April 13, 2012

Today you should read: Micah 3

“You can’t have it both ways.” Have you ever heard that before? I know I have. I think most of us, naturally want that. We want to love and follow God but we are often tempted to straddle the fence between loving God and following the world. I think we see that very clearly in this passage in the people of Israel.

Throughout this passage the prophet points out to the people that they are doing evil while praying and asking God to be with them and bless them (verses 1-4 and 9-11). The people disobeyed God and lived however they wanted to and then they would turn to God in times of trouble and ask for His blessings. What they didn’t realize is that God is not some genie for them or for us to just come to and drop our wishes on.

I think the whole passage really hinges on verse 4. God has just told the people that they devour His people and then they turn and ask for His protection and deliverance in times of trouble. Then, in verse4 He asks a tough rhetorical question, “Do you really expect him to answer you after all the evil you have done?”

That is the question posed for us today. Now, we know that, in Jesus we have grace and forgiveness. But, if we are to come to God in our times of need then true repentance must precede that. We cannot live life time and time again as we wish and then just throw up a “My bad, sorry about that, won’t happen again” to God and expect to receive anything from Him. If we live in sin day after day, if our Monday through Saturday is filled with worldly living and “divided loyalty” we should not expect to receive anything from God on Sunday (James 1:5-7).

But praise God that we can to Him in true repentance and He will, as the father did to the prodigal son, take us back with joy. God does not want empty words or a “try harder” spirit. He wants a “broken and contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17), He wants someone who says “God my sin is wrong, I am want to turn away from it and turn to you. Help me. Give me strength and courage to do so.”

What sin is it that you need to deal with in this way today? Do it now.

Posted by: Robbie Byrd

April 12, 2012

Today you should read: Micah 2

Anytime a passage of scripture opens with a “woe”, get ready to experience conviction. There are lots of “woe’s” in the Bible, all of which give us stern warnings on godliness, obedience, and sin. Today’s passage, Micah 2, is no exception. Here’s what it says:

Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds!
When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. (Micah 2:1 ESV)

You might be wondering, “What will happen if we devise wickedness and evil?” Where is the retribution in this “woe”? Well, God gives us some pretty stern words:

Therefore thus says the LORD: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster. In that day they shall take up a taunt song against you and moan bitterly, and say, “We are utterly ruined; he changes the portion of my people; how he removes it from me! To an apostate he allots our fields.” (Micah 2:3-4 ESV)

This passage spoke specifically about those mistreating God’s people and God’s holy land. The rest of the passage speaks of the foolishness of those in Israel. They were allowing false teachers to preach messages contrary to the Lord’s law. God was displeased, and yet in verses 12-13, we see God’s awesome promise to gather Israel once again.

Alright… so back to the “woe”. What is the lesson learned today? The first thing we learn ties in with the overarching truth of the Bible: God is holy. Never forget it. He is set apart. He is pure. If He wasn’t pure, how could He offer this “woe”? Secondly: God’s holiness demands holiness. We are supposed to be like Him. We must avoid “devising wickedness” at all costs. We must life above reproach.

The reality is, though, that none of us is perfect. While we may think we are good people, we all fall short of God’s glory. Even the most “Christian” of us miss His mark. Today, be grateful that you are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. Be thankful that while you are guilty of this “woe”, you serve a God of second chances.

Posted by: Todd Thomas

April 11, 2012

Today you should read: Micah 1

Good morning JumpStart!  Today we start a new book – the book of Micah.  Before you read chapter 1, let me give you some background on the book.

The author is Micah, from the town of Moresheth-Gath mentioned in 1:14.  This little town is about 25 miles south west of Jerusalem near the Philistine city of Gath.  He lived during the times of the kings of Judah – Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (between 750 and 687 BC).  His contemporaries were Isaiah, Amos, and Hosea.  His purposes for writing were to warn of impending judgment, to speak to Israel’s disloyalty to her covenant with God, to emphasize God’s justice and love in disciplining a nation, to affirm His future restoration of His people, and to present God as the sovereign Lord of the earth who controls the destinies of nations.

Now… read chapter 1.

God is serious about our obedience.  It’s how He knows if we love Him or not.

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”  John 14:15

God has always blessed people when they’ve obeyed, and brought judgment on them when they’ve disobeyed.  This is the story of the Old Testament.

What does God expect us to obey?

  1. His Word

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.  But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it–he will be blessed in what he does.  James 1:22-25

  1. His Voice

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”  John 10:27

  1. His Leading

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.  Psalm 119:133

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.  Proverbs 3:5-6

How are you doing with obeying God?  Remember obeying is doing what you’re told, when you’re told, with the right heart attitude.

What has God asked you to do that you have not obeyed?

You can disobey God just as clearly through procrastination as you can by directly saying no.

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’  ” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?”  Matthew 21:28-31

What have you said you would do – but haven’t followed through with?  What do you need to confess today and make steps to change?

Posted by: Tim Parsons

April 10, 2012

Today you should read: Jonah 4

Verses 1-4
What in the world?!  What is Jonah’s problem?  God did something awesome through Jonah, and now Jonah is angry.  That’s just odd.  The last verse of chapter 3 gives the cause of Jonah’s irritation:

“When God saw their deeds, that they turned from their wicked way, then God relented concerning the calamity which He had declared He would bring upon them. And He did not do it.”—Jonah 3:10 (NASB)

Jonah told God that he knew He would have mercy on Nineveh, and this is why he didn’t want to go to Nineveh in the first place.  Jonah didn’t like the idea of these Gentiles experiencing God’s grace and mercy.  Also, Jonah didn’t want to be embarrassed and look silly by proclaiming destruction to Nineveh, all the while knowing that God would relent and not destroy them.  Now, Jonah would rather die than live with the fact that God had extended mercy to Nineveh, and with the embarrassment of having proclaimed one thing but God doing the opposite.  God asked him if he really had a right to be angry, but he had no right.

Jonah exhibits two major character flaws: Jonah had no love for people unlike himself, and he had major pride issues. He couldn’t imagine God’s mercy being given to people outside of the Israelites, as if God should only bless people like him.  He had a high view of himself.  Plus, he didn’t want to proclaim destruction to everyone, and then be embarrassed when God didn’t bring destruction.  That would hurt his pride and make him look bad.  This causes me to ask myself some tough questions:

  1. Who are the people in my life that I have trouble loving?
  2. Are there people from a different ethnicity, socio-economic background, or culture than me with whom I don’t desire to share the gospel?
  3. Do I have irritating neighbors, co-workers, classmates that I would rather see experience failure than God’s blessing?
  4. Do I get frustrated when God blesses certain people when I think they don’t deserve it?
  5. Am I ashamed to share the truth with people because of what they might think of me afterwards?

Verses 5-11
After Jonah’s angry episode, he went out of the city and made a shelter for some shade, then sat and watched for what would happen to the city.  I get the sense that he was hoping that God would change His mind and destroy Nineveh.  Then, God made a plant grow up to provide shade for Jonah, which pleased him.  God made the plant wither the next day, though, and sent a scorching east wind, which would be similar to the hot Santa Ana winds in California.  Now Jonah is sitting there in misery again, and God asked him if he had a right to be angry about the plant.  Jonah thought he had a good reason to be mad, and God used this as a lesson to explain His compassion for souls.

God told Jonah that just as he (Jonah) was compassionate towards the plant that shaded him, He (God) was compassionate towards the 120,000+ people in the city of Nineveh.   God was making it known to Jonah that this whole ordeal of a “mission trip” that he has gone through was about rescuing souls; it wasn’t about Jonah at all.  Again, this causes me to ask some questions:

  1. Am I willing to go through any ordeal in order to see lost souls be rescued?
  2. What tough things in life do I complain about that God might be using to draw another to Himself?
  3. Is my ministry more about what people think of me, or about making God’s name known to lost souls?

Posted by: Rich Duffield