JOHN SHIRK-From First Kings 18:21:
Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”
The invitation of Jesus to His disciples was “Follow me.” That invitation extends to us today as well. He is drawing us away from attachment to the things of this world-the pursuit of riches, fame, and selfish pleasures, and He is drawing us to a new way of life that includes placing our trust in Jesus and pledging our allegiance to Him with our souls.
Sometimes the voices in the world such as the media, our peers, or even family members in some cases, may try to apply pressure to put our faith somewhere else. Our own sinful nature wages war on our soul. Yet, God lovingly calls us to unwavering devotion to Him.
Elijah’s words challenge us to get off the fence of divided loyalties and go in the direction of the true God.
Unwavering loyalty to God is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Psalm 46, verse 1.
“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”
Where do you turn for security? The writer of Psalm 46 talked about many fearful situations that happen in the world. In fact, many of these events are happening in our generation. Earthquakes, tsunamis, nations in uproar, and the fall of kingdoms.
Disasters have a way of destroying things and taking lives. Whatever we trust that can be taken away from us is false security. Whatever cannot be taken from us in times of disaster is true security. The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans 8 that he was convinced that nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. In this way, the Lord is not just a temporary shelter from the storm, but an eternal refuge to endure the test of time. Through Jesus, we have an anchor for our souls in fearful circumstances. He might calm the storm. He might calm our fears in the midst of the turmoil. Whatever happens in our crisis, God will never remove His love from those who seek Him as their refuge and strength.
The peace of God in the midst of peril is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK-Psalm 16, verses 7 to 9-“I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure.”
David wrote this Psalm. As a man after God’s own heart, it was his practice to lift up the name of the LORD and seek His counsel. God was his source of joy. God was his source of peace. God was the source of his praise.
In a similar way, God can be our source of joy, peace, and praise as our faith remains focused on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith. His example of unwavering love will encourage our hearts to press on in the faith, with the confidence that we can fully trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord.
Joy, peace, and praise are vital signs of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – Proverbs 18:24-A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
It is one thing to have many acquaintances-people who may know our name, but not know about our hurts and weaknesses. It is quite another to have someone who knows not only our name, but also about our hurts and weaknesses, and still love us through thick and thin. Jesus is that kind of friend to us.
Romans 5:8 says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
In John 15, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” This is the degree to which Jesus has showed His love for us. He invites us to follow Him, and as we follow Him, He teaches us how to be the kind of friend that sticks closer than a brother.
Sincere, persevering love is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From First Peter 5, verses 8 and 9.
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”
If you are ever tempted to do the wrong thing, you are not alone. People all around us also experience temptation. The Bible tells us that we are engaged in a spiritual battle, and Satan is our enemy. He hates us with a passion. Jesus is our greatest advocate in this battle. He loves us with a holy passion that seeks to save us from the enemy. His weapons of righteousness are sufficient to help us to say “no” to temptation. His grace is sufficient to forgive us if we give in to temptation.
There are big differences between Satan and Jesus. Satan is a liar and is our accuser. Jesus is the truth and is the Savior of all who believe in His name. God’s Word challenges us to see these differences clearly, to resist the devil, and run to the Savior for the help we need to overcome the enemy.
Resistance to the devil is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – Ephesians 2, verses 8 and 9-“For it is by grace you have been saved through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-not by works, so that no one can boast.”
God’s grace is a gift to be received, not a paycheck that can be earned. At Christmastime, we often exchange presents with loved ones. But imagine if you offered a gift to a family member, and that gift was refused. Would that person benefit from the gift?
Not all gifts offered are received, and this especially applies to the gift of God’s grace in the person of Jesus Christ, who came to save His people from their sins. John 1:11 says about Jesus, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become the children of God.” Faith in Jesus is identified in this passage as receiving Him as Savior and Lord. When we believe in His name, we are given the privilege of belonging to His family.
A Receptive Heart to Jesus as Lord and Savior is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK- From Psalm 86, verse 7.
“In the day of trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.”
What kind of person would be prepared to call on God in times of trouble? We find insight in verses 1 and 2 in this chapter. It’s the person who perceives themselves as poor and needy, and someone who is devoted to God.
This is a statement of faith in a loving God, who answers our prayers and cares about us in our times of need. He might take us out of our trouble, or He might bring us through it. The important thing is that He will always be with us and for us as we live a devoted life to Him. That means, that He is our source of strength when we feel weak. He is near enough to hear the cry of our heart, and to weep with us when we feel sad. He is also able to rescue us from our greatest enemies. The assurance of God’s love for us is a motivating influence for us to pray to Him.
Reliant faith in God in times of trouble is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
2012 is the Year of Transformation at WJTL. Listen for stories of changed lives by the Gospel and life application truths from God’s Word.
Today’s Life Application Truth comes from Hebrews 12:6 and 7.
“The Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons.”
We would probably question the love of a parent for a child if that parent gave that child everything they wanted, never had them do chores around the house, and never corrected them when they made wrong choices. That child would never be motivated to grow up.
Hebrews 12 talks about the value of God’s discipline on those people who do not ignore it or become discouraged by it. Verse 11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” The implication is that God’s discipline is an opportunity to grow into spiritual maturity. That is one of the reasons He allows us to experience hardship.
Spiritual maturity, learned out of hardship, is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – To have noble character is to possess qualities of high moral character such as courage, generosity, or honor.
When God sent Jesus to the world, He chose Joseph and Mary to raise Him in their home. They were not perfect, but they were persons of noble character. Mary was a virgin who was willing to serve God by carrying Jesus to birth. Joseph was a righteous man who would become a loving husband and father and look after the well-being of his family. When the time was right, their character was in place to be used of God with a heavenly mission.
Living with high moral character is God’s will for our lives too. Colossians 3:12 says, “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
Noble character is a quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.
JOHN SHIRK – One definition of praise is to joyfully thank and adore God.
There are many expressions of praise among God’s people surrounding the birth of Jesus.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, said, “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people.”
The heavenly host said, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
And after seeing Jesus, the shepherds returned to their fields, glorifying and praising God for what they had heard and seen.
This Christmas season is an opportunity for us to praise God for His precious gift of grace available through Jesus Christ.
Praise is a quality that enables us to represent Jesus in the world today.