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Hooked, Lined and Sinking

Whenever anyone has made up their mind to do something, whether good or bad, it’s nearly impossible to prevent them from acting out what has been conceived within their mind. Jesus’ earthly brother, son of Mary and Joseph, compares this to a hungry fish. While some fish are smarter than others, a particular bait is too enticing to resist. From a spiritual standpoint, this is called hooked, lined, and sinking further and further away from a sound mind.

But before they lay down, the men of the city of Sodom, both young and old, all the men from every quarter, surrounded the house. And they called to Lot and said, Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know (be intimate with) them, Genesis 19:4-5.

As someone who has lived in the city and country, every area possesses what locals refer to as relatively safe and unsafe places. As a new resident to South Carolina, I may have ventured into danger without knowing about it. Nonetheless I try to stay alert so I don’t wander into trouble. Unfortunately sin clouds the minds of the addicted and those struggling with bad habits. Anyone who falls under the influence of temptation will likely emulate the enticed fish in the passage below.

Let no one say when he is tempted, I am tempted from God; for God is incapable of being tempted by [what is] evil and He Himself tempts no one. 14 But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:13-15.

While Lot lived in a he city of Sodom, he kept to himself based upon Moses’ description. However as two angels visit Lot, it’s clear that the residents are open about their sexuality. Moses’ words highlight the enticement and lust inside their hearts. When human beings don’t care about changing for the better, it’s like a hooked fish sinking closer and closer toward death. Wake up before it’s too late.

By Jay Mankus


It’s Never Too Late to Call on the Name of the Lord

“Survival of the fittest” was once an important life lesson within public education. Darwin believed that the continued existence of organisms are best adapted to their environment as species evolve over time. From a human nature standpoint, individuals tend to be self-reliant until there’s a realization that certain things can’t be accomplished on your own. Subsequently, when people become desperate in life, God is usually a last resort after everything else you have tried fails.

So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing, for she said, Have I [not] even here [in the wilderness] looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]? Or have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him Who sees me? – Genesis 16:13

After running away from home, Hagar was alone in the wilderness and expecting a child. Perhaps, Hagar experienced her own version of a prodigal child, Luke 15:11-32, coming to her senses in the middle of a desert at night. Prior to calling upon the Lord, Hagar had an encounter with an angel of the Lord. While she may not have initially agreed with the advice provided by this angel, she calls upon the name of the Lord shortly after this angel departs.

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you. It is right and appropriate for me to have this confidence and feel this way about you all, because [b]you have me in your heart and I hold you in my heart as partakers and sharers, one and all with me, of grace (God’s unmerited favor and spiritual blessing). [This is true] both when I am shut up in prison and when I am out in the defense and confirmation of the good news (the Gospel), Philippians 1:6-7.

Most human beings have not had the fortune of being visited by an angel, but modern-day Christians do have access to a copy of the Bible, either physically or a virtual copy online. When the apostle Paul wrote the comforting words to the Church at Philippi, this message still applies today. Whenever you do call upon the name of the Lord, pray with confidence about the plans God has for your future. As you follow the steps listed in Romans 12:1-2, you’ll be ready to meet God with a willing heart.

by Jay Mankus

Timing is Everything When It Comes to God’s Plan

A coincidence is a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection. This is a term that adults use when things align, come together and occur as if there was a divine being working behind the scenes. My high school coach referred to coincidences as God instances where timing is everything when it comes to God’s plan for your life. As angels appeared to shepherds in a field, there was a purpose for this heavenly encounter.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing ([f]saying) that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us. 16 So they went with haste and [[g]by searching] found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them concerning this Child, Luke 2:15-17.

When a famous or wealthy individual shares a story like the shepherds, there is usually some sort of impure motive like the release of a new book, movie or upcoming feature on a similar topic. However, when common people speak of an angelic experience, more people tend to believe their story. Common sense and logic suggest that this person is crazy or this actually happened? God’s plan for the shepherds is revealed in the passage below.

And all who heard it were astounded and marveled at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary was keeping [h]within herself all these things ([i]sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart, Luke 2:18-19.

The arrival of shepherds to this barn in Bethlehem isn’t a coincidence. Rather this God instance occurred so that this eyewitness account could be passed down for generations. Instead of becoming arrogant and proud, Mary pondered this encounter in her heart, wondering if everything that has happened to her is real or merely a dream that she’s going to wake up at any time. As King Solomon wrote hundreds of years earlier, God makes everything beautiful in His time, Ecclesiastes 3:11.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 312: Revelation Song/O Come Let Us Adore Him

As a child, I was a natural musician. While a member of the Elementary Band at Harlan Elementary, I was one of the top saxophone players in the school. During one of our Christmas concerts, I remember playing O Come Let Us Adore Him. Back then, if you weren’t any good, you were told to act like you were playing during concerts. I had earned the trust of our band director to play every song, especially one of my favorites: O Come Let Us Adore Him.

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing ([f]saying) that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us, Luke 2:15.

Jenn Johnson provides a classic example of a worship montage. Jenn begins with the Revelation Song before blending into O Come Let Us Adore Him. When three Magi, experts in the stars followed this new star hanging over a barn where Mary gave birth to Jesus, you don’t think of an adoring place. Yet, it’s the miracle of Jesus’ conception by the power of the Holy Spirit that is the inspiration behind the lyrics of O Come Let Us Adore Him. I hope you enjoy today’s song.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 309: Hark the Herald

When I was a teenager, church groups would organize nights to sing Christmas carols in various neighborhoods. In the middle of my junior year, I attended a lock-in at a Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware. This event introduced me to people with similar interests, so I started to attending Sunday Night youth groups religiously. The following year I went to a local nursing home prior to Christmas to sing Christmas carols with the youth group. One of the songs we sang was Hark the Herald.

And in that vicinity there were shepherds living [out under the open sky] in the field, watching [in shifts] over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord flashed and shone all about them, and they were terribly frightened. 10 But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people, Luke 2:8-10.

This Christmas Carol sets the tone for what really happened on that first Christmas. Angels appeared to lowly shepherds with a revelation that would change the world, John 3:16-17. While traditional choirs have disappeared at many churches today due to the popularity of contemporary worship music, I thought it would be nice to feature one that still exists. I hope you enjoy listening to the Spirituals Choir sing Hark the Herald “angels sing glory to the newborn king.”

by Jay Mankus

The First Medical Miracle

Daniel Hale Williams performed the first documented successful pericardium surgery in 1893. Over the past 129 years, countless miracles have occurred with many procedures now considered routine outpatient surgeries. One thing that you may not know about my family is that my Uncle Tony is the longest living recipient of an open-heart transplant in the Unted States. Still alive today, Tony Mankus is a living example of a medical miracle.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam; and while he slept, He took one of his ribs or a part of his side and closed up the [place with] flesh. 22 And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. 23 Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man, Genesis 2:21-23.

Moses writes about the first medical miracle ever recorded in the Bible. Rather than place Adam under general anesthesia like a common procedure in American hospitals, God wanted until Adam was sound asleep. Likely following a full day of work in the Garden of Eden as a ground’s keeper and farmer. As Adam was unconscious, God operates as a surgeon who removes a rib and part of his side to form the first medical miracle, in the Bible forming the first woman on earth.

And Mary said to the angel, How can this be, since I have no [intimacy with any man as a] husband? 35 Then the angel said to her, The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you [like a shining cloud]; and so the holy (pure, sinless) Thing (Offspring) which shall be born of you will be called the Son of God. 36 And listen! Your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is now the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For with God nothing is ever impossible and no word from God shall be without power or impossible of fulfillment, Luke 1:34-37.

Thousands of years later, Mary had her own doubts about an encounter with an angel. Scientifically, to conceive a child without having sex is impossible unless it’s done via a test-tube with donated sperm. Yet, the angel reassured Mary that this would be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit. After dealing with the fact that God could have chosen anyone, Mary came to realize that anything is possible with God, especially, medical miracles.

by Jay Mankus

More than Just a Golden Bowl

As someone with a healthy appetite, I prefer to place my dinner into a bowl, often mixing everything together with Cajun spices before taking a bite. Since blue is my favorite color, the bowls in our new kitchen are either blue or white with blue designs. When I think of golden bowls, that’s a color reserved for a China set, a typical item you’ll find on an online wedding present registry.

And one of the four living creatures [then] gave the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath and indignation of God, Who lives forever and ever (in the eternities of the eternities), Revelation 15:7.

However, one of Jesus’ former disciples has a vision of seven golden bowls. These elegant and shiny bowls are each held by seven different angels in heaven. Yet, these golden bowls first appear in the hands of an unique living creature described early by John in the Book of Revelation. This isn’t your typical golden bowl from a China cabinet. Each bowl represents one of seven plagues.

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse, Romans 1:18-20.

Similar to the ten plagues poured out upon Egypt to force Pharoah to release Israel from following 400 years of slavery, God chose seven bowls in Revelation. These seven bowls unleashed God’s wrath and indignation upon individuals who bowed down to the Anti-Christ by receiving the mark of the beast, 666 stamped upon their right hand or on their forehead. This is more than just a golden bowl, a warning to everyone around the world that it’s better to repent than rebel.

by Jay Mankus

When War Broke Out in Heaven

Reading the Bible can be like watching a movie with drama and suspense. There are moments where scenes abruptly end, forcing you to use your imagination to fill in the blanks. Such is the case of the war that broke out in heaven. There are pieces of this event scattered throughout the Old and New Testament leading to the archangel Lucifer and 1/3 of the angels banished from heaven, expelled to earth.

Then war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels went forth to battle with the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought, Revelation 12:7.

Isaiah 14:12-19 speak of Lucifer’s fall from grace. Lucifer appears in the Garden of Eden as a serpent, like a king cobra but able to speak like Balaam’s donkey. Based upon Genesis 1-2, Adam was given authority over the earth which served as a demotion in Lucifer’s eyes. Based upon words of Matthew 4:5-11, the tempter received the authority lost by Adam which is supported by Ephesians 2:2.

But they were defeated, and there was no room found for them in heaven any longer. And the huge dragon was cast down and out—that age-old serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, he who is the seducer (deceiver) of all humanity the world over; he was forced out and down to the earth, and his angels were flung out along with him, Revelation 12:8-9.

Ezekiel 28:17 reveals Lucifer’s departure from heaven as does Luke 10:18. The war itself appears to be as Lucifer exercised his freewill which opposed God’s plan. Perhaps each of the temptations Jesus faced shines light on why Lucifer rebelled and what caused other angels to follow. Whatever the reason, John has a quick vision which summarizes when war broke out in heaven.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 198: Alarm the Alarm

While “Write this Down” may be an expression used by teachers preparing students for an upcoming unit test, it’s also the name of a popular band. Back in 2005, Write This Down formed their Christian rock band in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This band consists of vocalist Nate Rockwell, Mike Kuwica, Nick Lombardo and Chad Nichols. Today’s song Alarm the Alarm sends an important message.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [[f]in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

While writing to first century Christians, one of Jesus’ disciples sounds the alarm about a daily spiritual threat. Peter appears to allude to Ephesians 2:2, pointing to the Devil’s ability to roam the earth as a fallen angel who was kicked out of heaven. If you want to be able to overcome daily temptations, 1 Corinthians 10:13, write down this passage so that you will find a way out of any temptation.

by Jay Mankus

So Be It

Charles Spurgeon preached about John’s first doxology on September 2nd, 1883. A doxology is a liturgical formula of praise to God. The disciple whom Jesus loved writes his first doxology which can be found in Revelation 1:5-6. Meanwhile, the word Amen comes from ancient Hebrew which when translated into English means so be it. Perhaps, this is a way to express that no matter what happens, God is in control.

For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it), Romans 11:36.

The apostle Paul devotes an entire chapter in his letter to the Church at Rome to a doxology. If you have ever attended a traditional Roman Catholic Church, the above passage is spoken by the priest during a traditional mass. One of the churches I attended in Maine, the priest sang these words at the end of each service. While modern worship is more emotionally based, Paul’s doxology confirms what Christians believe.

Amen! (So be it!) they cried. Blessing and glory and majesty and splendor and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and might [be ascribed] to our God to the ages and ages (forever and ever, throughout the eternities of the eternities)! Amen! (So be it!) – Revelation 7:12

Another one of John’s doxologies is listed above. The context of this doxology is based upon angels who are overwhelmed by the holiness of God. All those present fell prostate before the Lord, moved by the Holy Spirit to honor the God of eternity. When you have an opportunity to experience the presence of God on earth, somebody say Amen, so be it.

by Jay Mankus

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