Jesus Is Better

If you could summarize the main thoughts of the book of Hebrews in the Bible, you couldn’t find a better word than BETTER! In every way Jesus is better than all of the Old Covenant combined. I am so happy that Jesus is my better high priest. He knows what it is like to struggle with temptation yet He was without sin. He helps me better than anyone else can.

Hebrews 2:17 (ESV)
17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

His innocent blood cleanses us from all iniquities (1Pe 1:18-19). “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV)). He stands ready to redeem us with that precious blood. It is true that what we could never do for ourselves Jesus did for us when we deserved it the least (Ro 5:8). Praise God it is through Jesus’ blood that we have “redemption, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace (Ep 1:7).

Yes Jesus is better than the high priests under the Old Covenant because He is sinless, merciful, gracious and determined to lead us to the Father.

“Jesus to Calvary did go
His love for mankind to show,
What He did there,
Brought hope from despair,
O how He loves you and me”
Kurt Kaiser

There Are Some Things We Must Learn to Hate

Our hearts must be turned off by sin. We should want to be as far away from sinning as we can possibly be. Why do we find it easy to hate some things in life while others, even though they are bad, we can’t seem to develop an aversion to?

Let us understand that the Holy God of heaven hates sin Proverbs 6:16-19. Our Lord cast out the money changers. We must learn to have that same disdain for unrighteousness. It is not enough to just love good things.

Psalm 97:10 (ESV)
“O you who love the LORD, hate evil!
He preserves the lives of his saints;
he delivers them from the hand of the wicked.”

Hebrews 1:9 (ESV)
“You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness;
therefore God, your God, has anointed you
with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.”

Loving what God loves will cause us to hate those things that He hates. Love right, hate wrong. Love truth, hate error. Love purity, hate impurity. Love light, hate darkness. See Ps 119:104; 113; 163; Pr 8:12; 28:16; Re 2:6.

There is just no room to embrace evil when righteousness and love for God fill the heart. We are to come out and be separate from sin (2Co 6:17-18). Spend your day today looking for the good things to love and spend time learning to find contempt for that which offends God. Make no provision for the flesh (Ro 13:14).

Bible Authority For All We Do

As humans, we often feel we are able to do just about anything we want to do. We disdain authority when it goes against our own desires. People don’t like to have to change their way of living to suit someone or something else. When it comes to religious matters it is vital that we find out what God ordains for us and what He does not.

“but test everything; hold fast what is good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21 (ESV))

There is a reason we are to test the doctrines of preachers, teachers, denominations, and churches. It is just a simple matter of reasoning; two people expressing two differing interpretations of one doctrine cannot both be right. It is possible that they both can be wrong but no way can both be right. Notice that Jesus taught us that there would be wolves coming in sheep’s clothing (Mt 7:15). We are taught to try every teacher and teaching because there are many false prophets gone out into the world (1 Jn 4:1ff). Paul marveled that the Galatian brethren accepted a false gospel (Ga 1:6-9). He said that those who pervert or change the true gospel are cursed.

Can a person come to the truth simply by listening to the teaching of men? They can if the preacher or teacher is actually teaching the truth. But, that is not always the case. That is why we are to study the word of God for ourselves proving whether the teaching is truth or not like the faithful Bereans of Acts 17:11-12.

Paul commanded that we take heed to ourselves and to the doctrine in doing so we will save ourselves (1Ti 4:16). There was a time when people loved the word of God and demanded that it be taught and followed. However, over time the devil has crept in teaching for doctrines the commandments of men (Mt 15:9). These are the seducing spirits who proclaim the doctrine of devils (1Ti 4:1ff).

Let us heed the teaching of Paul, “Whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord.” (Co 3:16-17), Let the word of Christ dwell in us richly so that we can know the truth and be set free (Jo 8:32). Let us demand from preachers and teachers book chapter and verse for every doctrine. Let us know the truth enough to identify false teaching and stop it before it pollutes people.

Why are there so many churches teaching so many different doctrines, worshiping God in so many different ways, and convincing people of salvation in ways not even mentioned in the Bible? It is because we are not living by the injunction to “Prove (test) all things and hold fast to that which is good.” We have forgotten to ask “what does the Scripture say?” (Ro 4:3). Let’s start living by the teaching of Christ in all we say and do in His church!

Gambling, Why Its Bad For Us

Texas is going down a road that will legalize gambling of newer sorts than before. There is a desire to have casino gambling, sports betting and other forms of betting as legally acceptable in our state. This is one more step away from listening to God’s way for man. Stop for a moment and think about a couple of things that make gambling wrong in the sight of God.

God is the provider of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). God made man as stewards of what rightly belongs to Him (Lk 12:42). For us to take what God has entrusted us to care for and waste it on gambling is sinful. Just think of all the money that is lost that should have been used to feed and clothe the poor, care for one’s own family, to carry the gospel into all the world. God did not give us our daily care to squander it on some get rich quick ploy like gambling.

Think also of the fact that we are to want what is best for our fellow man. Gambling sets men at odds with one another. In order to win the other must lose. Often that may mean that a family will go without daily needs. That in no way describes what Jesus taught about loving one another and caring for each other.

It is proven that gambling can and does become an addiction just like drugs and alcohol. A man should abstain from things that cause him to out of control. Gambling will prey on people who are looking to win big and risk everything they have to do so.

When one has such a desire for money that they are willing to hurt someone else to get it they have fallen short of the high standard of God. Does one prove faithful over earthly riches when willing to risk it all? It isn’t possible for that person to be entrusted with the real spiritual riches that God wants to bestow (Lk 16:11).

We could give myriads of examples of how states have promised funding for schools and humanitarian projects from the funding of legalized gambling. Yes, even our state of Texas still hasn’t cured a need for funding of schools even though that was the promise of legalizing the state lottery and lotto. Why would we think that legalized casino and sports betting will be any different. The poor will become poorer and the state will absorb the need to feed and clothe the children of parents who habitually gamble their money away.

Instructions From Paul for Young People

Paul gives Titus a list of things that young women and men are to strive for. We cannot just hope to be good people as we age. We have to actually work at it. Notice a few things that Paul instructs…

Love your own husbands and children. Seems odd that Paul would want this to be taught, doesn’t it come naturally? A quick look at our society will show what a great need, this is. Divorce and abortion are as prevalent as marriage and raising offspring, if not more. Putting the needs of someone else above your own takes determination. The love Paul is speaking of is the kind of love that wants what is best for another person, even at your own hurt.

We can’t just love our spouse when it is convenient. We must love them even when they are not easy to love. Remember the old wedding vows where couples promised to love, honor, obey, and cherishing each other, preferring one another above all others, in sickness and health, during good times and bad, richer or poorer. These things are choices that demand losing a piece of yourself in love for another.

Loving a child takes ones complete surrender for many years until they can make it on their own. Putting their needs above self. I can remember many times my mother going without so we (her children) could have whether it was clothing or the last piece of pie. Dedication and care are part of learning to truly love spouses and children as God instructs.

Marriage is not an easy undertaking. Paul’s instruction calls for self-control, purity, working in the home, kindness and submission. None of these things allow self to come first.

Young men need to learn to control their being. Which indicates all the things needed to put the Lord, wife, children, and self in proper order. A husband cannot live for himself only. He cannot live to fulfill the callings of the flesh. He cannot let fleshly pursuits come ahead of his love for his wife and children.

It is interesting that Paul calls for Titus to teach these things to the young. This is the time that we are setting the pattern for life. Just like the Proverbs writer said, “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them.” (Eccl 12:1). Much of what it takes to be a husband is learned as a faithful son to mother and father. One does not learn fidelity, self-control, protection and providence all at once after marriage.

There are a few things in which youth has the advantage. You have time to learn, you can make mistakes that can more easily be corrected in youth than after adulthood. In youth, you have fewer commitments allowing for time to serve the Lord fully without having to look out for wife and children.

Thank God for preachers and parents like Titus, who will accurately teach the will of God in the lives of their children.

The Lifter of My Head

When I am down and out David’s writings lift my spirit. They remind of just how awesome our God is. We often see David in the valleys of life. When he is depressed and hurting, he turns to God for help. Oh, that we would do the same.

Psalm 3:1–8
1  O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;
2  many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah
3  But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.
4  I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill. Selah
5  I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.
6  I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.
7  Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.
8  Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people! Selah

David wrote this psalm when his son had launched an all out attack against him. This drove David to his knees in prayer. He calls for God’s salvation in this desperate time. How often do we need to seek God’s mercy and comfort and we neglect His great help. Let us remember that the Lord is a shield about us and a lifter of our heads.

Because God Said So

Faith is a puzzling thing. Taking God at His Word because He has proven Himself over and over makes it less so. Faith sometimes requires us to do things we don’t yet understand. Think about the people of Israel while they were in Egypt. At the last plague, they had to consecrate a spotless lamb. They would care for that lamb for 10 days, then sacrifice that lamb taking its blood and painting the lintel and door jams with a hyssop branch. They would feast on the lamb and then burn the remains. They had to stay in their homes while God’s judgment poured out on the unfaithful Egyptians.

I don’t know if this made any sense to them except that God’s prophet instructed them to do it. Faith sometimes demands that we do a thing just because God said so. We may not understand why God uses water baptism to add us to the kingdom. We may not see the reasoning in being in the assembly to eat the Lord’s Supper, sing, pray, listen to preaching, and give as we prosper. We just know that that is what God’s Word tells us to do. We may come to an understanding of these things later but Faith demands adherence without complete comprehension of the ways and mind of the Father.

I do know that obedience is better than sacrifice (1Sa 15:22). Jesus obeyed things that cost Him his life (He 5:8). His humanity called for another way but did God’s will without deviation. A person who knows little about God’s word and ways, may not understand all about the plan of salvation. He may not comprehend the importance of all that God commands of the saint. He just does them because it is what God says.

We must come to God in faith knowing that God commands therefore I must obey.

Prayer is A Powerful Privilege

The fact that the God of the universe wants us to speak to Him is one of the most wondrous thoughts known to man. Why does He want to hear from me? What is amazing is that with such a right available to each of God’s children few really avail themselves of it.

Prayer is a way we can PRAISE God. It is a time for us to enumerate just how marvelous God is. We tell Him what we think about Him in praise and adoration. It is a good idea to consult the Psalmist on how to express our heartfelt worship in prayer and supplication.

How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
Psalm 92:5 (ESV)
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isaiah 6:3 (ESV)
O Lord God of hosts,
who is mighty as you are, O Lord,
with your faithfulness all around you?
Psalm 89:8 (ESV)

In prayer, we can exalt the King of all kings. Here is our time to extol His greatness and express our adoration for His kindness, and wondrous love for us.

Prayer is a time of PETITION. Our human condition is that we need God to provide for us all things that pertain to life and godliness (2Pe 1:3). It is in God that we live move and have our very being (Ac 17:28). Only from God can we receive our daily needs physically and spiritually. Jesus’ example prayer showed that we should petition the Father for daily bread and protection from the evil one (Mt 6:11; 13). Paul often requested prayer on his behalf knowing the petitions of the saints are heard by a loving and caring Father (Eph 5:19). To whom can we turn for daily sustenance? Only God.

“The Lord is my shepherd I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1).

Prayer is a time for THANKSGIVING. Since God is the provider of everything we have our reaction must be to thank Him for His kindness toward us (Co 1:3; Ro 1:8). Ungratefulness is often at the very heart of sin. Forgetting that God is kind toward us is truly shortsighted.

1  I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2  My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3  Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4  I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5  Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
Psalm 34:1–5 (ESV)

Prayer is a time for INTERCESSION. Let us remember that all men have common hurts and needs. We should intercede for all people because of their great needs. Again, we cite Paul’s beseeching the brethren to pray on his behalf. Knowing our own precarious position in life ought to make us sympathetic toward the like plight in others.

Agnus Dei (Lamb of God)

I remember singing in church at Covington, Texas. Mrs. Gregory was an alto singer that always sounded so pretty. We would sing the song “When I See The Blood”, Mrs. Gregory’s voice would ring out with her perfect alto. But the main thing I remember about that song was how an Old Testament concepts had be brought over to the New Testament. Jesus is the Passover lamb we all need to keep spiritual death entering our homes.

Jesus truly embodied all the qualities of the Passover lamb. He was SANCTIFIED. He was consecrated and dedicated to God (1Pe 2:4; Jn 6:38). He was SPOTLESS. There was no sin in Jesus at all (He 4:15; 9:28). He was a SACRIFICE. He sacrificed His station (Php 2:5-7), Livelihood (Mt 8:20), His very life (He 7:26-27). He is our SALVATION. None other can save (Ac 4:12), He only, has power to save (Mt 26:28). Jesus truly is our Passover lamb!

He is worthy of our worship and life (Re 5:) WORTHY IS THE LAMB. Let me encourage you to make plans to worship with us this coming Sunday at North Loop Church of Christ. We will flesh out this lesson during our worship hour.

1000 N Loop 485
Gladewater, Texas

Not Enough Information?

Have you ever been in a position where you didn’t have enough information to do something? Perhaps you didn’t have directions to a destination, didn’t know how to fix a broken fixture in your home, or such like. Of course, there are many times when we don’t know how to proceed in life. We often need more information to tell us the solution to a problem. But, spiritually we don’t have that problem. Jesus made this promise to the apostles…

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13).

We have the Bible to guide us to completeness spiritually…

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17).

God’s word is the source of all truth (John 17:17). We just need to go to the Word of God to find what we need to do to live a life preparing us for heaven. The sinner needs only to turn to God’s Book to learn how to stop sinning (Psalm 119:11). The apostle Paul reminded the elders of Ephesus that they had been taught everything that was profitable for them (Acts 20:20). Peter tells us the Bible contains everything pertaining to life and godliness (2Pe 1:3)

So we must develop an appetite for the Word of God. A hunger and thirst for righteousness that teaches us how we ought to behave in the house of God. We must study to show ourselves approved of God, workmen that need not be ashamed (2Ti 2:15).

The words of this old song remind us of the directions that God’s Book gives to each of those who will read and follow it.

“Holy Bible, book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine;
Mine to tell me whence I came,
Mine to teach me what I am:

Mine to chide me when I rove;
Mine to show a Savior’s love;
Mine thou art to guide and guard;
Mine to punish or reward;

Mine to comfort in distress,
Suffering in this wilderness;
Mine to show by living faith,
Man can triumph over death;

Mine to tell of joys to come,
And the rebel sinner’s doom;
O thou holy book divine,
Precious treasure, thou art mine.”
John Burton