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When Prayer Opens Your Eyes

The earthly brother of Jesus begins his first letter to first century Christians with two harsh realities in life, James 1:2-4 and James 1:13-15. The first is a reminder that trials are placed in your life to promote spiritual growth. Unfortunately, addictions, bad habits, and unwholesome cravings can blind you from what’s really going inside of you, Galatians 5:16. Subsequently, God can use prayer to open our eyes to solutions to life’s problems.

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. 18 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.

When you’re having a bad day or become depressed, you become vulnerable to self-fulfilled prophecies. These occur when you speak negative thoughts into existence. In the passage above, Hagar and Ishmael are asked to leave Abraham’s house. Subsequently, Hagar came to the conclusion that it was only a matter of time before her son would die. Hagar places Ishmael under a shrub, walking away so she doesn’t witness her son’s death.

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored [to a spiritual tone of mind and heart]. The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working]. 17 Elijah was a human being with a nature such as we have [with feelings, affections, and a constitution like ours]; and he prayed earnestly for it not to rain, and no rain fell on the earth for three years and six months. 18 And [then] he prayed again and the heavens supplied rain and the land produced its crops [as usual], James 5:16-18.

However, when you cry out to the Lord with a desperate spirit, sometimes prayer opens your eyes. This can also occur when you confess your shortcomings to God. Like an addict going to an accountability group, publicly acknowledging your errors and mistakes is the first step to recovery. This opens the door for healing to begin. While there are consequences for every sin, prayer enables you to see the big picture. May Hagar’s experience help open your eyes to God’s hand in your life.

by Jay Mankus


S.A.N.S. Episode 350: Broken Heart

An English proverb which dates back to 1742 states “THERE ARE TWO SIDES TO EVERY STORY.” The context of this expression is when you pick up a coin to see how much it’s worth. The same can be said about turning the page from one year to the next. While 2023 is fresh in the minds of people today, you still have to deal with any lingering consequences from your past. If your heart is still broken when the ball dropped on New Year’s Eve, there are still pieces to pick up in this calendar year.

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.

In their song Broken Heart, Falling Up turns to heaven in prayer to mend their emotion pain. Just as David was in need of healing in the passage above, countless individuals are struggling with their lives entering 2023. While many turn to alcohol and drugs to numb their pain, the lyrics of Broken Heart reach out to Jesus for healing. May the words of Matthew 11:28-30 encourage you take all those things in life weighing you down and place them at the foot of Jesus’ cross to find rest for your soul.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 200: Broken Heart

Today’s song comes from an American Christian rock band that formed in Albany, Oregon. Falling Up signed to BEC Recordings in 2003 after a recommendation from friends in the band Kutless. Followers of Falling Up believe their 2008 singles collection Discover the Trees Again was simultaneously the end of an era and the start of an incredibly exciting new chapter for this band.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

Every adult is familiar with broken hearts. Whether this is due to a failed friendship or marriage, all human beings are in need of healing. Subsequently, Falling Up’s lyrics of Broken Heart serve as a cry for help like a prayer where you pour out your heart to God. My today’s song encourage you to never be afraid or ashamed to ask God for healing.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 199: State of Emergency

College roommates have plenty of time to dream, but few actually fulfill what they talk about. Back in 1998, Brad Noone and Rob Beckley got together with friends Travis Jenkins, Dustin Adams, and Michael Wittig to form Pillar. This all happened while attending Fort Hays State University in Kansas. One year later Pillar released their first album, Metamorphosis.

If you have sinned, how does that affect God? And if your transgressions are multiplied, what have you done to Him? If you are righteous, what do you [by that] give God? Or what does He receive from your hand? – Job 35:6-7

My favorite Pillar song is State of Emergency. The lyrics and title are designed to elicit a sense of urgency. As one man in the Old Testament seeks the counsel of three friends in the passage above, Job is called to immediately repent. Like the words of David is Psalm 32 and 51, the quicker you are to be honest and forthright with God, the sooner you will experience healing. May today’s song awaken your soul.

by Jay Mankus

A Prayer When Your World’s Turned Upside Down

One accident, error in judgment, mistake or phone call can radically change your life. For me, I decided to run a mile with a sprained ankle. This stubborn decision tore all of my tendons and twisted my ankle ninety degrees in the wrong direction. After examining my latest x-rays, the surgeon told me that I would never run again. This was devasting news to a 16-year-old, turning to prayer to alter my destiny.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance, Romans 5:3.

Despite the reality of what science told me, I chose to believe in the God of miracles. The apostle Paul warned Christians in the Church at Rome to expect peer pressure to conform, hardships in life, and suffering due to the decision to make Jesus Lord of all, Romans 10:9-11. Although I would become familiar with this passage later in life, all I wanted was to prevent my life from going dark forever.

And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of [c]character (approved faith and [d]tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] [e]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:4-5.

The emotions racing deep inside of me are expressed in a song by Philips, Craig, and Dean. The lyrics of I Choose to Believe begins by addressing a series of worst-case scenarios that often turns an individual’s life upside down. I couldn’t imagine living the rest of my life without the ability to run or compete in athletics. Like the persistent widow in Luke 18:1-8, God answered my prayer to for healing. If you chose to believe in the power of a resurrected Savior, you will overcome future obstacles that you’ll face.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 131: Back to the Innocence

You don’t find many musicians with electrical and computer engineering degrees. Yet, this is Brian Becker’s education credentials as a student at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Perhaps this thirst for knowledge led Brian to compose some of the greatest Christian ballads of the 1990’s. Besides Back to the Innocence, Child of the Image highlights Brian’s gift for writing amazing lyrics based upon the Bible.

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for You are my praise, Jeremiah 17:14.

No Longer a Wayward Son contains today’s featured song Back to the Innocence. While today’s culture is extremely woke, Brian writes about a time in American history when things were hidden and swept under the rug. I’m not sure if Brian was abused as a child, but this song is for anyone who was forced to endure extreme circumstances as a child. May you pass this on to anyone who is haunted by the secrets of their past. May Back to the Innocence bring healing to those still struggling with their past.

by Jay Mankus

The Sacred Appointment

There are certain appointments in life that children learn to hate early in life. The trip to the dentist office when the doctor discovers your first cavity. The visit to an Emergency Room late at night which results in several follow up appointments. A routine checkup that seems annoying at the time but uncovers a terminal or rare condition. Yet not every appointment brings bad news.

But as for you, the anointing (the sacred appointment, the unction) which you received from Him abides [[o]permanently] in you; [so] then you have no need that anyone should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything and is true and is no falsehood, so you must abide in (live in, never depart from) Him [being [p]rooted in Him, knit to Him], just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do], 1 John 2:27.

In the passage above, one of Jesus’ former disciples refers to a sacred appointment. This unction as John calls it is when an elder or priest anoints someone with oil. Apostles in the book of Acts had a tendency to anoint missionaries or spiritual leaders prior to a special trip. While modern anointings are often associated with healing services, this is something special about this sacred appointment.

And when they had appointed and ordained elders for them in each church with prayer and fasting, they committed them to the Lord in Whom they had come to believe [being full of joyful trust that He is the Christ, the Messiah], Acts 14:23.

The passage above highlights one of these anointings. According to Luke, prayer and fasting were always part of this sacred appointment. In other similar passages, the laying on of hands was done by church leaders as a form of spiritual protection. One of the secrets to Job’s spiritual strength was the hedge of protection placed around him by the Lord, Job 1:10. If you are fortunate enough to ever be part of one of these ceremonies, may you embrace this spiritual anointing.

by Jay Mankus

From Shallow to Saved

Shallow people often exhibit a superficial nature due to emptiness, ignorance, and or a tendency to be self-absorbed. Looking back at my adolescence, my bout with stuttering and stammering severely stunted my ability to communicate with my peers. Subsequently, I withdrew from society and hid my pain, so I didn’t embarrass myself in public. Meanwhile, I suppressed my feelings by focusing solely on sports which I began to excel at as I entered high school.

And as He was going into one village, He was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance. 13 And they raised up their voices and called, Jesus, Master, take pity and have mercy on us! – Luke 17:12-13

Following the decree in Leviticus 13:43-46, the ten lepers in today’s passage were forced into quarantine, banned from entering their village until their leprosy was healed. Whenever a healthy person approached, the Jewish law called for each man to proclaim, “I am unclean.” Jesus didn’t come to judge these lepers, but to free them from their contagious disease. Upon hearing the good news of being healed, perhaps the other 9 lepers were too shallow to thank Jesus for this new lease on life.

Then Jesus asked, Were not [all] ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to [d]recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien? 19 And He said to him, Get up and go on your way. Your faith (your trust and confidence that spring from your belief in God) has restored you to health, Luke 17:17-19

When I was in high school, I acted like the 9 lepers who failed to give thanks and praise to God. I was so consumed by what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go that I neglected the Lord. Rather than open my eyes to all the blessings in my life, my shallow nature prevented me from appreciating the obvious. Yet, when I made the decision to make Jesus my Lord and Savior in college, Romans 10:9-11, I was transformed from shallow to saved. A few years later, God completely healed me of my stuttering like the ten lepers who experienced their own miraculous healing.

by Jay Mankus

A Gratitude Adjustment

In this age of the Coronavirus, inflation and war with Russia invading Ukraine, gratitude has been pushed to the back of the line. When the world you are living in is literally falling apart, it’s hard to acknowledge the positive aspects of life. Watching breaking news stories on cable only makes me even more depressed. Before any sense of appreciation disappears completely in 2022, a gratitude adjustment is essential to keep hope alive.

Then one of them, upon seeing that he was cured, turned back, [c]recognizing and thanking and praising God with a loud voice; 16 And he fell prostrate at Jesus’ feet, thanking Him [over and over]. And he was a Samaritan, Luke 17:15-16.

Today’s passage comes from a first century physician. Instead of giving medical details of how these ten lepers were healed, Luke appears to be baffled. Based upon the end of verse 14, “as they went, they were cured and made clean,” the anticipation in the minds of these ten men played a crucial role. While nine walked faster and faster as if racing to see who could get to the priest first, one leper stopped, looked down and realized that he was miraculously healed.

Then Jesus asked, Were not [all] ten cleansed? Where are the nine? 18 Was there no one found to return and to [d]recognize and give thanks and praise to God except this alien? – Luke 17:17-18

Perhaps the other nine men were so eager to resume a normal life that they forgot to thank Jesus. Meanwhile, the Samaritan leper, who already understood what it felt like to be under appreciated in life was moved by God. Jesus was sent to call the Jews back to repentance, not the Samaritans. However, like the Samaritan woman at a well in John 4, a spirit of gratitude filled each of their hearts. When you slow down enough in life to see where you’ve been and what God has done, gratitude is the first step toward healing and happiness.

by Jay Mankus

As You Draw Near to God

Drawing near to God is one of those topics where you will find numerous how to books. Based upon personal experiences, some authors have broken down drawing near to God with 7 specific steps. Other Christian writers have used the Bible to create a formula for drawing near to God. If these individuals haven’t had success in their attempts to draw near to God, these books wouldn’t exist.

[As you draw near to God] be deeply penitent and grieve, even weep [over your disloyalty]. Let your laughter be turned to grief and your mirth to dejection and heartfelt shame [for your sins]. 10 Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant], James 4:9-10.

The best way I know to figure out how to draw near to God is by examining what Jesus did. According to Mark 1:35, Jesus was an early riser who went for a walk first thing in the morning. Apparently, Jesus was searching for a quiet place without any distractions. Once the ideal spot was found, Jesus fell to his knees and began to pray. Based upon Mark 1:36-39, drawing near to God brought Jesus clarity, focus and, vision about where to go and what to do daily.

Let us all come forward and draw near with true (honest and sincere) hearts in unqualified assurance and absolute conviction engendered by faith (by [b]that leaning of the entire human personality on God in absolute trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness), having our hearts sprinkled and purified from a guilty (evil) conscience and our bodies cleansed with pure water. 23 So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the [c]hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable (sure) and faithful to His word, Hebrews 10:22-23.

In the passage above, one New Testament author reveals the mindset you should have as you begin to draw near to God. One of Jesus disciples compares God to the Father of light who knows everything that you’ve ever done, 1 John 1:6-8. Therefore, if you want to draw near to God like you never have before, start by confessing and verbalizing your shortcomings and failures. Once you unload all of these burdens like Matthew 11:28-30, healing will come to those who draw near to God, James 5:16.

by Jay Mankus

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