RSS Feed

Tag Archives: encourage

S.A.N.S. Episode 145: Heart’s Cry

Today’s featured song comes from the Hooters of Christian music. The Stand contains that classic rock and roll sound of the 1980’s. While keyboard has replaced the piano in most modern bands, you can hear the difference on a couple of the songs from the Heartbreak Town album. According to one of the websites I found, the Stand was influenced by the Raspberries.

The Lord is close to those who are of a broken heart and saves such as are crushed with sorrow for sin and are humbly and thoroughly penitent, Psalm 34:18.

Everyone has experienced some sort of heart break in life. This pain may inspire you to reflect upon poor choices that you have made in life. In the passage above, God promises to be close to those who have been crushed by a broken heart. As you listen to Heart’s Cry or the entire Heartbreak Town album, may the lyrics encourage and uplift your spirit to press on despite how you feel.

by Jay Mankus

Rise Like an Edifice

An edifice is an imposing building. This may be complex, elegant and or large in stature. In the passage below, edifice is like a city on a hill in Matthew 5:14. According to Jude, one of the best ways to rise like an edifice is to pray in the Holy Spirit. If the apostle Paul was correct in his assumption in Galatians 5:25, once you learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit your faith will rise like an edifice under construction.

 But you, beloved, build yourselves up [founded] on your most holy faith [[d]make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher], praying in the Holy Spirit; Jude 1:20.

During a first century conversation with his disciples, Jesus introduces the concept of moving mountains through belief, faith and prayer, Matthew 21:18-22. According to Jesus, belief is the difference between living an ordinary life and rising like an edifice. Perhaps confidence is the key that distinguishes one Christians prayer life above another. The greater your faith, the larger the mountains you’ll move.

Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah)—[which will bring you] unto life eternal, Jude 1:21.

Beside developing and strengthening your prayer life, Jude encourages first century Christians to guard and keep your lives in the love of God. Jesus’ earthly brother provides directions to obtain this spiritual state in James 4:7-10. As you draw near to God, keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is possible, Galatians 5:25. If you want to rise like an edifice, listen to the instructions of God’s Word so faith continues to grow.

by Jay Mankus

The Sum of Christian Belief

Who Are You by the Who is one of those classic rock songs that make you think about life. Pete Townshend’s inspiration behind this song comes from personal experiences with Wino’s, Alcoholic’s, Drug addict’s and the homeless. This quest to figure what led to this lowly position in life is a good lesson for Christians. Who we are and who we can become in a new found faith is the sum of Christian belief.

Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. [But] I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently appeal to and exhort [you] to contend for the faith which was once for all [a]handed down to the saints [the faith which is that sum of Christian belief which was delivered [b]verbally to the holy people of God], Jude 1:3.

Heresy is a belief or opinion contrary to orthodox religion. From a Christian perspective, there were numerous New Age ideas presented in the first century. As the original disciples of Jesus passed away, there weren’t many eyewitnesses remaining to refute these false claims. Subsequently, Jude was inspired by the Holy Spirit to address the sum of Christian belief.

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten ([d]unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life. 17 For God did not send the Son into the world in order to judge (to reject, to condemn, to pass sentence on) the world, but that the world might find salvation and be made safe and sound through Him, John 3:16-17.

While theology is the science of God. some theologians make the Bible more complex and confuse young Christians searching for answers to questions in life. My spiritual mentor and high school swim coach encouraged me to start with John’s Gospel as well as 1 John. The passage above serves as the sum of Christian belief. The situation is human beings are fallen creatures. The task is who will save us from this condition. The action is to trust in Jesus, Romans 10:9-11. The result is eternal life, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

From Time to Time

Starting a few years ago, I decided to use a different translation of the Bible each time I study the New Testament from Matthew to Revelation. My most recent study involves the Classic Amplified Bible. This version opened my eyes to the words of one of Jesus’ former disciples. John took great joy whenever a Christian visited with the goal of sharing their faith. Unfortunately, this only occurred from time to time.

In fact, I greatly rejoiced when [some of] the brethren from time to time arrived and spoke [so highly] of the sincerity and fidelity of your life, as indeed you do live in the Truth [the whole Gospel presents], 3 John 1:3.

When something in your life isn’t important or a priority, you only experience this from time to time. From John’s perspective, he watched Jesus present the Gospel every day for three years. Jesus didn’t wait to share God’s love until the disciples reached their appointed destination for the night. Rather, Jesus seized every moment, walking, talking and loving along the way, stopping to perform miracles daily.

I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my [spiritual] children are living their lives in the Truth. Beloved, it is a fine and faithful work that you are doing when you give any service to the [Christian] brethren, and [especially when they are] strangers, 3 John 1:4-5.

John explains in the passage above why Christians should live out God’s Word daily by sharing their faith. When God uses you to comfort or encourage someone in the form of a divine appointment, the joy you experience from this encounter is amazing. Perhaps, this is the what the abundant joy that Jesus promised in John 10:10 feels like. Rather than casually share your faith from time to time, search for daily opportunities to pass on God’s love.

by Jay Mankus

When Death Lost It’s Grip on Me

If you have ever walked through a Haunted House or Forest, one of the methods used to inflict fear is by being grabbed by an unseen hand. Part of this role play often involves taking and keeping a firm hold of your arm or leg without warning. Despite how scared you may be during this experience, it is only temporary. In the passage below, the apostle Paul explains why and when fear of death lost it’s grip on human beings.

For this perishable [part of us] must put on the imperishable [nature], and this mortal [part of us, this nature that is capable of dying] must put on immortality (freedom from death). 54 And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished [h]forever) in and unto victory, 1 Corinthians 15:53-54.

My junior high years were the lowest in my life. Despite attending church every Sunday, I struggled with depression daily. In my darkest days, I was suicidal, thinking of ways to end my life. Little did I know that God began to send loving Christians and mentors into my life to keep me alive. These individuals encouraged me to seek God not in a religious manner, but pursue a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [i][upon the soul] through [j][the abuse of] the Law. 57 But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be firm (steadfast), immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord [always being superior, excelling, doing more than enough in the service of the Lord], knowing and being continually aware that your labor in the Lord is not futile [it is never wasted or to no purpose], 1 Corinthians 15:56-58.

I resisted these offers until a nervous breakdown during a cross country practice. When a girl that I liked messed with my mind, this was the last straw before I lost complete control. Shortly after this experience, I was invited to a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event. Following an inspirational speech my Skip Wilkins on December 4th, 1984, I gave my life to Jesus, Romans 10:9-10. The moment I made this decision, death lost it’s grip on me, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Concentrate Your Prayers

When individuals participate in a long conversation, you may reach a point where you lose focus. While some topics are so fascinating that discussions will last for hours, others get old fast as you try to slip away to avoid wasting any more time. The talks that I remember the most in life are the ones that I was captivated by someone or something. Your degree of concentration tends to make the difference between a boring and interesting conversation.

Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; 18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19.

Conversation is the action or power of focusing one’s attention by using a concerted mental effort. When Christians enter into a conversation with God via prayer, there are many distractions that may abruptly end this spiritual connection. The apostle Paul wrote two letters to the Church at Thessalonica. In each letter Paul makes a point to encourage believers to concentrate their prayers.

Furthermore, brethren, do pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may speed on (spread rapidly and run its course) and be glorified (extolled) and triumph, even as [it has done] with you, 2 Thessalonians 3:1.

The first mention refers to developing a prayerful mindset. When prayer become unceasing, a hedge of protection is formed so that you will be prepared for whatever circumstance comes your way. Meanwhile, if you begin to pray for the Great Commission to be fulfilled, Matthew 28:19-20, the Word of the Lord will continue to spread. Despite the rise and fall of emotions in this life, concentrate your prayers so that God will be glorified.

by Jay Mankus

The Real Global Warning Threat

The Dust Bowl of the 1930’s may have conceived a generation of scientists who adhere to and subscribe to the belief that global warming as the greatest threat to the future of the earth. This one event served as a painful lesson for farmers who over tilled their land, contributing to American’s Great Depression, spawning a decade from 1929 to 1939. To modern followers of global warming, there is no time to waste, whatever the cost may be to save this planet.

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it, Ephesians 4:29.

While preserving the earth is a noble cause, another global warning was recorded in the first century. Instead of highlighting the dangers of fossil fuel, the apostle Paul refers to a spiritual pandemic that began to spin out of control. This verbal pollution has taken a toll on souls for the past 2000 years. Gossip, slander, and trash talking have been embraced by social media, using entertainment as an excuse to keep sinning with a smile.

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin). 31 Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind), Ephesians 4:30-31.

Apparently, the use of evil comments, hate filled speech, and unwholesome talk grieves the Holy Spirit. Human beings were designed to encourage and lift one another up. Yet, as global warming steals most of the news headlines, politicians seek to destroy anyone who does not hold or support their secular world view. Subsequently, dissenters are shamed on social media, often using false stereotypes to force a public apology. The decay of biblical values in America is the real global warning threat that must be addressed before faith in God becomes banned worldwide.

by Jay Mankus

Open My Eyes Through Faith

Paul Baloche was sitting in a pew, listening to his pastor pray for the congregation. Upon hearing the expression “Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord, that we may see you,” Baloche was inspired to write a song. Baloche’s soul was touched by the wisdom of this prayer request. As Paul Harvey once said on his radio broadcast, “and now you know The Rest of the Story.”

When the water in the bottle was all gone, Hagar caused the youth to lie down under one of the shrubs. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about a bowshot, for she said, Let me not see the death of the lad. And as she sat down opposite him, he lifted up his voice and wept and she raised her voice and wept, Genesis 21:15-16.

After Sarah convinced Abraham to cast out one of his maid servants, Hagar and Ishmael were forced into the wilderness to find a new place to live. When Hagar ran out of water, she lost hope, laying down her child in the shade under a shrub. Unsure of what to do next, Hagar found an appropriate place to weep and cry out to the Lord. Sensing death was near, the Lord sent an angel to encourage Hagar. Despite being consumed by despair, the Lord opened Hagar’s eyes to a miracle, an empty bottle now filled with water.

And God heard the voice of the youth, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the youth where he is. Arise, raise up the youth and support him with your hand, for I intend to make him a great nation. 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the [empty] bottle with water and caused the youth to drink, Genesis 21:17-19.

The Coronavirus has forced the world to view life through a new lens and perspective. The idea of sitting down with friends inside a restaurant seems like a foreign concept today. Yet, sometime in the near future, the fears of COVID-19 will pass, replaced by a new concern, fear or worry. However, as long as desperate hearts cry out to the Lord in prayer, your eyes will be opened to see all the good things God provides, James 1:17. This is my prayer for 2021 that eyes will be opened through faith in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

The Secret to Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones first sang about the inability to find satisfaction in their 1965 hit (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. When one’s expectations, needs, or wishes go unfulfilled, an uneasy feeling begins to consume souls. As individuals begin to compare their lives with successful people, focuses shift from what you have to what you don’t. Thus, the invisible and unseen blessings that could lead to satisfaction are often ignored, resulting in a troubled heart.

I was made very happy in the Lord that now you have revived your interest in my welfare after so long a time; you were indeed thinking of me, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am, Philippians 4:10-11.

Near the end of his life, the apostle Paul finds himself in chains, behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit. Instead of allowing bitterness to overwhelm his heart, writing a letter to the Church at Philippi appears to have brought a sense peace to Paul, Philippians 4:7. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to encourage these first century saints to focus on the positive aspects in life, Philippians 4:8. In the passages that follow, Paul reveals the secret to finding satisfaction.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. 13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency], Philippians 4:12-13.

This secret includes 3 key principles. The first is remembering God’s purpose for your life, Jeremiah 29:11. The second piece of advice is relying on God’s Spirit within you to make a change for the better, Philippians 4:13. Finally, if you want to find satisfaction, redeem God’s promises for your future, Philippians 1:9-10. Whatever formula that may be out there, nothing is guaranteed in this life. Thus, until you begin to put Jesus’ words into action, Matthew 7:24, satisfaction is just another word.

by Jay Mankus

When a Joy Ride is Interrupted by Stress

The term joy is found over 150 times in the Bible. When you add similar expressions such as “joyful” and “joyous”, joy is mentioned over 200 times. While the phrase joyride refers to a ride taken for pleasure, usually in an automobile, a New York City judge derived this term in the context of stealing cars or reckless driving. Nonetheless, when a joyous occasion rejuvenates your soul, lives glide through days with a positive mindset.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is coming soon].Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. Philippians 4:4-6.

Unfortunately, moments of joy are often rudely interrupted by stress and worry. There are 40 different passages in the Bible that address the topic of stress and hard times. Meanwhile, worry is used 38 times in the Bible. One of the greatest examples of a joy ride being interrupted by stress is found in Matthew 16. Peter goes from being praised by Jesus in verses 17 and 18 to being rebuked moments later in Matthew 16:22, “get behind me Satan.”

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them], Philippians 4:7-8.

During a letter written to Christians in Philippi, the apostle Paul felt the need to encourage those overwhelmed by stress and worry. Instead of allowing the enemy to ruin your days of joy, Paul provide advice to stay positive. When you can’t find anything in your life to be thankful for, rejoice in the Lord. Pray for a forbearing spirit so that anxiety, uncontrollable circumstances and stress will roll off your back. The next time your joy is interrupted, let the peace of Christ settle you down.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: