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Finding Help in God’s Promises

Samuel Smiles published the first self-help book in 1859. The goal of Smiles book was to promote self-development in individuals who were struggling with confidence. In recent years, self-help books have increased in popularity. Yet, no book compares to the best seller of all time. The Bible is full of answers to life’s question as Christians weekly find help and hope in God’s promises within this book.

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, Philippians 1:6.

Unfortunately, as human beings we all have experienced the pain of broken and unfulfilled promises. If you have been burned multiple times by someone you care about or look up to, you may reach a point in life when you stop trusting people. Perhaps, this is why many Christians fail to take God and Jesus up on their promises. Ungodly beliefs like “this sounds too good to be true” or “the Bible isn’t completely true” conceive doubt and years of unbelief.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

Yet, anyone who has ever read Restoring the Foundations by Chester and Betsy Kylstra or attended one of their workshops, you will find help and power in the promises of the Bible. In a letter to the Church of Philippi, Paul encourages Christians not to give up hope as what God has started in your life will be brought to completion. Meanwhile, as believers begins to offer their bodies as living sacrifices, the spiritual climate is ripe to begin to grasp God’s will for your life. These two promises serve as steppingstones to dig deeper into God’s Word so you can begin to accept, believe in and claim these promises in a prayer daily.

by Jay Mankus

Tears of Joy and Pain

King Solomon writes about the emotional twists and turns that life brings you. Some of these unexpected events result in tears of joy while other moments bring pain to your heart. To keep circumstances in their proper perspective, Solomon encourages individuals to take everything in stride within chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes. Solomon ends his teaching on joy and pain with “God makes everything beautiful in His time,” verse 11.

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

As an emotional individual, I find it hard to stay even keel. While I no longer experience the emotional roller coaster of my immature high school days, tears of joy and pain are a weekly occurrence. Subsequently, I tend to read too much into daily events. Sometimes bad days are merely the ebb and flow of life, part of the refining process as one of Jesus’ disciples writes about in 1 Peter 1:6-7. Despite this spiritual reality, certain songs and shows still elicit tears of joy and pain.

Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away, Revelation 21:3-4.

I don’t mind tears of overwhelming gladness, but painful sorrow is an emotion that I’d rather not face. After reading the final chapter in the Bible, John reminds readers of one of the final promises of God. According to Jesus, tears will cease in heaven. All kinds of earthly anguish, mourning, and sorrow will be wiped away like erasing a new white board. Although there may be slight indications of what was once sadness, this human condition will pass away in heaven. May this day come soon.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Lose Sight of the Mission

There are 3 main aspects that guide people through life. Some personalities prefer living task to task by creating daily to do lists. Others tend to be more goal oriented by setting weekly, monthly and yearly goals which serve as a target to accomplish. My personal preference is to be vision oriented, using this as a filter to determine how and where I invest my time. Jesus told his disciples to be mission oriented.

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:8.

While visions and missions are similar, Jesus’ final objective before ascending into heaven was to fulfill the Great Commission, the blueprint for spreading the Gospel throughout the world. The heart of a Christian’s mission is to go and make disciples, Matthew 28:19-20. Yet, Luke discloses Jesus’ 3 step plan: share the gospel with everyone in Jerusalem, go to the surrounding towns and villages and then send missionaries to the ends of the earth.

Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

While writing a young first century pastor, the apostle Paul encourages this spiritual leader to not lose sight of the mission. When defeat and failure drag you down, you have to develop the will to press on. As the Devil attempts to distract you, 1 Peter 5:8, stand your ground, Ephesians 6:10-12. Although you can’t control what happens in the supernatural realm, keep on fighting for your faith by keeping your eyes on Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-3.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 194: One Hell of an Amen

Now that I am a full-time resident of South Carolina, I am surrounded by country music. Earlier this spring I was searching for a song that complimented one of my daily devotionals. After clicking on a few You Tubes, I stumbled upon Brantley Gilbert’s song One Hell of an Amen. The lyrics tell stories of a soldier who died for his country and another adult battling cancer.

Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

One Hell of an Amen alludes to the words of the apostle Paul in the passage above. Paul is urging a teenage pastor to keep fighting for Jesus by living out your faith. Meanwhile, One Hell of an Amen encourages listeners to live each day like it’s your last before the Lord calls you home to heaven. Since Amen means “so be it,” fight the good fight of faith.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 185: Battle for the Minds

Today’s song screams 1980’s. Crosssection released the album Before the Dawn in 1989. The lyrics of Battle for the Minds is a daily prayer Christians have been offering up to the Lord for the past 30 years. Unfortunately, if you ever watch cable news, it doesn’t take long to realize that the liberals and progressives have won this battle by controlling public education and most colleges.

See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah), Colossians 2:8.

The apostle Paul wrote about the Battle for human minds to members of the Church at Colosse. Paul suggests that intellectualism and philosophy interfere with God’s ability to shape your mind as a spiritual potter. Colossians 2:6-7 encourages Christians to daily study the Bible so that spiritual roots are developed. While the Battle for the Minds hasn’t aged well, the message still rings true today.

by Jay Mankus

A Prayer to Carry On

As I was driving from Delaware to South Carolina last Friday, I was listening to my favorite soft rock mix. As I was reminiscing about my past 25 years living in Delaware, the sound Breathe You In by Thousand Foot Krutch began playing. When I got stuck in D.C. traffic, I had time to replay this song several times to study the lyrics. During this time of reflection, I realized that Breathing God In is a prayer to carry on.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:8-9.

One of the most moving portions of Breathe You In occurs during the liine “I’ve tried so hard to not walk away when things don’t go my way.” When adversity strikes, human nature has a way of doubting God. Therefore, whenever negative thoughts begin to fill your mind, it’s essential to cry out to Jesus when you’re weak to give you the strength to carry on, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.

So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:10.

At the conclusion of his letter to the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul encourages Christians to not give up hope. Regardless of how tired and weary you may become, don’t waste all the time and effort that you’ve put into life. While meditation isn’t often associated with Christianity, when you visualize Breathing in the Holy Spirit, God will give you the will to carry on.

by Jay Mankus

Getting Your Emotions Under Control

One of Israel’s former kings describes time in the context of seasons. Just as Christmas is associated with winter in the northern hemisphere, every month brings with it a series of emotions. In Ecclesiastes 3:4, King Solomon follows sorrow with laughter. Since nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, James 4:13-14, you have to be ready to keep your emotions under control at all times.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, Philippians 4:6.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul touches on mental health. Apparently, members of this church with dealing with a growing amount of anxiety. Rather than try to handle this on your own, Paul encourages Christians to actively pray for the circumstances that are bringing you stress. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by emotions, be thankful for any little victory that you experience daily.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]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 [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:7.

When you create a list of things that challenge your mental health, include these petitions as a daily part of your prayer life. Building on the words of Luke 1:37, the apostle Paul suggests that God has the ability to give you the strength to endure any situation that you face, Philippians 4:13. If you search for the peace of Christ, this tranquil state will enable any believer to get and keep your emotions under control.

by Jay Mankus

Sorting Out the Details

Whenever you plan a weekend getaway or vacation, one member of your family has to sort out all the details. If you’re flying, what’s the best day and time to get the cheapest deal? Where are you going to stay and how close is this to the main attractions? During one trip early in my marriage, I forgot about all the Nascar fans in town for the race at the Monster Mile in Dover. My oversight made it impossible to find a hotel on our way back, ending up in a dive in the middle of nowhere.

If you know (perceive and are sure) that He [Christ] is [absolutely] righteous [conforming to the Father’s will in purpose, thought, and action], you may also know (be sure) that everyone who does righteously [and is therefore in like manner conformed to the divine will] is born (begotten) of Him [[r]God], 1 John 2:29.

One of Jesus’ disciples writes about sorting out all the necessary spiritual details to conform to God’s will for your life. The apostle Paul starts this process by developing the right mindset in Romans 12:1-2. While reaching out to a teenager pastor in the first century, Paul encourages this spiritual leader to daily apply his gifts and talents, 2 Timothy 1:6-7. As Christians begin to ascertain their spiritual gifts and adopt the mind of Christ, sorting out God’s will for your life begins to fall into place.

I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you], Romans 12:1-2.

However, sorting out all the details of conforming to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action will vary for each Christian. Some who come to a personal faith in Jesus late in life often have a clear vision of God’s calling. Young followers may have to explore for a couple of years or a decade, going through their own prodigal experience. Or if you’re like me you have to reinvent yourself at a stage in life to transition into a new job or calling. Whatever steps God takes you through, remember that success is the process of arriving until the Lord calls you home.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 66: Breaking Down

Depeche Mode was a popular group when I was in high school. Finding a similar sound to Depeche Mode wasn’t easy. While in college, I began to listen to a Christian radio program on Saturday nights that featured alternative music. The group that sounded the most like Depeche Mode was Code of Ethics. After buying the Visual Paradox album, Breaking Down reminded me of a classic 80’s feel.

So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance, John 8:26.

Breaking Down by Code of Ethics encourages listeners to examine your own life with a new set of eyes. If you are worried about what you’ll find, you may abort this call for reflection before it begins. Yet, as the Lord humbles the proud, humility is God’s way of breaking down walls that humans build and construct. While you may not like 80’s music, the message of Breaking Down is something to think about.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 29: Deeper

In my final year of high school, I became a big fan of U2. My favorite album, the Unforgettable Fire, was filled with biblically based themes. Today’s song comes from a Christian band from the United Kingdom who combines a U2 feel with alternative praise. At the time of their arrival on the Christian music scene in the United States, Delirious was considered to be on the cutting edge of worship music.

The Lord takes pleasure in those who reverently and worshipfully fear Him, in those who hope in His mercy and loving-kindness, Psalm 147:11.

The song Deeper suggests that Christians reach a point in their relationship with God where faith becomes stale. Subsequently, the lyrics speak of an inner desire to go beyond a surface level relationship. Like the words of 1 Peter 2:2, Deeper encourages Christian to dive deeper than they have ever gone before. May Deeper inspire you to draw closer to Jesus Christ, James 4:8.

by Jay Mankus

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