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Tag Archives: wisdom

The Prayer of Moses

You can learn a lot about someone by the content of their prayers. Over my years of attending Bible studies, sharing groups and Sunday School classes, its easy to decipher who has a quality prayer life for those who casually pray. The only known Psalm written by Moses begins with a brief history of the Old Testament. Like any introduction, Moses is attempting to get God’s attention by acknowledging who the Lord is and what He has done.

Lord, You have been our dwelling place [our refuge, our sanctuary, our stability] in all generations. Before the mountains were born or before You had given birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are [the eternal] God. You turn man back to dust,
And say, “Return [to the earth], O children of [mortal] men!” For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night, Psalm 90:1-4.

During Moses’ first conversation with God, Exodus 4:10-13, readers discover that Moses was born with a severe speech impediment. As someone who has endured a similar fate early in my life, speaking out loud makes a stutterer nervous. Speaking directly to the Creator of heaven and earth probably exasperated Moses’ condition. Instead of believing that God could heal his speech, Moses rejects God’s initial offer to be the Lord’s spokesman.

Who understands the power of Your anger? [Who connects this brevity of life among us with Your judgment of sin?] And Your wrath, [who connects it] with the [reverent] fear that is due You? So teach us to number our days, that we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom. Turn, O Lord [from Your fierce anger]; how long will it be? Be compassionate toward Your servants—revoke Your sentence, Psalm 90:11-13.

Based upon the words of Psalm 90, Moses wrote this chapter after being healed of stuttering. The passage above sounds like someone who is mature, reflecting back over the course of his life. There will be moments in time when you won’t understand why God is doing this or that. Nonetheless, Moses asks the Lord for wisdom and the ability to seize each day God gives you on earth. While all have fallen short of God’s glory, Moses pleads with God to lean on the side of compassion. May this ancient prayer cultivate your faith as you reflect upon God’s Word.

by Jay Mankus

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Good Guys Can Finish First

There is a stigmatism that exists today about good or nice people. During a press conference in 1946, Brooklyn Dodger manager Leo Durocher was asked to comment about having too many nice guys on his ball club. Durocher replied, “It’s not true that nice guys finish last. Nice guys are winners before the game even starts.” One reporter only wrote down what he wanted to hear, “nice guys finish last.” Thus, this aphorism was born.

So Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this [a man equal to Joseph], in whom is the divine spirit [of God]?” 39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since [your] God has shown you all this, there is no one as discerning and clear-headed and wise as you are, Genesis 41:38-39. 

At the height of the Egyptian Empire, Pharaohs reigned. During one of the worst famines in recorded history, Pharaoh searched for a fellow Egyptian to serve in his cabinet. Despite numerous interviews, one Jew stood head and shoulders above the rest. According to Pharaoh, Joseph was a nice guy who was in tune with God, possessing supernatural wisdom. Thus, Joseph went from a slave in prison to second in command, overseeing years of harvest to prepare for the impending drought.

You shall have charge over my house, and all my people shall be governed according to your word and pay respect [to you with reverence, submission, and obedience]; only in [matters of] the throne will I be greater than you [in Egypt],” Genesis 41:40.

In the 1991 film the Last Boy Scout, Bruce Willis plays an imperfect detective. Despite his flaws, Willis’ character represents one of the last good cops on the force who hasn’t sold his soul, taking money to look the other way. From a biblical perspective, there is no such thing as a nice guy. The apostle Paul reminds the church in Rome that there is no one perfect, not even one, Romans 3:10-12. Yet, this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t want individuals to strive for perfection, Matthew 5:48. Those who are consistent, disciplined and eager to seek first God’s righteous, you too can become a good guy like Joseph who was a bright light in a dark world.

by Jay Mankus

Responding to Criticism

Censure, denunciation and reproof are examples of criticism. Whenever condemnation comes your way, it’s not pleasant. Some of the accusations made against you may not be credible. Yet, how you respond to criticism will dictate how others will react to you.

A man’s pride and sense of self-importance will bring him down, but he who has a humble spirit will obtain honor, Proverbs 29:23.

After a series of severe tribulations, three of Job’s friends jumped to the same conclusion. Using Old Testament logic, these men associated bad things as a curse from God. In their eyes, Job must have done something wrong to have all of his children die and become inflicted with boils. The book of Job is filled with criticism followed by Job’s response.

Whoever is partner with a thief hates his own life; He hears the curse [when swearing an oath to testify], but discloses nothing [and commits perjury by omission]. The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in and puts his confidence in the Lord will be exalted and safe, Proverbs 29:25.

King Solomon provides advice to individuals facing the hot seat known as criticism. When attacked, human nature relies on pride to defend yourself. Instead of allowing a knee jerk response to come out of your mouth, Solomon encourages individuals to embrace rebukes. Everyone has room for improvement, subtle imperfections that need to be worked out. Thus, the next time you receive critical comments, ask the Lord how these words can be used to benefit you in the future.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Be Afraid or Hesitant to Ask God

If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him, James 1:5.

Three pillars of faith advise readers of the Bible to essentially do the same thing. The earthly brother of Jesus suggests that if anyone lacks wisdom, ask God who has a long history of generosity. The disciple whom Jesus loved adds to the concept. The context to any prayer request should emphasize and align your wishes with God’s will. Meanwhile, during his Sermon on the Mount Jesus urges listeners to not be afraid or hesitant to ask God. Rather, continue to seek and knock on God’s door until answers are received.

This is the [remarkable degree of] confidence which we [as believers are entitled to] have before Him: that if we ask anything according to His will, [that is, consistent with His plan and purpose] He hears us. 15 And if we know [for a fact, as indeed we do] that He hears and listens to us in whatever we ask, we [also] know [with settled and absolute knowledge] that we have [granted to us] the requests which we have asked from Him, 1 John 5:14-15.

In the passage above, John speaks from experience. These words aren’t some unrealistic dream that you hope for God to answer a prayer. Rather, John refers to his degree of confidence as he reflects upon all the prayers that the Lord has specifically answered. One of the reasons some people don’t offer up prayer requests to God is the fear of being disappointed. John urges readers of the Bible to move beyond doubt by trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus replied to them, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, if you have faith [personal trust and confidence in Me] and do not doubt or allow yourself to be drawn in two directions, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen [if God wills it]. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, believing, you will receive,” Matthew 21:21-22.

One of Jesus’ biggest frustrations with human beings is their lack of dependence on God. Throughout the gospels Jesus highlights one essential point, “you don’t have because you haven’t asked.” According to the passage above, prayers are directly linked to your degree of belief. The greater your faith, the more you will begin to see answers to prayer. However, when doubt enters your mind, prayers become words without any divine power. Therefore, if you want to see modern miracles don’t be afraid or hesitant to ask God. When you do pray, place your personal trust and confidence in Jesus to do what he promises in the Bible.

by Jay Mankus

Having a Foot on Both Sides of the Fence

The term “on the fence” became a popular expression beginning in 1828.  The original context was applied by Carl Schurz, insisting on political independence, rather than appeal to everyone by sitting on both sides of an issue.  Not much has changed in the last 2 centuries as politicians have perfected the art of straddling hot button topics with one foot on either side of an argument.  In an attempt to dodge what individuals really believe, vague comments seek to win the approval of as many voters as possible.

To understand a proverb and a figure [of speech] or an enigma with its interpretation, And the words of the wise and their riddles [that require reflection].  The [reverent] fear of the Lord [that is, worshiping Him and regarding Him as truly awesome] is the beginning and the preeminent part of knowledge [its starting point and its essence]; But arrogant fools despise [skillful and godly] wisdom and instruction and self-discipline, Proverbs 1:6-7.

From a spiritual perspective, the fence represents biblical principles.  On one side of this divider is the Bible designed to keep evil out by instilling commands, decrees and precepts from God.  This land is based upon a higher calling, to use abilities, gifts and talents to glorify God.  The opposite side consists of assumptions, elementary theories and worldly traditions.  This region encourages self gratification, indulgence and promotion.  These areas are polar opposites unless you want to fit in like a chameleon.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception [pseudo-intellectual babble], according to the tradition [and musings] of mere men, following the elementary principles of this world, rather than following [the truth—the teachings of] Christ, Colossians 2:8.

The book of Proverbs is designed to shed light on this issue.  As an earthly father looking back on his life, King Solomon attempts to bestow wisdom upon one of his sons.  Like any worried parent, Solomon sees the evil within the world that gradually bewitches, deceives and poisons the minds of teenagers.  Thus, Solomon wrestles to pen the exact words to keep his children on the right side of this invisible fence.  May the fear of the Lord serve as a guiding light to ensure that your own offspring follows the narrow path detailed in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:13-14.

by Jay Mankus

From Heaven or Earth?

When my father was forced to transfer to Cleveland, Ohio to keep his job, I was introduced to cocktail parties.  If you want to move from the middle to upper class, I learned that these social events were a necessary evil.  These house parties enabled my parents to make new friends.  This group called New Clevelanders encouraged parents to bring their own college children to these functions as a way to network as families started over in a new town.  I quickly realized that colleges, degrees and majors provided surface level discussions.  If you wanted to fit in, going clubbing, drinking and partying were code names into this elite club.  I went along with the crowd for a while until conviction made it clear that I was living a lie.

Jesus replied, “I will also ask you a question. You tell Me: The baptism of John [the Baptist]—was it from heaven [that is, ordained by God] or from men?” – Luke 20:3-4

During the first century, Jesus began to debate religious scholars.  Raised in elite and wealthy families, these men were schooled by the best and brightest minds.  Meanwhile, Jesus who spent most of his life as a carpenter, void of any formal educational, drew much larger crowds.  Thus, resentment manifested in the hearts of these men, jealous of Jesus’ popularity.  This culminated in the passage above as Jesus uses John the Baptist to illustrate that authority can come from heaven, not just through earthly institutions.  Certain aspects, knowledge and qualities can only be explained as ordained by God despite what earthly wisdom may suggest.

They discussed and debated it among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Why did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘From men,’ all the people will stone us to death, for they are firmly convinced that John was a prophet,” Luke 20:5-6.

During a breakfast I had with a friend in December, he marveled at my ability to come up with thousands of ideas for my blogs.  From an earthly point of view, my only credentials for writing involve teaching poetry at a boarding school.  This tangible experience ignited a passion for writing.  Nothing in my past pointed to a career in writing.  My English grades, grammar and vocabulary were average at best.  Yet, just as John the Baptist received a special anointing from God, the Lord has given me the gift of writing in the Spirit.  The more in tune with God I become, the deeper my blogs tend to be.  However, on occasion, I become unplugged, relying on earthly knowledge, struggling to come up with material for a week.  These phases are natural, a by product of human nature.  Nonetheless, while earthly credentials do lead to successful writers, I credit my heavenly father for Express Yourself 4Him.

by Jay Mankus

 

What Do You Value…Show Me Your Money

Rod Tidwell is a fictional character played by Cuba Gooding Jr. in the 1996 film Jerry Maguire.  Tidwell is a veteran wide receiver in the National Football League who is about to become a free agent, looking for one final contract to secure his families financial security.  Tom Cruise plays a hot shot sports agent who is fired from the firm he helped built.  Thus, Cruise is left with one client, Tidwell, whose main request is “show me the money.”

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, And the wealth of the sinner is stored up for [the hands of] the righteous, Proverbs 13.22.

As part of a small group Bible Study, my wife and I have to create a detailed budget to track where our money is being spent.  Upon completion, this spreadsheet will reveal what each of us value in life.  While the majority of our paychecks are spent on a mortgage, food and utilities, other interests will be unveiled by previous expenses.  I am not sure what the final results will uncover, but I am sure there are areas like fast food and golf that need to be reduced in the future.

Train up a child in the way he should go [teaching him to seek God’s wisdom and will for his abilities and talents], Even when he is old he will not depart from it.  The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender, Proverbs 22:6-7.

According to the Bible, King Solomon is one of the richest and wisest to walk the face of the earth.  Thus, as this man shares some advice about financial matters in the passages above, its important to reflect upon this information.  Solomon places an emphasis on leaving a financial legacy for your children and grandchildren.  As this process is ongoing, Solomon urges individuals to educate your children about money.  Whether this is through allowances, chores or saving money, these practices help shape what your offspring value in life.  In other words, Solomon is asking what do you value?   If you want to know, show your spouse where your money is being spent.

by Jay Mankus

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