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
Gaius, the recipient of III John, had many great qualities. One quality is revealed in John’s observation: “Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers” (III Jn. 5). The “strangers” in this text are similar to the “strangers” Peter wrote to in his first epistle (I Pet. 1:1). These people were Christians unknown to the face of Peter. Similarly, John said Gaius was faithful in treating the Christians who were “strangers” well.
The blessings of being in Christ are innumerable. We could make a detailed study of all the benefits God provides His children, and we would spend months and even years covering these things in their entirety (Eph. 1:3; II Pet. 1:3; etc.). At the same time, we see innumerable blessings on earth when we consider the blessings our brethren provide. III John 5 reveals the blessings we have in our brethren.
Read III John 5-8, and learn of the generosity of Gaius toward his brethren. His acts of charity (love, benevolence, v. 6) were well-known. He had provided in such a way that these folks went forth “for his name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles” (v. 7). In other words, they had no reason to ask for money or goods from others, because Gaius provided in such a generous way that they had all needs met. Who were these people? Notice in verse seven, it was those who went forth for “his name’s sake,” i.e., Christ’s name! These were men preaching the gospel far and wide, and when they left “for his name’s sake” from Gaius’ house, they went with their needs provided that they might get to the next place! Gaius’ actions remind me of what Christ said in Matthew 10:40-42.
John concludes that since Gaius did his job, “we ought to receive such” (v. 8). In other words, “we” have a job to do in receiving these people since Gaius did his part so that they could travel. I wish I knew more about this work and the generosity shown, but this is enough to make Gaius stand out as a man who wanted the gospel preached and willingly sacrificed to make it happen. Such a blessing!
Is Gaius still around? I say “yes” without a doubt. I have been the recipient of the brethren’s generosity on several occasions. I remember moving to a place, and when I went to get the electricity turned on in my house, I learned that “Gaius” had paid the “hookup” fee usually charged new customers. There was a time when another “Gaius” gave me traveling money when I held four back-to-back meetings. “Gaius” was present in another state of the Union to give me a brand new pair of boots, and also provide presents for my young boys just because he loved the gospel preached and saw this as something he could do to give a “cup of cold water” to another. “Gaius” has come through on several occasions. I remember one who played the part of “Gaius” and provided some support when she saw a preacher and his family in need. I speak in general terms because these people with the “Gaius” spirit didn’t want to be recognized! The most important thing is that they are known to God!
It is not exclusively the person offering financial support that serves in the role of “Gaius” (though this is the context of III John 5-8). I remember some brethren who cared for me in a time when my life was literally in their hands! I have not forgotten their kindness and generosity, and I know God hasn’t forgotten, either!
I could go on with sweet memories of modern-day “Gaius’.” I imagine that if I asked other men to write of their experiences, we would all rejoice at the multitudes of examples of dear brethren. John made mention of Gaius’ sacrifice and the blessing he was to others for a few reasons. First, he wrote this by inspiration, which means the Holy Spirit wanted these things revealed (Jn. 14-16; II Pet. 1:21-22). Second, these verses are written to encourage Gaius. His sacrifice was not forgotten nor unappreciated. In fact, it was the opposite (Prov. 27:2)! Third, Gaius’ example was other brethren’s motivation to do the same (III Jn. 8)! Read III John 8 carefully in this context and see that John says because Gaius did what he did, “we” have work to do on our end!
Just as Gaius was a blessing in the first century, we also can take up the mantle and be a blessing to others. Remember, we who are Christians (Mk. 16:16) are family (Rom. 8:16-17). We are one body (Eph. 4:4), and need to help encourage each other (Rom. 14:19; I Thess. 5:11). This encouragement comes in moral support and prayers, without a doubt. There are also times when physical needs must be provided (Jas. 2:15-18). Do we have the “Jerusalem spirit” when it comes to generosity (Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35)? I pray so! We live in some hard and strange times, and we need men to preach and spread the gospel far and wide because only the gospel will save (Rom. 1:16)! Getting our priorities straight is what will help us through the times ahead (Matt. 6:33). We also need folks like Gaius, Phoebe, Aquila, Priscilla, Silas, Barnabas, Timothy, Mary (there were several), Luke, Apphia, Archippus, Philemon, etc., who are ready to do the Lord’s will, support the preaching in all ways they can, and help get the gospel to the lost.
Gaius was a blessing to brethren and strangers in the first century. Who are we blessing in the twenty-first?
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Things We See In Mary, The Mother Of Christ
Jesus’ mother Mary stands out as a great example of a godly woman. She was the one chosen by God to be Jesus’ mother (Lk. 1:28), and as a result, she has become the focus of admiration, but sadly, gossip and slander, and even idolatrous acts. It seems that folks’ reaction to Mary has run the “spectrum” just as it has with Jesus. In this article, let us see what God said about Mary.
Early in Bible history, we read about this one who would give birth to the Savior. She was not specifically named; however, she is described for us in Genesis 3:15. Another passage which speaks of Jesus’ birth and of His mother is Isaiah 7:14. It says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”
Upon reading about Mary in the books of Matthew and Luke, we learn she is a virgin chosen to bear God’s Son (Lk. 1:34). She was the fulfillment of God’s prophecy, and served the Lord’s purpose, not only in bearing a son, but also in raising Him (Lk. 2:51).
What we are told about her character revolves around the events of God choosing her to be the mother of Christ. When we read about her during this time, we find a young woman whose example ought to be emulated by young girls today.
Probably the most obvious characteristic is that she is an example of moral purity. She did not commit sexual sin with anyone and sin against God and her body (I Cor. 6:18; Lk. 1:34; Heb. 13:4).
In addition to this, we see Mary as humble and obedient to God. When Gabriel told her she was chosen, and answered her questions, her response was: “Behold I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). Her attitude was not unlike Noah, Moses, and many others (Gen. 6:22; Ex. 40:16, 39:42-23). She obeyed the Lord and was blessed for it.
Please understand though, that as great as Mary was, she was not sinless. Romans 3:23 applies to her just as it does to everyone else on earth. Jesus died for the remission of her sins, just as He died for the remission of everyone else’s sin (Matt. 20:28, 26:28). At the same time, she was not born in sin. The Bible does not teach this. The Bible teaches the opposite, declaring, “The soul that sins will die” (Ezek. 18:4, 20). The sins she would have committed came as a result of her yielding to Satan’s temptation (Jas. 1:14-15).
Sadly, people throughout history have made more of Mary than God ever intended. This issue began while she was living. One time, a woman cried out to Jesus and said, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed.” Jesus corrected her by saying: “Blessed rather, are those who hear the word of God, and keep it” (Lk. 11:27-28). Mary was not then nor is she now deserving of worship. Only God is deserving of worship (Acts 10:25-26; Rev. 19:10, 22:9)! She is not deity. She was a humble servant, like many others in the Bible. At the same time, she is not a mediator. Only Christ serves in this work (I Tim. 2:5-6).
While on earth, she served a very important role. Yet, to give her undue glory is not right. It is just as wrong to give her undue glory as it is to place upon her scorn and ridicule as if she were guilty of sexual relations before marriage! (Many have said this through the years.) She was not guilty of fornication.
Mary strikes me as a kind, virtuous, considerate woman. Certainly, her example ought to be remembered, just as we remember the examples of Noah, Hannah, Ruth, Moses, Peter, Paul, Phoebe, and others. Young women today who follow her example will be blessed, as well as their families. Fathers and mothers, what are you doing to encourage your daughters to act like Mary?
Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Matthew 1:21
“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.” God’s angel spoke to Joseph and promised him that his betrothed wife Mary, now pregnant, was carrying the Son of God. After millennia of waiting, the Promised Messiah was ready to enter the world. His name Jesus means “Savior” because this was His promised work. He would save mankind from sin and make it possible for us to escape Satan’s kingdom (Matt. 1:22-23). As we assemble today to worship, let us remember the Messiah who came into this world to save us from sin. Let us also remember the man and woman who were chosen by God to serve as parents for the Son of God during those crucial years.
- Jarrod Jacobs
“The Beginning And End Of A False Doctrine”
One popular false doctrine taught today is the false doctrine wherein Mary is prayed to as a “Mediatrix” on our behalf. In other words, folks are encouraged to pray to God through Mary as mediator.
Sadly, people throughout history have made more of Mary than God ever intended. In fact, some tried this while Christ was on earth. One time, a woman cried out to Jesus and said, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed.” Jesus responded to her by saying: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” (Lk. 11:27-28). Mary was not and is not deserving of worship in any way. She is not deity. She was a humble servant of God (Lk. 1:38), like so many others in the Bible. Only God is deserving of worship (Acts 10:25-26; Rev. 19:10, 22:9)! Neither is she our mediator. Only Christ serves in this role (I Tim. 2:5-6).
While on earth, she served a very important role. Yet, to give her undue fame or power is not right. It is just as wrong to give her undue glory as it is to place upon her scorn and ridicule as if she were guilty of sexual relations before marriage! (Many have said this through the years.) Both positions are wrong.
In Luke 11:27, we see the beginning of a false doctrine concerning Mary, and Christ ending it in verse 28. Let respect what the Lord said.