Spiritual Growth

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“All Things That Pertain To Life And Godliness.”

Friday, July 03, 2020

II Peter 1:3 tells us that God has “given unto us all things that pertain to life and godliness.” What does this mean? What can I learn from such a statement? I know I usually write these short articles, but I am making an exception today. Brother R.L. Whiteside wrote on this subject years ago, and I think he explains this verse better than I could. Please read his writing and benefit from his wisdom on II Peter 1:3.

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (II Pet. 1:3). We are in the habit of saying that God has given us in the gospel, everything that is essential to life and godliness, but Peter goes a little farther than that and affirms that God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness. There is a difference. To illustrate: There are certain things that are essential to an automobile, and there are other things that pertain to an automobile but are not essential to it. When you have all things that are essential to an automobile, you can go to a supply house and purchase a lot of extras that pertain to an automobile. But suppose you have all the essentials of an automobile, and then you add all the things that pertain to an automobile, nothing else could be added that would make it any more complete. God has not only given us all things that are essential to life and godliness, but He has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness.

But do religious people believe it? If so, why all these flummeries that God has said nothing about? If you will read the verse again, you will notice that He has given us all these things through the knowledge of Christ. The knowledge of Christ means the knowledge that has been revealed about Him -- the gospel of Christ. Hence, through the gospel God has not only given us all things that are essential to life and godliness, but all things that pertain to life and godliness. If there is, therefore, anything in your religion that did not come to you through the gospel, it does not so much as pertain to life and godliness. Is it not time to check up on our religion and see if we have anything that we cannot find in the New Testament? Any person of intelligence can do that for himself.

(Whiteside, R.L., The Kingdom Of Promise And Prophecy, p. 42)

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

How Are You Treating Your Brethren?

Friday, February 21, 2020

Nehemiah 5 records a sad event in the history of God’s people. As the wall was being built, and the people united against a common enemy, Nehemiah records that the “nobles and the rulers” (v. 7) were guilty of oppressing their countrymen. They did this by charging usury (KJV) or interest against their people. Think: Loan sharks!

The affected people came to Nehemiah, crying out against this treatment. Why had they gotten out of the bondage of Xerxes only to trade it for bondage to their brethren? Sons and daughters were sold into servitude so landowners could pay the interest they had accrued (Neh. 5:5). This was wrong, and Nehemiah condemned the “nobles and the rulers” for their behavior (Neh. 5:7, 9).

There had been a famine (Neh 5:3), and though there were people who needed to buy grain or other things, those making the loans could have left off charging their brethren interest (v. 10). Can you imagine the decline in morale as the work of wall-building is taking place, and then those trying to build the wall cannot work because of how their brethren are treating them! In this chapter, we see that it was not what Sanballat, Tobiah, and the others had done that was killing them. This issue was internal!

How are we treating our spiritual brethren? Christ says the world will know we are His disciples when they observe the love we show our brethren (Jn. 13:34-35). Loving the brethren is more than words. It is also action (I Jn. 3:18)! What does the world see in us? What do we see in each other (Phil. 2:3)? Friend, how can a man love God whom he hasn’t seen if he doesn’t love the brethren he has seen (I Jn. 4:20)?

Have we noticed that often we treat strangers better than we treat those we know the best? Just observe and contrast how we treat a stranger in town with how we treat a family member at home. Why the difference? Similarly, some treat their brethren in harsh ways. Do we backbite? Gossip? Treat them cruelly? Why is this? Aren’t we supposed to be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17)? Why then, do brethren treat those we are supposed to spend eternity with worse than the people who have rejected God? Please understand, our work is to love all men without partiality (Jas. 2:8). So, why are we not completing our work?

Let’s take a moment for some self-examination (II Cor. 13:5). How are you treating your brethren? Are you treating them with love (Matt. 22:39)? Are you treating them as you want to be treated (Matt. 7:12)? If not, why not? Why are you not willing to treat those whom God loves with respect? Don’t act like the “nobles and the rulers” did. Instead, read Romans 12:9-21 and treat fellow-Christians in a manner that respects them and God!

I am thankful to see that when confronted by Nehemiah about their behavior, the “nobles and the rulers” repented (Neh. 5:11-12). What will we do if we examine ourselves (II Cor. 13:5; Jas. 1:22-25) and see that we are guilty?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Fight For Your Family!

Friday, February 07, 2020

“Remember The Alamo!” “Remember The Maine!” “Remember Pearl Harbor!” “Remember 9/11!” These are just a few of the rallying cries that have been heard in our country through the years. These cries showed people that the war being waged was for a cause greater than self.

When we read Nehemiah, we read a similar cry. When Sanballat, Tobiah, and others were intent on destroying the work of the Jews, Nehemiah stood and cried, “Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses” (Neh. 4:14). In other words, Nehemiah told the people that the conflict they faced was greater than themselves. They needed to fight for their families!

In a spiritual sense, Satan’s onslaught continues in this world (I Pet. 5:8). He wants to tempt us to leave the Lord (Jas. 1:14-15), and he has no problem hurting the weakest among us to do it! Fathers have the responsibility to bring up their children “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). They have a responsibility to make sure a new generation knows, loves, and respects the God of Heaven! The younger need to be taught by the older to be sober-minded and develop into men ready to serve God (Titus 2:6). Men, are we doing that?

The juvenile delinquency problem continues to be a stain on our nation. This is a result, no doubt, of homes where the father is non-existent. Young people need a father, not a cash machine! Our young need fathers willing to stand and show them what sacrifice looks like as well as an authoritative figure who expects the rules to be obeyed. To borrow a phrase, how can children respect the Father they have not seen if they are not taught to respect the father they have seen? Men, are you doing your job? Are you fighting for your families?

Mothers have the responsibility to raise their children in a godly way and be “teachers of good things” (Titus 2:3). For example, they need to remind their daughters to “be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4-5). Mothers need to be reminded that their work does not go unnoticed. Mother has a great responsibility to teach, train, to show love and caring, and to be the “heart” of every family. Children see sacrificial, consistent love in mom. Ladies, are you fighting for your families? Don’t let your children down!

Yes, we are in a fight against Satan and the “spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12)! Let us remember that we are not merely fighting Satan to protect ourselves. We are fighting for our families! Remember them! Remember their souls! Let us be busy in the Lord’s work and train a new generation to do God’s will while we have the time and opportunity! Satan, like Sanballat and Tobiah, is looking for his opening into our homes. Don’t let him have it!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

What Occupies Our Time?

Thursday, January 30, 2020

As we open the book of Esther, we read about Ahasuerus and the great party he threw (Est. 1:4-5). We also read about him choosing a new mate (Est. 2) and choosing a man to be his second-in-command (Est. 3:1). After this, we read little about the king. He was on the throne, doing the work of a leader, but where was he when the people needed him (Est. 3:15b)? He was satisfied to take a bribe from Haman and go about whatever work he deemed essential to the kingdom (Est. 3:9-11).

We know this because while the city was “perplexed” (3:15), and while Mordecai mourned at the gate (4:2), the king seemed to be so engrossed in other work that he saw none of this. In fact, Esther remarked to Mordecai how it had been a month, and even she had not seen her husband (Est. 4:11)! What was he doing that demanded he ignore his wife and the cries of the people for a month?

From the attitude shown by the king in Esther 5:2-3, his negligence was not because he was angry or had some grudge against Esther or the others. If I could conjecture, it seems he got so caught up in certain aspects of being a king that he ignored other parts that were just as important. Does this sound like a problem we have had in the past? Does this sound like a problem we are having right now?

In 21st century America, we have so many things vying for our time and attention that we cannot adequately deal with them all. Some of these are our own doing, while other things have been “thrust” on us. We need to learn to prioritize and put “first things first”! Sadly, this does not happen as it should.

When Jesus walked the earth, He told those who listened to His preaching to, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matt. 6:33). He rebuked the Pharisees who “pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” He said, “these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matt. 23:23). In other words, the Pharisees faced a similar problem to Ahasuerus. They focused on the areas they deemed necessary and ignored other things that were just as important. Friend, look into God’s mirror (Jas. 1:22-25). Is this you? What occupies your time? What do you deem important?

It took Esther entering the king’s presence unannounced to wake him up to what was going on in His kingdom. What is it going to take to wake you up to the spiritual reality around you? Paul said it is “high time to awake out of sleep” (Rom. 13:11). If those people in Rome needed this message, how much more do we need it?

Are you awake to spiritual realities around you (II Cor. 4:18)? Are you a Christian (Acts 11:26, 22:16)? If not, why are you putting it off (II Cor. 6:2)? What is occupying your time? How are you doing as a parent? Your children are growing every day! Are you bringing them up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord,” or are you waiting until they get older (Eph. 6:4)? Have you taken the time to tell your children or to tell a close friend about Jesus yet (II Tim. 2:2; Mk. 16:15)? What is stopping you? What is more important than telling someone about the Lord?

Don’t become like Ahasuerus and turn a blind eye to what is going on around you, thinking that what you are doing is more important! You may be doing things you consider crucial in your life, but nothing is more important than making your life right with God and then teaching your children what God wants as well (Matt. 16:26; Eph. 6:4)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Can You Stand The Pressure?

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Parents are concerned about their children at school and the “peer pressure” they face. This is also something to be concerned about when they’re on the internet, on “social media,” etc. Our young people can be swayed to do things out of character for them. Sometimes this happens because they are in a large group of peers who are urging them in the activity. At times, it’s because a close friend, a boyfriend/girlfriend, and later a spouse, urges them. They need our support and encouragement to do what is right, even when they have to stand alone (Rom. 12:1-2). Have we instilled our children with the confidence to do what is right, and respect the teaching they received at home, even when it means standing alone (Eph. 6:4)?

Peer pressure doesn’t go away merely because we received a diploma. This is because regardless of our age, we have peers! We have people who want us to speak and act the same way “everyone else” does in order to fit in. Therefore, we still need to be able to stand and be faithful to God, even when it means standing alone!

I hasten to add that there are times when the “pressure” can be positive. Encouragement from our peers, a boyfriend/girlfriend, or a spouse, to do what is right is the exact thing we need (Heb. 10:23-25; I Pet. 3:1-6)! There are some folks who, no doubt, have helped us because they were standing as encouragement at a time when we needed to make a hard decision.

There are many in the Bible who, I believe, could say, “Yes, I have experienced the positive and negative sides of peer pressure!” Two from the book of Esther show us what it means to stand for God even when it means standing alone. They are Mordecai and Esther! Mordecai faced negative pressure, while Esther had encouragement to do what was right when she met a hard choice. Let’s study these events in detail.

Mordecai stood literally and figuratively for his principles. In Esther 3:2-4, Mordecai refused to bow down to the king’s “second-in-command,” Haman. We aren’t told his reasoning but are told that he refused to bow and refused to yield even after others came to him and spoke to him “daily” about his refusal. Mordecai had made up his mind, and he would not give in to the pressure he faced even when this meant death! What a model for us. It would’ve been much easier for him to have given in and bowed, but he refused.

Esther stood in another fashion. She entered bravely into the king’s presence when uninvited (Est. 5:1-2). In chapter four, we learn why this was an act of bravery. It’s because it was a capital offense to approach the king uninvited (Est. 4:11). She was truly taking her life in her hands to approach Ahasuerus when he didn’t call for her. Yet, the situation demanded it -- her nation was going to die if she didn’t (Est. 3:12-15). It would’ve been much easier for Esther not to approach the king’s throne, but she did it anyway (Est. 4:16-5:2).

Examine your past decisions (II Cor. 13:5). When faced with serving God or making friends mad, did we give in to those who pressured us to sin? Did we stand and refuse them (Jas. 4:7)? Have we ever been the encourager to one who needed encouragement to serve God? We will not get out of this world alive, nor will we get out of this world alone (Rom. 14:7)! Let us face the pressure Satan puts on us with dignity and let us help others who are feeling this pressure. Let us help one another to fight the good fight of faith (Jas. 1:14-15; Matt. 10:42; I Tim. 6:11-12).

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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