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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

What is Your Record?

When I was in grade school, boys were obsessed with records. Every day at lunch and recess debates broke out about who was the best athlete, rock band, and professional sports team. Lines were drawn, voices were raised and the victor teased anyone who didn’t hold their position. According to one of Jesus’ disciples, God knows your spiritual record based upon what you’ve done in life.

I know your record and what you are doing, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your recent works are more numerous and greater than your first ones, Revelation 2:19.

There was a long stretch in my life where I received a job offer for every position that I interviewed for. Despite stumbling through a couple of interviews when stuttering was still an obstacle in my life, God’s favor was clearly on my life. Unfortunately, sometime over the last decade, my record for interviews has hit a major losing streak. Like one of the churches in the Book of Revelation, my love for God has grown cold and the favor which was once bright as a rising sun has quickly faded.

Love endures long and is patient and kind; love never is envious nor boils over with jealousy, is not boastful or vainglorious, does not display itself haughtily. It is not conceited (arrogant and inflated with pride); it is not rude (unmannerly) and does not act unbecomingly. Love (God’s love in us) does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it takes no account of the evil done to it [it pays no attention to a suffered wrong], 1 Corinthians 13:4-5.

The good news to my current dilemma is that God keeps no record of wrongs. The apostle Paul reveals this fact in a chapter devoted to spiritual love. Meanwhile, King David provides hope for anyone with a losing record in life, Psalm 103:7-12. God’s grace, forgiveness, and mercy is infinite. Therefore, it doesn’t matter if you’ve experienced a life filled with losing. According to Jesus, the only record God cares about is forgiving others just as the Lord has forgiven you, Matthew 6:14-15. When Christians start loving your neighbor as yourself, God’s favor will return.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 137: Somewhere Somehow

Whenever I hear today’s song, I think of my decision to leave youth ministry. After burning myself out in less than a year, the song Somewhere Somehow was released as a duet between Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant. Subsequently, as this song plays I think of all the special friendships and people that I met while serving the Lord in Columbus, Indiana. Just as the lyrics express, I hope for a reunion in the future.

Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east [where they are dispersed] and gather you from the west, Isaiah 43:5.

If this reunion doesn’t occur on earth, there is always heaven to look forward to. Whenever two famous artists unite for a special project or song, I get excited and emotional all at once. Nonetheless, Somewhere Somehow serves as a remainder that God is in control, not you. Therefore, as you listen to the lyrics of this special song, may the Holy Spirit help you believe that anything is possible with God.

by Jay Mankus

Snatching Souls Out of the Fire

A snatch and grab is a new phrase associated with the recent crime wave due to the elimination of cash bail. As more and more district attorneys stop prosecuting shop lifters, criminals are no longer afraid of getting caught. Yet, in the passage below, Jude calls Christians to snatch souls destined for eternal damnation in hell. When you care for and love sinners, there is hope for real change to occur.

[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality. 24 Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—Jude 1:23-24

Whenever I attend a funeral, most of the clergy approach the podium with confidence that the person who has just passed away is now in heaven. In the passage above, Jude refers to individuals who are teetering on the edge. Any soul on the verge of being destined for hell can be snatched out of these eternal flames. However, action must be quick and swift before it’s too late, Hebrews 10:26-27.

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.

Meanwhile, Jesus’ earthly brother writes about the spiritual rewards for those individuals who steer anyone from the error of their ways. In the parable of the Lost Son (prodigal), Jesus highlights God’s love who waits patiently on their front porch for the wayward children to come back home. Therefore, as you wait for Jesus’ second coming, look for ways daily to help Christians make u-turns away from sin and turn back to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

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