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When God Talked Out Loud to Himself

As someone who struggled with stuttering for the first 20 years of my life, I often talked to myself. Since I rarely expressed how I felt inside my heart, talking to myself was more like a pep talk with the hope when I open ed my mouth in public I would communicate exactly what I wanted to say. Unfortunately, my nerves and or stuttering always prevented me from expressing a clear and concise message.

And the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham [My friend and servant] what I am going to do, 18 Since Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed through him and shall bless themselves by him? – Genesis 18:17-18.

I’ve read the Book of Genesis multiple times, but I never realized that God actually talked out loud to Himself according to Moses. Perhaps, this is what the Holy Spirit wanted Moses to mention in the passage above. Whatever the reason for this rare moment, God didn’t want to leave Abraham in the dark about his plan to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, where his nephew was currently living.

For I have known (chosen, acknowledged) him [as My own], so that he may teach and command his children and the sons of his house after him to keep the way of the Lord and to do what is just and righteous, so that the Lord may bring Abraham what He has promised him. 20 And the Lord said, Because the shriek [of the sins] of Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is exceedingly grievous, Genesis 18:19-20.

The Holy Spirit was sent following Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Acts 2, to speak to modern day Christians. According to the apostle Paul, if you’re paying attention spiritually, Galatians 5:25, you can actually keep in step with the Holy Spirit. Paul’s message to the Church in Rome is similar, Romans 8:1-12, suggesting Christian’s have an obligation to God’s Spirit. While you probably won’t ever hear God talk out loud to Himself, God’s still small voice is audible if you’re listening, 1 Kings 19:11-13.

by Jay Mankus

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Vanished

If you have ever lost something valuable in life, certain things seem to vanish. When I was a child, I asked my parents if I could hold the money for a local ice-cream shop at the beach. On the final night of our vacation, I was given the cash for everyone’s ice-cream. I remember grasping it tight, walking with my hands in my pocket. Yet, when I went to pull the money out of my pocket, it was gone. Despite desperately retracing my steps, the money vanished from sight, blown by the wind into the night.

And Enoch walked [in habitual fellowship] with God; and he was not, for God took him [home with Him], Genesis 5:24.

One New Testament author speaks of Enoch, living seven generations from Adam, Jude 1:14. The author of Hebrews includes this same individual in the Hall of Faith, Hebrews 11:5-6. According to Moses, one day when Enoch was 365 days old, about 36.5 years old if you consider the Open Canopy Theory which slowed down the aging process from the sun, this man vanished from the face of the earth. There were no milk cartons back then, but if there were his picture would have been on the back of one.

And when they had gone over, Elijah said to Elisha, Ask what I shall do for you before I am taken from you. And Elisha said, I pray you, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me. 10 He said, You have asked a hard thing. However, if you see me when I am taken from you, it shall be so for you—but if not, it shall not be so. 11 As they still went on and talked, behold, a chariot of fire and horses of fire parted the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. 12 And Elisha saw it and he cried, My father, my father! The chariot of Israel and its horsemen! And he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces, 2 Kings 2:9-12.

Jeremiah is much more descriptive when a similar event occurs several hundreds of years later. After Elijah had finished grooming his apprentice Elisha, Jeremiah writes about an event out of a science fiction film. According to Jeremiah, a chariot of fire and horses appeared in the sky. This wasn’t Santa Claus on Christmas Eve, but a spiritual prophet escorted by the Lord into heaven. Enoch and Elijah are the only two individuals who simply vanished from earth, never to experience death. May these two accounts make you a believer in an Almighty God this Christmas season, Romans 10:9-11.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 317: Hope Has a Name

I first heard today’s song while driving home from work. I wasn’t able to catch the name or who this was by, but I couldn’t wait to get home to see if I could find Hope Has a Name on You Tube. Depending upon the musician, everyone has their own opinion of how a certain song should be done. Some focus on the melody, others on keys and notes and song writers add their own two cents on how a song can be enhanced. Yet, when you sing about hope, Jesus is His name.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure, Romans 8:24-25.

The passage above comes from one of the most famous chapters in the Bible. The apostle Paul begins Romans 8 by comparing and contrasting the sinful nature with the Holy Spirit. The middle focuses on hope and the source of salvation. Yet, the ending is the most powerful as Paul declares that nothing can separate us from the love of God. As you listen to River Valley Worship’s version of Hope Has a Name, may you be touched as I was the first time, I heard this worship song.

by Jay Mankus

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

S.A.N.S. Episode 226: Glimmer of Hope

I’m usually not a fan of thrash metal, but Glimmer of Hope by Ordained Fate brings up a topic that people even today have the guts to address. This mainly female band from Zion, IL use a series of sound bites from horror and western movies to ask the question, “who is to blame for all the violence in the world?” Is is television, social media or video games which make billions annually selling violence?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit, Romans 15:13.

The Glimmer of Hope lyrics by Ordained Fate’s song is in a God who has a history of performing miracles. Parting the Red Sea to deliver the Israelites out of the hands of Egypt. Jesus rising from the dead three days after being crucified on a cross. While the media tries to hide it, miracles continue today without much fanfare. Noththeless, Jesus provides hope for those who lean on the Lord, Philippians 4:13.

by Jay Mankus

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

S.A.N.S. Episode 202: Don’t You Run

Today’s featured song comes from a band that formed after Jonathan Paganno’s current group was disintegrating. Drummer in Adam Gibson was his girlfriend’s brother and Jon Spinolla stood out in an audition to complete Novella. In 1991 this Jersey band released their debut album One Big Sky, but it was their second one entitled A Liquid Earth which put Novella in the national spotlight.

You were running the race nobly. Who has interfered in (hindered and stopped you from) your heeding and following the Truth? This [evil] persuasion is not from Him Who called you [Who invited you to freedom in Christ], Galatians 3:7-8.

One of the hit songs from Novella which means story in Latin was Don’t You Run. The lyrics remind me of a similar message that the apostle Paul shared with the Church at Galatia. As a Jewish sect known as the Judaizes stunted the spiritual growth of many believers, God doesn’t want us to run away from conflict. Rather, as Christian’s experience trials, these events refine and test our faith to mature over time. I hope you enjoy Novella’s classic 1990’s rock and roll sound.

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

S.A.N.S. Episode 167: Isn’t It Amazing

Today’s song comes from one of the godfathers of Christian music. Mark Farner was spreading the gospel through a combination of rock and roll and soft rock in the 1970’s. My spiritual mentor Ken Horne introduced me to Isn’t It Amazing in high school. While I wasn’t sure of Christian music, the lyrics of Isn’t It Amazing gave me hope that prayer could change my life by healing a severe stuttering problem.

For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it], Mark 11:24.

When it comes the prayer, what’s the worst thing that could happen beside praying for patience. As a stuttering fool afraid of embarrassing myself in public, I had nothing to lose. Ten years after I began asking Jesus for complete healing of my speech, my miraculous request was answered. Subsequently, Mark Farner isn’t the only one who can sing “Isn’t It Amazing what a prayer can do.”

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 147: Let You Down

Today’s featured song was introduced me by my son Daniel. Let You Down is by rapper and composer Nate Feuerstein who goes by the stage name NF. One of the things that has drawn my son to become a fan of NF is Nate’s raw emotion and honesty that he shares in each song. When I think of today’s title, humans beings can relate to either being let down or letting down other people you care about.

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.

Let You Down begins with a child’s voice filled with sorrow, singing about letting down his father. From a spiritual point of view, every day Christians let down their heavenly father through poor choices or a lack of action. When you become broken, the weeping prophet shares a glimmer of hope in the passage above. May you overcome past mistakes by dwelling on the future life and plan God has for you.

by Jay Mankus

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