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Tag Archives: wrestling with God

Wrestling with God’s Will

Wrestling is an activity of grappling with an opponent; trying to throw or hold them down on the ground.  For any boy growing up with another sibling, wrestling is bound to occur.  Back in my childhood, parents and teachers would refer to this as rough housing.  Unleashing your energy and frustrations upon someone following an argument or disagreement until one or both parties give up.  The most famous wrestling account in the Bible is listed below.

So Jacob was left alone, and a Man [came and] wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the Man saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him, Genesis 32:24-25.

Prior to his encounter with an angel disguised as a man, Jacob developed a reputation as a deceiver.  Jacob bribed his older brother Esau out of his birthright, tricked his father into blessing him and fled from his family history.  In order to become the person God wanted Jacob to be, a wrestling match was preordained.  This night long struggle pushed Jacob to his physical limits, holding on despite having his hip dislocated.  In the eyes of God, Jacob passed this test, primed for bigger and better things in life.  At the conclusion of this event, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel, setting the stage for the rest of the Old Testament.

Then He said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.” 27 So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” 28 And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed,” Genesis 32:27-28.

When my life doesn’t take the path that I expect, I try to figure out what went wrong.  From time to time, the cause and effect is obvious, a lack of obedience to God, prayer and worship.  However, there are moments when promises from the Bible, Psalm 37:4, collide with road blocks as dreams and goals are denied or rejected.  This frustration has led me to wonder if becoming a screen writer is part of God’s will.  Am I not delighting myself in the Lord enough or does God want me to pursue another career in the future?  While I am not participating in a physical wrestling match, I find myself wrestling with God’s will.  According to the apostle Paul in Romans 12:1-2, the only way to know God’s will for sure is by offering your body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.  If implemented successfully, clarity will come and my own wrestling match to ascertain God’s will can end.

by Jay Mankus

Just Give Me a Crumb

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is an opinioned woman, regularly sharing her beliefs with reporters.  During one press conference, Pelosi gave her initially thoughts on the 2017 Tax Reform Bill passed by Republicans in Congress.  Referring to the middle class, Pelosi compared $1000 bonuses given to blue collar workers as merely crumbs.  Since no democrat in the Senate voted for tax reform, Pelosi tried to discredit this impact on the growing American economy.

Now the woman was a Gentile (Greek), a Syrophoenician by nationality. And she kept pleading with Him to drive the demon out of her daughter. 27 He was saying to her, “First let the children [of Israel] be fed, for it is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the pet dogs (non-Jews),” Mark 7:26-27.

The Bible has its own story about crumbs.  Whenever Jesus entered a city or town, he usually went to synagogues to teach Jews about the kingdom of God.  Based upon the Great Commission detailed in Acts 1:8, Jesus began his earthly ministry reaching out to God’s chosen people of the Old Testament first.  On some occasions, God fearing Gentiles, non-Jews, displayed more faith and zeal than everyone else.  The woman introduced in the passage above refused to take no for an answer, desperate to see her daughter healed.

But she replied, “Yes, Lord, but even the pet dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs.” 29 And He said to her, “Because of this answer [reflecting your humility and faith], go [knowing that your request is granted]; the demon has left your daughter [permanently].” 30 And returning to her home, she found the child lying on the couch [relaxed and resting], the demon having gone, Mark 7:28-30.

The average person would have walked away unfulfilled after Jesus’ initial rejection.  Filled with persistence, this Syrophoenician woman was shrewd, giving a quick reply that even astonished Jesus.  Essentially, this Greek begged Jesus, pleading with him to just give her a crumb.  Recognizing the power of Jesus, even a crumb was enough to heal her demon possessed daughter.  May we all strive to follow in this godly woman’s footsteps, wrestling with God in prayer until the answer you are waiting on arrives.

by Jay Mankus

I Don’t Feel Like It Today

After another frustrating day visiting the doctor, sometimes its hard to stay motivated.  When I woke up this morning, I didn’t feel like reading the Bible or praying.  Part of me thought, “what’s the point?”  I’ve done everything I can think of and I’m still not cleared to return to work.

Perhaps, this same emotion is experienced by millions of individuals on a daily basis.  Once you bust your butt and work hard without any tangible results, apathy and pessimism often set in.  Thus, staying hopeful is a battle, especially when others around you seem to be better off than yourself.  In these moments, faith must be more than a feeling or else you will collapse under a sea of disappointment.

Despite my initial inclination, I fought through these urges to give God my first fruits, the first hour of my day.  Although I did not receive the outcome I wished for, there is still enough time in this day for my prayer to be answered.  When desperation sets in, the Lord is the only firm foundation remaining, Psalm 28:1.  Within my own uncertainty, I cling to the promise of Psalm 28:7, hoping to leap for joy instead of feeling depressed.

by Jay Mankus

Holding on to Misery

When a person is depressed, its hard to lesser their pain.  In fact, its only takes one negative individual to suck the life out of a room.  Before you know it, doom and gloom hovers over this place, like a dense spiritual fog influencing the behavior of others in a negative manner.

Known as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah was not a bull frog; rather he was a servant of God who was given mostly bad news to convey to Israel.  In a letter called Lamentations, Jeremiah pours out his heart to God.  Wrestling with questions such as why me God, this distraught man let’s his emotions out through the writing of this biblical book.  Lamentations 3:17 gives a quick snap shot of Jeremiah’s misery, “I have been deprived of peace; I have forgotten what prosperity is.”

Despite what the present may bring you, holding on to misery is the wrong choice.  Yes, a sad face is good for the heart, but endless complaining is not a healthy solution, Philippians 2:14.  May you follow after the example of Mary in John 12:1-3, as she demonstrated Jesus’ own advice in Matthew 11:28-30.  Whatever burdens are rocking your world, may you find rest for your soul at the feet of Jesus.  Hope is waiting for you on the other side of the door, Revelation 3:20.

by Jay Mankus

Faith Like A Bread Crumb

In many avenues of life, a person of faith may be viewed as a dreamer, with good intentions yet far from reality.  Other optimistic individuals may be seen as crazy, with loose wires some where in their brains.  Although opinions may not be shared or spoken to their face, skepticism abounds as many have given up hope of believing in a God who does not meet their expectations or perceived needs.

Matthew 15:21-28 introduces the world to an outsider, a Canaanite whose culture was known for worshiping the devil.  Without any background about her, it appears that her nation’s god, Baal, had not been able to heal her child.  Thus, hearing that the circus was in town, Jesus’ earthly ministry, she pushes her way through the crowd.  Like a union boss during a strike at his plant, this desperate woman made her way to Jesus’ disciples, demanding a face to face encounter.  Not taking no for an answer, the disciples throw their hands up in the air, giving up, encouraging Jesus to send this woman on her way.

Jesus gave this Canaanite every opportunity to go home.  Jesus kindly reminds her that his initial mission was to come for the lost sheep of Israel.  Considered dogs by Jewish culture, he bluntly asks, “why should I waste my time with you,” possibly referencing his earlier words in Matthew 7:6.  Yet, each time she came back with a reply more determined than before, refusing to take no for an answer.  Finally, with faith like a bread crumb, this persistent woman receives the answer so longed to hear.  Living out the words of Matthew 7:7-12, she specifically asked God, seeking Jesus day after day and when no or not now was the answer, she kept knocking until her daughter was healed.  As you start tomorrow, don’t forget to seek a faith like a bread crumb.

by Jay Mankus

Isolated Showers

 From a meteorology perspective, weather systems can stall on occasion, creating isolated showers in the same location for hours or in a worst cause scenario for days at a time.  This phenomena is known as a stationary front, where a boundary is formed between two air masses neither of which replaces the other.  Whenever a weather system travels less than 6 miles per hour, its deemed to be stationary.  Unique wind conditions makes this possible as the north side of a stationary front move in a East to West direction.  Meanwhile, on the southern edge, winds reverse, moving from West to East.

 

According to a September 15th article in the U.S.A. Today, experts are blaming an unusually strong ridge of high pressure parked over Western Canada for the deadly flooding in the Boulder region of Colorado.  Over one month later, hundreds of people are still unaccounted for, likely washed away in the torrent rapids flowing down the Rocky Mountains.  This natural disaster has conjured up memories of the Big Thompson flash flood of 1976 where 144 were killed just north of Boulder.  Those who believe in God often struggle to make sense of these storms, wrestling for answers to grasp why.

 

Although every geographic area does not encounter the same natural disasters, all regions experience isolated showers.  Literal storms can bring lightning, thunder and heavy rains.  Spiritual storms offer a different challenge, testing your faith, patience and soul.  While people can seek shelter for isolated showers, life’s trials are often unexpected, resulting in an invisible tsunami attempting to wipe you out spiritually.  It’s not if these isolated showers will occur, but when.  Therefore, when a spiritual stationary front knocks on your door, arm yourself with the words of Jesus in Matthew 7:24-27.

by Jay Mankus

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