JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the purpose of life and the promotion of heaven.
The Apostle Paul lived with this eternal perspective in Philippians 1:21: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Paul lived with the perspective that as long as he lived in his body, and as long as God gave him breath, his service for God would mean fruitful labor. He knew that the church would benefit from his ministry. Paul was committed to laboring for the Lord so that the church would make progress and experience joy in their faith.
Yet, internally, Paul was torn. His heart was where his treasure was. His treasure was Jesus. His longing was to be with Christ. He knew that death was a promotion into the presence of the Lord forever.
As we follow Jesus with a sincere heart, we also are likely to feel this type of internal struggle. That is a normal reaction for the person who loves Jesus in the midst of a world that loves sin. But with an eternal perspective, we acknowledge that God has placed us here on the earth “for such a time as this” to live for Christ and make Him known.
For the follower of Christ, our purpose in life and promotion to heaven is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the value of a true blue friend.
H. G. Bohn has said, “Friendships multiply joys and divide griefs.” There is something deeply meaningful when we celebrate special occasions with friends and loved ones. Perhaps this is why we tend to invite our circle of friends to our birthday parties and wedding ceremonies. We are also comforted by the support of friends in our low moments, when we have lost a loved one or if we have lost our job unexpectedly. Friends may not have the solutions to take away our pain, but they do offer us love and encouragement, which we really need when we find ourselves in a tough place.
The Bible reveals the value of a true blue friend this way:
Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Jesus is the ultimate expression of a true blue friend. He told His followers, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.” The next day, Jesus laid down His life for His friends.
The value of a true blue friend is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the joy of listening to Jesus.
Mary and Martha were sisters who both loved Jesus. When He came to their house, they went into very different modes. Mary went into listening mode. Martha went into work mode.
Mary was sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He said. Her heart was open to what Jesus had said to her. Meanwhile, Martha was caught up in household chores: cleaning, sweeping, getting dinner ready, that sort of thing. The Bible says she was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She starts to resent the fact that Mary is not helping her. She says to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Then comes Jesus’ gentle rebuke, which expresses His love for Martha and at the same time, His stamp of approval for Mary’s responsiveness to His words. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary serves as an example for us to take time to enjoy our relationship with Jesus. Spend quality time with Him. Cherish His every word, and follow what He says to us.
The joy of listening to Jesus is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
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JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the lasting legacy of enduring faith.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
When we come to faith in Jesus, God gives us a mission to carry out while we live on the earth. Each of us has a race to run in the honor of our king. While we run the race of faith, God will give us opportunities to spread the aroma of His love in our acts of service, gracious words, and godly example. Other people will be transformed by the power of the Gospel as a result of our faithful witness, and their testimony will have impact on people’s lives with whom we had no personal contact. Yet, the Lord will use our witness for Christ indirectly to reach people we have never met.
Family trees often mark the line of ancestors from one generation to another. When God’s people gather in heaven, it will be interesting to study the spiritual family tree and see whose faith in the 1700’s might have led to the conversion of someone in the 21st century, because of their enduring faith in Jesus. The impact of our work on the earth is not completed at the end of our lives. It continues until the return of Jesus Christ.
The lasting legacy of an enduring faith is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on a family reunion in the Old Testament.
Joseph was estranged from his brothers. When Joseph was a teenager, his brothers hated him to the point that they were willing to sell him to foreign merchants. They received money in the process of getting rid of him.
Little did they know that many years later, Joseph would be the one man who had the power of whether they would live or die. A famine had covered the land. Joseph was in a place of leadership in Egypt to manage the food supplies that were stored away for such a time as the drought. Joseph’s brothers were dependent on Joseph to feed them.
Through our sin and mistreatment of Jesus, we were the reason that Jesus went to the cross. He did this willingly to demonstrate His mercy for unworthy sinners. He returned our contempt with His forgiveness. In this way, Joseph’s story is an example of how God can turn what is meant for evil with good.
Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children. And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.”
When God’s love heals fractured relationships, that is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on a praise report from two missionaries.
Sometimes, missionaries come back to the church from where they were sent to report on what God has done through their outreach. This also happened in the Bible.
Acts 14 traces the missionary adventures of Paul and Barnabas as they went to different communities to share the hope of the Gospel. Eventually, they went back to Antioch, their launching point.
According to Acts 14:26, 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. And they stayed there a long time with the disciples.
When missionaries return to share their stories, the church has the opportunity to join in on the celebration of what God is doing. Sometimes, we might wonder what kind of impact our financial gifts or prayers, or letters of encouragement to missionaries is really accomplishing. Praise reports answer those questions and encourage the church to keep supporting the work of missions.
Praise reports from missionaries are reasons to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on the message of the cross.
The good news of Jesus speaks of His coming to the earth, His death on a cross, His resurrection from the dead, and His promise to return.
These are vital elements of the Gospel that deserve our full attention for real and lasting hope.
First Corinthians 1:18 underscores the different reactions to the message of the cross. The Apostle Paul said, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
Death is hard to think about, especially when it involves suffering. But Jesus was willing to face death, even though He did not deserve death. Why did He do this? There was an important reason for Jesus going to the cross. His death satisfied the wrath of God against sin, and expressed the love of the Father toward sinners. This is amazing grace that forgives the sins of those who embrace the message of the cross. This is love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
The message of the cross is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment of Celebration reflects on power of the Gospel to change us.
In reality, the good news of Jesus Christ changes lives in many ways. Four changes are found in Romans 1:16 and 17. The Apostle Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last; just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’
One of the ways the gospel changes us is by saving our soul. Romans 6:23 tells us that the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A second way that the gospel changes us is by making us right with God. Christians are not perfect, but we are forgiven and restored.
A third way the gospel changes us is by giving us a valuable advocate. Jesus has proven through the cross and empty grave that He is our worthy Savior, mighty God, and a faithful friend to the end.
A fourth way that the gospel changes us is by giving us enthusiasm to live the Christian life and publicly proclaim Jesus as Lord.
The power of the Gospel to change us is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.
JOHN SHIRK – Today’s Moment Of Celebration reflects on the intercession of Jesus on our behalf.
Hebrews 7 talks about the competence of Jesus to help us in our weaknesses. Verse 7:25 says, “He is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our needs-one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.”
The Bible goes on to say that Jesus sacrificed for the sins of the people once for all when he offered himself.
Jesus is the perfect solution for flawed humanity. He helped Simon Peter get beyond his denials of Christ. He said to Peter, “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
That is how Jesus intercedes for us when we fall short of His glory. He prays for us. He encourages us to return to Him after we have failed to stand up for Him. His forgiveness is available. His restoration is complete. He can revive our courage to a place where our witness motivates others to love God with all their strength.
The intercession of Jesus on our behalf is a reason to be glad in the Year of Celebration.