus [came and] stood on the beach; however, the disciples did not know that it was Jesus, John 21:3-4.

After Jesus died on a cross, the disciples lost their leader.  After a couple days of mourning, Peter appears to fall back on his former life as a fisherman.  Peter convinces a couple of the disciples to go with him, staying out all night to fish.  When this trips turns out to be a complete failure, Jesus arrives on the scene to save the day.  Following what some refer to as the First Breakfast, Jesus gives Peter a pep talk.  The subtitle of this conversation, John 21:15-17, in my Bible is love motivation.  Jesus reminds Peter of his spiritual identity, petra, the rock upon which Jesus will build an earthly church.

The Lord is good to those who wait [confidently] for Him, To those who seek Him [on the authority of God’s word], Lamentations 3:25.

For the past six years, my life has been in a holding pattern.  To a certain extent, I can relate to Gideon and Peter, stuck in a transitional period.  Yet, at some point I have to come out of the doldrums.  What am I hiding from?  What am I waiting for before I act?  Perhaps, I need to turn my attention to the Old Testament, putting into practice Lamentations 3:25.  May this blog inspire you to get off the bench and get into the spiritual game called life.  Trust in the Lord, lean on the Holy Spirit for understanding and God will straighten your path for the future.

by Jay Mankus

Losing Faith in the Media

Prior to the introduction of cable and the internet, most Americans only had four to six channels available on their television.  If you wanted to keep up with current events, ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC provided local news at six, followed by world news at 6:30pm.  Names such as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Bob Schieffer, Mike Wallace and Barbara Walters were the people in the media that my parents trusted.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

If my father left for a business trip, he took the local newspaper delivered to our home daily.  Whenever my dad went away for a conference, national papers like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or some other financial magazine were reliable sources for news.  However, when CNN introduced the concept of a twenty four hour cable news network in 1980, the trust factor began to fade as news started to become more and more sensational to attract new viewers.

Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:20-21.

Today, as new competitors have entered the arena of cable news, the quality of reporting has declined.  Channels that share common worldviews use talking points to communicate a unified message.  As you switch networks, it seems like several anchors and reporters are reading from the same teleprompter.  Meanwhile, assumptions are regularly made about mainstream Americans which ignore most of the heartland in this country.  As this trend continues, I am offended weekly by members of the media.  Thus, I have reached a point in my life where the less news I hear, the better I feel about life.  This may explain why a growing number of Americans have lost faith in the media.

by Jay Mankus

Whose Hands Are You Holding?

Assurance, confidence, dependence and expectation are words associated with trust.  Human beings have a tendency to become co-dependent, relying on someone or something.  In the Peanuts Cartoon, Charles Schultz developed a character, Linus, who couldn’t function without his security blanket.  Meanwhile, some individuals can be insecure, clinging to family, friends or strangers when loneliness sets in.  Depending upon the circumstance, whose hands you hold during times of trials reflect whom you ultimately trust.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, Proverbs 3:5.

One day, a father took his son aside to discuss an important life lesson.  This conversation is condensed in the passage above.  Solomon who received wisdom from the Lord passed his insight down to one of his many sons.  This command goes against mainstream beliefs, urging readers to hold God’s hand when you don’t understand why something is happening.  Like faith in the dark, when life takes unexpected twists and turns, trust in the Lord with all your heart.  This action suggests that you are all in, clinging to God’s hand.

Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie! – Psalm 40:4

Solomon’s father, David, provides his own perspective of trust in the passage above.  From a man who went from a lowly shepherd to king of Israel, David recognizes God’s role in his ascension to the throne.  David views his status as a blessing from trusting the Lord as a child.  Unfortunately, some people handle success poorly, boasting and taking all the credit themselves.  If you want to guard against arrogance and pride, make sure that you are holding God’s hand, looking up instead of trusting in your own understanding.

by Jay Mankus

What am I Doing and Where am I Going?

I was introduced to the concept of evaluation early on as a youth director.  Through conferences, seminars and a youth ministry trade school, I learned the importance of gaining feedback from participants.  During my decade of teaching high school, I incorporated this into my curriculum, encouraging students to be critical, honest and fair.  After years of fine tuning, the last day of each class I asked five questions.  What did you like?  What did you dislike?  What topic(s) did I not spent enough time addressing?  What topic(s) did I spent too much time covering?  What changes would you make to improve this class?  After giving students five minutes in silence to write down their opinions, I gave individuals an open forum to express their feelings verbally if so inclined.  While some discussion were brief, others carried on for several minutes.  These papers were collected, stored in notes books and became the foundation for improving my curriculum each summer.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

Unfortunately, outside of the classroom it’s easy to become so consumed with life that you forget what you’re really doing and where your going?  Thus, I must confess that as I write blog after blog, I often forget the purpose for Express Yourself 4Him.  Initially, I wanted to create a modern day diary using the Confessions of Augustine as my inspiration.  The autobiography of this 4th century theologian from Hippo details Augustine’s conversion to Christ and the evolution of his understanding of the Bible.  As Augustine reflected on life while sitting on his back porch, the Holy Spirit began to unveil pieces to the puzzle called life.  Over the weekend, God convicted me of my haphazard nature, sensing a need to become more focused.  Thus, in the coming days, weeks and year, I plan on focusing on two main areas.  First, continue to use the Bible to help explain and understand current events.  Second, become more interactive by using the comments I receive as a source for future blogs.  If I don’t help my readers address their concerns, issues and problems of others, I’m missing an opportunity to use my God given gift.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you, Psalm 32:8.

If you have ever played a team sport team, sometimes the play called by a coach is flawed.  If you are quick or shrewd enough, you might be able to freelance enough to turn a loss into a gain.  This same concept applies to life.  There will be circumstances, days and scenarios where what normally works is ineffective.  Therefore, you have to improvise, change while on the fly.  This is where individuals must learn to place their sole trust in the Lord.  Yes, like anything else, this can be scary, requiring blind faith.  Like the Psalmist suggests above, this leap of faith involves counsel, instruction and teaching.  If you really want to make sure you are on the right track, Bible Study, prayer and worship is available to most everyone.  As I start my sixth as a blogger in February, I pray that the Lord enables me to keep in step with the Holy Spirit so I can minister to those in need.

by Jay Mankus

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