JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the chorus of praises surrounding the birth of Christ.
Christmas reminds us that Jesus is God’s ultimate gift to the world.
The birth of Christ was a cause for celebration for Mary, the mother of Jesus, who said, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
The birth of Christ was a cause for celebration for the shepherds. After their encounter with the baby Jesus, they returned to their fields, glorifying and praising God for what they had heard and seen.
The birth of Christ was a cause of celebration for the wise men, who brought gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Jesus. They also bowed down and worshiped him.
The birth of Christ was a cause of celebration for the heavenly angels, who said on the night of His birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”
We can join the chorus of praises in response to a loving God who remembered us and came to meet us at our point of need.
The birth of Christ is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the gift of God’s love.
John 3:16 is one of the most quoted verses of the Bible. It’s a fitting verse for the Christmas season and the Easter season. It’s a fitting verse to describe how someone can be born again into the family of God.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
Here we see God’s love freely given to us as a gift through Jesus Christ. For a gift to be a gift, there needs to be a giver and a receiver. God clearly gave. That gift is ours to receive. This is why the Christmas season is so special among those who receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. We recognize that without the treasure of God’s grace, we would be lost in our sin and without God because sin separates us from God. But when Jesus enters our world, His light invades the darkness of our soul. Despair is replaced with hope. Doubt and fear are replaced with faith. Selfishness is replaced by love. In Jesus, we find the freedom to experience abundant and eternal life with Him. God invites us to say “Yes” to His invitation to live with Him forever.
The gift of God’s love through Jesus Christ is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on Gabriel’s prophecy of Jesus.
Gabriel was an angel who was given the task of telling Mary that she would give birth to Jesus.
He says in Luke 1:32, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
This is a reference to Jesus as the king of Israel. Many kings had reigned over Israel in the past, but each of them had their blemishes. Even David, who was well-respected and regarded as a man after God’s own heart, had his faults. Nations today continue to have leaders with their faults and limitations. They make mistakes, and they do not stick around forever.
Jesus is different. His character is unblemished, and His kingdom will be without end. He is a capable king, not just for Israel, but also for our souls. His fame will never fade. It will only grow in the course of time. We can trust Him to save us from our sins, and lead us with grace and wisdom.
Gabriel’s prophecy of Jesus to be a great king is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK -Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on good and perfect gifts.
James 1:17 tells us that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
Here we see that God is the giver of all good gifts. Some of those gifts might be tangible things. First Timothy 6 tells us that God is the One who provides us with everything for our enjoyment. But this blessing comes with a caution for us not to put our hope in wealth, but rather to put our hope in God. Love the Giver more than the gift.
Some of the good gifts provided by God might be resources that we need to survive. Acts 14:17 says, “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.” This, too is a blessing from God and a reason to give thanks.
Some of His gifts are perfect. Jesus is the perfect remedy for our sin. God so loved the world that He gave His One and Only Son. The Holy Spirit is the perfect power source for living the Christian life. Jesus said in Luke 11, “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Every good and perfect gift from God is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the joys of heaven.
The Apostle John was given the view of a new heaven and a new earth in Revelation chapter 21.
In verses 3 and 4, he says, “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
This is a description of heaven. This is where followers of Jesus have our ultimate citizenship. What is striking in these two verses is what is present and what is absent in heaven. What is missing is death. There will be no more funerals and no more good-byes among loved ones. Our tears will be dried as sadness is overtaken by gladness of heart. Hospital beds will be missing. Wheelchairs will not be needed. Heaven is a place of life and healing and pure happiness. What makes heaven so special is that Jesus will be present among His followers, who will have the opportunity to adore Him and praise Him for eternity.
The joys of heaven are reasons to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the greatness and goodness of God.
We see this in Psalm 95, which begins with the invitation for us to “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods.”
This is not a timid worship gathering described here. This is a jubilant celebration using music to convey love for God and to proclaim His distinct place of honor as the great King above all gods.
As we approach God with a thankful heart, we remember how we are blessed by His attributes. He is holy and is making us holy. He is merciful and pardons sin. He is wise beyond measure, and gives us wisdom as we take His Word to heart.
With a thankful heart, we also remember how He has blessed us with His precious gift when He sent Jesus to the world. First John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.” In Jesus, we see the evidence of God’s love for us.
The greatness and goodness of God are reasons to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the expression of God’s faithfulness.
Jesus is the expression of God’s faithfulness. He came as a gift in fulfillment of God’s promises.
Second Corinthians 1:20 says that “no matter how many promises God made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.”
When God says in Jeremiah 29:11, “I have plans to give you hope and a future”, those plans are fulfilled through faith in Jesus Christ.
When God says in Isaiah 1:18, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow”, those sins are forgiven through faith in Jesus Christ.
When God says in Isaiah 41:10, “I will strengthen you and help you”, that support is available through faith in Jesus Christ.
He is the Good Shepherd, Redeemer, Savior, and Best Friend among all those who follow Jesus as Lord.
The expression of God’s faithfulness in Jesus Christ is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the life changing impact of God’s grace.
After Paul was converted to Christ, there was a noticeable change in his life. Instead of wanting to persecute the church, he wanted to build up the church in the qualities of faith, hope, and love. He had an earnest desire to see Jesus glorified in his life. Through his testimony, that is exactly what happened. He became a devoted follower of Jesus, which was a reason for churches to praise God. Not only did they lose an enemy, but they gained a friend, a true ally who would speak up for the Good News of Jesus Christ, and be influential in leading people to the Lord.
In Galatians 1:22, Paul was talking about his spiritual journey after coming to faith in Christ. He said, “I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’” Then Paul says, “And they praised God, because of me.”
This goes to show that if Paul can be converted to Christ, no soul is hopeless. When someone makes a sweeping life change like this, the body of Christ has the opportunity to surround that person with support and encouragement.
The life-changing impact of God’s grace is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the forward progress of the Christian journey.
In Philippians 3:13 and 14, the Apostle Paul wrote, “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Before knowing Christ, Paul was hostile to anyone who identified with Jesus, and sought to destroy the church with his religious zeal. However, the road to Damascus became a defining moment in his life when he would begin the journey of walking with Christ as a faithful follower. If anyone had a reason to feel guilt and regret, Paul was the man. He was there to approve the death of Stephen, the first martyr in the early church.
But Paul’s days were filled with the awareness of God’s grace, and that changed his perspective about the past and the future. He was spending his time moving forward with Christ, not looking back with past regrets or failures. Neither did he look back with fondness to his former way of life. A relationship with Jesus puts us on the path of faith that leads to a greater love, holiness, and eternal life in heaven with Him.
The forward progress of the Christian journey is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on words of blessing.
In Numbers 6:24, the LORD told Moses to tell Aaron and his sons how to bless the Israelites. This has become known as the priestly blessing:
“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
As we see in the New Testament, First Peter 2:9 talks about followers of Jesus being a royal priesthood. We are ministers of the Gospel. We can be used of God to speak blessing on our families, our churches, and our nation. Ultimately, we are not the source of blessing. God is. That is why our blessing for others comes in the form of a prayer. We pray for the LORD to bless them and to keep them in His love. We pray for the LORD to grant them His favor with grace and peace.
This is something we can do for the well-being of our loved ones daily-by praying God’s blessing on them and looking for ways to bless them through our words and actions.
The words of blessing are reasons to be glad in the Year of Celebration.