January 30, 2017

Today you should read: Matthew 26:69-75

Have you ever done something as a Christian that made you feel so hypocritical and ashamed that you weren’t even sure how to move forward from it? You’d find yourself thinking “I can’t believe I did that.” “Can God even forgive me after this?” “Will God forgive me?” “What do others think about Jesus now because of my actions?” “How will other followers of Jesus react when hearing about this?”

Judging from today’s Jumpstart post, we’re not the only Christians who have been in that position and asked those convicting questions. If there was a disciple who passionately pursued Jesus it was Peter. He was always one of the first people to answer Jesus and stand up for Jesus. From walking on water to cutting off a Roman Centurion’s ear, his affections for Jesus and faith in Jesus were well chronicled. What also is known about Peter is how often he stuck his foot in his mouth with that same affection and faith for Jesus. The same guy that was ready to fight the Roman guards to protect Jesus two days ago was now denying His Lord and Savior, not just one time, not two times but THREE times (anyone else picturing Lebron James’ Miami Heat ring promises when reading this? Just this Cleveland fan, ok then.)

It would easy to read this and judge Peter if it wasn’t for how many of us connected with the opening question and our internal thoughts when dealing with our own hypocrisy. Let’s be honest, we’ve all been there. Everyone of us. Sometimes we deny Him with our words, sometimes it’s our actions. Maybe it’s our lack of compassion in a certain situation or maybe it’s us being deceptive but of “good motives”. Whatever the case and whatever the time, we’ve been there. And if you’ve made it this far and had the same reaction as Peter—where he wept bitterly and repented—then you’re in a good place. Because none of us will be perfect and there’s grace. Grace big enough to use Peter to preach the Gospel to save 3,000 at Pentecost and grace big enough to use you once again.

It’s encouraging to know that some of the Bible’s biggest “heroes” were some of the biggest hypocrites because it gives us hypocrites an answer when we’re asking how can we move forward from our shame. There’s grace. And when Peter was asked to deny Jesus again later on in his life, instead of denying Him three times, he said crucify me upside down for Him, I’m not worthy enough to be crucified the same way as my Savior.

Let’s move forward in that same type of grace, repentance & faith.

By: Erik Koliser — West Campus Pastor

January 28, 2017

Today you should read: Matthew 26:36-68

Absolute sorrow. Indescribable pain. The Son of God was about to feel the stain of sin wash over Him at the cross. He was going to endure beatings and mock trials that would leave Him in humiliation. He did this for you and for me. What were these moments like for Jesus? Today’s passage gives us a glimpse.

In Gethsemane (translated olive press), Jesus would feel the pressure of the upcoming torture. He was being emotionally pressed like an olive would be pressed into oil, giving significant meaning to his location. His disciples were repeatedly hitting the snooze button while their Rabbi was facing the toughest moment of His earthly life. What did Jesus do? He prayed. He sought the Lord for strength and for perspective (let this cup pass // not My will but Yours).

Next, the betrayal, arrest, and trials… and still, Jesus kept the advancing Kingdom at the forefront. He would face the religious leaders’ mocking all while keeping a posture of humility. Oh, to have this kind of resolve!

Today, be grateful. Thank Jesus that He would endure this for you. Read over this passage and ask God to show you afresh what these final hours of Jesus’ life accomplished for us.

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor

January 27, 2017

Today you should read: Matthew 26:1-35


Man, this passage has so much packed into it! Let’s take a quick overview of all that is going on:

  • Jesus predicts his death and the Pharisees strategize how to make it happen. (v. 1-5)
  • A woman anoints Jesus with oil, and in the process reveals the hearts of the disciples. (The disciple speaking is believed to be Judas Iscariot [the treasurer of the disciples], who would later betray Jesus for money.) (v. 6-16)
  • Jesus takes the most sacred remembrance of the Jews (the Passover) and shows that He is the ultimate Passover Lamb. By instituting the Lord’s Supper, Jesus is showing that He is the ultimate forgiver of sins; He is the way people can have the curse of sin (death) truly taken from them. (v. 17-29)
  • Jesus predicts Peter’s bold proclamations that he would not fall away from Jesus would not be true. (v. 30-35)

What can we walk away with from this packed portion of scripture? If I could sum this section up it would be:

Jesus’ sacrifice for our sin on the cross was not an accident, but an act of love for the glory of God.

What we can gather from these verses is Jesus knew His purpose was to die on the cross for our sins. He was not pressured into it. This week, when you think about all that is going on in your world—different trials or hardships, or maybe you have fallen back into sin that you can’t shake—it’s encouraging to remember that Jesus willingly died on the cross for your sin so that He might bring you to God. And with His death comes power to overcome sin and find hope in hopeless situations.

May you find hope and power in the cross today!

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

January 26, 2017

Today you should read: Matthew 25:14-46

I want to focus in on the Parable of the Talents. The set up that is given is that three guys are given talents by their master. He leaves for a time and during that time two of the guys use their talents in a positive way and actually double what they were given. Most likely they set up some kind of business. Then you have the third guy. He takes his one talent and buries it until the master comes back.

When the Master returns he responds to the first two that doubled what they were given in a very positive way by telling them they will be given much because they were faithful with a little. The third guy was not so fortunate. The master is very unhappy that he did nothing with what he was given. The interesting thing about this is that the third guy tells the master why he decided to bury the talent. He said that he knew the master to be a hard man. The first two said nothing of the sorts.

The third guy had a wrong view of the master, and what the master wanted. The first two took what was given and used it well. We are all given different gifts from God. This can be talents, or abilities, or maybe even money. Whatever it is that God has chosen to bless you with, you are responsible to steward well, or use wisely for the kingdom of God. If God has given you a talent that you never use for Him, what glory does He gain? Does that accomplish His purpose?

Identify what it is that God has gifted you with and use it for Him and His kingdom. As it says later in the passage, we will all give an account for our lives. Will you be the one that stands before God and Him tell you that you clothed the naked and you feed the hungry, and you welcomed the stranger, and visited the sick? Will you stand before him returning more than he trusted you with in the beginning?

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate