September 22, 2017

Today you should read: Proverbs 1:20-33

Welcome to day 2 of our look at the book of Proverbs! If you missed yesterday’s post, take a look before reading today’s. Yesterday we mentioned that a key verse of the entire book is Proverbs 1:7—”The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” The book of Proverbs essentially discusses the differences between wisdom and folly. Verses 1-7 essentially shows us the three people that the book is for: the wise, the simple, and the foolish. The wise are those who have understanding of who God is, and their life and decisions are proof of this. The simple are not those who intentionally deny wisdom, but they are those who lack the experience and knowledge that wisdom brings; the simple have the opportunity to pursue either wisdom or folly. The foolish are those who deny wisdom and pursue their own way.

Today we are looking at The Call of Wisdom. The main point of our passage is that wisdom is offered to all who fear the Lord, but many will not seek it. The book of Proverbs offers many general principles that are not the same as promises. Wisdom essentially boils down to living out God’s design for your life. And this passage is showing us that this life is available to those who seek it.

Verses 20-21 begin with an allusion of wisdom calling out to those who might seek her. She declares that those who are simple don’t have to stay that way (22-23). She is offering something so simple, that she will laugh at those who do not pursue it and find themselves in trouble (24-27). Then it gets serious: she says that those who do not pursue wisdom could potentially find themselves in a position that cannot be corrected (28-32). Of course, this does not negate the grace offered through the cross of Christ, but there is truth in dealing honestly with the path that foolishness  and sin can take you to. The passage then ends with a final encouragement to pursue the way of wisdom and shows the benefits of doing it (33).

You have the opportunity to either pursue the way of God (wisdom) or sin (folly). It begins with rightly fearing God and believing that all who seek wisdom will receive it. The ability to live out wisdom was purchased for us through the cross of Christ, who is the epitome of wisdom. Which path will you pursue?

What did God teach you through His Word today? Comment below!

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

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September 21, 2017

Today you should read: Proverbs 1:1-19

Welcome to a new book in Jumpstart.  Proverbs is mostly written by Solomon, David and Bathsheba’s son.  Although the dates of the book are not certain, we believe it was written between 1004-926 B.C.  Solomon wrote over 3,000 proverbs (1 Kings 4:32), and those contained in this book are a section of these.  The New Testament contains 35 direct quotations from it or allusions to it.

The first six verses give us the purposes of the book:

  1. For gaining wisdom and instruction (v.2)
  2. For instruction in proper behavior – doing what is right, just and fair (v.3)
  3. To give discretion to the young (v.4)
  4. For the wise to add to their learning (v.5)
  5. To help us understand proverbs and parables (v. 6)

Verses 8-9 remind us to listen to the instructions our parents give us – they are valuable to us and our lives.  When we’re enticed by sinful men (v. 10), don’t give in to them.

Verse seven is the key verse for the whole book:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
 but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Do you fear the Lord?  That doesn’t mean that we’re scared of Him – but that we revere Him.  Afraid to live in any way that doesn’t bring Him glory – careful to not dishonor Him in any way.

Proverbs says this is the starting point of knowledge.  To recognize God for who He is and ourselves for what we are – to fear (revere) the Lord.

but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

To despise something means to reject it – to ignore it.  Do you ever despise (ignore) God’s wisdom and instruction from His Word?  When we do… we’re… how do I say it… FOOLS!  James speaks of this in James 1:22-24:

Don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves.  For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror.  You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like.

Now THAT’S foolish!  Who would ever hear what God says and walk away and ignore it?  US!  That’s who – and it’s foolish.  Bow your head and confess this to the Lord, and the arrogance that it takes to do it.  Now, ask God to help you to be a hearer and a doer of the Word!  It will change your life!

  • How do you most often “despise wisdom and instruction”?  How can you change that?
  • Why is “the fear of the Lord” the beginning of wisdom?
  • How can you practice “the fear of the Lord” today?

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

September 20, 2017

Today you should read: Mark 16

How can we put into words a fitting summary of Mark 16? Mark is the first New Testament book written, and this is the first account we have of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. How can we comprehend an indescribable event such as this? How can we fathom the moment that all of history hinges on?

The chapter opens with the backdrop of intense sadness. We find the two Marys coming to anoint the dead body of Jesus — something neither of them expected to do. This was, after all, their Messiah. After His horrible death, they wanted to honor Him with the proper burial rituals. One problem: who would roll the large stone away?

But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside. Mark 16:4

The women must have been scared and confused. Initial suspicions were probably of grave-robbers or that someone came to desecrate the body of Jesus. What they found next blew their minds even though Jesus had tried to tell them He would return from the dead. An angel of the Lord declared the good news to them:

“Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body.” Mark 16:6

These women were the first eyewitnesses of the empty tomb, an event so grand that it caused the women to fear and tremble (v.8). Eventually, they would tell the news to the disciples, and the chapter ends with a brief comment on the Great Commission.

When I read this chapter, I’m simply in awe, much like the women were. The one thing that no human could ever have victory over was now defeated. Jesus conquered death! This is why we exist as a church, to worship the Risen King, to tell the world about the Savior that has the power to free people from the handcuffs of sin and death.

Does the truth of the resurrection affect the way you live? Does it change the way you worship? Does it give you passion to point others to Jesus? I heard a pastor once say this: “The church needs to quit looking like a funeral parlor and start acting like the tomb is actually empty!”

The only way I could summarize this chapter is this: the most triumphant, beautiful, awe-inspiring moment in all of history.

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

September 19, 2017

Today you should read: Mark 15:33-47

Look closely at the image. Are the wheels spinning? Now use your hand to cover part of either circle and you will discover that nothing is moving. You’ve been tricked.

In Mark 15:32, the religious leaders mocked Jesus, challenging him to come off the cross if he, indeed, is the Christ. Just like in the picture above, these religious leaders have convinced themselves of their own illusion. Their indictment was to see if Jesus was the Christ, yet they were blind.

Several times in this short passage, we have references to seeing. The religious leaders wanted to see, darkness fell on the land illustrating the lack of vision by all, the man dipping the sponge wanted to see, but only one person saw—the centurion.

As Jesus expired, the centurion understood, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” This statement bookends the entire gospel of Mark. The centurion’s statement is the capstone of the whole Gospel that opens in verse 1 with “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” Peter’s great confession of Jesus as the Christ (Mark 8:29), has now been amplified. Not only is Jesus the Christ, but the Christ is the Son of God.

Instead of the Christ tearing the banner of Rome and establishing a worldwide empire, with the seat of power in Jerusalem, the Christ, instead, came to tear the veil in the temple. Before conquering the world, Jesus had to conquer sin. And when the veil was torn, humanity then gained access to the very presence of God.

The question becomes, how should a true disciple respond? This example we see with Joseph of Arimathea. Verse 43 says he took courage, and that must be an understatement. Jesus was condemned by Rome as a rebel convicted of high treason against Cesar—not someone you’d want to be associated with. Thus, in his example we witness that a true disciple is one who takes courage, unashamed of being identified with Christ no matter the cost.

Just like the darkness falling over the world as Jesus hung on the cross, this world is spiritually blinded in sin. This failure to see Christ for who he really is means that his followers, those seen identifying with him, will be misunderstood at best or maybe condemned to torture and death as Jesus was.

How do you see Jesus? How does your vision of him change the way you live: your work, your family, your recreation, your finances, etc.? Tell us in the comments, encourage your brothers and sisters in Christ, what is one thing about your life that is different after your vision of Christ changed by coming into a relationship with Him?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate