Interruptions are frustrating, aren’t they? Interruptions might slow us down or even stop us from doing what we’d planned to do. Someone has said that we ought not to be so frustrated by interruptions. Perhaps it is that this is the time God wants us to slow down and reconsider our plans. I’m not sure we could say that’s true for every interruption, but perhaps this observation has some merit on occasions when God’s providence is at work.
Have we ever noticed that Jesus was interrupted a lot in His work? One such interruption came in Mark 5:21-43. After Jesus returned from Gadara, on the east side of the Sea of Galilee, He was met by a great crowd. Jairus, one of the rulers of the synagogue, fought the people to ask Christ to heal his daughter, who was very sick (v. 23). As Jesus traveled to Jairus’ house, a lady who’d been stricken with illness for 12 years came to Him and touched the hem of his garment for healing (v. 28-29).
Her act stopped Jesus. It interrupted the trip to Jairus’ house in that moment. Her action wasn’t unknown to Jesus. He is God and knows all (Jn. 2:25, 6:64; Acts 15:18; Heb. 4:13). His question to her wasn’t unlike the question God asked in the Garden (Gen. 3:9). His question caused her to stop and she confessed to what she had done when she interrupted Him (Mk. 5:33).
Notice Christ’s response to this lady. “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace and be whole of thy plague” (Mk. 5:34). This interruption did more than just stop Jesus. It allowed Him to do some vital teaching. In this account, He taught the apostles, and teaches us!
What does Christ teach us in Mark 5? He teaches us that the faith that saves isn’t merely a mental assent. If this woman had stood out of the way and merely stated her belief to others that Jesus could heal her, it would’ve done nothing for her. She had to act! James teaches us the same truth when he declares, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (Jas. 2:24) and “faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:26)!
When we study this short but powerful interruption, we see a woman who definitely believed that Jesus is the Son of God. This is why she decided to go and meet Jesus. She fought the crowd (Mk. 5:27). She reached for Christ’s garment (Mk. 5:28), trusting that even to touch His garment meant healing. Later, she’d confess what she did (Mk. 5:33). Therefore, after she’d believed and acted on this faith by going to where Jesus was, fighting the crowds, and touching His garment, she then confessed her faith to Christ. In response, Jesus commended her saying, “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Mk. 5:34).
Yes, friends, the faith that saves is the faith that obeys! It motivates us to act when we might not have acted otherwise. This is Bible faith! Do you have Bible faith? If not, why not? Without this, we can’t please God (Heb. 11:6). How do we get such faith? Faith comes by hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17), and then this faith grows by being exercised (Heb. 11; Rom. 16:1-15)! What kind of faith do you have? Is it living or dead (Jas. 2:26)? Are we acting on our faith as the woman did in Mark 5, or are we too afraid?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In our previous study, we studied about Christ calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be fishers of men. One other event connected with this calling is found in Mark 1:20 (and Matt. 4:22). Mark makes a point of saying that Peter and Andrew “forsook their nets,” and when James and John left, they left their father in the boat. Matthew’s account varies slightly by saying they left “their ship and their father.” Either way, the point is that things were left behind to follow Christ. In these four men’s cases, they had to leave their family (father) and their business (ship and nets) to follow the Lord and be “fishers of men.”
Jesus didn’t take such decisions for granted. Later, He told the disciples, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mk. 10:29-30).
Christ never promised the disciples a life of ease when He called for them. Nor did He promise a life free from sacrifice! I think Mark 1:18-20 states this lesson quite succinctly. Matthew 8:19-22 and Luke 9:59-62 teach a similar truth when three people approach the Lord about following Him, and each person is told essentially to choose Him over anyone and anything else. Yes, following the Lord requires sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2)! He never promised a life of ease on earth. He promised life eternal (Matt. 25:46) and rest one day (Heb. 4:9) if we’ve been faithful now!
Many have sacrificed for the Lord through the years. I think of Elijah, Elisha, Job, and many others in the Old Testament. Some have lost their lives in order to remain faithful to God. This is recorded for us in Scripture. Even our “secular” history records the lives of those who risked life and limb that the gospel might spread far and wide. While many lost their lives, still others lost their livelihoods, and some lost families in order to live according to God’s will. I can think of many preachers of the gospel whose sacrifices have allowed me to preach where I am today, and I’m thankful.
The older I get, the more I understand, though, that anything truly worth having will cost something. I’ve also seen that (with a few exceptions) we don’t usually appreciate the things given to us without some condition. Usually, the things for which we haven’t struggled and earned are the first things we give away or sell. If that item breaks or is stolen, there’s little emotion involved. I hasten to add I know there are exceptions to this, for example, an inheritance or something similar, but usually, what I’m saying is true. Watch people and see if I’m not right!
I know it sounds trite to say, “There is no free lunch,” but that is a true statement. For you to get something “free” means someone else bought it. That includes the “free gift” of our salvation (Rom. 5:15-16, 6:23)! Someone else paid a price that we might have the opportunity to be saved (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9; etc.). Don’t get me wrong, there are conditions attached to this “free gift,” and rightfully so! We can’t enjoy the blessings of God’s gift unless we believe in Christ (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3), confess Christ as God’s Son (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). We must have some “skin in the game,” and we do when we make that commitment to accept the Lord’s conditions and follow Him for the rest of our days (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10b; etc.). We must put the Lord first (Matt. 6:33) and not be “conformed” but be “transformed” (Rom. 12:2), that we might grow closer to the Lord every day.
Four apostles in this text left family and business to follow Christ and serve Him for the rest of their days (Mk. 1:18-20). What’ve we left behind? Does the gospel mean anything to you? Does the cross mean anything? Have we been fooled into thinking that being a Christian requires little more than warming a padded pew and devoting my time for an hour or so on Sunday? Have we left anything behind willingly? If not, why not? Those who think that being a Christian is nothing or that there isn’t true sacrifice involved in being a Christian have never read the Book! The gospel demands much of us. Ask Peter, Andrew, James, and John what it cost them! However, the reward will surely be worth it (Rom. 8:18).
Are you ready to leave this world behind to gain Heaven?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Three times in the book, the Shulammite warns to “stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please” (Song of Sol. 2:7, 3:5, 8:4). Other versions translate this phrase as:
- “do not let love be moved till it is ready” (BBE).
- “never to awaken love before it is ready.” (CEV).
- “you will not awaken love or arouse love before its proper time” (GW).
This thrice-repeated phrase emphasizes the fact that there is a need for patience when those feelings of romantic love are kindled. Our world pushes our children to engage in the physical aspects of love at earlier and earlier ages. Instead of being concerned about the purity of thought and motive in life (Job 31:1; Matt. 5:27-28, 15:18-20; Phil. 4:8-9; I Tim. 5:2), and with no training to understand the difference between lust and love, our world encourages such acts and says the most important thing is to be mentally “ready” and have “protection.”
As I reflect on this passage, I am impressed with this woman. Though speaking of her love in such beautiful ways in this book (and he responds in kind), her attitude is not to look for the nearest bedroom or hotel room (Song of Sol. 4:12). Instead, she asks folks not to try to arouse something that is not ready to be awakened. In a society obsessed with sex, we need to be a people who respect God’s will on the subject and not arouse feelings until the proper time in life, and then express them in marriage to our spouses (Heb. 13:4).
When reading these three passages, let those who respect God’s law on marriage beware as well! What I mean is that there are some who would not do anything to commit fornication, yet they will marry someone when they are not really in love. Some marry out of convenience, perhaps to better their finances, or perhaps to leave an abusive home, or boredom, or simply out of the sense of “duty” (“This is what comes next in life.”). Is this you, dear reader?
Many are miserable because they married, not out of love, but convenience. Not love, but “duty.” Some were just desperate and thought the person who showed them any attention or admiration must be the “one.” If you respect God’s law for marriage (Matt. 5:31-32, 19:9; Rom. 7:2-3), then you recognize that this is the person you must live with for the rest of your days. Marrying for reasons other than love is not a Scriptural reason for divorce. Instead, you must figure out how to live with this person and hopefully learn to love him or her. Yet, this was not the best decision that could have been made! Single people, listen to the words of this smart lady in Solomon’s Song! Don’t arouse feelings when they are not mature yet! Don’t leave one problem for another! These feelings will blossom at the right time, and at that right time, there will be someone blossoming for you.
Lastly, let us make sure we do not mistake lust for love! This is yet another reason not to arouse certain feelings until they are ready. There is a great difference between lust and love, but sadly, some do not recognize the difference until it is too late. Whether they have sinned against God and their bodies by committing fornication (I Cor. 6:18-20) or have committed to a loveless marriage, nothing good will come from this. God is love (I Jn. 4:8), and the best definition of love is found in I Corinthians 13:4-8. Single people, look for someone who will share this with you as a spouse. Married people, live these verses!
Is there any doubt that this wonderful song belongs in the “wisdom literature” of the Old Testament? Much wisdom is revealed here. Let us hear and obey and be blessed (Rom. 15:4).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
In Song of Solomon 2:4, the Shulammite declares that her beloved has placed a banner over her; and this banner is love. In context, we see a woman who was considered beautiful by this future husband, so he brought her before friends and others (1:12, 2:4a). She demurely says she is but the Rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys, or lily among thorns (2:1-2). She sees herself as a sunburnt maiden (1:5-6) but is reassured when her future husband compliments her true beauty (1:8-10, 15-17) and puts his banner of love over her (2:4).
Oh, the beauty of true love! True love looks deeper than the skin. True love looks within the person. It reminds me of the statements made about God. For example, “man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (I Sam. 16:7). The Holy Spirit said, “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13). When we remember that “God is love” (I Jn. 4:8), then we understand even more how God has the ability to look upon the inward person.
What causes two people to live a life together for decades? Love (Eph. 5:22-33)! What is the motivation for a person to stay with another despite disease, disability, dementia, until separated by death? Love! True love causes us to see beyond the flesh, beyond the coif, beyond the “painted up and powdered up” person at work or on a date. True love says I will accept this person regardless of what the outward “package” looks like or what might happen to it through the years! Ladies, there is a reason God wants “the hidden man of the heart” to be revealed to others, and part of the reason is that “the hidden man of the heart” is “of great price” in God’s sight (I Pet. 3:4). Ladies, this what your spouse truly loves and not what the outside looks like!
Long after the world has dismissed someone, the one who truly loves is still there! Matthew 22:39 means much more to us when we realize this passage applies in our homes, among those we have known for years, as well as among the strangers we meet for a few seconds one day and never see again. Love looks deeper than the skin. How “deeply” do you look at a person?
Look again at Song of Solomon 2:4 for a spiritual application. The “banner” over the Shulammite was love because this man loved his future bride. He loved her so deeply that his loved wrapped or covered her! Thus it is with God! His love surrounds us, as well. Think about it -- All of us have sinned and have been stained by it (Rom. 3:23; Isa. 1:18-19). Yet, when God looks upon us, He looks in love (Jn. 3:16). Because He loves us, He made a way by which we can be free from sin (Rom. 5:6-8; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Acts 2:38).
At the same time, love cannot be forced! The Shulammite and her beloved loved each other freely. Thus it is with God. He loves us freely and wants us to do the same (Matt. 11:18-20; Rev. 22:14; etc.). His banner of love covers us; will we accept it? Will we tell others about this love? Indeed, “the greatest” is love (I Cor. 13:13), and this passage gives us a glimpse as to why!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The Preacher wrote to an innumerable company of young people (including us) and stated, “If the iron be blunt, and he do not whet the edge, then must he put to more strength: but wisdom is profitable to direct” (Ecc. 10:10, KJV).
Other versions state this passage as:
- “If you don't sharpen your ax, it will be harder to use; if you are smart, you'll know what to do” (Common English Version).
- “If your ax is dull and you don't sharpen it, you have to work harder to use it. It is smarter to plan ahead” (Good News Bible).
- “If an ax is blunt and the edge isn't sharpened, then one has to use more strength. But wisdom prepares the way for success” (“God’s Word”).
- “If an iron axhead is blunt and a workman does not sharpen its edge, he must exert a great deal of effort; so wisdom has the advantage of giving success” (New English Translation).
The point of this proverb is to remind people that preparation goes a long way in bringing success. We have heard the statement about folks having to do things “the hard way.” How true this is! Some are convinced that if the ax is not cutting well enough, the answer is to hit harder! Solomon says the wise person plans ahead to sharpen the ax, and then the work goes easier.
In this section of Ecclesiastes, we see other examples of Solomon telling us that preparation is critical (Ecc. 10:11a, 15, 18). Remember, if we don’t take time to sharpen the “ax,” we’ll work harder than necessary to get the work done. Preparation, planning, or forethought, makes our lives much easier! The fool doesn’t see this. The fool strolls blindly through life and then wonders why bad things befall him (Ecc. 10:14-15). The wise understand that we are the result of our decisions!
In Ecclesiastes 10:10, we are reminded that foolishness will make us work harder than we need to work. If a man takes the time to prepare for his work and do what is necessary, his work goes faster and easier. I am reminded of the old statement: “Work smarter, not harder.” I used to think that was a silly statement, because how can you work “smart” without also working “hard”? I have since learned better and see the wisdom in the statement. It is truly a reflection of Ecclesiastes 10:10!
The spiritual application of Ecclesiastes 10:10 is quite simple. Are we going to listen to the wisdom of Solomon? There is an eternity of “hardship” that awaits the unprepared (Matt. 25:41-46; II Thess. 1:6-9)! If we want a peaceful and joyous eternity in the presence of God, then let us prepare and do the work now (II Cor. 6:2; Heb. 3:7-8, 15)! Someone said, “A soldier is not wasting his time when he is sharpening his sword.” How much time do we spend sharpening our “sword”? In other words, how much time do we spend with the “sword of the Spirit” (Eph. 6:17) and learning what God wants us to do while on earth (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15)? How much time do we spend purposely preparing our souls for Heaven by spending time in prayer (I Thess. 5:17)? How much time do we spend living Philippians 4:8-9; Matthew 7:12-14; and Mark 16:15-16?
Our lives are much harder with a dull ax! Wisdom says to sharpen it! What will you do?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs