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Overcoming and the Overcomer

Overcoming refers to one of three scenarios. To defeat another in competition or conflict such as overcoming the opposing team to earn a victory. To deal with successfully by prevailing over a series of obstacles or mount a comeback to redeem yourself. Finally, to overpower with a will to survive, despite being overcome by emotions or personal grief. However, when you examine this word, overcoming takes consistency, discipline, and effort to push on no matter what trial you face.

But he who keeps (treasures) His Word [who bears in mind His precepts, who observes His message in its entirety], truly in him has the love of and for God been perfected (completed, reached maturity). By this we may perceive (know, recognize, and be sure) that we are in Him: Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as [a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself, 1 John 2:5-6.

Well, 2020 has been like a tsunami that keeps on rising, crashing higher and harder with every wave. Life long dreams to own a business have been either derailed or wrecked for countless entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, college graduates are waiting and waiting for a job in their field, wondering if amassing thousands of dollars in debt was really worth it? Anyone who has endured the Coronavirus, statewide lock downs and job insecurity knows how difficult it is to overcome all of the setbacks 2020 has brought.

Yet you still have a few [persons’] names in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes, and they shall walk with Me in white, because they are worthy and deserving. Thus shall he who conquers (is victorious) be clad in white garments, and I will not erase or blot out his name from the Book of Life; I will acknowledge him [as Mine] and I will confess his name openly before My Father and before His angels, Revelation 3:4-5.

Yet, this is where faith comes into the equation, crying out to an invisible God whose Son has already overcome death, 1 Corinthians 15:54-58. If you feel like you can’t overcome the mountain currently blocking you from achieving success, jump on the Jesus Train to get you over the hump. While the Lord doesn’t promise an easy ride, cling to the one who knows what it takes to be an overcomer. During an intimate conversation with his disciples, Jesus said I am the way, the truth and the life, John 14:6. Don’t be afraid to ride on Jesus’ coat tails until you regain your strength to carry on. Get your ticket to ride the J-Train today.

by Jay Mankus

Running Away from the Hand of God

After the death of Joseph, who God used to save Egypt from a historic famine, future leaders forgot his impact on their country.  When Pharaoh Rameses II rose to power, the once favored Jews became enslaved for 400 years.  Four centuries leader, God chose a man named Moses to lead Israel to a promised land, free from slavery.  Despite this hardship, the Lord was afraid that Israel might change their mind by returning to Egypt and accept a state of misery.

So it happened, when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was nearer; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war [that is, that there will be war], and return to Egypt,” Exodus 13:17. 

Upon the banks of the Red Sea, the Egyptian army was on the verge of surrounding Israel when the hand of God intervened.  Like a scene out of a tsunami movie, one million Jews walked to the other side before a wall of water returned to swallow up chariots and soldiers.  For the eyewitnesses, this event should have transformed their faith forever.  Yet, based upon the words of Moses in Exodus, some began to convince others to return to Egypt rather than trust in God to provide manna from heaven.

Further, he shall not acquire many [war] horses for himself, nor make the people return to Egypt in order to acquire horses [to expand his military power], since the Lord said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again, Deuteronomy 17:16.

As crazy as this may seem, modern believers continue to run away from the hand of God.  Despite countless miracles, signs and wonders, the faith of some have become weak.  The Lord doesn’t want his people to go back to being enslaved, yet weak minds can cause faith to crumble.  Jonah ran away from God in the opposite direction rather than following his call to go to Nineveh.  Unfortunately, my own actions reflect a similar pattern, doing what I want to do.  If only I would let go and trust God, I will see the hand of God at work rather than running away due to fear.

by Jay Mankus

Doubt Kills

An arrival or occurrence of something in overwhelming quantities of water or amounts of debris highlight the magnitude of a tsunami.  This act of God can erase a beach, tropical destination or village in a matter of minutes.  Like a scene out of a chapter from Revelation, the Christmas morning tsunami which struck Thailand in 2004 devastated this region.  In the passage below, the earthly brother of Jesus compares doubt with a spiritual tsunami that can ravage souls.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind, James 1:6.

From time to time, I will cross paths with an extremely negative individual.  Fueled by doubt, this unhealthy presence can persuade hopeful hearts to become consumed by stress, worry and unrest.  Unless this invisible force is extinguished, doubt will continue to spread, poisoning souls one group at a time.  While the initial traces of doubt may appear vague, roots of bitterness will rise up from within troubled hearts, brewing until verbal assaults are unleashed in person or via social media.

And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen, Matthew 21:21.

Jesus addressed doubt on numerous occasions with his own disciples.  These exchanges reveal his frustration as future leaders of the church became numb to the miracles performed by Jesus daily, John 21:25.  Perhaps, the words in the passage above are a call to snap out of it; wake up to the power of faith.  Using the surrounding mountains as a teachable aid, Jesus exclaims, “see that mountain over there, you can move that which stands in your way through faith.”  Yet, if doubt lingers, any dreams that you have will die.  Therefore, believe, have faith and put your trust in God before doubt kills another victim.

by Jay Mankus

Pawns of the Devil

According to Webster, a pawn is someone used by others for their own purpose.  Pawns vary from a dupe to a puppet and in extreme conditions, a hostage.  When you consider Jesus’ insight in John 10:10, there are 3 stages to pawns of the Devil.  Initially, time is used to steal children away from God.  To further this separation, ambitions, dreams and goals are plucked, one by one, killing any hopes of emotional, physical and spiritual prosperity.  Finally, like a self-fulfilling prophecy, lives are destroyed figuratively and literally.

Pawn #1 is subtle, using amusement, entertainment and obsessions to lure committed followers off the narrow road.  Throw in a little compromise, enjoyment and worldly pleasures and before long, priorities began to change.  One of the signs of Satan’s success is a lukewarm spirit, causing souls to lose focus of what’s truly important in life.  Add an onslaught of trials and those pure in heart wander into uncharted waters, opening their eyes to a whole new world like Eve.  If you look across the fence long enough, you might find yourself on the other side.

Pawn #2 is merely a byproduct of time.  Once temptation begins to dig its claws deep into hearts and minds, the outcome shouldn’t be surprising.  Spiritual neglect is replaced by bad habits, careless behavior and loose lips.  The presence of a disciplined life is a distantly memory, kicked to the curb by fleshly desires.  Hooked, lined and sinking fast, the light of Christ fades into addictions of darkness.  At some point, individuals become puppets of the Devil, accomplishing his will through a hypocritical and tainted testimony.

Unless intervention occurs, Pawn #3 resembles a tsunami.  The first wave starts by destroying marriages and or relationships near and dear to your heart.  Isolated, the second wave brings financial ramifications as consumption, gambling and waste make their way to your shores.  Just when you think the storm has subsided, the surge is relentless building in size and wrath.  If you survive, a pitiful soul remains, a shell of the person you were before the pawns of the Devil entered your life.  For those still standing, remember the words of Peter, a failure himself, resist the devil by keeping the faith, 1 Peter 5:8-9.  May this revelation encourage hearts to draw near to the One true God, 1 Timothy 2:4.

by Jay Mankus

Too Precious to be Flushed Down the Toilet

I guess you can say there is something within me that tries to figure out why people behave in a specific manner.  A shy personality early on in life gave me time to people watch, pondering and narrowing in on traits others often overlook.  Although this thought never crossed my mind, deep down I believed all of God’s creatures are too precious to be flushed down the toilet.

As a teacher, I learned to notice subtle behavior changes in my students.  Death, divorce and unemployment were common denominators.  While no one responds to trials exactly the same way, mood swings typically give away the emotions young people endure.  Distractions, temptations and wanting to grow up too fast can devastate delicate souls.  One untimely comment, put down or word can push a distraught mind over the edge, staring suicide in the face.

Looking back as an adult, warts become more obvious, sticking out like a sore thumb.  Pessimism has contributed to society’s demise, creating a tsunami of anger, hatred and negativity.  This venom is expressed verbally each day through trash talking.  The byproduct of the tongue’s wrath is carnage, lies and tarnished reputations.  One of the few glimmers of hope is songs like Gold by Britt Nicole.  May the lyrics of this song touch your heart and remind you, life is too precious to be flushed down the toilet.

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