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Tag Archives: trusting in Jesus

Before My Sufferings Begin

Famous writers use foreshadowing as a way to misdirect readers, confuse anyone who has prematurely judged a character or as a way to leave behind a series of clues. In Hansel and Gretel, the Grimm Brothers use a trail of bread crumbs. However, throughout the four Gospels, Jesus drops subtle hints. Unfortunately, the disciples developed an ungodly belief, thinking that Jesus would become the earthly King of the Jews. Subsequently, no one knew what Jesus meant by “before I suffer.”

And they went and found it [just] as He had said to them; and they made ready the Passover [supper]. 14 And when the hour came, [Jesus] reclined at table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, I have earnestly and intensely desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; Luke 22:13-15.

Human nature has a tendency to compare your own life to someone else. Hollywood has a series of scenes where two characters compare their scars starting with subtle ones before escalating to the most severe. Yet, suffering is often in the eye of the beholder. If you’ve lived a sheltered life without many trials or tribulations, it’s hard to comprehend the life of an orphan. In the case of Jesus, he waited 33 years before laying down his life. Yet, his disciples didn’t understand what was about to happen.

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted.Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 2 Corinthians 12:6-7.

At the conclusion of a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul pours out his heart about his own suffering. Whether this suffering was physical, spiritual or a combination of the two, Paul reached a point in his life where he began to accept this condition. As religious leaders attempted to kill and stone Paul on numerous occasions, he began to see a silver lining. Whether you’re in the beginning, middle or end of suffering, this experience has been allowed to occur so that in your weakness, placing your entire trust in Jesus will make you stronger than ever before.

by Jay Mankus

When Christian’s Don’t Know How to Act

Becoming a Christian is like new parents coming home from the hospital with their first child. Adults may take Lamaze classes in preparation, but once there are no doctors around to tell you what to do, you’re on your own. While most churches provide literature for new believers or offer classes to help prepare newbies for a new life in Christ, there are still more questions than answers. Subsequently, countless Christians often don’t know how to act after trusting in Jesus to be their Lord and Savior.

As for the man who is a weak believer, welcome him [into your fellowship], but not to criticize his opinions or pass judgment on his scruples or perplex him with discussions. One [man’s faith permits him to] believe he may eat anything, while a weaker one [limits his] eating to vegetables. Let not him who eats look down on or despise him who abstains, and let not him who abstains criticize and pass judgment on him who eats; for God has accepted and welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on and censure another’s household servant? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he shall stand and be upheld, for the Master (the Lord) is mighty to support him and make him stand, Romans 14:1-4.

While visiting the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul came into contact with new, immature and weak Christians. The passage above provides advice for coping and dealing with Christians who don’t exactly know how to act yet. As a former high school coach, Paul’s words remind me that not every individual responds well to criticism. Some people need encouragement, others need a pat on the back and the lackadaisical could use a stern talking to promote spiritual growth.

Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. 15 You ought instead to say, If the Lord is willing, we shall live and we shall do this or that [thing]. 16 But as it is, you boast [falsely] in your presumption and your self-conceit. All such boasting is wrong. 17 So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:14-17.

The earthly brother of Jesus was introduced to the concept of sins of omission. Perhaps, the Pharisees became so concerned about religious practices such as resting on the Sabbath that they failed to see opportunities to help and serve others. When his older brother was crucified on a cross at age 33, James realized that life is too short to not to know how to act. Therefore, if your conscience or the Holy Spirit compels you to act and you do not, you’re just as guilty as a sinner. Therefore, seize each day and learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, so you begin to learn how to act as a Christian daily.

by Jay Mankus

When Society Turns On Its Own

Back in the 1980’s, smoking was a socially acceptable practice.  My high school offered smoking courts during breaks and lunch for students to get their nicotine craving for the day.  Sure, ruining a shirt from a flicked cigarette or being overwhelmed by smoke was a drag, but not the end of the world.  To discourage this behavior, politicians passed a tobacco tax to penalize anyone who smoked.  When this didn’t greatly reduce smoking, cities, states and townships introduced legislation to ban smoking from downtown areas.  For those who haven’t kicked this habit, society has turned on its own.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! – Isaiah 5:20

While driving home from church last Sunday, my wife and I were talking about drinking habits in our families growing up.  Alcohol was a common site, scotch on the rocks, a glass of wine or mixed drinks in a liquor cabinet.  Drinking was a form of relaxation after a hard day of work.  As a naïve teenager, I didn’t think anything of this typical  behavior.  Unfortunately, not every family has happy endings.  Some adults have become alcoholics, others influenced by the spirit of alcohol to become abusive with others leaning on drinking to kill their pain.  The habits of my parents generation are now frowned upon despite similar patterns that exist today.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me, Psalm 23:4.

Martin Luther King Jr. was one of the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement in America in the 1960’s.  King’s bold stance ultimately led to his tragic death by James Earl Ray.  Yet, King’s dream was to see a day in America when citizens were no longer judged by the color of their skin.  Rather, King’s vision was that people would be judged by the content of their character.  Unfortunately, the progressive movement has ruined any chance of this becoming reality.  Today, right and wrong is being based upon your political beliefs.  Those that don’t accept, bow down to and practice progressive thinking are being defamed one at a time.  When society turns on his own, the best course of action is leaning on and trusting in Jesus.  The Lord will get you through these trying times no matter how difficult it becomes.

by Jay Mankus

 

Trust vs. Want

I’ve heard Psalm 23 read several times at funerals that I’ve attended.  However, this morning the first verse struck a cord within my heart.  “I shall not be in want,” jumped off the pages at me as if God was trying to get my attention.  Will I trust the Lord to fully provide for my needs or will wants inside my sinful nature force me to take back control of my life?

The prophet Isaiah makes another comparison with sheep, claiming each person have moments in life when they reject their shepherd, turning toward their own way, Isaiah 53:6.  While the great shepherd is patient, stubbornness has driven many far from green pastures.  Instead of relying on shepherd’s crook to get back on track, selfish steers countless toward a path of destruction, Matthew 7:13

Nonetheless, the words of Jesus in Luke 15:11-16 are much closer to reality than the average person wants to admit.  If only I could came to my senses, then I would hand over the keys to my lord.  Yet, a long Christmas list of wants has brought me to a spiritual pig pen, stuck in the mud of empty promises of this world.  May the rod of the great shepherd knock some sense into you before another innocent victim enters the grave.  I pray that the valley of the shadow of death will prompt you to trust Jesus, yielding your wants on earth for a greater cause, Luke 15:7.

by Jay Mankus

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