September 27, 2016

Today you should read: John 21:15-25

This is a passage in Scripture that we have heard and referred to a lot. I remember being in Israel a few years ago and standing where they believe the spot was that Jesus cooked the disciples breakfast.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-9-53-05-am

When they had finished, Jesus asked Peter a series of important questions. Peter undoubtedly was still recovering from the denial of Christ. Even though he had felt restoration, he had not forgotten.

Jesus asked three questions. Many believe this parallels the three denials of Peter. Remember Peter’s bold statement prior to the denials?

But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Matthew 26:33-34

Now Jesus asks the question, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” You said even if all fall away, I will never fall away. Do you love me more than they do? Peter responds, you know that I love you. Jesus replies then tend to my lambs, care for my flock.

Jesus asked Peter the same question two more times. Each time Peter replies with the same answer and Jesus tells him to tend to His sheep. Peter gets upset because Jesus asks him three times if he loves Him. Any of us would be.

Each time Jesus asks “do you love Me”, he uses the Greek word Agape` – meaning do you love me completely asking nothing in return. The first two times, Peter replies with the Greek word Phileo, meaning I love you like a friend; as you love me I will love you back. But after the third question, after undoubted remembering the three denials and being grieved, Peter replies with I Agape` You. I love You without reservation.

What if Jesus asked you today? Do you Agape` Me? Do you love Me without reservation – holding nothing back. What would you reply? He’s asking.

Remember what He told us in Matthew 22:37-38:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. 

By: Tim Parsons

Advertisements

September 26, 2016

Today you should read: John 21:1-14

In today’s passage, Jesus again appears to some of his disciples. We see that Peter is returning to what he did before beginning to follow Jesus. They were not having a lot of luck, but then, a voice emerges from the shore that encouraged them to put the net on the right side of the boat to find fish. This scene, of course, would be familiar to these fisherman, as memories of Jesus calling them to leave their nets and follow Him came flooding back. As soon as their nets started filling up, their suspicions were confirmed and they agreed together what they had suspected: “It is the Lord!”

We see that all of the disciples were excited to see Jesus as they started to move the boat to shore; but Peter takes it a step further—he jumps into the cold sea to swim to shore, desperate to get to Jesus.

What we should keep in mind today is that these men were the same ones who abandoned and rejected Jesus at the end of His life. You know that Peter denied Jesus three times after imploring Jesus that there would be no way he could ever deny Him. Jesus pursues them even after He has been sinned against by them. There are two things for us to walk away with today.

  1. We should be deeply encouraged that Jesus pursues us when we sin against Him. Even if our sin primarily affects another person, the truth is that we are ultimately sinning against Jesus, not ourselves or other people. When we sin, we are spitting in the face of Jesus, took nails in His wrists so that we might no longer be slaves to sin.  The fact that Jesus would pursue us in our mess should lead us to be in awe of our savior.
  2. Those who have been forgive much love much. Peter is an amazing example of what our response to sin should be. He had surely been mournful of his sin, but he also knew that his sin is the reason Jesus died in the first place. He accepted the forgiveness that was expressed on the cross instead of wallowing in his sin, and was used by God to share this beautiful message of the forgiveness of sin with a multitude of people.

Are you thankful for the cross today? When you sin, are you quick to run to Jesus in repentance or do you feel like you are too dirty to come near Him? The conviction of the Holy Spirit that leads to repentance is a gift from God, just as His discipline is. But any feeling that you are too soiled by your sin to be washed by the blood of Jesus comes from Satan, not the cross. How can you grow in your acceptance and thankfulness of the cross?

By: Graham Withers

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