September 24, 2016

Today you should read: John 20:11-31

So before you go further into today’s Jumpstart, I would challenge you to read this passage a second time. Simply because there is so much that is going on.

We pick up at a point where they have discovered that Jesus is no longer in the tomb. The disciples had left but Mary stayed. She is so distraught over not knowing where her Lord’s body was. My favorite part of this is when Jesus appears and says “Mary.” All it took was one word from Jesus for her to recognize that it was Him. It makes me think of how often I don’t recognize when Jesus is calling me. But Mary recognizes and responds immediately.

When Jesus calls to you do you recognize and respond?

Next, Jesus appears to the disciples who were in a locked room. They were hiding out because they were afraid. They did not want to end up like Jesus. Jesus in that room tells them to go out. This is the great commission. Jesus is not, however, sending them out alone. In this moment He gives them the Holy Spirit. This is the same Spirit we have today as believers. We have no reason to be afraid or timid, we can with confidence and boldness go out and share.

In what ways are you fulfilling the Great Commission?

How can you get over any fear?

Lastly, we see Thomas, who refuses to believe unless it meets his standard of reality. He just questions that Jesus could really be back. And in the midst of this doubt Jesus is faithful to reveal Himself to Thomas in the way that he needed to believe. But still Jesus says that we should not have to see or be able to touch Him to believe. Jesus has proven Himself trustworthy and faithful.

Isn’t that good to know that Jesus is faithful, and desires for us to know and believe in Him?

Are there things that are causing you to doubt or withhold full faith in Jesus?

By: Dakota Gragg

September 23, 2016

Today you should read: John 20:1-10

Imagine what Jesus followers, especially His closest family and disciples, must have felt like on Good Friday. Seeing their teacher, the one they had left everything and followed for over three years gruesomely crucified for crimes He did not commit. They must have been devastated, confused, scared and unsure of what to do next. Then Sunday morning comes. That is where we pick up today and we see that initially there is no less confusion. Mary and the other women go to the tomb of Jesus early in the morning and find it empty. They report it to Peter and John who race to the grave and find it just as Mary had said. Jesus was gone! Only the grave clothes remained. But, we see even the sight of the empty tomb wasn’t enough for Mary and the disciples to fully understand and believe that Jesus was alive again: 9 for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead.

There is a very important truth that we can pull of this account today and it is this: It takes more than seeing the evidence that Jesus is alive to change you; you must meet Jesus face to face before you can be truly changed. Mary and the disciples were clearly confronted with the evidence that Jesus was resurrected and they still didn’t fully understand what Jesus had done. Couple that with the fact that they had heard Jesus speak about His resurrection while He was alive and you would think that they would have immediately put 2 and 2 together. But, it wasn’t just that they needed to put the pieces of the puzzle together to be changed moving forward. They needed more than just the evidence of Jesus’ resurrection to solidify their faith. They needed to meet Jesus face to face. Not the earthly Jesus who they had walked with as a man, they needed to meet the resurrected Jesus who had defeated death once and for all and was now in all His glory and victory.

The absolute same thing is true for us today. We can survey all the evidence in scripture that points so clearly to the fact that Jesus is alive (We can see the grave cloths lying in the empty tomb). But, it takes more than just the evidence of Christ’s work to change our lives. We must experience Jesus face to face in the power of His resurrection through God’s grace. This is the mysterious work of God’s salvation that Paul talks about in Ephesians 1 that “brings unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.” Our salvation is not based on just the acceptance of the facts about Jesus; we must meet Him face to face through placing our faith solely in Him to change us.

So, let me ask you today: Have you met Jesus face to face or are you still simply surveying the evidence? Have you came to the place where you were confronted with the gospel of Jesus and you surrendered your heart to Him in faith accepting His grace to save you and make you new? If you have questions today or would like to talk to anyone about this decision in your life, please contact one of our pastoral staff today and we would love to discuss it more with you.

By: Matt Mofield

September 22, 2016

Today you should read: John 19:38-42

Can you imagine what Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, the disciples and whoever else that started following Jesus were feeling the day that Jesus was buried? Confusion. Fear. Sadness. Disappointment. Their God was dead. The One who was supposed to usher the new heavenly Kingdom upon this earth was just killed by the current earthly kingdom. The One who raised others from the grave was just placed in his own grave.

For some of Jesus’ followers, He was the latest and greatest thing to pledge allegiance to. Cool sermon, amazing miracles and a heart for social justice. However, many of those people left Him after this day. He was never truly their God and He was now dead. On the other hand, there were some disciples that did follow Him for the right reasons but now they feared for their own lives. They were confused about what to do next and hid. Only Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus had enough courage, respect and compassion for Jesus to bury Him properly. Yet they didn’t know what to do next as as they wrapped up his bloody, cold, dead body and placed it in the tomb.

Like Jesus’ followers at the time, we experience many confusing and dark days where we doubt what God has promised or how He is going to accomplish His will. We forget that we’re on the other end of the resurrection and live like He’s still in the tomb. Allow the emotions from today’s text relate but also give hope. He did not stay in the grave. One of my favorite bands wrote a song based off this truth in 1 Corinthians 15:54-55 with the following lyrics:

“We were sons of insurrection, doomed to face the dark alone.

‘Till vicarious perfection, dearly won, was made our own.

So where’s your landslide, where’s your victory?

Tell me now, where’s your sting?

Unassailable you waited, the great enemy of man,

’till your awful jaws were sated, and we were ransomed from your hand.

Now that you have been disarmed,

We will cross over unharmed.”

So let’s not hide from the world and be in fear of death or people who persecute us or mock us for our faith. Life will be confusing but we can fully trust and hope in a resurrected Jesus who gives us life.

If you have a few extra minutes today, I’d encourage you to listen to the song mentioned above. It gives me chills listening to it and one time I even cried somewhat embarrassing tears of joy in the gym while listening to it when I was reminded that Jesus has once and for all defeated death and offers that same victory to all who believe in Him.

By: Erik Koliser

September 21, 2016

Today you should read: John 19:28-37

So many theories. So many people trying to discount the resurrection by calling into question the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Maybe He wasn’t really dead? Maybe it was a stand-in and He was alive somewhere else? Maybe He was resuscitated through some kind of medicine or CPR? Or how about the “Swoon Theory”? Credo House explains:

Jesus never really died on the cross. He was either thought dead and taken down, or intentionally taken down before death. He was placed in the tomb for a couple of days, then he regained his strength and presented himself alive to many people, including his Apostles. They were convinced that he had risen from the dead and spread this story, which formed the basis for the Christian message.

Here’s the bottom line: the historical accounts of the death of Christ are overwhelming, both Biblical and extra-biblical. Not only that, if you consider what a Roman crucifixion — with floggings — entailed, you’d understand that Jesus actually died. This is a fact and a fairly irrefutable one. It’s a fact that changed history. It’s also a fact that changes lives.

IT IS FINISHED! 

Jesus tasted the full sting of death so that we could experience the full joy of life. This passage reminds me so much of what Peter told His disciples just a few years after Jesus ascended to Heaven: “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death”. He died in my place. He died in your place. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Today, take appropriate time to simply thank Jesus. Express gratitude to Him for His emotional suffering, mock trials, floggings & beatings, and for His death. While that may feel sorrowful, remember that you have salvation because of all that. Close in prayer by asking Him to give you the power to live boldly for His name.

Here’s a song that has encouraged me that has been strongly influenced by John 19. Maybe it’ll encourage you, too.

By: Todd Thomas