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The Many Sided Wisdom of God

Where does wisdom come from is an age old question. Thus, it’s not surprising that one of the wisest rulers to ever walk the face of the earth immediately addresses this issue in the first chapter of Proverbs. According to King Solomon, the source of wisdom begins with a reverent fear of God, Proverbs 1:7. This is the starting point for wisdom, providing an open door for the ability to discern further knowledge in the future.

[The purpose is] that through the church the complicated, many-sided wisdom of God in all its infinite variety and innumerable aspects might now be made known to the angelic rulers and authorities (principalities and powers) in the heavenly sphere, Ephesians 3:10.

The apostle Paul builds upon this principle during the first century. In a letter to the Church at Ephesus, Paul discloses that congregations are the main vessel through which the many sided wisdom of God is displayed. Perhaps, Paul is referencing previous letters in Romans 12:4-11 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-12 where the church is compared to one body with many parts. The words in Matthew 16:18 confirm that churches are meant to carry on that which Jesus began with his disciples.

But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated. 15 But the spiritual man tries all things [he examines, investigates, inquires into, questions, and discerns all things], yet is himself to be put on trial and judged by no one [he can read the meaning of everything, but no one can properly discern or appraise or get an insight into him], 1 Corinthians 2:14-15.

In a letter sent to members of a church in Ancient Greece, Paul discusses the obstacles that wisdom presents. When the spiritual is absent, logic, philosophy, and science is used as a substitute for wisdom. When individuals refuse to submit to the beginning of wisdom, fearing God, earthly knowledge serves as a stumbling block. Instead of gaining access to the many sided wisdom of God, this knowledge is hidden from the nonspiritual. Until you open your mind to the spiritual realm, you’ll never recognize or understand how the Holy Spirit unveils the many sided wisdom of God.

by Jay Mankus

I Owe So Off to Work I Go

The song ” Heigh-Ho ” comes from the fairy tale Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Written by Larry Morey with the melody and music created by Frank Churchill, Heigh-Ho is sung by six of the dwarfs. To pass the time while walking back and forth from work, Heigh-Ho serves as a distraction from the mundane aspects of life. In a recent sermon by Dr. Tony Evans, he put a new spin on this song with a parody entitled, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”

There are precious treasures and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a self-confident and foolish man swallows it up and wastes it, Proverbs 21:20.

The term foolish is used 71 times by King Solomon in the Book of Proverbs. While defining and illustrating wisdom to his sons, foolishness is used as an example of what not to do. In the passage above, Solomon points out that a lack of saving results in poverty. This analogy highlights that fools don’t appreciate what they have, often devouring everything all at once. Thus, unless some form of self-discipline is exercised, foolish choices will lead to debt and poverty.

The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender, Proverbs 22:7.

One chapter later, Solomon reveals the consequences of poor financial decisions. When individuals don’t pay off their credit cards each month or out spend what they make, you will become a slave to debt. Subsequently, Dr. Evan’s sermon becomes a reality as desperate people are forced to go to work to pay off their car, home, and or school debt. One of the way politicians stay in power is by promising their constituents government handouts. Instead of promoting rugged individualism, lifelong politicians want voters to be in need, a slave to debt, to insure their votes over and over again. Break this habit quickly so that financial freedom is achieved.

by Jay Mankus

When You’re the Fool

A foolish person is associated with silly, imprudent or unwisely actions. Observers of this behavior often label these individuals as buffoons, dunces, idiots or my personal favorite, ignoramus. Unfortunately, everyone plays the fool at some point in life. The sad part is when you’re the fool, pride can blind you the realization of past bonehead decisions that you’ve made.

He who willfully separates and estranges himself [from God and man] seeks his own desire and pretext to break out against all wise and sound judgment. A [self-confident] fool has no delight in understanding but only in revealing his personal opinions and himself, Proverbs 18:1-2.

King Solomon draws an interesting parallel in the passage above. Considered one of the wisest leaders of his era in history, people came from throughout the Middle East to hear Solomon speak. Solomon refers to foolishness as a spiritual condition. Anyone who denies God’s existence, Romans 1:20-21, misses the invisible and visible signs of the Creator of earth. A fool becomes so self absorbed that their understanding is limited.

And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have many good things laid up, [enough] for many years. Take your ease; eat, drink, and enjoy yourself merrily. 20 But God said to him, You fool! This very night they [the messengers of God] will demand your soul of you; and all the things that you have prepared, whose will they be? – Luke 12:19-20

One of Jesus’ parables blames foolishness on complacency. After spending years of building up a successful business, the owner of this storehouse got too comfortable. Instead of retiring and spending the rest of his life living in luxury, Jesus suggests that this man will die of a heart attack before leaving a will. Subsequently, the wealth this man accumulated throughout life would be wasted due to a lack of planning. Thus, the sooner you acknowledge foolish behavior, the quicker you can turn your life around before it’s too late to change.

by Jay Mankus

Going to Extremes to Fulfill Your Promises

King Solomon is considered one of the wisest individuals to walk the face of the earth. One wise saying warns against making vows that you can’t keep, Ecclesiastes 5:4-5. From an Old Testament perspective, if you didn’t keep want you promised, your words were worthless and reputation ruined. This is the context and setting when the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah who presided over Israel as a judge for a period of six years.

And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord and said, If You will indeed give the Ammonites into my hand, 31 Then whatever or whoever comes forth from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites, it shall be the Lord’s, and I will offer it or him up as a burnt offering, Judges 11:30-31.

Following a victorious battle, Jephthah is overwhelmed by a spirit of thankfulness. Wanting to pay tribute to God, Jephthah is moved to make a vow in Judges 11:32. While in the wilderness with many miles to travel before reaching his home, Jephthah decided to offer up a burnt offering to the first creature that crossed his path. Unfortunately, the forests were barren and his daughter was the first to greet him. Instead of reneging, Jephthah goes to extreme measures to fulfill his promise to God.

But the other one reproved him, saying, Do you not even fear God, seeing you yourself are under the same sentence of condemnation and suffering the same penalty? 41 And we indeed suffer it justly, receiving the due reward of our actions; but this Man has done nothing out of the way [nothing strange or eccentric or perverse or unreasonable]. 42 Then he said to Jesus, Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory! 43 And He answered him, Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise, Luke 23:40-43.

As John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus, it was clear to first century scholars that the Messiah was living in their presence. When the time was right, Jesus began a three year earthly ministry. Using 12 disciples and an additional 72 according to Luke, these individuals planted spiritual seeds to form churches. When the appointed time arrived to fulfill Old Testament promises, the disciples were confused. Believing Jesus would become an earthly leader, rising up to become King of the Jews, Peter was ready to take up arms. Instead, God has another plan, sending his own son as a permanent sacrifice to die for mankind, John 3:16-17. This is how the Lord goes to extremes to fulfill biblical promises.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Be Caught Sleepwalking Through Life

Somnambulism is a behavior disorder that originates during a deep sleep. This results in walking or performing other complex behaviors while still mostly asleep. My first experience sleepwalking occurred during a sleepover as a child. I feel asleep in an upstairs bedroom and ended up on a couch downstairs. Like any perplexed individual, I was shocked and uncertain how I ended up there.

For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will also bring with Him through Jesus those who have fallen asleep [in death], 1 Thessalonians 4:14.

The apostle Paul uses fallen asleep in a different context, referring to Christians who have passed away. Jesus tells a first century story about falling asleep. In the parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus makes a clear distinction between the awake and asleep. Jesus associates the awake with wisdom and the asleep with foolish behavior. The point of this analogy is to encourage individuals to remain alert, sharp and wise.

For this we declare to you by the Lord’s [own] word, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord shall in no way precede [into His presence] or have any advantage at all over those who have previously fallen asleep [in Him in death], 1 Thessalonians 4:15.

Sleepwalking suggests that you are going through the motions, without any direction, meaning or purpose. To avoid falling asleep spiritually, Jesus calls followers to develop a thirst for life, John 10:10. Yet, there is a spiritual force that tries to lull you to sleep, seeking to steal any joy that you have for life. However, if you follow in the footsteps of the Great Shepherd, laying down your needs and wants for others, this will snap you out of any spells that make you sleepy.

by Jay Mankus

When You Need to be Encouraged

I tend to be a positive person, trying to stay optimistic about life. However, over the past week, a wave of depression has come crashing upon the shores of my life. Like a rogue wave that comes out of no where, I wasn’t prepared to deal with this emotional undertow. As I attempt to regain my balance so that I’m not swept away by this strong current, I find myself in need of encouragement.

When I kept silence [before I confessed], my bones wasted away through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand [of displeasure] was heavy upon me; my moisture was turned into the drought of summer. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! – Psalm 32:3-4

I’m definitely not the first to experience such a strange week nor will I be the last to undergo what the Bible calls a trial. In the passage above, a series of bad choices causes King David to be overwhelmed by guilt. The longer David waited to confess his careless errors and mistakes to God, the worse he feels. As each day passed without acknowledging his sin, David’s strength was sapped like humidity from a summer heatwave.

If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind, James 1:5-6.

Jesus’ earthly brother reveals that earthly trials take the form of waves of doubt. Once fully developed, these spiritual storms contain a billowing surge that keeps coming. When you add the wind. conditions only get worse. According to James, when you find yourself stuck in one of these systems, call out to God in prayer to receive wisdom to get you through. While each storm varies, James 1:12 provides hope for those who hold on to Jesus until your storm passes.

by Jay Mankus

The Oracles of God

From a biblical perspective, an oracle refers to a priest or priestess acting as a medium through whom advice or prophecy was sought from God. Whenever a forefather, judge or king was about to make an important decision in the Old Testament, prophets and seers were requested. Depending upon the oracle received, these leaders would base their ultimate decision upon these words of wisdom.

Then what advantage remains to the Jew? [How is he favored?] Or what is the value or benefit of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, to the Jews were entrusted the oracles (the brief communications, the intentions, the utterances) of God, Romans 3:1-2.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul uses logic and reason to justify the Jewish practice of circumcision. As individuals follow the Torah, Old Testament laws relayed to Israel from Moses, spiritual insight is gained. However, this process is exercised by talking steps of faith, not by sight. As the faithful follow their spiritual convictions, brief communication, intentions and utterances from God are received.

And He said, Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord. And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire [a sound of gentle stillness and] a still, small voice, 1 Kings 19:11-12.

It’s not uncommon to feel like the prophet Elijah in the passage above. There are moments, periods and time when God is silent and believers feel all alone, desperate for comfort and direction. During this ordeal, Elijah withdrew to a cave to contemplate his next step, In the minutes that followed, a series of weather related events got Elijah’s attention. Despite the wonder and awe of these natural disasters, God was not behind these events. As Elijah’s spirit grew impatient, an oracle of God appeared in the form of a whisper. May this story encourage you to be ready for the next oracle to be spoken via the power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

Succumbing to the Wheedling

Wheedling is the process of coaxing, often using flattery, in order to persuade someone to do something or give you something. In the context of marriage, your spouse may nag you over and over again before you finally give into a specific demand or request. The pressure to conform, beaten into submission in this example, can wear on your soul. This act of persuasion often leads individuals to compromise, surrender or yielding to beliefs you formerly did not hold.

He had 700 wives, princesses, and 300 concubines, and his wives turned away his heart from God. For when Solomon was old, his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not perfect (complete and whole) with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father, 1 Kings 11:3-4.

As my former high school students would say to me while teaching a lesson about King Solomon, “he was a player.” Anytime you have a significant other, you have to ask yourself, “who do I please?” When you have an entire castle full of wives and concubines eager to get your attention, this demand on Solomon’s time must have been overwhelming. Despite being one of the wisest individuals to walk the face of the earth, at some point after getting married multiple times, Solomon finally succumbs to wheedling wives.

But I am saying this more as a matter of permission and concession, not as a command or regulation. I wish that all men were like I myself am [in this matter of self-control]. But each has his own special gift from God, one of this kind and one of another, 1 Corinthians 7:6-7.

Perhaps, the apostle Paul had King Solomon in mind while writing a letter about marriage to the church at Corinth. Paul addresses the question I brought up earlier, allegiance to God or your spouse? While the single life is a lot less complicated, Paul realizes that many feel called to get married. Thus, when or if you do, watch out that you don’t succumb to the wheedling of ungodly beliefs. To avoid making the same mistake as Solomon, follow Paul’s advice in Galatians 5:7-10 so that you aren’t mislead by future temptations.

by Jay Mankus

When You Are Moving in the Wrong Direction

Whenever you find yourself in uncharted territory, common sense leads you to ask others who have been in a similar situation. If you just ask the first person that you find and respond accordingly, you might find yourself heading in the wrong direction or going to the wrong place Whether you are dealing with an illness like cancer, considering a career change or searching for wisdom to overcome a current obstacle, the more insight you compile the better.

When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were [miraculously] healed and made clean, Luke 17:14.

The man in the passage above is simply following the crowd, doing what the locals are accustom to do for a healed leper. This step was necessary to be fully restored back into society; receiving acceptance from spiritual leaders. While on his way to see a priest in Jerusalem, this Samaritan has a change of heart. This didn’t seem right as this man’s conscience told him to turn around. Whispers in his mind like, “why are you going to a priest instead of the One who healed you?” Some sort of internal struggle persuaded this man to turn around abruptly and return to Jesus.

One of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, glorifying and praising and honoring God with a loud voice; Luke 17:15.

When a couple leaves the hospital with a new born child for the first time, there is no handbook to follow step by step for the rest of your life. Sure, there are books you can read, classes you can take and grandparents to reach out to, but in the end you need to figure out what works and what doesn’t. This trial and error applies to most aspects of life, living and learning along the way. Yet, when your conscience is awakened, your heart is convicted and ears hear God’s still small voice, make sure you listen so you don’t end up going to the wrong place.

by Jay Mankus

Is Losing a Game Worth Staining Your Reputation?

To avid sports fans, winning and losing a college or professional football game is the difference between life and death.  If you visit campus or a city the day after a victory, excitement, joy and passion are present.  Meanwhile, following a loss, bitterness, disappointment and misery reign as local talk radio stations turn into a Monday Morning Quarterback therapy session.  While working in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for two years, I experienced these highs and lows daily.  As I look back at this period in my life, I wonder if losing a game is worth getting so upset that you stain your own reputation.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:
2 A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,
3 A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up,
4 A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, Ecclesiastes 3:1-4.

The Bible prepares individuals for coping with losing in the passage above.  A wise Old Testament king recognizes the need to look at life in a philosophical manner.  There is a time for everything in life, this includes winning and losing.  Depending upon the circumstance or situation, people will be brought to tears or lifted up by encouraging news.  This endless cycle is a painful reminder of trials awaiting you in life.  Thus, the better prepared you are for the future, the less likely you will allow a loss to stain your reputation.

Beloved, do not be amazed and bewildered at the fiery ordeal which is taking place to test your quality, as though something strange (unusual and alien to you and your position) were befalling you. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, rejoice, so that when His glory [full of radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may also rejoice with triumph [exultantly], 1 Peter 4:11-12.

One of Jesus’ former disciples adds to Solomon’s teaching.  In practical terms, Peter warns believers in Jesus to expect the unexpected.  Unfortunately, some modern television evangelists are painting a picture that if you become a Christian by placing your faith in Christ, all your troubles and worries will disappear.  Meanwhile, other biblical teachers overemphasize blessings by de-emphasizing earthly trials.  Subsequently, new converts are amazed and bewildered by weekly ordeals.  This likely explains why some avid sports fans will allow a devastating loss to stain their reputation.

by Jay Mankus

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