February 28, 2017

Today you should read: 1 Kings 16

The famed leadership guru John Maxwell once said, “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” I’ve heard him speak on this and have read a number of his books where he references biblical and extra-biblical examples to prove his point (he was a pastor in his younger days). Today’s Jumpstart reading shows the heart what Maxwell was getting at.

Baasha was called to a great position of leadership. He was supposed to give God’s people a solid example to follow. He was to give godly guidance, vision, and direction to Israel at a pivotal and vulnerable moment in history. Unfortunately, we see the opposite.

And the word of the LORD came to Jehu the son of Hanani against Baasha, saying, “Since I exalted you out of the dust and made you leader over my people Israel, and you have walked in the way of Jeroboam and have made my people Israel to sin… (1 Kings 16:1-2a ESV)

And it didn’t get any better after verse 2 for Baasha. God’s judgment was swift and painful for all those connected to Baasha’s sin. Omri, Ahab, and the other kings in this chapter weren’t much better. Who suffered because of them? Their families, the people of Israel… everyone!

God spoke to me strongly about this today. My decisions matter. My obedience matters. My devotion to Jesus matters. And if it matters that much, then each day that God gives me breath, I pray and resolve to do what Jesus said is the most important thing in life:

“And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 ESV)

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

February 27, 2017

Today you should read: 1 Kings 15:1-34

I’m an only child. Whether or not you think I fit different stereotypes of being an only child aside, one thing I never had to fight growing up was living in the shadow of an older brother or sister. I would often hear different teachers in my classes comparing a person to their brother or sister in either a positive or negative light. Some of you may be compared to siblings or even parents. We often compare what we are currently experiencing to what we have experienced in the past.

This is kind of what we’re seeing in today’s passage. This book has been following the line of kings since David and Solomon. Today’s passage is no different, as kings are being compared to the character of David. Abijam is shown to be someone who walked in the sins of his father before him, who also didn’t follow in the example of David. Asa, on the other hand, had a heart that was “wholly true to the LORD all his days.” (v. 14) Even in the midst of a mixture of good kings and evil kings, God withheld showing justice on their sin for a long time because of David, who “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and did not turn aside from anything that he commanded him all the days of his life, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite.” (v. 5)

What are some things that are practical for us to take away from this passage?

  1. God honors a pure heart towards Him. This of course will not guarantee earthly success, but it can represent the value of being someone who purely loves God and desires to live for Him. The success comes as you begin to live out God’s design for your life and begin to see your priorities and values come more into line with what God prioritizes and values. And from this passage, we see an example of God blessing generations because of the pure heart of David.
  2. You are leaving a legacy. While there is no way to be in full control of the outcome of your children or your children’s children, it is amazing to see the effect that one generation can have on future generations. Why would we not seek to do everything possible to model what it looks like to live for God, love God, and love other people to our children and future generations? We have a responsibility to do all that we can to allow the gospel to take root in the lives of future generations.

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

February 25, 2017

Today you should read: 1 Kings 14:1-31

What an incredibly convicting passage!  It’s almost hard to read. God isn’t messing around with king Jeroboam.

Has God changed?  Is He still the same God we read about in this story pronouncing judgement on those who rebel against and reject Him?  Yes, as much as God is loving, God is just.  He’s the same God, He never changes.

Today, in this time of grace, God is reaching out to lost men and women saying, 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30

But this will not always be the case. Someday, He will sit on a throne of judgement and things will be different for those who have rejected Him.  He will say,

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.  On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’  And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  Mathew 7:21-23

This should motivate us to receive Jesus and to share Him with a lost world around us.  But what about those of us who have come into a relationship with God through Jesus?  Can we live however we want?  

Sin has the same penalty (Romans 6:23a) and consequences it always has.  That never changes.  Because of the cross, our sins (as Christ-followers) are forgiven and atoned for.  AMEN!  But our loving Father still desires our hearts and our lives to obey Him.  If we choose not to, He will lovingly discipline us.

The LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in.          Proverbs 3:12

Although God’s discipline is never vindictive or punitive, it is effective to get our attention and lead us back to a heart of obedience.  The things we do have consequences, both good and bad.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Galatians 6:7

  • Take a moment and evaluate your life. Has God been trying to get your attention about any areas of your life?
  • Are there any things in your life that although you know they go against God’s Word you continue to do them?  Repent and confess that today.
  • Thank God for His patience, grace, and love that He shows to you.

 

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

February 24, 2017

Today you should read: 1 Kings 13:1-34

This is one of those passages in the bible that when you finish reading it you think to yourself, wow that was crazy! I may be the only one who does that, but what we see is the completion of a temple that should have never been built. Jeroboam is all ready to make his offering upon the altar when the man that God sent speaks up. He tells Jeroboam that the altar would be torn down and burnt. This did not go over well with Jeroboam. He responds by telling his guards to seize the man. As he points at the man his hand dries up and becomes old and withered.

What we see at this point in the passage is the result of disobedience. There are consequences for all of our actions in life, especially sin. Jeroboam was not supposed to build this temple, and God made it clear through the man that He would tear it down.

This is the point where I tend to identify the most with Jeroboam. Instead of owning up to his disobedience and confessing and accepting the consequence he digs his hole deeper and loses a hand as a result. How often do you find yourself being unwilling to accept the consequences of your disobedience?

He ends up getting his hand back, however, but the story just continues to get worse. In the end the man of God falls into disobedience himself and it costs him his life. Even after this happens and Jeroboam knows that it is because of disobedience he still does not turn from his ways. He still defies the Lord.

It is sometimes difficult to understand why God would be so harsh. But when we really take a step back and recognize who God is, we all deserve so much worse. I can look at Jeroboam and wonder why he is being stupid, but then I realize I am looking in a mirror. This makes me very thankful for the grace of Jesus and hyper aware of my sin and need for confession and grace.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate