April 23, 2018

Today you should read: 2 Kings 24

In our reading today, we meet Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon. We see from the very beginning that Jehoiakim, the king of Judah, has become his servant. Babylon was a strong military force that put pressure on other nations to serve them or be conquered. Eventually, Jehoiakim rebels against Nebuchadnezzar, so obviously the Babylonians attack Judah. However, this passage says that the Lord sent them to destroy Judah, “just as the Lord had promised through his prophets.”

Why did God send the Babylonians to cause disaster? “Because of the many sins of Manasseh, who had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood.”

Manasseh was the King of Judah mentioned in 2 Kings 21 who murdered innocent people and led the people of Israel to worship Baal and Asherah. Manasseh did “what was evil in the sight of the Lord,” but his reign brought more evil into Israel than ever before. This guy even sacrificed his son in idol worship.

The Lord brought judgment upon Israel for their idolatry. There are always consequences to sin. 10,000 people of Judah and all the treasures of the Temple were eventually taken to Babylon. This was devastating for Judah. This was the “Promised Land” that God had given to his people. Repeatedly in the Old Testament, God referred to himself as “the God who brought you out of Egypt.” The importance of the land of Israel to the people can not be overemphasized. This wasn’t a vacation. This was a reversal of the Exodus.

But God was faithful to his people. We read in Jeremiah 29:10-11:

“This is what the Lord says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my good promise to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (NIV).

God promised to deliver his people again from slavery to another people. Just as God brought his people out of the land of Egypt and brought his people out of Babylon (read Ezra-Nehemiah), God has brought his people, Christians, out of slavery to sin.

Questions for today:

What from the passage stuck out to you?

What will you change today based on today’s passage?

By: Lucas Taylor — West Campus Pastoral Apprentice

April 21, 2018

Today you should read: 2 Kings 23

What happens when you do what is right and needed in the Lord’s eyes but still don’t receive the expected results or fruit from that faithfulness to the Lord?

Josiah recognized that God’s people and Judah needed a reformation. He started off reading them God’s Word & taught them the importance of coventing with the Lord while leading them into a covenant. He then destroyed the false idols of Baal and killed their false priests. He did the same with the false goddess Asherah and got rid rid of their cult prostitutes. Next he got rid of all false altars, temples, shrines and priests in the city before returning back to Jerusalem and then restored the Passover when returning back to Jerusalem.

And we see in God’s Word that God really appreciates King Josiah’s reformation and faithfulness. In fact verse 25 says,
Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him.

And usually when a king or prophet or priest leads the rest of God’s people in such repentance and reformation, we see fruit in the action. His people were restored and redeemed. However verse 26-30 doesn’t show that. Instead, it says God did not turn from His wrath from Judah’s sins and King Josiah died in battle. These actions were still necessary but they didn’t necessarily see the fruit from it and this is an important reminder that as much as we should hope and pray for fruit in our lives and ministry, we should not be obedient to the Lord JUST FOR THE FRUIT.

In fact, a pastor friend of mine from AZ reminded me the other day how easily we can desire God’s favor and fruit instead of God Himself. If we’re only repenting, reforming and obeying for the successes and victories, then we are doing it with the wrong motives. I’m sure Josiah more then anything wanted to see Judah restored through these righteous actions. But in the end he was doing it because it was right in the Lord’s eyes, not the fruit from it.

– Do you tend to do things for the Lord or for the fruit?
– How can we check our motives to make sure we are doing things for the right reasons?

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

April 20, 2018

Today you should read: 2 Kings 22

A Willing Heart to Obey

What can God do with someone who has a willing heart to obey Him?  The Scriptures record many examples. People like Abraham who followed God into a land he knew nothing about was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice simply because God asked him to;  Enoch who walked with God so closely he never had to die; Queen Easter who saved the Jewish people from destruction; or New Testaments saints like Mary or the Apostle Paul that went wherever God told him to.

Remember: obedience is doing what you’re told, when you’re told, with the right heart attitude.  Today’s reading reveals yet another Bible character that practiced heart felt obedience to God.  Josiah was only 8 when he took over as king, and he lead for 31 years. He followed God and did everything in his power to obey and lead his people to obey too.

As you read, a scroll was discovered, and as soon as Josiah realized what was in it – he repented of all the things that he and his people had done.  Ways in which they had failed to obey God – then he changed – immediately! God give us a heart like that!

This reminds me of the story in Matthew 4 when Jesus called His first disciples.

Now as Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.  And He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.  Matthew 4:18-20

God expects you and I to obey Him just like that.  Do you? Do you have a heart that says “Whatever you ask I will do”?  If not, pray today and ask God to change you – to give you a heart like king Josiah.

  • Take a moment and think about the condition of your heart – on scale of 1-10 how willing are you to obey God?
  • What are some things you think God may have already told you or some things you think He wants you to do?
  • Would you be vulnerable today?  Would you share with the other JumpStart readers what you think God may be saying to you – or how He wants you to obey?  This will encourage everyone – Thank you!

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

April 19, 2018

Today you should read: 2 Kings 21

The Point of No Return

The most significant event in the Old Testament, second only to the Exodus, is the Babylonian Exile. The Exile is the fulfillment of God’s blessings and curses (Dt. 28), that a disobedient people would be exiled from the Land. However, there was a promise that if Israel humbles themselves and repents, no matter where they are, God will bring them back to the Land (Dt. 30). This event is significant for many reasons, but it clearly helps us understand God’s Covenant Love, what he says He’ll do, He’ll do.

King Manasseh, in a way, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He reigned for 55 years. Although there were kings to follow, there was no turning back after Manasseh. He built and followed idols, leading the nation into sin. He went so far that he burned his own son alive as a sacrifice (6), not to mention the shedding of other innocent blood (16).

God called Israel to be the light of the world—that the whole world would be blessed through them (Genesis 12 &15). Yet, here Israel stands, looking exactly like the nations. The sin-line had been crossed and God made the promise in fulfillment of Dt. 28 that He would bring destruction (7–15).

Manasseh’s grandson, Josiah, was a great king who brought a lot of reform to Israel. Even still, “the Lord was very angry with Judah because of all the wicked things Manasseh had done to provoke him” (23:26).

So, what do we make of this? First, we see clearly that God is serious about sin. As a Good Father, God will not let His people live in rebellion and disobedience. Second, God’s Name is great, and it must be considered great in how we live. Because Manasseh did not consider the name of God as great, he worshiped the wrong things. Misplaced worship always leads to an increasingly wicked way of life. So much so that Manasseh killed his own son.

Although we wouldn’t consider burning our children on an altar, that doesn’t mean we don’t sacrifice our kids to idols. If God’s Name is great in how you live, you will follow the commands to train your kids in righteousness (and you’ll have a community of believers to help you). However, idolatry leads to neglect, hurt, broken relationships, or possibly worse. This is just one example, but how many kids grow up without a dad who loved himself more than his kids, loved his job more than his kids, loved his whatever, more than his kids. Although few fathers would verbalize this, it is functionally how they live. “I was doing it for you,” is the plea of a father with misplaced worship.

As you consider the greatness of the Name of God in your life, is God Great in every area? What areas have you struggled with idolatry? If your answer is “I don’t know,” or “I don’t struggle with idolatry,” you need to listen to this sermon (https://www.tvcresources.net/resource-library/sermons/source-and-surface-idols) by our Texas friend, Matt Chandler and re-evaluate. It’s the best single sermon I’ve heard on the issue and it will sting.

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate