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Give Heed to What God’s Spirit Says

One of Jesus’ common expressions is “let him who has ears hear.” Jesus understood that human beings tend to have a short attention span. Rather than take the ability to hear for granted, Jesus wanted his audience to remember his teaching by putting it into practice. One of Jesus’ former disciples takes this one step further by paying close attention to what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do.

He who is able to hear, let him listen to and give heed to what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (is victorious), I will grant to eat [of the fruit] of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God, Revelation 2:7.

In the first century church, illiteracy was rampant. Subsequently, church leaders would read out loud letters received from the apostle Paul. If you weren’t able to read, you had to pay careful attention to the message being passed on. Perhaps this explains John call to give heed to what the Holy Spirit is trying to express daily. If you tune out for a moment, you’ll miss what God’s Spirit has to say to you.

If we live by the [Holy] Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. [If by the Holy Spirit [g]we have our life in God, let us go forward [h]walking in line, our conduct controlled by the Spirit,] Galatians 5:25.

The apostle Paul explains the benefits of listening to the Holy Spirit in the passage above. Developing keen listening skills enables a Christian to actually keep in step with the Holy Spirit. Just like pet owners who take their dogs for a walk each morning, the Holy Spirit has the ability to pull you in direction God wants you to go. As human minds learn to follow the spiritual fruits mentioned in Galatians 5:22-24, you will begin to give heed to what God’s Spirit says.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 119: There You Go

Caedmon’s Call is one of the Christian groups that I lean on when an emotional pick me up. This group led by Cliff Young on lead vocals and rhythm guitar, blends traditional folk with alternative rock. If I’m in a mellow mood, I prefer Shifting Sand. Yet, my favorite and today’s featured song is There You Go. Both of these appear on the 40 Acres album. While now disbanded, Caedmon’s Call has aged well with time.

Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them [b]into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you [c]all the days ([d]perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. [e]Amen (so let it be), Matthew 28:19-20.

Following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus into heaven, Christians possessed a sense of urgency to fulfill the Great Commission introduced by Jesus in the passage above. This plan began by telling all of your friends and family about Jesus. When the disciples ran out of names, they traveled to surrounding towns and villages. Once stage two was completed, the ends of the earth is the final step. If you ever get bored spiritually, listen to God’s still small voice and you’ll go where the Holy Spirit leads.

by Jay Mankus

Absolute Confidence

Confidence is the belief, feeling, or inner desire that you can rely on someone or something. Whether you’re a gifted academic, natural athlete or possess unique trade skills, certain talents come with ease. The more this special quality is fine-tuned, individuals begin to develop an absolute confidence in their ability. The Bible speaks of a spiritual absolute confidence.

We know [absolutely] that anyone born of God does not [deliberately and knowingly] practice committing sin, but the One Who was begotten of God carefully watches over and protects him [Christ’s divine presence within him preserves him against the evil], and the wicked one does not lay hold (get a grip) on him or touch [him], 1 John 5:18.

According to a member of Jesus’ inner circle, absolute confidence is conceived when individuals become born again. This spiritual conception comes from the Holy Spirit who gives Christians everything they need for life, 2 Peter 1:3-4. The apostle Paul compares the Holy Spirit to an invisible force that you can feel and sense as you walk through life, Galatians 5:25.

And the Lord said to Satan, Have you considered My servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who [reverently] fears God and abstains from and shuns evil [because it is wrong]? Then Satan answered the Lord, Does Job [reverently] fear God for nothing? 10 Have You not put a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have conferred prosperity and happiness upon him in the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land, Job 1:8-10.

One of the reasons why evil exists in this world is due to a lack of prayer coverage. Based upon the oldest book in the Bible, Satan complained that God was placing a hedge of protection around Christian leaders. Only when this hedge was removed, did Job become vulnerable to spiritual attacks. The act of sin is merely a byproduct of losing faith by giving into natural desires. The end goal is to become filled with Christ’s strength so that the Devil will not lay a hand on you. This is absolute confidence.

by Jay Mankus

When the Bible is Difficult to Understand

When students get stumped in class as a new chapter or concept is introduced, there is a teacher to ask to help you figure it out. Yet, when you open up the Bible and come across a confusing section, unless you’re at a Bible Study, you are on your own. If one of Jesus’ own disciples mentioned that some of the apostle Paul’s epistles are difficult to understand, you will definitely need a mediator to properly interpret the Bible. This is where you need to reach out to and lean on the Holy Spirit to guide your thoughts.

Speaking of this as he does in all of his letters. There are some things in those [epistles of Paul] that are difficult to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist and misconstrue to their own [g]utter destruction, just as [they distort and misinterpret] the rest of the Scriptures, 2 Peter 3:16.

One of the common mistake’s readers of the Bible make is to treat this like a regular book. Human wisdom will only take you so far. And besides, one New Testament author refers to the Bible as a spiritual book that is living and active, Hebrews 4:12. When the Bible is difficult to understand, you need to learn to tap into the power of the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4. According to Peter, a member of Jesus’ inner circle, the Holy Spirit provides everything that you need for life.

And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]. 14 But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated, 1 Corinthians 2:13-14.

The apostle Paul had several encounters with Greek philosophers during a visit to Athens in Acts 17:16-32. While Paul was able to convince some of these scholars, many of them relied on human knowledge. This is the context of the passage above where Paul urges Corinthians to go beyond education. When the Bible is too difficult to understand, only the Holy Spirit will open your mind to the spiritual truths that lie within. Though you won’t have all of your questions answered like Job, you will grow in the knowledge of God’s character and nature.

by Jay Mankus

Use Guidance… Not Coercion

As a former teacher, I understand why some people may opt for coercion over guidance. Whenever an adult loses control of a classroom, the practice of persuading children to do something by force or threats is used as an act of desperation. After taking a Classroom Management graduate level course, I learned that students need structure. When you clarify your expectations and demonstrate a gentle but firm spirit, coercion is not necessary.

Tend (nurture, guard, guide, and fold) the flock of God that is [your responsibility], not by coercion or constraint, but willingly; not dishonorably motivated by the advantages and profits [belonging to the office], but eagerly and cheerfully; 1 Peter 5:2.

When I read and study the Bible, I see a big contrast between Jesus and the religious leaders of the first century. Jesus lived his life like a shepherd tending a large flock of sheep. Rather than oversee his disciples like a control freak, Jesus demonstrated how he wanted his followers to live their lives. Meanwhile, the Pharisees used God’s commandments, decrees and principles to coerce sinners into following religious practices.

Not domineering [as arrogant, dictatorial, and overbearing persons] over those in your charge, but being examples (patterns and models of Christian living) to the flock (the congregation), 1 Peter 5:3.

Despite being a vocal leader, Peter understood the importance of emulating the life and patterns of Jesus. When a leader is domineering or overbearing, fear and peer pressure is used to manipulate other people. This is all exercised and laid out to achieve a desired outcome. Yet, rarely do these leaders consider if this is what Lord wants. While the addressing the Church at Galatia, the apostle Paul compares this style of leadership with witchcraft, Galatians 3:1-2. In view of this, may the Holy Spirit convince you to focus on guidance and not coercion.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 43: Bring Me Back to Life

Evanescence is one of those groups that isn’t Christian but has songs with lyrics that parallel biblical themes. Evanescence is a rock band that began in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1995. Singer, pianist, and keyboardist Amy Lee joined forces with guitarist Ben Moody to form Evanescence. Today’s song reminds me of a mix of the Back Street Boys, Heart, and Run DMC.

Jesus said to her, I am [Myself] the Resurrection and the Life. Whoever believes in (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on) Me, although he may die, yet he shall live; John 11:25.

What attracted me to today’s song is that human beings all reach a point in life where we feel dead inside. Sometimes this is due to being tired or worn out emotionally. Regardless of why we feel this way, finding motivation or strength just to get out of bed can be a chore. Whenever you find yourself in this helpless state, call out to Jesus in prayer so that the Holy Spirit will breathe new life into you.

by Jay Mankus

When Anyone Strays from the Truth

Now that most of your New Year Resolutions have been broken, where do you go from here? Well as February begins, maybe you can reboot 2022 with more realistic goals? Yet, if you were the baby brother of Jesus, being honest and forthright with God is a good place to start. The sooner you acknowledge your own shortcomings, the freer you become to turn this year around.

[My] brethren, if anyone among you strays from the Truth and falls into error and another [person] brings him back [to God], 20 Let the [latter] one be sure that whoever turns a sinner from his evil course will save [that one’s] soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins [[a]procure the pardon of the many sins committed by the convert], James 5:19-20.

One of Jesus’ disciples refers to the concept of being spiritually governed in 1 Peter 1:14. Do you want to be influenced and led by the Holy Spirit as in Galatians 5:25? Or do you prefer to fall back to the days of being governed by your sinful nature? Heck just trying to eat right and healthy is a daily struggle for me. Yet, like the apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-15, I hate being a slave to sin.

[So] if we say we are partakers together and enjoy fellowship with Him when we live and move and are walking about in darkness, we are [both] speaking falsely and do not live and practice the Truth [which the Gospel presents]. But if we [really] are living and walking in the Light, as He [Himself] is in the Light, we have [true, unbroken] fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses (removes) us from all sin and guilt [keeps us cleansed from sin in all its forms and manifestations], 1 John 1:6-7.

Whenever you stray from the truth, you’re merely being reunited with your former way of life. You might feel good for a while reminiscing, but faith involves entering into a new fellowship. You may be able to fool your co-workers or family members, but you can’t fool God. Therefore, come clean by being honest. This goes against everything the world says to do, but confession leads to freedom and healing. May the rest of 2022 be filled with grace, mercy and forgiveness.

by Jay Mankus

The Noble Living Show

The Truman Show debuted in theaters during the summer of 1998. This movie within a movie starred Jim Carrey and Ed Harris. The only real thing in Truman’s life were the products placed into every scene like modern day Informercials. The Bible speaks of a live show that takes place in the homes, streets and workplaces across the country and throughout the world. This is the Noble Living Show.

Who is there among you who is wise and intelligent? Then let him by his noble living show forth his [good] works with the [unobtrusive] humility [which is the proper attribute] of true wisdom, James 3:13.

If you’ve never heard of this, you’re not alone. I was introduced to this concept late last week. According to the earthly brother of Jesus, the star of each episode are Christians who actively live out their faith. Instead of simple knowing what to do, this drama consists of a narrative drive inspired by the Holy Spirit to do good works. Except these characters remain humble unlike many of the modern reality shows.

For this is the will of God, that you should be consecrated (separated and set apart for pure and holy living): that you should abstain and shrink from all sexual vice, That each one of you should know how to [c]possess (control, manage) his own [d]body in consecration (purity, separated from things profane) and honor, Not [to be used] in the passion of lust like the heathen, who are ignorant of the true God and have no knowledge of His will, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5.

The key to this Noble Living Show is the harvest of righteousness, James 3:18. The earthly brother of James shares his own version of the acts of the flesh and traits of the Holy Spirit in James 3:13-18. Anyone who attempts to bypass this or tries to be good on their own strength will not sustain their nobility. Whenever you stumble or fall, take the advice of the apostle Paul in the passage above so that as other people see you in public the presence of Jesus in your heart will shine through.

by Jay Mankus

A Faith That Can’t Be Shaken

The author of Hebrews devotes two chapters to the topic of faith. The first highlights outstanding examples of faith in Hebrews 11. The latter in chapter 12 examines faith in a practical manner detailing all the obstacles you may face over the course of your life. The grand finale uses similar terminology found in Romans 12:1-2. The end goal is to develop a faith that can’t be shaken. Yet, how is this possible?

But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]. [Prompted] by faith Noah, being forewarned by God concerning events of which as yet there was no visible sign, took heed and diligently and reverently constructed and prepared an ark for the deliverance of his own family. By this [his faith which relied on God] he passed judgment and sentence on the world’s unbelief and became an heir and possessor of righteousness ([c]that relation of being right into which God puts the person who has faith), Hebrews 11:6-7.

One of the expressions the author of Hebrews uses several times is lean your entire human personality on God. This is often followed by placing absolute trust and confidence in God’s power which is the Holy Spirit. This spiritual quality enabled spiritual leaders of the past to honored in the Bible’s Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. This is what builds a faith that can’t be shaken.

Now this expression, Yet once more, indicates the final removal and transformation of all [that can be] shaken—that is, of that which has been created—in order that what cannot be shaken may remain and continue. 28 Let us therefore, receiving a kingdom that is firm and stable and cannot be shaken, offer to God pleasing service and acceptable worship, with modesty and pious care and godly fear and awe; Hebrews 12:27-28.

When you begin to live and fulfill God’s will, the stars align to provide a greater sense of purpose. The hard part is reaching a point where all your God given gifts and talents can be fanned into flame daily. I was blessed to be a high school Bible teacher and golf coach for a decade. Unfortunately, sometimes God’s plan changes and you have to adapt as quick as possible. While I currently possess a faith that has been broken, I’m trusting the Lord in 2022 so that my faith can be restored, renewed and rise again.

by Jay Mankus

Committed to Becoming a Good Steward

The Bible refers to a steward as a servant who is mindful that Jesus will return at anytime. This individual behaves like a servant who will be held accountable by their boss, colleagues and or superiors. My introduction to this term came through reading the Parable of the Talents. This story shared by Jesus illustrates the sense of urgency that a good steward develops and strives for each day they are alive.

As each of you has received a gift (a particular spiritual talent, a gracious divine endowment), employ it for one another as [befits] good trustees of God’s many-sided grace [faithful stewards of the [f]extremely diverse powers and gifts granted to Christians by unmerited favor], 1 Peter 4:10.

Former talk show legend Rush Limbaugh coined the phrase “talent on loan from God.” When Rush was diagnosed with stage for cancer back in 2020, he began to open up about his relationship with God. For most of his life, Rush made it a point to avoid using his conservative radio program to proselytize. Yet, as death drew near, Rush revealed a charitable spirit by donating more than 2 million dollars to the Tunnel to Towers foundation.

And he who had received the five talents came and brought him five more, saying, Master, you entrusted to me five talents; see, here I have gained five talents more. 21 His master said to him, Well done, you upright (honorable, [b]admirable) and faithful servant! You have been faithful and trustworthy over a little; I will put you in charge of much. Enter into and share the joy (the delight, the [c]blessedness) which your master enjoys, Matthew 25:20-21.

For most of my adult life, I made just enough to scrape by. When I was a Christian High School teacher I often relied on private donations to pay my bills. Yet, in the past few years I have been blessed by God with a good paying job. In lieu of this recent success, my heart is convicting me to become a better steward. Instead of accepting hand outs, it’s my turn to begin secretly giving to the causes I believe in. May the Holy Spirit stir all of us to become a good steward in 2022.

by Jay Mankus

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