JOHN SHIRK – From First Corinthians 1:30.
“It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God-that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
Jesus is the source of our righteousness, holiness, and redemption by the will of God.
To be righteous means that we are declared “Not guilty” in the eyes of God.
To be holy means that we are set apart to reflect the character of Christ and fulfill God’s sacred purposes
To be redeemed means that we have been set free from our sins at the price of the blood of Jesus, which was shed on the cross.
None of these qualities are attainable through human merit. We need a responsive heart to the grace of Jesus in our lives, who transforms us to be righteous, holy, and redeemed. This causes us to be thankful, humble, and ready to serve God with a loyal heart.
Righteousness, holiness, and redemption are vital signs of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Colossians 1:28.
The Apostle Paul referred to Christ in this way: “We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect.”
The Gospel was the passion and purpose of Paul’s life. The love of Jesus was compelling him into ministry. Just as his life was changed by the grace of Jesus, he wanted others to be influenced by the Gospel. His goal in proclaiming Christ to others was to persuade them that Jesus is Savior and Lord, and that His grace is a life-saving gift that is available to all who will receive Jesus that way. He also wanted people to grow up in the faith that shaped their beliefs and behavior, so that they might become mature Christians.
Some people view faith as a private matter. On the one hand, faith is a very personal relationship with God. However, on the other hand, our faith in Christ is designed to go public, so that others might see our good deeds and glorify God. Jesus told His followers, “You will be my witnesses.” This proclamation started in Jerusalem, and continues to spread around the world by those who follow Jesus today.
Being a public witness for Christ is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – Second Peter 3, verses 10 through 12.
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.”
God has told us ahead of time what will happen. Someday, desolations will come to the earth. Why would God want us to know this? He wants us to purify our faith, so that we serve the Lord with undivided loyalty. He wants us to have an eternal perspective. By remembering the promise of Jesus to return, and the separation that will occur between believers and unbelievers, we will have incentive to be ready for that day. We will be on guard to protect our hearts from the world’s corrupt influence. We will be encouraged of His promise to bring us into a brighter day when He creates a new heaven and earth, built on righteousness, justice, and abundant blessing. We will live with hope. And we will live with purpose to persuade others to be reconciled to God today. First John 2:28 says, “Continue in him, so that when he appears, we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.”
Holiness and godliness are vital signs of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Luke 6, verses 27 and 28.
Jesus said, “But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
This week, we have been looking at various expressions of love that capture the attention of a watching world-Sacrifice, Service, and Christian unity. Love for enemies is yet another powerful expression of God’s love, shining as a testimony that the love of Jesus is extraordinary. Jesus freely admitted that just about anybody can love those who love us back. But what about those who hate us? What about our enemies? This is perhaps the hardest situation to express love to someone. Yet, the heart of God is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. So, when we are kind to the ungrateful and wicked, we are reflecting the love of Jesus. From the cross, He prayed about His persecutors, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Love for enemies stops the cycle of vengeance and starts a pattern of goodwill. This expression of love overcomes evil with good. It is never easy, but it is rewarding, according to Jesus.
Love for our enemies is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From John 17:20 and 21-
Jesus prayed for those who would believe in Jesus through the message of His followers, “May all of them be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”
A church united by God’s grace and truth is an expression of love that captures the attention of a watching world. That’s right. God uses the unity of the church as a witnessing tool to the world. This kind of unity is based on the church being unified with God through faith in Jesus Christ. As the steeple of a church narrows near the top, so the members of God’s church grow closer to each other as we draw closer to Him. And this sends the message to the community that the love of Jesus is real and is the basis for lasting, meaningful fellowship. This does NOT mean forming a holy huddle that blocks out contact with people outside the community of faith. However, it does mean taking time to encourage other Christians, and support their walk with Christ. As the early church lived in unity in Acts, chapter 2, the Lord was adding to their number daily those who were being saved.
A church unified by God’s truth and love is a vital sign of changed lives in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From Matthew 20, verse 28.
Jesus said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus entered our world with a compassionate heart. He performed miracles, but He also did more common forms of service, like cooking breakfast for the disciples and, on another occasion, washing their feet. After serving them one time, Jesus said, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”
Service is an expression of love that captures the attention of a watching world, and draws people to Jesus. Service is a good remedy for quarrels and complaints because it takes the focus off of “myself” and puts our focus on somebody else.
With a servant-like love, we exercise our freedoms to enter someone else’s world in a non-threatening way and show genuine concern for them. Seeing a specific need gives us an opportunity to extend love through service. Galatians 5:13 says, “Do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.”
Service is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK-From John 15:12 and 13.
Jesus said, “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Love is in the air on Valentine’s Day. Oftentimes, the emphasis on this day focuses on romantic love. However, romance is not enough to keep a relationship going for the long term. Feelings come and go, but love that comes from God endures the test of time.
The way of Jesus’ love was to lay down His life for us. This is an expression of love that captures the attention of a watching world, and draws people to Jesus. First John 3:16 says, “Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers”, and goes on to say that helping a brother in need is one way of doing that.
Beyond sacrifice there are other expressions of love that also reflect the nature of Christ. We’ll elaborate on those expressions in the next few days.
Sacrificial love is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK – From First John 2, verses 1 and 2.
“My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense-Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”
The Gospel upholds the grace and truth of Jesus Christ, upholding both forgiveness and holiness. How can the two be reconciled? Through the sacrifice of Jesus at the cross. That is where the wrath of God on sin was poured out on His One and Only Son. The guilt of our sins was paid for completely at the cross. Through Jesus, we are set free to live for God with a fully devoted heart.
We can enjoy the fullness of God’s grace by agreeing with God that we are in fact sinners in need of a Savior. And then, as we turn from those things that we know are wrong, we turn to the One who is right for us. His name is Jesus Christ. He is qualified to defend us from the eternal death sentence from our sin. He is our advocate in the spiritual battle, to help us overcome temptation and do what is right.
The pursuit of holiness is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK-From Ezekiel 36:26.
The Sovereign LORD says, “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
The hope of the Gospel is found in the newness of life that we can experience through faith in Christ. The guilt of our sins is removed, and the focus of our heart is changed. Where the Lord takes residence within us, He moves us to a way of life that is committed to the glory of God. His love will compel us to doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord. His Word will be food for our soul and a compass for our daily decisions.
When God captures our heart, stubborn resistance is replaced by willing obedience.
A new heart is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.
JOHN SHIRK-From Colossians 3:15
“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
Here, peace in the heart is connected to Christ as the source of our peace. When we follow Jesus as Savior and Lord, His peace becomes a place of refreshment in a world of turmoil and conflict.
We have the assurance of His constant love that no one can take away. We have a certain hope in His promises for a blessed future. We live in the freedom of His forgiveness. We are motivated to press on in the faith through His encouragement. Through His grace, we are made into a grateful people.
His peace, effective in our lives, will have an impact on our relationships, especially in the midst of tension. Backing up a few verses, Colossians 3:13 says, “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 together in perfect unity.”
These are some effective ways to promote peace in our relationships.
The peace of Christ is a vital sign of a changed life in the Year of Transformation.