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Tag Archives: The Bible

Protecting the Holy Spirit

The apostle Paul writes one chapter in the Bible devoted to the need for spiritual balance, 1 Corinthians 6. While freewill gives human beings daily choices to obey God’s commands or do what they want. Paul explains beginning in 1 Corinthians 6:12 that everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Bad choices have consequences as sin separates human beings from God, Isaiah 59:2.

Be unceasing in prayer [praying perseveringly]; 18 Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will]. 19 Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [Holy] Spirit; 20 Do not spurn the gifts and utterances of the prophets [do not depreciate prophetic revelations nor despise inspired instruction or exhortation or warning]. 21 But test and prove all things [until you can recognize] what is good; [to that] hold fast. 22 Abstain from evil [shrink from it and keep aloof from it] in whatever form or whatever kind it may be, 1 Thessalonians 5:17-22.

In a letter to the Church at Thessalonica which had a history in the first century to overreact based upon Acts 17:1-10. Whenever emotions come into play, human nature can unleash practices of the flesh, Galatians 5:15-21. Paul’s advice for protecting the Holy Spirit begins with unceasing prayer where this spiritual discipline becomes an habitual practice. When prayer is absent, Christians open the door for the Holy Spirit to be suppressed, subdued or completely quenched.

Let no foul or polluting language, nor evil word nor unwholesome or worthless talk [ever] come out of your mouth, but only such [speech] as is good and beneficial to the spiritual progress of others, as is fitting to the need and the occasion, that it may be a blessing and give grace (God’s favor) to those who hear it. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God [do not offend or vex or sadden Him], by Whom you were sealed (marked, branded as God’s own, secured) for the day of redemption (of final deliverance through Christ from evil and the consequences of sin). 31 Let all bitterness and indignation and wrath (passion, rage, bad temper) and resentment (anger, animosity) and quarreling (brawling, clamor, contention) and slander (evil-speaking, abusive or blasphemous language) be banished from you, with all malice (spite, ill will, or baseness of any kind). 32 And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you, Ephesians 4:29-32.

A portion of Paul’s letter to the Church at Rome brings this dilemma to the forefront in Romans 8:5-8. Sinful minds are hostile to the Bible and are in direct conflict with the Holy Spirit. Meanwhile, Paul’s letter to the Church at Ephesus warns against giving the devil a foothold in an area of your life. This is the context prior to the passage above. Since all people have fallen short of God’s glory, Romans 3:23, practice public confession and forgiveness so that unity within the body of Christ is restored and the Holy Spirit can conquer any roots of bitterness that linger or remain unresolved.

by Jay Mankus


The First Mama’s Boy of the Bible

While the apostle Paul warns first century Christians about having favorites, each person is drawn toward certain personality types. Some human beings naturally mesh, clicking as if they have been lifelong friends. Meanwhile, others struggle to find anything in common due to different gifts and talents. Subsequently, one sibling may relate better to their mother while the father leans toward more athletic and manly children.

Afterward his brother came forth, and his hand grasped Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob [supplanter]. Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them, Genesis 25:26.

According to Moses, Esau was the athletic child in Isaac’s family. Esau blossomed into a great hunter, likely with a bow and arrow. Unable to compete with his brother, Jacob appears to have stayed in the kitchen, learning to cook with his mother Rebekah. Although there is no mention of boys from the neighborhood teasing Jacob, Moses is clear that he is the first mama’s boy of the Bible.

When the boys grew up, Esau was a cunning and skilled hunter, a man of the outdoors; but Jacob was a plain and quiet man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved [and was partial to] Esau, because he ate of Esau’s game; but Rebekah loved Jacob, Genesis 25:27-28.

If your mother is athletic or you share similar hobbies and interests, this isn’t a bad thing. As a former mama’s boy myself, my mother was an incredible woman growing up. Besides possessing the ability to be a professional bowler, my mom was content with being a housewife who eventually developed into a successful real estate agent In the end, Jacob’s mom played a role in him becoming the father of a great nation. What God began in Abraham, was brought forth through the life and children of Jacob.

by Jay Mankus

The First Match Maker of the Bible

The Dating Game television show debuted in 1965 with host Chuck Barris. One year after the Bible and prayer was kicked out of public education in the United States, the first orchestrated match maker series was formed. While I don’t remember much about the contestants on this show, I do recall Barris often trying to embarrass guests to entertain audiences. The first mention of match making in the Bible occurs in Genesis 24.

And you shall swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I have settled, But you shall go to my country and to my relatives and take [a]a wife for my son Isaac. The servant said to him, But perhaps the woman will not be willing to come along after me to this country. Must I take your son to the country from which you came? – Genesis 24:3-5.

Perhaps, Abraham learned from the trials of his nephew Lot. Rather than allow Isaac to choose his own wife for himself, Abraham gives his trusted servant specific instructions on where to find a potential wife. Worried about letting down Isaac, Eliezer speaks up about the what if’s? This second guessing prepares Eliezer’s thoughts on the best way to find Isaac a wife.

And he said, O Lord, God of my master Abraham, I pray You, cause me to meet with good success today, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 See, I stand here by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming to draw water. 14 And let it so be that the girl to whom I say, I pray you, let down your jar that I may drink, and she replies, Drink, and I will give your camels drink also—let her be the one whom You have selected and appointed and indicated for Your servant Isaac [to be a wife to him]; and by it I shall know that You have shown kindness and faithfulness to my master. 15 Before he had finished speaking, behold, out came Rebekah, who was the daughter of Bethuel son of Milcah, who was the wife of Nahor the brother of Abraham, with her water jar on her shoulder, Genesis 24:12-15.

Subsequently, Eliezer turns his concerns and doubt into a prayer listed in the passage above. This prayer serves as a screening process for any candidate who doesn’t meet Abrahah’s high standards. Based upon Moses’ account, as soon as Eliezer finishes his initial prayer, Rebekah magically comes forth like a Hollywood movie. May today’s featured passage help you see that God’s timing can reveal Mr. and Mrs. Right.

by Jay Mankus

The Bible’s Version of All In

As children grow up and mature, simple card games like Go Fish and War are replaced by more complex ones. I was introduced to Cribbage in high school, moved on to Hearts in college and graduated to Euchre and Spades in my twenties. However, it wasn’t until watching the World Series of Poker on television, Texas Hold’em style, that I truly understood going All In. When your chips deteriorate, and a decent hand is dealt, desperation forces many professional card players to go All In.

And Abraham said to his servants, Settle down and stay here with the donkey, and I and the young man will go yonder and worship and [a]come again to you. Then Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on [the shoulders of] Isaac his son, and he took the fire (the firepot) in his own hand, and a knife; and the two of them went on together. And Isaac said to Abraham, My father! And he said, Here I am, my son. [Isaac] said, See, here are the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt sacrifice? Abraham said, My son, [b]God Himself will provide a lamb for the burnt offering. So the two went on together, Genesis 22:5-8.

The Bible has its own version of All In. Two analogies illustrate this point: driving a car and reading a newspaper. The driver of a vehicle knows where they want to go and how long it will take thanks to GPS. Going all in spiritually means handing the wheel over to Jesus, yielding complete control to God. Meanwhile, every paper has multiple sections that may bore, entertain or interest you. Yet, going all in requires Christians to live their lives as an open book to God, not hiding, holding back or tearing out any unpleasant page from your life.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there; then he laid the wood in order and [c]bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar on the wood. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand and took hold of the knife to slay his son. 11 But the [d]Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham! He answered, Here I am. 12 And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son. 13 Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering and an ascending sacrifice instead of his son! – Genesis 22:9-13

When you study the life of Abraham, it took him a while for him to truly place his trust in God. I truly believe that asking Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, his promised child, forces him to go All In. Some scholars claim that Abraham came to the conclusion that somehow Isaac would be raised from the dead if he was fulfill to God’s calling. King Solomon chimes in on this topic, explaining the Bible’s version of All In, Proverbs 3:5-6. As you mature spiritually, don’t be afraid to join Abraham by placing your trust fully in the Lord.

by Jay Mankus

How Obedience Endears Yourself to God

As a former Catholic, I was taught that I could earn my way into heaven by following the Ten Commandments and participating in the Holy Sacraments. Whenever you learn something that Jesus addresses in Luke 18:18-30, the Bible corrects my misunderstanding. Since this account is mentioned by 3 of the 4 gospel authors, obedience are acts of faith that endear yourself to God, something a rich young ruler was unable to do.

But the [d]Angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, Abraham, Abraham! He answered, Here I am. 12 And He said, Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear and revere God, since you have not held back from Me or begrudged giving Me your son, your only son. 13 Then Abraham looked up and glanced around, and behold, behind him was a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up for a burnt offering and an ascending sacrifice instead of his son! 14 So Abraham called the name of that place The Lord Will Provide. And it is said to this day, On the mount of the Lord it will be provided, Genesis 22:11-14.

Moses highlights this concept in the passage above. Prior to Genesis 22, Abraham had a habit of trusting in his own instincts rather than placing his full assurance in God. Perhaps, this is what led God to ask Abraham to do the unthinkable, sacrifice his promised son Isaac. When an angel of the Lord intervenes just before Abraham was going to go through with this, this obedience to God’s call endeared himself to the Lord.

If you will listen diligently to the voice of the Lord your God, being watchful to do all His commandments which I command you this day, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God, Deuteronomy 28:1-2.

Prior to Moses’ farewell address as Israel’s spiritual leader, he spends a chapter highlighting why God blesses obedient acts. Like a child who honors their parents, this is accomplished by listening intently and following the rules set in your home. Obedience isn’t a feeling, something you do when you want to. Rather, obedience is a daily conscience decision to seek God first and His righteousness, Matthew 6:33-34.

by Jay Mankus

Descendants of a Living God

The lyrics to Casting Crowns song City on a Hill does an excellent job of portraying how easy it is for a community of believers to disagree. Due to built-in stereotypes that are ingrained within our minds, trying to convince someone from a different background is extremely difficult. This is the dilemma in City on a Hill as differences divided one another based upon preconceived notions that made each group think they knew better than the others. The apostle Paul tried to unite the Church in Corinth, 1 Corinthians 12:1-12, highlighting that each member plays a specific part of the church.

The Lord said to Abram after Lot had left him, Lift up now your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward; 15 For all the land which you see I will give to you and to your posterity forever, Genesis 13:14-15.

Before Israel ever existed, one man questioned God’s ability to form a new nation with an aging man and a wife who was unable to have children. Although self-help gurus may give a convincing argument today, there is only one living God that exists. However, if Sarai was able to have children right away and Abram was younger, perhaps they would have taken some of the credit for their future family. Yet, like many situations in the past and present, the weaker human beings become, this opens the door for God to perform miracles beyond your imagination.

And I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth, so that if a man could count the dust of the earth, then could your descendants also be counted, Genesis 13:16.

At this early stage in the Bible, Abram and Sarai are still childless. Descendants of a living God seemed unlikely due to the age of this couple. Nonetheless, the longer Abram and Sarai wait, desperation results in the birth of Ishmael via the maidservant Hagar. This is another example of when a believer doesn’t fully trust God, Proverbs 3:5-6, trying to force the issue rather than let faith takeover. As you read the book of Genesis, you find out how descendants of a living God come to fruition. However, today another story is being written about future descendants. May you possess that faith and patience to let God figure out the details for your own life.

by Jay Mankus

When Desperation and Prayer Unite

Non-religious individuals tend to turn to prayer during a life altering event. This could be just before a car accident, on a plane enduring extreme turbulence or some other unexpected dire medical diagnosis where even atheists cry out to God. As a child with a severe speech impediment, all I ever wanted was to verbally express what was on my heart and the words on my mind. Yet, my prayer life is usually only effective when desperation and prayer unite on my knees.

And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, Protect and defend and give me justice against my adversary. And for a time he would not; but later he said to himself, Though I have neither reverence or fear for God nor respect or consideration for man, Yet because this widow continues to bother me, I will defend and protect and avenge her, lest she give me [b]intolerable annoyance and wear me out by her continual coming or [c]at the last she come and rail on me or [d]assault me or [e]strangle me. Then the Lord said, Listen to what the unjust judge says! And will not [our just] God defend and protect and avenge His elect (His chosen ones), who cry to Him day and night? Will He [f]defer them and [g]delay help on their behalf? – Luke 18:3-7

I was introduced to the Parable of the Persistent Widow in college. While Jesus’ words in Matthew 21:19-22 are often quoted by pastors during sermons on prayer, the persistent widow applies Jesus’ advice. Although desperation may lead you to pray for a miracle, doubt will stop any prayer from being answered. This widow was so persistent in her desperation, she kept on knocking like Jesus’ analogy in his Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7:7-8.

When Mary came to the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she dropped down at His feet, saying to Him, Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 33 When Jesus saw her sobbing, and the Jews who came with her [also] sobbing, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. [He chafed in spirit and sighed and was disturbed.] 34 And He said, Where have you laid him? They said to Him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 The Jews said, See how [tenderly] He loved him! 37 But some of them said, Could not He Who opened a blind man’s eyes have prevented this man from dying? 38 Now Jesus, again sighing repeatedly and deeply disquieted, approached the tomb. It was a cave (a hole in the rock), and a boulder lay against [the entrance to close] it, John 11:32-38.

The shortest verse in the Bible,” Jesus wept,” is written by the disciple whom Jesus loved. Yet, the context of Jesus’ tears occurs following the death of Lazarus. When Mary blames Jesus’ absence for her brother’s death, desperation and prayer unite. This combination moves Jesus to raise Lazarus from the dead. Of all the miracles Jesus performs, this one should inspire anyone wanting to see a miracle come to a point in your life where desperation and prayer unite.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 353: The Wait is Over

Hurry up and wait is one of those expressions directed at my impatient nature over the years. As an active, anxious, and eager individual, if I’m not constantly moving, I begin to fall asleep, bored by a non-active life. However, from a spiritual standpoint, some people wait a lifetime searching for the meaning to life. When you’re pointed in the right direction to the passage below, your wait is over.

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 4:12.

Disciple’s song the Wait is Over contains a similar theme. If the Bible contains over one verses on wait and waiting, this tells me waiting is important life lesson impatient people need to learn. When it comes to heaven, there is only one name where salvation can be found, Jesus. One of Jesus’ disciples writes a letter to first century Christian to inform them that your eternal destination can be secured without a doubt, 1 John 5:12-13. When you call upon the name of Jesus, Romans 10:9-11, the wait is over.

by Jay Mankus

When the Voice of the Dead Cry Out From their Graves

I was first introduced to mediums by Oda Mae Brown, Whoppi Goldberg’s character in the 1990 film Ghost. While Oda Mae Brown knows in her heart that she’s not real, the death of Patrick Swayze’s character opens Oda’s world to the spiritual realm. A few years later Crossing Over became a popular show on television providing a similar service. As an elder at Red Lion, I asked our senior pastor what he thought about the ability to speak with the dead. Based upon the account of the Witch at Endor, he believed that some people actually have this ability with many playing the role of con artists.

And the Lord said to Cain, Where is Abel your brother? And he said, I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper? 10 And [the Lord] said, What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground, Genesis 4:9-10.

When I recently read the passage above, I was reminded of the 1999 film the Sixth Sense. The little boy Cole played by Haley Joel Osment possessed a sixth sense to see dead people. When Cole’s mom hired a psychologist played by Bruce Willis, Cole starts to open up about his unique ability. To avoid a spoiler alert, Willis who plays Dr. Malcom Crowe shows Cole that these dead people are trying to speak to him actually need his help. This portion of the Sixth Sense is one of the best illustrations of what Moses details in the passage above. Somehow Hollywood depicted God’s words of the dead crying out from their graves.

When Saul inquired of the Lord, He refused to answer him, either by dreams or by Urim [a symbol worn by the priest when seeking the will of God for Israel] or by the prophets. Then Saul said to his servants, Find me a woman who is a medium [between the living and the dead], that I may go and inquire of her. His servants said, Behold, there is a woman who is a medium at Endor. So Saul disguised himself, put on other raiment, and he and two men with him went and came to the woman at night. He said to her, Perceive for me by the familiar spirit and bring up for me the dead person whom I shall name to you. The woman said, See here, you know what Saul has done, how he has cut off those who are mediums and wizards out of the land. Why then do you lay a trap for my life to cause my death? – 1 Samuel 28:6-9.

Samuel’s account of the Witch at Endor uses a similar style to Oda Mae Brown. When you place these mediums side by side for comparison, each appear to be unsure if what they are about to do will work. However, when Patrick Swayze’s and Samuel’s spirit are each called upon, both are astonished by their clear connection with the dead. If the Bible clearly suggests that the spirit of the dead can be communicated with, being able to hear and listen to the cries of the dead isn’t so far-fetched. I’ll let the words of the Bible help shape your own conclusion.

by Jay Mankus

Let Us

One of my greatest regrets in life was taking for granted my education as a child. Despite having several amazing teachers, I was never really impressed by the topic of English. If I had only paid attention in class to grammar back then, my career as an aspiring writer probably would have taken off by now. Nonetheless, the trinity within the Bible is revealed early in the Bible by Moses through the words “let us.”

God said, Let Us [Father, Son, and Holy Spirit] make mankind in Our image, after Our likeness, and let them have complete authority over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the [tame] beasts, and over all of the earth, and over everything that creeps upon the earth. 27 So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them, Genesis 1:26-27.

As the Classic Amplified Version of the Bible reveals in the passage above, Let Us refers to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Holy Ghost is used in the King James version to highlight this powerful invisible force. One of the ways I came to grasp the trinity was one person with three distinct personality traits. God the Father is the spiritual adult in the room, the disciplinarian who reminds you whenever you stray off course. Jesus the Son is the youthful version of God with the Spirit who serves as our spiritual guide.

In the beginning [before all time] was the Word ([a]Christ), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God [b]Himself. He was present originally with God. All things were made and came into existence through Him; and without Him was not even one thing made that has come into being. In Him was Life, and the Life was the Light of men, John 1:1-4.

One of Jesus’ disciples refers to Him as homoousias. This theological term was first used at the Council of Nicaea which was presided over by the emperor Constantine. The Nicene Creed was conceived at this council which agreed that Jesus is the same in being and the same in essence with God the Father. Jesus introduces the Holy Spirit of a counselor in John 14:14-16. Therefore, when you see the expression “Let Us” in the Bible, this united agreement was the force behind the Creation of the World.

by Jay Mankus

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