JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is the opportunity for second chances.
Sometimes, we fail the Lord by disobeying His Word. When that happens, we might be tempted to think that it’s too late for God to ever work through us again, which leads to the temptation to give up.
But if we ever feel that way, we can find hope in the second chance offered to Jonah. God initially sent word to Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against it, because of its wickedness. But Jonah ran away from the LORD. He went the opposite direction from where God was sending Jonah, and ended up over his head in a sea of problems.
In the belly of a huge fish, Jonah came to his senses and turned his heart to the Lord with this prayer, “I, with a song of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed, I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.”
After this prayer, we read in Jonah 3:1, “Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time, “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” And Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD.
A second chance is an opportunity to learn from our first failure, and join God’s redemptive work on the earth. A second chance is also a sign of God’s mercy to us, and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A segment explores the question, “What is the Fruit of the Spirit?”
These are character qualities that are found in Galatians 5:22 and 23: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
These are the qualities that flow out of the person who walks daily with God, and make our witness more fruitful. Many of these same qualities are listed in the book of Second Peter chapter 1. Verse 8 says, “For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
If you know anyone who consistently demonstrates the qualities found in the Fruit of the Spirit, you know how refreshing it is to spend time with them. They become godly examples for us to want to be more like Jesus.
So, as we are receptive to welcoming Jesus in our lives and taking His words to heart, we will find ourselves growing in godly character and being a more fruitful witness of the Gospel in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to believe is the book of Acts and the study of archeology.
There have been numerous findings of artifacts that support the references to places in the Bible. One Bible author who mentioned numerous geographical locations in his writings is Luke, who wrote Luke and Acts. His careful approach to accuracy is found in Luke 1:3, which says, “Since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.”
His writings had a huge impact on William Ramsay, who lived in the 19th Century. According to the Christian History Institute, earlier in his life, he thought the book of Acts was full of errors. However, after research in ancient literature and on the ground in Turkey, he recognized that Acts was an accurate report. Over a period of fifteen years, dig after dig supported Luke’s description of events, but none detracted from them. The findings led to his conversion to Christ.
He concluded: “Luke is an historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy…this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians.”
Archeology, combined with the book of Acts, led William Ramsay to faith in Christ. The study of archeology and the book of Acts are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is a populated planet.
The growing population is following one of God’s first commands to man. “Be fruitful and increase in number.”
Isaiah the prophet wrote in Isaiah 45:18 that the LORD who created the heavens and made the earth did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.
At the time of Christ, estimates place the world’s population between 200 and 300 million people. According to the United Nations Population Division, the year was 1804 when the population reached 1 billion. Today, the population has exceeded 7 billion people.
The earth is not the only place where God wants to see a thriving population. Jesus is preparing a place for His followers to be with Him in heaven. In Luke 14, Jesus spoke a parable highlighting God’s desire for His house to be full at the time of His great banquet. That day is coming, and He invites you to be part of the celebration.
The increasing population of the earth reflects God’s plan for people to live on the planet and is a reason to believe in God’s Good News.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A segment explores the question, “What does the Bible say about unborn babies?”
Certain Scriptures reveal God’s attention to their development, while other Scriptures even draw attention to personality in the way they react to events happening around them.
In Psalm 139:13, David wrote to the LORD, “You created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Verse 16 says, “Your eyes saw my unformed body.”
And as part of the Christmas story, when Mary, who was expecting Jesus visited Elizabeth who was expecting John the Baptist, Luke 1:44 records Elizabeth’s response, “As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
So these are some of the verses where the unborn baby is described as a life under God’s watchful eye, demonstrating personality. In a time when abortion is legal, Proverbs 30, verse 8 is a verse with relevant application: “Speak up for those who cannot speak themselves.”
Being an advocate for the unborn is one way we can take a stand for life in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Q and A Segment explores the question, “What is the value of hearing reports from missionaries serving in other parts of the world?”
Something similar to this scenario happened in the early church when Paul and Barnabas traveled to different places to share the good news of Jesus.
Eventually, they returned to the church that commissioned them for service. Acts 14:26 says, “they sailed back to Antioch where they had been committed to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”
When missionaries share with us how God has worked through their service, it gives us a bigger picture of how God is at work in other parts of the world. If we are supporting their work, it will encourage us to see how our investment is advancing God’s Kingdom. Their visit will give us an opportunity to bless and encourage them. As they share specifics of their missionary journey, we will gain better understanding of how to pray for them. And sometimes, reports from missionaries spur more missionary activity. These are some ways that reports from missionaries can build up believers and advance God’s Kingdom in the Year of Exploration.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s reason to believe is the inner conflict between right and wrong.
If you ever felt the tension between the desire to do what is right and the tendency to do what is wrong, you are not alone. Even the prophets and apostles of the Bible experienced this tension.
We see this reality in Romans 7:18, where the Apostle Paul wrote, “ I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing.” Lamenting his sinful nature, Paul concludes, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”
By the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul offers a solution by which we can overcome the struggle and the condemnation from our failures.
In Romans 7:25, he says, “Thanks be to God-through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Divine help to overcome the conflict between right and wrong is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the harsh reality of war, and God’s solution for peace.
Jesus told us that there would be wars and rumors of war until the end of the age. Daniel mentioned that wars would continue to the end.
That is the sad and harsh reality of our time, which is the result of a world affected by sin.
The tragedy of war gives many people a yearning for peace. That is where Jesus is the solution for our most volatile conflict-our war against God. He is our Mediator to establish peace with God.
Colossians 1:21 says, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.”
Jesus will establish peace among nations when He sets up His kingdom, but until that day, we have the opportunity to live at peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ. That is the foundation that motivates us to live at peace with others, as far as it depends on us.
The reality of war and God’s peace plan are reasons to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason To Believe is how the Gospel changes lives.
If you have been touched by the grace of God, it is quite likely that you can recall specific ways you changed after coming to faith in Jesus-attitudes, behavior, or priorities.
The disciples became followers of Jesus and would later be appointed as leaders of the early church.
After an encounter with Jesus, the heart of Zacchaeus changed from being greedy to being generous.
A jailer put his faith in Jesus and was changed from being suicidal to being filled with joy.
God’s grace changes people’s lives in various ways, but one common thread is that in whatever way the person changes, it results in bringing glory to God.
One example of that is how Christians responded to reports of the Apostle Paul’s conversion. Galatians 1:23 says, “They only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me.”
“Changed lives” reveal the power of the Gospel and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.
JOHN SHIRK – In the Year of Exploration, today’s Reason to Believe is the snowflake.
God has made each snowflake unique with different shapes and different sizes. The variety of snowflakes reminds us that God has made each human with their unique characteristics. In Psalm 139, verse 14, David said to God, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”
In the Bible, snow is associated with purity, which is the result of God’s forgiveness of a sin-stained heart. After confessing his sin to the LORD, David prayed, “Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” In Isaiah 1:18, the LORD said, “Come now let us reason together. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow.” God’s grace is the cleansing agent to clear us from the guilt of our wrongdoing and make our hearts clean.
A snowflake reminds us of the purification that comes through faith in Jesus and is a reason to believe in God’s good news.