The man called to raised Jesus stands out to me. He was not chosen randomly any more than Christ’s mother was chosen randomly (Lk. 1:28-38). Joseph was not only “just” but a conscientious person who considered his actions carefully (Matt. 1:19-20). He was also a patient person, as he knew not his wife until she had given birth to Jesus (Matt. 1:25). He led by example, and though we are privy to his thoughts in Matthew, Joseph never actually speaks in the book! Like Abel, “he being dead, yet speaketh” (Heb. 11:4).
Another thing that impresses me about Joseph is his lineage. In the section of Matthew, “we” tend to skip (Matt. 1:1-17), we learn that Joseph comes from a long line of kings, beginning with David (Matt. 1:6). Think of it – some 1000 years before Joseph was born, David lived and died. All those kings we read about in the Old Testament were leading up to Joseph’s time (Matt. 1:18)! What might have been a source of pride to men was not even mentioned after Matthew 1! While we read of some speaking of Jesus as being the “Son of David,” most of those who did denied this truth.
Joseph was an unassuming man living in an obscure town (Jn. 1:46). Yet, when the time came, he stepped up to the challenge of raising God’s Son! He is a good example for us today and deserves more credit than he gets much of the time! Among the outstanding characteristics he had, let’s also understand that he was an obedient man. He was obedient by staying with Mary and then by naming her son Jesus (Matt. 1:24-25). He might have been tempted to call Him “Joseph Jr.” or another name from the family. Instead, He obeyed God and gave Him the name God demanded (Matt. 1:21).
This man teaches us much by his actions. Will we take the time to learn? How might our lives change? How might they improve if we lived a life of obedience, patience, conscientiousness, and humility like Joseph? Live like Joseph for a month and see how your life improves. You will never want to return to your old way of living.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
I Samuel 16:7 tells us that God does not see things the way man does (Ps. 139:2). There is no denying this fact if we know anything about the Bible and what it reveals about the mind of God. Today, instead of writing a long article detailing the teaching in these verses, I thought I would make a chart that contrasts God’s wisdom with man’s wisdom.
Please study the chart below. Note the contrasts between God’s wisdom and man’s, and then decide who you will follow.
A good name is better than riches (v. 1).
Riches are the most important thing -- better than one’s reputation.
Our death day is better than our birthday (v. 1).
The day of death is the worst day of one’s life (with only a few exceptions, such as an incurable, painful disease).
The house of mourning is better than the house of feasting (v. 2).
Feasting is better than mourning.
Sorrow is better than laughter (v. 3).
Laughter is better than sorrow.
Wise men are in the house of mourning (v. 4).
Wise men are in the house of mirth.
It is better to hear the wise man’s rebuke (v. 5).
It is better to hear encouragement.
The laughter of fools is as vain as expecting thorns to provide heat (v. 6).
The laughter of fools is to be desired.
Accepting bribes will corrupt you (v. 7)
There is nothing wrong with getting money “under the table” from time to time.
The end of a thing is better than the beginning (v. 8).
The beginning is better than the end.
The patient is better than the proud (v. 8).
Being proud is better than being patient.
Be slow to anger. Anger rests with the fools (v. 9; Jas. 1:19).
Becoming angry and “cracking heads” gets things done.
Don’t live in the past (v. 10).
The “good ol’ days” are better than what we have today.
This list from Ecclesiastes 7 teaches us much. Notice how these Bible facts from Ecclesiastes show that man’s ideas stand polar opposite to God’s intent. I find it interesting that the apostle Paul taught a very similar thing in I Corinthians 1:18-31 when he spoke of the preaching of the cross.
The ultimate question we must answer is: To whom will we listen? Will we listen to the world and follow “conventional wisdom” or listen to God and turn man’s wisdom on its head? Remember what David said about God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100)? Listen to him! At the end of the day, we must decide for ourselves, and must face the consequences of that decision. As for me and my house, we want to listen to God. Who will you follow, friend?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Solomon, the wisest man to walk the earth (I Kings 4:30-31) offers us advice today. He records that he had tried it all, but the best that the world had to offer was still not enough (Ecc. 2:11). I find it interesting that when we read Ecclesiastes 2:1-12, Solomon fell into the same trap we today are prone to fall.
Solomon said he tried laughter (2:2), wine (2:3), buildings (2:5-6), possessions (2:7-10), entertainment (2:8), and sensual pleasure with his concubines (2:8), and it all brought him to one conclusion -- it was worthless (2:11-12)! In reading this section, I find it interesting that Solomon’s choices are the same ones the world today holds up to us as measurements of success. Think about it. If you are to be “successful” by the world’s standards:
- Live by the motto: “If it feels good, do it.” When it stops feeling good, then stop doing it and do something else.
- Be sophisticated and drink alcohol.
- Build things so there is some “monument” or “legacy” when you are gone.
- Be entertained.
- Make sure and engage in sensual/sexual pleasure without concern for marriage.
- Stockpile all of the goods and possessions that you can. Money equals happiness!
If the world’s standard means happiness, why was Solomon so sure this was a waste of his time on earth? Why wasn’t Solomon happy? In like manner, why are there so many successful people who are miserable today? Koheleth (the Preacher) calls the future generations together to say that; actually, this is not what brings happiness or joy to life (Ecc. 2:11-12)!
Friend, let us learn a lesson from the Preacher and get our priorities straight (Matt. 6:33). Jesus has a better way. He reminds us, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15). Contrast Ecclesiastes 2 with Hebrews 11:32-40. God says that the world was not “worthy” of those prophets and folks who dwelled in deserts, mountains, and caves, not in men’s palaces. What made the difference? Study this and learn that this difference made all the difference!
Fulfillment in life does not come with “things,” but with what is intangible (II Cor. 4:18). Preparation for Heaven, stockpiling treasure in Heaven is far greater than the treasure we might amass on earth (Matt. 6:19-21). Where is your treasure, friend? Where is your heart? Solomon lived a life of opulence and found it all empty. His words and life stand as an object lesson for us. Are we willing to listen and learn? Let’s get our priorities straight and have a fulfilled life in Christ. If you’re not a Christian, then become one while you can (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). If you have already done this, then stay faithful (Rev. 2;10). Lay up your true treasure in Heaven.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Peter’s motivation to keep the saved saved is apparent in this book. He determined to remind them of the present truth so long as he lived in order to protect them from the false teachers (ch. 1-2). As chapter three begins, Peter repeats his theme. In this case, he said he wanted to “stir up (their) pure minds by way of remembrance” (II Pet. 3:1).
The word “pure” in this text means what we think it means -- “unmixed, unsullied, sincere” (Arndt and Gingrich; Strong’s). Having a “pure mind” stands in contrast with the false teachers whose minds were wicked, and had “exercised” themselves to act in a covetous manner (II Pet. 2:14). The pure minds of the people needed to be preserved and the only way to do this was to make sure their minds were focused on God’s word (II Pet. 3:1-2). These people had not been stained or sullied by the false doctrines referred to in chapter two, and Peter was trying hard to keep it that way!
It gives me pause to read that these folks had pure minds because they, like all of us, have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Their minds had been corrupted with sin and wickedness. How could they have pure minds, now? If I know how these people who lived in sin developed pure minds, then I will know how I can develop a pure mind! The answer is that though they had acted in wicked ways, things changed when they heard the truth, believed in Christ, repented of their sins, confessed Christ, and were baptized (Acts 2:36-38, 8:35-38, 16:30-34). Having followed the Lord’s plan of salvation, and as they continued to learn the truth and be reminded of what they knew, Peter said they had “pure minds.”
How can we who have sinned keep our minds pure now, i.e., unmixed with error and sin? We now know the answer. In order to have pure minds, we need to cleanse them (Ps. 119:9), and keep them pure! We need to follow the Lord’s plan of salvation (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16). As saved people, we must also keep our noses in the Book (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15; II Pet. 3:2)! Only when we know what God has said can we then apply it to our lives to make the right decisions. To keep our minds pure, we need to avoid those doctrines and practices that will corrupt us (I Thess. 5:21-22)! How will we know what corrupts, though, if we don’t remember the truth (Jn. 17:17)?
How much time do you spend in God’s word? How do you expect to have a pure mind otherwise? Peter said there was no other way to be pure except to spend time learning and especially being reminded of the truth that we know (II Pet. 3:1-2)! Let’s make sure and listen to the story the never grows old and apply it to our lives daily so we can have pure minds!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
“Having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin” is a vivid description of false teachers (II Pet. 2:14). It reminds me of the description of the people before the Flood when “every imagination of the thoughts of (man’s) heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). To have one’s eyes “full of adultery” is a poetic way of saying these people see the perverse in everything. Purity and innocence are gone from them. Sin has perverted their minds.
This statement, “cannot cease from sin,” doesn’t meant they physically couldn’t stop sinning. They could change if they desired (II Pet. 3:9). It means that these folks won’t stop. They have “exercised” their hearts to where they think of only the wicked, the ugly, the sinful, the impure, the dishonest, and the godless. It has become such a habit for them that it is like “second-nature.” It’s like breathing to them. Paul similarly described the Gentiles in Romans 1:18-32. Do you know people like this? Have you seen people like this in the mirror? I pray not!
It is these people that Peter says promise folks “liberty” though “they themselves are the servants (slaves) of corruption” (II Pet. 2:19)! These people are in bondage to their sin and wickedness, and they want others to go with them down the same road! This is the nature of those in bondage to sin. They don’t want people “judging” them, but joining them! They don’t want people to instruct them in the way that is right and cannot be wrong (Rom. 1:16-17; Jn. 8:31-32). They want consequences ignored as they think about all the “freedom” and all the “fun” they are having in sin!
As an example, this is the practice of any alcohol ad. The commercials focus on the “fun-times,” or the “sophistication,” or just quiet introspection as one thoughtfully drinks alcohol. At the end, we read the disclaimer to “Think when you drink” or a reminder to have a designated driver, or there is the fine print where a toll-free number for “A.A.” is offered. Why the disclaimers? I thought alcohol brings good times and sophistication! Why a designated driver? Doesn’t alcohol make you smart? Apparently, alcohol promises one thing (liberty) but brings something else (bondage). If you are not sure about this, ask why it is that alcohol commercials never include winos or the people whose marriages were destroyed because of alcohol. Why do we never see ads showing the people having “DT’s” when coming off of a weekend bender? “When shall I awake? I will seek it yet again” (Prov. 23:25). This is the mantra of the addicted person, i.e., the one who is fooled into thinking he is free when he is actually in bondage.
Other examples of spiritual bondage abound, but the point is that a man can sin so much until it is “second-nature.” He can lie so frequently that he no longer knows what the truth is! Someone who cannot cease from sin is in slavery and needs to get out! The only One who can free us from the bondage of sin is Christ (Jn. 8:31-32, 36). He makes it possible for us to “escape the pollutions of this world (II Pet. 2:20). The question is, will we accept His cure? He sacrificed His life for all (Matt. 20:28), but not everyone accepts it (Matt. 7:13-14, Acts 17:30-34).
What will you do? Will you continue in bondage, or will you accept freedom in Christ? When we believe on Christ (Jn. 8:32), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3, 5), confess our faith (Rom. 10:10), and are baptized, we can be made “free from sin” (Rom. 6:17-18; Acts 22:16). The sin that was once “second-nature” we can drop and can accept true freedom in Christ! Why are you waiting?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs