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A Rare Jewel

In a November 2015 Forbes article, the red diamond was the most expensive jewel, worth one million dollars per carat.  Meanwhile, True Facet claims the rarest jewel when its available is jadeite, costing more than three million dollars per carat.  Yet, one of the most famous jewels is the Hope Diamond due to a curse which followed those who possessed it resulting in several mysterious deaths.

Gold there is, and rubies in abundance, but lips that speak knowledge are a rare jewel, Proverbs 20:15.

While contemplating his own collection of wealth, King Solomon overlooked one rare jewel.  This unusual site involves individuals who provide encouraging and positive words.  These nuggets within conversations often uplift those who hear it.  Based upon the context of the passage above, it appears that even in the days of the Old Testament negative tones filled the local marketplaces.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen, Ephesians 4:29.

Depending upon your current environment at home, school or work, speaking words of knowledge can be difficult.  Overcoming waves of pessimism is a tough task, taking many under its current with each crashing remark.  In view of this climate, the apostle Paul urges his readers to rise above today’s culture of criticism.  Instead of joining the crowd to jump on the pile, change your tune by expressing beneficial comments.  In the end, you will avoid grieving the Holy Spirit by seeking to become a rare jewel with holy lips.

by Jay Mankus

Costing More Than Its Worth

 

In times of crisis or natural disaster, the normal rule of law is often overlooked.  Thus, when Hurricane Katrina brought mass flooding to New Orleans, looters were rampant, taking whatever they could find and carry.  These acts of transgressions were excused as people were forced to go into survivor mode.

People do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving, Proverbs 6:30.

In the days when Israel was a thriving nation, a similar mindset occurred.  Anyone thought to steal due to hunger pains wasn’t as criticized as one who committed crimes out of greed.  Nonetheless, Jewish law stated that anyone caught would have to pay back 7 times the amount stolen,  Thus, crime doesn’t pay, costing more than its worth.

Yet if he is caught, he must pay sevenfold, though it costs him all the wealth of his house, Proverbs 6:31.

Solomon takes this concept one step further, comparing adultery to stealing.  This analogy is considered out of date by Hollywood, especially as the biblical concept of marriage fades from American culture.  This moral decline reveals a downward trend with no end in sight.  Despite the lack of a moral conscience, its essential to spread the word that poor decisions cost more than a moment of pleasure is worth.

by Jay Mankus

The Absence of Discipline

One of the definitions of discipline eludes to a branch of knowledge.  Similar to higher education, discipline is self-taught or prodded through some sort of accountability relationship.  This concept involves dedication, hard work and strict training.  For those who commit by developing daily routines usually experience blessings, success and wealth.

For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly, Proverbs 5:23.

On the other side of the spectrum, you will find apathy.  Those who indulge in this behavior will go through periods of complacency.  The by-product of this decision causes individuals to lose sight of their goals, living day to day.  Subsequently, vision for the future slowly disappears as depression, laziness and hopelessness take over.  This is what likely inspired Solomon to claim the lack of discipline will lead to death.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline, 2 Timothy 1:7.

If you have found yourself in a steady decline recently, the apostle Paul provides a message of hope.  The Holy Spirit was sent by God following Jesus’ ascension into heaven to empower those who call on the name of Lord.  Therefore, don’t allow a spirit of pessimism to reign within you.  Rather, claim the promise in the passage above so that you will escape an undisciplined life.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

Fullness or Unfulfilled?

While many Americans may not be as wealthy as they wish, some local restaurants offer buffets, all you can eat when you are hungry.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the discipline to stop when I’m full.  Rather, I gorge myself, eating more in a one sitting than a child living in a third world nation eats in a week.  Thus, I find myself full, yet unfulfilled.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, Colossians 2:9.

I started 2016 losing 20 pounds in the month of January, only to regain 10 this past month.  The human body is tough to manage, craving food but making those who lack discipline to feel shame and regret.  God promises to provide daily bread, enough money to take care of and feed your family.  Yet, there must be something else as when I taste the pleasures of life I often leave empty and unsatisfied.

And in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority, Colossians 2:10.

The apostle Paul writes to members of the church in Corinth struggling with a similar issue.  The conclusion he draws is that no matter hard someone tries to possess an abundant life, its futile without Jesus.  In your quest to become full, many leave the faith unfulfilled.  Thus, if you ever reach this state, listen to words of the passage above.  Reach out to Christ in prayer and God can make you both full and fulfilled.

by Jay Mankus

No Longer Impure

One of the by products of forgiving but not forgetting leaves behind a wake of tarnished reputations.  For those doing the judging, a divide is created separating the right from the wrong.  This mindset develops false assumptions, resulting in a belief that you and your ways are far superior than others.

“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean,” Acts 10:14.

Prior to his encounter with Cornelius, Peter believed that Gentiles were impure, based upon their consumption of unclean animals detailed within Leviticus.  While praying on a roof, Peter fell into a trace like state.  During this time, a vision from God was revealed to Peter to put an end his stereotypes of all Gentiles.  Through a series of events, Peter came to the conclusion that what you eat no longer makes you impure.

The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean,” Acts 10:15.

Today, there are too many individuals who have become conceded, filled with a “I’m better than you attitude.”  Subsequently, spirits of arrogance motivate those who are in positions of power or wealth.  Thus, its essential for the aloof to have a Peter like experience.  Although this won’t happen all at once, may the Lord help those blinded by pride to become enlightened by the the reality Gentiles are no longer impure.

by Jay Mankus

 

Rich in Love

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Blessed, fortunate and wealthy are terms associated with being rich.  For some this status is achieved by the luck of the draw, born into it.  Others acquire possessions through years of discipline, hard work and perseverance.  Meanwhile, a few receive this by surprise, like a will as illustrated by Jason, the main character in the Ultimate Gift.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3

However, one aspect of wealth that is often overlooked is becoming rich in love.  Unfortunately, several obstacles stand in the way: bitterness, impatience and unforgiveness to name a few.  These spiritual barriers prevent souls from passing on the love of Jesus.  Thus, poverty is not only a financial state, it’s also a condition of a wounded heart, a casualty of a fallen world.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. – 1 Corinthians 13:6

The presence of love can be a difference maker.  If genuine, love can transform the angry, pissed off and unlovable.   Perhaps this explains the words of the apostle Paul known as the love chapter is regularly quoted in weddings.  Attributed as one of three theological virtues, love is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, available to anyone who calls on the name of the Lord.  May the words of today’s blog inspire you to become rich in love.

by Jay Mankus

McFarland USA

As a former cross country runner, the story of McFarland intrigued me.  While not every sport is perfect, nor will every athlete possess special memories, yet cross country is like a good book you can’t put down.  Eager to find out the conclusion, the message of the movie McFarland USA is a story book ending vanishing from America, a species on the verge of extinction.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it, 1 Corinthians 9:24.

For those foreign to the term Cross Country, family is at the very essence of this sport.  Perhaps, long bus rides to attend Saturday invitationals is forced upon participants initially.  However, after the training is over, the stop watch reset and pain fades away, strangers share a common bond of sweat and tears.  Regardless of the final outcome, the journey to improve far surpasses wins and losses.  In the end, treasured memories exist, as vulnerable hearts pour out their souls to teammates, welcoming people into their lives they never dreamed of or imagined.

But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint, Isaiah 40:31

The most important message of McFarland USA is choosing community over a career.  When success at a small school leads to a dream job, most follow the money, looking for an easy excuse to leave.  Yet, Coach Jim White’s legacy, played by Kevin Cosner, was built as the lives of his runners began to be transformed.  While his resume did include victories, he brought hope to hopeless Latinos.  Therefore, the next time you think you’re on the verge of striking it rich, make sure you don’t run anyone over on your way out of town.  Although wealth may feed your family, becoming a part of a community enriches your soul.

by Jay Mankus

The Source of Wealth

You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” – Deuteronomy 8:17

Upon their arrival and occupation of the promised land, Israel may have forgotten who provided for their needs.  Sensing a  spirit of pride among the ranks, Moses devotes an entire chapter to guard against forgetting the Lord.  After years of failure, the taste of success may have gone to some of their heads.

But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today. – Deuteronomy 8:18

Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Moses sets the record straight, giving God the credit for Israel’s newly gained wealth.  Remembering the promise made to Abraham, Moses confirms the origin of their recent success, God’s covenant.  Perhaps the suffering Moses experienced in Egypt produced a grateful heart, thankful for the answered prayers.

Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. – Malachi 3:10

In modern times, an Old Testament prophet suggests an untapped potential of wealth can be found in tithing.  As current believers begin to practice giving a minimum of ten percent of their gross income to the church and needy causes, God unleashes financial blessings.  Although a prosperity gospel preached in numerous churches perverts this biblical principle, the more you trust in the Lord to provide for your needs, you will begin to believe God is the ultimate source of wealth.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

The Lost Days

For the last 6 months, I made a sacrifice, working nights to provide for my family.  Subsequently, I adapted my schedule to begin sleeping during the day so I could stay awake at night.  Looking back now, this decision has led to several lost days.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16

In an attempt to gain wealth, I’ve neglected my role as a father.  Sure, I’ve tried my best on my days off, yet the wear and tear of the night shift has stripped me of energy.  Thus, I’ve come to a cross road, hoping to seize the days of my life which remain.

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. – Colossians 3:17

With 2015 still relatively young, there is time to change course.  Although my work out and dietary plans have already fallen short of my goals for this year, God’s forgiveness is new every day, Lamentations 3:22-23.  Leaving my failures in the past, its time to arise and move forward to seize the days before they are lost again.

by Jay Mankus

Snapping out of a Self-Induced Trance

The Sermon on the Mount has been a wealth of spiritual insight since it was recorded in the first century.  Following this messakge, Jesus provides common sense for those inspired to practice these words, Matthew 9:12-13.  Anyone who is physically, mentally or spiritual sick should see a doctor for advice, counseling or medicine.  However, God expects the rest to be proactive and self-medicating so that these individuals will be  able to snap out of any self-induced trance.

Galatians 5:16-18 warns its readers against an invisible force able to lull you into a false sense of security.  Brought on by compromise, conceit or rationalizing daily choices, sin can cast a spell over any self-indulging suspect.  Whether its a mentality, new way of thinking or a worldview disguised with modern lingo, even some of Jesus’ own disciples were deceived into believing a lie, Galatians 5:7-9.

As for me, my eye sight has deteriorated over the last month.  Subsequently, reading the Bible or anything for more than a few minutes has been a struggle.  The less I read, the more vulnerable I become to a life without God.  Waking up in the middle of the night on my day off provided a dose of logic to snap me out of this sluggish spiritual condition.  This is why one of Israel’s leaders begged his people to meditate on the Bible day on night, Joshua 1:7-8.  By doing this, you too can snap yourself out of any prolonged trances induced by a sinful nature, Romans 6:23.

by Jay Mankus

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