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"Two Are Better Than One."

Thursday, September 10, 2020

                   Ecclesiastes 4:9 reminds us that, “Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labor.” Solomon says that two are better than one because if one falls, the other can pick him up (v. 10). Two together bring (beneficial) heat (v. 11), and two and even three together can withstand enemies when they come (v. 12).

                   This section of Ecclesiastes reminds us that man is a social creature. God made man in such a way that he needs the companionship of others. Companionship is one reason for marriage (Gen. 2:18). Some consider it the main reason for marriage, and I would not disagree. Companionship is why we have friends (Prov. 18:24). Refusing friendships and social interaction with others is not normal to our way of life, and is why it is so odd when someone wishes to be a “hermit.” While it is true that men need to be alone at times, this person cannot live like this for months and years at a time and remain healthy.

                   In his writing, Solomon tells us that there is a need for companionship. We must have those who will support, care, love, and keep us in “check.” Do you have someone like this in your life? If you have more than one person who fills this role, you are truly blessed.

                   Do you fill this role for others? What kind of friend are you? “Two are better than one” is true, so long as both people have the same goals! We need people that are going to help us go to Heaven. This is necessary with our friends, and it is especially needed when we are choosing a mate (Matt. 19:4-6). We need a spouse who will help us go to Heaven so that we can be “heirs together of the grace of life” (I Pet. 3:7).

                   Satan tries his best to tempt us and lure us away from the Lord. Peter describes him as a “roaring lion seeking whom he may devour” (I Pet. 5:8). One way the lion devours is by finding the weak, the young, the ones who cannot stay with the “herd” and killing and devouring his prey. It is the same today, spiritually. Thus, a reason we need others is that we might help one another fight Satan’s advances. If one would fall (spiritually), his friend can help lift him up and get him back on the right track (Gal. 6:1; Jas. 5:19-20).

                   Who are your friends?

                   Is Jesus your friend (Jn. 14:15, 15:14)? Remember, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (Jn. 15:13). Now, read Romans 5:6-8. Christ had shown Himself to be a friend before we ever loved Him. How are you treating Him now?

                   If Christ is your friend:

  • You will have a “good reward for your labor” (Ecc. 4:9; I Cor. 15:58; II Tim. 4:8).
  • He will lift you up (Ecc. 4:10; Jas. 4:10; I Pet. 5:6).
  • He will benefit us on earth as well as in Heaven (Ecc. 4:11; Matt. 6:25-33; Rev. 22:14).
  • He will help us prevail over Satan (Ecc. 4:12; Jas. 4:7-8; I Cor. 15:57).

                   “Two are better than one.” Who are your friends?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

“The Christian’s Retirement”

Thursday, August 20, 2020

            Something that impresses me when I read II John and III John is that John had not “retired” from being a Christian (II Jn. 12; III Jn. 13-14)! In both letters, John called himself an “elder” (II Jn. 1; III Jn. 1). In this case, he refers to his advanced age, not that he had oversight over a particular congregation. Therefore, we read about a man, an apostle, someone who has seen Jesus, who has performed miracles, who has endured suffering, and someone who has enjoyed many victories and experienced defeats. He had a life similar to Paul’s (II Cor. 11:23-28), and John was not ready to quit yet!

John is an old man, an old Christian, when he writes these letters. Though advanced in years, he is not sitting in an easy chair! He is not grumbling about the young people! Conversely, he is not complaining about his advanced years and saying, “let the young people do it.” He has not stopped serving God. Before this man dies, he will have written five books of the New Testament. In addition this, he was consistently and continually preaching the truth. In two of his letters, he promises to visit the recipients and talk with them “face-to-face.” I do not know the miles between them, but I read of a man who writes in concern for souls and then says, “I am ready to do more. I’ll be there soon.” John did not “retire” from the Lord’s service when he reached a certain age!

            Since our society considers 65 the “retirement age,” I am concerned at how much this mentality has spilled over into the Lord’s body. How much work are we letting slip by because those 65 and above might see themselves as retiring, not only from an occupation but also from our work as Christians? I know there are exceptions to what I just wrote. I am thankful for such people and I wish that there were more like them.

            More often than not, though, I hear older folks say that they think the “younger ones” ought to “step up” and take on more responsibilities. If this is said with the mindset of furthering the Lord’s work, I agree. If this is said because the older ones wish to do less, then I think this is the wrong motivation!

Don’t forget that the older men are here for our instruction, and we need to be influenced by them while they are around (Lev. 19:32; Prov. 16:31; I Tim. 5:1; I Pet. 5:5)! John knew he had work to do to the end of his life. May we remember the same thing! Yes, the work of older people will look different than younger folks’ work, but I beg the older folks to please not deprive us of your wisdom and experience by “retiring” too soon! It has been said, “When an old man dies, a library burns to the ground.” How true! I pray older Christians will give us the benefit of their wisdom and experience while they are still here (Jn. 9:4). All of us need to be faithful to God until we leave this world (I Cor. 15:58)! Then, we can “retire” (Heb. 4:9-11)! I am thankful John didn’t retire too soon, aren’t you?

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"No Greater Joy"

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

            John told Gaius, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III Jn. 4). This statement, though short, teaches us several things. Let us break this verse down, see what John was saying, and make some applications to our lives.

“I Have No Greater Joy” - Nothing gave John greater joy than to know that Gaius, Demetrius (v. 12), and other Christians (i.e., “friends,” v. 14) were holding fast to the Lord. He had his joy set on things eternal and not temporal (II Cor. 4:18). In other words, John’s joy didn’t rest in men’s opinion of him or some physical pursuit. John’s joy was in knowing that faithful Christians were doing their duty for the Lord! (See: II John 4)

            Friend, what gives you joy? Is it vacations? Physical pursuits? Work? Children? Cars? Hobbies? These things might bring momentary happiness, but what brings joy? Is our true joy found in spiritual things? If we truly love the brethren as we ought (I Pet. 2:17), we will be able to speak as John concerning the well-doing of brethren all over this country and world!

“Than To Hear” - Though he wasn’t there in body, John was concerned for the brethren. He wanted “to hear” about Gaius, and others and learn about their welfare. I know brethren who look down on such concern for others, but John (and the other apostles) showed us the proper example (I Cor. 4:16, 11:1; Phil. 3:17; Eph. 5:1-2). Please understand, John wasn’t interested in gossip, etc., but genuinely concerned for their souls. This needs to be our attitude as well (Prov. 25:25).

            Other apostles showed concern for the brethren as well. We see Paul’s care for brethren through all of his epistles (II Cor. 11:28; Rom. 16:1-15; I Cor. 1:11; Phil. 4:21; Col. 4:15, 17). The same goes for Peter (I Pet. 1:1, 2:17; II Pet. 1:1).

            How concerned are we for our brethren? Do we show it through prayers? Through financial support or other means? Are we so caught up in ourselves that we don’t have time to “hear” about the welfare of other Christians?

“My Children” - This does not have reference to his physical lineage, but to those he had been instrumental in bringing to the Lord. The apostle Paul used the same language for those he taught (I Cor. 4:15, 17; I Tim. 1:1-2; II Tim. 1:1-2; Titus 1:4).

I think it is interesting to note that we are never told about the apostles’ physical children. (For example, we know the apostle Peter had children, I Pet. 5:1!) I wonder if this was done so we would keep our eyes on the apostles who pointed us to Christ, rather than on their descendants that we might treat as “royalty,” or give them some special position in the church that God never intended?

            Brethren, what is our attitude toward fellow Christians? Do we strive for closeness? Do we treat one another as brethren? Let’s ask this another way: How many can we consider “children” in the sense the John and Paul used the word (II Tim. 2:2)?

“Walk In Truth” - The word “walk” describes one’s manner of life or behavior. This was seen as Gaius showed hospitality toward others, and showed the right example to fellow Christians not traveling (III Jn. 5-8). In other words, Gaius was faithfully following God despite the difficulties that surrounded him. He didn’t merely give lip-service to the truth, but was walking in it! John said those, like Gaius, who were walking in the truth brought him great joy. Why did he have joy? It is because he knew that what they were doing pleased the Father (II Jn 4; III Jn. 4). Let us examine ourselves so that when the Lord returns, He will find us walking in truth.

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"In The Truth"

Sunday, August 02, 2020

                   “The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth” (II Jn. 1). This is how the letter of II John begins. III John starts with the greeting, “The elder unto the well-beloved Gaius whom I love in the truth” (III Jn. 1). As I thought about this statement, it became apparent that truth is more than just a concept. It is an objective reality. When John said he loved the “elect lady and her children” and Gaius  “in the truth” (or “in truth” as some versions say), he was speaking about a relationship! Truth is the reason John loved them.

The word “in” in II John 1 and III John 1 does not mean “inside,” like one would go “in” (inside) a house. Instead, it was love “in connection with” the truth, just like the language of John 4:24. We worship God “in connection with” spirit and “in connection with” the truth, not “inside” spirit and truth (Jn. 4:24). John loved these people as a result of their connection with the truth that had been taught and the truth these people (and John) obeyed (II Jn. 4; III Jn. 4).

                   John loved all men and cared for their souls (Matt. 22:39). However, there is a special bond that develops when we are connected with one another in the truth. Have we ever noticed the feeling and the camaraderie that takes place when we meet people of “like precious faith” (II Pet. 1:1)? It is like no other relationship. I have had the blessing of being able to preach in gospel meetings across this great country. I have gone to places where I knew no one and had people ask me, “How did you end up here?” What brought us together was the truth, and by the end of the gospel meeting, I had developed a life-long bond with them. Why was this? It was because of the truth! Similarly, I have been preaching in a “full-time” capacity over 26 years, and the connections I have made with the brethren I see day-in-and-day-out can never be strained, either. Even now, there are brethren I knew from some of my first years of preaching that I keep up with, and rejoice to hear news about them and their families (Prov. 25:25)  Yes, there are many that I, like John, can say I love “in the truth”! Can you say the same? I hope so.

                   Perhaps we have not thought about the truth in this manner, but go back and consider what John says in II John and III John about his love for the brethren and how it is connected with truth. You will be amazed at what you find! Truth is not an abstract concept. It is real. It is objective. It helps cultivate strong bonds between people as we see one another standing for the truth (Eph. 6:11-14), fighting for the truth (II Cor. 10:3-5; I Tim. 6:12; II Tim. 4:7), and obeying that precious truth that saves our souls (I Pet. 1:22; Rom. 6:17-18)!

- Jarrod M. Jacobs

"Truth"

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

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