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Can Faith Be Stolen?

One of the statements of faith that I heard numerous times by Christians on the campus of the University of Delaware was “once saved always saved.” From a theological standpoint, I listened to several convincing arguments based upon the belief that the blood Jesus shed on the cross wasn’t wasted. When you add a few passages written by the apostle Paul where many is used instead of all, once saved always saved makes sense.

Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: 19 [h]While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside, Matthew 13:18-19.

However, at the conclusion of one of Jesus’ parables, the disciples were completely stumped, unable to figure out what Jesus was trying to say. Subsequently, disciples met privately with Jesus to discover what He meant by the Parable of the Sower. Based upon Jesus’ own words in the passage above, it appears that faith can be stolen as apparently the Devil can snatch away the spiritual seed sown in a new believer’s heart. Yet, the greater message is beware of the spiritual environment in which you plant yourself.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 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 [b]overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:9-11.

Meanwhile, the disciple whom Jesus loved recounts another analogy about Sheep and their Shepherd. Jesus compares Himself to the lone gate in a fenced shepherd’s field. The Thief, likely the Devil, attempts to convince human beings that there are other doors that led to heaven, Acts 4:12. Meanwhile, Christians should expect ongoing spiritual warfare seeking to steal your spiritual joy, kill your attempts to discern and follow God’s will and destroy your faith. Hebrews 6 and 9 address the question if faith can be stolen in further details. If faith comes from hearing the Word, Romans 10:17, keep on reading the Bible before you reach an ultimate decision.

by Jay Mankus

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When the Word of the Lord Arrives

When it comes to planning, some like to wing it, others procrastinate until a deadline arrives while the organized are precise; knowing exactly what they want to do and when. To those who attend church regularly, most people just show up, some have their quiet time before and others wait in eager expectation for what God is going to do at some point during the service. To those paying attention, you’ll know when the Word of the Lord arrives.

After these things, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram, I am your [a]Shield, your abundant compensation, and your reward shall be exceedingly great, Genesis 15:1.

The context of the passage above occurs immediately after the events of Genesis 14. Highlights of this chapter contain Lot being taken as a prisoner of war, Abram forming an army and the successful defeat of the contries which captured Lot, Abram’s brother’s son. During his triumphant return, the King of Sodom offers Abram a generous reward, plunder from this battle. Rather than accept this gift, Abram tells this king to divide this among the allied forces that fought with Abram’s men.

And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [[a]loaves of] bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:3-4.

The Word of the Lord arrives in the form of a vision for Abram. God compares Himself to a shield of protection and an abundant compensation in the form of blessings. Receiving this gift from the King of Sodom would have comprised Abram’s faith and made this king feel like he added to Abram’s wealth. Just like the Devil who tried to tempt Jesus with food at the end of his 40 day fast, the King of Sodom was just as persuasive. Yet, when Christians look for the way out of temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13, the Word of the Lord keeps you in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25. Go and do likewise.

by Jay Mankus

A Joyful Bliss

Whenever an individual reaches a state of bliss, their life is experiencing perfect happiness where great joy naturally flows out of their soul. Unfortunately, many human beings never get a sniff of bliss. Others may turn to alcohol or drugs to numb the pain they are currently enduring. At some point during a night out on the time bliss is achieved, but when morning arrives a hangover or memory loss forgets the sensational feeling of joyful bliss.

Melchizedek king of Salem [later called Jerusalem] brought out bread and wine [for their nourishment]; he was the priest of God Most High, 19 And he blessed him and said, Blessed (favored with blessings, made blissful, joyful) be Abram by God Most High, Possessor and Maker of heaven and earth, Genesis 14:18-19.

According to Moses, great victories in life can contribute to and directly lead to a joyful bliss. When a priest of the God Most High approached Abram with bread and wine upon his return home from battle, Abram appears to have gotten emotional. As champions reflect upon the journey and work that went into training for a success outcome, certain details stick out. Perhaps, Abram remembered how the Lord led Pharaoh to graciously give Abram servants who became the core of his army.

I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved (will live). He will come in and he will go out [freely], and will find pasture. 10 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 [b]overflows). 11 I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd risks and lays down His [own] life for the sheep, John 10:9-11.

While speaking with his disciples, Jesus uses another term in place of joyful bliss. According to John, Jesus spoke about living an abundant life by seizing the moment, maximizing each opportunity the Lord gives you every day. As Christians chase after this White Rabbit, joyful bliss, the Devil is looking to steal your joy by killing the spiritual momentum you’ve built up in 2023. This invisible enemy is your main stumbling block, 1 Peter 5:8, keeping you from tasting joy. This is where prayer is used to build a hedge of protection around those whom you love to make a joyful bliss possible with a slice of heaven on earth.

by Jay Mankus

The Truth Be Told

As good and decent as some human beings appear on the outside, an internal struggle occurs daily. Human nature places a desire within hearts to be accepted, cool, and embraced by their peers. After graduating from high school, I was playing in my last competitive tournaments as a junior golfer. As I was walking up the 18th fairway about to conclude my round, I thought I was cool with a sly comment to my playing partners. The truth be told, I was merely a foolish immature Christian.

And when he was about to enter into Egypt, he said to Sarai his wife, I know that you are beautiful to behold. 12 So when the Egyptians see you, they will say, This is his wife; and they will kill me, but they will let you live. 13 Say, I beg of you, that you are [c]my sister, so that it may go well with me for your sake and my life will be spared because of you, Genesis 12:11-13.

From Abram’s perspective, God had just introduced Himself while living in Haran. The promise spoken in Genesis 12:1-3 seemed far-fetched for a man with a barren wife. Throw in the bad timing of a severe drought. which put Abram’s journey to this promised land on hold, doubt began to creep into Abram’s mind. Perhaps the same Devil who persuaded Eve to break God’s only rule in the Garden of Eden, planted the thought of lying into Abram’s head.

And the men of the place asked him about his wife, and he said, She is my sister; for he was afraid to say, She is my wife—[thinking], Lest the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah, because she is attractive and is beautiful to look upon. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac and said, See here, she is certainly your wife! How did you [dare] say to me, She is my sister? And Isaac said to him, Because I thought, Lest I die on account of her, Genesis 26:11-13.

Any sinful decision has lasting consequences. As for Abram, this tiny white lie turned into a generational sin passed down to Isaac, and Jacob. One poor choice leads to a bad habit. If this bad habit isn’t addressed quickly, addictions are formed that bind souls for months, years and in worst case scenarios, a lifetime. While not human being is tempted by lying, everyone has their own kryptonite. The sooner you address this fatal flaw, the better your chances will be for finding a way out of temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

by Jay Mankus

The First Age of Enlightenment on Earth

The Age of Enlightenment can be illustrated by a famous painting entitled the School of Athens. This painting was one of the commissioned artworks by Pope Julius II when artist Raphael moved to Rome. This two-year project began in 1509 and was completed for public viewing in 1511. The School of Athens contains two great philosophers: Aristotle and Plato. While one scholar points to the sky, the other is pointing to within. This signifies the transition of seeking truth from God above toward humanism, searching for truth from within your own heart and soul.

Now the serpent was more subtle and crafty than any living creature of the field which the Lord God had made. And he [Satan] said to the woman, Can it really be that God has said, You shall not eat from every tree of the garden? And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat the fruit from the trees of the garden, Except the fruit from the tree which is in the middle of the garden. God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. But the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die, For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing the difference between good and evil and blessing and calamity, Genesis 3:1-5.

If the serpent above is either the fallen angel Lucifer taking possession of this serpent or merely the first voice of temptation, this is the Bible’s first age of enlightenment. As a former Bible teacher, King Solomon wrote the Book of Proverbs for one of his sons to set spiritual boundaries for life on earth. This invisible line is designed to protect human beings by keeping danger out of their lives. This was likely the same reason God only had one rule in the garden, not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, Genesis 2:16-17. The apostle Paul once urged the Church at Corinth to look for the way out of any temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

When men began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, The sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair, and they took wives of all they desired and chose. Then the Lord said, My Spirit shall not forever dwell and strive with man, for he also is flesh; but his days shall yet be 120 years. There were giants on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God lived with the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination and intention of all human thinking was only evil continually, Genesis 6:1-5.

Jesus refers to the Devil as the father of all lies in John 8:44. The first lie is introduced to Eve as Adam was standing right there with her. Psalm 1:1-3 compares everyday life to talking a walk. Who you associate with, and join will influence the decisions that you make in life. Whenever a lie is passed onto to you, Christians must filter any content with the Bible, Acts 17:10-12, testing this to determine if it’s true. Unfortunately, when lies are repeated over and over again, social media elevates lies to truth status. Rather to repeat historic mistakes by doing what’s right in your own eyes, Judges 21:25, test everything and cling to God’s truth.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 258: Devil

Anne Wilson made her debut as a Christian artist in 2021. Wilson’s version of “My Jesus” reached number one on Billboard ‘s Hot Christian Songs chart. Perhaps Anne’s timing was ideal like the words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:4. Regardless of the reason for Anne’s success, I was impressed my Wilson’s most recent single Devil.

Then Jesus was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry. And the tempter came and said to Him, If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [[a]loaves of] bread. But He replied, It has been written, Man shall not live and be upheld and sustained by bread alone, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of God, Matthew 4:1-4.

When I heard this song on K-Love Radio a few weeks, I was immediately reminded of the passage above. After fasting for 40 days to prepare Jesus for his earthly ministry, the Devil tried to catch Him off guard. Jesus was tempted physically, mentally, and spiritually before telling the Devil to get lost. The lyrics of Devil reference the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 15:54-58. May Anne’s song bring you comfort the next time you are tempted.

by Jay Mankus

You Make the Darkness Tremble

Two Old Testament prophets write about Lucifer’s fall from heaven in Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:14-15. According to the Bible, 1/3 of all angels were expelled from heaven along with the arch angel Lucifer, a.k.a. the Devil. The apostle Paul explains Satan’s new role on earth as the ruler of the air in Ephesians 2:2. Despite these supernatural powers, Jude 1:6-7 reveals how Jesus makes the darkness tremble.

You believe that God is one; you do well. So do the demons believe and shudder [in terror and horror such as [a]make a man’s hair stand on end and contract the surface of his skin]! 20 Are you willing to be shown [proof], you foolish (unproductive, spiritually deficient) fellow, that faith apart from [good] works is inactive and ineffective and worthless? – James 2:19-20

As someone who grew up in a military family, the Army drilled into my father a spirit of discipline along with a clear right and wrong. Whenever I wasn’t acting properly, my mother responded with the words, “wait until your father gets home.” Since the demons know they are on the wrong side of history, they tremble in fear of their future judgment just as I was frightened to receive the consequences for my actions.

And when this perishable puts on the imperishable and this that was capable of dying puts on freedom from death, then shall be fulfilled the Scripture that says, Death is swallowed up (utterly vanquished [h]forever) in and unto victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 56 Now sin is the sting of death, and sin exercises its power [i][upon the soul] through [j][the abuse of] the Law. 57 But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 15:54-57.

The real game changer occurred on Easter Sunday. Like Super Bowl 51, Satan thought he was victorious like the Falcons who were up 28-3 at halftime. Yet, when Jesus rose from the grave, the sting and power of death was conquered. The apostle Paul writes about this in Colossians 3:1-14. When a Christian’s mind dwells and focuses on God’s Word, this mindset also makes the darkness tremble.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 225: Never Felt Better

Back in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, there was a belief among conservative Christian churches that any form of Rock music was of the Devil. This ungodly belief was formed by preachers who didn’t understand the events of the sexual revolution of the late 1960’s. Never Felt Better by Barnabas touches on how this group was ostracized at the time this song was written, but the band members felt like they were following God’s will for their lives.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will, Romans 12:1-2.

The apostle Paul addresses how to discover God’s will in the passage above. As Christians begin to develop and share their earthly talents and spiritual gifts, the Holy Spirit often places burdens on your heart in the form of a calling from God, Galatians 5:25. Whenever individuals are able to keep in step with the Spirit, spiritual blessings tend to follow. While Barnabas never received the attention of groups like Petra or Stryper, the members was faithful to God’s calling.

by Jay Mankus

Don’t Lose Sight of the Mission

There are 3 main aspects that guide people through life. Some personalities prefer living task to task by creating daily to do lists. Others tend to be more goal oriented by setting weekly, monthly and yearly goals which serve as a target to accomplish. My personal preference is to be vision oriented, using this as a filter to determine how and where I invest my time. Jesus told his disciples to be mission oriented.

But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth, Acts 1:8.

While visions and missions are similar, Jesus’ final objective before ascending into heaven was to fulfill the Great Commission, the blueprint for spreading the Gospel throughout the world. The heart of a Christian’s mission is to go and make disciples, Matthew 28:19-20. Yet, Luke discloses Jesus’ 3 step plan: share the gospel with everyone in Jerusalem, go to the surrounding towns and villages and then send missionaries to the ends of the earth.

Fight the good fight of the faith; lay hold of the eternal life to which you were summoned and [for which] you confessed the good confession [of faith] before many witnesses, 1 Timothy 6:12.

While writing a young first century pastor, the apostle Paul encourages this spiritual leader to not lose sight of the mission. When defeat and failure drag you down, you have to develop the will to press on. As the Devil attempts to distract you, 1 Peter 5:8, stand your ground, Ephesians 6:10-12. Although you can’t control what happens in the supernatural realm, keep on fighting for your faith by keeping your eyes on Jesus, Hebrews 12:1-3.

by Jay Mankus

Responding to the Open Doors in Life

Human nature is on full display in Genesis 3. Back in the Garden of Eden, Genesis 2:15-17, God only gave Adam and Eve one rule. The rest of the garden was free to explore. The story of mankind’s fall from grace was passed down orally until Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible. According to Genesis 3, no timetable is provided on the length of the serpent’s temptation. Sometimes open doors are snare traps set by the Devil. Responding to these open doors require caution, maturity and wisdom.

When angry, do not sin; do not ever let your wrath (your exasperation, your fury or indignation) last until the sun goes down. 27 Leave no [such] room or foothold for the devil [give no opportunity to him]. 28 Let the thief steal no more, but rather let him be industrious, making an honest living with his own hands, so that he may be able to give to those in need, Ephesians 4:26-28.

One chapter after the warning in the passage above, the apostle Paul introduces the concept of keeping in step with the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 5:25. Galatians 5:16-18 details this internal tug of war which Adam and Eve both lost. When a child is told not to do something by their parents, this boundary or restriction elicits a sense of curiosity. Subsequently, the Tree of Knowledge was accessible by exercising free will. Today, there are countless temptations, opens doors that end up trapping the curious into addictions.

Those whom I [dearly and tenderly] love, I tell their faults and convict and convince and reprove and chasten [I discipline and instruct them]. So be enthusiastic and in earnest and burning with zeal and repent [changing your mind and attitude]. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears and listens to and heeds My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will eat with him, and he [will eat] with Me, Revelation 3:19-20.

One of the most beneficial visions in the Bible is a door which only has one handle. God’s side of this door doesn’t have a handle. John’s vision is symbolic of free will. God will try to get your attention daily by knocking or via a still small voice, 1 Kings 19:12. The door handle is on your side so the only way to access open doors is by exercising freewill. Faith comes into play when you try to open these doors, but some may be locked for a season. May today’s song help you learn how to respond to open doors in life.

by Jay Mankus

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