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The Tithing Trend Setter

Trend setters lead the way in actions, fashion or ideas. This individual may be laughed at, mocked or teased initially, but if this movement catches on, a trend setter is born. While visiting Egypt in the middle of a severe famine, God moved Pharaoh to bless Abram with many servants. Although Moses doesn’t provide a timeline of specific dates, these men would become the core of Abram’s Army who rescued Lot and other prisoners of war taken from Sodom.

Melchizedek king of Salem [later called Jerusalem] brought out bread and wine [for their nourishment]; he was the priest of God Most High, 19 And he blessed him and said, Blessed (favored with blessings, made blissful, joyful) be Abram by God Most High, Possessor and Maker of heaven and earth, 20 And blessed, praised, and glorified be God Most High, Who has given your foes into your hand! And [Abram] gave him a tenth of all [he had taken], Genesis 14:18-20.

In the back of Abram’s mind, he put two and two together, giving God the credit for these 318 men and the Lord’s favor. Subsequently, as the King of Salem Melchizedek greeted Abram following his victory, this priest of the God Most High prompted Abram to give something back. This is the context which conceived the biblical principle of tithing. This makes Abram a true trend setter and the godfather of tithing to the Lord.

Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings. You are cursed with the curse, for you are robbing Me, even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes (the whole tenth of your income) into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now by it, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it, Malachi 3:8-10.

One of the most famous passages on tithing comes from an Old Testament prophet. Malachi peels back the storehouses in heaven to reveal a powerful reality for those who faithfully give back to God. This life lesson is simple: you can’t out give God. Unfortunately, when Christians fail to tithe, this reveals a lack of trust in God, Proverbs 3:5-6. If the words of James 1:17-18, all God things in life come from heaven above. Therefore, don’t be afraid to follow Abram’s lead, by giving 1/10 of what you receive back to the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

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Concentrate on the Right Direction Rather than Destinations in 2023

The younger brother of Jesus learned an important life lesson from his big bro, “tomorrow isn’t guaranteed,” James 4:13-15. While there is no record of praising their eldest son in the Bible, Mary and Joseph likely told James that Jesus would go places in life as a carpenter and man of God. James was likely one of the 500 people who spoke with Jesus following his resurrection and before his ascension into heaven, 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. One snippet from their discussion might have been centered on proceeding in the right direction in life rather than a specific destination.

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths, Proverbs 3:5-6.

While writing a letter to warn his children about the dangers of life, King Solomon turns his attention toward trusting God. Similar to James’ warning about making plans for the future, Solomon emphasizes the need to place your heart, soul and mind into God’s hands. Though you may think that you should go to a particular place to work in a certain field in a specific city, the Lord knows what’s best for you. Unfortunately, when I moved to Aiken last summer, I was so sure of my future that I forget to lean on the Lord for my future position in South Carolina.

For this [forgiveness] let everyone who is godly pray—pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely when the great waters [of trial] overflow, they shall not reach [the spirit in] him. You are a hiding place for me; You, Lord, preserve me from trouble, You surround me with songs and shouts of deliverance. Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! I [the Lord] will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you, Psalm 32:6-8.

If I would have concentrated on going in the right direction spiritually, day by day, I’d be in a better place in my life as 2023 begins. Like the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke 15:11-24. I had to learn the hard way, coming to my senses following a grueling day at work. It would be nice to know where you’ll be in a couple of weeks or months, but right now I’m clearly living outside of God’s will for my life. Therefore, it’s time to take the walk of shame back to my heavenly father to confess, “you were right, and I was wrong.” After confession comes clarity, one step at a time as God makes everything beautiful in His time.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 353: The Wait is Over

Hurry up and wait is one of those expressions directed at my impatient nature over the years. As an active, anxious, and eager individual, if I’m not constantly moving, I begin to fall asleep, bored by a non-active life. However, from a spiritual standpoint, some people wait a lifetime searching for the meaning to life. When you’re pointed in the right direction to the passage below, your wait is over.

And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved, Acts 4:12.

Disciple’s song the Wait is Over contains a similar theme. If the Bible contains over one verses on wait and waiting, this tells me waiting is important life lesson impatient people need to learn. When it comes to heaven, there is only one name where salvation can be found, Jesus. One of Jesus’ disciples writes a letter to first century Christian to inform them that your eternal destination can be secured without a doubt, 1 John 5:12-13. When you call upon the name of Jesus, Romans 10:9-11, the wait is over.

by Jay Mankus

We’re Not the Only Ones to Experience Regret

As a parent, there are many things that I regret doing or saying. Yet, the fallen nature within me has caused me to overreact through the years. From a discipline standpoint, I lost my temper a few times as well as being a pushover in other areas, too soft when I needed to be firmer. While I’ve tried to do my best over the years, I’ve fallen short like everyone else on earth, Romans 3:23. This is nothing compared to what God the Father experienced from heaven as He watched His son die on a cross.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually. And the Lord regretted that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved at heart, Genesis 6:5-6.

From God the Creator’s perspective, his children didn’t get off to a great start. Adam and Eve broke the only rule God set in the Garden of Eden. This was quickly followed by the first murder due to a jealous heart. While godly individuals like Enoch came along every once in a while, to habitually walk with Him, human nature gradually perverted the inhabitants of the earth. Subsequently, as God watched from heaven, He regretted what had become of His grand design of earth.

So the Lord said, I will destroy, blot out, and wipe away mankind, whom I have created from the face of the ground—not only man, [but] the beasts and the creeping things and the birds of the air—for it grieves Me and makes Me regretful that I have made them, Genesis 6:7.

As an artist in the context of a writer, I know what it feels like what when you have to scrap everything you’ve been working on by starting over from scratch. Yet, the Lord was emotionally invested in the human beings He had created. It’s one thing to throw away pieces of paper. In God’s case, we’re talking about ending the lives of people. Before reaching a final decision, Noah followed in the footsteps of Enoch to curry favor with God. As you reflect upon 2022 as 2023 was ushered in on New Year’s Day, may you remember that you’re not the only one to experience regret.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 343: Welcome Home

There are two passages in the New Testament that speak about welcoming home individuals. The first comes in the form of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. After quickly squandering away his inheritance, a younger son ends up bankrupt, working on a farm, yearning for the slop that he feeds to pigs. When this young man came to his senses, he returned home, replaying in his mind what he was going to say to his father. Upon his return, his father ran and greeted him with the words,” welcome home.”

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.

The second account takes place in John 14 as Jesus talks about going on ahead of his disciples to prepare a place for them in heaven. One of Jesus’ disciples who was present for this conversation has a vision in the passage above. Jesus doesn’t force individuals into heaven but offers human beings free will to decide for themselves. This door to heaven only has a handle on our side. When God knocks, only we can let Him in. When we open this door God replies with a similar message, “welcome home.”

by Jay Mankus

Living Forever Take 3

Part of any Hollywood blockbuster movie are dramatic shifts in the storyline, like a roller coaster with unexpected twists and turns. Viewers are immediately grabbed, their attention is gained and locked in until this two-hour ride ends. Due to original sin, the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, breaking God’s only rule, the Lord’s initial plan of living forever on earth is derailed. The apostle Paul writes about God’s backup plan in Romans 5:12-21, sending a second Adam to restore that which was lost.

And the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and guard and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and blessing and calamity you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die, Genesis 2:15-17.

Life expectancy went from 800-900 years all the way down to 120 following the flood. Christian Scientists point to the Open Canopy Theory, an atmosphere without rain which sheltered human beings from direct sunlight thereby slowing down the aging process. This is the most practical way to explain the steep decline in life expectancy. Meanwhile, the curse bestowed by God upon future men and women in Genesis 3:16-24 also points to the gradual decay of the earth as well.

When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took wives of all they desired and chose. Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not forever dwell and strive with man, for he also is flesh; but his days shall yet be 120 years, Genesis 6:1-3.

According to the Old Testament, Enoch was the only believer to not experience death on earth, Hebrews 11:5. The key to Enoch’s success and ascension into heaven was due to a consistent relationship with God, Genesis 5:22. From time to time, God will extend someone’s life like Hezekiah. This form of a blessing is addressed by Moses in Deuteronomy 28:1-14, with a simple equation: obedience to God results in blessings.

 I saw no temple in the city, for the Lord God Omnipotent [Himself] and the Lamb [Himself] are its temple. 23 And the city has no need of the sun nor of the moon to give light to it, for the splendor and radiance (glory) of God illuminate it, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations shall walk by its light and the rulers and leaders of the earth shall bring into it their glory. 25 And its gates shall never be closed by day, and there shall be no night there, Revelation 21:22-25.

When you read the final chapter of the Bible, living forever takes on a new shape and form. Take 1 caused life to end before 1000 years. Take 2 allowed Jesus to restore that which was lost, Luke 19:10, to redeem all who have sinned and fallen short of God’s given. Take 3 begins with the creation of a new Jerusalem. When this city of gold is placed upon the new earth, heaven will be limited to this holy city. All of those in the Book of Life will live forever on earth residing in the New Jerusalem.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 287: Grace

Jonathan McReynolds was raised by a single mother in Chicago, Illinois. Thanks to a loving church family, Jonathon learned how to play the drums at age five. This love for music opened future doors to become a Grammy winning gospel singer. Rather than succumb to gangs which is prevalent in the Chicago area, the Lord has truly blessed Jonathon McReynolds with songs like Grace.

But if it is by grace (His unmerited favor and graciousness), it is no longer conditioned on works or anything men have done. Otherwise, grace would no longer be grace [it would be meaningless], Romans 11:6.

As a former Roman Catholic, good works was what I was taught to strive for in life. While isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it prevented me from embracing God’s grace. Like the words written to members of the Church in Rome in the passage above, grace replaces a works mentality. Instead of earning your way into heaven, the reality of God’s grace makes me to love and serve others.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 282: Brighter Days

One of Jesus’ disciples writes about how to enjoy life and see brighter days. Peter provides practical advice beginning with keeping your mouth from speaking evil. Similar to the advice given by Moses in his farewell address to the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 30:15-16, every choice you make daily leads to life or death. Blessing Offor, a Nigerian-born singer/songwriter, sings about this in his new song Brighter Day.

For let him who wants to enjoy life and see good days [good—whether apparent or not] keep his tongue free from evil and his lips from guile (treachery, deceit), 1 Peter 3:10.

While Dorothy sang about finding a place over the rainbow, the Bible promises a life after death in heaven. Jesus tells his disciples about going on ahead of them to prepare a place in heaven, John 14:1-4. Yet, the lyrics of Brighter Days speaks to James 1:2-4 and 1 Peter 1:6-7, looking beyond hardships in life to days where maturity and perspective alter your mindset. May Blessings’ song brighter your day and help you see the sunshine beyond the clouds.

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

The State of Disembodied Existence

Every time I complete studying the entire Old or New Testament, I like to begin a new one with a different version of the Bible. The first church that I served in as a Youth Director was in Rising Sun, Maryland. At the time I worked there, this conservative Methodist Church was using the Amplified Bible. While this version is great for studying, it’s hard to read out loud as it gives all the possible translations of the Bible.

And the sea delivered up the dead who were in it, death and Hades ([c]the state of death or disembodied existence) surrendered the dead in them, and all were tried and their cases determined by what they had done [according to their motives, aims, and works], Revelation 20:13.

As I read the final chapter of the Bible, I’m using the Classic Edition of the Amplified Version. This might explain why John hints at the state of disembodied existence. It appears that John is referring to eternal life where our spirit and soul will reside, the essence of who you are. My spiritual mental in high school, Coach Ken, explained this to me that others will recognize us in heaven beyond our physical body.

Then death and Hades ([d]the state of death or disembodied existence) were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire, Revelation 20:14.

The apostle Paul uses this concept in a closing prayer for members at the Church at Thessalonica, 1 Thessalonians 5:20-23. While the term soul appears just under 500 times in the Bible, Jesus spoke about loving God with all your heart, soul and mind, Matthew 22:47. While the concept of your state of disembodied existence is interesting, it’s not what’s important. The key is making sure you enter into a personal relationship with Jesus, Romans 10:9-11. This is my prayer for all who read this blog.

by Jay Mankus

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