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The Hope of a New Day

Ten years ago, I was on my way to a family re-union in California. This trip served as a pain killer to avoid the reality of being unemployed. While sitting in an airplane on a cross country flight, I listened to the song Up and Up by Reliant K. The lyrics of this song examines life as a way to become a better version of yourself. Part of the chorus uses the hope of a new day as a source for motivation.

Never lag in zeal and in earnest endeavor; be aglow and burning with the Spirit, serving the Lord. 12 Rejoice and exult in hope; be steadfast and patient in suffering and tribulation; be constant in prayer, Romans 12:11-12.

One of the greatest promises in the Bible is made by a weeping prophet. Jeremiah had a tendency to be a bearer of bad news as Israel was going through a period of rebellion and stubbornness. Lamentations 3:21 serves as a transition, “But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation.” This hope of a new day is due to the Lord’s compassion, mercy and loving-kindness.

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 apostle Paul provides advice for anyone who is on the verge of losing hope. Those who never lag in zeal, burn with the Holy Spirit in your heart, and are aglow with God’s resurrecting power will find hope. Paul uses the imagery of a natural spring, bubbling out of the earth, overflowing so that the thirsty can fill their empty jugs with water. May the song Up and Up help you celebrate the hope of a new day.

by Jay Mankus

Supreme Insight

The United States Supreme Court was established on September 17, 1789. The concept of a Supreme Court dates back to the Old Testament. Prior to a visit from Jethro, Moses worked sunup to sundown serving as the only judge in all of Israel. Thanks to the wisdom of his father-in-law, Moses delegated all minor cases to other judges. Meanwhile, all of the major disputes came to the top court in Israel.

When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, What is this that you do for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening? 15 Moses said to his father-in-law, Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16 When they have a dispute they come to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make them know the statutes of God and His laws. 17 Moses’ father-in-law said to him, The thing that you are doing is not good, Exodus 18:14-17.

Last week the Supreme Court made national news on their ruling on an oppressive gun law in the State of New York and the reversal of Roe verses Wade. These two rulings overshadowed the January 6th Committee hearings which claim that former President Donald Trump was responsible for inciting an insurrection. Yet, if you have listened to the responses of democrats, liberals and progressive politicians, the words that have been spoken in response to Roe verse Wade are inciting another insurrection.

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the [consistently] righteous man [upright and in right standing with God] runs into it and is safe, high [above evil] and strong, Proverbs 18:10.

When my family moved to Delaware in the Summer of 1976, this new neighborhood was extremely competitive. When someone wasn’t allowed to bend or change the rules, every so often one of the kids took their basketball, baseball, or football and went home. You don’t have to be a lawyer to possess supreme insight. Rather, when adversity enters your life, who do you turn to or run towards? Immature politicians run toward a camera to complain. Mature Christians run toward God’s safe and strong tower.

by Jay Mankus

Living an Undaunted Life

Living an undaunted life is not being intimidated or discouraged by difficulty, danger, or disappointment. Saying you will do this and actually rising above the hand you are dealt in life are two different things. While God called one man to be his voice for the nation of Israel, Moses began to dwell upon his speech impediment. Frustrated by Moses’ response, God gives him a pep talk to fulfill God’s will for his life.

And Moses said to the Lord, O Lord, I am not eloquent or a man of words, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and have a heavy and awkward tongue. 11 And the Lord said to him, Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the dumb, or the deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? Is it not I, the Lord? – Exodus 4:10-11

As someone who was born with a severe stuttering problem, thinking about what you want to say and actually saying it clearly is like asking for a miracle. Based upon the passage above, Moses struggled to imagine a life without stammering and stuttering. This mental block took time to overcome as Aaron was initially given to Moses as a security blanket. Subsequently, living an undaunted life had to wait.

Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you shall say, Exodus 4:12.

Despite this transition, Moses gradually develops the courage to confront Egypt’s King face to face. While Pharaoh tried to duplicate the initial plagues with magicians, God hardened his heart over and over again. Hebrews 11:24-29 highlights Moses’ maturity from daunted to undaunted. If God can use a stutterer to lead Israel to the Promised Land, there is hope for you and me to transform from fearful to undaunted.

by Jay Mankus

Imposters of Faith

An imposter is a person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others. Imposters may not start off with impure motives. Fear of what others may think initially often results in a chameleon effect, blending into environments so you’re not rejected by your peers. When an individual successfully deceives and tricks someone for the first time, an imposter is conceived. Imposters of faith come into play by preying on gullible Christian churches, going on a power trip when challenged or questioned.

For many imposters (seducers, deceivers, and false leaders) have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge (confess, admit) the coming of Jesus Christ (the Messiah) in bodily form. Such a one is the imposter (the seducer, the deceiver, the false leader, the antagonist of Christ) and the antichrist, 2 John 1:7.

One of my favorite books is the Handbook for Spiritual Warfare by Dr. Ed Murphy. The most powerful aspect of this book is a series of case studies, testimonies of how people ended up addicted, beaten or ravaged by poor choices they made in life. If I recall correctly, one of these is from an elder of a megachurch who tried to inform the leadership of a specific sin. After following the Matthew 18 principle, no one believed him as an imposter of faith had won the power struggle within this church.

Indeed all who delight in piety and are determined to live a devoted and godly life in Christ Jesus will meet with persecution [will be made to suffer because of their religious stand]. 13 But wicked men and imposters will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and leading astray others and being deceived and led astray themselves, 2 Timothy 3:12-13.

During the Summer of 2020, the BLM movement attached itself to inner circle churches across the country. While Paul calls Christians to be color blind in Colossians 3:11, the Old Testament warned Israel about adding and subtracting from the Bible, Deuteronomy 4:2. Due to political pressure, some churches across the country have drifted from the Bible to embrace progressive policies. If money is involved, imposters of faith blend faith into our culture and society to avoid scrutiny. If you find yourself struggling with this syncretism, study Jesus words in Matthew 24 so that your love for God won’t grow cold.

by Jay Mankus

A Spiritual Injunction

An injunction is a judicial order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another. The purpose of an injunction is to compel a person to carry out a certain act or to make restitution to an injured party. Meanwhile, one of Jesus’ disciples uses injunction in the context of a direct command from God. This spiritual injunction serves as a reminder of how God wants Christians to act, behave and live.

And this command (charge, order, injunction) we have from Him: that he who loves God shall love his brother [[j]believer] also, 1 John 4:21.

In the days following Pentecost in Acts 2, the Holy Spirit began to flow and move through people. The apostle Paul suggests that this spiritual injunction continues today, Galatians 5:25. While spiritual disciplines may be a daily part of your life, sometimes God’s Spirit may urge you to pray for someone. This direct order may include calling a person from your past or reaching out to someone in need. Whatever the injunction, your response should be fueled by love.

All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil, Ecclesiastes 12:13-14.

King Solomon ends one of his Old Testament letters with something to consider. God will bring every act, behavior, careless word and deed into judgement. In view of this future reality, Christians should fear, revere and worship God. During his farewell address to Israel, Moses urged listeners to invest your time on earth on things that bring life, Deuteronomy 30:15-16. This spiritual injunction from the past serves as a focal point to cherish and love your neighbor.

by Jay Mankus

Getting Your Emotions Under Control

One of Israel’s former kings describes time in the context of seasons. Just as Christmas is associated with winter in the northern hemisphere, every month brings with it a series of emotions. In Ecclesiastes 3:4, King Solomon follows sorrow with laughter. Since nobody knows what tomorrow will bring, James 4:13-14, you have to be ready to keep your emotions under control at all times.

Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God, Philippians 4:6.

In a letter to the Church at Philippi, the apostle Paul touches on mental health. Apparently, members of this church with dealing with a growing amount of anxiety. Rather than try to handle this on your own, Paul encourages Christians to actively pray for the circumstances that are bringing you stress. Instead of becoming overwhelmed by emotions, be thankful for any little victory that you experience daily.

And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:7.

When you create a list of things that challenge your mental health, include these petitions as a daily part of your prayer life. Building on the words of Luke 1:37, the apostle Paul suggests that God has the ability to give you the strength to endure any situation that you face, Philippians 4:13. If you search for the peace of Christ, this tranquil state will enable any believer to get and keep your emotions under control.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 58: Changed Forever

For a decade, I drove my children to school every day. When my older son James entered Junior High, I began to try to find Christian music to play on our ride to Red Lion. One of my high school Bible students led me toward Toby Mac. While I was never a fanatical fan of DC Talk, their former lead singer, Toby Mac’s Tonight album came at a perfect time. James connected with several of the songs on this album.

Be strong (confident) and of good courage, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only you be strong and very courageous, that you may do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you. Turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go, Joshua 1:6-7.

Today’s featured song Changed Forever was one of those tunes that was repeated at least once each day. When I drove my golf team to away matches, Toby Mac stayed in my CD player without any objections. The lyrics of Changed Forever reminds me of the words of Joshua as he was preparing Israel to enter into God’s Promised Land. When you make the decision to follow Jesus, the Bible is a valuable resource to make sure you continue to be changed forever.

by Jay Mankus

Multiple and Don’t Dillydally

I was first introduced by the idiom dillydally by one of my Junior High teachers. This woman hated to lose valuable class time, regularly pointing out to her class this wretched behavior. Yet, this term dates back to the Middle Ages. Dilly-dally is a reduplication of dally, referring to loitering or spending time idly. According to the OED, dilly-dally first appeared in literature around 1741.

Build yourselves houses and dwell in them; plant gardens and eat the fruit of them. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not be diminished, Jeremiah 29:5-6.

While Israel was living in exile, forced to reside in Babylon, many longed to be back in their homeland. Based upon the passage above, many Israelites were seen moping around, unable to come to grips with their current dilemma. Like teenagers loitering at a local mall, God sent the prophet Jeremiah to give everyone a pep talk. The best way to summarize this message is “multiple and don’t dillydally.”

Come now, you who say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a city and spend a year there and carry on our business and make money. 14 Yet you do not know [the least thing] about what may happen tomorrow. What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapor (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air], James 4:13-14.

Jesus’ earthly brother proclaimed that life is too short to dwell on the past. Whenever you let depression suck the joy out of life, you’ll never get back the time you’ve lost wishing you were someone else or some other place. The time for moping is over for me. Instead of dillydallying in this or that, seize each day like it’s your last. Dwell where the Lord has planted you, making the most of the hours you have left on earth.

by Jay Mankus

When a Grumpy Old Man Begins to Take Over

Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau starred in the 1993 film Grumpy Old Men. The screenplay was written by Mark Steven Johnson who also wrote the sequel Grumpier Old Men which debuted in theaters two years later. After doing some research, apparently there is such a thing as the Grumpy Old Man Syndrome. According to one source, this condition is a due to a combination of psychological and physiological issues. When the best years of life have passed, men often feel the need to wall themselves off to protect themselves from sadness and despair. Thus, angry outbursts are the direct result of what is going on within a troubled soul.

Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself—it tends only to evildoing. For evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait and hope and look for the Lord [in the end] shall inherit the earth, Psalm 37:8-9.

In the passage above, David writes about his various encounters with grumpy old men while serving as king of Israel. Age has a way of wearing on individuals, causing some to speak their mind without a filter. As anger, bitterness, and frustration build up deep inside of human hearts, evil is waiting for a trigger to be unleashed. Like a cease fire between two border nations, David calls believers to stop anger before you give the devil of foothold, Ephesians 4:26-27. Unfortunately, many ignore the early symptoms of anger until a co-worker, family member or neighbor experiences the wrath of your emotional outburst.

Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [[against God] and questioning and doubting [among yourselves], 15 That you may show yourselves to be blameless and guileless, innocent and uncontaminated, children of God without blemish (faultless, unrebukable) in the midst of a crooked and wicked generation [spiritually perverted and perverse], among whom you are seen as bright lights (stars or beacons shining out clearly) in the [dark] world, Philippians 2:14-15.

In recent weeks, I find another presence at work in my body, Romans 7:15-16. Perhaps, the apostle Paul sensed a grumpy old spirit taking over his life as well. Anyway, this grumpy and negative attitude has overflowed from within me. When a series of rejections put my future writing aspirations on hold, disappointment is oozing out in the form of chippy comments, glaring eyes, and silently grumbling to myself. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, the apostle Paul provides an anecdote in the passage above. The moment a grumpy old man begins to take over, yield control over to Jesus. As you do, the darkness of angry spirits will be replaced by the light of Christ.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming Periods of Darkness While Living in the Wilderness

Following the Exodus out of Egypt, Israel spent 40 years living in the wilderness. This time served as a transitional period before entering God’s promised land. While the Bible refers to a wilderness, in reality the Jews spent their days in the hot desert sun and nights surrounded by snakes and scorpions. Spending a week or weekend in the wilderness camping or hiking can be rejuvenating. However, living off the gird for an extended period of time requires a complete trust in God to provide daily bread.

And I will confirm with them a covenant of peace and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and [My people] shall dwell safely in the wilderness, desert, or pastureland and sleep [confidently] in the woods, Ezekiel 34:25.

Since the Coronavirus pandemic inflicted America in 2020, state mandated quarantines have separated family members, friends and neighbors. While some states have eased these restrictions during the month of May, I still haven’t been able to visit my parents. Due to speculation of a second wave of COVID-19 striking communities who don’t practice social distancing, these past 3 months have created a new type of wilderness, living inside your home most of the time. At some point faith has to trump fear, trusting God that life will soon return to a new but safe normal.

And I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing, and I will cause the showers to come down in their season; there shall be showers of blessing [of good insured by God’s favor], Ezekiel 34:26.

In the sixth century before the birth of Christ, the prophet Ezekiel refers to a covenant of peace. For those of you struggling during this period of darkness and uncertainty, the verses above serve as a glimmer of hope. Ezekiel promises to keep those living in the wilderness safe from evil beasts. Meanwhile, Ezekiel refers to a hill of blessing, showering God’s people with grace and favor. While you may not sense peace at the moment, I pray that this biblical promise encourages you. When the wilderness is replaced by normalcy, perhaps you’ll have a better appreciation for the little things in life that we have all taken for granted.

by Jay Mankus

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