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The Origin of Hope

Before entering into a relationship with God as a sophomore in high school, hope was just another word to me. Hope was one of those words that self-help gurus used in infomercials to get you to buy their latest book or video. As I stood in front of my mirror performing a pep talk, “I think I can, I think I can,” was my man-made expression of hope.

My soul has them continually in remembrance and is bowed down within me. 21 But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation: 22 It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness, Lamentations 3:20-23.

When I searched the internet for the origins of hope, my results were obscure. Therefore, I moved onto my first memory of Mere Christianity as a high school Bible teacher. According to C.S. Lewis, hope is one of three theological virtues along with charity (love) and faith. One of Jesus’ former disciples writes about how individuals can access hope, 2 Peter 1:3-4.

Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, [a]the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being the proof of things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses], Hebrews 11:1.

While Cardinal virtues are accessible to anyone, true hope is only available through the power of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul lists a series of traits that naturally flow out of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-11. This is the origin of hope which makes producing the spiritual fruits in the Bible possible, Galatians 5:22-25. I pray that you share this message with friends who need to experience hope. by Jay Mankus

A Platform for Hope

According to C.S. Lewis, hope is one of three theological virtues, 1 Corinthians 13:13. While charity (love) and faith often overshadow hope, the author of one New Testament book highlights how you can’t have faith without hope, Hebrews 11:1-6. Faith and hope go hand in hand as faith is an assurance in God’s promises and hope is the spirit of perseverance which believes that one day they will become a reality.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome, Jeremiah 29:11.

Senator Barrack Obama rode a platform of hope into two full terms as president of the United States. Obama’s message of “hope and change” placed this articulate candidate into the White House and became the new leader of the Democratic party for more than a decade. One Old Testament prophet shared a message of hope to Israel. This passage serves as a source of optimism for the future.

May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope, Romans 15:13.

The Greek noun euangelion appears 76 times in the Bible while the verb euangelizo occurs 54 times. This is where the English term Gospel is derived. Gospel refers to the good news about Jesus Christ, John 3:16-17. The apostle Paul sums up this spiritual platform of hope in two verses: Romans 5:8 and Romans 6:23. While we were still sinners, Jesus died for us to cancel the wages of sin. This is the platform of hope which inspires Christians to wake up to see another day on earth.

by Jay Mankus

Responding to the Open Doors in Life

Human nature is on full display in Genesis 3. Back in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:15-17, God only gave Adam and Eve one rule. The rest of the garden was free to explore. The story of mankind’s fall from grace was passed down orally until Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. According to Genesis 3, no timetable is provided on the length of the serpent’s temptation. Sometimes open doors are snare traps set by the Devil. Responding to these open doors require caution, maturity and wisdom.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. 28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need, Ephesians 4:26-28.

One chapter after the warning in the passage above, the apostle Paul introduces the concept of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:25. Galatians 5:16-18 details this internal tug of war which Adam and Eve both lost. When a child is told not to do something by their parents, this boundary or restriction elicits a sense of curiosity. Subsequently, the Tree of Knowledge was accessible by exercising free will. Today, there are countless temptations, opens doors that end up trapping the curious into addictions.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:19-20.

One of the most beneficial visions in the Bible is a door which only has one handle. God’s side of this door doesn’t have a handle. John’s vision is symbolic of free will. God will try to get your attention daily by knocking or via a still small voice, 1 Kings 19:12. The door handle is on your side so the only way to access open doors is by exercising freewill. Faith comes into play when you try to open these doors, but some may be locked for a season. May today’s song help you learn how to respond to open doors in life.

by Jay Mankus

When You’re Accidently Going Nowhere

Impatient travelers are nothing new. While Moses doesn’t use the expression “are we there yet,” modern readers can visualize an annoying child asking this question over and over again during a long car ride. When people are hot and tired, tempers often flare which is what happens in the passage below. As complaining and grumbling intensified, the Israelites lost it when someone realized they were accidently going in circles, losing their way in the ever-shifting sand of the desert.

They set out from Elim, and all the congregation of Israel came to the Wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they left the land of Egypt. And the whole congregation of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, Exodus 16:1-2.

If history tends to go through a series of cycles, don’t be surprised when you find yourself lost in life. Whenever your confidence is shaken, assurance wobbles as where to go and what to do comes into question. I started 2022 with high hopes to write another screenplay and get promoted at Amazon. As the third quarter of this year is about to end, I find myself going backwards. I don’t think I missed the exit I was supposed to get off of, but I’m wandering around in circles like the Israelites.

Moreover, as they go about from house to house, they learn to be idlers, and not only idlers, but gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not say and talking of things they should not mention, 1 Timothy 5:13.

The apostle Paul points to idleness as the reason why some Christians end up accidently going nowhere. When you stop taking chances in life by playing it safe, you may find yourself lulled into a spiritual rut. Meanwhile, you may know exactly what needs to be done, but talk is cheap until faith is put into action. May the words of Jesus’ earthly brother challenge you break out of any bad habit by exercising your faith, James 2:26.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 189: Lead Me

During a five-year stretch, I served on a security team for Christian concerts at Red Lion. The David Crowder Band and the News Boys were the headliners that our church hosted. However, one of the lesser-known bands at who opened for the News Boys was Sanctus Real. While I was busy at my security check point, a friend told me about their testimony shared on stage about battling with stuttering.

 Let no one despise or think less of you because of your youth, but be an example (pattern) for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity, 1 Timothy 4:12.

Sanctus Real’s song Lead Me reminds me of a message passed on to a first century preacher. Age shouldn’t be used as an excuse to not lead others. Rather, leadership involves emulating the life, speech and faith of Jesus Christ. The lyrics of Lead Me talk about reflecting upon what’s going on inside of you. Things may look okay externally, but leading starts by being transformed from within.

by Jay Mankus

Abaddon

The origin of Abaddon is found in Judaism. According to the Brown Driver Briggs lexicon, the Hebrew word אבדוןa, avadon, is an intensive form of the Semitic root and verb stem abad. The Greek word for adaddon is Apollyon which means destroyer when translated into English. The context of Abaddon is part of John’s vision who is the angel of Hell also known as the Abyss.

Over them as king they have the angel of the Abyss (of the bottomless pit). In Hebrew his name is Abaddon [destruction], but in Greek he is called Apollyon [destroyer], Revelation 9:11.

Growing up in a Roman Catholic Church, I was taught about the wrath of God in the Old Testament. This biblical emphasis caused me to view God as a disciplinarian. Similar to the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 28:1-2, I believed that obedience to God was the key to having a successful life. Subsequently, I perceived the good and bad things that happened to me as blessings and curses.

The first woe (calamity) has passed; behold, two others are yet to follow, Revelation 9:12.

As I matured in my faith, this mindset was unhealthy and self-destructive. While attending a Sunday School class at Red Lion, a couple introduced me to Restoring the Foundations. This book and ministry helped me fill in the gaps of my flawed theology. If you find yourself in a destructive situation or in the process of being destroyed spiritually, I highly recommend RTF by Chester and Betsy Kylstra.

by Jay Mankus

The Altar of the Souls of Martyrs

John Foxes’ Book of Martyrs was first published in 1528. While attending Seminary part time back in the late 1990’s, one of my classes studied martyrs not mentioned in the Bible. Men and women of faith suffered horrific deaths during Nero’s persecution of Christians. These tragic deaths intensified in early 300 AD under the oppressive Roman Emperor Diocletian. These individuals will be rewarded by their ultimate sacrifice.

When the Lamb broke open the fifth seal, I saw at the foot of the altar the souls of those whose lives had been sacrificed for [adhering to] the Word of God and for the testimony they had borne, Revelation 6:9.

As John witnessed Jesus break open the fifth seal in the book of Revelation, there was an altar dedicated to the souls of martyrs. At the foot of this altar, the souls of dead Christians who were killed for not compromising their faith began to share their testimonies. While most of these individuals aren’t mentioned in the Hall of Faith found in Hebrews 11, this scene reminds me of the lyrics of the hymn Blessed Assurance, “This is my story, this is my song.”

They cried in a loud voice, O [Sovereign] Lord, holy and true, how long now before You will sit in judgment and avenge our blood upon those who dwell on the earth? 11 Then they were each given a [b]long and flowing and festive white robe and told to rest and wait patiently a little while longer, until the number should be complete of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed as they themselves had been, Revelation 6:10-11.

The apostle Paul devotes the opening chapter of his letter to the Church at Galatia to promote sharing your faith. Paul uses a teachable moment to express why Christians should strive to please the Lord and not other people, Galatians 1:9-10. Paul then transitions to three keys parts of any testimony: Galatians 1:11-24. The first step is conveying how you lived prior to entering into a personal relationship with Jesus. This past leads to what event(s) led you to trust Jesus as Lord and conclude with how Jesus has transformed your life. May the altar of the souls of martyrs inspire you to share your own testimony.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 165: Does Anybody Love the Lord?

Today’s song was ranked among the top 25 Christian tunes of the twentieth century. If I can recall on the countdown that took place on New Year’s Eve in 1999, another one of Crawford’s ballads also cracked the top 100. When it comes to inspirational Christian songwriters, I would rank Rick third all-time behind Bruce Carroll and Benny Hester. Does Anybody Love the Lord serves as an open ended question.

He who does not love has not become acquainted with God [does not and never did know Him], for God is love, 1 John 4:8.

In the lyrics of Does Anybody Love the Lord, Rick points out the spiritual giants of the past. You don’t have tell anyone that you love the Lord if you’re a person of grace, integrity and mercy. Unfortunately, most Christians have their own prodigal experience, leaving the Lord for a period of time. Rick urges modern Christians to become people of action, faith and works. May today’s song challenge you to deepen your relationship with Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 163: Bride of Restoration

Mark Pogue & Fortress is one of those groups that was overshadowed by other more popular Christian artists. When I searched on the internet for the bio of this band, I didn’t find any new information that I don’t already know. One of the highlights of Mark Pogue & Fortress’ Restoration album is the ballad Bride of Restoration. Since human being all fall short of God’s glory, we all need to be restored.

For I will restore health to you, and I will heal your wounds, says the Lord, because they have called you an outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no one seeks after and for whom no one cares! – Jeremiah 30:17

Mark writes about how Jesus changed his life after failing as a husband. Similar to the storyline in the film Fireproof, Mark was able to save his marriage thanks to a newfound faith in Christ. Yet, unless your faith is active, James 2:26, you are dead inside until the Holy Spirit awakens your soul. May the testimony of Mark Pogue inspire you to draw closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

Developing an Attitude of Praise

Whenever I have a crappy day, human nature takes over. This is when complaining, grumbling, and fault finding takes over. Rather than refocus my thoughts to concentrate on the positive, the blame game commences as I point the finger in every direction except at myself. During my most recent pouting session, God convicted me that I needed to develop an attitude of praise.

Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels on every side of the throne and of the living creatures and the elders [[f]of the heavenly Sanhedrin], and they numbered ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands, 12 Saying in a loud voice, Deserving is the Lamb, Who was sacrificed, to receive all the power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and majesty (glory, splendor) and blessing! – Revelation 5:11-12

Whenever I attend a new church, I feel uneasy about clapping and lifting up my hands in worship unless I know the song. I usually lip sync for a while until I learn and understand the beat and words. When some of the worshippers get carried away and caught up in worshipping God, I often think to myself, “what am I missing?” According to John, I don’t have an attitude of praise.

And I heard every created thing in heaven and on earth and under the earth [in Hades, the place of departed spirits] and on the sea and all that is in it, crying out together, To Him Who is seated on the throne and to the Lamb be ascribed the blessing and the honor and the majesty (glory, splendor) and the power (might and dominion) forever and ever (through the eternities of the eternities)! – Revelation 5:13

Today’s Bible passage provides a glimpse of what an attitude of praise should resemble. The elders sitting in heaven aren’t faking their faith like some may do today. Rather, the residents of heaven are so overwhelmed by the Lamb who was slain on a cross (Jesus), an attitude of praise naturally breaks out. The hard part is developing an attitude of praise outside the church. May this passage challenge you resolve in your heart to develop a biblical attitude of praise.

by Jay Mankus

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