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The One Who Keeps You From Stumbling

King David likely wrote the below Psalm as he was reminded of his days serving as a lowly shepherd. David wrote about the rocky terrain which shepherds often faced after more favorable fields of grass were depleted. As a former cross-country runner, I know all about stumbling and twisting my ankles during races on an uneven terrain. Yet, David speaks of a God who can keep you from stumbling.

The God who girds me with strength and makes my way perfect? 33 He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly or make progress on the dangerous heights of testing and trouble]; He sets me securely upon my high places, Psalm 18:32-33.

Despite this perspective, David did stumble and fall, big time, as described by 2 Samuel 11-12. David writes about this painful moment in Psalm 32 and Psalm 51. Idleness led David to not show up for work, going to war with Israel’s army, had an affair and once Bathsheba got pregnant, he tried to cover this up by giving her husband leave to sleep with his wife. When Uriah refused to go into his house, David panicked and sent Uriah out to die in battle.

He will not allow your foot to slip or to be moved; He Who keeps you will not slumber, Psalm 121:3.

While this fall from grace is epic, David learned to see God as the One who keep you from stumbling. Perhaps, David understood what the apostle Paul writes about in 1 Corinthians 10:13, learning to search for the way out of temptation following his rebuke by the prophet Nathan. Then again, it’s possible David is literally focusing on God’s ability to keep his feet from twisting an ankle. Whatever the interpretation, both can apply as Christians learn to keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 263: Jericho

Andrew Ripp first broke into the national music scene as a songwriter with contributions on Ryan Cabrera’s album and You Stand Watching. This Christian artist from Nashville, Tennessee would go on to become a Grammy-nominated songwriter. One of Andrew’s latest projects is the song Jericho which I recently heard on my ride home from work.

So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. When the people heard the sound of the trumpet, they raised a great shout, and [Jericho’s] wall fell down in its place, so that the [Israelites] went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city, Joshua 6:20.

Of all the amazing war stories in the Bible, the fall of Jericho may still be the most bizarre. Using music and worship as a weapon of war is unheard of, but this is the divine method chosen by God. Following six days of marching around the exterior walls of Jericho, Israel repeats this on the final day of the week to usher in the final piece of God’s promised land. As you listen to Jericho, may you be reminded of God’s power to fulfill the Lord’s plan and purposes.

by Jay Mankus

Salvation is due to our God

The word salvation began being used in the late 1100s and early 1200s. This comes from the Old Latin term salvātiōn. Salvātiō in Latin is the equivalent of salvatus, which is the past participle where English derives the meaning to save. According to a first century physician, the apostles of Jesus, some of whom were former disciples of Jesus, came to the conclusion that true salvation is only found in Jesus.

This [Jesus] is the Stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which has become the Head of the corner [the Cornerstone]. 12 And there is salvation in and through no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by and in which we must be saved, Acts 4:11-12.

Following the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God pressed the reset button in Genesis 12:1-3. Abram soon became known as Father Abraham, sowing the seeds for God’s chosen nation. Moses was selected by God to lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt and into a promised land. Yet, God needed to set up a temporary solution to cope with the human flesh and sinful nature detailed in Leviticus.

In loud voice they cried, saying, [Our] salvation is due to our God, Who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [to Them we owe our deliverance]! – Revelation 7:10

A priesthood was developed to atone for the sins of mankind until a second Adam was sent in the form of God’s one and only son, John 3:16-17. The apostles recognized this individual as the Messiah formerly a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. While Peter thought Jesus would become an earthly king, Jesus’ death on a cross and his subsequent resurrection was necessary to complete the spiritual process known as salvation thanks be to God.

by Jay Mankus

Taking the Peace from the Earth

God’s timing is one of those things in life that can’t be forced. When individuals try to make something happen like Sarah’s desperate effort with Hagar in Genesis 16:1-16 only made matters worse. The birth of Ishmael took peace away from the earth as this child would be become the father of the Arab nations which are still at war with Israel today, even if it’s only behind the scenes for now.

Therefore do not pray for this people or lift up a cry or prayer for them, for I will not listen when they cry out to Me in the time of their evil trouble, Jeremiah 11:14.

Following the events of 9/11/2001, writers of the West Wing, a drama series on NBC, took a break from their regularly scheduled show to create a standalone episode entitled Isaac and Ishmael. This secular interpretation actually did a good job of illustrating how peace has been removed from the earth due to Sarah’s attempt to take matters into her own hands.

And another horse came out, flaming red. And its rider was empowered to take the peace from the earth, so that men slaughtered one another; and he was given a huge sword, Revelation 5:4.

While studying the Book of Revelation, I found the second seal relates to current events in the United States. As crime and murder rates skyrocket to reach new and all-time high in major cities across the country, perhaps the end of days is near. If global warming advocates continue to make false predictions every 10 years, dating back to the 1980’s, why can’t I chime in as well? While the third seal is still years away, may this passage serve as a warning to get to know Jesus so you can experience internal peace.

by Jay Mankus

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

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