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Joseph, A Just Man

Sunday, April 04, 2021

            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

“What Will You Give In Exchange?”

Friday, December 18, 2020

            Our Lord Jesus asked His apostles, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mk. 8:36-37). These questions of Christ get my attention. In an age when we are told that possessing material goods is the purpose of life, we need to go back and listen to the Lord’s words here.

            Please understand that one’s soul is his greatest possession. The eternal soul of man is of such value that Jesus died so that men’s souls might be saved (Matt. 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9). The eternal soul of man is just that -- eternal. It will last after this world is on fire (II Pet. 3:10)! It is the immortal soul that continues. “Then shall the dust (our bodies) return to the earth as it was,” but the spirit of man will return to God’s care  (Ecc. 12:7). Do we appreciate the true value of the soul?

            I am not sure we always appreciate the value of the soul. As I observe men, I see them exchange their eternal souls for doctrinal error (Gal. 1:6-9, 3:1; Rom. 16:17; II Pet. 2:1-3). I see others exchanging their souls for drinking and drugs (I Pet. 4:3-4; Prov. 20:1; Gal. 5:19-21). Still, others will exchange their souls for ungodly acts like stealing, fornication, homosexuality, and lying (I Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8; Eph. 4:25-32). In other words, folks are saying that practicing these things are more important and are of a higher value than their souls’ salvation. Please reread Mark 8:36. What is actually gained when folks spend their lives in such sins?

            We are very short-sighted, aren’t we? We think satisfying the flesh will result in a satisfied soul. Nothing could be farther from the truth! The fact is that if someone were able to acquire all of the gold in the world, the silver, the diamonds, the precious gems, the money, etc., none of this would equal the value of his soul.

Some, though, don’t even need this much to exchange their souls! Some will jeopardize their souls and even deny plain Scriptures to avoid contradicting family members or some respected person (Jn. 1:11; Mk. 7:6, 8-9, 13). Some do it by yielding to others’ ungodly pressure rather than listening to God (Lk. 8:13; Jn. 12:42-43). Yet, others exchange their souls by going back into the world after learning the truth (Lk. 8:14; II Tim. 4:10)! (Notice that I added Scripture references to show that the problems that plague us are the same problems that plagued people in the first century!)

            Is it any wonder the words of Christ, not only in Mark 8 but throughout Scripture, are applicable today? Our needs and concerns are the same now as they were then. Our need to stand firm and hold tightly to our soul’s salvation is just as needed now as it ever was (I Thess. 5:21; II Tim. 1:13; Heb. 10:23)!

            Friend, what will you give in exchange for your soul? Could it be you have already done this? Some folks are exchanging their souls for personal pursuits, personal sins, and pleasing self, and they are being short-changed! Don’t allow this to happen to you!

            We can avoid this happening to us when we deny ourselves and follow the Lord (Mk. 8:34)! We can prevent this by determining to live by faith (Jn. 8:24; Heb. 11:6) and being baptized for the remission of sins (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38). Then, we need to live a faithful life to the Lord (I Cor. 15:58). Let us present our bodies as “a living sacrifice” to God (Rom. 12:1-2). We can make sure that our souls are not exchanged for the wrong things, but these kinds of actions and decisions must be made today! Now (II Cor. 6:2)! Some wait until it is too late. Don’t be like them!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“Jesus' Attitude Toward Sinners.”

Saturday, December 05, 2020

            The book of Mark is the shortest book of those comprising the “gospel records.” It shouldn’t surprise us, then, that Mark doesn’t wait long before showing us the opposition Jesus faced in His preaching. In Mark 2, we see scribes and Pharisees opposing Him and His work. Among their common complaints was that Jesus associated with sinners. Mark 2:15-17 says, “And it came to pass, that, as Jesus sat at meat in his (Matthew’s, JMJ) house, many publicans and sinners sat also together with Jesus and his disciples: for there were many, and they followed him. And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”

            Seeing as Jesus just invited a publican (Matthew) to follow Him (Mk. 2:14), it shouldn’t be a surprise that when Jesus went to Matthew’s house, publican friends would be invited to listen to Jesus! Jesus treated this man just as He had earlier treated four fishermen (Mk. 1:16-20). He simply requested that they “follow Him.” This would change their lives far beyond anything we could describe on this page.

            The point being that Jesus looked at five sinners (Rom. 3:23) and saw not what they were, but what they could become! He saw people who’d do much good for the Lord’s cause and kingdom, but they had to be taught! Jesus was willing to teach. In fact, Jesus was willing to teach all that would listen to Him. This is why we see multitudes coming to Him and listening (Mk. 1:28, 33, 37, 45, 2:1-2, 13, etc.).

            In contrast, the scribes and Pharisees had no time, no compassion, and gave no thought to the lives and concerns of the sinners around them. I’m reminded of Christ’s parable in Luke 18:11-12. Therefore, when they saw Jesus spending time with publicans, sinners, and the like, this was scandalous to them! If He claims to be God’s prophet, and people claim He is the Messiah, surely even He would know the kind of people He is around! (For more study, please read Luke 7:36-50 and see the attitude of Simon toward Christ.)

            In Mark’s short book, we see Christ’s attitude toward sinners as one of respect, one of compassion, and one of love. He never berated them for their bad decisions or sins. He never acted as if they were beneath Him (though they were  -- all of us are!). He did, however, tell the truth and told it unapologetically. He told the truth in a manner that they (and all) could understand. Please read Mark 2:15-17 and see that when Jesus was criticized for even associating with publicans, sinners, and others, His answer was not a defense of their sin. He didn’t say, “At least they’re not hypocrites!” as some might’ve been tempted to say. His answer was straight-forward: “they need Me!”.

            Notice Jesus called them sick. He called them sinners and said they needed to repent (Mk. 2:17)! Can you imagine such language coming from the lips of the Lord? Yet, there it is. What impresses me is that these people seemed to follow Him in greater numbers the longer He was on earth. What had Jesus done? As we observe Jesus in Mark 2 and the rest of the book, we see Someone who showed compassion (Mk. 1:41, 5:19, 6:34, 8:2). He saw people who needed direction (Mk. 6:34) and saw sinners who needed salvation. The people responded to this genuine action and listened intently. What Jesus said in Mark 2:17 was not “new news” to them. They knew they were in sin, and now they knew that they had come to the right Person who could bring them salvation!

            What can I learn from this short reading? I can learn first to not be like the scribes and Pharisees. No one is “beneath” you. All of us have sinned (Rom. 3:23). If you’ve been saved from your sins, then thank God for the salvation (Lk. 19:10; Mk. 16:16)! When you see people who aren’t saved, realize that you were in their shoes not that long ago. Someone loved you enough to tell you the truth. Now, love them enough to do the same (II Tim. 2:2; Eph. 4:15)!

            The second lesson I learn in Mark 2:15-17 is to be like Jesus in my speech! Folks who are in sin need to know it! Friend, “no greater injustice can be done to a person than to leave them with the impression they are saved, when in fact, they aren’t!” Jesus called the people sick, sinners, and in need of salvation. This is precisely what they needed to hear. If they hadn’t been told this, they might’ve left the presence of Jesus thinking that they were just fine. Dear one, when you talk to someone about their soul, remember that this part needs to be said. You can talk about the weather, crops, children, the government, and 1000 other things, but if you miss the chance to talk to someone about his soul, you’ve missed it! There’s nothing more important than the condition of one’s soul (Matt. 16:26)! Pleasant smiles, hugs, and being neighborly will mean little when on Judgment, they look at you and say in so many words, “You met me day by day and knew I was astray, yet you never mentioned Him to me!” I would much rather thousands of people on Judgment Day cry that I told them about Jesus and warned them about sin but hurt their feelings than to have one person say, “You never mentioned Him to me!” What about you?

A third thing I learn from Jesus was even when He spoke of people being sick and sinners, He didn’t seem happy about it! May we never take a condescending view of others in sin (Matt. 7:12, 22:39; Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19-20; etc.). As we noted earlier, it wasn’t that long ago that we were in their position as well.

Lastly, I have to note that the message of Christ was a message for all. While it would’ve been easy for the Pharisees, scribes, and others to listen to Mark 2:17 and then think, “OK, this is why Jesus is with them.” If we listen closely to the response, it was actually a rebuke to those people as well. Think about it! Jesus said He came to call the sinners to repentance. Amen. Was He not also preaching to the Pharisees, scribes, and others when He was preaching those three years? Was there ever a time from Matthew-John where Jesus stopped His preaching to say, “Scribes and Pharisees, what I’m about to say doesn’t apply to you”? Jesus’ attitude was that those self-righteous people were as guilty of sin as the rest (Mk. 7:6-9)! They needed the same message because they needed the same Savior! Jesus suffered as a sacrifice for all men, not just for the ones on the “wrong side of the tracks”! They would’ve understood Jesus’ message here if they’d cared to listen, instead of wasting time pointing their fingers at others!

Much more could be said, but take what we’ve learned here and think seriously about our attitude. What kind of attitude are we displaying? Who’ve we told about Jesus this week? What efforts do we make to bring others to the Lord, beginning with those under our own roof (Eph. 6:4; Titus 2:3-5)? Think seriously about this, my friend, because the souls of those we love as well as our own souls hang in the balance (Ezek. 33:7-9)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“He Preached The Word To Them.”

Friday, December 04, 2020

            Mark 2:3-12 records the miracle of the lame man “borne of four” and lowered through the roof to be healed by Jesus. I’m very impressed with this miracle and impressed with the lesson behind it (v. 9-10). However, have you ever considered why the men lowered their friend through the roof? They had to do this because they couldn’t get their friend through the front door (v. 2, 4)! Prior to them bringing their friend to meet Jesus and be healed, Jesus had entered the house in Capernaum, and when He taught the people, they filled the house, so there was no more room in the house for anyone else (v. 1-2).

            As I thought about the full house, it brought to mind two lessons:

  1. What Jesus brought to the people. Jesus didn’t come to Capernaum with bags of gold. He didn’t offer people freedom from enemies or some scheme for getting rich quick. He came to Galilee, “preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God” (Mk. 1:14). I’m impressed with the book of Mark and how it emphasizes the word of Christ. Twenty-two times in sixteen chapters, we read about Christ’s work in spreading God’s truth. Some of the words used to describe Christ’s work include:  “Taught” (9x); “preached” (2x); “preach” (1x); “teach” (4x); “teaching” (2x); and “doctrine” (4x). Jesus brought the people the truth (Jn. 17:17)! He made a point of telling as many people as possible about the “gospel of the kingdom.” May we learn a lesson from Christ in this. What’s on our lips? Do we take the time to tell someone about the Lord? If not, why not? Only through Christ will any man have salvation (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12)!
  1. What interest do we show in Christ’s teaching? I’m also impressed when I read passages like Mark 2:1-2 because I see a generation of people who took a genuine interest in the truth taught. I hear about similar responses in foreign countries like the Philippines, Colombia, China, and other places today, and for this, I am thankful. Yet, being a citizen of America, I wonder about those of us in the USA! What interest are we showing in God’s word? As Christians, is God’s word still our “first love”? Are we hungering and thirsting for the truth (Matt. 5:6)? If not, why not? Only the doctrine of Christ will bring salvation (Rom. 1:16; Mk. 16:15)! Only the doctrine of Christ tells us from whence we’ve come, why we’re here, and where we’re going when this life is over! There’s no other sustenance for the soul (I Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:12-14). Is there any wonder folks in the first century flooded the house where Jesus was? They wanted nourishment! Do we appreciate God’s spiritual nourishment?

            Having considered the above carefully, there is only one thing left to do: apply what we have learned! You see, these two elements go together like a hand in a glove. First, what are we teaching people? Do we know God’s word well enough to tell it to others? It’s high time we woke from our sleep and got busy learning the word so we can tell the truth to others (Heb. 5:12-14)! I am convinced there are people in the good ol’ “U.S. of A.” that want to hear the truth. Their problem is that they don’t know where to look! Too many groups calling themselves “churches” and claiming to love the Lord and His word talk about everything else but what is most important! Unfortunately, even some of my brethren are more concerned about social events, or whether or not the community thinks well of them, rather than focusing on the one thing that will save!

            Have we ever thought about the fact that if we got focused again on the most important thing - the truth - we would attract people now as Christ did then! The gospel has the same power it has always had. Could it be, though, that we have lost faith in it?

            Let’s remember what Christ brought the people and the people’s interest. These things are inseparable! Paul encouraged the same thing when he taught Timothy to “preach the word” (II Tim 4:2)! Are we willing to follow in the Lord’s footsteps? I’m convinced we haven’t worn out the Lord’s way yet! Let’s go back to that and see the blessings that come when we do things the Lord’s way!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“Leaving Father In The Boat.”

Thursday, December 03, 2020

            In our previous study, we studied about Christ calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John to be fishers of men. One other event connected with this calling is found in Mark 1:20 (and Matt. 4:22). Mark makes a point of saying that Peter and Andrew “forsook their nets,” and when James and John left, they left their father in the boat. Matthew’s account varies slightly by saying they left “their ship and their father.” Either way, the point is that things were left behind to follow Christ. In these four men’s cases, they had to leave their family (father) and their business (ship and nets) to follow the Lord and be “fishers of men.”

Jesus didn’t take such decisions for granted. Later, He told the disciples, “Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's, But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life” (Mk. 10:29-30).

            Christ never promised the disciples a life of ease when He called for them. Nor did He promise a life free from sacrifice! I think Mark 1:18-20 states this lesson quite succinctly. Matthew 8:19-22 and Luke 9:59-62 teach a similar truth when three people approach the Lord about following Him, and each person is told essentially to choose Him over anyone and anything else. Yes, following the Lord requires sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2)! He never promised a life of ease on earth. He promised life eternal (Matt. 25:46) and rest one day (Heb. 4:9) if we’ve been faithful now!

            Many have sacrificed for the Lord through the years. I think of Elijah, Elisha, Job, and many others in the Old Testament. Some have lost their lives in order to remain faithful to God. This is recorded for us in Scripture. Even our “secular” history records the lives of those who risked life and limb that the gospel might spread far and wide. While many lost their lives, still others lost their livelihoods, and some lost families in order to live according to God’s will. I can think of many preachers of the gospel whose sacrifices have allowed me to preach where I am today, and I’m thankful.

            The older I get, the more I understand, though, that anything truly worth having will cost something. I’ve also seen that (with a few exceptions) we don’t usually appreciate the things given to us without some condition. Usually, the things for which we haven’t struggled and earned are the first things we give away or sell. If that item breaks or is stolen, there’s little emotion involved. I hasten to add I know there are exceptions to this, for example, an inheritance or something similar, but usually, what I’m saying is true. Watch people and see if I’m not right!

I know it sounds trite to say, “There is no free lunch,” but that is a true statement. For you to get something “free” means someone else bought it. That includes the “free gift” of our salvation (Rom. 5:15-16, 6:23)! Someone else paid a price that we might have the opportunity to be saved (Jn. 3:16; Rom. 5:8; Matt. 20:28, 26:28; Heb. 5:8-9; etc.). Don’t get me wrong, there are conditions attached to this “free gift,” and rightfully so! We can’t enjoy the blessings of God’s gift unless we believe in Christ (Jn. 8:24), repent of our sins (Lk. 13:3), confess Christ as God’s Son (Rom. 10:10), and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). We must have some “skin in the game,” and we do when we make that commitment to accept the Lord’s conditions and follow Him for the rest of our days (I Cor. 15:58; Rev. 2:10b; etc.). We must put the Lord first (Matt. 6:33) and not be “conformed” but be “transformed” (Rom. 12:2), that we might grow closer to the Lord every day.

            Four apostles in this text left family and business to follow Christ and serve Him for the rest of their days (Mk. 1:18-20). What’ve we left behind? Does the gospel mean anything to you? Does the cross mean anything? Have we been fooled into thinking that being a Christian requires little more than warming a padded pew and devoting my time for an hour or so on Sunday? Have we left anything behind willingly? If not, why not? Those who think that being a Christian is nothing or that there isn’t true sacrifice involved in being a Christian have never read the Book! The gospel demands much of us. Ask Peter, Andrew, James, and John what it cost them! However, the reward will surely be worth it (Rom. 8:18).

            Are you ready to leave this world behind to gain Heaven?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

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