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The Third Child is a Charm

The origin of the expression the“ third times a charm ” dates back to the 17th century in Great Britain. Likely based upon their spiritual heritage and knowledge of the Bible, the English believed the number “3” was lucky, bestowing fortune on a person when they encountered it in their life. This couldn’t be more evident when you consider the third boy mentioned in the Bible. While Jude mentions that Enoch was seven generations from Adam, the rest of Adam’s descendants are skipped by Moses, Jude 1:14.

And Adam knew Eve as his wife, and she became pregnant and bore Cain; and she said, I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord. And [next] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground, Genesis 4:1-2.

The first child born to Adam and Eve was Cain which means “I have gotten and gained a man with the help of the Lord.” This help was followed by Abel who went on to become a successful shepherd before his life was cut short, murdered by Cain. Despite receiving harsh punishment from the Lord, Moses does mention his family lineage beginning in Genesis 4:17. Cain was allowed to have a wife who gave birth to Enoch. While Jared was the father of the second Enoch, but Cain was so proud of his son that he built a city and named it after Enoch. Perhaps Jared named his son after the first Enoch.

 [Prompted, actuated] by faith Abel brought God a better and more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, because of which it was testified of him that he was righteous [that he was upright and in right standing with God], and God bore witness by accepting and acknowledging his gifts. And though he died, yet [through the incident] he is still speaking. Because of faith Enoch was caught up and transferred to heaven, so that he did not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found, because God had translated him. For even before he was taken to heaven, he received testimony [still on record] that he had pleased and been satisfactory to God, Hebrews 11:4-5.

One of the first three boys mentioned in the Bible end up in the Hall of Faith. While Hebrews 11:1 and 11:6 receive most of the headlines in sermons, the passage above highlights the faithful nature within Abel and Jared’s Enoch. As a parent who understands the power of prayer, I’m sure Cain’s daily prayer for Enoch and his other children was to avoid the same errors, mistakes, and sins he committed. Rather than write a book like Proverbs, Cain invested his remaining days on earth to become a godly father. May the story of Cain and Enoch inspire you to not give up on your own children, intervening daily like the persistent widow in Luke 18.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 294: Thank God

Prior to the Carolina Panthers Atlanta Falcons Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime, I had never heard of Kane Brown. During a promo for the featured artist following the game, Two Chains spoke with Brown to share what to expect to hear during Amazon’s Thursday Night Concert series. Kane briefly shared one song entitled Thank God. Before the game ended, I went to You Tube to check out this country music’s new song.

The Lord is my Strength and my [impenetrable] Shield; my heart trusts in, relies on, and confidently leans on Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song will I praise Him, Psalm 28:7.

While the lyrics of Thank God speak about the physical aspects of love, Kane does go into his relationship with God. It’s a shame that more secular artists don’t openly speak about their faith in Jesus. Nonetheless, I’m thankful I was watching tonight’s TNF’s game so I could be introduced to Kane Brown and his music. May the lyrics of Thank God inspire you to be more thankful about life as Thanksgiving approaches.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 290: Household of Faith

Sometimes you hear a song on the radio, but the DJ fails to tell you after the song is over who this was by. I first heard this song months ago but didn’t catch the artist’s name. While I assumed the title was Household of Faith, something distracted me on my way home from work. Subsequently, my short-term memory erased the lyrics from my mind. After a recent You Tube search, this song was on the top of my computer screen as I discover Household of Faith is by Winner and Shen.

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.

As someone who was witnessed multiple friends and neighbors have their marriages end in divorce, the lyrics of Household of Faith serve as a prayer to keep faith at the center of your marriage. Unfortunately, when couples lose the will to love one another, it’s like Eve in the Garden of Eden staring at the forbidden fruit hanging from the Tree of Knowledge. May today’s song inspire you to hold fast to faith whenever a spiritual storm approaches.

by Jay Mankus

Cut It Out… Or Be Cut Off

There were two common expressions the parents of teenagers in my neighbors used while trying to discipline unruly kids. The first was “knock it off,” but my dad often said, “cut it out.” When your father is a former defensive end and tight end in college, you do exactly what he says. One Old Testament prophet and Jesus make similar points in the passages below:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness. None sues or calls in righteousness [but for the sake of doing injury to others—to take some undue advantage]; no one goes to law honestly and pleads [his case] in truth; they trust in emptiness, worthlessness and futility, and speaking lies! They conceive mischief and bring forth evil! – Isaiah 59:1-4

I came face to face with this expression during the summer before my senior year of college. While playing sand volleyball with my good friend Eddy, I broke my ankle. Instead of enjoying my final month of summer, I was bed-ridden for two weeks. While lying in bed, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper “cut if out or be cut off”. Like the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:15-16, I had become a lukewarm Christian.

 I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]. Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing, John 15:1-5.

In the days that followed, I had come to a crossroads of faith. This was God’s way of saying, “make Jesus Lord of your life, Romans 10:9-11, or live for yourself.” At college I was a strong Christian, but at home in Cleveland I was chasing after earthly pleasures. August of 1991 altered my prodigal journey as I came to my spiritual senses to return home for good by beginning to cut out my former way of life, Colossians 3:5-9. May my personal journey inspire you to go all in by making Jesus Lord and Savior.

by Jay Mankus

The First Resurrection

My first seminary class was Systematic Theology II. At the time, I was working two jobs and taking one class each semester. This first class was so mentally exhausting, I realized that I needed to give my mind a break, listening to something interesting. One of my bosses let me listen to Leonard Ravenhill who was a famous speaker on Prayer and Revival. Ravenhill introduced me to the term the first resurrection.

The remainder of the dead were not restored to life again until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection, Revelation 20:5.

Unfortunately, it’s been 25 years since I last listened to Ravenhill’s teachings. Since this time, Leonard has passed away and I don’t recall much so it’s time to revisit the first resurrection. Initially, I was baffled as n my mind I kept thinking about Jesus’ resurrection, Matthew 28:1-6. The words John uses to describe the first resurrection is protos anastasis in Greek. John refers to standing up again to live.

Blessed (happy, [a]to be envied) and holy (spiritually whole, of unimpaired innocence and proved virtue) is the person who takes part (shares) in the first resurrection! Over them the second death exerts no power or authority, but they shall be ministers of God and of Christ (the Messiah), and they shall rule along with Him a thousand years, Revelation 20:6.

The thousand years only makes this matter more confusing. However, when you consider the words of 2 Peter 3:8, one thousand years is like one day with the Lord. Therefore, the point John is attempting to make is similar to Jesus’ message to Nicodemus in John 3:1-5. The first resurrection is to be reborn by getting up to live again. May today’s blog inspire you to become a new creation in Christ Jesus like Mac Powell’s newest song.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 256: Where I Wanna Be

As the sun rises on a new day, there are two questions that Christians should consider prior to leaving for the day. The first is where does God want me to go beside school or work? The second is like it: what opportunities will God give me to be at the perfect time and in the perfect place? The group Vienna sings about this in their song Where I Wanna Be.

And in the morning, long before daylight, He got up and went out to a [u]deserted place, and there He prayed. 36 And Simon [Peter] and those who were with him followed Him [[v]pursuing Him eagerly and hunting Him out], 37 And they found Him and said to Him, Everybody is looking for You. 38 And He said to them, Let us be going on into the neighboring country towns, that I may preach there also; for that is why I came out, Mark 1:35-38.

Jesus didn’t leave this up to chance in the passage above. Rather Jesus goes for a walk early in the morning, finds a quiet place to focus and calls out to his heavenly Father to provide insight on what to do today. While Jesus’ disciples each had their own ideas and plans on what to do, Jesus knew the exact place to go, ministering to others along the way. May the song Where I Wanna Be inspire you to attempt to follow in Jesus’ footsteps.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 233: I Refuse

When I think of El Dorado, I’m expecting some sort of Western movie or town. Yet, today’s musician is from El Dorado, Arkansas. Josh Wilson’s song I Refuse addresses individuals who try to live their lives with blinders on. While trying to drown out all the noise in life is helpful, Josh refuses to ignore situations and people who need God in their lives.

So any person who knows what is right to do but does not do it, to him it is sin, James 4:17.

Jesus’ earthly brother addresses this topic in the passage above. James is referring to sins of omission. Based upon what James learned from his older brother, sins of action or just as bad as sins of inaction. Therefore, as Josh sings about in I Refuse, knowing what’s right and failing to act is equal to a sin of commission. May the words of I Refuse inspire you to act today when you see an opportunity.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 166: Love Your Never Dies

Today’s song is great to fall asleep to when you can’t sleep. This isn’t because Your Love Never Dies is boring. Rather, it’s about a child who was mentored by his father who has since passed away. Despite this absence and void in a young man’s life, what Vincent learned has remained deep inside of his heart. This testimony comes in the form of a soothing ballad that was popular in the 1990’s.

Whoever says he abides in Him ought [as [d]a personal debt] to walk and conduct himself in the same way in which He walked and conducted Himself. Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment which you have had from the beginning; the old commandment is the message which you have heard [the [e]doctrine of salvation through Christ], 1 John 2:6-7.

Love is one of those qualities that you can’t fake. You may try to live a Christian life without love, but you’ll be setting a bad example. In the passage above, one of Jesus’ disciples is blunt about how to distinguish real love from phony Christians. How you conduct yourself and walk illustrates your love for God or lack their of. May Vincent’s Love Never Dies inspire you to emulate the love of Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 143: Go Through Fire

Today’s featured song comes from a multi-talented individual who is a Christian artist, musician, songwriter, record producer, and speaker. Rob Frazier’s father W. Burwell founded the Warrington Fellowship Church in Bucks County Pennsylvania. Since I grew up about 30 minutes from this church, it’s no wonder that Rob Frazier’s albums were easily accessible at nearby Christian bookstores in Delaware.

[You should] be exceedingly glad on this account, though now for a little while you may be distressed by trials and suffer temptations, 1 Peter 1:6.

Frazier’s song Go Through Fire appears to be inspired by the passage above. Peter writes about the refining process brought on by the trials that all human beings are forced to endure. However, if you want to grow and mature spiritually, you must go through these unexpected fires that arise weekly and monthly. May this classic ballad touch your heart and inspire you to draw closer to Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 55: What Would Jesus Do?

Today’s song comes from the Cyndi Lauper of Christian music. Similar to Cyndi’s hit song Girls Just Want To Have Fun, Julie Miller has a joy for life that she places into each song. A former Rolling Stones article revealed Julie’s battle with fibromyalgia, a disorder that causes chronic pain in the muscles and bones as well as fatigue and mood issues. This is the context that sets the tone for What Would Jesus Do?

Therefore be imitators of God [copy Him and follow His example], as well-beloved children [imitate their father]. And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a [a]slain offering and sacrifice to God [for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance, Ephesians 5:1-2.

Julie uses the opening of the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15 to ask the question: what would Jesus do? While Julie has a distinct voice that you won’t find in many grown-ups, the lyrics of What Would Jesus Do stirs my heart and brings a tear to my eyes each time I listen. Julie sings about the need for Christians to exercise a labor of love. May this song inspire you to be the hands and feet of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

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