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Saturday, August 01, 2020

                   Truth is a precious commodity today. Many people lie to us. Some lie for self-preservation, others lie to get our money. Still, others lie because they know no other way! They are like the people in II Peter 2:14 who had “exercised” their hearts in this way. A multitude of excuses can be offered for why men are dishonest, but the fact remains that such actions are not of God, but are motivated by Satan (Jn. 8:44). God tells us not to lie, but to speak the truth (Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25). His word is truth (Jn. 17:17), and Christ is the embodiment of truth (Jn. 14:6). To lie, therefore, means we are drawing closer to Satan rather than drawing closer to God (Jas. 4:4, 7-8; etc.).

                   Perhaps this is why the Holy Spirit inspired John to speak about the truth in ⅓ of his second letter (II Jn. 1-4). The truth is so important to God that it warrants being mentioned four times in just eleven sentences. There is nothing like the truth! Think about it -- our society treasures the truth. We might not think so at first, but if we do not treasure the truth, why is calling something “fake news” an insult? Why do we have men swear to tell the truth when in court? Why are there “truth in advertising” laws in America? Why is there such a clamor and concern for “CGI,” “AI,” and other technologies taking over? Is it not because they have nearly reached the point where we can’t tell the true from the false? Some dinosaurs will still remember the question, “Is it real, or is it Memorex?” What happens to a society when we can no longer separate fact from fiction? Yes, truth is a precious commodity. God recognized this when He inspired John to write to the “elect lady and her children” about the truth (II Jn. 1-4). Look at some unique characteristics of truth that make it stand above dishonesty in II John 1-4.

  • Truth can be known (v. 1).
  • Truth abides in us (v. 2).
  • Truth is eternal (v. 2).
  • Truth cannot be taken from us (v. 2). We might leave it, but it cannot be taken.
  • Truth forms strong relationships (v. 1, 3).
  • Truth must be obeyed (v. 4).
  • Truth shapes the manner of our lives (v. 4).

Are we interested in truth? It is a fact that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2; Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18). Therefore, God’s word is truth (Jn. 17:17)! The longer we spend time in it, the more we are exposed to the truth. The longer we speak of it, the longer we are speaking the truth! Is there anything more appealing than that? I don’t think so! Long ago, George Washington was quoted as saying, “I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.” Why not make this your goal as well, friend? If we lose the interest and capability to be honest then we have lost it all.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"No Private Interpretation"

Saturday, July 11, 2020

                   The first chapter of II Peter ends the argument he started in verse 16 by reminding his readers that “no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation” (v. 20). He maintains, “the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (v. 21).

                   These last verses in II Peter 1 maintain that Peter and the apostles have not been following myths or fairy tales (v. 16). They had been eyewitnesses of Christ on earth (v. 17-18), and if you don’t believe their words, trust the very word that has come from God (v. 19). Why can I trust God’s word above all else? The answer is in II Peter 1:20-21.

                   God’s prophecy is not of any “private interpretation.” What does this mean? Through the years, I have heard men say that this means there cannot be a “private interpretation” of the Scriptures themselves. This is not what Peter was saying! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to listen and observe people and see many who have twisted the Scriptures and now teach their own “private interpretation” of the Bible. Peter warned of it happening in the first century, and it continues today (II Pet. 3:16).

                   What does “no private interpretation” mean? Remember the context of this chapter! Peter was declaring, “No prophecy of scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination” (NET). To borrow from brother Clinton Hamilton, “the meaning of Scripture is not under view, but the origin of Scripture is the issue” (Truth Commentaries, II Peter, p. 98). Thus, the reason why Peter could say that God’s revelation is more “sure” than an eyewitness (v. 19), is because the Scripture originated with God Himself (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21)!

                   The Bible you hold in your hands is more precious than any other writing on earth. What are you doing with it? Do you know it? Do you read it? Do you study it? Do you obey what you have learned? If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” you are wasting precious time! Get your nose in The Book and learn, believe, and obey (Eph. 3:4; Rom. 10:17; Heb. 5:9, 11:6)!

                   Peter thought it necessary to remind the brethren of the inspired word so long as he lived (II Pet. 1:12-15). Now, we know why! Could there be anything greater than God’s word in our minds? How often is our Bible open in a day? Why are we depriving ourselves of the source of God’s wisdom (Ps. 119:98-100)? The prophets didn’t make this stuff up (II Pet. 1:20)! The Holy Spirit told them what to say or write, and they responded to that call (II Pet. 1:21)! What will we do with the Divine truth given us

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"A More Sure Word Of Prophecy"

Friday, July 10, 2020

                   The words of Peter in II Peter 1:19 are fascinating to me and cause me to stop and consider what he was saying to the Christians (v. 1). “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.” Remember in the context that Peter was telling the readers (us) why the words preached by him and the other apostles ought to be trusted. They are not myths or fables, but statements of truth (v. 16). One reason we can know he spoke the truth is that he was one of the eyewitnesses to Jesus’ transfiguration (v. 17-18). The second reason is in verse 19. He begins by saying, “We have ALSO a more sure word of prophecy …”. Therefore, in addition to the eyewitness testimony, we also have prophecy or God’s word revealed to us.

                   To speak of prophecy or the prophetic word simply means what has been revealed by God. In short, Peter says you can trust what I am telling you because I was a witness to Christ on earth (v. 16-18). Yet, if this is not enough, you have all the prophetic words, the words I want to spend my life reminding you, to listen to (v. 19). Trust what has already been revealed!

                   Peter’s statement reminds me of things Christ said on earth. When Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, we notice how Abraham rebuked the rich man and told him his brothers “have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them” (Lk. 16:29). Jesus told people that if they did not believe Him, they could believe His works for they were a greater witness than John (Jn. 5:36). If this was not enough for them, He then challenged them to, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me” (Jn. 5:39).

                   Over and over Jesus, the apostles, and all encourage us to search the Scriptures and know that we possess the truth (Jn. 17:17). God inspired all Scripture, and this makes the Bible an exceptional and unique writing (II Tim. 3:16-17). Read what is said (Eph. 3:4), test it (I Thess. 5:21), and trust it (II Pet. 1:19). This “sure word” is truth and will stand when this world is on fire (Matt. 24:35; I Pet. 1:25)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Cunningly Devised Fables"

Wednesday, July 08, 2020

The apostle Peter declared, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty” (II Pet. 1:16). Before we dive very deep into the verse, notice that Peter changed from saying “I” (v. 12-15) to “we” (v. 16-19). Peter includes other apostles in this section. The reason why is made apparent from verse 16.

Peter assures those reading that “we” (apostles) have not followed cunningly devised fables when “we” made known to “you” (Christians) the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He insists as well, that they were “eyewitnesses of His majesty.” What are “cunningly devised fables”? This phrase means, “to continue in plausible error” (Strong’s). The word “fables” means what you think it means, “fiction, tale, myth” (Strong’s). Peter states in no uncertain terms that what he (and the other apostles) was writing and preaching is not a myth, is not in error, nor merely some tale being told about a non-existent person. Peter and the apostles did not spend time in jail (Acts 4-5, 12, 16:25-34), suffer ridicule (Acts 2:13, 17:32), and risk their very lives (Acts 12:3-4, 14:19; Jn. 21:18-19; II Pet. 1:14) for a myth!

Based on his promise of reminding the brethren of the things they had already been taught, verse 16 encourages brethren that they have not been taught a myth or some error. They were told the truth by those who have risked their lives for its preservation!

So it is today. By God’s providence, the Bible is in our hands. It tells us the truth (Jn. 17:17). It speaks of our salvation (Rom. 5:8; Mk 16:16), how to stay saved (I Cor. 15:58), and of our Advocate when we sin (I Jn. 2:1). “Cunningly devised fables” didn’t endure 2000 years of time, ridicule, criticism, oppression, tyrants, love, worldliness, faith, and obedience! Only God’s inspired word could last to this present day - and it HAS! Let us be thankful for what we have in our possession and marvel that these are not fables, but the truth! These are not writings of mere men, but the writings inspired by the Holy Spirit (II Pet. 1:20-21; I Cor. 2:12-13). Let us then believe these words, obey them, and teach them to a new generation who can also marvel at the providence of Almighty God!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

Nehemiah: The King's Cupbearer

Sunday, February 02, 2020

Only once in the book of Nehemiah does he refer to his work in the king’s court. Nehemiah does not have a “regular” job. His job is exceptional because, among other things, it places him in the king’s presence daily. He has been bestowed with a very honorable and trusted position. To be the king’s cupbearer is equivalent to being his food-taster! To work in this capacity means he could be trusted with the king’s life! R.A. Torrey describes it this way, “The office of cup-bearer was one of great trust, honour, and emolument, in the Persian court. To be in such a place of trust he must have been in the king's confidence; for no eastern potentate would have a cup-bearer to whom he could not trust his life, poison being often administered in that way. It was an office much desired, because it gave access to the king in those seasons of hilarity when men are most disposed to grant favours” (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge).

The term “cupbearer” is not found anywhere else in the Bible, but we see a description of the same work when we read about the “chief butler” who worked for the Pharaoh in the book of Genesis. We remember that while in prison, he had a dream about doing his job. Notice how closely this resembles the work of a cupbearer (Gen. 40:9-13). Again, this was a position of trust. This trust would mean something when the chief butler finally remembers Joseph after two years and refers him to the Pharaoh as a man capable of interpreting his dreams (Gen. 41:9-14).

A cupbearer had access to the king daily and was considered to have the king’s favor. Thus, when the king notices the look of sadness on Nehemiah’s face (2:2), it was a genuine concern that prompted the king to ask why Nehemiah was sad. He was a loyal subject, and the king was concerned. Further, as we read chapter two, and learn how the king granted Nehemiah’s request to leave and for the supplies he would need in travel, we see that this was a man ready to help a trusted servant. Indeed, a man whom he can trust with his life can be trusted with the work Nehemiah proposes to do in Jerusalem (Neh. 2:6-9)!

In thinking about this event, let us look into God’s mirror (Jas. 1:22-25). Are you a person that can be trusted by others? Can God trust you? Why or why not? Trust is a precious and valuable thing. It is hard to acquire and easy to break. Who among us wants to be considered untrustworthy?

There is an old saying that trust is earned, and this is correct. How is it obtained? We learn to trust others as we hear their words, and as we observe what they do. What has God seen in you? Are you showing yourself to be a trustworthy disciple of the Lord (Jn. 8:31-32)? Are you faithful in your actions (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10)? If not, why not? We have the opportunity to serve Someone more magnificent than the king of Persia! We can serve the King of Kings (I Tim. 6:15)! Are you going to take up that work? Become a Christian today and make the decision you will never regret (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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