RSS Feed

Tag Archives: listening

S.A.N.S. Episode 156: Love is All You Need

Today’s featured group contains a mix of the late 1970’s and early 1980’s. After listening to the entire album to figure out which song to highlight, Look Up has a nostalgic blend of the Bee Gees and Doobie Brothers. Love is All You Need is an example of this with a similar sound to the Doobie Brothers music and a portion of the chorus has a glimpse pf that unique Bee Gees vibe.

Let everything you do be done in love (true love to God and man as inspired by God’s love for us), 1 Corinthians 16:14.

In this age of Wokeness, love has been replaced by finger pointing. Rather than focus on the positive aspects of life, Cancel Culture seeks to single out every offensive thing you’ve ever said or done. While dealing with a major sex scandal inside the Church at Corinth, Paul reminds first century leaders to let everything you do to be influenced by God’s love. I hope you enjoy today’s trip down Memory Lane.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 68: Reach

When it comes to music, I try to be as open minded as possible. Depending upon the type of mood that you are in, there is a specific style of music that will keep you going regardless of how you feel. Even if this means turning to a group called Strange Occurrence, you’ll be surprised to find another song to start your day. While the name of today’s featured artist sounds bizarre, Reach is a song worth listening to.

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, 1 John 2:6.

Strange Occurrence has a classic rock sound with biblically based lyrics. Like going dumpster diving for something that you need, I found Strange Occurrence in another bargain bin of a Christian bookstore. This pleasant surprise wasn’t merely a one hit wonder. Rather, the Another Day to Start Again album contains a couple of solid songs that rock and roll fans will enjoy.

by Jay Mankus

When Prayers Get God’s Attention

Listening is one of those traits that requires more than just one of your senses. Yet, if the person who approaches you has a habit of rambling on and on, it won’t be long until you tune them out. Perhaps, this is the point Jesus is trying to make during his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:5-7. If you want your prayers to get God’s attention, find a private location and start pouring your heart out to the Lord.

For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous (those who are upright and in right standing with God), and His ears are attentive to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who practice evil [to oppose them, to frustrate, and defeat them], 1 Peter 3:12.

If you read the Bible long enough one thing is clear, you can’t fool God. Sure, you may skirt the initial consequences of telling a lie, but what comes around goes around, Galatians 6:6-7. If you reap what you sow, a lame prayer life is only going to get you minimal results. The secret to getting God’s attention when you pray can be found in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Obedience is the first step toward righteousness.

And Jesus answered them, Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a [n]firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done. 22 And whatever you ask for in prayer, having faith and [really] believing, you will receive, Matthew 21:21-22.

When the basics like following the Ten Commandments become a daily goal, spiritual hunger is what takes prayer to the next level. Are you willing to embarrass yourself in public like the harlot who washed Jesus’ feet with an expensive bottle of perfume in Luke 7:37-39? When this type of passion is displayed, doubt starts to disappear as the mountains you once thought were immovable begin to fall. As you move in this direction spiritually, your prayers will get God’s attention. Use today’s song as a daily prayer to get started in the right direction.

by Jay Mankus

Just Don’t Read…Get the Know the Shepherd

The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me], I shall not lack. He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He refreshes and restores my life (my self); He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him—not for my earning it, but] for His name’s sake, Psalm 23:1-3.

Sheep are mentioned more than 500 in the Bible, more than any other animal.  Sheep were important to nomads and the agricultural life of Hebrews in the Old Testament.  Whether you’re talking about the 23rd Psalm or the Parable of the Lost Sheep, this animal is used to symbolize the relationship between God and his followers.  As you read the beginning of Luke 15, Jesus is like a shepherd who is willing to leave behind the faithful sheep to find the one who has wandered off.

Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my [brimming] cup runs over, Psalm 23:4-5.

Unfortunately, stubborn individuals are resistant to change. While people may experience moments of guilt from within their conscience to stop what they are doing, the disobedient tend to press on, full steam ahead. Regardless of how pure in heart that you may be, everyone dabbles in rebellion, especially when you come across a rule that doesn’t make any sense. However, until the Biblical Shepherd steers you in the right direction, you’ll do lots of wandering until you find your way home.

The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:10-11.

The disciple whom Jesus loved compared his spiritual leader to a good shepherd. Instead referring to an actual shepherd tending after his sheep, Jesus served as a father figure to shelter human beings from the Devil. While the attacks of this spiritual enemy have continued long after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, just don’t read the Bible, get to know the Good Shepherd, aka God’s one and only son Jesus Christ. As you open the Bible, the Holy Spirit will open your eyes to see what it takes to live the abundant life that Jesus promised in the passage above.

by Jay Mankus

Open My Eyes Through Faith

Paul Baloche was sitting in a pew, listening to his pastor pray for the congregation. Upon hearing the expression “Open the eyes of our hearts, Lord, that we may see you,” Baloche was inspired to write a song. Baloche’s soul was touched by the wisdom of this prayer request. As Paul Harvey once said on his radio broadcast, “and now you know The Rest of the Story.”

When the water in the bottle was all gone, Hagar caused the youth to lie down under one of the shrubs. 16 Then she went and sat down opposite him a good way off, about a bowshot, for she said, Let me not see the death of the lad. And as she sat down opposite him, he lifted up his voice and wept and she raised her voice and wept, Genesis 21:15-16.

After Sarah convinced Abraham to cast out one of his maid servants, Hagar and Ishmael were forced into the wilderness to find a new place to live. When Hagar ran out of water, she lost hope, laying down her child in the shade under a shrub. Unsure of what to do next, Hagar found an appropriate place to weep and cry out to the Lord. Sensing death was near, the Lord sent an angel to encourage Hagar. Despite being consumed by despair, the Lord opened Hagar’s eyes to a miracle, an empty bottle now filled with water.

And God heard the voice of the youth, and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven and said to her, What troubles you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the youth where he is. Arise, raise up the youth and support him with your hand, for I intend to make him a great nation. 19 Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water; and she went and filled the [empty] bottle with water and caused the youth to drink, Genesis 21:17-19.

The Coronavirus has forced the world to view life through a new lens and perspective. The idea of sitting down with friends inside a restaurant seems like a foreign concept today. Yet, sometime in the near future, the fears of COVID-19 will pass, replaced by a new concern, fear or worry. However, as long as desperate hearts cry out to the Lord in prayer, your eyes will be opened to see all the good things God provides, James 1:17. This is my prayer for 2021 that eyes will be opened through faith in Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

A Consequence for Failing to Listen

For three years, Jesus poured his heart, soul and mind into twelve men. Whether eating, drinking, lodging or traveling together, Jesus trained these disciples on what it means to be a Christian. While the phrase “let him who have ears listen” is not widely recorded in the New Testament, this expression was likely repeated daily. Like the old E.F. Hutton commercial, when Jesus talks everyone should listen.

And other seed fell into good soil, and as the plants grew and increased, they yielded a crop and produced thirty, sixty, and a hundred times [as much as had been sown].” And He said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear and heed My words,” Mark 4:8-9.

Unfortunately, busyness, distractions and timing influence your degree of listening. When I’m tense, tired or interruptions occur, my mind wanders. Thus, even when motivational speakers convict, encourage or inspire you to act, listening is a two step process. First, you must clearly hear what has been instructed. Second, heeding the words of Jesus requires a special attention to details, noticing the big picture. Without these two elements working together, the good news about Jesus Christ falls upon deaf ears.

Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your countrymen; you shall listen to Him and obey everything He tells you. 23 And it will be that every person that does not listen to and heed that Prophet will be utterly destroyed from among the people,’ Acts 3:22-23.

During a sermon given by Peter, a passage from the Old Testament is quoted. Peter is trying to connect with his mainly Jewish audience by revealing a prophecy made by Moses. Without beating around the bush, Peter uses a message of fear to get the attention of this crowd. In this day of political correctness, suggesting that heaven isn’t for everyone results in outrage and persecution. Yet, Peter states that not hearing and taking heed of Jesus’ teaching will result in spiritual destruction. May this warning prompt hearts to develop a keen sense of listening.

by Jay Mankus

Communion, Connection and Conviction

Depending upon your upbringing, communion may mean the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings.  To Catholics and Christians, communion is a Holy Sacrament, also known as the Eucharist.  In the context of the passage below, Jesus withdraws from a crowded house to spend time with God, likely listening, meditating and praying to his heavenly father.  This daily spiritual practice energized Jesus’ soul, providing vision and direction for his earthly ministry.

Early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left [the house], and went out to a secluded place, and was praying there, Mark 1:35.

Before the concept of home churches began, Jesus connected every day with his disciples.  This time together was spent teaching, answering questions and reclining at a table while eating.  Like a first century Bible Study, Jesus was the living word, John 1:1-5, living his life as an open book for the whole world to see.  The disciples maintained this gathering after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, Acts 2:42-47.  The more individuals connect with fellow believers, the sharper you become spiritually, Proverbs 27:17.

Simon [Peter] and his companions searched [everywhere, looking anxiously] for Him, 37 and they found Him and said, “Everybody is looking for You!” 38 He replied, “Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so I may preach there also; that is why I came [from the Father].” 39 So He went throughout Galilee, preaching [the gospel] in their synagogues and casting out demons, Mark 1:36-39.

When communion is immediately followed by connection with like minded Christians, the Holy Spirit fills individuals with a strong conviction to act upon their faith.  Communion and connection propelled Jesus to preach the good news of salvation from town to town.  If you have ever had the chance to attend a conference, retreat or revival, God fills people with confidence, desire and energy to serve Jesus like never before.  This fusion of excitement is like a raging river bursting out of its banks.  May this blog inspire you to commune with God, interact with brothers and sisters and share your faith with others without hesitation or regret.

by Jay Mankus

Be Careful How You Listen

Every September, from 2002 to 2012, I met the parents of my students during an open house at Red Lion.  After sharing the same spiel for several years, God gave me a vision about what it means to listen from a biblical perspective.  This idea turned into a visual presentation, pouring water from a bottle three times onto a hard table top, then adding a paper towel and finally into sponge.  After each pour I asked these adults what they witnessed and what each scenario represents.

So be careful how you listen; for whoever has [a teachable heart], to him more [understanding] will be given; and whoever does not have [a longing for truth], even what he thinks he has will be taken away from him,” Luke 8:18.

Water poured onto a table top represents a hardened heart.  When students don’t like a class, subject or teacher, their hearts become calloused.  Thus, whenever a lesson is presented, their minds and thoughts are elsewhere.  Adding a paper towel to the table is symbolic of being half-hearted.  Since a paper towel can only absorb so much water, it only does half the job.  This type of student only listens when they feel like it.  When topics are boring, confusing or over their head, they tune out.  The ideal form of listening is acting like a sponge, absorbing everything that you hear.  The Bible refers to this student as being whole hearted, all in and ready to hear.

“But be on guard, so that your hearts are not weighed down and depressed with the giddiness of debauchery and the nausea of self-indulgence and the worldly worries of life, and then that day [when the Messiah returns] will not come on you suddenly like a trap,” Luke 21:34.

Jesus regularly used the expression,”he who has ears, let him hear.”  Based upon the two passages above, those who possess a teachable heart want to learn, listening intently.  However, those who do not have a longing for truth will lose any desire for character, integrity and morality in the future.  Meanwhile, later on Jesus urges those willing to listen to guard their hearts.  When hearts become vulnerable to spiritual attacks, individuals can be dragged down by the heartache and pain in life.  Therefore, be careful how you listen so you will begin to apply biblical principles that result in a teachable heart.

by Jay Mankus

Properly Utilizing God’s Power

Prior to beginning his earthly ministry, Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit.  Over the next forty days, the Devil began scheming of ways on how to trick Jesus into improperly using God’s power.  The longer Jesus went without food, fasting and praying to spiritually prepare his mind, the more vulnerable his body became.  Thus, in the passage below the Devil tempted Jesus to use God’s power for selfish reasons.  In a game of Truth or Dare, the Devil dared Jesus to show off, calling upon angels to keep him from falling.  Responding with Scripture, Jesus corrects the Devil’s abuse of God’s power.

Then he led Jesus to Jerusalem and had Him stand on the pinnacle (highest point) of the temple, and said [mockingly] to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here; 10 for it is written and forever remains written, He will command His angels concerning You to guard and protect You,’ and, they will lift You up on their hands, So that You do not strike Your foot against a stone.’” Jesus replied to him, “It is said [in Scripture], you shall not tempt the Lord your God [to prove Himself to you],’” Luke 4:9-12.

Before gathering a ministry team of disciples, Jesus experienced the best and worst from his fellow Jews.  Upon entering a town, Jesus went to the local synagogue, debating, listening and teaching God fearing Jews.  Jesus quoted the Old Testament, speaking with authority without any education or extensive training.  On one day, Jesus spoke about God’s grace extending to Gentiles, non Jewish believers.  This comment turned the crowd in Nazareth against Jesus, committing heresy in their eyes.  This uprising forced Jesus outside of town to a nearby cliff, as residents attempted to push Jesus off the edge to his death.  On this occasion with his life in danger, Jesus properly utilized God’s power, like a ghost, Jesus passed by the crowds escaping to Capernaum.

As they heard these things [about God’s grace to these two Gentiles], the people in the synagogue were filled with a great rage; 29 and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the crest of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to hurl Him down the cliff. 30 But passing [miraculously] through the crowd, He went on His way, Luke 4:28-30.

Today, the debate of properly utilizing God’s power continues.  Should you treat God like a supernatural Santa Claus, praying to the Lord with a long Christmas wish list?  Or should you only ask for things in accordance with God’s will?  Do you take Jesus literally, “ask and you will receive?”  What is a good middle ground, a place to start?  If you use Matthew 7:12 as an outline for prayer, this may clear up any confusion that you currently are struggling to grasp.  Prayer is a three step process, asking, seeking insight to explain unanswered prayers and continue to persist, wrestling with the Lord in prayer.  May this passage guide you to understand how to properly utilize God’s power.

by Jay Mankus

It’s Better to Have a Mary Christmas

The Bible introduces the world to an average family coping with a typical sibling rivalry.  However, in this case, both sisters are adults, revealing two distinct personality traits.  While its unclear who is the oldest, it appears Martha plays the role as the responsible one, working diligently to clean the house, cook and prepare for holiday guests.  Like any individual, this work can be exhausting, creating tension with those who don’t help or share in this burden.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said, Luke 10:38-39.

Meanwhile, Mary is drawn in a different direction, like a social butterfly longing to interact with visitors.  Jealous of her sisters conversation with Jesus, resentment brews within Martha’s heart.  Sensing this bitterness, Jesus serves as a moderator to address this family crisis.  According to a doctor who either knew the family or felt this story was worth passing on, Jesus reveals what is better, seizing the time you have with close friends and family.

40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:40-42.

Unfortunately, a similar scene is played out in American homes every Christmas.  The perfectionists work diligently to make the decorations, meals and the tree just right.  On the surface everything is peaceful until someone doesn’t pull their own weight.  When this moment arrives at your home, its better to emulate the character of Mary so that you will experience a very Merry Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: