May 27, 2016

Today you should read: Ezra 3

I like to reminisce on special moments from my past. My wife, Serah, could tell you just how nostalgic I am. Plus, my mind is a steel trap when it comes to those past events, whether about sports, school, family, or spiritual monuments. Many of those moments are cause for worship and thankfulness to God. A good number of them will stay with me for a lifetime.

How special do you think this moment was for the builders and laborers? Verse 6 tells us that the foundation of the Temple was not laid, but the rest of the chapter explains that these faithful workers would lay it. Imagine the significance… they had the divine privilege of laying the Temple foundation. You can tell how colossal this is simply by reading to the end of the chapter. Priests and Levites came in to celebrate. People sang. Some even wept! This day could never be forgotten for them.

It’s incredible that Zerubbabel was the one to get to do this work for God and His people. This “job” would help restore proper worship for the people of Israel. It would be a focal point for them concerning their saving God. Zerubbabel is also mentioned in an important New Testament passage: the lineage of Jesus Christ:

And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam, and Rehoboam the father of Abijah, and Abijah the father of Asaph, and Asaph the father of Jehoshaphat, and Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, and Joram the father of Uzziah, and Uzziah the father of Jotham, and Jotham the father of Ahaz, and Ahaz the father of Hezekiah, and Hezekiah the father of Manasseh, and Manasseh the father of Amos, and Amos the father of Josiah, and Josiah the father of Jechoniah and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.
And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel… (Matthew 1:6-12, ESV)

Pretty neat epitaph for that guy, right? “Laid the foundation for the Temple… oh, and I was also a part of the family foundation of Messiah.”

What are some of your spiritual monuments? What are the unforgettable moments of God’s work in your life? We’d love for you to share.

By: Todd Thomas

May 26, 2016

Today you should read: Ezra 2

Today’s passage tells the amazing story of the people of Israel who return to their homeland after a 70 year exile in Babylon. What an overwhelming feeling it must have been to get the news that God, through Cyrus King of Persia, was allowing them to return! This passage is a clear indicator of how God keeps His promises. God used the Babylonians to be an agent of His wrath in order that Israel would turn back to Him:

This whole land shall become a ruin and a waste, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. (Jeremiah 25:11)

He then used the Persians to bring judgement on the Babylonians for their wickedness and begin allowing the people of Israel to return to their homeland and worship Him again:

“For thus says the LORD: When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. (Jeremiah 29:10)

The return of the God’s people to their promised land was about more than just the land itself. It was about God’s people returning their worship to the one true God. In other words, God cared about the condition of their hearts more than He cared about the condition of their land. The exile was a result of turning away from God and ascribing their worship to other gods/things. Now, Israel is given the opportunity to repent and turn back to The Lord who keeps His promise to restore them again.

There is a very applicable truth we can glean here in our lives today: God desires our hearts more than anything. He desires that our hearts be completely given to Him and no one/nothing else. If we choose to live in sin and be separated from God, we are essentially “exiled” from God. We are separated from Him and the restoration, hope, healing, and joy we could experience if we repented and turned the worship of our hearts back completely to Him.

Spend time today in prayer asking God to reveal the things/ways you are ascribing your worship to someone/something other than Him.

God is calling you back to Him just as He called Israel back, and He is always faithful to keep His promises.

By: Matt Mofield

May 25, 2016

Today you should read: Ezra 1

Thank you so much Center Point family for faithfully reading Jumpstart. It is so important to read and study the Bible and we really hope and pray that you fall more in love with Jesus through His written Word to us.

Today we will be starting the book of Ezra. We are not sure who wrote this book but many scholars believe that it was the same author of 1-2 Chronicles and Nehemiah. God’s people were taken into exile in Babylon by King Nebuchadnezzar and in 538 B.C. King Cyrus of Persia overthrew that king and allowed the Jewish exiles to return back to their land. The first 6 chapters of the book of Ezra covers their journey back home. Chapters 7-10 occur a half century later when Ezra arrives and encourages God’s people to stay faithful to the Lord in worship and in keeping the law. This entire book’s theme is about the importance of faithfulness, a great reminder for us as summer comes up and it’s easy to get off routine.

We see in the first chapter of Ezra, King Cyrus releasing God’s people to go back to their land and rebuild the temple that was destroyed by the Babylonians. He aided them in their journey back and returned back their stolen goods. There are two things that was amazing about this proclamation from their new king: 1. He was pagan. 2. Prophecies made about this decree in Isaiah and Jeremiah.

God has used unbelievers for good and the advancement of His kingdom throughout history and his prophets even prophesied about this one years before. This shows how God is sovereign over the entire world and can speak to and use anyone and everything. As often as we hear about King Cyrus in the Old Testament, we never see rock solid proof that he ever had saving faith in the One True God but he definitely listened to him and God used him. We need to remember this in our own lives with the authority God places over us. We are to never support sin and trust in earthly politics over God’s kingdom. But we can partner with and support people who have Biblical values in mind.

  1. How has God used an unbeliever out of His sovereignty in your life?
  2. Do you trust God enough to do this with people that may believe or live differently than you? How can you still share the Gospel with them?

By: Erik Koliser

May 24, 2016

Today you should read: 1 Corinthians 16

Final Words

Chapter 16 is the end to Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth.  He’s encouraged them, rebuked them, and taught them how to follow Christ in more effective ways.

In verse 2 he exhorts them about giving:

On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned… (v.2)

Paul teaches us about New Testament giving in these verses.  The Old Testament commanded a tithe – 10% of your income be given to the Lord through His church.  While that’s a good guide for today as well, Paul digs in a little deeper.

He teaches us:

  • To give regularly – on Sunday (the first day of the week) – this is the day we worship together in our church
  • To give consistentlyeach week
  • To give deliberatelyput aside a portion of the money you earned
  • To give generously – NASB says – as God has prospered you – another words give out of your blessing (and all of us are blessed)

No church will be without their necessary provision if God’s people will give this way.  It’s when we hold our giving back or give it elsewhere that God’s church suffers.

Paul gives them some final advice for living the Christian life in verses 13-14.  It’s solid advice for us today as well.  These five statements are a standard to live by:

  1. Be on guard. Guard your heart and life against sin and the evil one.
  2. Stand firm in the faith. Don’t vacillate – stand solid in your commitment to your faith.
  3. Be courageous. Be bold and remember Who’s side you’re on.  Remember what He can do.
  4. Be strong. Don’t quit.  Push through the toughest day.
  5. Do everything with love. Remember the value God puts on love.  Love God and love others.
  • Is your giving sacrificial and consistent to God’s church where you attend?
  • Which of the 5 statements hits home the most?
  • What will you do to live that out today?

By: Tim Parsons