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Thursday, February 06, 2020

It never fails that when people determine to do what the Lord says, they will meet with criticism and ridicule. Friend, has anyone ever criticized you for doing the Lord’s will? Of course, it can get worse than mere critique. Family and friends have rejected some for being Christians. I know people whose parents have disowned them and deny they are even their children! Yes, some people are hated to this degree for merely trying to do what God has said.

I wish I could say this is a new phenomenon, but it is not. When the Jews determined to rebuild the walls and began to make progress, Sanballat was there to mock them (Neh. 4:1)! He was greatly angered that they were even trying this! Remember, this was the same man who was grieved that Nehemiah wanted to come and help the people in the first place (Neh. 2:10). He had ridiculed the people already and falsely charged Nehemiah and the leaders with rebellion (2:19-20). Now, the people’s success fostered a whole new level of hate in him (Neh. 4:2)!

Tobiah made fun of the people and their work. He said it was such a disgrace that a fox could come up and knock the stones down (Neh. 4:3)! When these men heard that the people were content to do God’s will, and ignored the ridicule, they increased the intensity of the threats and plotted to physically fight the people (Neh. 4:7-8). Thankfully, the people were resolved and ready to defend their work if needed (Neh. 4:16-23).

Yes, these people faced their share of “haters,” as will we. Are you ready to stand for the Lord in spite of what others might say? Will you continue to stand when the hatred and harsh words and actions become more intense? I am thankful to God that these people had Nehemiah to encourage them during this hard time (Neh. 4:14-15). Who is your encourager to continue in the fight? Who are you encouraging? Others need encouragement as well, you know!

Facing opposition is something that is promised (II Tim. 3:12). It is not a matter of “if” but “when.” Jesus said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me” (Jn. 15:18-21).

When we strive to act as the Lord, why would we be surprised that the world treats us as they once treated the Lord? Rather than being caught up in hate, or trying to exact revenge somehow, let us take the words of Christ to heart and remember that there is something better awaiting the child of God (I Cor. 15:58; Rom. 8:18; II Cor. 4:17)!

Don’t let the “haters” discourage you. Pray for their souls, and pray for their change of heart (Matt. 5:44-48). The saddest part of all is the fact that these people are so wrapped up in hate that they do not see that their souls are in jeopardy daily. Remember, though, that the suffering in Hell for them will be far worse than the suffering I endure at their hands. May I love them more than they hate me. May I be active in leading someone to Christ who used to hate but now has the opportunity to see Heaven because He loves the Lord and loves His children (I Jn. 5:2-4).

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

A Reversal Of Fortune

Friday, January 31, 2020

After Haman’s plans for killing the Jews, including Esther, were revealed (Est. 7:6), things moved very quickly. Mordecai’s enemy ended up hanging from the gallows he had made for him (v. 10). Not only this, but the ring Haman once wore was given to Mordecai (Est. 8:2). The position once held by Haman, Mordecai now held. The entire population of Jews, once oppressed, were allowed weapons and to have a fair fight against the Persians (Est. 8:11-12, 9:2-3). Yes, God in His providence caused a complete reversal in the plans of Haman “the enemy of the Jews.”

This is not the only time we read about this happening. When Jesus spoke about the eternal destiny of the rich man and Lazarus, we find another time when things were reversed (Lk. 16:19-31). Specifically, Abraham reminds the rich man, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (v. 25). Upon analyzing the context, we see many “reversals” that took place between the rich man and Lazarus. Just like Haman and Mordecai, many things changed between them. I marvel at this because perhaps those five brothers he left behind thought of their brother as a godly man and one bound for eternal bliss. God knew what was going on “behind the scenes,” and this man got what he deserved. In reality, the rich man and Lazarus experienced a true reversal from what they had experienced on earth.

The most significant reversal of all was the reversal Christ performed when He made salvation possible through His death, burial, and resurrection (Matt. 26:28; Col. 1:14, 20; Heb. 9:28; I Jn. 2:2; Rom. 6:2-6, 16-18; I Pet. 3:21). Satan thought that he had won. He had succeeded in tempting the first people to sin (Gen. 3:1-6). They sinned, and we have had to live with the consequences on this earth ever since (Gen. 3:16-24). Satan then tempted Cain (Gen. 4:1-11), Abraham (Gen. 12, 20), Moses (Num. 20), David (II Sam. 11-12), and every other man and woman on earth (Rom. 3:23)! He succeeded in getting humanity to sin and to jeopardize their souls before God.

Satan seemed to be winning until Christ came to earth! At that time, we see a reversal taking place. Christ was tempted like others, but did not yield (Matt. 4:1-11; Lk. 4:1-13; Heb. 4:15). He “did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (I Pet. 2:22). Furthermore, when He died, He did not die in sin but died to be a sacrifice for others’ sins (I Pet. 3:18). Where Adam brought death, we see that Christ brings life (I Cor. 15:22). Yes, a complete reversal is possible in Christ!

Are you ready for a new beginning? Are you ready for “light, and gladness, and joy, and honor” (Est. 8:16)? Spiritually, you can have these things by following the Lord and doing what He says. Become a Christian (Acts 11:26; Mk. 16:16). Live faithfully for the Lord (I Cor. 15:58), and you can look forward to Heaven (another reversal from life on earth) when this life is over (Matt. 25:34)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

The True Face of Sin

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Many today treat sin as nothing. Some tell us that sin is non-existent. Others treat sin as a fairy tale to scare children. Many people act as if they have “outgrown” sin, and they live their lives oblivious to the harm they are doing to their souls and the souls of others. Proverbs 14:9 declares, “Fools make a mock at sin ….”

When it was known that Haman’s law was in force, Mordecai “cried with a loud and bitter cry; he even came before the king’s gate … clothed with sackcloth” (Est. 4:1-2). He later told Esther how her life stood in jeopardy along with the rest of the Jews (v. 13-14). They faced death from a bitter enemy all because this enemy allowed his pride, envy, and anger to influence his decisions. Mordecai didn’t treat Haman’s actions as a joke or a fairy tale.

Sin is no joke (Prov. 14:9)! It is not silly, nor is it something where one gets a “slap on the hand” or has to sit in the corner to make things right. The wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23), and it is high time we realized how dangerous sin is! We see a picture of the horrible nature of sin when we read Mordecai’s response (Est. 4:1-2). He and his nation were going to suffer because of a man’s sinful action if something was not done quickly.

The same is true today. We stand in spiritual jeopardy because of sin (Ezek. 18:20). We have sinned because we have given in to our lusts and acted in ways we ought not (Jas. 1:14-15). What are we doing to correct the situation? Did we notice that after Mordecai cried, he got busy! We need to do the same thing.

Once we realize that we have sinned, we need to act to be free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). I am impressed that in the New Testament when we read where people understood the heinous nature of their sin, they moved quickly to get out of it. They didn’t wait, but went “the same hour of the night … immediately” (Acts 16:33) to correct their error. This was not an accident but was the result of preachers telling them that they needed to act quickly (II Cor. 6:2). “Today if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” is the message of the gospel (Heb. 3:7-8, 15)!

Do not wait until tomorrow or farther into the future. We have no lease on life (Jas. 4:14; Ps. 90:12). We must act quickly. The true face of sin is horrible. It is far worse than the physical death that Mordecai dreaded. Sin leads us to an eternal death where there is nothing but darkness, pain, and suffering for eternity (Matt. 22:13, 25:30; Rev. 14:10-11).

Mordecai hoped a change of the law might save them. In like manner, a “change of the law” (Heb. 7:12-14) has made all the difference for us. Since Christ died upon the cross as a sacrifice for our sins, we now have a way to become free from sin (Rom. 6:17-18). When we follow the Lord’s plan of salvation (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38), we can be free and do not have to face the consequences of our sin. The true face of sin leads us to an eternity away from the Lord in a Devil’s Hell. The remedy for sin is to be baptized and to remain faithful to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). “Put on the armor of light … make no provision for the flesh” and enjoy the blessings that come in Christ (Rom. 13:11, 14; Eph. 1:3).

Christ defeated sin. Have you done what the Lord wants? The true face of sin is worse than anything you can imagine. Do not go to your grave in sin!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

The Handwriting On The Wall

Thursday, January 16, 2020

When Belshazzar hosted a drunken feast using the utensils that came from the Temple, the fingers of a man’s hand appeared and wrote “Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin” in the plaster of the wall. These words spelled death and destruction for Belshazzar and Babylon (Dan. 5). It is this event that has given rise to the statement we use today when we say someone has “seen the handwriting on the wall.”

Not too many years later, a man had an experience that mirrored those events in Daniel 5. After Ahasuerus told Haman to parade Mordecai before the people in the square or plaza around Shushan, he returned home humiliated. Upon telling his wife and friends what happened that day, they told Haman that since this is so, he will surely fall before Mordecai (Est. 6:13). The plans of Zeresh and the others (Est. 5:14) were dashed when they heard what had happened. Thus, they voiced their warning to Haman (Est. 6:14).

Would Haman listen? Would he heed the “handwriting on the wall”? Haman faced imminent danger as he went to the Queen’s second banquet (Est. 7), just as Belshazzar faced imminent danger on that dreadful night in Babylon (Dan. 5:30). What choice would he make? He still had a chance to change things at this time.

Will we read -- not the writing on the wall, but the writing in the Book (Eph. 3:4)? The Bible warns us about sin and its consequences (Rom. 6:23; Jas. 1:14-15; Rev. 21:8). When we read these words, we are made aware of the expectations God has for us (Jn. 14:15; Col. 3:17; Rev. 22:14). Will we pay attention to His writing and obey, realizing that our days on earth are numbered (Heb. 5:9; Ps. 90:12)? There is a Hell to avoid and a Heaven to accept, and our “second chance” to get it right is now (II Cor. 6:2)!

Don’t be like Haman, who, when warned, refused to listen. Heed the warnings from God and from others who love you and want you to be saved (Heb. 12:1-2; Mk. 16:16)! Tomorrow may be too late!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Ephesians 1:22-23

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Ephesians 1:22-23

                   And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. These two verses remind us of the supremacy of Christ. He is head over all things (Matt. 28:18; Col. 1:18). God gave Christ this position, and we need to respect it (Eph. 1:20-21). At the same time, we see how the body (church) is the “fullness of him that filleth all in all.” This speaks of a special relationship wherein Christ is in us, but we also are in Him (Jn. 6:56, 15:4-7, 17:21; I Jn. 3:24; etc.)! This relationship is possible for those who are baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:27). No one can say that the church has little or no importance! Some want to tell us to emphasize Christ and not the church. How can we do this in light of passages like Ephesians 1:22-23? Christ stands supreme as the head over His church, and at the same time, the church is His body! We can be a part of it and enjoy the fellowship in Christ today when we submit to His plan of salvation (Acts 2:38, 47)!

– Jarrod Jacobs

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