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Shoplifting A Bible

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Shoplifting A Bible

Jarrod Jacobs

                   It came to my attention a while back that the most shoplifted book in the world is the Bible! Whether this is true or an “urban myth,” just think of the irony of a Bible being stolen!

                   It is ironic because there are many Bible passages which tell us not to steal (Ex. 20:15; Lev. 19:11, 13; Deut. 5:19; Eph. 4:28). Imagine someone stealing something that plainly states, “don’t steal.” Too, we are told in this same book that someone who is guilty of stealing will be lost in Hell (I Cor. 6:10)!

                   How ironic that a book saying, “don’t steal, and if you do, you endanger your eternal soul,” is stolen so frequently! Yet, this got me to thinking about human nature in general. Is it not true that often, the very things we are told not to do are the things we do?

                   From the beginning, man has been tempted by Satan to contradict the will of God (Gen. 2:16-17, 3:1-6). Sadly, man contradicts God’s will more than he obeys it (Rom. 3:23; Ecc. 7:29). Yet, this is not because he has no choice. In fact, it is the opposite (Jas. 1:14-15)! Due to man’s free moral agency, he has often chosen to turn from God’s will and walk in his own selfish way.

                   In addition to not stealing, we are also told throughout Scripture:

  • Do not murder (Ex. 20:13; Rom. 13:9; I Jn. 3:15; Rev. 21:8)
  • Do not lie (Ex. 20:16; Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25; Rev. 21:8)
  • Do not lust after others (Matt. 5:28; Job 31:1; II Pet. 2:14-15)
  • Do not be lazy (II Thess. 3:10; Prov. 24:30-34)
  • Worship God only (Matt. 4:10; Jn. 4:24)
  • Be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38, 8:35-38, 10:48)
  • Live faithfully (II Tim. 4:6-8; Rev. 2:10; I Cor. 15:58)
  • Treat others kindly (Eph. 4:32; I Cor. 13:4; Matt. 7:12; II Pet. 1:17)
  • Love God (Matt. 22:37; I Jn. 5:2-3)
  • Love our neighbors (Lev. 19:18; Matt. 22:39; Jas. 2:8; Gal. 5:14; Rom. 13:9)

                   This is just a partial list! In observing the items on our list, can we not also think of folks (perhaps us) who blatantly contradict these commands, too? Why are we surprised, then, when we read of someone (or many people) shoplifting a Bible?

                   Some might reason, “If a person stole a Bible, it might turn out good because he might then read that Bible and learn the truth.” The response that comes to my mind is the apostle Paul’s statement where he denied the doctrine of: “Let us do evil, that good may come” (Rom. 3:8). He said it was “slanderously reported” that they taught a doctrine that has come to be known as “situation ethics”. So also today, we do not justify a wicked act by trying to find some supposed “good” that can come from it.

                   More can be said about this, but the point is that we as God’s creatures have to decide to do what is right, and then continue daily to decide to do what is right (Jas. 1:27; Matt. 7:13-14; Lk. 9:23; Rev. 2:10; etc.). When we decide that we will not do what the Lord says, in spite of His clear statements in the Bible, then we are setting ourselves up for spiritual ruin and an eternity in a devil’s Hell. Should the Bible be the most shoplifted book, then let man repent of this sin (as well as all others) and live for the Lord while we still have the time and opportunity to do so (II Cor. 6:2).

Where Is Jesus?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Where Is Jesus?

Jarrod Jacobs

                   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)!

Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Romans 1:16-17

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Romans 1:16-17

                   “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” The apostle Paul declares the power of the gospel in his letter to the Romans. This is the power of God to save all men. Salvation is not reserved for a select, predestined few, but for all mankind. “To the Jew first and also to the Greek tells us that all mankind has the opportunity to hear and obey if we will do it. Let us thank God that we have this blessing. We have the opportunity to be saved and can look forward to Heaven one day because of God and His love (Jn. 3:16). Let us not hide this message, nor be ashamed (II Tim. 1:8, 12), but speak out and live the gospel every day (I Pet. 4:11; Matt. 5:14-16). Much good will be accomplished, including saving ourselves and those who hear us (I Tim. 4:16)!

- Jarrod Jacobs

A Second Chance

Saturday, February 18, 2017

A Second Chance

Jarrod Jacobs

                   When growing up, many of us remember being offered “second chances.” Little children play games, and sometimes say, “do-over!” I think about second chances when I think of that beloved “delete” key that is attached to my computer! How many times I have needed a “do over” in writing, and found the “delete” key a welcome sight! In fact, computers have an option called “undo” where we can go back to an earlier version of our document. In many aspects of life, it seems we can have second chances.

                   Yet, are we really providing people with “second chances” when we speak of a “do over”, an “undo” option, or a “delete” key? In truth, we cannot re-live and readjust the mistakes made in life.  We cannot go back in time and relive the past so as to not make the mistake we made. The best we can do in such cases as a “do-over” is to reenact the event and change the mistake! Whether we speak of sporting events, computer work, etc., the best we can do is pretend like the mistake did not happen, for we all recognize that it happened! Time moves in only one direction, so man cannot truly go back and offer people a “second chance.”

                   Yet, unlike the examples above, we see that in Christ, we truly have a second chance! This is because in Christ, we can have forgiveness of sins. In such forgiveness, it is not merely “pretending” that a sin has not occurred and retracing our steps so as to avoid the sin. In the case of forgiveness, Christ actually will erase the guilt of sin and make the filthy sinner clean! This is what Peter taught when he told the Jews, “Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out ...” (Acts 3:19). Isaiah said, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they are red like crimson, they shall become as wool” (Isa. 1:18). Yes, Christ is the only One who can truly offer people a “second chance”!

                   Christ came into the world, and by the shedding of His blood, offers a way by which man can be saved and free from the guilt of sin (Matt. 26:26; Rev. 1:5). Does this action erase a man’s history? By no means! Sins (acts contrary to God’s will, I Jn. 3:4; Jas. 4:17) have been committed by man (Rom. 3:23). Yet, Christ is willing to forgive us and will erase the guilt of our sin when we accept His conditions for forgiveness in loving faith and obedience (Mk. 16:16). Christ allows us a true “second chance”!

                   There is a reason why Christ calls being born into His kingdom being “born again” (Jn. 3:3, 5; I Pet. 1:23). It is because in Christ we have an opportunity to truly start afresh, and begin again. Having been baptized into Christ, our sins are washed away, our guilt is no longer over us, and we become “as white as snow”! Truly, Christ offers a “second chance,” but we need to take advantage of His offer while we still can (II Cor. 6:2)!

                   No man can offer what Christ offers us; because with man, we are only pretending! No one can truly go back in time. However, Christ offers us true forgiveness, true pardon, and “newness of life” (Rom. 6:3-4)!

                   How thankful I am for a “delete” key on the computer! Only God Himself knows how many mistakes I have made on this short document! Yet, I am even more grateful for God sending His Son to die for me (Jn. 3:16). Through Him, I can have true forgiveness, a real “second chance” and a home in Heaven!

When We Do Not Talk ...

Friday, February 17, 2017

When We Do Not Talk…

Jarrod Jacobs

                   Dangers occur when men stop (or never begin) speaking with one another. Often misunderstandings are calmed when the parties involved speak with each other. When men, who are otherwise good men; productive, who have great knowledge and abilities, do not communicate as they should, bad things can happen. Perhaps work that could be otherwise accomplished is slowed, or neglected altogether because these men refuse to communicate, share ideas, and help each other.

                   When we think about communication, we see that there is a great need for communication in a family. Husbands and wives are said to be “one” in the sight of God (Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:6; Eph. 5:31). It seems to me like folks who are “one” would want to be in communication with one another. Yet, when a husband and wife do not communicate, there are problems! Sadly, in many marriages, spouses are not talking with each other, and the situation is just asking for difficulties!

                   The Bible says husbands must treat their wives as they treat their own bodies (Eph. 5:28-29). A man would go to the doctor and demand treatment if he found that the various members of his body were not “communicating” or working as they once did. How much more ought there be a sense of urgency when two people living under the same roof refuse to communicate?

                   Further, in Ephesians 6:4, we read, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Obviously, there are responsibilities a father has to his children. This includes communication with them as he tries to raise them correctly. Mother must also take the initiative in teaching and training her young ones (Prov. 22:6; II Tim. 1:5; Titus 2:4).

                   Yet, a sad trend among parents is to allow children “raise themselves” as it were. Children are growing up with no discipline, no instruction on how to do good, and certainly no correction for their wrongs! Solomon said, “a child left to himself brings his mother to shame” (Prov. 29:15). Sadly, this is exactly what is happening in households across this nation, including households where father and mother are claiming to be Christians!

                   What has happened to the communication among parents and children? Are we the kind of people who just “assume” that “junior” knows right from wrong simply because he is living in our house? Are we the kind of people who are positive that “sweet little Sally” will never do anything wrong? Why think this way if we have never taught “Sally” right from wrong? Our children need parents who spend time in communication with one another and in communication with them. In the long ago, God encouraged such communication, for He demanded that fathers take their children and teach them God’s will (Deut. 6:7, 9). This kind of diligence is not seen in the family whose means of communication is “huh?” “what?” “shut-up!” “move out of my way,” and various grunts. As we pointed out from Ephesians and other places, God still expects fathers and mothers to be conscientious of their duties as parents and bring their children up right. May parents ever feel that great responsibility, whether the children are 2, 12, or 22, etc.

                   Could it be possible that you are guilty of such behavior? Think about it: God is our maker; the One who rules and controls this life. Shouldn’t we strive to make ourselves as useful as possible for the Master’s service (Rom. 12:1-2)? Don’t allow another opportunity pass without speaking, communicating, listening, and discussing matters with one another.

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