When Saul saw Christ on the road to Damascus (Acts 9), among other things, Jesus told Saul that it was hard for him to kick against the goads (pricks, KJV). We might not be familiar with this term since we drive “horseless carriages.” A goad was a pointed instrument strategically placed so that if a horse, ox, or another beast of burden rebelled and kicked, the goad would hurt his hoof or leg and hopefully cause the animal to stop kicking. I have heard the term “goad” or “goading” meaning to urge someone to do something. In this case, it is by one’s remarks that one acts, or is “goaded” into an action. This word is based on the actual instrument called a “goad” that men used on animals long ago.
In the case of Saul, we see that as hard as he tried to fight against God (Acts 26:9), he would discover that it was a losing battle! The “goads” he kicked against only caused him to be injured. God wins every time!
When we read the book of Esther, we find that Haman was fighting a similar battle. He was kicking against “goads” while he served the king. In this case, the “goad” had a name -- Mordecai! It seems that the more Haman kicked against God’s servant, the more he ended up getting hurt! Take, for example, the anger and frustration he felt at Mordecai when he refused to bow (Est. 2:5). Haman thought killing Mordecai and also killing the Jews would make him feel better (Est. 2:6, 12-13). Yet, it wasn’t too many days until Ahasuerus asked Haman to honor someone, and it ended up being Mordecai (Est. 6:1-12)! Ouch! That had to hurt! Then, upon returning home after that parade, his family told him that if he did this for Mordecai, then it must mean that he will fail (v. 13-14). More emotional pain -- this time from his family! Yet, none of this caused Haman to pause, to reflect, or to repent. He was unlike Saul in this way (Acts 9:6, 9-10, 22:16)!
Finally, Haman’s plan was discovered, and in the cruelest twist, he was taken and killed on the very gallows he had made for Mordecai (Est. 7:10, 5:14)! Later, we learn that his ten sons were slain in similar fashion (Est. 9:10, 13-14). Haman finally saw that God wins every time! But it was too late for him.
Against what “goads” are you kicking? Be honest! What are you doing that is opposed to God’s word? Why are you still refusing to repent (Lk. 13:3; Acts 2:38)? The only way to get relief is to stop kicking against God and do what He says! Be like Saul/Paul and change your life while you can. Get forgiveness and live for the Lord (Acts 22:16; II Tim. 4:6-8)! Don’t end up like Haman!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
How many times have we heard people justify their sins by saying that they didn’t know “x” was wrong? Perhaps someone breaks the speed limit, and when pulled over, tells the officer, “I didn’t know it was ‘x’ speed in this area.” Does this mean that he didn’t break the law? Actually, in the courts in our land, ignorance does not automatically excuse someone’s error. Similarly, ignorance is not an excuse with God! The sins one commits in ignorance have the same consequences as sins that are committed knowingly (Jas. 1:14-15; Rom. 6:23).
How does this relate to Haman? Please read Esther 7. When Esther reveals that Haman is the one responsible for establishing a law that would kill all the Jews, including her, Xerxes was enraged (v. 6-7). I am convinced that Haman had no idea Esther was a Jew until then. After all, she had concealed this fact (following Mordecai’s command, 2:10, 20), and it seems she had never said anything until this moment (v. 3-4). Thus, Haman is ignorant of the fact that his law also meant a death sentence to the queen.
Thus, here is a woman with her life on the line based on Haman’s ignorance! We cannot fall for the adage that “ignorance is bliss,” can we? Ignorance on the job usually results in injury. Ignorance on the ball field often results in a loss to the team. No, ignorance may be many things, but it is not bliss! In Esther, we see that ignorance will result in her death if things are not changed quickly.
Looking to modern-day, we understand that sins committed in ignorance hurt others, and they jeopardize one’s soul (Ezek. 18:20). Because this is true, is there any wonder then why we are taught to bridle our tongues (Jas. 3)? Let’s make sure we do not speak before we know all the facts! Maybe when we know all the facts, we will be quiet, anyway. Is it any wonder then why we are taught to control our thoughts as well as our actions (Phil. 4:8-9; Matt. 15:17-20; Jas. 1:26)? Let us control our thoughts and make sure we are not acting until we know the truth. As a good friend of mine likes to say, “Many people get more exercise jumping to conclusions than they do digging for facts.”
It is a dangerous world, and our words and deeds are powerful. Let us guard what we do and say and make sure they agree with what Jesus wants (Col. 3:17). Let us not act until we know the facts. Don’t be like Haman!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Spotlight On A Bible Verse: I Peter 4:11
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Peter’s words closely parallel the words of Colossians 3:17. They are a reminder that in whatever we say or do, it needs to be for the glory of God! When we speak, let us speak as the oracles (utterances) of God. What has God “uttered”? We will only know when we spend time in God’s book (Eph. 3:4)! Our actions need to be a reflection of what Christ did. Christ left “us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Pet. 2:21). When we speak and act according to the will of God, we also bring glory to God. Truly, this is our reason for being here! We ought to live so as to glorify God and bring others to Him (Matt. 5:14-16). Are we speaking and acting in a way that reflects the command of I Peter 4:11? If not, why not?
- Jarrod Jacobs
Where Is Jesus?
Do we remember the hype and excitement of December 25, 2016? After Thanksgiving Day 2016, we saw numerous billboards, TV and radio ads, etc., which reminded us to remember the “reason for the season.” Yet, beginning December 26th and to this present time, it has been very hard for me to find any type of display reminding me of the One who seemed so important to folks for the majority of December. What happened to Jesus?
It seems to me that if folks are excited about the event of the Christ-child’s birth, His life ought to produce that much, if not more excitement. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the case! Many are willing to look upon the “babe in the manger” as He coos and cries in the stable. Yet, the number of people interested in Him dwindles rapidly when we look for folks ready to follow the adult Jesus to the cross! Why is this? Where is Jesus?
So we all understand, I do not believe Jesus was born on December 25th. Biblical evidence suggests another time. I do not celebrate any day as “Jesus’ birthday”, for Jesus never told us to celebrate His birth. Some folks will reason, “Since we don’t know the exact day of His birth, December 25th is as good a day as any to remember His birth. It gets folks to think about Christ.” Such statements declare that folks either have not read the Bible, or they just do not care to listen to what Christ said. Christ and His apostles continually emphasized His death, burial, and resurrection, not His birth (Matt. 26:26-29; Jn. 18:37; Acts 2:42, 20:7; Rom. 6:3-6; I Cor. 15:1-4; etc.). At the same time, I cannot help but note the inconsistency when the bulk of our population claims to love Jesus and wants to celebrate His birth; and yet after December 25th, these folks will return to the way they were acting before December! Am I the only one who sees this hypocrisy? Where is Jesus?
I know Jesus could not have died on the cross had He not been born; yet when we listen to Jesus, He essentially tells Pilate, “I was born to die” (Jn. 18:37)! Therefore, let us follow Jesus, not to the manger, but to the cross (Matt. 10:38). Let us not follow the shepherds to the barn, but follow the “chief shepherd” (I Pet. 5:4) to Heaven (I Pet. 2:22; Heb. 6:20, 10:19-20; Acts 7:56). Let us not follow the wise men to the house (Matt. 2:12)! Let us be wise men and follow the Lord’s footsteps to Heaven as He teaches us how to be true disciples (I Pet. 2:21; Jn. 8:31-32; I Cor. 15:58; Col. 3:17; Heb. 6:19-20).
Friends, where is Jesus? Jesus is not to be found in the lives of the bulk of our population! We know this to be true based upon our observations of man’s inhumanity to man. God does not want His creation to be cruel and hate each other (Jas. 3:9-20; I Jn. 4:20). How then can we treat one another the way we do? It is because the bulk of our population is satisfied to keep Jesus “in the manger” instead of allowing Him access into their hearts and lives.
How do we allow Jesus access into our lives? Jesus told folks, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Therefore, it takes more than simply speaking a word or a prayer, and saying, “Jesus come into my heart” to be saved. It demands action! We must believe that He is the son of God (Jn. 8:24; Rom. 10:17), and we must obey what He says (Jn. 14:15; Rom. 10:16; Jas. 2:24, 26) and be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)! “Where is Jesus?” He is not in a manger, or a stable, but is in Heaven, wanting mankind to hear, believe, and obey Him (Mk. 16:15-16; II Cor. 6:2; II Pet. 3:9)!
A Lack Of Information Or Application?
The Bible is a unique book, to be sure. While it is not a science book, it is scientifically accurate. Though it is not a geography book, it is geographically accurate. It is historically true and is obviously a spiritually-focused book. Within the pages of inspiration, we learn that God has given us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” (II Pet. 1:3). The inspired Scriptures are “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (II Tim. 3:16-17). The word Christ spoke ought to take first place in our lives because it is this word that will judge us one day (Jn. 12:48). Knowing these things are true, is it any wonder that Peter would, by inspiration, write to Christians and say, “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (I Pet. 4:11)?
I cite the passages above to make it clear that God has provided all the information necessary for us to get from earth to Heaven! The Bible has been written; the word is true (Jn. 17:17); and the gospel will save us (Rom. 1:16). The question now is whether or not we will apply the information to our lives! James wrote that a man who hears and does is considered a “blessed man” (Jas. 1:25). He further writes that “faith without works is dead” (Jas. 2:17, 20, 26). Jesus said the ones who will see Heaven are those who “do the will of my father which is in Heaven” (Matt. 7:21). In other words, when it comes to pleasing God, we do not lack the information, but we often lack the application!
Throughout history, this fact is what has separated God’s children from the world! Many people have heard God’s word in various ways. In the book of Exodus, we see Pharaoh heard God’s word, but he “hardened his heart” (Ex. 7:14, 22, 8:15, 19, 32, 9:7, etc.) and was punished as a result of his pride. Others who knew the truth but refused to obey were many of the “chief rulers” in Christ’s day. They knew who Christ was, but refused to confess Him because they feared what the Pharisees would say (Jn. 12:42-43). Another person who knew the truth was Agrippa. He knew the truth, but would not confess Christ, nor be baptized (Acts 26:27-28). This list could be extended, but the point is that God did not leave them ignorant of the truth! Yet, they were condemned because they did not act upon what they knew!
What about us? We have the Bible at our fingertips. Yes, some know more than others, but is this really what is stopping us from being what God would have us to be? Is this really what is stopping us from obeying the Lord and living as He wants us to live? I suggest that it is not so much a matter of information, but it is a matter of application! We do not want to do those things Christ has said! Shame on us for being that way! Let us listen to the Lord, who tells us to be obedient to Him (Jn. 14:15; I Jn. 5:3) and prepare ourselves for Heaven by applying the information God has revealed! In so doing, we will be a blessed people! (Jas. 1:25)