March 10, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 22:1-13

Our text today covers Judas’ betrayal and the disciples’ preparation for the Passover. However it starts off with the religious priests and scribes plot to kill Jesus.

Now, why were the chief priests and scribes plotting to kill Jesus? Was it a sudden disagreement with Him? No. Was it because they were jealous of his sudden rise and fame? Maybe, but that wasn’t the reason given in God’s Word here. Did they feel like He broke certain promises to them or let down by who they thought that the Messiah should be? That’s not the reason listed here. Was it because they thought Jesus was really, really, ridiculously good looking? Even Derek Zoolander recognized that there’s more to life then our physical appearance. So why were they plotting to kill Jesus? It says in verse 1 because they FEARED the people. FEAR. That’s why they wanted to kill the One who offered them hope out of the impossible religious rules and laws that they put on themselves and others. The promised Messiah that they anticipated would be crucified by His chosen people’s own hands. Of course, our sovereign God knew this would all take place and even planned for it but it doesn’t take away from the truth of the Holy Scriptures mentioned fear as the motive of this injust murder plot.

But are we really above that deceptive idol of fear? I don’t think so. I know fear drives me to illogical and irrational actions just as much as the religious leaders of Jesus’ time. When we see everything in this world as a threat, from different false religions to the government to Hollywood liberals we soon speak and act out of fear in a condescending, defeatist, alarming tone and rhetoric. But that’s not the language of our Savior and the conclusion to God’s story. We have nothing to fear for He has truly finished the work He has begun. The same God who created the heavens and earth, who has authority to calm the seas and raise the dead is the same God who tells us “Do Not Fear for I AM YOUR GOD” more then any other command in Scripture. We’re not above the fear that falsely accused, arrested and killed Jesus. We just live on the other side of it through repentance of that lack of faith in our Risen Savior and His fulfilled promises.

• How has FEAR been a motive for unhealthy, sinful actions or thoughts for you lately?
• What else did you learn from today’s passage?

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor


March 9, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 21:10-38

Today’s passage discusses a subject that fascinates most Christians – the End Times.  The books of Revelation, 1 Thessalonians, Daniel, and Ezekiel also address this in great detail.  The details found in today’s reading are also recorded in Matthew 24.

The difficulty with prophecy is that the prophet records what he sees – and although it is sequential order, it may not occur all at the same time.  This is one of the things that caused the Jew’s so many problems as it related to Jesus being the Messiah. Remember how many times they asked Him when He was going to destroy the current leadership and sit on the throne?  Well He is – but that’s not until the 1000-year millennial reign. It was all prophesied – but it wasn’t clear to them when everything would occur. It appeared as though it should happen all at once – but that was not the case.  

Today’s reading is a similar example – recorded in this passage are prophecies about what the world will be like immediately before the return of Christ, during the tribulation time, and prophecy about the second coming.  It’s not real clear here – and this causes some confusion.

Here’s what I believe End Times will play out like:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

What can I learn from this?  How can I apply this to my life?

For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, “Peace and safety!” then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day. We are not of night nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober.  1 Thessalonians 5:2-6

  • Be alert

Too many Christians live like the return of Christ is a fairy tale.  Live your life like you believe Jesus is coming soon.

  • Be warning

You do realize that once Jesus comes it will be too late for your family and friends to repent and be saved (2 Thessalonians 2:11) right?  You have to warn them now!

  • Be ready

Make sure you know Jesus and that you’re living a life that glorifies Him.  Be ready to meet Him at any time.

  • How does knowing that Jesus could come at any minute motivate you to prepare?
  • Who do you need to warn?

By: Tim Parsons — Lead Pastor

March 8, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 21:1-9

After the stock market crash of 1929, there was a wave of suicides. The numbers are a little hard to pin down, but it seems like over 100 people took their lives in the wake of the Great Depression. More recently, a huge uptick of suicides occurred in 2009 and following related to the economic downturn of 2008. It seems like every time the stock market plummets, so do its investors. Why?

As we open our passage for today, we read of the remarkable story of a widow willing to give everything she had to the Lord. Her faithful generosity was so great that he investment was recorded in the eternal Word of God—despite its meager sum. This is the opposite of the rich who were coming and giving much more, monetarily speaking, but much less as it relates to their hearts.

Money has a direct link to our heart and it’s one of the primary means by which we can express worship and trust in the Lord. God doesn’t need your money, but He does want your heart. He wants you to want Him and trust Him with everything, including your bank account. We can’t out-give God. Nor can we actually depend on anything but God.

If your entire trust is in your wealth, you’re likely to jump out of a window when it disappears. If, however, you place your trust in the Lord, you will not be surprised when trouble comes. As beautiful as the temple was, Jesus predicted its destruction when He said, “As for [the Temple and its adornments], the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.” (v. 6)

The Romans destroyed the temple and fulfilled this prophecy of Jesus around 70 AD. This event was worse for the Jews than 1929 in America. As much glory as the rich men received in verse 1 from giving such great sums, it didn’t even last into the next generation. However, the meager sum given by the widow, given with a heart that fully trusted the Lord, has encouraged believers in every generation. Wealth withers, but investing in eternity will reap exponentially more than what was sown.

What are you investing in with eternal significance?
What has increased with your pay raises, your standard of living or your standard of giving?
What are you trusting in more than the Lord for security, comfort, etc.?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

March 7, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 20:19-47

There is a lot of content in this passage, so I want to sit on just a portion today. I love anytime Jesus has the opportunity in scripture to be tested by the religious leaders. I say this because He always navigates those times brilliantly. In this passage, the scribes and chief priest realize that the parable Jesus had just told was directed towards them (the parable of the wicked tenants).

So the religious leaders decide to trap Jesus. They ask Jesus if it is lawful to give money to Caesar as tribute. Jesus responds by asking who appears on the denarius. Of course it is Caesar. I would imagine that at this point the Jewish leaders probably thought they had Him. But Jesus was not too concerned with their civil and political agenda. He simply says give to Caesar what is Caesars.

But don’t miss this, Jesus is referring to the concept of bearing an image. The coin bore the image of Caesar. So if that is so then give what is in the image of Caesar to him. But He continues to say “give to God the things that are God’s.” Jesus is referring to what is in the world that bares the image of God.

We often talk about the aspect of money in this passage, which is not in itself bad. But we can easily look over what Jesus is saying about who we are. We are created in the image of God. Therefore, should we not give ourselves over to God? We do not belong to ourselves. We belong to the creator who made us in His image. It is a call to humility and to recognizing who God truly is. The Religious leaders were missing this. They were consumed with politics, status, and the condemnation of others.

We give ourselves as tribute to many things in this world. With the reminder today that we are to Give to God what is made in His image (Ourselves). What will you stop giving yourself to today in order to give yourself to God.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate