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Tag Archives: The Holy Spirit

The Picture of Perfection

As a young aspiring athlete, my picture of perfection was the best player in every sport. Wayne Gretsky in hockey, Dr. J in basketball, Steve Carlton in baseball and Reggie White in football. Before the existence of social media, news was strictly based upon a player’s performance. Today, there is no picture of perfection as critics on the right and left pick apart rising stars like vultures during a feeding frenzy.

You, therefore, must be perfect [growing into complete [ak]maturity of godliness in mind and character, [al]having reached the proper height of virtue and integrity], as your heavenly Father is perfect, Matthew 5:48.

The Sermon on the Mount points to perfection, but in the sense of striving towards it. The apostle Paul quotes an Old Testament prophet in Romans 3:9-12 to burst the bubble on human perfection. In case you haven’t heard, this is impossible as all men and women has fallen short of God’s glory despite how hard each has tried, Romans 3:23. Despite this painful reality, Hebrews 4:15-16 refers to Jesus as a great high priest who was a model of perfection, dying on our behalf.

For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), [d]recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live], Ephesians 2:10.

If life is meant to be a series of trial and error, sooner or later you’ll start to take steps toward perfection. The apostle Paul compares God to a spiritual potter, constantly molding and fashioning us into His image, Romans 9:20-21. Meanwhile, Paul compares God to a carpenter in the passage above. Depending upon your gifts and talents, the Holy Spirit seeks to guide you toward the good works God has planned for you in the future, Philippians 1:6. As you keep in step with the Holy Spirit, Galatians 5:25, may your life resemble the fruits if God’s Spirit like a picture of spiritual perfection.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 347: Friend Like That

As someone who has moved multiple times in life, true friends are hard to find. Whether it was moving from New Jersey to Delaware in Elementary School or from Delaware to Ohio in college, when you do finally relocate, you will find out who your real friends truly are. When none of them reach out to you after your departure, your friendship was more of an acquaintance than anything else. Perhaps, this is the inspiration behind Hawk Nelson’s song Friend Like That.

The man of many friends [a friend of all the world] will prove himself a bad friend, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Proverbs 18:24.

King Solomon wrote about what a true friend meant to him in the passage above. Through the years, Christian artists have reflected upon this topic with songs by Geoff Moore, Michael W. Smith, and Steven Curtis Chapman. When a friend does stick closer than a brother, this kind of relationship becomes a spiritual treasure. As a new year begins, may the Holy Spirit inspire you to find a friend like that in 2023.

by Jay Mankus

Jesus Brings His Light into Dark Places

One of the first Christian songs I was introduced to was Pass It On. This campfire begins with “it only takes a spark to get a fire going.” During the first retreat I ever attended in high school, I was told by the Youth Director to “come as you are.” The context surrounding this Saturday night message was that Jesus meets you were you currently are in life. While many outside the church believe religion is about following a set of rules, Jesus brings His light into dark places to reach lost and lonely people, Luke 19:10.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a peck measure, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men that they may see your [z]moral excellence and your praiseworthy, noble, and good deeds and [aa]recognize and honor and praise and glorify your Father Who is in heaven, Matthew 5:14-16

The Sermon on the Mount is the only uninterrupted message presented by Jesus in the Bible. While the gospels are full of parables which illustrate spiritual truths, these 3 chapters (Matthew 5-7) highlight the need for followers of Jesus to shine their own light within their hearts into dark places on earth. The lives of Christians should add spiritual flavor to conversations as well as point to the city of a hill, (the local church) where the Holy Spirit thrives.

[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while [j]effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and [k]delight. 14 Do all things without grumbling and faultfinding and complaining [[l]against God] and [m]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, 16 Holding out [to it] and offering [to all men] the Word of Life, so that in the day of Christ I may have something of which exultantly to rejoice and glory in that I did not run my race in vain or spend my labor to no purpose, Philippians 2:13-16.

Hiding God’s light was not an option for the apostle Paul who spent his entire Christian life fulfilling the great commission, Acts 1:8. Paul personally experienced imprisonment and nearly died on a couple of occasions by brining Jesus’ light into dark places throughout the Middle East. Yet, despite the pain Paul endured, he called one congregation to become shinning spiritual stars by holding out the Bible to all nations. This is the model modern day Christians should emulate to shine God’s light into the darkness.

by Jay Mankus

A Moment Closest to Christ in the Face of Adversity

When I was in college, I attended a Walk to Emmaus Weekend. Following this amazing retreat with men, a group of us started an accountability group to keep the spiritual momentum going. Ed hosted this weekly get together on Monday night which was attended by Dave, D.R., Jack and me. The Reunion Group relied on an outline for sharing that included your moment closest to Christ. While at work today, the Holy Spirit opened by eyes and heart to a spiritual element that has been missing from my life.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever— 17 The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive (welcome, take to its heart), because it does not see Him or know and recognize Him. But you know and recognize Him, for He lives with you [constantly] and will be in you, John 16:16-17.

The emotions that I experienced were brought on due to my sister’s current battle with ovarian cancer. When I first moved to Delaware 25 years ago, I spent the first 10 years getting together on Friday nights for a combination of cards and games. While these nights at her house were often competitive and intense, this time brought our families together as my two oldest boys got to spend time with their older cousins Lizzy and Rachael. Unfortunately, over the past 15 years I’ve become so consumed with my own life that I haven’t spent enough time with the people I love.

I will not leave you as orphans [comfortless, desolate, bereaved, forlorn, helpless]; I will come [back] to you. 19 Just a little while now, and the world will not see Me any more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 At that time [when that day comes] you will know [for yourselves] that I am in My Father, and you [are] in Me, and I [am] in you, John 16:18-20.

My moment closest to Christ came in the form of a rhema, a message from the Holy Spirit. I was reminded of the song Wanting the Things You Get by Santa Fe. The message of the attached You Tube pierced my heart, flooding my soul with conviction of not investing my time on earth in relationships. Instead, I’ve wasted a decade on self-indulgence on my computer, phone and watching television. My pledge for 2023 is to begin focusing my life and time centered around getting to know and love my neighbors. As I continue to pray for the miracle of healing for my sister Kathie, seize every moment that you have with family this Christmas.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 317: Hope Has a Name

I first heard today’s song while driving home from work. I wasn’t able to catch the name or who this was by, but I couldn’t wait to get home to see if I could find Hope Has a Name on You Tube. Depending upon the musician, everyone has their own opinion of how a certain song should be done. Some focus on the melody, others on keys and notes and song writers add their own two cents on how a song can be enhanced. Yet, when you sing about hope, Jesus is His name.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure, Romans 8:24-25.

The passage above comes from one of the most famous chapters in the Bible. The apostle Paul begins Romans 8 by comparing and contrasting the sinful nature with the Holy Spirit. The middle focuses on hope and the source of salvation. Yet, the ending is the most powerful as Paul declares that nothing can separate us from the love of God. As you listen to River Valley Worship’s version of Hope Has a Name, may you be touched as I was the first time, I heard this worship song.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 296: Never Alone

There are several remixes of Transform’s song Never Alone. While I wasn’t able to find an older remix that is longer and better than the attached video, this one will have to do. While the lyrics aren’t that spiritual in nature, the song points to the biblical promise in the passage below. In his letter to the Church at Rome, the apostle Paul tells this congregation that nothing can separate you from the love of God. Therefore, you’re never alone.

For I am persuaded beyond doubt (am sure) that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor things [n]impending and threatening nor things to come, nor powers, 39 Nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 8:38-39.

One of the ways Jesus comforted his disciples during Passion Week was to introduce the concept of a Holy Ghost, John 14:16-17. While Jesus doesn’t go into detail like the prophet Isaiah, Jesus compares the Holy Spirit to a spiritual counselor and guide. When you add this fact to the apostle Paul’s words, Christians should never feel alone. If you do, it’s likely due to the schemes of the Devil trying to separate you from God’s flock, 1 Peter 5:8. May today’s song comfort your heart.

by Jay Mankus

Active and Moving

To survive in the spiritual realm, you have to be alert, discerning, and proactive. Based upon the words of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-12, the Devil is always scheming something to take down Christians daily. One of Jesus’ disciples reveals this plot in 1 Peter 5:8. As someone who wasn’t prepared for Jesus’ arrest, Peter learned the hard way after publicly denying Jesus three times. Staying spiritually active and moving prevents you from becoming separated from God’s flock, other believers.

The earth was without form and an empty waste, and darkness was upon the face of the very great deep. The Spirit of God was moving (hovering, brooding) over the face of the waters, Genesis 1:2.

During an interaction at work last month, one of my managers noticed that I was always diligent and working hard when he sees me. My quick response naturally flowed out of me, “I only have one speed.” Either I’m still a hyperactive child in my fifties or I possess an old school mentality: “work is work and play comes after hours.” Like the Spirit of God hovering and moving over the earth prior to creation, I get antsy when I remain stagnant. Active and moving is more of my natural pace in life.

For the Word that God speaks is alive and full of power [making it active, operative, energizing, and effective]; it is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating to the dividing line of the [g]breath of life (soul) and [the immortal] spirit, and of joints and marrow [of the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and sifting and analyzing and judging the very thoughts and purposes of the heart, Hebrews 4:12.

According to one biblical author, the Holy Spirit isn’t the only thing moving and active. While the Bible has been translated into 724 languages as of 2022, the words inside this book are supernatural. The passage above highlights how a verse or an entire passage can emotionally move you. Whether it’s your conscience, heart or soul, conviction has a way of moving through our bodies. The next time you read the Bible, may you experience an active and moving God who resides in your heart via Jesus.

by Jay Mankus

A Vast and Lofty Mountain

Since the days of Moses, there has been an impression that the higher up you are in elevation, the closer you are to God. As a former skier, being in the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in the middle of winter is a clear sign of God’s creation, Romans 1:18-20. Looking down from the top of any cliff is intimidating. Yet, as someone who climbed the Blue Ridge Mountains during Christian retreats in college, I have felt God’s presence while on a vast and lofty mountain.

Now all the people perceived the thunderings and the lightnings and the noise of the trumpet and the smoking mountain, and as [they] looked they trembled with fear and fell back and stood afar off. 19 And they said to Moses, You speak to us and we will listen, but let not God speak to us, lest we die. 20 And Moses said to the people, Fear not; for God has come to prove you, so that the [reverential] fear of Him may be before you, that you may not sin. 21 And the people stood afar off, but Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was, Exodus 20:18-21.

I grew up in a church where the wrath of God in the Old Testament was emphasized. Meanwhile, God’s grace and the love of Jesus in the New Testament was rarely featured. Subsequently, I felt like the Israelites in the passage above, dwelling on God the disciplinarian. Fearing God is one thing, but thinking you’ll be punished each time you make an error or mistake is emotionally draining. Thus, God was too holy for me, far away on a vast and lofty mountain.

Then in the Spirit He conveyed me away to a vast and lofty mountain and exhibited to me the holy (hallowed, consecrated) city of Jerusalem descending out of heaven from God, Revelation 21:10.

When I became a high school Bible teacher, this ungodly belief slowly faded away. From time to time, this unworthy feeling would consume my soul, but the Holy Spirit set me free from this clouded and distorted view of God. I can’t point to the exact moment when this was flushed from my memory, but God’s grace paved the way to transform my mind. If this blog finds you in a similar place where I once was, may you find the confidence in the words of the apostle Paul in Philippians 1:6-7.

by Jay Mankus

S.A.N.S. Episode 280: There is Power

As times change, so does the positions within churches across the country. One of the latest trends is the transition from a Director of Music to Worship pastors. Such is the case for Lincoln Brewster, who serves as a pastor when he isn’t on tour. Today’s song comes from a live performance for K-Love Radio. The song Lincoln chose to perform is There is Power. The lyrics speak to the power of healing and preaching in the name of Jesus.

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control, 2 Timothy 1:7.

The apostle Paul provides advice to a teenager pastor in the passage above. Paul speaks about weak individuals who struggle with the fear of what other people think. Rather than be consumed by peer pressure, Paul urges this young man of God to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit. This includes a spirit of power, love, and self-control. While hidden from human sight, this supernatural power can transform lives by placing your sole trust in the Lord, Proverbs 3:5-6.

by Jay Mankus

Cut It Out… Or Be Cut Off

There were two common expressions the parents of teenagers in my neighbors used while trying to discipline unruly kids. The first was “knock it off,” but my dad often said, “cut it out.” When your father is a former defensive end and tight end in college, you do exactly what he says. One Old Testament prophet and Jesus make similar points in the passages below:

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened at all, that it cannot save, nor His ear dull with deafness, that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear. For your hands are defiled with blood and your fingers with iniquity; your lips have spoken lies, your tongue mutters wickedness. None sues or calls in righteousness [but for the sake of doing injury to others—to take some undue advantage]; no one goes to law honestly and pleads [his case] in truth; they trust in emptiness, worthlessness and futility, and speaking lies! They conceive mischief and bring forth evil! – Isaiah 59:1-4

I came face to face with this expression during the summer before my senior year of college. While playing sand volleyball with my good friend Eddy, I broke my ankle. Instead of enjoying my final month of summer, I was bed-ridden for two weeks. While lying in bed, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper “cut if out or be cut off”. Like the Laodiceans in Revelation 3:15-16, I had become a lukewarm Christian.

 I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]. Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing, John 15:1-5.

In the days that followed, I had come to a crossroads of faith. This was God’s way of saying, “make Jesus Lord of your life, Romans 10:9-11, or live for yourself.” At college I was a strong Christian, but at home in Cleveland I was chasing after earthly pleasures. August of 1991 altered my prodigal journey as I came to my spiritual senses to return home for good by beginning to cut out my former way of life, Colossians 3:5-9. May my personal journey inspire you to go all in by making Jesus Lord and Savior.

by Jay Mankus

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