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S.A.N.S. Episode 115: Rescue

Since my two boys have attended Liberty University, there are exposed to a variety of Christian artists who are featured at weekly convocations and concerts. Today’s featured song was introduced to me by my son Daniel. Although Lauren Daigle’s mellow worship music isn’t his typical style, Rescue is one of the many songs Daniel downloaded onto his phone that he has shared with me.

So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [[j]fervently]. 21 And the son said to him, Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son [I no longer deserve to be recognized as a son of yours]! 22 But the father said to his bond servants, Bring quickly the best robe (the festive robe of honor) and put it on him; and give him a ring for his hand and sandals for his feet. 23 And bring out [k]that [wheat-]fattened calf and kill it; and let us [l]revel and feast and be happy and make merry, 24 Because this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found! And they began to [m]revel and feast and make merry, Luke 15:20-24.

From a spiritual point of view, the portion of the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the passage above is the type of rescue Daigle sings about. While human nature influences many people to try to save themselves, the apostle Paul gives readers of the Bible the bad news in Romans 3:9-12. May the words of Daigle’s Rescue uplift your spirit and remind you of the God of second chances.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 112: I Can’t Quit

Today’s featured song comes from a group that I discovered on You Tube. While listening to a mix of Christian dance songs from various artists, Capital Kings kicked off this collection. I debated between “the Paradigm” and “I Can’t Quit.” While both songs have an exceptional beat and sound, I Can’t Quit contains more inspirational lyrics that most people can relate to in a world filled with defeat.

For he who sows to his own flesh (lower nature, sensuality) will from the flesh reap decay and ruin and destruction, but he who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint, Galatians 6:8-9.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul addresses this topic. Human nature has a way of weakening downtrodden souls to lose heart. When you heart isn’t into what you are doing, minds tune out which results in the act of quitting. Whatever circumstance or situation that you are currently facing, remember the Capital Kings song I Can’t Quit so that faith prevails as you learn to press on day after day.

by Jay Mankus

The Baptism That Almost Never Happened

To an average person, the mind of God is hard to fathom. Yet even one of Jesus’ disciples; one of three members of his inner circle tried to cancel Jesus’ plan to save the world from sin, Matthew 16:20-23. Three years earlier, the spiritual leader known as John the Baptist attempted to pull off a similar stunt. In the passage below, John tries to talk Jesus out of being baptized by him. John felt unworthy to perform Jesus’ baptism.

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him. 14 But John [f]protested strenuously, having in mind to prevent Him, saying, It is I who have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me? – Matthew 3:13-14

Human beings have a hard time seeing the finger of God moving, touching, and working behind the scenes. Perhaps half the problem is that human nature makes most people focus on the here and now so that God’s greater good is never seen. Transition is one of those unpleasant experiences that seems unnecessary at the time it occurs, but it opens the door for future events to occur in your life. This is something that John and Peter both failed to recognize.

But Jesus replied to him, [g]Permit it just now; for this is the fitting way for [both of] us to fulfill all righteousness [that is, to [h]perform completely whatever is right]. Then he permitted Him. 16 And when Jesus was baptized, He went up at once out of the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he [John] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on Him, Matthew 3:15-16.

Despite being a discerning prophet, John needed to be persuaded to baptize Jesus. Based upon the discussion in the passage above, John was finally sold on fulfilling all righteousness. Modern day Christians don’t have the luxury of Jesus talking sense into us. Yet we do have an invisible counselor to usher in God’s will for our lives, John 16:13. The next time the Devil, Ephesians 2:2, seeks to block you from doing what God desires, keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:26, so that God’s will prevails.

by Jay Mankus

Embrace Contentment or Revel in Bitterness

I’ve had my most trying week of 2022. While I try not to read too much into daily events, failure and rejection have been a common theme in the past 72 hours. On one side of this internal wresting match, human nature lurks, tempting me to revel in bitterness, gossip and pity. On the other, a still small voice is whispering “embrace contentment.” If you’re wondering, I still haven’t made a decision.

Many plans are in a man’s mind, but it is the Lord’s purpose for him that will stand, Proverbs 19:21.

One of the messages that I keep trying to tell myself comes from King Solomon. “Many are the plans in a man’s mind, but God’s purpose will prevail.” However, when you’re about to move and my request for a lateral hardship transfer to South Carolina has been denied, the uncertainty of my future is eating at me. Perhaps, I’ve been too comfortable in my current position, and this is God’s way of rocking my boat.

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. 11 But put forth Your hand now and touch all that he has, and he will curse You to Your face. 12 And the Lord said to Satan (the adversary and the accuser), Behold, all that he has is in your power, only upon the man himself put not forth your hand. So Satan went forth from the presence of the Lord, Job 1:9-12.

Like the words of Moses’ farewell address to Israel, I can either choose life or death, contentment or bitterness. Although my trial of having two different cars not start for me and break down, this is nothing compared to what one man faced in Job 1-2. Maybe I need to take a deep breath, go to sleep and hope this week was just a bad dream. That didn’t work! The next time you encounter one of those Murphy Law days, weeks, months or year, embrace contentment or revel in bitterness. The choice is yours.

by Jay Mankus

When the Grass Looks Greener… Sin Blinds Believers

When a career, job or occupation doesn’t turn out how you expected or wanted, human nature has a tendency to reminisce. This trip down Memory Lane might cause you to second guess previous decisions in your past. When your present circumstances seem dire or overwhelming, the grass may appear greener on the other side of the fence. Yet, what’s actually happening is sin is blinding believers with past temporary pleasures that blur their reality of the future.

After this he loved a woman in the Valley of Sorek whose name was Delilah. And the lords of the Philistines came to her and said to her, Entice him and see in what his great strength lies, and by what means we may overpower him that we may bind him to subdue him. And we will each give you 1,100 pieces of silver. And Delilah said to Samson, Tell me, I pray you, wherein your great strength lies, and with what you might be bound to subdue you, Judges 16:4-6.

When parents attempt to set up a date for their daughter or son, this usually doesn’t end up going well. Anytime a teenager is told not to do something by an adult, they want to do the complete opposite. This is probably what happened to Samson when his parent sought to find him a good Jewish girl to marry. Since Delilah was pleasing to his eyes, the grass seemed much greener on the Philistine side on the fence.

But every person is tempted when he is drawn away, enticed and baited by his own evil desire (lust, passions). 15 Then the evil desire, when it has conceived, gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is fully matured, brings forth death, James 1:14-15.

Marrying a harlot wasn’t the best idea for an Israeli leader. Yet, like the passage above, Samson was drawn away and enticed with looks that could kill. Samson developed a blind spot as he was smitten by love. Despite the attempts made on his life by Delilah’s people, sin clouded Samson’s judgment as he continued to stay with a spy for the Philistines. The next time you think the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, remember what happened to Samson so that sin stops blinding you from the truth.

by Jay Mankus

Whether You Like It or Not

Over the course of my life, I worked a couple of jobs where the turnover rate was extremely high. Some people would last a month, others a week or so and the unhappy might walk out after a couple of hours. According to one of the disciples, suffering is what you should expect as follower of Jesus, Luke 10:1-11. Therefore, whether you like it or not, suffering is part of a typical Christian life.

For one is regarded favorably (is approved, acceptable, and thankworthy) if, as in the sight of God, he endures the pain of unjust suffering. 20 [After all] what [f]kind of glory [is there in it] if, when you do wrong and are punished for it, you take it patiently? But if you bear patiently with suffering [which results] when you do right and that is undeserved, it is acceptable and pleasing to God, 1 Peter 2:19-20.

According to one of Jesus’ disciples, the pain of unjust suffering is part of the faith journey. Perhaps, Peter is referencing the private conversation with disciples in John 15:18 where Jesus reveals the source of this suffering. Nobody enjoys being hated as human nature places a desire inside of individuals to be liked. In the passage above, Peter alludes to suffering as a badge of honor as long as you do what is right.

Withstand him; be firm in faith [against his onset—rooted, established, strong, immovable, and determined], knowing that the same ([g]identical) sufferings are appointed to your brotherhood (the whole body of Christians) throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you, 1 Peter 5:9-10.

At the end of his letter to first century Christians, Peter brings back the topic of suffering. As if to suggest, “whether you like it or not,” suffering is part of the body of Christ. Prior to saying the world hated Him first, Jesus reminds the disciples of their call to love one another. Whenever anyone repays evil with good, it’s shocking. When a Christian embraces suffering for their faith, they will be able to fulfill the words of Solomon in Proverbs 25:21-22. This is your calling whether you like it or not.

by Jay Mankus

When You’re Painting Light Illuminates Imperfections

I spent last week trying to renovate a new house in South Carolina. The longer I participate in this process, the more helpless I feel as building and construction is not one of my gifts. Rather than get in the way, I turned to painting and sanding. After putting on a coat of primer, I thought we were ready to paint the ceiling. However, when I inspected each section a little close with light, I was disappointed by all the areas that I missed. When you’re painting, light illuminates imperfections.

For God Who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts so as [to beam forth] the Light for the illumination of the knowledge of the majesty and glory of God [as it is manifest in the Person and is revealed] in the face of Jesus Christ (the Messiah). However, we possess this precious treasure [the divine Light of the Gospel] in [frail, human] vessels of earth, that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power may be shown to be from God and not from ourselves, 2 Corinthians 4:6-7.

Light appears 272 times in the King James Bible. Light is used as spiritual imagery to illuminate everything that is good and true. Meanwhile, darkness is the opposite of God. Human nature tends to lower one’s standards, using justification and realization to participate in deeds of darkness. Until I started to read and study the Bible, I didn’t know right from wrong accept from what my parents taught me. Yet, like the apostle Paul’s confession in 1 Timothy 1:15, the closer you draw near to God, the more your sins are brought to the surface.

For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light]. For the fruit (the effect, the product) of the Light or [c]the Spirit [consists] in every form of kindly goodness, uprightness of heart, and trueness of life, Ephesians 5:8-9.

In the passages above, the apostle Paul calls Christians to leave the darkness of their past by entering the light of the Lord. Yet, change requires a catalyst, something to trigger a dead spirit so it can be brought back to life. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, it was a Jewish man longing to eat the sloop given to pigs that altered his perspective. Any time human beings hit rock bottom, common sense is illuminated. Despite how frustrating it is to recognize any imperfection in your life, the light of God’s Word helps believers see what issues they need to addressed before maturity can be achieved, James 1:2-4.

by Jay Mankus

Before My Sufferings Begin

Famous writers use foreshadowing as a way to misdirect readers, confuse anyone who has prematurely judged a character or as a way to leave behind a series of clues. In Hansel and Gretel, the Grimm Brothers use a trail of bread crumbs. However, throughout the four Gospels, Jesus drops subtle hints. Unfortunately, the disciples developed an ungodly belief, thinking that Jesus would become the earthly King of the Jews. Subsequently, no one knew what Jesus meant by “before I suffer.”

And they went and found it [just] as He had said to them; and they made ready the Passover [supper]. 14 And when the hour came, [Jesus] reclined at table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, I have earnestly and intensely desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; Luke 22:13-15.

Human nature has a tendency to compare your own life to someone else. Hollywood has a series of scenes where two characters compare their scars starting with subtle ones before escalating to the most severe. Yet, suffering is often in the eye of the beholder. If you’ve lived a sheltered life without many trials or tribulations, it’s hard to comprehend the life of an orphan. In the case of Jesus, he waited 33 years before laying down his life. Yet, his disciples didn’t understand what was about to happen.

And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted.Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me; 2 Corinthians 12:6-7.

At the conclusion of a letter to the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul pours out his heart about his own suffering. Whether this suffering was physical, spiritual or a combination of the two, Paul reached a point in his life where he began to accept this condition. As religious leaders attempted to kill and stone Paul on numerous occasions, he began to see a silver lining. Whether you’re in the beginning, middle or end of suffering, this experience has been allowed to occur so that in your weakness, placing your entire trust in Jesus will make you stronger than ever before.

by Jay Mankus

For Every Wrong Turn… God’s Spirit Will Guide You Back Home

A first century doctor devotes an entire chapter of the Bible to illustrating the lengths to which God will go to search for lost and wayward souls. Luke 15 is broken down into 3 stories about a lost sheep, lost coin and prodigal son. For every wrong turn you may take in life, there is a Shepherd and Father who is waiting for you to make a U-turn back toward the Lord. Unfortunately, when most people get lost, pride or a stubborn heart keeps you from asking for directions to get back on the right track.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105.

Most prodigal stories resemble the 40 year journey of Israel from the Exodus out of Egypt to the promised land. Perhaps human nature is to blame as I’ve done my own wandering away from the Lord. One of my college friends once told me, “stop using Jesus as a crutch.” When times were good, I had a tendency to go off on my own, leaving the Lord behind as my Bible collected dust. Yet, when I broke my ankle playing sand volleyball just before my final year of college, this was a sign to come back to Jesus.

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.

Unfortunately, most of the time things aren’t so obvious. This is where the Holy Spirit can intervene, to guide you back home. However, the context of the passage above includes an internal tug of war. Human nature feeds on cravings, desires and impulses that can ravage souls if not contained, Galatians 5:16-18. The apostle Paul provides crucial advice in 1 Corinthians 10:13. The next time you make a wrong turn by ending up in a tempting situation, look for the way out as you listen for the Holy Spirit to guide you back home.

by Jay Mankus

The Guarantee of a Better Agreement

An agreement refers to harmony in accordance with an opinion or feeling. This occurs when two parties reach a position where a joint settlement is finalized. Prior to any agreement being made, there are often sacrifices made on either side. Unfortunately, human nature causes many individuals to fall short of the oath, promise or vow made. Whenever your heart is broken in this life, entering into any future agreement may be difficult, struggling with the concept of trusting someone.

In keeping with [the oath’s greater strength and force], Jesus has become the Guarantee of a better (stronger) agreement [a more excellent and more advantageous covenant]. 23 [Again, the former successive line of priests] was made up of many, because they were each prevented by death from continuing [perpetually in office]; 24 But He holds His priesthood unchangeably, because He lives on forever, Hebrews 7:22-24.

The author of one New Testament book refers to an eternal guarantee. Instead of relying on an Old Testament priest, the Bible introduces a stronger agreement. Rather than heading off to the temple to confess your sins so that a priest can offer a sacrifice up to God on your behalf, Jesus had a better plan. Fulfilling the prophecy in Genesis 3:15, Jesus became a perfect lamb to die once and for all sins past, present and future. Rising from the dead following his crucifixion assured the guarantee of a better agreement.

Because if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart a person believes (adheres to, trusts in, and relies on Christ) and so is justified (declared righteous, acceptable to God), and with the mouth he confesses (declares openly and speaks out freely his faith) and confirms [his] salvation. 11 The Scripture says, No man who believes in Him [who adheres to, relies on, and trusts in Him] will [ever] be put to shame or be disappointed, Romans 10:9-11.

Typically, agreements are finalized with a hand shake, kiss or a financial commitment. Yet, the apostle Paul explains in the passage above how to enter into this spiritual agreement. This begins with the acknowledgement of your inability to religiously follow the Ten Commandments. Upon this confession, you are verbalizing your need for a personal Lord and Savior. Finally, as an act to seal and secure this guarantee, you must place your entire confidence and trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6. This is the guarantee of a better agreement.

by Jay Mankus

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