October 27, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 2:1-11

After reading this passage I found it remarkable that Hannah prays to the Lord after receiving Samuel, and yet does not even mention the kid through the whole prayer. Why would she not even mention him? She has gone through so much emotional trouble of being barren that in the first chapter it seemed to consume her life. She even tells Eli, after he thought she was drunk, that she wasn’t hammered but just full of anxiety. Why then does she not thank God for giving her Samuel? I believe it is because the gifts that God gives His people are not to be praised, but rather the character of God.

I have been blessed with a wife that genuinely loves giving presents. She doesn’t just give me presents, but makes it an effort to always have something for her nieces and nephews as well (which is no small feat since she has ten of them). She always gives me gifts that I honestly love and desired, but it would be extremely shallow of me to thank her only for the things she gives me rather than having joy in her caring and generous heart. My wife is not some claw machine that luckily drops a few toys into my hands, she is a person who loves me and has a character of love, and I believe that this is what Hannah recognizes in God.

We can often pray for things for a long time and after we get them we simply give God some lip service “thank you” and go on our way, making our pleasure in the gift He has given us rather than in Himself. However, the gifts that God gives to us are not to be delighted in and of themselves, but are made to point us to look and praise the awesome character of God. This is why Hannah gives her prayer to describing and delighting in God’s character rather than in her son. All the gifts we receive are meant to point us to the One who is the Giver of gifts and to look upon His very nature. We can become disillusioned with Christianity after a while because we simply believe God is just the genie in the sky, only giving us gifts if we pray hard enough. This is a shallow Christianity; true Christianity mimics the prayer of Hannah, seeing God for who He is, and delighting in Him.


Do you have more joy in God’s blessings or in God`s character?

Do your prayers mimic Hannah’s or are they just lip service to God?

How are you going to look at God’s gifts after reading this passage?

By: Jacob Godbey

Participant in the Pastoral Ministry Exposure Program

October 26, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Samuel 1

I’m excited, for the first time in my Jumpstart writing career, to kick off a new book of the Bible. Today we begin the book of 1 Samuel! In this historical and prophetic book we see the nation of Israel transition from a loose confederation of tribes under the judges, to a nation united under a line of kings. It is ultimately this Davidic line of kings that would lead to Jesus the Messiah. There is so much to be gleaned from this amazing OT book and I hope you will dive in with us every day.

In chapter one, we read the story of Elkanah and his family. He has two wives: Hannah and Peninnah. The story is a gut wrenching one, especially for anyone who has had difficulty becoming pregnant and having a child. Hannah is devastated that she is unable to bear a child naturally and to make matters worse Peninnah mocks her for it (v.6). Hannah’s situation must have felt utterly hopeless and extremely painful. We read that she is affected in every aspect of her life because of what she is going through, even to the point that she isn’t eating and she is crying all day (v.8).  There is clear depression that Hannah is wrestling with here and many of us can relate to her. For some, you are dealing (or have dealt with) this very same thing that Hannah is going through here. For others, your battle with depression stems from something else. Nonetheless, we see that scripture speaks to us in our brokenness and the people that fill the pages of scripture were broken people just as we are. We also see that God is a God who meets us in our brokenness.

In Hannah’s case, she cries out desperately to The Lord and He graciously answers her prayer for a child. Hannah is so confident that her prayer will be answered, she dedicates the child to The Lord before he is even born (v. 11). While Hannah’s prayer for a child was answered the way she desired it to be answered, it doesn’t always work that way. In God’s sovereign wisdom, which is far beyond our own human wisdom, He gives and takes away life according to His will and His glory. However, what we can be confident in is the fact that through the gospel, God heals broken people and gives hope to the hopeless.

I am very confident that someone will read this post today who is struggling with depression, anxiety, being bullied, or a myriad of other situations in life that have left you feeling hopeless and in pain. My prayer today is that you find encouragement from Hannah’s story but also that you would follow her example in crying out to God desperately in your pain. It is only through the power of the gospel that broken people are restored and given new hope. Also know that you are not alone in your fight. As the church body we are called to bear one another’s burdens and lift each other up. In addition to crying out to The Lord today, if you would like to talk more with someone on our pastoral staff about depression/anxiety please do not hesitate to reach out this week.

By: Matt Mofield

October 25, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 24

The Most Important Chapter in the Bible (Maybe)

Joshua 24 might be one of the most important chapters in the Bible. First, it starts off with a recap of Israel’s history that provides an excellent summary. Second, we get a hint at the troubles Israel is about to face and why they should have known better. And Lastly, we see the end of a great life as Joshua passes from this Earth.

1–13 Recap of Israel’s History

Boy o’ boy I wish I could unpack every verse. My wife already fusses at me for having long Jumpstarts. It is sufficient to say that as much time as you’d like to invest studying these verses would not be wasted.

I’ll make one quick point; this is a history lesson from God’s point of view—notice all of the “I’s” in this passage. Notice also verse 2 speaking of Abraham et al, “and they served/worshipped other gods.” This reminds me of Romans 5:8–11:

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We understand Abraham’s salvation through Christ by grace through faith, which is made clear elsewhere in Romans. The point is this. Abraham and his father Terah were idolaters living in a land of idolatry. They did not know Yahweh God, nor did they seek him in any way. God invaded their lives. Because of Abraham’s response in faith, he has been blessed as the father of nations, and our spiritual ancestor (if not our literal one). God is the one who calls and redeems, our responsibility is to respond in faith.  

14–28 You Are Witnesses Against Yourself

In these verses Joshua lays down some hard truth. Yet, the people call out, “we will serve the Lord” (21). Joshua then tells them, “You are witnesses against yourself,” to which the people say, “We are witnesses.”

Think of this in terms of a legal proceeding. All of this is very official, and similar to the kinds of treaties we see in the ancient world between nations. These treaties, like was spelled out in the law tell both parties what they are obligated to contribute. In Israel’s case, God only required faithfulness.

29–33 The End of the Road

These verses recount the end of Joshua’s life. He lived a life of faith and is among the remarkably few biblical personalities who ended well. Bear in mind that upon entering the promised land only he and Caleb were alive at the time of the Exodus. This is because while all the spies agreed that the promised land was very good, only Joshua and Caleb believed that God could uphold his promise to deliver them into the land. He was Moses’ right-hand man and stayed a faithful servant of Yahweh until the end.

However, part of the reason for Joshua’s strong words in Joshua 24 is that he saw the writing on the wall. As we discussed in chapter 17, Israel had begun to cut corners in dealing with God’s commands. Instead of driving all the people from the land, there were a great number remaining. The consequences for not doing things God’s way were disastrous. Judges 2:10, after recounting Joshua’s death, says, “All that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord, nor yet the work which He had done for Israel.” This point marks a spiraling nose-dive for Israel. The time of the Judges is a period where things continually go from bad to worse—but they can’t say they weren’t warned.

This passage illustrates how God moves in history and in our lives. How is God at work in your life and what things do you need to continue or cut-out so that, like Joshua, you might finish well?

By: Tyler Short

October 24, 2016

Today you should read: Joshua 23

I’ll never forget reading my first John Piper book in college, Don’t Waste Your Life. It was written with college students in mind but one particular story stuck out to me that had more to do with the other end of our seasons of life, retirement. Read below to know what I’m talking about:

I will tell you what a tragedy is. I will show you how to waste your life. Consider a story from the February 1998 edition of Reader’s Digest, which tells about a couple who “took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their 30 foot trawler, play softball and collect shells.” At first, when I read it I thought it might be a joke. A spoof on the American Dream. But it wasn’t. Tragically, this was the dream: Come to the end of your life—your one and only precious, God-given life—and let the last great work of your life, before you give an account to your Creator, be this: playing softball and collecting shells. Picture them before Christ at the great day of judgment: “Look, Lord. See my shells.” That is a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. Over against that, I put my protest: Don’t buy it. Don’t waste your life. (John Piper)

The above account really struck a chord with me because I’ve noticed how many people really do think that retirement or their last leg of life is an extended sabbath or prolonged vacation. Not to say that one can’t take advantage of that season of life, but no one in the Bible wasted their retirement and Joshua is one who took full advantage of his old age by reminding God’s people who God is and how to continue to live for Him. Some of the greatest servants in the church & disciplers are people who have the experience, wisdom and time to invest in the future generations of Christ. So current retirees and future retirees at CPC, spoil your grandchildren, travel to those vacation spots you’ve always wanted to visit, sleep in every so often—but don’t waste this season where God can use you and your wisdom/experience more than any other time in the church. Remind the future generations what Joshua reminded them:

  • God keeps His promises.
  • Do not mix your faith with the worship of false idols. It never ends well.
  • God will protect you in your fight.
  • Keep your covenants with Him.

By: Erik Koliser