Much More Better

Much More Better

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

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Gary Pollard

Jesus wants us to have a perfect eternity with him because he sees us as family (Heb. 2.11-14). He took drastic measures to make sure anyone who wants to could easily get a passport to heaven. 

  • He took a 33 year demotion to save us (Heb. 2.9). The engineer and fabricator of reality stepped down to an entry-level position so His own creation could abuse and kill him. 
  • An immortal being allowed Himself to die. He did this to experience what all of us have to experience (2.9). 
  • The best pulmonologists have a respiratory disorder (or a family member with one). They empathize and know from personal experience what works. Jesus was the perfect person to give out freedom because He personally experienced what we go through. If someone’s going to be in charge of handing out grace, who better than someone who can empathize with our struggles (2.10; 17,18)? 
  • He makes us perfect in God’s eyes (2.11). 
  • He brags on His family to the father and to the faithful dead who are hanging out with Him until judgment (2.11-13; 12.21-23). 
  • Death is scary and uncertain, but not for Christians. Satan used our fear of death against us (2.14; cf Rom. 8.15), but Jesus confiscated Satan’s power.  
  • He made God very accessible, which makes it easy to stay faithful (4.16). 
  • He’s better than ancient human priests – and even they were gentle/patient with ignorant and weak believers (5.1,2). If they were patient with ignorant, weak believers, He’s even more patient (5.5-10). 
Teens stand for Scripture reading at recent Summer Youth Series (Chase Johnson reading)
“Charakter”

“Charakter”

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

Character is defined as the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual and involves a person’s good reputation. The Greek word “charakter” first referred to the die used in minting coins, then came to include the sense of an image, stamp, seal, or copy. The Greeks used the word to speak of the typical features of an individual or nation, from which came the idea of “moral character” and then “the “distinctiveness” of a language, the “style” of a writer, or a “type” of philosophy (Kittel and Bromiley, TDNT, 1308). Arndt tells us the word means something produced as a representation or reproduction, and that human beings are formed by God as a representation of His own identity (1078).

The word is only found in the Bible in Hebrews 1:3. The epistle’s writer is describing Jesus, saying, “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.” It is an absolutely amazing truth that we are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), but the writer of Hebrews is saying something even more powerful about Jesus in Hebrews 1:3. He was not created by God as a reflection of God’s identity. The writer uses this specific word in Hebrews as part of His explanation that the Son is God! The NASB and NIV translate χαρακτήρ (CHARAKTER) as “exact representation.” The ESV has “exact imprint,” the NKJV has “express image,” the NLT says “expresses the very character of God,” and the ASV puts “the very image of His substance.” 

The author of this epistle leads out in his overall theme that Jesus is better by establishing the most important reason why. He is God. The writer uses Old Testament Scripture to prove it, citing Psalm 45 and Isaiah 61 to call Him God (Heb. 1:8-9). He then quotes Psalm 102:25 to say of Jesus, “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth….” Then, in Hebrews 1:13, he quotes Psalm 110:1, which begins, “The LORD (Yahweh) said to my Lord (Adonai)….”

Let’s not miss the initial point of the letter driven home by the unknown writer. With a multitude of Old Testament passages, he proves this point about the essential character of Jesus Christ. He is God. He is as much God as Father and Holy Spirit. He is as powerful, all-knowing, omnipresent, perfect, sovereign, transcendent, self-existent, eternal–He is as Divine as Deity can be. 

That makes His willingness to be made a little while lower than the angels to taste death for everyone (Heb. 2:9) and to call us His brethren (2:11ff) all the more incredible. God lowered Himself not only to save us but to make us part of His family. We could spend the rest of the day meditating on that profound truth and still not fully grasp it. 

Here’s the question. God made us, became  one of us, died for us, and then opened the door to us to be His brother. What does that say about His character? As we try to fathom and appreciate that, it should give rise to another question? How should that affect  our character?

Mt. Zion Is Better Than Mt. Sinai

Mt. Zion Is Better Than Mt. Sinai

Friday’s Column: Guest Writer

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Kason Eubanks

In 1986, Roy Whetstine was in Arizona at a mineral show. He was digging through a plastic bowl of rocks. He saw a large stone the size of a potato that looked interesting. He bought the stone for $10. Later, Whetstine would learn that his rock was actually the world’s largest sapphire, worth $2.28 million. The man who sold Whetstine the stone was willing to give up something of great value because he did not know what he had. 

The Jews in Hebrews had a hard time giving up “Mt. Sinai” for “Mt. Zion” because they did not know that Mt. Zion was far better. Hebrews 12:18-24, ‘For you have not come to the mountain that may be touched and that burned with fire, and to blackness and darkness and tempest, and the sound of a trumpet and the voice of words, so that those who heard it begged that the word should not be spoken to them anymore (For they could not endure what was commanded: ‘And if so much as a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned or shot with an arrow.’ And so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I am exceedingly afraid and trembling.’) But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.” There are a lot of things that are better in the new law, but we are just going to look at three of them. 

In Hebrews, there are just a few of the many blessings in the New Testament. In our passage, the writer compares Mt. Sinai to Mt. Zion. Starting in verse 18, he describes Mt. Sinai It sounds awful because if you touched it you would be burned with fire or shot with an arrow. God has the power to do all these things. The writer is referring to when Moses went to get the ten commandments. God wants the people of Israel to understand and not forget them. He wanted them to obey Him so they could be His special treasure (Exod. 19:5) 

Starting in verse 32, he describes Mt. Zion. It’s better because it has better blessings than Mt. Sinai. Let’s look at three  contrasts in our passage. 

INSTEAD OF TERROR, WE CAN BE HAPPY (22)

How can we be happy with Jesus? Moses tells the people what kind of God we serve. In Deuteronomy 33:29, he says,  “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, The shield of your help And the sword of your majesty! Your enemies shall submit to you, And you shall tread down their high places.” Jesus gives us a rich and satisfying life.” In John 10:10, He says, “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” So you can be HAPPY by doing good deeds for others that may need it, and by knowing He is there.

INSTEAD OF KEEPING OUR DISTANCE, WE CAN BE CLOSE (23)

Instead of keeping our distance from Mount Sinai and we don’t have to be scared to get shot if we touch the mountain. How is Jesus close to us? In Proverbs 18:24, it states, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” This shows how Jesus stays close to us.

INSTEAD OF BEING PUNISHED, WE CAN BE REWARDED (24)

Instead of being punished we can be rewarded with heaven. In John 3:16, it states, ”For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” What does Jesus want us to do to be saved? We are hearing the word. In Romans 10:16, Paul writes, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” So we can hear his word. Why do we believe in God’s word? In John 8:24 it states, ”unless you believe that I am who I claim to be, you will die in your sins.” This is why you believe in God’s word. Why do we need to repent of our sins? In Mark 1:15 it states, “Repent, and believe in the gospel.” Why do we need to confess that Jesus is the son of God? In Matthew 26:63, it states “I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Why do we need to be baptized? In Acts 2:38, it states, “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’”

All in all we don’t need to keep our distance from God. Instead of keeping God out of our lives, He needs to be in our lives because through Him we make it to heaven.

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Kason with his family the night of his baptism (May 22, 2021)

THE DAILY PLANNER

THE DAILY PLANNER

MONDAY COLUMN: “NEAL AT THE CROSS”

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Neal Pollard

It’s the time of year when so many are buying or receiving calendars and planners or using an electronic version of the same. These can be key to organizing our lives, maximizing our time management, and strategizing ways to grow and improve in the future. Good stewardship really demands that you are “making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:16).

In this task of planning life each day, please consider planning to do the following each and every day of 2020:

  • Tell someone about what Jesus has done for you every day.
  • Tell God how great He is and grateful you are for Him as you pray every day.
  • Let God speak to You through His Word every day.
  • Tell your spouse, children, and family you love them every day.
  • Show someone the servant heart of Jesus in your deeds every day.
  • Do something that will help you look more like Jesus every day.
  • Help people see the joy and satisfaction of living the Christian life every day.
  • Encourage someone (via card, social media, phone, etc.) every day.
  • Compliment someone every day.
  • Examine yourself every day.
  • Provide an example of leadership to someone every day.
  • Invest in someone every day. 
  • Count your blessings every day.

That’s enough to keep idleness from plaguing us, isn’t it? Consider how helpful this will be, not just on January 1, but also March 19, June 6, September 25, and December 30. This life is about overcoming (1 John 5:4), but perseverance is as much about the daily grind as it is the dramatic and grand. Zig Ziglar wrote that “people often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” How profound! Plan on being a better you and on doing what that requires, day by day. 

Every Day Is “New” With God

Every Day Is “New” With God

Neal Pollard

  • We sing a new song (Ps. 40:3; Isa. 42:10; Rev. 5:9).
  • We gain new strength (Isa. 40:31).
  • We have a new name (Isa. 62:2; Rev. 2:17).
  • We have a new covenant (Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8-9). 
  • We have God’s compassions which are new every morning (Lam. 3:23). 
  • We have a new heart and a new spirit (Ezek. 36:26).
  • We observe a new commandment with each other (John 13:34).
  • We walk a new life (Rom. 6:4). 
  • We are new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). 
  • We are part of that new man, united with all children of God (Eph. 2:15).
  • We have put on the new self (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). 
  • We have been given a new and living way (Heb. 10:20).
  • We are looking for new heavens and a new earth (2 Pet. 3:13).
  • We anticipate the day when Christ makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).

Even though these promises were made thousands of years ago,  they are as fresh and bright today as they have ever been. Some help us overcome the guilt of our past. Others give us strength for the present. All of them give us hope for the future. We don’t need “new truth,” but so many of the truths of Scripture deserve our renewed dedication and attention. As a New Year descends, try and put your arms around all the daily renewal our great God makes available to us on January 1st and every other day of the year! 

” Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16). 

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Characteristics of Hope

Characteristics of Hope

Neal Pollard

An epistle centering around the superiority of Christi as our all-sufficient One would certainly be expected to contain a message of hope. While some had apparently given up Jesus as their hope (6:4-6), the writer of Hebrews had a higher estimation of those to whom he writes. for one thing, they had a legacy of good works and brotherly love and benevolence (6:10). His desire was that they would continue to stay strong. In expressing this, the writer suggests hope as an integral tool to keep them hanging onto their faith in Christ. In these final ten verses of Hebrews six, he mentions three qualities of hope that would help them–and will help us–hang onto our hope in Christ no matter what.

This hope is durable (11). Look at the language he uses. This hope was tied to an assurance that would endure “until the end.” It was a hope that would lead them to “inherit the promises” (12), just as Abraham’s hope in God led him to his inheritance (13-17). God desires to show us, as heirs of the promise through Christ, His unchanging purpose (17), so He guarantees that promise through an oath build upon the foundation of Himself. Hope which is guaranteed by the very nature and character of God is hope that will outlast anything! Nations rise and fall. Presidents serve only one or two terms. Supreme court justices, at most, can serve only a lifetime. Our hope transcends time.

This hope is tangible (18). These Christians needed to count on a refuge in difficult times (see 12:4), and we desire the same thing in our lives! Knowing that God is so trustworthy, we are encouraged to “take hold of hope” that is found only in Christ. To say that we can take hold of hope and that it is set before us means that it has substance. In a world where nothing seems certain, evidence from scripture, nature, order and design of the universe, and so much more allows us, by faith, to grab this hope. He had already told them to hold onto that hope in Christ earlier in the letter (3:6) and to encourage this response he points them to scripture (cf. 3:7-11; Psa. 95:7-11). Scripture helps us see the solid hope we have in Jesus.

This hope is stable (19). It is an anchor. Anchors keep a vessel from drifting, an appropriate illustration since the Christians were tempted to drift from Christ (2:1). By maintaining their hope, they could anticipate three blessings: (1) sureness, (2) steadfastness, and (3) the service of the sacrificial Savior (19-20). All three of these descriptions of this Almighty anchor underline the security found in keeping ourselves anchored in Christ. Those who keep Jesus as their hope are able to weather the most horrific storms of life!

As Christians, we may find ourselves ready to abandon Jesus as our hope. So many things attempt to pull us from Him. Let us draw encouragement from this inspired writer, as surely these first Christians did, and rejoice in these changeless characteristics of hope!

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